Classic Film Review -Voice in the Wind (1944)

 

SUMMARY

Voice in the Wind is a relatively obscure film which tells the story of Jan Volny (pronounced with a soft J like the French name Jean), a Czech citizen and his beloved wife Marya. We are first introduced to Jan on the island of Guadalupe, a safe haven for refugees of the Nazi regime. Jan is only known as El Hombre or the crazy one, as none of the other island occupants know his true identity since he himself has forgotten it and lost his memories.

Jan is treated with some wariness, but is befriended by the morally challenged Angelo, who along with his brothers owns a ship and preys on unfortunate refugees, promising to take them to America, only to steal their valuables, kill them and toss them into the sea.

The local bar owner, another friend, allows Jan the use of his piano on which Jan continually plays the same song over and over while staring into space.  In flash backs we see Jan as a popular concert pianist preparing for his last concert in his home country before emigrating to America with Marya to escape the Nazi occupation. A Nazi soldier stops by to warn him not to play The Moldau, a musical symbol of Czech patriotism, but during his encore Jan defies this order. Continue reading “Classic Film Review -Voice in the Wind (1944)”

Favorite Historical Fiction Series

Since historical (romance) fiction is my favorite genre, today I’m sharing a list of my favorite series in this genre. Some of these are long-time favorites some are newer. The list may seem a bit long, but believe me, I got it as short as I could. I can’t help that there are so many good stories out there. So without further ado…

BIBLICAL HISTORICALS

The Reluctant Demon Diaries by Linda Rios Brooks -tells the events of the Bible from the perspective of a demon longing for redemption.

Harvest Series by Tessa Afshar -not technically a series, but I love this book and it’s sequel which tells the story of the biblical Nehemiah’s fictional female cousin who finds herself married to a Persian prince when all she wants is to be a scribe. Continue reading “Favorite Historical Fiction Series”

TV Series Review -Endeavor

ABOUT THE SHOW

Endeavor is an ongoing British television series about young detective Endeavor Morse who is taken under the wing of his superior DI Fred Thursday as they investigate crime for the City Police of Oxford in the 1960’s.

For British detective series fans, this is an origin story for the long running series Inspector Morse which featured Morse as the senior officer of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Oxford Police.  But how did this irascible, classical music and literature lover, beer swilling, unrequited romantic become the head investigator and the difficult yet brilliant character Inspector Morse?

In Endeavor, we see hints to Morse’s personal background as well as his early years with the Oxford Police. He is not quite socially awkward, but his high brow interests, extreme intelligence, lack of personal ambition and unwillingness to pretend personal and professional interest where he has none, does make him somewhat of an outsider and a loner, until Detective Inspector Thursday decides he has promise and becomes his mentor, friend and father figure. Continue reading “TV Series Review -Endeavor”

Hitchcock’s Romantic Films

WHO IS ALFRED HITCHCOCK?

Alfred Hitchcock earned his title as the Master of Suspense and it is one that he certainly deserves. Unlike other directors who worked in multiple genres, Hitchcock remained true to his preferred theme.

Whether directing gothic mysteries, international intrigues, courtroom dramas or thrillers, Hitchcock managed to titillate his audience with the tension inherent in the suspense of the unknown, feeding their fear with mystery.

Romantic tension is a recurring sub-theme. While usually not the focus, it is often the boiling undercurrent which adds to the overall suspense inherent to his films. Hitchcock does not display the contented happy side of romance, but rather the darker aspects of love and desire. He generally shows the male and female leads wrestling with a vital question and component of any relationship – trust, all while already finding themselves in murky circumstances.

I have seen a large number of Hitchcock films and have made a list of a few which highlight his view of romance. Hopefully, this will give a new perspective to Hitchcock’s title as the Master of Suspense. Here are five romantic films, Hitchcock style.

To see the list, please follow me here to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Eight Reasons I Loved Beauty and the Beast

At this point, everybody and their dog has seen or at least knows the story of Beauty of the Beast. The last thing the internet needs is another review. Despite the few quibbles I had with Disney’s latest version, (the CGI Beast and wolves, just…no and what was up with Belle tucking her dress up to show off her bloomers? Weird) I found it absolutely enchanting. So, I thought I would share eight things I loved about Beauty and the Beast none of which have to do with the title characters or their romance.

  1. Old Songs -It was such a pleasure to hear the familiar and famous songs of the animated classic.  It brought a feeling of nostalgia and connection and it was fun to see the song and dance choreography portrayed in a feature film.
  2. New Songs -Honestly, I didn’t love two of the three new songs, but I did appreciate what they added to the film. I did love the Beast’s solo Evermore and thought the song itself was romantic and beautiful.
  3. Gaston & LeFou -These two were one of the highlights of the film for me. Despite the controversy behind LeFou’s character, I loved how Josh Gad played him. He made me giggle. Luke Evans nailed, the arrogance, self-absorption and manipulative anger of Gaston. I really thought his was the strongest performance of the film.
  4. Phillipe the Horse -Perhaps it was just me, but Phillipe the horse seemed like a character in itself. Somehow that animal displayed personality and some acting skill. I was more worried about Phillipe than Belle when they were attacked by the wolves.
  5. Unintentional Homage to a Classic Musical -Again, maybe it is just me, but did anyone else think that the scene of Belle finishing her song on the hill outside of town, looked remarkably like the scene of Maria singing The Hills Are Alive in the Sound of Music? It literally looked like Belle was plopped down into the Austrian mountains outside of Salzburg.
  6. Honored Other Versions -I didn’t realize this while I was watching the film, but after doing some research I found that this new Beauty and the Beast honored past film and stage versions by incorporating parts specific to each version.
  7. Backstory -I saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway once and was haunted by so many questions afterwards. Thankfully, the film version expanded the story and gave more depth and detail, particularly to the Phantom’s story, answering some of those questions. Beauty and the Beast received similar treatment and I loved having a fuller picture of both Beast’s and Belle’s pasts.
  8. The Big Reveal -I know at some point in the marketing lead up to the release of this film, I came across the names of the actors who were in Beauty and the Beast. But aside from a few glimpses at the start of the film when I saw Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci, I had no idea who was voicing the inhabitants of the castle. So, when the spell is finally broken, and the characters became human, it was a big reveal for me to see which actors played which part. I had reactions like, I KNEW that voice sounded familiar (Ewan McGregor) and Oh my gosh, he’s so perfect as this character (Ian McKellan), or Wow, I did not expect that (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and finally, Oh, I love her so much! (Emma Thompson) And even though I knew Dan Stevens was the actor behind the Beast, in the opening scene before the curse, he is so covered in makeup as be to almost disguised. So when the Beast was transformed into human form again, it was still the first time we see the real Beast. And can I digress briefly and just say how much I love Stanley Tucci?! He is reminiscent of the character actors of Classic Hollywood and steals scenes in every film he’s in. He’s fearless as an actor and I’m always thrilled when I see him pop up in a film.

Beauty and the Beast is a film that I will want to watch again and again. I really can’t wait to see which animated fairy tale Disney will choose to remake next. I think it would be really interesting to see how they would film The Little Mermaid.

What about you? Which Disney animation tale would you love to see on the big screen?

Book Review -Engaged in Trouble

SUMMARY

When former girl band member Paisley Sutton receives news that she has inherited a wedding planning business back in her hometown of Sugar Creek, Arkansas, she leaves L.A. thinking to complete the terms of her late aunt’s will so she can sell Enchanted Events to finance her musical comeback.

Only neither the business nor her hometown are quite the charmless, out of date places she remembers. Instead she returns, to a surprisingly modern, thriving company and a revitalized Sugar Creek. Both begin to challenge her plans and perceptions, as do the people she had left behind. Paisley begins to feel the tug on her heartstrings, thanks to her adventurous ex-CIA grandmother, good friend and cousin Emma and her new next door neighbor and old crush, Beau Hudson.

When bridezilla Sasha, who is engaged to Paisley’s ex-fiance, winds up dead in the middle of an appointment with Paisley and in Enchanted Events’ building, Paisley becomes the prime suspect. Continue reading “Book Review -Engaged in Trouble”

Introducing Cary Grant

Cary Grant is my all time favorite actor as well as being both a film and style icon. I’m a bit embarrassed that as an obsessive fan, he was not the first actor in my Introduction Series. So, this one may be a quite a bit longer than my usual actor introductions.

PERSONAL BIO
Young Archie Leach

Archibald Leach was born in 1904 in Bristol England to an alcoholic father and an over-protective but emotionally detached mother. He was an only child whose parents were working class, but his mother nurtured his fascination for theater and performance while his father impressed on him the value of quality apparel. At nine years old, his mother just disappeared from his life with no explanation. His father finally told Archie that she had died. Only years later in his middle age, did he learn that his mother had been committed to a mental institution.

As a young teenager he dropped out of school and joined an acrobatic travelling team which toured around England. Eventually he went with the troupe to tour in America where he took many odd jobs, but continued to hone his performance skills. It was during this time, that he began to craft the persona of Cary Grant for which he would later become famous.

Still Archie Leach, he began studying the mannerisms, speech, posture and other attributes of the cultured, educated crowd he wanted to mimic. He also began to practice his speech, dropping the English accent he was born with and developing what would be come known as a transatlantic accent which was cultured, but untraceable to any particular place. Continue reading “Introducing Cary Grant”

Reviewing a Family Favorite -The Man From Snowy River

An Australian western set in the 1880’s, The Man From Snowy River is the story of young Jim Craig who was born and raised in the mountains. After an accident that kills his father that also leads to Jim’s horse escaping to run free with a pack of wild horses, Jim must leave the family homestead to seek work and respect in the lowlands.

He finds a job with wealthy cattle rancher Harrison and meets Jessica, Harrison’s strong willed daughter. The boss assigns Jim to menial tasks, earning disdain from other ranch hands. But he finds relief in his developing friendship with the boss’s daughter who shares his love for horses.

When Jim and Jessica make the risky decision to break and train Harrison’s new and expensive colt, it leads to a confrontation with Harrison. Jim is fired and Jessica runs away from her father’s harsh hand and the threat of finishing school.

Jealous ranch hands then frame Jim for the release of the colt. Jim must prove his honor and integrity by rescuing Jessica and also recovering the colt which now runs with the Brumbies. This is the same group of wild horses which his own horse has joined and which has roamed freely for many years.

To read the remainder of my review for this beloved film, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Classic Film Recommendations for April

For classic film newbies, these are my recommendations for films playing on TCM in April. (All film times listed are Central Standard Time).

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) -This ensemble comedy features almost every famous comedian of the time. My mother and I still laugh every time we watch it. Showing March 1 at 8:45 PM

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) -An under rated Hitchcock masterpiece, but one of my favorites. A young woman begins to suspect her favorite uncle might be a killer. Showing March 2 at 5:00 PM

Holiday (1938) -One of four films that my favorite actors Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn made together. A drama that deserves to be better known. Showing March 4 at 9:00 PM

Turnabout (1940) – A fun comedy about a husband and wife who switch bodies a la Freaky Friday style. Showing March 5 at 12:45 AM

Love Crazy (1941) -One of 14 comedies that legendary pair William Powell and Myrna Loy made together. He pretends to be insane in order to win back his wife. Showing March 9 at 5:45 AM

The Secret Garden (1949) -Based on the classic book about an orphaned girl who goes to live with her sad uncle. A beautiful and moving story. Showing March 9 at 7:15 AM

Journey for Margaret (1942) -A drama about a young couple attempting to adopt war orphans from England. It stars brilliant child actor Margaret O’Brien. Showing March 13 at 10:45 PM

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) -I can’t describe why I love this depressing family drama based on a Tennessee Williams play. It is filmed in color and stars Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in their prime. Showing March 15 at 3:15 AM

Harvey (1950) -One of my favorite comedies about a man whose best friend is an invisible white rabbit. It stars James Stewart. Showing March 15 at 7:00 PM

Camille (1937) -This classic story stars the great Greta Garbo in a familiar story. It shares inspiration with the film Moulin Rouge. Showing March 20 at 12:45 PM

Oceans 11 (1960) -This is the original film starring the Rat Pack and you can find my review here. Showing March 25 at 12:15 PM

The Clock (1945) -Judy Garland’s only non-singing role. She meets, falls in love with and marries a soldier all in one weekend. I love this film and can not praise it enough. Showing March 26 at 6:45 AM

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) -If you haven’t seen this famous Audrey Hepburn film, do yourself a favor and watch it. Showing March 26 at 4:45 PM

If you only watch one of these suggestions, I recommend either Harvey or The Clock.

Book Review -The Bird and the Sword

SUMMARY

In the beginning, when the world was created, there was the Spinner, the Teller, the Healer and the Changer. Each endowed with a special ability. However, these gifts came at great cost and eventually became corrupted so that the people became afraid of the gifted, hunting them down, until for their own survival and safety those with the special abilities learned to hide them well.

Little Lark has inherited her own mother’s gift of telling and on the day the king and his son arrive, her mother sacrifices her own life for the sake of Lark’s to hide her secret. But before she dies, she not only prophesies to the king of “the loss of his own soul and his son to the sky”, but commands Lark to “swallow her words” and warns her husband that his own life is tied to Lark’s. Continue reading “Book Review -The Bird and the Sword”