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)”

James Garner Blogathon – The Castaway Cowboy (1974)

I grew up with old school Disney. Though I never understood the appeal of Mickey Mouse, I adored Donald Duck. And thanks to a well-stocked local video store, I also watched many of Disney’s live action movies from the 1950’s on. Films like Shaggy Dog, Pollyanna, Swiss Family Robinson, The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Monkey’s Uncle and others offered wonderful family entertainment for a girl whose mother was very careful about what she was allowed to watch. To this day these films also hold a high nostalgia factor for me. Which is why when choosing a film for the James Garner Blogathon, I had to pick The Castaway Cowboy.

The Castaway Cowboy is a movie I’m certain I’ve seen before, but couldn’t recall a thing about.  It’s the rare combination of Hawaiian meets Western. Continue reading “James Garner Blogathon – The Castaway Cowboy (1974)”

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Blogathon – Forever Female (1953)

It’s easy to write-off Ginger Rogers as the second half of a famous partnership with Fred Astaire. After all it is the ten films they made together which has helped cement her place in film history.

But she’s not just your typical classic movie star. No, she was a real working actress with talent. One who was equally at home in musicals, comedies and dramas. She held her own against respected actresses like Janet Gaynor and Katharine Hepburn and co-starred with in demand actors such as William Powell, Cary Grant & James Stewart.

Without intentionally planning it, I have seen a large majority of Roger’s films and was on the lookout for a new one to review for this blogathon. Forever Female perfectly fit the bill. It is one of her less discussed films, which is unfortunate given Rogers gives an excellent performance. It also boasts William Holden and Paul Douglas as cast members and talented screenwriting brothers Julius (who won and Oscar for Casablanca) & Phillip Epstein. Continue reading “Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Blogathon – Forever Female (1953)”

The Happy Holiday Blogathon – My Ten Favorite Christmas Films

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I have always been a Christmas fanatic. Christmas albums comprise my largest collection of music which I listen to year round. I start my countdown in October. I buy beautiful holiday wrapping paper despite my hatred of wrapping gifts. I put my tree up before Thanksgiving. AND I adore Christmas movies, which is why I wanted to share a list of my favorites for this blogathon.

In speaking of this holiday, I must admit, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. No trendy flocked tree for me this year, I’m sticking with my favorite red and gold. I love the aspect of the holiday which celebrates family over busyness, thoughtfulness over commercialism. And I still believe that the real reason for the season is the birth of Jesus. Continue reading “The Happy Holiday Blogathon – My Ten Favorite Christmas Films”

Reel Infatuation Blogathon – Melanie Wilkes of Gone With the Wind

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen Gone With the Wind over the years. In fact, it may be the film I’ve watched the most. Though it isn’t my favorite (that honor belongs to Bringing Up Baby), it never fails to entertain me with it’s drama, performances and costumes.

Gone With the Wind is clearly Scarlett O’Hara’s story. And though she’s a divisive character, I’ve always appreciated her more than Melanie Wilkes. Next to Scarlett, Melanie appeared to me to be bland, boring and weak. However, in my more recent viewings of this film, my opinion has changed dramatically. And that is why I chose her for my character crush for this year’s Reel Infatuation Blogathon hosted by Font and Frock and Silver Screenings. Continue reading “Reel Infatuation Blogathon – Melanie Wilkes of Gone With the Wind”

Rosalind Russell Blogathon – Tell It to the Judge (1949)

Rosalind Russell is one of the under-rated talents of classic film, in my opinion. In her forty year career, she played opposite some of Hollywood’s most popular leading men, appeared in more than one hundred films in a mix of genres and  was nominated for an Oscar four times. She also appeared on stage multiple times and even won a Tony Award.

But for some reason, she’s not often listed as anyone’s favorite actress or ranked among the great actresses of her time. Well, thanks to Crystal of In The Good Old Days of Hollywood, Russell is getting some well-deserved recognition and remembrance with her very own blogathon.

I’ve seen many of Rosalind Russell’s films knowing I can always count on her to give her best in any performance. Of course, she’s excellent in dramatic roles, but I often think she is overlooked as a comedienne and not just because of her stand-out role in My Girl Friday. I recently ran across one of her lesser known films Tell It to the Judge and found it to be an absolute delight. Continue reading “Rosalind Russell Blogathon – Tell It to the Judge (1949)”

5 Favorite Films of the 50’s Blogathon

I’ve always considered myself a fan of the pre-war films. In particular, I love the movies of the 1930’s. In my mind, 50’s films are more gritty, less hopeful as well as dramatic. As a fan of comedies and happy endings, I’ve kind of put films from this decade in a box to avoid.

No one was more surprised than me however to discover how many 50’s pictures I’ve seen and actually loved. Talk about preconceptions! I didn’t think I could find enough films to participate in this blogathon. When in reality my problem is that there were so many great pictures, that it about killed me to keep this list at five. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

There were so many films that I really love. But for the most part my deciding criteria was linked to nostalgia. The five movies on my list are ones I grew up watching. I’ve seen them all countless times and love them for their familiarity, the sense that I get that I’m re-visiting old friends and that happy cozy feeling of remembering my childhood experiences with them. Those that just missed the cut include Ivanhoe, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and To Catch a Thief. Painful, I tell you. Continue reading “5 Favorite Films of the 50’s Blogathon”

Joan Crawford Blogathon – They All Kissed the Bride (1942)

When mentioning popular actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Joan Crawford’s name is always in the mix. Though it has been said she relished her movie star status, that does not negate the fact that she also had talent. She may not have been one who preferred the work over the celebrity like her rival Bette Davis, but no one can deny she was dedicated to her career.

Crawford most often played modern women in dramatic films. Occasionally, she would step outside of her normal milieu. But she did seem most at home in dramatic roles. However, she was capable of more as she proves in the comedy They All Kissed the Bride.

SUMMARY

Margaret Drew rules her world with an iron fist. This includes her family trucking business as well as the lives of her mother and sister. She exhibits little softness or human emotion, barking demands like an automaton whose sole concern is efficiency and a healthy profit margin. She further erases any hints of femininity in her choice of name, going by her initials M.J.

The current thorn in M.J’s side is writer Michael Holmes, whose former exposes have seriously impacted other companies’ bottom lines. M.J. is determined to use all legal avenues at her disposal to stop the publication of his book about her father.

When M.J meets a charming stranger at her sister’s wedding, she begins to experience strange emotions for the first time. Though she tries to ignore her physical reactions to this man who keeps popping up, she can’t completely control them. Matters are made worse when she discovers the man who makes her weak-kneed is actually Mike Holmes!

For his part Mike is intrigued by the challenge M.J. presents. Deciding she needs to be humanized, he alternately sweet-talks, goads and even bribes her at their every meeting. Can these two opposites find common ground?

MY THOUGHTS

Crawford is an odd choice in a role originally slated for Carole Lombard. But when Lombard died, the part was re-worked to better suit Crawford who donated her salary to the Red Cross in Lombard’s name.

Photo Source: IMDb

The opening scenes of They All Kissed the Bride seem to present a familiar Joan Crawford, stiff hair to match her stiff personality. A real ball-buster. Before long however, it segues into a surprisingly charming comedy about a woman learning to accept all aspects of her nature, without viewing them as weaknesses.

Though I admire Crawford, she has never been a personal favorite of mine. Perhaps, because I prefer romantic comedies to dramas as a rule. However, she exhibits not only a softer side of the character, but also of herself as an actress in this film. I was surprised by how well she handled the comedic portions of the story. She even managed to make M.J.’s perplexity over her literal weak knees convincing. As she transforms from M.J. to Maggie (Mike’s name for her), she becomes downright endearing and appealing.

Supposedly, Crawford insisted on Melvyn Douglas being cast as her romantic interest in their fourth and final film together. It proves to be a wise choice. Douglas had a deft touch when it came to light comedy. Once again, he perfectly fills the role of a man with a creative temperament who finds himself intrigued by his uptight leading lady.

Mike Holmes has the potential to come across as selfish or a bully. However, Douglas is able to portray him as a man who doesn’t just challenge M.J. He also believes in her potential to be better. While he may take advantage of her at times, it is never with ill intent, but always for her benefit, though Maggie can’t always see that. Thanks to Crawford and Douglas rapport, I believed that these two opposites actually could attract.

But lest you think that Joan Crawford and Melvyn Douglas are the only attractions of this film, let me mention that they have a talented supporting cast. Old stalwarts, Roland Young and Billie Burke have important roles as M.J.’s right-hand legal advisor and her mother. Burke plays her usual flighty part, but with a surprising character twist towards the end. Then there is Allen Jenkins as a Drew Trucking employee, close friend and informant to Mike Holmes. Jenkins could occasionally over act his parts, but he is perfectly cast here. All the while he is giving Mike insider information on the company’s practices, he also unknowingly provides M.J. with first hand knowledge of her employee’s experiences with her rigid company rules.

Though They All Kissed the Bride will never be considered one of Joan Crawford’s best films, I would definitely consider it an under rated one. Giving her an opportunity to play both drama and comedy it proves that she is more versatile than she often gets credit for being.

 

Audrey Hepburn Blogathon – Enchantment by Donald Spoto

Audrey Hepburn

From the moment she burst onto the scene and even decades after her death, Audrey Hepburn has been an international star. Even now, she still receives more media attention than many of our current celebrities. Hepburn achieved fame as a film star, fashion icon and even a humanitarian.

But even though I’ve seen most of her films, read many articles about her public persona, I realized recently that I knew very little about the private Audrey Hepburn. The real Audrey. Who was she? I knew only the most basic of facts, which is why when the opportunity arose to participate in The Audrey Hepburn Blogathon, hosted by Janet at Sister Celluloid, I decided to review Donald Spoto’s biography, Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. Continue reading “Audrey Hepburn Blogathon – Enchantment by Donald Spoto”

Fay Wray and Robert Riskin Blogathon – Platinum Blonde (1931)

ABOUT ROBERT RISKIN

Hollywood isn’t often noted for its’ successful marriages. However, writer Robert Riskin and actress Fay Wray were one of the exceptions. The two were married for thirteen years until his death parted them.

Their daughter is publishing the book  Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Affair.  I am participating in The Fay Wray and Robert Riskin Blogathon honoring these two Hollywood stars and the book hosted by Aurora of Once Upon a Screen and AnnMarie at Classic Movie Hub.

One of the things I am always bemoaning about our modern films is the lackluster, disappointing dialogue. Classic films were full of snappy one liners, rapid fire conversations full of double entendres and attraction disguised as insults. They were witty and smart, but could also be cutting and sharp. It is rare to run across this verbal brilliance in new releases. Which is why I wanted to focus on Robert Riskin for the sake of this blogathon. Continue reading “Fay Wray and Robert Riskin Blogathon – Platinum Blonde (1931)”