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Loretta Young column accused of ‘whitewash’; history suggests Anne Hathaway will win Oscar

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21 2013 4:35 p.m. MST

The 12 that I spotted are Janet Gaynor (“Street Angel,” 1928), Helen Hayes (“The Sin of Madelon Claudet,” 1931), Anne Baxter (“The Razor’s Edge,” 1946), Susan Hayward (“I Want to Live!” 1958), Jo Van Fleet (“East of Eden,” 1955), Elizabeth Taylor (“Butterfield 8,” 1960), Jane Fonda (“Klute,” 1971), Mira Sorvino (“Mighty Aphrodite,” 1995), Kim Basinger (“L.A. Confidential,” 1997) and Charlize Theron (“Monster,” 2003). Plus two actresses who were stereotyped as very chaste characters both in their early films and later in TV series: Donna Reed (“From Here to Eternity,” 1953) and Shirley Jones (“Elmer Gantry,” 1960).

Movies based on the best-selling novels of Nicholas Sparks won’t be winning any awards — except where it counts, at the box office. And that, of course, explains why there is a Sparks motion-picture cottage industry, a la Stephen King and John Grisham.

“Safe Haven” is the eighth Sparks novel-to-movie, after “Message in a Bottle,” “A Walk to Remember,” “The Notebook,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “Dear John,” “The Last Song” and “The Lucky One.”

And it’s the first to have his name in the opening credits three times, as the author of the source material, as a producer and with the up-front label: “Nicholas Sparks Productions.” And since “Safe Haven” opened big, giving “A Good Day to Die Hard” a run for its money from Valentine’s Day through Presidents Day, there will most certainly be more Sparks books in development.

There is a formula to the author's stories. Each is bathed liberally in thick sentimentality, and at least every other story has a widow or widower with children, an aged parent who is infirm or ill, a pivotal character with a secret, letters or notes that figure prominently, and in every one that has been filmed so far, a significant character dies.

In fact, it’s been a joke between my wife and me for a few years now that when Sparks’ name turns up in a trailer, we say aloud, “Wonder who dies in this one.”

But “Safe Haven,” to my knowledge, marks the first time Sparks appears to have lifted his plot from another famous (22-year-old) film derived from a novel: “Sleeping With the Enemy.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Did anyone else notice that “Zero Dark Thirty” says up front it’s based on a true story but at the end it also has the usual disclaimer that says any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental? Hmmm.

And why is there a choreographer listed in the credits of “Les Miserables” when this particular musical has no dancing?

If you’re a Cecil B. DeMille fan, you may have wondered why “Samson & Delilah” has never been on DVD. Me too. But here it comes. Sixty-three years after its initial release, the biblical tale that served as a dry run for DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” is headed for its disc debut.

Victor Mature plays strongman Samson and Hedy Lamarr sizzles as Delilah, with Angela Lansbury and George Sanders in support. The film has reportedly received a major digital cleansing so that the Technicolor cinematography is stunning. Date of release: March 12.

E-MAIL: hicks@desnews.com

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