In Defense of George Brent

GEORGE BRENT -AN UNDERRATED ACTOR

There are few groups more loyal than classic film fans. Many of us have our favorite movies, genres, actors and actresses and can passionately articulate what we love about each. Equal to our love is our dislike of those things that don’t live up to our standards or that we find disappointing. Actors and actresses particularly earn our derision, though we usually only discuss this within our own circles.

George Brent is an actor I’ve often heard mentioned with disdain.  Many classic film fans denounce him as wooden, his performances lacking emotional depth. I won’t deny that he is compared unfavorably to his contemporary counterparts. But unlike some, I’ve always enjoyed Brent’s films. I believe he has been unfairly and too harshly judged. I’m here today to convince you of the same. Continue reading “In Defense of George Brent”

Book Review -Sons of Blackbird Mountain

SUMMARY

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love. Continue reading “Book Review -Sons of Blackbird Mountain”

Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon -Arsène Lupin (1932)

Arsène Lupin -The Gentleman Thief of French Literature

The gentleman thief is a much beloved character in both literature and film. Arsène Lupin is one such character, first birthed by the pen of French writer Maurice Leblanc in the early 1900’s. Over the course of the next two decades Leblanc published many novellas, novels and even plays featuring his popular creation. These stories were contemporary with another, perhaps more famous, thief and master of disguise, that of the English gentleman Raffles.  Without the underrated gift of classic film, I might never have heard of or been introduced to either.

The Arsène Lupin character also made appearances in television, stage and over twenty films. It is the pre-code 1932 version starring the Barrymore brothers, Lionel and John that I fell in love with. According to an introduction given by Dave Karger for this film on TCM, the Barrymore brothers were highly regarded by the two most important men at MGM during the early Thirties. Louis B Mayer believed Lionel to be one of the best actors of his time, while Irving Thalberg felt the same about John. When John’s contract with Warner Bros. expired, MGM snapped him up. He was cast with Lionel in Arsène Lupin, the first of five films in which the brothers would appear together in the years 1932-1933. Of those five only one would also star their equally famous sister Ethel. Sadly, after 1933 there would be no more films co-starring Lionel and John. Continue reading “Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon -Arsène Lupin (1932)”

Classic Film Review -The Clock (1945)

Though long gone, Judy Garland is still famous for her singing voice and her film musicals. Of her forty film credits, there are only three in which she does not sing or dance. The first of these three is The Clock and it proves that Judy was a talented actress in her own right, even without her musical skills.

SUMMARY

Judy GarlandJoe Allen (Robert Walker), a country boy turned soldier, arrives in New York City for a 48 hour leave. Immediately, he is overwhelmed by the hustle and bustled of the city and seeks to lessen the effect by making conversation with strangers. While taking refuge in the train station, an accident brings him and Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland) together. Though she has other plans, he convinces her to pass some time with him. Feeling compassion for this soldier Alice first allows herself to be talked into a walk in the park, then an afternoon at a museum and finally a dinner date. Alice’s roommate warns her not to fall under the spell of a man who will soon be shipping out.

Alice tries to resist and a few awkward moments and misunderstandings tempt her to abandon Joe. But neither one can deny a strong connection and many things in common. Despite differing plans for their futures, the pair find themselves in love. An accidental separation leaves them both desperate to find the other. Unfortunately, they haven’t even exchanged last names, so their odds of finding each other before Joe leaves the city are very low. By chance, they meet again and are so overjoyed and relieved that they decide to get married. But they have less than 24 hours to complete all the necessary steps so that a judge can marry them. And as Shakespeare wrote, “the course of true love never did run smooth.”

For the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Book Review -Clark Gable: A Biography

ABOUT GABLE

Clark Gable is one of the few actors of the Hollywood Golden age whose name is still widely recognized today. Much of the credit for this goes to his role as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, which is known even by those who aren’t classic film fans.

Gable was one of the luckiest stars of that era, a fact which he always admitted to. Though he wasn’t without talent, a large part of his popularity had to do with his public image as a man’s man and his onscreen magnetism. Men admired him and women panted after him.

No star in history had ever risen so fast or with such impact. Of course, it was a simpler time when no other entertainment medium—not even radio—had the star-creating power that movies did. He was also a beneficiary of the Depression era, which needed new heroes and role models. He was handsome, magnetic, and aggressive. On-screen at least he pushed people around, including women, but he always got what he wanted and without being evil or detestable.

Continue reading “Book Review -Clark Gable: A Biography”

Top Ten Tuesday -Book Mashups

Today’s Topic: Books You’d Mash Together (pick two books you think would make an epic story if combined)

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

What a fun idea this week’s topic turned out to be. Initially, I thought it would be difficult to find books to combine. But as I started going through my book shelves, I discovered it to be rather easy. The problem came in limiting my list. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Book Mashups”

Foreign Film Friday – A La Mala (2015)

A la Mala SUMMARY

Maria Laura, aka Mala, is an aspiring actress whose outspoken views make it difficult for her to win roles. Fortunately, her roommate Kika is understanding as to why she is behind on her rent. Kika is also convinced her boyfriend is cheating on her. She coerces Mala into flirting with him to determine if he will be faithful. Though reluctant Mala is also successful and eventually word gets around about her unusual talent. Before she knows it, she is earning good money testing the loyalty of other women’s boyfriends.

However, when she finally lands a major role in a television series she is ready to leave her odd career behind. But the producer only agrees to guarantee the part if Mala will seduce her ex as a means of revenge. There is just one problem. Mala has already had an unfortunate encounter with wealthy businessmen Santiago and they can’t stand each other. Still, Mala’s big break depends on making Santiago fall in love with her so that she can break his heart. Further complications arise when she develops conflicted feelings towards him and her unpleasant task.  Will Mala be convincing enough to snag the heart of this wealthy bachelor? Even more importantly, will she be able to protect her own heart while doing so?

For my full review of this entertaining romantic comedy, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Book Review -The Love Letter

SUMMARY

Chloe Daschle is the child of Hollywood royalty, but that hasn’t helped her in her quest to shed her image as the onscreen death queen. Chloe longs to break her typecasting and land a role in which she lives. When she reads a screenplay based on a love letter between real life Revolutionary era inhabitants Esther Longfellow and Hamilton Lightfoot, she is convinced she has finally found that part.

Jesse Gates is a mathematical genius, turned actor, turned screenwriter. Running from past tragedy, his big break arrives in the form of his first screenplay about his ancestor Hamilton Lightfoot. An even bigger break arrives when he meets Chloe and they are both cast in the film based on his screenplay. But Chloe is still wrestling with her past shame and an inferiority complex. And Jesse is still unable to forgive his own part in the death of someone he once loved.

In another century, Esther and Hamilton dwell amidst war in South Carolina. Esther has always loved Hamilton, but her father is an agent of the British crown. And Hamilton’s family support the Patriot cause. Just as Hamilton is ready to admit his love and claim Esther, personal tragedy drives them even further apart and Hamilton joins the fight against the British. Even still in the midst of conflict, he pens a letter declaring his love for Esther.

Centuries apart four people yearn for love, but wrestle with external circumstances and internal battles which keep them apart. Continue reading “Book Review -The Love Letter”