Saturday, August 27, 2011

Howard Tonkin: singer/actor, his "reinvention of the wheel"

Howard Tonkin:
Personal Apocalypse & Dancing with Lauren Bacall! 

Howard Tonkin is an accomplished actor and singer who has honed in on his craft in the area of arts. This talented triple threat (singer, songwriter & actor) who was born in Australia and now resides in Florida loves all areas of his professional career. In Howard’s highlighted career he has starred in a short film entitled “Product Placement” in which he received a “Best Actor” award in 2005 as part of the Grenada Film Festival. Other highlighted areas for Howard’s acting area are appearing in an interactive ad campaign in 2008 and musical director for “The Great Game History of Wall Street” in 1999 for CNBC.

The short film: "Product Placement"

            Currently, Howard is focusing on his passion of singing and songwriting and has a brand new acclaimed album out entitled: “Personal Apocalypse” featuring 17 original penned tracks. Howard prides himself as being on the cutting edge of all things in his art form whether it is via his music videos, performances, acting there is always high quality and integrity with all nuances. When it comes to defining Howard’s sound it is a unique sound, blending catchy pop hooks with futuristic loop based electronic music that defies categorization. Tonkin’s powerful male vocals are reminiscent of the new wave/new romantic British invasion of the 1980’s. Featured on Howard’s current new album are hit tracks: "Personal Apocalypse" "Crazy Boy" "Serial Monogamist" "Reinvention of the Wheel" "Dysmorphia" & "Good Time" with new singles to be released.

            Howard has a passion and is always keeping his eye out for great material for his love of acting and is currently releasing new music. I was lucky to have a conversation with Howard to talk about his career in the entertainment industry and his passion for classic films which is of wide range! We talk about his love for Marilyn Monroe to “West Side Story” along with playing the “Classic Movie Word Association Game” to our fun question……”A Classic Cocktail Party with 4 Dream Party Guests, who would they be?” We find out that Howard is a true classic movie film buff and shares some lovely stories of him meeting Lauren Bacall and much more, a great interview with someone that EVERYONE should be checking out!!

Howard Tonkin’s Official Website:       

By Mason Williams

o       MW:  do you find there are any roles either via theater/tv/the big screen that you would love to sink your teeth into?

o       HT: a dream role would be an action/thriller/comedy/musical starring Madonna and me

o       MW: a classic film was going to be redone and you were going to be recast what film  would you choose?

o       HT: “West Side Story” & “Silence of the Lambs”

o       MW: What are your thoughts regarding film remakes?

o        HT: take a classic and articulate the story for a new generation with today’s capacity has merit.

o        MW: What is your favorite film genre?

o        HT: sci-fi

o        MW: What director has had the biggest impact on you and why?

o        HT: There are actually two directors that have had large impact on me, one being a Spanish director Guillermo del toro known for films such as “Pan’s Labyrinth” (his films and how he visually shows his story are so unique and haunting) and Alex Keshishian because he solidified Madonna as a cultural icon in “Truth or Dare” and invented reality TV.

o        MW: if you could have a cocktail party with 4 dream guests living or non who are actors who would they be?

o        HT: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts and Mel Gibson – yes they are all alive but they are all fellow Aussies that always fascinate me and think us five together would make for an eventful nights of drinks and perhaps a start of a star power for ideas for a film to star together in!

o        MW: Do you have a favorite studio from the “old studio” days of Hollywood?

o        HT: I actually do and it would be, “20th Century FOX” hands down since they had the lovely Marilyn Monroe under contract. I would love be on the studio lot all the time that Marilyn was filming or even practicing for a film. What a star!

o        MW: Do you have a story of meeting one of your great classic Hollywood idols?

o        HT: yes...when I danced the waltz with Lauren Bacall who was absolutely wonderful as she is onscreen! I was working a party for the movie: “Prêt-à-Porter” (Ready to Wear) was like 1000 stars in a room and she wanted to dance with me! It was such a moment in my life so sweetly romantic. This took place at the Roseland in NYC in the 1990’s and then later that night I danced on a table with Grace Jones, what an evening with an idol of mine of screen and icon!!

o        MW: Here is our “Classic Movie Word Association Game” please say what comes to mind first with the classic iconic star, film, genre etc that is mentioned.

o        Bette Davis - bitch

o        MGM Musicals - Lavish sets

o        Clark Gable - Hair Grease

o        “Gone With The Wind” - the staircase

o        Judy Garland - “The Judy Garland Show”

o        Frank Sinatra - when men could be men and SING!

o        “Singing In The Rain” - tap dancing

o        Elizabeth Taylor - those eyes!

o        Esther Williams - water ballet – big numbers

o        Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers - synchronicity

Personal apocalypse by Howard Tonkin

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer Stock (1950) "Get Happy!"

Summer Stock (1950) MGM Studios
Directed By: Charles Walters
Starring: Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Eddie Bracken, Gloria DeHaven, Marjorie Main & Phil Silvers

Costumes: Walter Plunkett
Costumes for Gloria DeHaven: Helen Rose

~ This was Judy Garland's last film working with MGM Studios, after this film the studio ended it's long contract with the tuneful and talented leading lady.


A New England farm owner, Jane Falbury (Garland) allows her theatrical sister Abigail (DeHaven) to bring theater to the family farm. The way they are going to do so is the theater troup Abigail is part of will now practice in the barn even though Jane has A LOT of reservations against it. Both sisters are very polar opposites with Jane being a very dedicated hard working farm owner to the light hearted actress. Before Jane knows it the farm is over taken by the theater and the music is heard from the rafters and in enters the dashing and very charming Joe Ross (Kelly).

To repay their time on the farm each is working at chores on the farm. One key problem that starts to develop with more time being spent with one another is that Joe is starting to fall in love with Jane even though he is engaged to Abagail. At the same time Jane is falling in love with Joe even though she too is engaged with her long time bow Orville (Bracken). A fight ensues with the current couple and Abagail decides to leave Joe and the show all together leaving the show with no leading lady. As any true MGM true classic someone steps in at the last second to safe the day and this time it is Jane!

Jane steps in to become the leading lady for the  play and also for Joe's love life. Everything is now rosey on the farm! Of course there are spectacular musical numbers in the film such as:

  1. "If You Feel Like Singing, Sing" – Judy Garland
  2. Mem'ry Island" – Gloria DeHaven
  3. "You, Wonderful You" Kelly and Garland
  4. "Friendly Star" – Garland
  5. Newspaper Dance ("You, Wonderful You") – Kelly
  6. All for You" Kelly and Garland
  7. "Heavenly Music" Kelly, Silvers
  8. "Get Happy" Garland
  9. "(Howdy Neighbor) Happy Harvest" (finale)
~ The most noteable and one of Judy Garland's BEST musical numbers "Get Happy" is her dressed simply in a black tuxedo jacket, black hat, and black nylons with a simple backdrop and male dancers, she looked, sounded and performed at her best!!!

Classic Movie Casting - the game!

Classic Movie Casting - The Game!!!
The game us film buffs will play is a FUN ONE, we cast a great film from top to bottom!!! The director, costume designer, lead actor/actress, supporting cast, the right studio, the decade, and even the motion picture we go much fun especially for us classic film fans!

There will be several rounds for this first game:

Round One: Film
Round Two: Decade
Round Three: Studio (we create our own studio!)
Found Four: Director
Round Five: Leading Actor/Actress
Round Six: Supporting Cast
Round Seven: Costume Designer

Then it is time for the BIG RELEASE with posters and movie premiers....we will design a poster and see what kind of classic is on our hands. As the game progresses we will modify it and even add incentives such as teams and awards, let's have fun with this!!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summertime (1955) "Summertime in Venice"

Summertime (1955) / London Film Productions
Directed By: David Lean
Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Rossano Brazzi, Isa Miranda & Darren McGavin

Taglines: She Came To Venice As a Tourist -And Went Home a Woman!

~Nominated for 2 Academy Awards in 1956 for Best Actress & Best Director, Won New York Film Critics Cicrle Awards for Best Director in 1955.


This film centers on an American secretary, who is middle aged and sinlge traveling to Venice for thie very first time. Jane Hudson (Hepburn) has always dreamed of traveling abroad and with school out of session has finally saved enough money to do the vacation of a lifetime by herself. Jane is a very independent lady so being on her own is second nature. However it seems that in the land of love it is a lonely feeling for Jane. During her water bus ride she meets two pleasant Americans as she is arriving to her place she is going to live for the duration of her stay.

Upon arriving at the beautiful pensione which was once a home Jane meets the hotel owner Signora Fiorini (Miranda). Jane is stunned at the beauty of Venice and the location of the hotel right on the water channels of Venice, it is just breath taking! At the hotel Jane meets another lovely young couple, Eddie Yaeger (McGavin) and his wife Phyl (Mari Aldon). Jane decides rather than be the third wheel to the couple going out she goes to the Piazza San Marco for some sight seeing. It is yet another sight to be taken in and is simply stunning for Jane who decides to sit at a local cafe and see all the lovers around her which is simply a depressing and lonely feeling again. While sitting at the cafe Jane notices an attractive Italian man staring at her which makes her simply leave.

The next day, Jane decides to go back into the shopping area and goes into an antique shop and falls in love right away with a red glass goblet. She has noticed it right from the window and must have it. The owner of the shop, Renato de Rossi (Brazzi) she now remembers while having the discussion of the goblet is the same gentleman that was staring at her the night before in the cafe, so strange! Renato teaches Jane the fine art of bargaining in Venice in which the lovely goblet is then purchased. Jane is oddly attracted to this charming man who mentions he would be more than happy to assist her in finding another goblet to make it a matching pair. While outside Jane through out her trip is followed by a cute Italian street urchin little boy. While trying to take pictures Jane flies backwards right into the Venice water canal and heads back to the hotel to change, what a site!

Jane wakes up the next day in the grand beauty of Venice only to see that Renato is not in the shop. She is clearly atracted to him. Renato surprises Jane by an unexpactant visit to the hotel and confesses his true attraction for her. Things occur and they both start to fall in love with one another for only a big shoe to fall such as finding out Rentao is currently married but the marriage as he confesses has been long since is over. There is a separation supposedly between the couple. What will happen to the lovely couple that has one on vacation in this very romantic location of Venice one will have to see to find out!

Note: I have found this to be one of the most stunning films actually filmed on location in Venice and one of the BEST Katherine Hepburn films as well, a true classic!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Seven Year Itch: Marilyn Loves The Summer Heat!!

The Seven Year Itch (1955) / 20th Century FOX
Directed By: Billy Wilder
Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell, Evelyn Keyes

  • Based on a three-act play by George Axelrod.
  • Tom Ewell won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy in 1956.
  • This is where Marilyn wears the FAMED WHITE DRESS and it is swept up above her knees in NYC due to the grates underneath her from a passing train, what an iconic scene!!!

Taglines: It TICKLES and TANTALIZES! - The funniest comedy since laughter began!


"The Seven Year Itch" talks about what a couple goes through as a married couple in year seven, the itch of the eyes wondering and not wanting to be monogamous. This starts to happen with career man Richard Sherman (Ewell) has his wife and son leave the sun scorching NYC to get away during the summer to travel to Maine. Richard stays in the city with the other crazy businessmen and the day he returns home from his family departing on a train on Grand Central Station he meets his upstairs gorgeous neighbor (who is also happens to be a model) named simply "The Girl" (Monroe).

While proofing a book for a client that is trying to show that all men are meant to fail on year seven of any relationship and will cheat Richard starts to fall asleep. During this time there are hillarious dream sequences between "The Girl" and Richard but is woken up by the model who is going to keep him company but has to run back upstairs to get her underwear that she keeps in the freezer to keep cool, what a riot!! Then later the dreams come on such as femme fatale the girl plays and really can not resist Richard's wild ways.

As the days goes on Richard gets very emotional that he will fall under the girls spell and be one of the men (the casualty) of the seven year itch. Richard sees a therapyst and has more dreams that his wife and son see a commercial with the model in it warning of other ladies who reside in NYC of the monsterous animal names Richard Sherman, uh oh!!! Looks like a trip to Maine is in the near future for our dear Mr. Sherman!!! This is one classic Marilyn film that shows her comedic side in this delightful film.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer, Annette Funicello Style!!!

Summer, Annette Funicello Style!!!

One can not celebrate summer films without the great beach films of Annette Funicello. Her 60's films with the beehive hairdo's, Frankie Avalon at her side, great summer tunes, a cute bikini, surf board and yes a story line thrown in is a combination of a fun film experience!

Annette Funicello started out with the fun Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950's but by the time the 1960's came around a new look was here, a party and teenager who wanted to have fun! Annette was paired with her best leading man during this time who was Frankie Avalon who one always just puts together as a married couple since they had such chemistry. The summer beach films starring Annette were all HUGE blockbuster hits with her tennage fans at the theaters. Of course, after the first "Beach Party" (1963) was released with Funicello with a great leading man and supporting cast the others came flying our way. "Muscle Beach Party" "Beach Blanket Bingo" "How To Stuff a Wild Bikini" and others were 1960's hits.  Don Rickles, Stevie Wonder, Dorothy Malone, Robert Cummings, Brian Donlevy and even Buster Keaton co-starred in these gems.

A huge following on these nostalgic feel good films came to light again when in the 80's another film was made with Annette and Frankie called: "Back to the Beach" (1987). This got stars such as Connie Stevens, Bob Denver, Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley, Don Adams, and Paul Reubens. Annette Funicello wil be forever in everyone's hearts as a young girl who did lovely Disney films then crossed over to teen films and adult comedies. What a lovely actress who will be forever in our hearts and when it comes to summer a sheer enjoyment to watch on screen.

Annette Funicello Summer Films:

Beach Party (1963): In this first summer series for Anette we have Professor Sutwell studying the sex habits of teenagers in the early 1960's beachside. The professor focuses on teen king and quuen of the beach: Frankie (Avalon) and Dee Dee (Funicello) who are well behaved and straight laced children when it comes to the study. These teens rock out on the beach to the music stylings of Dick Dale and the Del Tones and battle off party poopers the motorcycle gang.

Muscle Beach Party (1964): In the 2nd beach film pairing Dee Dee (Funicello) & Frankie (Avalon) we have the young couple having to come to battle with the beloved beach being taken over. This time the evil is a man wanting to take the beach over for his bodybuiling training as a business!

Bikini Beach (1964): In the 3rd beach series we have Dee Dee (Funicello) & Frankie (Avalon having to battle with a crazy millionaire who is set to take over the beloved beach for a retirement home. This crazy millionaire is set to prove his theory of intelligence via the teenagers and a chimp and having them hang out together, what a match!!!

Beach Blanket Bingo (1965): In the 4th beach series we have Dee Dee (Funicello) & Frankie (Avalon) partying it up on the beach yet again with lovely music. This time a motorcyle gane kidnaps a huge singing star named Sugar Kane. This may just be a publicity stunt and the teens on the beach are at it to come to the rescue!!!

How To Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965): The fifth and final installment of the 1960's summer Annette & Frankie Avalon films. This time Dee Dee is left behind since Frankie has to go abroad in Tahiti for naval reserve. The funny part he does not trust Dee Dee so while he is away he gets a crazy witch doctor named Bwana (Keaton) to keep an eye out. Ricky (Dwayne Hickman) has an eye for Dee Dee but Bwana makes sure that he puts the stops to that by bringing a floating bikini with a lovely girl named Cassandra in it to keep Ricky occupied.

Back to the Beach (1987): This film reteams Annette and Frankie Avalon over twenty yrs later. This time they are all gorwn up and live in the mid west. Finally years later the beach is calling them to the fun glory days and they come back to L.A. and back to the beach they called home. While back in California, Annette and Frankie visit their daughter who is living with someone. Annette and Frankie hit a rough patch during this summer vacation when they run into Connie (Connie Stevens) who was once an old flame. Of course there is in any Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello summer film a good surfing moment this time where it is a challange between the good guys and bad. Hope Annette and Frankie this time around can work things out and get back together!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) What a Vacation!!!

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) / 20th Century FOX
Directed by: Henry Koster
Starring: Jimmy Stewart, Maureen O'Hara, Fabian & John Saxon.

Taglines: Jimmy Takes A Vacation... You Have All The Fun!

Jimmy Stewart was nominated for a Golden Globe as a best Actor in 1963.


On the daily city grind, Roger Hobbs (Stewart) is a very hard worker always committed to delivering the best work. Finally, the summer comes and Roger is exhausted and needs time away from the regular routine and spend some rest and relaxation with his wife Peggy (O'Hara) and children. Roger could not be more thrilled at the idea of renting a place in a sea-side village far away from the city.

Upon arriving to his vacation destination the sleepy town provides a lot more entertainment than what Roger bargained for. Areas such as the beach house not being in such great repair as originally thought and very nosey neighbors getting into his business. Each of his children is having an issue with the vacation such as his youngest daughter Katey with her new set of braces not wanting to leave the beach home due to feeling ugly. Mr. Hobbs finally is able to take Katey out to a local dance where he bribes a local young man named Joe (Fabian) to keep her company. During this Mr. Hobbs gets a visit from his snooty potential employer and his wife. Chaos ensues and each gets into funny situations finding Joe a great match for Katey and at the end of the vacation everyone sad for leaving. What an eventful summer vacation for the Hobbs family!!!

Movie premiere