17 Heartwarming Films for Animal Lovers

So here’s the thing, you guys. While I like animals, I wouldn’t call myself a pet person. They require too much of my time and attention. But I do enjoy them vicariously. Animals can be majestic, intelligent, even mischievous characters.

Onscreen they are often portrayed as larger than life, almost human and almost always lovable. I’ve put together list of films which celebrate the best of animal traits.  I’m sure it will come as no surprise, that a majority of these were produced by Disney. All of which I’ve seen and can vouch for. Continue reading “17 Heartwarming Films for Animal Lovers”

June 2020 Quickie Reviews

JUNE 2020 BREAKDOWN

  • 27 films/series total
  • 9 new classic films
  • 5 TV series
  • 5 foreign films/series
  • 3 Shakespeare adaptations
  • 3 re-watches
  • 1 documentary

Biggest Disappointment: Barakah Meets Barakah

Frank Morgan in A Stranger in Town

Favorite Discovery: A Stranger in Town and Small Island

Sweet Magnolias (2020) – Everyone, but I mean everyone, has been talking about this Netflix family and girl power drama. And with good reason. While it is a clean show, it also doesn’t shy away from real life situations like adultery, divorce and broken relationships, even it if does cast them in a slightly rosier light. I love the core of this series that is the strong friendship between the three main female leads. My only complaints are that some of the supporting actors are a bit wooden in their delivery and that cliff-hanger of an ending!

Bless This Mess Season 2 – I fell hard for this fish out of water sitcom last year. I love the twist of portraying a NYC couple adjusting to living on a farm in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. And though it does poke fun at the country folks it is an equal opportunity offender in making fun of the city couple as well. Lake Bell and Dax Shepherd are hilarious and I’ve found myself laughing out loud often while watching this show. I’m very glad this season expanded the amount of episodes from last year.

The Train (1964) – Burt Lancaster stars in this WWII flick as an agent of the French Underground working to save a train load of art that has been stolen by a Nazi officer. Though I’m not a fan of Lancaster who always comes across self-righteous (in my opinion), the story and the action kept me intrigued. I was disappointed by the anti-climatic ending.

A Stranger in Town (1943) – Character actor Frank Morgan takes a starring role as a Supreme Court judge who encounters institutional corruption in a small town while on vacation. Not only was this brief film humorous and fun, but it also addressed the serious issue of privilege and entrenched government manipulation. Morgan has a stirring speech at the end about the responsibility of American citizens that made me want to stand up and cheer. Definitely worth a watch!

Niagara (1953) – This is my first experience with Marilyn Monroe playing a conniving femme fatale. This color film noir depicted her toxic marriage with Joe Cotton in a believable way. But it was Jean Peter’s performance as a newlywed who gets caught up in their twisted game who stole the show for me. The scenes all around Niagara Falls were so interesting and made me wish I had explored it more when I was there.

Too Young to Kiss (1951) – I liked this much better than I anticipated, considering I’ve never been a fan of June Allyson. She didn’t annoy me as much as usual. Perhaps that is due to her character trying to pass as a child in order to catch the attention of Van Johnson’s music promoter. Overall, I thought this comedy was rather cute and am willing to watch it again.

Hamlet (1996) –  In my goal to become more familiar with Shakespeare’s work, I finally tackled this four hour drama. Um wow! Boasting an excellent cast, intricate set and wonderful performances, it kept me intrigued. Although I will confess, I still struggled with the language of the Bard and had to Google a synopsis of the story to keep up.

Just Mercy (2020) – I wanted to see this one in the theater in January, but missed it. So, I was thrilled Amazon offered it for free this month. It’s a compelling and inspiring look not only at injustice, but also the way we stereotype those in the prison system.

Von Ryan’s Express (1965) – For a WWII film, this one had quite a bit of humor sprinkled in among the serious and tense moments. I appreciated how much of the film took place on a train. And it doesn’t hurt that it was filmed in color, so I could stare at the endless blue of Frank Sinatra’s eyes.

My Darling Clementine (1946) – Considering I’m ambivalent about Henry Fonda and Westerns, no fan of Victor Mature and absolutely adore the Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday portrayals in the more recent Tombstone, I liked this John Ford version better than I expected to. Mature’s performance in the first half of the film really grabbed my attention. And for once I appreciated Fonda underplaying his role. But I felt the ladies playing the love interests were a distraction from an otherwise really good Western.

Bringing Up Baby (1938) – My all time favorite film still delights me after all these years. So many great lines and performances, not to mention the silliness of it all.

Call My Agent (2015)– I like this French series about talent agents, but I don’t love it. What I do really appreciate is a behind the scenes view of the world of French cinema and the fact that the guest stars are real French film stars. I have yet to get emotionally involved with the characters and wish there was a bit more warmth displayed, both in the cinematography and in the performances.

36 Hours (1964) – This WWII drama was a re-watch for me and didn’t have the same impact the second time around. I still felt Eva Marie Saint and James Garner were great in their roles and I’m never going to be unhappy to see Rod Taylor on the screen. I loved the ending a bit more this time around, even though the humor of it, didn’t quite jive with the overall serious tone of the movie.

As You Like It (2006) – My second foray into Shakespeare for the month. I definitely prefer his comedies. The premise is far-fetched, but who cares when it’s this much fun. I loved how the re-imagined setting of the play in Japan. But mostly I enjoyed watching my personal fave Romola Garai. And then there is Alfred Molina who kills it as the court fool.

Castle on the Hudson (1940) – It took me a while to develop an appreciation for John Garfield, but now that I have I’m seeking out all his films. Including this one about a cocky small time gangster who lands in prison. Garfield is great at pathos as he displays here. His journey from an arrogant, selfish man to one who develops character and integrity at great personal cost is a beautiful one.

Hot Sweet Sour (2017) – It’s been a while since I watched a Turkish film. This one about a couple who split but agree to marry in five years if they are both still single caught my attention. The first half plays like a romantic comedy until it finally segues into a melodrama. I think I would have preferred it stay in the rom-com zone. I found myself frustrated with the female lead, but there was a reason for some of her selfish, immature behavior which I learned later. I was very impressed with the male lead however.

Henry V (1989) – Ya’ll, the third time is NOT the charm. I’m trying hard to appreciate Shakespeare and if anyone can help in that endeavor, it is Kenneth Brannagh. However, the language still trips me up. It’s like watching a foreign movie without the subtitles and with extra pontificating. I know this one has very good reviews, but I finally quit half way through.

Lady J (2018) – This French Netflix film is little like eating macarons – full of gorgeous pastel colors and delicacy.  But it has an underlying darkness as it is in essence, a tale of revenge. As much as I love dialogue, there was too much of it for me here. It’s a visually pleasing film, but failed to engage me emotionally.

Mae West: Dirty Blonde (2020) – I went in blind to this PBS documentary about this groundbreaking blonde bombshell. While I wish it had featured more information on West’s personal life, it certainly did a good job explaining her career success placed within the context of the time she lived in. What she achieved as woman in the film industry is extraordinary. Not only did she push social and moral boundaries, but those that inhibited the female sex as well. However, I didn’t feel like I got to know her personally. The presentation left me feeling a bit detached from the subject.

Girls from Ipanama (Coisa Mais Linda) Season 2 (2020) – I still love these characters as much as I did before, although I wasn’t thrilled with some of their choices this season.   There were quite a few things introduced then left unexplored and several story lines felt like they moved too quickly. I do love that Adelia’s sister and Malu’s business partner received more screen time as I really like their characters. I did feel like there was a bit too much gratuitous nudity and sex. However, this Brazilian Netflix series remains one of my guilty pleasures.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) – After a couple of very serious, heavy feeling films, I needed something light and funny, so decided on a re-watch of my favorite comedy in recent years. As expected it did the trick, and lightened my spirits. I think the casting and plot for this re-make is just genius. And I appreciate how the film doesn’t take itself seriously at all.

Barakah Meets Barakah (2016) – I’m always trying to branch out in exploring foreign films. So this Saudi made Netflix picture caught my attention. It’s the story of a middle class man who meets and falls for a wealthy girl. Sadly, I didn’t find this one all that interesting, other than the exposure to Middle Eastern culture it afforded me.

The Soloist (2009) – I love Robert Downey Jr. and was curious to see him in a more dramatic film with Jamie Foxx. Of course, with these two talents, great performances were a given. The story wasn’t quite what I was expecting with its’ focus on mental illness and homelessness.  Though I do appreciate that it presents these topics with compassion, it was a bit too much sadness and darkness for me at this time of my life.

When a Man Loves (1927) – How could I pass up the chance to see Drew Barrymore’s grandparents, John Barrymore and Dolores Costello, act together in the same film? This is the first of Barrymore’s silent movies that I have seen and I must say, I think I prefer him in “talkies”. It was heavy on the melodrama both in the story line and the acting and the plot was all over the place. Plus, it’s hard to take the very masculine Barrymore seriously when he’s wearing a full face of makeup.

Small Island (2009) – Populated with now familiar faces like Naomie Harris, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ruth Wilson & David Oyelowo, this mini-series provides a thoughtful look at the experiences of Jamaican immigrants in London after WWII. I don’t know much about Britain’s history with racism, but this gave me a better idea. I really connected with the characters and their experiences. It is beautifully shot and emotionally compelling. Plus, it made me want to visit the island of Jamaica.

By Your Leave (1934) – A forgettable little programmer about a husband and wife who decide to take a week’s vacation from each other.  I expected a bit more from a film starring Frank Morgan and Genevieve Tobin. The best parts of the film were those with their bossy maid played by a pre-wicked witch Margaret Hamilton.

Continue reading “June 2020 Quickie Reviews”

Celebrating The Sunshine Blogger Award

I’m so honored to have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Tiffany Brannan of The Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

This nomination means a lot to me for a couple of reasons. One is that it comes during a difficult time in my life and has been a silver lining for me. Another is that as much as I enjoy blogging here, I am certainly not a professional. I’m simply a fan who loves writing about things that bring me joy in the hopes that others might find something they too can enjoy. So, to have my amateur attempts recognized is special.

Before this post can begin, I must list the official rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award, which are the following:

  1. List the award’s official rules
  2. Display the award’s official logo somewhere on your blog
  3. Thank the person who nominated you
  4. Provide a link to your nominator’s blog
  5. Answer your nominator’s questions
  6. Nominate up to 11 bloggers
  7. Ask your nominees 11 questions
  8. Notify your nominees by commenting on at least one of their blog posts.
My Answers to Eleven Questions

I enjoyed answering the questions Tiffany provided. They certainly gave me many moments of pondering over some things I had never considered before.

  1. If you could have gone on a date with any character from a movie, who would it be? I was very tempted to name Karel Novak from Romance in Manhattan whose joyful innocence is contagious. But I have to choose Bruce Templeton from The Glass Bottom Boat. Not only is he a beautiful piece of eye candy, but he’s also incredibly smart. You would think a scientist who runs his own company might be a bit dull, but Bruce is playful, with a wonderful sense of humor who also knows how to enjoy his free time. In other words, he’s the whole package.
  2. What actor do you think should have played a really famous character (Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Nancy Drew, etc.) in a film but didn’t?  Urban legend has it that Ian Fleming modeled James Bond after Cary Grant. Grant proved he could handle action and secretive characters in his Hitchcock films. So, it’s such a shame he never took on the characterization of Bond.
  3. What actor do you think would have been perfect for playing a real historical character, who may or may not have ever been depicted on the screen? In researching a  past post about real life royalty depicted in film, I discovered a gross oversight.  There have only been two films made about William the Conqueror and both were made in France. For a historical figure of such major importance, I found this shocking! How did Hollywood overlook this leader who changed the world? I would have loved to see the classic Hollywood treatment given to such a subject. MGM was particularly great at grand film spectacles and I believe John Gilbert would have done a wonderful job playing such a larger than life figure.
  4. What actor do you think would have been great as a current influential figure, such as a politician, celebrity, or influencer? Carole Lombard is an actress who would have translated well into our modern society with her progressive views. She was a style icon known for her glamour but who also remained down to earth. She was also eminently likable, able to relate to both men and women. These are all qualities I think would have served her well as a politician, celebrity or influencer, or even all three, in today’s world.
  5. If you could live in any house or other dwelling from a film, which would you choose? Having recently re-watched Indiscreet, I couldn’t believe that I didn’t remember how stunning Ingrid Bergman’s apartment is. It’s the perfect blend of classic and modern, with a nice pop of color. And I love the regal wall paper in her bedroom which is fit for a queen.
  6. If you could visit any fictional town, country, or realm from a film for your vacation, where would you go? Well, this one definitely presented a challenge, because there are several film places I wouldn’t mind spending my vacation including Bedford Falls and the auto court in Pillow to Post. But ultimately I had to go with  Camp Kare Free in Having Wonderful Time. I’ve always wanted to visit the Catskills. Since I always enjoyed summer camp as a kid, I think it would be great fun to have the same experience as an adult.
  7. If a movie were going to be made of your life, what actor or actress would you want to play you? You can choose someone from any era.
    Eleanor Parker

    Though Eleanor Parker is absolutely beautiful and has a pleasant well-modulated voice, she also has a way of becoming the character she portrays. My life is not that interesting, but I know she could make it seem so.

  8. When would you want your movie to be made, and by what studio? This doesn’t have to historically align with the actor or actress you chose to play the lead role. Hmm, seeing as how I love the look and feel of the 1960’s romantic comedies, I would love to see my life translated to that time by Universal who seemed to have the formula down for making these types of films a success.
  9. To what classic actor or actress do you think you are the most comparable? This can be in terms of appearance, personality, or manner. Though I definitely don’t resemble Myrna Loy physically, I like to think I have a bit of her onscreen personality – a bit mischievous with a good sense of humor, I’m fairly easy going and not easily riled.
  10. What is your favorite unseen character in a film? This can be someone who dies before the story begins or someone who is just discussed rather than actually seen. What actor or actress do you imagine in this role?  Can anyone argue that Rebecca from Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the same name has to be one of the most fascinating characters to never appear onscreen? She certainly grabs my attention.  I can envision Constance Bennett in this role. She’s slinky, sophisticated, selfish with a concealed edge of danger lurking beneath her surface.
  11. If you could live in a movie for one day, which movie would you choose? Having finally recently seen the The Young Girls of Rochefort, I would love to spend a day inside it’s happy, musical cotton candy colored world, not to mention the the town’s fishbowl cafe.
My Nominees

I now nominate the following bloggers for the Sunshine Blogger Award. All of these are classic film bloggers I follow regularly and I encourage you to check out their sites if you haven’t already

  1. Leah of  Cary Grant Won’t Eat You
  2. Lê of Crítica Retrô
  3. Rachel of Hamlette’s Soliloquy
  4. Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood
  5. Maddy of Maddy Loves Her Classic Films
  6. Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood
  7. Vincent of Carole & Co
  8. Gabriela of Pale Writer
  9. Phyl of Phyllis Loves Classic Movies
  10. Paul –Silver Screen Classics
  11. Emily of The Flapper Dame
My Eleven Questions

I can’t wait to hear their answers to the following eleven questions.

  • What British or International film would you recommend to a friend who has never seen one?
  •  Which classic film director do you prefer and what is your favorite of their films?
  • Which character actor or actress do you think would have made a great lead?
  • What child actor do you believe should have had success as an adult but didn’t?
  • What film do you love, but dislike the ending?
  • Whose onscreen wardrobe do you covet and would like to claim for your own?
  • Which original film do you think could be improved as a remake and who would you cast?
  • Which classic film actor or actress do you think would be successful in today’s film industry?
  • What film trope do you never tire of seeing?
  • If you could adapt a piece of classic literature that has not yet been made into a film, what book would you choose and who would you cast in the main roles?
  • Which of today’s modern actors or actresses do you think would have been successful in classic films and why?

This has been so much fun. Thanks again to Tiffany!

Classics for Comfort – Five Films That Help Me Survive the Crazy

During this challenging season, The Classic Movie Blog Association is hosting the Classics for Comfort Blogathon and asking participants to recommend  five movies that “soothe and comfort” us. And even though I’m not a member of CMBA, I was so inspired I decided to unofficially participate.

My time and mental energy has been limited by personal and national events this past couple of months. And while I have many coping mechanisms, classic films have always been one of my main sources of comfort when life gets to be too much.

It would be very easy to fill my list exclusively with Cary Grant, William Powell, or Ernst Lubitsch films, blockbuster hits such as Gone With the Wind or Casablanca, gloriously colorful and larger than life musicals such as My Fair Lady or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or even other film favorites I’ve written about regularly here on my site.  But I wanted to challenge myself a bit to look beyond the obvious.

So I’ve tried to include titles that may not be the first to come to mind, but which still help me survive the crazy of real life. Continue reading “Classics for Comfort – Five Films That Help Me Survive the Crazy”

6 From the 60’s – My Favorite Films of the Decade

I had so much fun participating in Rick of Classic Film and TV Cafe’s Five Favorite Films of the Fifties blogathon last year. So when he chose to continue that theme again this year with 6 From the 60’s to celebrate National Classic Movie Day, I didn’t want to miss out.

I honestly thought narrowing down my choices for this year’s post would be much harder.  After all, the Sixties are the decade of the romantic comedy. And indeed, a cursory glance at my list proves that my favorite genre is well-represented. Purely by chance, more than half of my choices were released in 1963. And I’ve also happened to fully review all but one of these.

But apart from the rom-com, it turns out that the Sixties, does not hold as many of my personal well-loved films as I thought it would. Still, there is much to love. Continue reading “6 From the 60’s – My Favorite Films of the Decade”

March 2020 Quickie Reviews

In light of recent events, both personal and national, my entertainment choices have been guided by a sense of comfort and escapism. Which is why, I have been re-watching so many of my favorite films and trying to choose new films which offer a high entertainment value instead of a lot of drama and intensity.
March 2020 BREAKDOWN
  • 23 films/series total
  • 11 re-watches
  • 5 new classic films
  • 4 foreign films/series
  • 1 TV series
  • 1 Documentary
  • 1 new release

Biggest Disappointment: Emma

Favorite Discovery: Return of the Hero

Continue reading “March 2020 Quickie Reviews”

Butlers & Maids Blogathon – Imitation of Life (1934)

Most of the time those who serve are over looked and underappreciated. This is true in both life and art. So, I am thrilled that for once characters in service are getting the attention they deserve thanks to Paddy of Caftan Woman and Rich of Wide Screen World who are hosting the Butlers & Maids Blogathon.

It’s not very often that butlers or maids are more than a background character in film. Such is not the case with Imitation of Life which explores topics of race and gender through the prism of relationships. In the friendship between a white businesswoman and her talented black maid as well as the relationships between the two women and their daughters we see how these issues impact each character differently. Continue reading “Butlers & Maids Blogathon – Imitation of Life (1934)”