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”

2018 Film Year in Review

So, this year was an extremely productive year for me when it came to watching films. I watched over 180 new to me classic films. Wait, what? That’s right almost 200 films. I honestly don’t even know how that is possible, especially considering I also read over 120 books while working as well.  That number of course doesn’t include the new releases, documentaries, television series, Hallmark movies etc. which I didn’t bother to keep track of.

CLASSIC FILMS

This year’s classic film binge included me filling in my filmography gaps for stars like Rita Hayworth, William Holden, Robert Mitchum, Elizabeth Taylor, George Brent, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando and others. I watched my first Esther Williams films and finally found one I liked. And I finally discovered why Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni are considered a great pairing. Continue reading “2018 Film Year in Review”

Rock Hudson Blogathon -Tarnished Angels (1957)

Over the years, I’ve seen several movies starring Rock Hudson. The Douglas Sirk melodramas, comedies with Doris Day and the Texas epic Giant, among others.  As much as I’ve enjoyed these films, it is always someone else’s performance which catches my eye. So when the opportunity arose to view Tarnished Angels I chose to watch it for Dorothy Malone. But then I got the surprise of my life – Rock Hudson can act!

FILM BACKGROUND

Tarnished Angels is based on the novel Pylon by William Faulkner. According to Faulkner, it is the best film adaptation of all his works. Aside from perhaps Tennessee Williams, no one could write a Southern potboiler like this native author. As usual, certain plot points of the story were toned down for the screen due to the Code. The film reunited director Douglas Sirk with Rock Hudson, Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone two years after working together on Written on the Wind. Continue reading “Rock Hudson Blogathon -Tarnished Angels (1957)”

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”

They Remade What?Blogathon: The Male Animal (1942) & She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952)

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!

STORY BACKGROUND

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)”

Deborah Kerr Blogathon -The Night of the Iguana (1964)

Don’t you love it when everything falls together unexpectedly?  I just finished reading Kendra Bean’s book Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies as well as Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry. (Both of which I recommend by the way.) Taylor’s book includes the memories attached to each piece of her jewelry and it should be no surprise that Richard Burton is often a part of those memories.  These books piqued my interest in seeing further films of these actors. Shortly after, I saw the announcement for the Deborah Kerr Blogathon hosted by Maddy Loves Her Classic Films.

As I searched for my film choice, I found The Night of the Iguana which just happens to star not only Kerr, but also Gardner, and Burton. Both books also referenced this film as it was an important one for both Gardner and Burton though for different reasons. The Burton-Taylor affair had taken the world by storm and the notoriety followed them to the set of this film. As for Gardner, this picture is often ranked as one of her best performances. Continue reading “Deborah Kerr Blogathon -The Night of the Iguana (1964)”

Lauren Bacall Blogathon -How To Marry A Millionaire (1953)

I’ve been a classic film fan since I was a young girl. But I didn’t have much access to them back then. Unless they were available at the library or occassionally airing on our local television stations, I was out of luck. One of the handful of movies I remember watching as a kid is How To Marry a Millionaire. Since then, I’ve seen it countless times. It is one of a few films that never fails to surprise me, no matter how many times I watch it. I always forget how funny it is!

FILM SYNOPSIS

Schatze, Pola and Loco are three models who devise a scheme to marry rich men. They agree to share the lease on a New York penthouse. Schatze believes that they must put themselves in the same orbit as men of wealth in order to attract them. And if they must pawn the furnishings of their new apartment to make ends meet while they hunt, well then, a girl must do what is necessary.

Schatze: You wanna catch a mouse, you set a mouse trap. All right so we set a bear trap. Now all we gotta do, is one of us has got to catch a bear.

Loco: You mean marry him?

Schatze: If you don’t marry him, you haven’t caught him, he’s caught you.

Continue reading “Lauren Bacall Blogathon -How To Marry A Millionaire (1953)”

Fred MacMurray Blogathon -The Happiest Millionaire

Long before I had a real awareness of classic film, I was unknowingly exposed to it through Disney’s feature films of the 1960’s and 70’s. These movies introduced me to the fading stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, names like Dorothy McGuire, Jane Wyman, Adolf Menjou, Maureen O’Hara, Karl Malden, Donald Crisp, Maurice Chevalier, Walter Brennan and David Niven. One of my favorite of these films was the musical The Happiest Millionaire. It features some of the most talented actors of decades past – Fred MacMurray, Greer Garson, Gladys Cooper and Geraldine Page in a story of a wealthy but eccentric Philadelphia family.

FILM SUMMARY

John Lawless (Tommy Steele) is an Irish immigrant fresh off the boat who arrives at the Biddle household to apply as a butler. He is invited to wait for Mrs. Biddle (Greer Garson) to approve his employment. But before she can arrive, he has a rather unconventional introduction first to Mr. Biddle (Fred MacMurray), then to his daughter Cordy (Lesley Ann Warren), his sons and the starchy family matriarch Aunt Mary (Gladys Cooper). He quickly becomes embroiled in the household while also acting as the narrator for the story. Continue reading “Fred MacMurray Blogathon -The Happiest Millionaire”

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”

Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon -Arsène Lupin (1932)

Arsène Lupin -The Gentleman Thief of French Literature

The gentleman thief is a much beloved character in both literature and film. Arsène Lupin is one such character, first birthed by the pen of French writer Maurice Leblanc in the early 1900’s. Over the course of the next two decades Leblanc published many novellas, novels and even plays featuring his popular creation. These stories were contemporary with another, perhaps more famous, thief and master of disguise, that of the English gentleman Raffles.  Without the underrated gift of classic film, I might never have heard of or been introduced to either.

The Arsène Lupin character also made appearances in television, stage and over twenty films. It is the pre-code 1932 version starring the Barrymore brothers, Lionel and John that I fell in love with. According to an introduction given by Dave Karger for this film on TCM, the Barrymore brothers were highly regarded by the two most important men at MGM during the early Thirties. Louis B Mayer believed Lionel to be one of the best actors of his time, while Irving Thalberg felt the same about John. When John’s contract with Warner Bros. expired, MGM snapped him up. He was cast with Lionel in Arsène Lupin, the first of five films in which the brothers would appear together in the years 1932-1933. Of those five only one would also star their equally famous sister Ethel. Sadly, after 1933 there would be no more films co-starring Lionel and John. Continue reading “Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon -Arsène Lupin (1932)”