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)”

Jean Simmons Blogathon – All the Way Home (1963)

Jean Simmons & Robert Preston
JEAN SIMMONS

When discussing talented or famous film actresses of the classic film era, Jean Simmons is not a name that comes up as often as it should. Often those with larger screen personas get all the attention. I myself have been guilty of overlooking her work. And yet, she appeared in some very successful films, was twice nominated for an Oscar and continued working until she died in 2010 racking up almost one hundred film credits. So I’m absolutely thrilled that she is receiving some well deserved attention with the Jean Simmons Blogathon.

In choosing one of Jean’s films to write about, I discovered that I have seen more of her movies than I realized. Despite being a beautiful woman, she has the talent of disappearing into her roles. What’s amazing is that she accomplishes this without any drastic changes to her appearance. Instead she actually BECOMES her character.

I have a few personal favorites among her pictures, and she has several famous film titles to her credit. But I wanted to choose one that I had not seen and also which I felt is a bit more obscure among her fans. That is how I found myself watching the 1963 film, All the Way Home. Continue reading “Jean Simmons Blogathon – All the Way Home (1963)”

Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon – Lady of Burlesque (1943)

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)”

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”