One of the best Noir duos. Who are they and what’s their mission?!
One of the best Noir duos. Who are they and what’s their mission?!
If you haven’t seen Steve Hayes’ movie reviews on You Tube, you are missing a real treat. Steve has a warm, bubbly personality with an encyclopaedic knowledge of vintage Hollywood. And an enthusiasm for his subject which is infectious.
With a background in acting and standup comedy, and a gift of mimicry, he backs up each review with anecdotes about the stars, directors and the shooting of each film.
His reviews run up to 10 minutes and he doesn’t miss a beat as he talks about the plot, the cast, the background to the film , whilst great film clips are shown. Steve himself came up with the title, TIRED OLD QUEEN AT THE MOVIES. (TOQ for short.)
A few examples:
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: “Edna May Oliver has a face like the back of beyond!”
DOUBLE INDEMNITY: “The ugliest wig in the history of movies – we hired Barbara Stanwyck for this film – we got Prince Valiant!”
VERTIGO (Steve’s favourite film):
”Seeing it on the big screen drove me crazy. It’s unbelievably beautiful, with that rich Bernard Hermann score swirling around you. Fabulous!”
On Oscar snubs:
”Thelma Ritter,’Rear Window’. Kim Novak,’Vertigo’.
Patricia Collinge, ‘Shadow of a Doubt’.
Carole Lombard, ‘Nothing Sacred’ . Fredric March, ‘Executive Suite’. “
(Cant disagree with that list.)
Steve moved to New York in 1976 and remembers walking around his neighbourhood and seeing the Thalia Theatre with a double bill of LAURA and ALL ABOUT EVE – “I stayed all day! It never occurred to me there were actual theatres that did nothing but screen the classics.
When I first came to New York in the 1970s, so many of the classic movie stars I’d idolized lived here and you could spot them around town. The first star I ever saw was Ingrid Bergman walking ahead of me on Madison Avenue. I recognised her from the back. I ran up, gushed a bit and she was very gracious.”
As Steve explained to me, “I usually watch whatever movie I’m talking about the week before unless I’ve seen them so often, it doesnt matter.
The challenge for me is to do them off the top of my head from the vast storage unit in my poor brain of what my mother used to refer to as ‘useless Hollywood knowledge!’
I work with a team of 5 incredible colleagues. We shoot two takes for each movie. In case I may have missed something – which I quite often do – like missing something integral to the film. (All done in Steve’s New York apartment which he refers to as ‘Thornfield Manor ‘ from JANE EYRE)
We shoot about 9 episodes at a time, then run one a month.”
Steve’s prized possession is an autographed copy of Robert Osborne’s “Pictorial History of the Academy Awards” . Steve told me – “I’ve had it by my bed since 1969. Robert Osborne signed it for me when a I appeared on the 20th anniversary of Turner Classic Movies and introduced the film THEM with him.”
TCM studio in Atlanta in 2014.
Steve commented, “I watch all kinds of films, lesser known, as well as bonafide classics. Like all films, some are better than others, it’s all a question of personal taste.
There are a lot of films I love that are put down as failures for one reason or another. I make it a point not to criticise the films I talk about on TOQ at the Movies.”
When I asked Steve if he was a collector, his answer was clear and precise!
“My apartment is ALL memorabilia. Film biographies of stars, directors, producers, some critics; autographed photos, posters, signed volumes…….some of my favourite things are ; a signed first edition of the screenplay of ALL ABOUT EVE, signed to me by Joseph L. Mankiewicz ; a first edition of ‘The Name Above the Title’ signed by Frank Capra; a program from the New York premiere of “Gone With The Wind”; a signed copy of ‘Memo From David O. Selznick’, by Kay Brown, his right hand assistant/girl Friday who got him to buy “Gone With The Wind”;
A letter to me from Bette Davis; signed photos to me of personal favourites, Gene Tierney, Barbara Stanwyck, Marsha Hunt and my favourite,Susan Hayward.”
Steve describes his latest stage show – “It’s a one person show in which I play Alfred Hitchcock. I have him talk about his life, his work, load it with anecdotes and try to make the audience feel as if he was sitting in their living room conducting an interview.
It’s not scripted, I improvise the whole thing as I go along.I’ve been an enormous Hitchcock fan since childhood and stored up a lot of knowledge over the years, so I simply try and relax and rely on that.”
”I‘ve been a comedian for many years and try to keep it as informative and at the same time light and funny as I can…It’s challenging and enormous fun. I’m hoping to tour with it.”
Ten years ago, Steve’s first review was of DEMETRIOUS AND THE GLADIATORS (he’s a big fan of Susan Hayward) and ten years later, he chose BACK STREET – he described the ending as ‘ a melodramatic, five hankie climax!’
And I like Steve’s take on another melodrama,IMITATION OF LIFE:
“I only like the plot with Susan Kohner and Juanita Moore. Lana Turner and Sandra Dee are too plastic to be believed.”
It’s a genuine pleasure to join the thousands of subscribers to Steve’s You Tube channel.
Here’s a fan who knows how to talk about films he likes to the rest of us fans , and makes you feel right at home at Thornfield Manor! And don’t miss his Bette Davis impersonation! So do visit Steve on You Tube at
Lots of Steve’s reviews can be viewed .
And as one commentator said, “There’s nothing tired about Steve Hayes. His enthusiasm is catching!”
Steve, many many thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions. If I ever get back to New York, can I come visit!
As always, it’s interesting to see foreign posters for Hollywood films, some with a literal translation, others making changes to titles.
SPELLBOUND (I WILL SAVE YOU.)
ALICE ADAMS (DREAM OF INVENTIVENESS)?
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (THE ETERNAL ILLUSION) ?
THE GREAT LIE (THE BIG LIE)
HIGH NOON (12 NOON)
CRISS CROSS (FOR YOU I KILLED)
PANIC IN THE STREETS
TWO FACED WOMAN (THE WOMAN WITH TWO FACES.)
A STAR IS BORN
Looks like more time was spent on the image of James Mason than Judy Garland.
VIOLENT SATURDAY (TRAGIC SATURDAY)
I suppose that Saturday was tragic as well as violent.
Sorry to hear of the death of VIRGINIA LEITH at the age of 94.
Although she only made about a dozen movies, I’ll remember Virginia in VIOLENT SATURDAY and A KISS BEFORE DYING. Two of her films I haven’t seen are ON THE THRESHOLD OF SPACE (with Guy Madison) and TOWARDS THE UNKNOWN with William Holden.
Virginia made her film debut in the first film made by a 25 year old Stanley Kubrick – FEAR AND DESIRE(1953). Apparently Kubrick tried to destroy all copies of the 62 minute film which was made on a shoestring.
A Fox contract in 1954 looked promising for Virginia and she had a small part in THE BLACK WIDOW(1954), as the artist roommate of Peggy Ann Garner, with Skip Homeier as her brother.
Another small role in WHITE FEATHER(1955), and then in her 4th film, VIOLENT SATURDAY she had a bigger role and she doesn’t get lost in the big cast.
In 1956, she costarred in On The Threshold of Space and Towards The Unknown, but A Kiss Before Dying, also in 1956 was probably her biggest part as she tries to find out how her sister (Joanne Woodward )died.
It looked as if Twentieth Century were happy with Virginia, but suddenly after Towards The Unknown, she made no more films for Fox.
Virginia married in 1960 and left acting, though she did return briefly in 1962 in THE BRAIN THAT WOULDNT DIE – which sounds pretty awful!
Virginia also made a few TV appearances in the 60s.
It looks like Fox had plans for Virginia. I wonder what happened.
Kipp Hamilton didn’t last long either.
John Hodiak’ s last film.
Cockney rhyming slang is always fun, but this one was new to me :
“I’ve lost my gregorys ”
Gregory Pecks – Specs!
And a designer eyewear firm, Oliver Peoples, brought out the Gregory Peck inspired retro collection in 2011 ,on the 50th anniversary of the Harper Lee To Kill A Mockingbird novel and film.
Made in Italy, the Peck inspired spectacles were described as “best paired with a three-piece suit, giving that typical Gregory Peck look from the 1960s.”!
Variety called him “Hollywood’s Living Memory”.
Today NORMAN LLOYD, born on the 8th of November, 1914, is 105 years old. He will forever be remembered for his very first film, SABOTEUR (1942) . Think Statue of Liberty, jacket shoulder seams…..!
A brilliant raconteur, with a wonderful memory, Norman has been interviewed many times about his life and career. I listened to him describe that final scene in “Saboteur” from an interview he did 20 years ago on EmmyTVlegends.org
“As the villain, I am being chased down to the bottom of Manhattan island which in those days was called the Battery…….he goes into the Statue and up to the top where he has a scene with Priscilla Lane and then he sees the police and FBI…..he sees them coming in from the crown of the Statue…….he gets onto the torch which has a railing around it, and Bob Cummings comes out – Bob makes a gesture at me with his gun, frightens me and I go backwards over the railing.
“This was a stunt by Davie Sharp – he did this fall, free falling through the air and caught between the hand’s thumb and forefinger – and done without a net.
The hand and torch were built to scale – exactly like the real Statue. Bob Cummings comes along the finger and grabs my sleeve…..Hitchcock keeps cutting to the shoulder seams -you see the seam begin to go. Bob Cummings is left with nothing but a sleeve!
At the premiere, writer Ben Hecht remarked, ‘He should have had a better tailor!”
They run that scene every day on the Universal tours. It was a memorable shot.”
Norman also appeared in Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND (1945), as one of Ingrid Bergman’s patients. Norman recalled that he got the finest piece of direction ever in a scene where Hitchcock tells him, “In this scene you’re supposed to sweat. Start sweating!”
Norman was a charter member of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre and it was producer John Houseman who recommended Norman to Alfred Hitchcock for the part of the spy in “Saboteur”.
Active on the stage and television as well as films, Norman became a director/ producer on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” in 1957.
Norman loved playing tennis and was still playing up until 2015. His tennis partners included Charlie Chaplin.
His wife Peggy passed away in 2011. They had been married since 1936.
On his 100th birthday, Los Angeles City Council named it “Norman Lloyd Day.”
I still recall watching the tv series “St. Elsewhere” which he starred in from 1982 to 1988.
You Tube is a wonderful source of interviews with this fine performer.
The last one I watched was from 2017 when he attended a showing of Hitchcock’s JAMAICA INN. Even then he spoke well, saying “I have never seen Jamaica Inn. I know it was the last picture Mr. Hitchcock made before leaving England…..I think Charles Laughton had genius.”
What can I say. This man remembers seeing the original Broadway production of SHOW BOAT in 1927.
Thank heavens his wonderful memories are preserved for future film historians.