This film condenses almost two decades of Cleopatra’s life into it’s four hour run time. In 48 BC, Julius Caesar arrives in Rome to mediate between the Egyptian queen and her co-ruling brother. Cleopatra persuades Caesar to help her regain the throne as the sole monarch. In the process, the two begin an affair which produces a son. The birth of Caesarion encourages Cleopatra in her ideas of building a world empire.
Eventually she travels to Rome where she is very unpopular with the people due to her influence with Caesar. She meets Marc Antony, the general of Caesar’s army, who helps her return to Egypt after Caesar’s assassination.
Even though Caesar named Octavian as his successor, the Roman Republic is split among Octavian, Lepidus and Marc Antony. Octavian and Marc Antony eventually neutralize Lepidus’ power. Their power struggle forces Marc Antony to turn to Egypt for support where he meets Cleopatra again. The two fall in love and begin an affair which is ultimately the downfall of them both. The film ends with their deaths in 30 BC.
Since my recent move, I haven’t had cable television, so I watched fewer classic films. But that’s okay. It just gave me more opportunity to view other movies and series that I might not otherwise have had time for. To be honest, I didn’t really love the few classic films I did see in September. And would you believe, I didn’t have any re-watches this month?
SEPTEMBER 2019 BREAKDOWN
24 films/series total
7 new classic films
7 foreign films/series
5 TV series
1 in theater
Favorite Discovery: Ooh, this month gave me a lot of options to choose from for this honor. Among the contenders were Ladies in Black, Jericho, The Professor and the Madman and of course Downton Abbey. But my choice is Blind Date. It is going on my list of all time favorites, hands down.
Biggest Disappointment: Except for Heartbeat, pretty much every classic film this month left me feeling meh…
This month was TCM’s annual Summer Under the Stars when they spend 24 hours each day honoring a different classic film actor. I made it a point to watch films featuring Ava Gardner, Melvyn Douglas, Shirley Temple, Buster Keaton and a couple of hard to find titles starring Irene Dunne. By default I also saw a few more of Randolph Scott’s and Robert Young’s films.
August 2019 Breakdown
29 films/series total
18 new classic films
5 TV series
Favorite Discovery:The Indian Doctor and Wee Willie Winkie
Grace Kelly was a popular and talented actress beloved by her public. But she became even more loved by a larger public when she became the Princess of Monaco.
According to The American Film Institute, MGM decided to capitalize on Kelly’s relationship with Prince Ranier by casting her as Princess Alexandra in the film The Swan. They even co-ordinated the release date of the film with that of her wedding. Helen Rose who costumed Kelly for this film also created her famous wedding dress.Talk about a genius marketing move by the studio! Because of this, The Swan is a good example of life imitating art.
THE SWAN SUMMARY
Princess Alexandra is her family’s only hope of regaining their royal eminence, generations after losing their throne. Her desperate mother, Princess Beatrice hopes to marry her off to Crown Prince Albert, who is travelling Europe in search of a wife.
When Albert arrives for a brief visit, Beatrice does all she can to throw the two together. But Albert mistakes Alexandra’s awkward shyness as disinterest and coldness and undertakes to avoid her.
Distraught, Beatrice talks her daughter into publicly flirting with the family’s tutor, in an effort to make the Crown Prince jealous. But her plan backfires in ways she can’t forsee.
Second only to Cary Grant, Clark Gable is my favorite actor. As such, I’ve made it a point to a watch as many of his films as I can. I had seen every one of his credited films with the exception of But Not For Me. As much as I wanted to be able to say I had seen all of his movies, I put off watching this particular title, because my expectations of it were very low. However, when the Clark Gable Blogathon rolled around this year, I knew now was the time to complete my exploration of Gable’s filmography. Fortunately for me, it was a better experience than I anticipated.
ABOUT THE FILM
After a long, successful career as a theater producer, Russ Ward is considering retirement. Because along with a string of hits, he also has a long list of expenses which include alimony to his ex-wife, a fancy apartment he has no time to enjoy and the renovation of a theater which is not likely to recoup his investment. His latest theatrical endeavor is foundering, thanks to his friend Jeremiah, a burned out, washed up, alcoholic playwright.
When he breaks the news to his long-suffering, faithful, young secretary Ellie, she decides to finally confess her love for him. Her earnest sincerity sparks Russ’ creative imagination. Using their relationship and her words, he convinces Jeremiah to re-write their play in a situation of art imitating life. Though Ellie is happy that she finally has Russ attention (and the leading role) all is not smooth sailing. Russ still has to manage Jeremiah’s reluctant come-back and his ex-wife’s financial demands and verbal zingers, while securing financing for the play. In addition, Ellie has her own admirer who is cast in the role of leading man on stage but who also wants to be leading man of her life. Continue reading “Clark Gable Blogathon – But Not For Me (1959)”
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.
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)”
Sometimes all the stars align just right and you get a thing of great beauty. Perhaps, that is how those involved in the making of To Catch a Thief felt. I doubt many pictures had a crew as simpatico as this one. Director Alfred Hitchcock admired both Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. He had worked with both actors several times, but never together. Kelly and Grant both appreciated the director. And thanks to this film, Kelly and Grant remained lifelong friends.
Matching the natural beauty of Grant and Kelly is the vibrantly magnificent views of the French Riviera where the film is set. Add in the fashionable, yet classic costumes designed by the award winning designer Edith Head and you have one of the most visually gorgeous films I’ve ever seen.
Grant is John Robie, a retired jewel thief living a comfortable life in the south of France, until a new round of burglaries is attributed to his alter ego The Cat. The local police believe that Robie has returned to his life of crime. To make matters worse, Robie’s former compatriots in the French Resistance share that believe. Robie decides the only way to clear his name is to catch the thief who is posing as him.
With the help of an insurance investigator, Robie begins shadowing those who might be targets of the jewel thief. His mission is complicated by American heiress Francie Stevens. Francie inserts herself into his life and constantly interrupts Robie’s private investigation. But Francie’s motives aren’t exactly what they appear to be. Engaged in dual games of cat and mouse, there is more at stake than Robie’s personal reputation.