Classic Film Review -Topper (1937)

Cary Grant is the quintessential leading man in both dramas and comedies. But I prefer his comedic films. He had a skill for appearing silly while also still being suave and sophisticated. One of my favorite among his comedy films is Topper. Made just as his star was hitting it’s peak, it is the last film in which he ever played a supporting role.

TOPPER SYNOPSIS

George and Marion Kerby are a socialite couple with few responsibilities. They live a fast, lively and glamorous life. One of the few drags on their carefree life is the annual board of directors meeting at a bank George owns. Once a year, he is forced to attend by the bank manager Cosmo Topper.

After a night of partying followed by the board meeting the next morning, George and Marion are killed in a car wreck. They are perplexed as to why they remain on earth instead of immediately going to the afterlife. Marion believes it is because they haven’t done anything that would earn them a spot in heaven. So they decide that they must accomplish one good deed. They settle on liberating their bank manager, Mr. Topper from the rigid and regimented life enforced by his wife.

Topper finds his life unwillingly and completely turned upside down by his ghostly friends. But before long, he begins to see the benefit of allowing a little joy and fun into his mundane existence.

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Film Review -Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Growing up, my parents exposed me to many popular musicians of the Seventies, artists like Simon and Garfunkel, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Grass Roots, The Rolling Stones, The Mamas and the Papas and one of my mother’s favorites, ABBA.

In 2008 a new generation was introduced to the Swedish band ABBA when their songs were featured in the musical film Mamma Mia! Despite some criticism of the film, it became an indisputable success. Exactly ten years later, the sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again allows fans to revisit all that they love about the original. It continues the story begun in Mamma Mia!. It also depicts the story of how Donna found herself in Greece and met Sophie’s three fathers.

SUMMARY

A year after her mother’s passing, Sophie is finally fulfilling her mother’s dream. The hotel Bella Donna is all set for a Grand re-opening. However, Sophie’s triumph feels bittersweet. She desperately misses her mother, two of her three dads are unable to attend and she and Sky have hit an impasse in their relationship. Fortunately, she has some support from her mother’s friends Tanya and Rosie, her third dad Sam and the new hotel manager Fernando Cienfuegos. Sophie will need all the help she can get as processes her grief and faces unexpected obstacles in preparing for the re-opening.

Meanwhile, back in 1979, Donna Sheridan graduates from school and begins her search for freedom and identity. Traveling through Europe, she meets a young man in Paris. Though he feels a special connection with her Donna cannot stay. She believes her destiny is yet to be found on a small Grecian island. Continuing her journey, she meets a young sailor who happily transports Donna to the isle of Kalokairi aboard his boat. Upon her arrival, Donna settles into an abandoned farm house. She also lands a job singing at the local café and meets another young man who will play an important role in her future.

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Film Review -Breathe (2017)

The Life of Robin Cavendish

If you have never heard of Robin Cavendish before, you aren’t the only one.  If not for how he lived with a severe disability, most likely nobody ever would have.  In 1958, two years into his marriage to Diana, Robin contracted polio and was paralyzed from the neck down. Initially given less than a year to live,  Robin indicated his wish to die. But Diana refused to allow this.  She entreated him to live for the sake of their son.

Robin gradually improved to the point that he could swallow and speak. But for the rest of his life he was dependent on the use of artificial respirators to help him keep him alive. Eventually, Diana and some hospital staff literally broke him out of the hospital against his doctor’s advice. At this time, no one with his level of disability had ever been released or survived outside of a hospital.

Over the next thirty years of his life, Robin and Diana became champions for disabled people. They  also helped inspire and pioneer ways to integrate people like himself into everyday society. Some of these ideas include a mobile wheelchair with a built in respirator, a hydraulic chair lift for his van, as well as equipment that allowed him to perform simple tasks by moving his head.  He was also instrumental in creating the first list of people who used iron lungs as well as in fundraising efforts to improve their quality of life. In their personal lives the two pushed Robin’s boundaries, living as adventurously as possible, while raising their son and remaining committed to each other.

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Classic Film Review -The Clock (1945)

Though long gone, Judy Garland is still famous for her singing voice and her film musicals. Of her forty film credits, there are only three in which she does not sing or dance. The first of these three is The Clock and it proves that Judy was a talented actress in her own right, even without her musical skills.

SUMMARY

Judy GarlandJoe Allen (Robert Walker), a country boy turned soldier, arrives in New York City for a 48 hour leave. Immediately, he is overwhelmed by the hustle and bustled of the city and seeks to lessen the effect by making conversation with strangers. While taking refuge in the train station, an accident brings him and Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland) together. Though she has other plans, he convinces her to pass some time with him. Feeling compassion for this soldier Alice first allows herself to be talked into a walk in the park, then an afternoon at a museum and finally a dinner date. Alice’s roommate warns her not to fall under the spell of a man who will soon be shipping out.

Alice tries to resist and a few awkward moments and misunderstandings tempt her to abandon Joe. But neither one can deny a strong connection and many things in common. Despite differing plans for their futures, the pair find themselves in love. An accidental separation leaves them both desperate to find the other. Unfortunately, they haven’t even exchanged last names, so their odds of finding each other before Joe leaves the city are very low. By chance, they meet again and are so overjoyed and relieved that they decide to get married. But they have less than 24 hours to complete all the necessary steps so that a judge can marry them. And as Shakespeare wrote, “the course of true love never did run smooth.”

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Foreign Film Friday – A La Mala (2015)

A la Mala SUMMARY

Maria Laura, aka Mala, is an aspiring actress whose outspoken views make it difficult for her to win roles. Fortunately, her roommate Kika is understanding as to why she is behind on her rent. Kika is also convinced her boyfriend is cheating on her. She coerces Mala into flirting with him to determine if he will be faithful. Though reluctant Mala is also successful and eventually word gets around about her unusual talent. Before she knows it, she is earning good money testing the loyalty of other women’s boyfriends.

However, when she finally lands a major role in a television series she is ready to leave her odd career behind. But the producer only agrees to guarantee the part if Mala will seduce her ex as a means of revenge. There is just one problem. Mala has already had an unfortunate encounter with wealthy businessmen Santiago and they can’t stand each other. Still, Mala’s big break depends on making Santiago fall in love with her so that she can break his heart. Further complications arise when she develops conflicted feelings towards him and her unpleasant task.  Will Mala be convincing enough to snag the heart of this wealthy bachelor? Even more importantly, will she be able to protect her own heart while doing so?

For my full review of this entertaining romantic comedy, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Classic Film Review -Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Bringing Up Baby was my first introduction to the world of classic film. It was also my first experience with the screwball comedy genre as well as Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. With such an auspicious initiation, is it any wonder that I not only adore classic films, but that both Grant and Hepburn along with the screwball comedy genre remain my very favorites.  No matter how many (countless) times I watch this picture, it never fails to entertain and to lift my spirits.Cary Grant & Katharine HepburnSUMMARY

David Huxley is a paleontologist who is THIS close to completing the skeleton of a Brontosaurus. He just lacks installation of the final bone (the intercostal clavicle) and funding in the form of a million dollar donation by the wealthy Mrs. Carlton Random. He is also one day away from a marriage of convenience to the dull and practical Alice Swallow.

David’s meeting with Mrs. Random’s attorney, Mr. Peabody, is unfortunately disrupted by Susan Vance. After a meet cute filled with confusion, theft and mishaps, David is forced to reschedule his meeting for that same evening. However, David’s bad luck continues as he once again runs into Susan who once again ruins his meeting.

Susan, however is besotted and decides David is the man for her. Believing him to be a zoologist, Susan tracks him down to request his help. Her brother has sent a tame pet leopard as a gift for their aunt. Despite David’s refusal to help Susan deliver ‘Baby’, Susan coerces him by promising to speak to Mr. Peabody on his behalf. Unknown to David, Mrs. Random just happens to be Susan’s aunt.

David and Susan head off to the family’s Connecticut farm to deliver Baby. But Susan being Susan, everything that can go wrong does. Add in the family dog George who buries the intercostal clavicle, an escaped killer leopard, a visit from a family friend who is a big-game hunter and Susan’s introduction of David as a man recovering from a nervous breakdown and you’ve got the recipe for one of the funniest movies ever.

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Classic Film Review -Pillow Talk (1959)

Pillow Talk introduced to the world for the first time, the popular, beloved pairing of Doris Day and Rock Hudson. It also re-invigorated the genre of romantic comedy.

SUMMARY

Jan Morrow is an interior decorator who is living the dream in New York City, except for one major annoyance. She is stuck sharing a phone line with the egotistical, womanizing bachelor Brad Allen, a man Jan has never met. Brad is a Broadway song writer who works from home. He ties up their shared phone line at all hours with his multiple affairs. All of Jan’s efforts to regulate the use of the phone meet Brad’s mocking refusal.

One evening, purely by accident, Brad catches a glimpse of Jan while they are both out on separate dates. He is shocked to find that the woman he has been arguing with is actually not the plain prude he assumed she was. Knowing that Jan would never agree to date him, Brad concocts a false identity as a tourist from Texas and rescues her from her drunken date.

Jan is thrilled to finally meet a handsome man she feels she can trust and who treats her respectfully. As Brad and Jan spend time together, her attachment to “Rex Stetson” grows.  While Brad is dating Jan using his alter ego, he also continues to pester Jan as himself over their shared phone line.

At the same time Jan continues to received marriage proposals from her wealthy client Jonathan Forbes. Jonathan is head over heels for Jan. When Jonathan discovers that his close friend Brad Allen is plying his tricks on the unsuspecting Jan, he decides to take action.

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Classic Film Review -Lover Come Back (1961)

The name of Doris Day is almost synonymous with the romantic comedies of the Sixties. In a ten year period from 1958 to 1968, she starred in over ten comedies with leading men like Clark Gable, Cary Grant, James Garner and Jack Lemmon among others. But of all her rom-com co-stars, she is best remembered for her three films opposite Rock Hudson. Even today, decades later, their names are irrevocably linked. Lover Come Back is the second of their three films together.

SUMMARY

Doris Day & Rock HudsonCarol Templeton and Jerry Webster have never met, but they work for competing advertising agencies in New York. Carol loves the creative challenge of her job. Jerry prefers to court potential clients with wining, dining and women.

When Carol loses a huge account to Jerry’s less than savory sales approach, she is enraged. She reports him to the advertising council and vows to do whatever it takes to win the next big potential account.

Though a thorn in his side, Carol isn’t Jerry’s only problem. His sniveling, neurotic friend, Peter Ramsey, who is also his boss has returned determined to take the reins of Jerry’s ad agency. Not to mention, one of the women he uses to lure in customers is threatening to spill his secrets if he doesn’t fulfill his promise of putting her on television. All of these challenges force Jerry into a creative, but risky solution with unintentional consequences. He creates a demand for a product which doesn’t exist!

In the meantime Carol is on the hunt to steal Jerry’s big account for a new product called VIP. In the process, she runs into Jerry, who she believes to be an important scientist, Dr. Linus Tyler. Once Jerry gets an eyeful of his female antagonist, he decides to play along. Because he knows she won’t give him the time of day as himself.

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Film Review -The Saint (1997)

The character of Simon Templar debuted in a series of books first published in the 1920’s and running through the 1980’s. There have been many film and television adaptations, but my favorite is this film version from the nineties.

SUMMARY

Raised in an orphanage, young John Rossi renames himself after his childhood heroes, the Templar Knights. While there he develops a unique set of skills, but also witnesses a tragedy which haunts him.

As an adult Simon Templar is a thief who uses his skills for his own benefit and the highest bidder. In his line of work, he changes his appearance as often as his identity and his name. Simon is personable and clever, but forms no attachments and calls no place home. Determined to see his bank account reach a comfortable fifty million dollars, before he retires, he takes one last job. Unfortunately, it happens to be for the Russian billionaire, Ivan Tretiak. On a previous job, Simon had a run-in with Tretiak’s son Ilya, whom he left with disfiguring facial scars.

Tretiak hires Simon to steal a formula for clean, inexpensive energy. This formula is a scientific breakthrough developed by the English scientist Emma Russell and her late father.

Simon is surprised to find that Emma is not what he expected. Though she is a brilliant scientist, she is also rather naive and a romantic at heart. Simon determines the best and safest way to steal the formula is to seduce her.  But in the process, he is charmed by her innocence and her willingness to release her formula publicly, instead of selling it for a profit. When Tretiak threatens Emma’s life, Simon is forced to make a decision. And when Emma discovers Simon’s secret, she puts herself in danger to confront him.

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Film Review – The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

SUMMARY

After the devastating losses of their family restaurant and their matriarch, the Kadam family leaves India and heads for Europe. They wander, searching for a place where they can settle. Papa Kadam notices a property for sale in the small French village of Saint-Antonin. There are many reasons why it is not a good investment. One of which is a successful Michelin star rated restaurant only one hundred feet across the road. His family names other reasons to be deterred; no one in the French village will be interested in Indian food, the previous owners were not able to run a restaurant there successfully among others. But Papa’s conversations with his deceased wife and his confidence in his son Hassan’s skills as a cook override all other concerns.

Hassan is excited to put to use the skills his mother taught him in the kitchen. He has also befriended a local girl named Marguerite. She works for the formidable Madame Mallory in the restaurant across the road. Hassan realizes that in order for his family business to succeed they must all adapt to the culture and the food. Marguerite is helpful to him in this regard. But Madame Mallory does everything she can to make it difficult for their business to succeed. She lodges complaints with the town mayor about minor infractions and purchas up all the ingredients they need before they can get to the market.

When a bigoted man attacks the Kadam restaurant, Hassan is injured. The war between Papa Kadam and Madame Mallory comes to a head, with a surprising resolution. Suddenly, enemies reluctantly make peace. This changes the course of several lives, not the least of which is Hassan’s.

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