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)”
Alfred Kralik is the longest serving employee at Matuschek and Company in Budapest, Hungary. Personally taken under the wing of Mr. Matuschek, Kralik has worked his way up the ladder to become the store’s top sales clerk. He is joined by his four other fellow employees Vadas, Flora, Ilona, his good friend Pirovitch and the errand boy Pepi who have all formed a special camaraderie with each other. They aren’t just co-workers but a family of sorts.
But things begin to change and upset Kralik’s life of routine. First, Matuschek hires the beautiful but snippy young Klara Novak. Kralik and Klara do not get along. She constantly challenges his authority and he resents her rudeness to him. Then, Kralik’s formerly close relationship with his employer shows some fractures. He cannot fathom why Mr. Matuschek is suddenly treating him so coldly. The one bright spot in Kralik’s life is his growing closeness with his anonymous female pen pal. Though he has never met her, he begins to fall for her, recognizing her as a kindred spirit. Just when Kralik believes he is getting a raise, he is unexpectedly fired instead. On the same night, he goes to meet his pen pal and discovers Klara waiting in the same restaurant. Things look pretty bleak for him. But Christmas is a time when anything can happen.
For the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.
Three wealthy but lonely older men invite strangers into dinner on Christmas Eve. Displaced Texan James Houston and Jean Lawrence, a teacher join not only George, Chad and Michael, but also their housekeeper, former Russian countess Madame Tanya for a surprisingly merry Christmas. The three older men form a strong bond with the young James and Jean and act as matchmakers for the new couple.
As months pass, those bonds grow tighter and transform not only the lives of the elderly men, but also Madame Tanya. They become a family of love if not blood. When the three men pass away, they continue to watch over Jean and James from the here after, determined to see them happy. But James rise to instant fame as a singer brings with it many temptations and challenges his relationship with Jean. Will the men’s supernatural guidance be enough to keep them together? Continue reading “Classic Film Review – Beyond Tomorrow (1940)”
Don’t you love a good serendipitous moment? I wasn’t sure I would participate in this blogathon as much as I love the concept of it. The month of November is already pretty busy for me, and I wasn’t sure that I would have time to watch two films for one blogathon. But then I happened to watch a movie I wouldn’t have normally been interested in. I went into the viewing of She’s Working Her Way Through College knowing nothing at all about it, only to discover it is a loose musical remake of The Male Animal. Well, with the stars all aligned, I realized that now I HAD to participate in Phyllis of Phyllis Loves Classic Movies The Remade What? Blogathon!
The source of this story was a hit Broadway play written by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent titled The Male Animal. The basic premise of both films feature the trials of an underpaid and underappreciated English professor who teaches at a midwestern university. The university’s financial and spiritual reverence of the sports department is a thorn in the professor’s side. The professor believes some of the school’s resources should be shared with the education departments. He butts heads with the head of the school board over this. Continue reading “They Remade What?Blogathon: The Male Animal (1942) & She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952)”
William Holden is not an actor I pay much attention too. Though I’ve seen many of his films, I usually watch them due to interest in his co-stars more so than him.
But when The Wonderful World of Cinema, The Flapper Dame & Love Letters to Old Hollywood announced a blogthon in his honor which just happens to coincide with his 100th birthday, I decided now is the time for me to take another look at William Holden. Luckily, TCM is also celebrating Holden this month and airing many of his movies.
The Wilkins family is your typical American family. Traffic cop judge Harry Wilkins (Edward Arnold) shares a happy and balanced marriage with wife Edie (Mary Philips) and their two daughters Ruth (Joan Caulfield) and Miriam (Mona Freeman). The only conflict in their household generally arises from teenaged Miriam’s passion for political causes. Not to mention her general meddling in the lives of her family members. For her part, Ruth is a mature young woman, ready to settle down to marriage and a home of her own with her long term beau, Albert. Continue reading “William Holden Blogathon -Dear Ruth (1947)”
THE INCOMPARABLE BETTE DAVIS
There is no disputing the fact that Bette Davis is one of the most talented actresses to ever work in Hollywood. Her success can be partly attributed to this talent and partly to her passion for her craft. With Davis, career always came first.
I cannot deny Bette Davis is quite the screen presence. Watching her on screen is like watching a force of nature. No matter what role she filled, whether the character was reserved and demure or aggressive and larger than life, Davis always imbued them with a backbone of steel, an unwavering stance against compromise and an inner intensity which was shown in her eyes. There is a line from The Philadelphia Story which Jimmy Stewart’s character says to Katharine Hepburn’s haughty heiress, “(There is) a magnificence that comes out of your eyes, in your voice, in the way you stand there, in the way you walk. You’re lit from within, Tracy. You’ve got fires banked down in you, hearth-fires and holocausts.” I’ve always thought this line was the perfect description of Bette Davis.
With all that being said, as much as I admire Davis, she is not on my list of favorite actresses. Much like a strong kick in the pants, I must take her in small doses or take the risk of being completely overwhelmed. Still, I have worked my way through a large portion of her films. So, when I ran across Winter Meeting, I was shocked to realize that there was a Davis film I had never heard of before. Of course, my interest was immediately piqued and it became my choice of entry for this year’s Bette Davis Blogathon. Continue reading “Bette Davis Blogathon -Winter Meeting (1948)”
World War II is over. Juliet’s war time series has been turned into a book with great success. Her editor and close friend Sydney is pushing her for new content to publish. But Juliet is lacking inspiration. Her imagination is as worn and grey as her flat in London.
Unexpectedly, she receives a letter from Dawsey, a stranger from the Isle of Guernsey. He is in possession of one of her old books by a favorite author. Her margin notes in the book inspired him to write her with questions. In their correspondence he mentions the island’s book club oddly named The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Before she knows it, Juliet is corresponding with several other members of the society. Their letters spark an idea for a new book using the group’s story of their resistance of the German occupation during the war.
Soon letters are not enough and Juliet heads to the island to continue her research. Only, she quickly finds her life entwining with those of her lettered friends. Not to mention, Juliet finds herself intrigued by Elizabeth central figure they all speak of with love. Continue reading “Book Review -The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”
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)”
Our Vines Have Tender Grapes is the story of the Jacobson family as told through the eyes of young Selma. The Jacobson’s live in the rural community of Benson Corners, Wisconsin, where Martinius Jacobson farms the land. They are a close knit loving family. Selma experiences many daily adventures along with her younger cousin Arnold who is occasionally a thorn in her side. But it is a happy idyllic life even with the daily struggles of living in a farming community.
Along with the Jacobson’s, Benson Corners is also home to newspaper editor Nels Halverson. He falls in love with the new teacher Viola Johnson. Viola comes from the big city of Milwaukee. She is just biding her time in small time environs until she can move back with her teaching experience behind her. There is also Bjorn Bjornson. His new barn is the talk of the community and the envy of Martinius. Martinius’ big dream of a modern, fully-equipped barn conflicts with his wife Bruna’s financial practicality as well as her desire for indoor plumbing. Selma’s great love is her new little calf named Elizabeth. But when tragedy befalls one of their own, Selma makes a sacrifice which will inspire all the inhabitants of Benson Corners. Continue reading “Classic Film Review -Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945)”
There are a few films that are so famous that everyone has heard of them even if they haven’t seen them. Casablanca is one such film. It is beloved even by those who are not usually fans of classic cinema. Thanks to a great script, fabulous actors in memorable parts and well earned hype, it is an indelible work of cinematic art.
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is the owner/manager of a café in Casablanca, Morocco. Casablanca is a stopping place of sorts, for those fleeing war-torn Europe on their way to the United States. Rick is an American with a complicated personal and political history. His café helps entertain weary emigres as they wait for their visa papers. Rick is pretty weary himself, a cynical, hard-hearted character who “sticks his neck out for nobody.”
Though Casablanca is a free and unoccupied French territory, there is an intricate mix of politics and nationalities. The recent murder of two German soldiers in possession of incontestable letters of transit ushers in the arrival of the German Major Strasser. Strasser (Conrad Veidt) is on the hunt for the murderer. He is also tasked to ensure that Victor Laszlo (Paul Henried), a leader of the Resistance does not come into possession of those letters.
Into this delicate balance (and Rick’s Café) walks Laszlo and his companion Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman). Lazlo is an international hero seeking help to escape, but Rick isn’t inclined to be helpful. Particularly, when he sees his former love Ilsa on the arm of Laszlo. Not only is he bitter, but Rick is also caught up in a more personal game of politics with the French police captain Louis Renault which allows him to successfully operate his café. He is not willing to jeopardize his business, especially for the woman who abandoned him in Paris on the eve of the German occupation. But Ilsa has a different memory of her abandonment. When she discovers that the letters of transit which she and Laszlo need have found their way into Rick’s hands, she uses every weapon in her arsenal to get them. But not everything or everyone is as it seems in this place of shifting alliances.
To read my full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.
Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.