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Tony Curtis (1925-2010)

Tony Curtis (1925-2010) (photo)

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Tony Curtis, star of some of the greatest Hollywood movies of all time, died of a heart attack Wednesday, and The New York Times‘ Dave Kehr has their obituary. It’s full of details of his life and career both well-known (Curtis, born Bernard Schwartz, was a famous ladies man married five times) and obscure (he attended acting classes at The New School for Social Research with Walter Matthau).

Curtis’ cinematic immortality is assured three or four times over. Of course he’s best known today as one of the two cross-dressing musicians on the run from the mob in Billy Wilder’s “Some Like it Hot” (1959). But even if he hadn’t landed that role, or given such a brilliant performance in two different disguises (as “Josephine” and as an oil magnate who sounds suspiciously like Cary Grant), his legacy would still be strong. He played the title role in a memorable biopic of “Houdini” (1953). He earned an Oscar nomination for Stanley Kramer’s “The Defiant Ones” (1958) opposite Sidney Poitier. He collaborated with Kirk Douglas on two epic period adventures: 1958’s “The Vikings,” and 1960’s “Spartacus.” In that film Curtis appeared in one of the most notorious deleted scenes in Hollywood history, a thinly veiled homosexual encounter between his character, the slave Antonius, and Laurence Olivier’s Marcus Licinius. Olivier’s character tries to seduce Curtis while discussing his taste for “both oysters and snails.” I guess the veil was too thin; censors cut the scene, and it was lost for some thirty years until a restoration in the early 1990s by Robert Harris (available on the Criterion Collection DVD of the film).

I’ve saved one best film for last, 1957’s “Sweet Smell of Success” co-starring Burt Lancaster and, giving one of its finest performances in film to date, the city of New York, playing itself (in 1957, most movies set in New York were still shot primarily in Los Angeles). Curtis played a “cookie full of arsenic” of a press agent named Sidney Falco (a real PR firm in New York City now bears the character’s name). Though it was a critical and financial flop in its day, “Sweet Smell of Success” is now regarded as one of the best films of the ’50s, and an unusual but brilliant film noir. And Curtis is fantastic as a wildly ambitious barnacle on the hull of show business.

In 2008, Curtis told the San Francisco Chronicle “I will probably die within 15 years. I have to come to terms with that, though I almost don’t want to talk about it. When I was running around Hollywood … there was no such thing as death, not for any of us. Now I hope I’m prepared for it.” Sadly, it took a lot less than fifteen years. Early in “Sweet Smell of Success,” as Sidney lays out his plans, a character asks him where he’s trying to get. “Way up high, where it’s always balmy.” Sidney may not have made it, but Tony Curtis did.

The trailer for “Sweet Smell of Success:”

The trailer for “Some Like it Hot:”

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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