Classic Film Review -Ocean’s 11 (1960)

ABOUT THE FILM
I recently watched Ocean’s 11 for the first time. No, not the version of recent years with Brad Pitt and George Clooney, but the original starring Frank Sinatra and members of The Rat Pack.
For those unfamiliar with Hollywood history, The Rat Pack was the name coined for a group of celebrity friends whose original members included Humphrey Bogart and wife Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, David Niven, Spencer Tracy and long time love Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, director George Cukor and others.

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Book Review -A School for Unusual Girls

A School for Unusual Girls is the first in Kathleen Baldwin’s new YA series called Stranje House.
SUMMARY
A School for Unusual Girls is set in 1814, while Napoleon is exiled to the island of Elba. Georgiana Fitzwilliam is the youngest child and only daughter in her family. After one of her scientific experiments goes awry and burns down her father’s stables, her exasperated parents enroll her at Stranje House and wipe their hands of her care. Despite the tense relationships Georgie has with her parents she would rather return home or run away than to stay at this mysterious school for girls. The dark rumors which swirl around the school and the scenes she witnesses upon her introduction to the staff and students convince her that Stranje house is a dangerous place to remain.

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Foreign Film Friday -The African Doctor (2016)

A French film originally titled Bienvenue a Marly-Gomont, The African Doctor tells the true story of Seyolo Zantoko, a Congolese native and his struggles to serve as a doctor in a small French village in order to obtain French nationality and to expose his family to wider world.

SUMMARY

The tale begins as Seyolo graduates from a French medical school. He is offered a prestigious job in his homeland of Zaire/Congo working for a corrupt government official. Despite the money and the perks attached to this position, he has heard instead of a small French village which has been seeking a doctor for its citizens for many years with no success. He decides to take this job in the hopes that it will allow him to become a French citizen. When phoning home with the good news to his wife and children, the family is thrilled due to the mistaken impression that his job is in Paris. Needless to say, they are all in for a shock when they arrive in France and find themselves feeling like fish out of water, in a very rural community which is not happy that their new doctor and his family are black foreigners. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -The African Doctor (2016)”

Book Review -Counted With the Stars

SUMMARY

When privileged Egyptian Kiya is sold into slavery by her own father, it is to save the rest of her family including her crippled brother. She finds herself in the household of a family friend, but the shame of serving in a home she once frequented as a guest and the vengeful behavior of her master’s wife leaves her feeling humiliated and hopeless. During her time of service she meets fellow slave Shira, a Hebrew, who makes a great sacrifice on Kiya’s behalf winning her loyalty and friendship. Through Shira, she also meets Eben, Shira’s brother who seems to despise her, but she also begins to learn of the rumors of a Deliverer spreading through the Hebrew households. Things go from bad to worse for Kiya, as her former fiance deserts her and all of the Egyptians are terrorized by strange plagues. Kiya wrestles with her lack of faith in her own gods and her terror of the Hebrew God, while also being strangely drawn to both the enslaved people and the one they call Yahweh. Eventually, in order to save her mother and brother, she casts her lot in with this strange people and flees Egypt. Continue reading “Book Review -Counted With the Stars”

Classic Film Recommendations for March

Since the majority of my readers may not be overly familiar with classic films, I would like to recommend some of my favorites along with a few of the more famous titles playing on TCM this month, in the hopes that you will find one that interests you. So get ready to set your DVR’s friends, you won’t want to miss these. (All film times listed are Central Standard Time).

  • Waterloo Bridge (1940) -A beautiful romantic drama about a ballerina who falls in love with a soldier during WWI. The ending is unexpected and will haunt you. Showing March 2 at 12:15 PM
  • The Thin Man (1934) -This famous classic comedy about a detective, his wealthy wife and their dog Asta who must solve a crime is delightful. The chemistry and repartee between theWilliam Powell and Myrna Loy shot both of them into stardom another twelve films together. Showing March 10 at 10:30 AM
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) – One of my favorite musicals tells the tale of a group of redneck brothers who kidnap women to be their brides. So cheesy and yet so much fun to watch! Showing March 12 at 3:00 PM
  • The Gold Rush (1925) -If you have never seen a silent film you can’t go wrong with Charlie Chaplin. He’s the master of melancholy humor and his character, the Little Tramp is iconic. Showing March 14 at 6:45 AM
  • The Maltese Falcon (1941) -Well-known crime drama starring Humphrey Bogart as private detective Sam Spade who becomes embroiled in a mystery involving a statue of a Maltese Falcon. One of Bogart’s best films. Showing March 15 at 10:00 AM
  • The Quiet Man (1952) Filmed in color and in Ireland, it’s worth seeing just for the scenery, but also for the popular pairing of John Wayne and co-star Maureen O’Hara. Wayne’s American boxer must adjust to a new wife and culture. Showing March 17 at 8:30 PM
  • Gaslight (1944) -I can’t say I loved this drama about a man who intentionally tries to drive his wife insane, but it is a film that stuck with me. This film coined the phrase “gaslighting“, and is psychologically disturbing. Ingrid Bergman stars. Showing March 22 at 10:30 AM
  • The Birds (1963) – Since i just did a review of this Hitchcock film, I thought you might like the opportunity to see if for yourself. Showing March 22 at 4:45 PM
  • Casablanca (1942) -Arguably the most famous classic film of all time, it is a must see, which I discovered after years of avoiding it for some stupid reason. Starring Bogart and Bergman the story and characters are all perfect. If you only watch one of my recommendations, then make it this one. Showing March 23 at 5:00 PM
  • How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) -A romantic comedy about three working models who decide to pool their money to rent an expensive apartment in the hopes that they will meet some wealthy men they can marry. This is filmed in color and stars Bogart’s wife Lauren Bacall as well as Marilyn Monroe. Showing March 26 at 5:00 PM
  • National Velvet (1944) – Filmed in color, a beautiful film starring a young Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney, about a young girl who pursues her dream to race her horse in England’s Grand National. This is a great movie for the whole family. Showing March 27 at 4:45 PM
  • Roman Holiday (1953) -Audrey Hepburn’s first American film for which she won an Oscar, about a sheltered princess who escapes her royal duties for a day exploring Rome incognito with an American journalist. Showing March 28 at 1:45 PM
  • Ever in My Heart (1933) -This is an obscure drama which shows the difficulties faced by a German man married to an American woman during WWI. It explores the impact of prejudice and stars one of my favorite actresses Barbara Stanwyck. Showing March 30 at 10:30 AM
  • The Women (1939) -If you watched the remake of this film in 2008, do not judge the original by it. This is a bitingly witty film about the friendships between women and starred some well-known names of the time. It stars an all-female cast, meaning not a single man appears. Showing March 31 at 10:30 AM

 

Classic Film Review -Yes, My Darling Daughter (1939)

I think some people hesitate to venture into classic film territory because they believe the stories they tell may be outdated. But as a wise man once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

When Ellen Murray returns home from college and reconnects with Doug, an old flame, she makes a decision which will put her mother’s liberal morals and the rest of her family’s sanity to the test.

Ellen has been raised in a seemingly privileged and normal home, her father a banker and her mother an author. But it doesn’t take long to discover, that her mother was quite the hell-raiser in her time, having been involved with poets and women’s liberation and becoming quite familiar with the inside of the jail. Continue reading “Classic Film Review -Yes, My Darling Daughter (1939)”

Book Review -Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning is the rewrite of a debut book originally published in 2010 by Ronie Kendig. It received good reviews at the time, but from what I can tell, it is garnering even better reviews since it has been rewritten.

This is not the first novel of Kendig’s which I have read and just like her other books, it is a wild ride which keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. The story follows Shiloh Blake who finds herself caught up in an international intrigue after a hit squad attacks her underwater archaeology group. She then goes on the run and the hunt to determine why they were attacked and who is behind it, while also trying to stay alive and determining who she can trust, including undercover CIA agent Reece Jaxon.

Although, in the beginning Shiloh seems like your average twenty-something, as the book progresses you find she has a pretty specific skill set, which adds mystery to her backstory. Continue reading “Book Review -Dead Reckoning”

Film Review -Hidden Figures (2017)

Hidden Figures is a biographical drama which tells the story of three brilliant African-American women who worked at NASA in the early years of the space program and their struggles and success in contributing to that program in an era of segregation.

I often lament the fact that “they” just don’t make movies like they used to. Today’s films often seem short of a good story and rely too much on special effects and obvious, sometimes gross humor. The development of the characters is often lacking as well as interesting and witty dialogue.

When I envision what a good movie should be, Hidden Figures is exactly what I am talking about. A quiet story about ordinary people of courage who are persistent in the face of rejection and defeat, who live their lives with integrity and honor while also challenging the status quo. Continue reading “Film Review -Hidden Figures (2017)”

Classic Film Review-I’d Climb the Highest Mountain (1951)

Every now and then you come across a movie that just warms your heart and leaves you feeling as cozy and full as a plate of apple pie. This is one such film for me.

I’d Climb the Highest Mountain is a color film shot in location in the northern hills of Georgia which follows a newly married minister and his city wife who are assigned to this rural location in 1910. It is based on a (semi- autobiographical) novel by Corra Harris.

SUMMARY

When Reverend William Thompson bring his new wife home to their first assignment she is eager yet unprepared for living in such an isolated area. This is a woman who not only doesn’t know how to cook, but also has her own doubts about her husband’s God. Yet, she makes every effort to contribute to her community and support her husband’s work.

Bill Thompson is the kind of man that almost no one could find fault with. He is generous with his time and resources, patient with his wife and wayward members of his congregation and yet he is not so perfect as to be annoying. No, he occasionally loses his temper, meddles in his neighbor’s business and even bets and races horses (although the bet is only to bring a lost sheep into the fold.) In other words, he’s the kind of minister I think many can relate to because he is human, as is his wife who never tries to camouflage her own failings. Continue reading “Classic Film Review-I’d Climb the Highest Mountain (1951)”

Classic Film Review -The Birds (1963)

I feel like I’m one of the few people on the planet who had not seen this Hitchcock classic. To be honest, even though I’m working my way through Hitch’s films, I had put this one off The Birds because I was afraid it might be too scary. I do not do horror films and I do not like to be scared.

SUMMARY

Just in case you are not familiar with the plot, wealthy Melanie Daniels played by Tippi Hedren (Melanie Griffith’s mother and Dakota Johnson’s grandmother) has a meet cute in a San Francisco pet shop with attorney Mitch Brenner who is portrayed by Rod Taylor. He plays a little trick on her in order to repay her for a prank she perpetrated against one of his clients. Strangely enough, they are both in the shop looking for birds.

This encounter intrigues Melanie enough to track down his name and address, drive out of town to his family home to retaliate. If Melanie’s behavior doesn’t creep out you a little, then don’t worry, the birds that begin to congregate in Mitch’s small town will.

MY THOUGHTS

Once the story has both Melanie and Mitch in the same place it gets to the gist of the plot which is basically a bunch of birds terrorizing an entire town.  I’m not kidding, that’s the entire story in a nutshell. Continue reading “Classic Film Review -The Birds (1963)”