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Michael Jace, O.J. Simpson: Hollywood's Most Shocking Murders


Michael Jace Natalie Wood Jennifer Hudson

The shocking news that “The Shield” actor Michael Jace killed his wife of 10 years has shocked the entertainment world. For non-celebrities the life of famous people always seems so glamorous and stress-free, so it’s a surprise when it turns out their lives can be more troubled and complicated below the surface than anyone had ever realised.

Hollywood Most Shocking Murders Natalie Wood, pictured with James Dean, mysteriously drowned while on a yachting trip with her husband and Christopher Walken

The world was just as rocked by these shocking celebrity crimes as it was by Jace’s arrest and subsequent confession.

Continue reading: Michael Jace, O.J. Simpson: Hollywood's Most Shocking Murders

Robert Wagner: Suspect? No, But Actor Declines Police Interview


Robert Wagner Natalie Wood Christopher Walken

Robert Wagner is still not thought to be an official suspect in the death of his wife Natalie Wood, though the Hart To Hart star has "declined to be interviewed" by police re-investigating the strange drowning of the Hollywood star. The body of the actress was found a mile away from the yacht she had been aboard with Wagner and Christopher Walken in California, 1981, reports BBC News.

Wood's death was also presumed to be a tragic accident, though the case was reopened in 2011 when the yacht's captain Dennis Davern told various American television shows that he heard the Hollywood couple arguing on the night of her disappearance. Though Wagner suggested she could have slipped into the water after reaching overboard to tie down a lifeboat, Wood was known to be terrified by water. The actor's solicitor Blair Berk said Wagner had nothing to hide, "Mr Wagner has fully co-operated over the last 30 years in the investigation of the accidental drowning of his wife in 1981. He has been interviewed on multiple occasions by the Los Angeles sheriff's department and answered every single question asked of him by detectives during those interviews," read a statement. Earlier this week, coroner's officials released an updated autopsy report which reclassified the death from accidental drowning to drowning caused by "undetermined factors." Investigators are looking into bruises and marks found on Wood's body.

Lieutenant John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office claimed detectives tried to interview Wagner on more than 10 occasions, but had been turned down each time. He said: "Most of the people we've talked to were never talked to 30 years ago. We've got a lot of new information."

Natalie Wood's Mysterious Death Re-Examined, but Cause of Death 'Left Undetermined'


Natalie Wood

The child star of the wonderful original of Miracle on 34th Street, Natalie Wood, died at the age of 43 way back in 1981. For the past thirty years it had been thought her death by drowning was an accident, but since the case was re-examined last year it appears there may have been foul play involved in her death.

As the LA Times reports "there were recent bruises to the back of the left thigh. A few day old bruises were on the back of the right thigh and knee but there were fresh bruises and scratches to the right posterior leg... The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to the entry into the water." 

Although this points towards further suspicious circumstances, the police say that nothing is conclusive. Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Sheriff said: "This remains an ongoing investigation... Yes this is a revelation to the public but this report was written in June 2012." 

Continue reading: Natalie Wood's Mysterious Death Re-Examined, but Cause of Death 'Left Undetermined'

Natalie Wood Death: Bruises Suggest Hollywood Actress Was Assaulted


Natalie Wood Robert Wagner Christopher Walken

Natalie Wood, James Dean, Rebel Without A CauseNatalie Wood And James Dean In The Classic Movie 'Rebel Without A Cause'

An explosive new report into the death of Natalie Wood by the Los Angeles County Coroner's report questions the original 1981 findings that led investigators to conclude Wood died accidentally, reports the Los Angeles Times. Wood - who was known to be terrified of the water - was assumed to have fallen overboard during a boating trip with husband Robert Wagner and the actor Christopher Walken.

A new report concludes that bruising on Wood's wrists and other areas are more consistent with injuries from an assault prior to the point in which she entered the water. The findings stop short of classifying her death as a homicide, though suggest it may not be as simple an explanation as accidental death. Additional sources who spoke with the L.A. Times said the bruises were originally overlooked in the accidental-death finding more than 30 years ago. At the time of her death, husband Robert Wagner told authorities that Wood fell off their 60-foot yacht Spendour possibly while trying to re-tie a dinghy that had been banging against the side of the boat, disturbing her sleep.

Continue reading: Natalie Wood Death: Bruises Suggest Hollywood Actress Was Assaulted

in the film 'Rebel Without A Cause'

James Dean and Natalie Wood - James Dean and Natalie Wood USA - in the film 'Rebel Without A Cause' Thursday 1st January 1970

The Searchers Review


Essential
When Orson Welles was asked by an interviewer who he thought were the top three American directors of all time, he simply said: "John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford." If that wasn't enough, Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa simply called Ford the best director who ever lived, American or other. However, if you were to ask most film students who directed My Darling Clementine, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and The Searchers, they'd stare at you as if you asked them who was the father of tap dancing (sorry, Bojangles). Truth be told, there is a certain anti-patriotism going on in modern cinema studies, and don't get me started on the current attitude towards Westerns (most find them boring or overly chauvinistic). It doesn't matter what your attitude is; the minute The Searchers begins, it's impossible to look away.

In rural Texas, Ethan Edwards (the immortal John Wayne) returns from the Civil War, where he fought for the Confederacy. His brother and his family welcome him home, but it's obvious that there are problems between the brothers, especially when Ethan is introduced to his adopted nephew, Martin (Jeffrey Hunter), who is part Indian. While out one day, Martin and Ethan trade barbs that bring out Ethan's chilling racism, but that dissipates when they return home to find the brother's house burned down, most dead, and the two girls, Lucy and Debbie, missing. Ethan and Martin quickly find Lucy, raped and murdered, and set out to find Debbie. While they are searching, Martin falls for Laurie (Vera Miles), a white girl whose family offers them a place for the night.

Continue reading: The Searchers Review

Miracle on 34th Street Review


Excellent
Santa on trial! This Christmas classic has the inimitable Edmund Gwenn (who won an Oscar for his role) in full Santa regalia, wandering through Manhattan and telling a storefront setup guy he's got the reindeer out of order in the window display. The lighthearted comedy continues as Kris Kringle gets a job a Macy's department store... where he promptly begins sending customers elsewhere. This in turn lands him in a shrink's office and en route to a sanitarium. That's right: Good customer service is completely insane! The third act of the film gives it its rousing core, as Kringle is seated before a judge to prove he isn't crazy. The outpouring of support for him (including nonbeliever Maureen O'Hara and daughter Natalie Wood) makes the movie utterly priceless and unforgettable. You want the spirit of Christmas? It's all right here.

Continue reading: Miracle on 34th Street Review

The Searchers Review


Essential
When Orson Welles was asked by an interviewer who he thought were the top three American directors of all time, he simply said: "John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford." If that wasn't enough, Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa simply called Ford the best director who ever lived, American or other. However, if you were to ask most film students who directed My Darling Clementine, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and The Searchers, they'd stare at you as if you asked them who was the father of tap dancing (sorry, Bojangles). Truth be told, there is a certain anti-patriotism going on in modern cinema studies, and don't get me started on the current attitude towards Westerns (most find them boring or overly chauvinistic). It doesn't matter what your attitude is; the minute The Searchers begins, it's impossible to look away.

In rural Texas, Ethan Edwards (the immortal John Wayne) returns from the Civil War, where he fought for the Confederacy. His brother and his family welcome him home, but it's obvious that there are problems between the brothers, especially when Ethan is introduced to his adopted nephew, Martin (Jeffrey Hunter), who is part Indian. While out one day, Martin and Ethan trade barbs that bring out Ethan's chilling racism, but that dissipates when they return home to find the brother's house burned down, most dead, and the two girls, Lucy and Debbie, missing. Ethan and Martin quickly find Lucy, raped and murdered, and set out to find Debbie. While they are searching, Martin falls for Laurie (Vera Miles), a white girl whose family offers them a place for the night.

Continue reading: The Searchers Review

West Side Story Review


Excellent
It's hard to feel manly watching West Side Story. Really hard. And that's strange, because it's about two groups of murderous street gangs (one white, one Puerto Rican) in New York City. I guess it's the dancing, the pastel outfits, and the really tight pants that make it seem so frilly.

I kid, of course. Among movie musicals, West Side Story ranks in the top five in greatness, and it's arguably the most popular musical ever released. It may be awfully frou-frou -- and let's face it, the dance numbers are awfully similar -- but West Side Story has a tale as timeless as its source material (Romeo and Juliet) and countless songs that have become musical classics. "Maria," "America," "I Feel Pretty," "Tonight" -- you can probably hum these without even thinking about it.

Continue reading: West Side Story Review

The Star Review


OK
Poor Margaret Elliot: A broke actress, past her prime, desperately holding on to her former glory. Were it not for Sunset Boulevard's appearance only two years earlier, people might actually have remembered The Star, a role for which Bette Davis earned an Oscar nomination but which now stands as a barely memorable and largely cliched performance.

The Star is a straight-up shot at a washed-up has-been. Her star years behind her, Davis's Elliot tries to fight her way back to the screen, failing to realize she's no longer a sexy vamp (Davis was 44 at the time) and nobody cares about her Oscar (here Davis is seen clutching one of her real statuettes) any more. It ultimately falls to old flame Barry Lester (Sterling Hayden in a remarkably soft and surprisingly quiet performance) to coax her back into reality, though his big idea -- that she should become a salesperson at Saks Fifth Avenue -- comes off as a little bit insulting.

Continue reading: The Star Review

Love with the Proper Stranger Review


Weak
Quaint, old-fashioned, and overwrought, this minor classic from the early 1960s features McQueen as a pick-up musician and Wood as a still-living-at-home goodie-goodie who come together after a one-night stand, when Wood discovers she is pregnant with his baby. Managing to be both pro-abortion and pro-family values, Love with the Proper Stranger is hardly the highlight of either star's career, but it is a cute diversion.

Continue reading: Love with the Proper Stranger Review

Rebel Without a Cause Review


Excellent
Rebel Without a Cause, the second of the three films James Dean starred in before his untimely death, is the movie that made him an instant legend. Released just 27 days after his fatal car crash, the film froze him in time and later took on even more legendary proportions when his co-stars, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, also died premature deaths. (Amazingly enough, Dennis Hopper, who appeared in two Dean movies, is still alive.)

Nicholas Ray's study of the epidemic of juvenile delinquency that terrified post-war parents in the '50s is still compelling today even if the delinquency depicted -- leather jackets, switchblades, drag racing -- seems positively quaint by today's shoot-up-the-school-with-an-Uzi standards. Dean takes the role of Jim Trask and runs with it, chewing up the scenery when the script demands it and then throttling back into profound stillness in his moodier moments.

Continue reading: Rebel Without a Cause Review

This Property Is Condemned Review


Grim
Let's get beyond the awful title. (It's based on an obscure Tennessee Williams play... but why didn't they change the name!?)

Let's look at the crew -- a script co-written by Francis Ford Coppola and John Houseman as producer!

Continue reading: This Property Is Condemned Review

Gypsy Review


Good
Rosalind Russell is most-mentioned when Gypsy, the life story of famed Burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee, but Natalie Wood is really the show-stealer as the titular character. Her nuanced performance as a Vaudevillian, thrust into stripping after its death, puts Russell's shrieking Mama Rose to shame. Not that she isn't good, but hey, how do you compete on screen with Ms. Wood? While the story is solid, mainly tracing Gypsy's time as a child being carted around the country by mom and Karl Malden's candy salesman in an attempt to Make It Big, the music is weak overall, with but two numbers ("Let Me Entertain You" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses") being even remotely memorable.

Splendor in the Grass Review


OK
You only get one chance to see the words "and introducing Warren Beatty," and that's in Splendor in the Grass, Elia Kazan's sprawling love story about tortured teens (Natalie Wood and Beatty) who drift together and apart and together and apart through the 1920s and 1930s. This flip-side of Rebel Without a Cause is really Wood's movie altogether, though a really down and droll last act weakens her emotional tour de force in the first half substantially. Watchable but not great.
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