Today’s Topic: Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype
Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl
I’ll admit that the more praise a book receives the more skeptical I am that it deserves it. Some books, I will even put off reading because of the hype. Sometimes I’m right and the book doesn’t live up to the praise. But sometimes I’m wrong and happy to discover a new favorite. As usual, I couldn’t stick to ten.
The greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.
Fred Rogers and his television program Mister Rogers Neighborhood have been a consistent staple in the lives of children for decades. I did not grow up watching this childhood favorite. Still I remained aware of the identity of Mr. Rogers and the influence of his show.
It’s not often I have the opportunity to watch a documentary in my small city. As I am a fan of ordinary, everyday heroes, I knew I had to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? when it actually came to my local theater.
This documentary, produced with care and respect, is a beautiful portrait of a man who dedicated his life to the education of children. Whereas we generally think of education as facts and dates we learn in school, Fred Rogers chose to educate the hearts and souls of children as to the truth of their identity. Much like the famous quote from the film The Help, “you is smart, you is kind, you is important” Fred’s mission was to teach children to believe that same truth. Continue reading “Documentary Review -Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018)”
Nine years to win her. Three years to love her. And one decision that destroyed it all.
April Duncan was raised with three clear truths: the family name is absolute, ambition and success rule over every emotion, and love always comes with strings attached. Image was everything in her carefully crafted world… until the mirror cracked.
Sean Taylor was April’s best friend, the one man who taught her it was okay to let her guard down and to rely on someone. She trusted him. She loved him. Which made his deception the darkest kind of cruelty.
Now, nearly a year later, she’s ready to leave her failed engagement in the past and get back her life and her estranged family, even if it means dating a man solely for his connections. She’ll never again choose love over loyalty.
Sean has spent his entire life breaking barriers, facing challenges, and never giving up. Until one impossible choice destroyed his future and left him no option but to flee from the woman who annihilated his heart.
Now he’s back in Bentwood and determined to make her hear the truth and rebuild the trust he shattered. But April has become a mere shell of the woman who claimed his heart long ago.
For access to British programming, Amazon Prime is becoming one of my go-to streaming sites for beloved series like Downton Abbey, Poldark, Endeavour, Call the Midwife, Victoria and others. Although, two of my favorite series, North and South and The Paradise can be found on Netflix.
But Amazon Prime is also a source for many other lesser known British series productions, as I am happily discovering. Many of these are based on true stories or literature by well-known authors. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised so far by how much I am enjoying some of these series. Here are just a few which I have seen lately and can recommend. Continue reading “Six Lesser Known Series Adaptations on Amazon Prime”
Bringing Up Baby was my first introduction to the world of classic film. It was also my first experience with the screwball comedy genre as well as Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. With such an auspicious initiation, is it any wonder that I not only adore classic films, but that both Grant and Hepburn along with the screwball comedy genre remain my very favorites. No matter how many (countless) times I watch this picture, it never fails to entertain and to lift my spirits.SUMMARY
David Huxley is a paleontologist who is THIS close to completing the skeleton of a Brontosaurus. He just lacks installation of the final bone (the intercostal clavicle) and funding in the form of a million dollar donation by the wealthy Mrs. Carlton Random. He is also one day away from a marriage of convenience to the dull and practical Alice Swallow.
David’s meeting with Mrs. Random’s attorney, Mr. Peabody, is unfortunately disrupted by Susan Vance. After a meet cute filled with confusion, theft and mishaps, David is forced to reschedule his meeting for that same evening. However, David’s bad luck continues as he once again runs into Susan who once again ruins his meeting.
Susan, however is besotted and decides David is the man for her. Believing him to be a zoologist, Susan tracks him down to request his help. Her brother has sent a tame pet leopard as a gift for their aunt. Despite David’s refusal to help Susan deliver ‘Baby’, Susan coerces him by promising to speak to Mr. Peabody on his behalf. Unknown to David, Mrs. Random just happens to be Susan’s aunt.
David and Susan head off to the family’s Connecticut farm to deliver Baby. But Susan being Susan, everything that can go wrong does. Add in the family dog George who buries the intercostal clavicle, an escaped killer leopard, a visit from a family friend who is a big-game hunter and Susan’s introduction of David as a man recovering from a nervous breakdown and you’ve got the recipe for one of the funniest movies ever.
Not too many years ago, I happened across a Ginger Rogers film I had never seen or even heard of before. Romance in Manhattan turned out to be not only a lovely little movie, but also became one of my favorites. As much as I love the pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce others to this lesser known charmer which co-stars Ginger with Francis Lederer.
Karel Novak (Lederer) has worked hard to achieve his dream of immigrating to America. A native of Czechoslovakia, he meets all the legal requirements for entry. However, upon his arrival he learns that one of those requirements has changed and he is to be deported back to his home country.
Karel can’t bear the thought that he must return home. Leaving his belongings and money behind, he escapes into New York City, where he is certain he will find work. However, the only luck Karel has is meeting the kind and compassionate show girl Sylvia Dennis (Rogers). Sylvia is the sole caretaker for her younger brother Frank (Jimmy Butler) and is barely making ends meet herself. But she offers Karel food, a place to sleep and help in finding a job.
As weeks and months pass, Karel becomes a welcome addition to the lives of Sylvia and her brother Frank. Karel finds a job as a taxi driver and helps contribute to the household. He also manages to befriend police officer Murphy (J. Farrell McDonald), despite living in fear of discovery and deportation.
Sylvia and Karel begin to fall for each other, but Sylvia prefers to marry a millionaire. She is sick of poverty and seeks security for herself and Frank. This desire becomes even more important when both she and Karel find themselves out of work just as social services threaten to take Frank away from her. Karel however, is convinced that love will find a way and proposes to Sylvia. But their problems are far from over. A shady lawyer reports Karel’s immigrant status and Frank is taken from Sylvia. But with a little help from Officer Murphy, Karel and Sylvia may just have a chance.
In today’s climate, it would be easy to politicize a film like Romance in Manhattan. Especially as it features the story of an immigrant whose dream of America motivates him to break the law when one subjective requirement threatens to obliterate his hope and sacrifice. But in my opinion, this would be a mistake, because you might miss the sweetness of this story and it’s characters.
This film came at a time of transition in Ginger Rogers’ career and is one of five films she made in 1935. Ginger already had numerous credits to her name, but mostly as a supporting or character actress. However, prior to the release of Romance in Manhattan, she was paired with Fred Astaire in two of the nine films in which they would appear together. Her star was just starting to rise. Within the following several years she appeared in six more films with Astaire and also branched out into serious dramatic roles, one of which (Kitty Foyle) won her an Oscar.
Ginger’s portrayal of Sylvia Dennis is one of my favorite’s. Sylvia is practical and realistic, but she has not allowed the challenges of life to harden her or make her cynical. She has retained her innocence but is also wise to the ways of the world. Though Sylvia has little, she doesn’t think twice about sharing it with someone who has even less. And even though she espouses a desire to marry wealth, Sylvia doesn’t really fit the definition of a gold-digger. She is playful yet sincere in her wish, but when it comes down to it, she realizes that love is more valuable. Rogers never overplays her performance as Sylvia, keeping it genuine with an underlying sense of humor. In her capable hands, Sylvia is a believable depiction of an average, quietly heroic, every day American.
As much as I love Ginger Roger’s portrayal of Sylvia though, this is really Francis Lederer’s film. From his first appearance onscreen he draws you in to the heart of Karel Novak. You feel his excitement, disappointment, determination and every emotion in between in his pursuit to become an American. His earnestness, innocence and optimism help you to experience the poignancy of his plight. Here is a man who truly wants to follow the laws of his adopted country, but who also refuses to allow his inability to meet one subjective requirement make all his sacrifice for naught. Even though he begins with nothing and needs every spare penny, Karel willingly contributes to the Dennis household. He also risks the threat of deportation in order to keep Sylvia and Frank together, willing to give up his dream for their sake. I particularly appreciate how his immigrant perspective helps Sylvia to see her native country through new, appreciative eyes.
Romance in Manhattan also benefits from the performances of Jimmy Butler and J Farrell McDonald as Frank and Officer Murphy. I’m not familiar with Butler’s other work, but his portrayal of Sylvia’s brother is quietly convincing. Unlike some child actors, his personality doesn’t overpower the part, but he doesn’t disappear into it either. Butler really makes Frank his own. It is a shame that he died young in combat in WWII. It would have been interesting to see what he might have done as an adult actor.
McDonald was a familiar face to me as he should be. In his career he amassed over 300 credits in small parts (some uncredited). Here he has the chance to shine as a soft-hearted Irish cop who doesn’t let the law crush an otherwise good man. And of course, what 1930’s film would be complete without the presence of Donald Meek? Sadly, he doesn’t appear until the end of the picture. But it’s still a pleasure to see him play a small role as a minister.
Romance in Manhattan celebrates self-sacrifice, compassion, human kindness, understanding and love. It’s focus on these attributes reminds us not only of the best qualities of America but also of mankind.
Unfortunately, this film rarely airs on TCM. But it is available to rent through Amazon, iTunes and Vudu. Or you could always buy the DVD like I did.
This is actually an interesting topic for me as I’m not generally a fan of novellas or short stories. It often doesn’t allow enough time for proper character or plot development. However, I’ve found a few exceptions to the rule which I will share with you today. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that the majority of these are written by some of my favorite authors. Many are prequels to series, which naturally make the stories of more interest to me. Others are just very well written despite their short length. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Favorite Novellas”
When Josie Jensen, an awkward 13-year-old musical prodigy crashes headlong into new-comer Samuel Yazzie, an 18-year-old Navajo boy full of anger and confusion, an unlikely friendship blooms. Josie teaches Samuel about words, music and friendship, and along the way finds a kindred spirit. Upon graduation, Samuel abandons the sleepy, small town in search of a future and a life, leaving his young friend behind. Many years go by and Samuel returns, finding Josie in need of the very things she offered him years before. Their roles reversed, Samuel teaches Josie about life, love, and letting go. Deeply romantic and poignant, Running Barefoot is the story of a small town girl and a Native American boy, the ties that bind them to their homes and families, and the love that gives them wings.Continue reading “Book Review -Running Barefoot”
Lucy Hill (Renee Zelweger) is the sole female executive for Munck Foods in Miami. Her career is her priority. When her boss mentions that one of their blue collar manufacturing plants needs some restructuring, Lucy volunteers. She is less than enthused however, when she learns that she will have to temporarily relocate to a small town in wintry Minnesota.
Lucy’s arrival in New Ulm is less than promising. The town’s citizens and plant employees are prejudiced against her. Lucy’s chilly attitude does nothing to endear her to them. Things go from bad to worse when she unintentionally antagonizes both the local union representative, Ted (Harry Connick Jr.) and Stu (J.K. Simmons), the plant foreman. Her only ally is her overly friendly secretary Blanche (Siobhan Fallon Hogan).
Thanks to Blanche’s efforts, Lucy slowly begins to warm up to the people of New Ulm. She begins to see them as individuals with something to offer, instead of names and statistics related to her job. As Lucy starts to involve herself in the community she finds she has more in common with these small town folk than she wants to admit. Her relationship with Ted also begins to heat up, though Stu still resists all of her efforts at reconciliation.
Today’s Topic: Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far)
Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl
Well, I may have jumped the gun a little bit on this week’s prompt. I actually tackled this subject on a recent Top Ten Tuesday post. So instead of sharing my favorite reads of the year, I’m going to share my favorite reads ever! These are books that I re-visit over and over without ever growing tired of their stories.
Since I have more than ten all-time favorites, today I will share those that have received little to no attention on my website. I always love to introduce people to a good story!