Academy Awards

Films on Friday

The weather has been definitively wonky of late.  One day it's 70 degrees, the next it's 40. There's been snow, rain, sunshine. It's also flu season. We here at the American Treasure Tour think you're best off just calling out of work.  If you don't have any actual signs of illness, then come to the American Treasure Tour Thursday through Sunday (oh, right. Did we mention we're open on Sundays now? Noon to 4pm. Come by and check in!). But if you're starting to feel a little icky, then just head directly to your local pharmacy. Get some medicine, get lots of chocolate, and pack it in. It's movie time!

Maltese Falcon.jpg

We recommend a classic noir for today - The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart in one of his finest roles. This John Huston-directed crime drama was released in 1941, with Bogart as the famous gumshoe Sam Spade, and Mary Astor as his client who seems to know a little more than she's letting on. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet both add a criminal element, as they search for an elusive "black figure of a bird." This is the famous Maltese falcon their looking for, a legendary statue made of gold. Will they find the falcon? Will the bad guys get what's coming to them - once it's figured out who the actual bad guys are? (not so clear cut in a film like this)? You'll just have to watch the movie to get your answer.  And please, don't confuse the "Maltese" falcon with the "Millennium" Falcon. This is not a spaceship, ladies and gentlemen.


QUESTION:  The 1927 film Underworld depicts life in the depths of criminal action in the city. Whose actions are told in the 21st century Underworld franchise?
A). Gnomes and trolls in the underground world of the forest
B). Humans in a dystopian future after nuclear war destroyed the world above
C). Vampires and werewolves fighting each other
D). The sew shop employees where the world's undergarment industries are headquartered

In our Music Room here at the American Treasure Tour, we celebrate the history of film through posters and headshots. Today's blog is dedicated to a film that was released in 1927, but it almost never happened. It was the end of the silent film era. The Jazz Singer would be released that year, the first film with sound.  Movies were already a big deal by the Twenties and one of the most popular form of entertainment in the nation.

Released on August 20, 1927, Underworld had been written off by its distributor Paramount Pictures before it even reached the theater. It was written by Ben Hecht, then altered by other writers. Hecht was unhappy with the changes and tried to get his name removed from the credits.  Paramount considered the film to be sloppy.  Then, the original director, Arthur Rossen, was fired and replaced with Josef von Sternberg, who was only thirty-three at the time and not yet established in Hollywood. The film is about gangsters and a criminal love triangle. (It is available on video through the Criterion Collection, so we don't want to spoil anything here.) Upon its completion, Paramount decided they would give it a release in exactly one movie theater - in New York City. Fortunately, people saw it and liked it so much that it became a hit and Paramount was compelled to give it wider distribution. The movie garnered an Academy Award for Ben Hecht - the first movie ever to win a writing award - and has gone on to be regarded as one of the best gangster films ever made. How's that for a disappointment?

ANSWER:  C). Vampires and werewolves fighting each other.

Cecily Tyson -- December 19, 2015


Happy 81st Birthday to Cicely Tyson! Born in Harlem, she worked as a typist before being discovered by a photographer from Ebony magazine at the age of 18. Tyson began acting in the 1950s and, in 1968, had a featured role in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. She was nominated for an Oscar in 1972’s Sounder and, in 1974, was the first African-American woman to win an Emmy. In fact, she won two that year: one for Best Actress in a Drama for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and a special Emmy for Actress of the Year. In 1977, Tyson appeared in the tremendously successful TV miniseries Roots. She is still acting and winning accolades today. She earned a third Emmy for 1994’s Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and, most recently, Tyson became the oldest person ever to win a Tony for her Broadway performance in The Trip to Bountiful in 2013.  



Cecily Tyson appeared in 2011’s The Help, based on the book by Kathryn Stockett. How many times was the book rejected before it was finally published?

a) 10

b) 30

c) 60

d) 70

Answer below!


Tyson was married to famed jazz trumpeter Miles Davis from 1981-1988. They wed in the home of Bill Cosby, who was Davis’s best man.


I think when you begin to think of yourself as having achieved something, then there's nothing left for you to work towards. I want to believe that there is a mountain so high that I will spend my entire life striving to reach the top of it.

~Cecily Tyson


c) 60

Cecily Tyson and Emma Stone in 2011's  The Help .

Cecily Tyson and Emma Stone in 2011's The Help.

Steven Spielberg -- December 18, 2014

Happy 68th Birthday to Steven Spielberg! One of the most successful, influential, and prolific director/producers in Hollywood history, Spielberg dropped out of college to begin working in the film industry. He's done okay for himself without that degree.

Here is just a partial list of his incomparable filmography:


The Sugarland Express


Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Twilight Zone: The Movie

The Color Purple


Jurassic Park

Schindler’s List


Saving Private Ryan

Catch Me If You Can

The Adventures of Tintin

War Horse


Pretty impressive list! Not to mention the episodes of Marcus Welby, M.D., Night Gallery, and Columbo he directed. 

Pretty impressive list! Not to mention the episodes of Marcus Welby, M.D., Night Gallery, and Columbo he directed. 


How many actors have been directed to Oscar-nominated performances by Spielberg?

a) 0

b) 5

c) 12

d) 14

Answer below!


Ready to bawl? Check out Henry Thomas’s role-winning audition for E.T. Listen for Spielberg’s direction at the beginning and his immediate approval at the end. 

Okay, now you need a laugh, so check out these bloopers from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Who can forget the scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind featuring John Williams’ out-of-this-world composition? Do you hear the nod to Jaws


Spielberg declined a salary for directing 1993’s multi-Oscar-winning Schindler’s List, saying that it would be “blood money.” He also insisted that all his royalties and residuals from the film go to the Shoah Foundation, an organization founded by Spielberg, which records first-person accounts of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. 


We can blame Spielberg for the now commonplace practice of product placement in films. He was denied permission to use M&Ms in 1982’s E.T The Extra-Terrestrial and used Reese’s Pieces instead, whose sales skyrocketed a reported 65% upon release of the film. 


After a scary movie about the world almost ending, we can walk into the sunlight and say, "Wow, everything's still here. I'm OK!" We like to tease ourselves. Human beings have a need to get close to the edge and, when filmmakers or writers can take them to the edge, it feels like a dream where you're falling, but you wake up just before you hit the ground. ~Steven Spielberg


c) Spielberg directed 12 actors to Oscar nominations:

Melinda Dillon—Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Whoopi Goldberg—The Color Purple

Oprah Winfrey—The Color Purple

Margaret Avery—The Color Purple

Liam Neeson—Schindler’s List

Ralph Fiennes-- Schindler’s List

Anthony Hopkins—Amistad

Tom Hanks—Saving Private Ryan

Christopher Walken—Catch Me If You Can

Tommy Lee Jones—Lincoln

Sally Field—Lincoln 

Daniel Day-Lewis—Lincoln

Day-Lewis is the only one to walk away with the coveted statue. 

Freddy Fender - May 16, 2014

We at the American Treasure Tour blog are slowly coming to the realization that we have been having way too much fun writing about the record albums on our walls for the last few weeks. We promise to mix things up again soon, but we simply have to talk about Freddy Fender today.  His album Before The Next Teardrop Falls is located just above eye level, and below The Partridge Family Sound Magazine (in time, in time...).  But Freddy is a rare find in popular music:  a Mexican-American artist whose blend of country and rock & roll music reached number one in both genres.

Baldemar Garza Huerta was born in San Benito, Texas on June 4th, 1937.  He had a natural gift with music, singing on the radio before his eleventh birthday.  At seventeen, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and got into some trouble due to substance abuse before returning to private life and his musical career.  In 1958, he legally changed his name to Fender, after the guitar and amplifier manufacturer.  He felt Freddy complimented the name nicely, and it was official.  Before The Next Teardrop Falls is not only Fender's first album, released in 1974, but also his biggest seller.  Number one in the country charts, number twenty in the States, it includes his two biggest hits, including "Teardrop" and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights."  He released a total of twenty albums prior to his death in 2006 from lung cancer.  His dying wish was to be the first Mexican-American inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  We can hope that it happens for him....


Which of the following styles of music proved a big influence on Freddy's musical stylings?

a)  Swamp pop

b)  Grunge rock

c)  Latino club

d)  Gangsta rap

e)  Folk ballad

Answer Below


It seems like part of the American dynamic is to wander.  Emigration to the colonies, then internal migration from east to west, were to be expected during a time when vast unclaimed lands could easily be found towards the sun.  Today in 1843, the first major wagon train departed from Elm Grove, Missouri, just outside of Kansas City, Missouri, heading west on the Oregon Trail. Over one thousand pioneers were looking for opportunity in the Pacific Northwest, optimistic to start new lives on the west coast.  Although many dangers lay in store for them, very few raids by Native Americans are recorded to have ever happened during these migrations, despite the depiction in Hollywood..  More deadly to the original settlers were the constant threats of dehydration, hunger, accidents and disease.  

Today marks the landmark beginning of a tradition that has influenced the movie-going habits of people both in the United States and across the world.  In 1929, the very first Academy Awards were handed out to creators of cinematic magic in the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. The Roosevelt was only two years old when the ceremony occurred in its Blossom Ballroom for only 250 attendees.  The William Wellman-directed film Wings won the big prize that day - the only completely silent film to ever have the honor.


Speaking of Academy Awards, we would like to celebrate the birthday of an Oscar-winning actor who not only starred in many important films during his own illustrious career, but also was the patriarch of a family of other acclaimed actors.  Henry Fonda was born today in 1905. Although the family can trace its heritage to the New Netherland colony (which predates New York), Henry was born in Grand Island, Nebraska.  A shy boy, he loved the theater and started acting in his youth.  It paid off, because he was cast as Tom Joad in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in 1940, the politically charged Ox-Bow Incident three years later, as well as many other noteworthy films before going to the Central Pacific during World War II.  Playing good-natured protagonists made his turn as the ruthless villain Frank in 1968's Once Upon a Time in the West that much more dramatic.

The name is Brosnan.  Pierce Brosnan.  Born in Ireland on this day in 1953, Brosnan moved to the United States at the age of 29, anxious to break into Hollywood once he received his training on the London stage.  It took a few more years before he obtained his American citizenship, which happened in 2004, but better late than never.  His first major role was in television, as the main character in the popular program Remington Steele from 1982 to 1987.  He had been targeted to replace Roger Moore in the roll of James Bond upon Moore's retirement in the late-1980s, but contractual obligations forbade him from being cast until 1995, with the extremely popular GoldenEye.  He made four Bond films before Daniel Craig replaced him as the iconic super spy.  He continues to make films of all sorts to this day.

QuOTE:  We owe it to our children to be better stewards of the environment.  The alternative?  A world without whales.  It's too terrible to imagine. - Pierce Brosnan

Answer:  a) Swamp pop.  In fact, in 1978, Freddy released an album called Swamp Gold.

Best Picture Montage - April 1, 2014

The American Treasure Tour blog has recently dedicated two of our entries to framed mirror art located in our Toy Box, one dedicated to Humphrey Bogart, a second dedicated to Clark Gable. There is a third hanging next to those two, and that one crams in images of as many Academy Award Best Picture winners as artistically possible.

We realize the picture of this piece we are including in the blog is just too small to do it justice - which means you really have to visit the tour to actually see it.  It is pretty cool.  Okay, fine.  It's really cool. There are too many movies included to get into detail, but here is a condensed list:  Gigi. On the Waterfront, Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Midnight Cowboy, The Deer Hunter, The Sting, Casablanca, Oliver!, Ben-Hur, The Life of Emil Zola, West-Side Story, Cavalcade. They're all here - at least the movies that won Best Picture through the 1970s.  If you know anything about winners of the Oscar, you can guess some of the other posters included here.  They all started with the William Wellman silent 1927 film Wings, the first movie to be awarded Best Picture and continue to this day.  12 Years a Slave is the most recent film to receive this highest honor among films and filmmakers, which most certainly is NOT included on this piece of mirror art.


Which of the following films did not win the Best Picture Academy Award?

a)  Kramer Vs. Kramer

b)  Saving Private Ryan

c)  Hurt Locker

d)  Cimarron

e)  Braveheart

Answer Below


April 1st is a very special day - not just because it's April Fool's Day, and not just because it's a great day for a wedding - because it is the anniversary of the day that William Wrigley Jr. opened his famous baking powder company in Chicago, Illinois, way back in 1891.  As a promotion, Wrigley included a package of chewing gum in every can of baking powder he sold. His customers liked the gum more than the baking powder, so he ultimately stopped its production and stuck with the gum.  Wrigley's company continues strong today, with its iconic skyscraper in downtown Chicago, the famous Wrigley Field, and recent acquisition of Altoids and Life Savers.  An empire built on chewing gum....

Another anniversary for today, more important to national defense than gum, recognizes sixty years since the establishment of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The youngest of the five military service academies, President Eisenhower made into law a facility "to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers of character, motivated to lead the United State Air Force in service to our nation."  Thank you President Eisenhower and thank you to all the brave men and women who have ever graduated from the United States Air Force Academy!


Speaking of Colorado Springs, Colorado, our first birthday honoree first entered the world in that beautiful city, back in 1893.  The heroically-named Leonidas "Lon" Chaney grew up in a quiet world - both his parents were deaf.  He learned the art of pantomime as he strove to communicate with them. He entered the theater at a young age, and remained there until a scandal compelled him into film.  He earned the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces" because of his adept ability to transform into often-terrifying characters through skill and make-up.  Chaney starred in dozens of films, playing the iconic Phantom of the Opera and Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  He appeared in dozens of movies between 1912 and his untimely death at the age of 47 in 1930.  His son, Lon Chaney, Jr., carried on the family trade until his own passing in 1973. 

We are happy to celebrate Jane Powell's birthday with her today.  This April Fool's baby is turning 85 today. The perky redhead has a legacy of many movie musicals to her credit, including 1951's Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers three years later, and 1955's Hit the Deck.  She has also spent quite a bit of time on stage, in television, and doing voice work, including 1975's Tubby the Tuba.  She currently lives with her fifth husband and former Little Rascal, Dickie Moore.  Happy birthday, Jane!


Remember my dear, you are an actress.  You don't have to live the part, just act it.  The point is not for you to cry but to make your audience cry.  You have to be in control of yourself... - Lon Chaney Sr.


Answer:  b)  Saving Private Ryan.  It lost to Shakespeare In Love in 1998