Fondathon – Sunday in New York

JANE FONDA
Photo: Public Domain

No matter what entertainment medium you favor, you can find family acting dynasties. The Fonda family is one which is well known to those who enjoy Hollywood films. Henry Fonda is the patriarch of this family of actors which includes his son Peter Fonda and grandchildren, Bridget Fonda as well as Troy Garrity. But it is Jane Fonda who I would like to focus on today.

Regardless what you think of her politics, Jane has made a name for herself outside the shadow of her father. With a career now spanning over five decades, fifty film credits, seven Oscar nominations (with two wins) she remains an active participant in the film community today.

Jane is also known for her many exercise videos, with her first one, Jane Fonda’s Workout becoming the highest-selling VHS ever. She has been married to a director (Roger Vadim), an activist (Tom Hayden) and a billionaire businessman (Ted Turner) and has two children. Continue reading “Fondathon – Sunday in New York”

Jean Simmons Blogathon – All the Way Home (1963)

Jean Simmons & Robert Preston
JEAN SIMMONS

When discussing talented or famous film actresses of the classic film era, Jean Simmons is not a name that comes up as often as it should. Often those with larger screen personas get all the attention. I myself have been guilty of overlooking her work. And yet, she appeared in some very successful films, was twice nominated for an Oscar and continued working until she died in 2010 racking up almost one hundred film credits. So I’m absolutely thrilled that she is receiving some well deserved attention with the Jean Simmons Blogathon.

In choosing one of Jean’s films to write about, I discovered that I have seen more of her movies than I realized. Despite being a beautiful woman, she has the talent of disappearing into her roles. What’s amazing is that she accomplishes this without any drastic changes to her appearance. Instead she actually BECOMES her character.

I have a few personal favorites among her pictures, and she has several famous film titles to her credit. But I wanted to choose one that I had not seen and also which I felt is a bit more obscure among her fans. That is how I found myself watching the 1963 film, All the Way Home. Continue reading “Jean Simmons Blogathon – All the Way Home (1963)”

Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon – Lady of Burlesque (1943)

Barbara Stanywck is one of my top five favorite actresses. There was no role or genre she didn’t do well, from film noir, to comedy to historical dramas to weepies and more, she brought authenticity to all of her films.

AMONG THE BEST

Starting out in film she had a similar background to contemporary Joan Crawford. Like Crawford she often played working class girls . But unlike Crawford whose characters clawed their way into wealth and respectability, often through their relationship with men, Stanwyck’s characters achieved their goals through their own grit and independence, while also displaying vulnerability. Continue reading “Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon – Lady of Burlesque (1943)”

Made in 1938 Blogathon – Tribute to Natalie Wood

I have no memory of my first introduction to Natalie Wood. But for as long as I can remember, I have been enamored with the beautiful actress who grew up on screen.

Born in 1938, the child of Russian immigrants, Natalie made her first film appearance at the age of four. Whether she really wanted the life of an actress for herself or whether her mother pushed her into it, Natalie made the best of it. From a young age she helped support her family with her career. She also became one of the rare child actresses to successfully transition into adult roles. For forty years until her death she continued to grace the screen and develop her craft until her untimely and controversial death. Continue reading “Made in 1938 Blogathon – Tribute to Natalie Wood”

Grace Kelly Blogathon -Living With Grace by Mary Mallory

I enjoy many of Grace Kelly’s films. However, I’ve always had a hard time connecting with her onscreen. The epitome of a Hitchcock blond, she always seemed serene, calm and distant both onscreen and off.  Even while appreciating her films, I was never able to name her as one of my favorite actresses.

“Grace always had an air of mystery about her.” Frances Fuller, American Acadamy of Dramatic Arts chairperson (pg 18)

One of the things I love about biographies and books written about celebrities is learning more about the individual behind the celebrity. So when I recently won a giveaway hosted by AnnMarie at Classic Movie Hub for a new book about Grace, I was delighted. Living with Grace -Life Lessons from America’s Princess is written by Mary Mallory. Having read one other of Mallory’s celebrity books I knew I was in for a treat. When the book arrived in all of its’ small, bright pink glory, I couldn’t wait to get started. Continue reading “Grace Kelly Blogathon -Living With Grace by Mary Mallory”

Rita Hayworth Blogathon -Affair in Trinidad (1952)

I’ve never read a full biography about Rita Hayworth. The small amount of information I do know about her has always left me sad. From her earliest years, Rita was dominated by selfish men, starting with her father and continuing on to husbands, and men in the film industry who shaped her image. In many ways, her life was tragic one.

The knowledge of her personal life has always influenced my experience watching her films. I’m usually left with a feeling of both compassion and the melancholy of wondering what if? What if she had been in charge of her own career? What if she had found one man who would protect her instead of using, cheating and abandoning her? It is through this lens I view her performances.

SUMMARY

Affair in Trinidad begins with death. The police arrive at a local nightclub to speak with the deceased’s widow, Chris Emery (Hayworth). She is famous all over the island as a dancer whose beauty draws in scores of customers. Initially the police believe the death may be a suicide, but after seeing and speaking with the gorgeous Chris, they suspect foul play. Chris is surprised by the news but not devastated. She and her husband Neil had drifted apart in their marriage. Continue reading “Rita Hayworth Blogathon -Affair in Trinidad (1952)”

Ingrid Bergman Blogathon -Ingrid Bergman: Remembered

When driving through a neighborhood, I’ve always been one who enjoys looking in the windows of homes, imagining the lives inside. People have always fascinated me, what shapes them, what drives them, who they are beyond what the eye can see.

Perhaps that is why I enjoy personal documentaries and biographies, particularly of classic film stars. In an era of studio control, glamour and polished public images, I’m always curious to learn the truth behind the persona, the person behind the characters they play on screen.

Continue reading “Ingrid Bergman Blogathon -Ingrid Bergman: Remembered”

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”

Dynamic Duos Blogathon -Norma Shearer & Robert Montgomery.

Norma Shearer wasn’t known as the Queen of MGM without reason. Before she married the studio’s head of production, Irving Thalberg, she had proven herself as a talented actress in her own right. Undeterred by criticism and rejection, she clawed her way into a successful career through sheer determination, persistence and discipline.  Before Madonna, Shearer was a pioneer in reinventing her image. She a was woman who didn’t take no for an answer and who refused to let anyone else shape her public image. Sadly, she is not as well known today as other classic Hollywood film stars, which is a real shame. Because she is a powerful female role model even now, despite the misconception that she rode her husband’s coat tails to success.

Robert Montgomery has always been one of my favorite actors. His early years of comfort followed by loss gave him the strength and emotional tools needed to make a good actor. Montgomery has never been listed among the acting greats. I believe part of the reason he is excluded from that club is the lack of great parts that really allow him to shine. We see glimpses of it in his films The Big House, The Night Must Fall, They Were Expendable among others. But no one can deny that he was a solid, dependable, capable actor who played opposite some of the greatest leading ladies of the day. Continue reading “Dynamic Duos Blogathon -Norma Shearer & Robert Montgomery.”

Elizabeth Taylor Blogathon -National Velvet (1944)

SUMMARY OF NATIONAL VELVET

Velvet Brown is your average young girl. She lives in a small English village with her parents, older sisters and younger brother. But Velvet has one trait that sets her apart -she is horse crazy! Not only does she pretend that she owns her own equine, but she cares even more for the noble beasts than she does people.

Velvet’s life is first upended by the arrival of Mi Taylor, a suspicious young man with possible ties to her mother. Because Mi seems to share her appreciation for horses, she convinces both Mi and her family that he should stay. Though Mi is drawn to the freedom of the open road, he reluctantly agrees for Velvet’s sake.

Velvet’s life is completely changed when she wins a high spirited horse no one else wants in the village lottery.  But this is no ordinary horse to the young Velvet. She sees something special in the Pie. Suddenly, it becomes her mission to see him win the honor and glory she thinks he deserves. When Velvet learns of Mi’s familiarity with horse racing, she sweetly coerces him into a pact to train Pie for the world’s most prestigious race, The Grand National. But the odds are small and the stakes are high and no one believes the Pie can win. No one but his young dreamy owner. Continue reading “Elizabeth Taylor Blogathon -National Velvet (1944)”