Saturday, June 27, 2015

Gilda: The Ultimate Film Noir

Today I'll be writing about one of the most iconic film noirs ever: Gilda.  It's an amazing film undoubtedly stoked with star power, unforgettable costumes, noir lighting, and one of the most remembered classic movie moments ever....Rita Hayworth shimmying around in that strapless black dress and opera gloves.

The 1940s were unquestionably the height of the film noir genre, with such films as Mildred PierceRebeccaThe Shanghai GestureDouble Indemnity, and The Big Sleep all released throughout the '40s.  The film noir world was usually stapled with lower, darker lighting then was found in other genres of film, such as a romantic comedy or musical.  Compare; on the left is Rita in Gilda (film noir), and on the right is Rita in You Were Never Lovelier (romance musical). 

On the left, shadows and little bursts of light are key, while on the right it's all bright and happy, matching the plot.  The lighting style in film noir allowed for a mysterious environment for the action to take place, from a murder to a femme fatale using her wiles.  

Speaking of which, a femme fatale also became a 'spokesperson' of sorts for film noir.  Where film noir went, there was usually a femme fatale along as well.  What is a femme fatale?  The phrase comes from the French, and translated means 'fatal woman'. Generally the femme fatale character in a film noir is an attractive woman who leads men into troublesome or ruining situations.  There is the occasional exception, but for the most part, that's who and what the femme fatale character is in a film noir.

Gilda was released in 1946, the middle of the decade when the film noir genre was in full swing.  My ultimate hair goals girl Rita had been cast as the title character from the start, and the studio knew exactly what they were during with the publicity.  In most advertising, even the movie poster, Glenn Ford (who played Johnny) didn't even appear; instead, the movie poster featured a full-length shot of Rita, with the words above her head, "There never was a woman like Gilda!!". The studio was using her in every way possible to publicize that film, but she certainly did steal the picture.  If you mention Gilda to a random person today, most likely they won't remember anyone else who starred in it except for her, despite the point that everyone gave great performances.  Her somewhat 'striptease' number (which involved removing one glove) turned into an iconic moment in the film world, and the black full-length gown (worn with a corset) and gloves also became famous for influencing the fashion world.  Even in that Put the Blame on Mame number, I can't help but remember Rita's quote: "I think all women have a certain elegance that is destroyed when they take off their clothes."  Rita took off one glove in that glove.  And I don't think only taking off the glove hurt her popularity any; after the film was released, her nickname/title as 'The Love Goddess' was firmly set, and in 1947, her new contract at Columbia Pictures provided $250,000 plus 50% of all film profits.  Rita, granted, did not particularly enjoy working at Columbia after a time, but the point I'm trying to make is that her popularity did not fade.  She was quoted in a 1980s interview as saying, "Everybody else does nude scenes, but I don't. I never made nude movies. I didn't have to do that. I danced. I was provocative, I guess, in some things. But I was not completely exposed.". And I know I got off on a severe rabbit trail here, but this is just a little note to all those modern actresses/icons/stars/singers, etc: Stop what you're doing.  It is not necessary to appear half-naked in a film or do whatever it is you do on stage at a concert to be popular.  You're just giving yourself a reputation as a loose person.  I don't mean any offense to anyone, but I really just wanted to say that. 

Ok, getting back to the production of the film...
Gilda was filmed from September 4th to December 10th of 1945, and premiered early the next year, on February 14, 1946.

As for any trivia tidbits on Miss Rita, it has often been said that her introductory scene ("Sure, I'm decent") was shot twice, once in her famous off-the-shoulder white dressing gown, and another time in a dark skirt and striped blouse.  Most of us know that her singing was dubbed by Anita Ellis in all of her singing scenes, with the single exception of the guitar version of Put the Blame on Mame, which Rita sung herself.  This makes me slightly upset, only because I actually thought for a time it was Rita singing in all three numbers!! Oh, well...  Rita's two-piece gown worn during the Amado Mio scene went up for auction last year at the TCM Classic Hollywood auction in December.  It sold for $161,000.  I just wanted to include that because I always love learning, myself, where the costumes are now. :)

Well, I guess I'll finish this slightly ramble-y post off with a GIF of Rita and that perfect hair of hers.  I wholeheartedly recommend Gilda to all of you; it's the quissential film noir and the perfect introduction to the genre.  I hope you enjoy it!

This is my contribution to the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon, hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently, Aurora over at Once Upon a Screen, and Ruth of Silver Screenings.

This blogathon is divided into three sections and days: The Silent Era (June 26); The Golden Age (June 27; this is the one I'm in! :) ); and Modern Times (June 28).

Check out all the other wonderful contributions at the provided links! :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Scenes from the Life of an Irish Lass ~ Maureen O'Hara

This is my contribution to the Luck o' the Irish Blogathon hosted by Silver Scenes.


I've always felt that Maureen was an extremely talented...and under appreciated, actress.  True, she has scores of fans in the die-hard Old Hollywood world, but for a lot of people, they have never heard of her.  They've heard of Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor....and don't get me wrong, they are all favorites of mine, but Maureen deserves a place too.

My hope is that with this article, I can have even one more person discover the extraordinary talent that is Maureen O'Hara.  I will give a brief biography of her life, thus far, and recommend my top 5 Maureen movies at the end.  And, perhaps best of all, I will share one of my favorite quotes that she detailed in her memoir 'Tis Herself.


She was born Maureen Fitzsimmons in 1920, to parents whom were both Irish.  Maureen caught the showbiz bug early, singing and performing with her siblings in her backyard.  She, however, was also very happy to stay in Ireland.  In the early years, she had no desire to go to Hollywood, or even America.

Her father, however, did not entirely support her enjoyment of theatrical things, and was determined that she enter in a more steady and supportive career.  But at the age of six, she was entered into a girls' school, where she studied acting, music, and dance, until the age of seventeen.  At the age of ten, while still enrolled in the girls' school, she joined an amateur theatre group, and rehearsed or performed after lessons.  Her dream was to become a stage actress.  But her father didn't give up, so she also entered a business school after she graduated, and became an extremely proficient typist.

Through her involvement with Abbey Theatre (courtesy again of the girls' school and the theatre group), Maureen received the opportunity of a screen test in London.  She wasn't satisfied with her performance, and thought "if this is the movies, I want nothing to do with them!". The part didn't come through for her either.  But later on, Charles Laughton came upon the screen test, and was very struck by her beauty and striking skills.  He shared his new discovery with colleague Erich Pommef, and she was given a contract with the two's company, Mayflower Pictures.  She did star in a few remembered movies while with that studio, but nothing particularly striking.  When World War Two broke out in England, and it was practically impossible to film any movies there, they sold her contract to RKO.  No profitable parts came for her there, least for a while.

Her big break came when she was chosen to act by John Ford in How Green Was My Valley.  Almost overnight, she was a huge success, and other good picture offers came rolling in.  And...well, you know how the rest goes.  She was particularly renowned for her extraordinary chemistry with John Wayne, and the two made five pictures together. (Contrary to popular belief, they were extremely good and close friends, but nothing more.)  I, personally, have always found it fascinating as to how actresses and actors had their background: how did they get started in pictures; did they enjoy it; what were their first parts?  And for that reason, this is exactly what I shared with you, my dear readers.


And now, the quote:

On Miracle on 34th Street:
"Everyone felt the magic on the set and we all knew we were creating something special.  I am very proud to have been part of a film that has been continually shown and loved all over the world for nearly sixty years.  Miracle on 34th Street has endured all this time because of the special relationship of the cast and crew, the uplifting story and its message of hope and love, which steals hearts all over the world every year.  I don't think I will ever tire of children asking me, "Are you the lady who knows Santa Claus?". I always answer, "Yes, I am.  What would you like me to tell him?"


Recommended Maureen movies (in no particular order):

Miracle on 34th Street - Also starring John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood
Arguably one of Maureen's best known films.  It is now a Christmas standard, though it was originally released in May.

The Quiet Man - Also starring John Wayne, Barry Fitzgerald
Someone says 'Maureen O'Hara', and for many, this film comes to mind.  It is Maureen's and John Wayne's most famous pairing, one that has even created a fandom of itself: the 'Quiet Maniacs'. 

The Parent Trap - Also starring Hayley Mills, Brian Keith
A fun family film about two twins separated at birth who try to get their parents back together.

McClintock! - Also starring John Wayne, Yvonne De Carlo, Patrick Wayne, Stefanie Powers
This film allowed Maureen to showcase both her dramatic and comedic abilities.  She was an incredibly talented actress, one that I feel could assume almost any role.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation - Also starring Jimmy Stewart, Fabian
This is a completely comedic film, and though definitely not the best known in the history of movies, it's a fun watch for an afternoon.


I do sincerely hope you enjoyed this post on Miss Maureen O'Hara.  She is one of my favorite actresses, and I much enjoyed authoring this post about her. :-)

Ta-ta, dahlings!!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Making of Daddy Long Legs (1955)

This is my contribution to the CinemaScope Blogathon hosted by ClassicBecky's Brain Food and Wide Screen World.


Daddy Long Legs was, at its root, aimed to teenagers all over the globe.  The simple story was based on a 1912 novel written by Jean Webster.  The premise is simple: a millionaire plucks an 18-year-old orphan from an orphanage and sends her to college as her guardian.  The orphan (Jerusha 'Judy' Abbott in the book) writes to her guardian, whom she calls Daddy Long Legs, but he never answers back.  But she gets to know him later on (not knowing he is her guardian), and they fall in love.

Ok, let's be fair.  The movie takes some liberties from the book.  In the first place, Judy's name is changed to Julie André, so that the part would suit French-accent-possessing Caron better.  Also, the orphan was American in the novel, and French in the movie.  All rather petty details, though.

Many people seem to find Daddy Long Legs creepy, because of the premise of a guardian falling in love with his charge.  Well, I'll go ahead and share my opinion on this.  I think that if anyone else other than Fred had played the role, it would have come off incredibly creepy.  Gene Kelly, for example, wouldn't have worked.  It just would come off wrong.  Astaire is somehow ageless, I think, and therefore the movie works and comes off well.  After all, at least in this film his age (he was in his late 50s) was worked into the script, instead of just sticking him with a 25 year old and asking the audience to accept it.  Even in Funny Face, released three years later, Audrey was much younger than Fred.  And, mind you, Funny Face is one of my favorite films.

But let's get on to the making of the film.  By the time the idea for Daddy Long Legs came rolling around, it had already been made into a film three times.  (Yes, three.). Once in 1919, starring Mary Pickford, once in 1931, starring Janet Gaynor, and a very different from the original book adaption, starring Shirley Temple.  So it wasn't exactly a new vehicle.  But the story goes that Darryl Zanuck, the then production chief of 20th Century Fox, was dining at Romanoff's one night.  At the time, Astaire was in retirement (for the second time), and had no intentions of returning to the big screen.  But when Zanuck spotted Fred and his wife Phyllis dining, an idea struck him: why not a musical Daddy Long Legs?  That hadn't been done before.  Zanuck didn't waste any time calling up Fred's MCA agent and giving him his proposal.  The agent passed it on to Fred, and he was rather interested in doing the film.  He was even more interested when he learned that the talented dancer, Leslie Caron, was being asked for his co-star.  When Caron was set in stone to do the film, Fred agreed to star, and filming was set to start September 1954.

Everything seemed to be going just swimmingly, until a few incidents where Phyllis Astaire seemed to have cancer in her lungs (she was a longtime smoker). Fred was sure at every surgery that Phyllis would recover and be just fine....and she was fine for the first two surgeries.  The cancer even left her for a few months.  But in July 1954, the cancer was back.  And Phyllis needed another operation.  And, this time, despite all of Fred's fervent hoping and praying, Phyllis didn't recover.  She died in September.

Fred loved Phyllis....a lot!!  The blow of her death was a lot to take for him, and he didn't report for rehearsals or filming for a while.  The production of the film continued on without him, as Leslie filmed the extended ballet near the end of the film entailing the clown, café, and ballet sequences.  Production continued just fine for a while, but as time went on, it would have to halt if Fred didn't come back.  Fred understood this completely, and felt horribly for holding up the film, but he felt even worse over Phyllis' death.  He just couldn't return to work; he was absolutely fraught with grief (yes, I cried when I found this out). He offered the producer, Sam Engel, something entirely unheard of then or now: he said he would pay for all the production expenses out of his own pocket until he returned to the film.  Engel wouldn't let him do that, hoping against hope that Fred would return soon.  But as Astaire himself put it: "...I am shattered.  The worst thing is that Phyllis wanted me to do this picture.  But I can't.  The prospect of going to the studio and smiling is just impossible.". But the day after Fred said that, he marched himself down to 20th Century Fox and told Engel he would try working on the film.  He didn't know if he'd make it, but he was willing to try it.  So Daddy Long Legs was a really hard film for Fred to make.  He would even go back to his dressing room between takes and just cry.  That, my readers, made me positively bawl too.

Leslie, on the other hand, remembers fondly her time working with Astaire.  Once, she has said, the director had scheduled an entire day to shoot a complicated scene with she and Fred.  Astaire didn't do multiple takes...that scene was filmed in one take flat.  Done.  So the entire crew and cast had nothing to do for the rest of the day.  Therefore, Caron was told to go to makeup and wardrobe, and have her white evening dress put on for the dance with Julie André and Jervis Pendleton, which would be double exposed over shots of nightclubs, restaurants, and sightseeing.  The dance hadn't been rehearsed, and Leslie was frantic.  But she got out to the set, and Fred was there waiting.  "And Fred said, 'Oh, don't worry. Just let me lead you. Here we go — one, two.' And we went through it once, and we shot, and that was it.  That was Fred. He was that good.". Looking at that scene now, you'd never guess that the scene wasn't rehearsed from the fluidity in it.  As for the lovely Something's Gotta Give scene immediately preceding the aforementioned unrehearsed dance, Fred was dissatisfied with how he sang the said song.  I, on the other hand, love it.

In all honesty, I find the CinemaScope feature misused in this film.  Although it is nice for the dream ballets, in the rest of the film the scenes are abnormally stretched and not filled with characters.  Even worse, the wide scope doesn't pick up some of Fred's grace and intricate dance steps.  You have to actually look rather hard to find it.  I feel that CinemaScope is better suited for such films as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (plenty of characters to fill up the vastness), or Three Coins in the Fountain (the scenery of Rome to add interest)

The lovely costumes throughout the film were designed by Kay Nelson, and although I find all of them quite striking, the film wasn't nominated for Best Costumes.  It was, however, nominated for Art Direction (Lyle Wheeler, John DeCuir; Walter M. Scott, Paul S. Fox). And I don't wonder at that.  All of the sets are visually interesting, particularly the colorful backdrops used in the Guardian Angel dance.  The backdrops are huge and flat, bringing to mind perhaps a child's storybook.  The star and cloud-laden endless backdrop near the end has extraordinary optical illusion.  But perhaps one of my favorite sets would be Julie's hotel room while in New York, and her dorm room shared with her roommates.  (I hope I have that huge of a dorm room when I go to college!!  I say, I think I have a distorted view of college life, courtesy of classic movies.  It's all sweater sets, nice roommates, not too hard schoolwork, beautiful clothes & trunks, and dances with choreographed segments.  I better not expect that, haha.). Daddy Long Legs was also nominated for Scoring of a Musical Picture, courtesy of Alfred Newman, and Best Original Song, courtesy of Something's Gotta Give.  The film didn't win any of it's three Oscar nominations, however.

In conclusion, Daddy Long Legs is a fun movie to see occasionally.  Albeit with tragic behind-the-scenes lacings, I recommend it to all.


Ta-ta, dahlings!!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

When tomorrow is another day, but you still have too much stuff to dotomorrow

Hello, everyone!  As you may have noticed from the title of this post, I rather have a lot to do lately.  (I also thought I'd try to be witty with an OH movie quote..... ;-) ) To begin with, I've a lot of schoolwork to finish, and I have a very large test to study for.  And I mean a very, very large test.  I have to start studying now for the test, which is in early summer.  I'm really nervous about it, so I'm trying to read as many books and test prep materials as I can to help me.  Needless to say, I'm not the best at taking big tests that make me nervous, particularly when that school subject isn't my best one.
Also, I am in three blogathons, all of which are in March.  Please do not misunderstand me; those blogathons are not burdens in the least!  In fact, I am very, very excited about them.  I just want to write substantial, interesting posts for the blogathons; I've been getting sources from the library and having a ball reading them. :-). So instead of posting the regular Movie Matinee Monday this week, I will be working on my blogathon posts (you can catch the first one posted at the end of the week!).  I a, so excited to share my thoughts on the blogathon subjects with you guys!  Also, early next week or late this week, you can be looking forward to a review of a box set I got last week.  I am really excited to share the photos and my thoughts on the box set with you.
Thank you for reading!

And to tide you over until a real post, here's one of my favorite photographs I've ever seen: Fred and Ginger filming Cheek to Cheek in Top Hat.  Because Astaire and Rogers put a smile on any OH fan's face. :-)

Ta-ta, dahlings!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Movie Matinee Monday: To Catch a Thief (1955)

My opinions on the poster:

We've got Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, looking lovely as usual.  The bottom portion features a scene straight out of the movie; I like that the poster uses this scene, as it shows the mystery of the film.  I don't understand where there's all the blue up top.....and why just Cary's and Grace's heads are on there.

The stars:

Cary Grant ~ as John Robie (the Cat)
Grace Kelly ~ as Frances (Francie) Stevens
Jessie Royce Landis ~ as Jessie Stevens
Brigitte Auber ~ as Danielle Foussard
John Williams ~ as H.H. Hughson

The critic's opinions:
4.5/5 stars

This is undoubtedly one of my favorite Old Hollywood films.  Everything about it is perfect.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  John Robie (Cary Grant) used to be a notorious cat burglar working for the French Resistance.  But now he just wants to live peacefully in his house and vineyard....but that's not going to happen.  After a string of robberies that closely parallel his former thieving style occur, the police are quick to put the blame on him.  But Robie escapes (with the help of his former Resistance buddies, especially Danielle Foussard) and heads to the Riveria, where he enlists an insurance salesman, H.H. Hughson, to help him save his reputation and catch the real 'Cat'. Things get complicated when the list of people worth stealing jewels from includes Francie Stevens (Grace Kelly) and her mother (Jessie Royce Landis). But Francie likes John very much, and is more than willing to help him catch the Cat.  Who really is the Cat?
One of my favorite Old Hollywood actors, Cary Grant, is fabulous as John Robie.  He's perfect for the role, and who doesn't enjoy seeing him and Grace on the French Riveria?  It's a lovely setting, with plenty of beautiful costume opportunities for Grace.  This film includes some of my favorite movie costumes of all time.  The suspense/mystery portion of the plot is intriguing and fun, with a dash of suspense.  This is my kind of mystery film: no bloodshed or yucky stuff, just sneaking around on roofs (dodging gunshots) and trying to catch the to cat burglar!!  Landis is hilarious and amusing as Francie's mother...and she actually couldn't care less about her jewelry!  "They're insured!" she informs Francie with a wave of her hand.  Grace really made very few films while in Hollywood, but this one is near the very top of the list as a favorite.  It's funny, suspenseful, romantic, and beautiful all in one neat little package.

The bottom line:

Please do not miss this film.  It's an amazing watch, and perfect for viewing with a big bag of popcorn and a cozy chair (for gripping the handrests!! ;-). ). I believe it's one of the best Old Hollywood films ever, and wholeheartedly recommend it.  It's high on my list for movies to own on DVD.

My favorite film moments {I try to stay spoiler-free}:

~ The ending

~ The costume ball....laced with a aura of suspense, with beautiful costumes all over the place!  Francie's ball gown is ridiculous and crazy, but it's lovely all the same.

~ The drive along the Riveria; Francie is a rather ruthless driver, but also a very capable one.



Movie trailer:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Motion Picture Picks: for Winter

Considering the flurries and snowfalls we've been getting here, and also considering that we rarely get sizable amounts of snow and therefore don't have the correct equipment to get rid of a foot of snow, I decided it was a prime time to make a list of my motion picture picks for winter.  Also considering that I'll probably spend tomorrow having to stay inside, I'll probably be watching many of these throughout the day!! :-). Some of these are for you to watch curled up on your couch with a mug of hot chocolate, while others are to help you dream of summer.  (I put summer or winter under each film, so you'll know which choice it is.)  I tried to pick films that would hopefully be easy to get a hold of if you don't own them on DVD, perhaps through your library, Netflix, or something like that.  Hope you enjoy them!!


The Bishop's Wife
Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven

In this film, David Niven is bishop of a small church, and his dream is to build a large church on a hill for the city.  Problem is, he's having trouble getting funding for it, and in his fixation on the church fundraising, he's ignoring his wife (Loretta Young). Pretty soon, heaven decides to send along an angel (Cary Grant) to save the two's marriage, and help the bishop with his church.  Except the bishop's wife starts getting awful fond of the angel...........
This was the first Cary Grant film I saw, and it is undeniably a classic, alas an under appreciated one.  Number one on this list!!

Neptune's Daughter
Starring Esther Williams, Ricardo Montalban, Red Skelton, Betty Garrett

Esther plays the championship swimmer turned bathing suit company associate in this movie.  Her little sister (Betty Garrett), is desperate for a boyfriend, and when the South American polo team comes to town, it seems like a dream opportunity for her to find one.  Red Skelton is the masseur for the stable, but when Betty comes over to find herself a polo player, she accidentally knocks him unconscious....and mistakes him for the captain of the polo team, José O'Rourke (Ricardo Montalban).  Jack Spratt (Skelton) is happy to have a girl himself, so when he eventually realize who Betty thinks he is, he doesn't correct her.  Meanwhile, Eve (Williams) is mad as a hornet at José for getting involved with her sister, and begrudgingly agrees to go out with him on a date once in her sister's place, as José has decided to use the situation to his advantage and get a date with Eve.  Will everything ever get straightened out? 

Christmas in Connecticut
Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan

Stanwyck plays a columnist for a home and garden magazine, much like a Martha Stewart type.  She pretends to have a beautiful farm, a nice husband, and to be an excellent cook, but in actuality, none of those things are true.  When her editor tells her to host a war hero for the holidays, she's forced to figure out some way to produce the farm, cooking skills, and husband, or lose her job.

The Shop Around the Corner
Starring Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Frank Morgan

Jimmy Stewart is a store clerk in this fun movie, and Sullavan gets hired as a fellow clerk after she is able to sell an item neither Stewart's character nor anyone else had been able to sell.  The two cannot stand each other at work, but they also unknowingly are writing anonymous letters to each other.  Neither realizes that their pen pal sweetheart is the same clerk that annoys them to no end at the office.....

Holiday Inn
Starring Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds, Fred Astaire, Virginia Dale

Fred and Bing play two song-and-dance men who do an act with a beautiful girl (Virginia Dale). Bing's character and Dale's are engaged, but in truth, she's in love with Fred instead!!  Bing finds out about it and leaves for his farm, quitting show business.  He decides ultimately to turn his farm into a unique inn only open for the holidays.  Things get complicated when Marjorie Reynolds shows up for a job as a singer, and over time, she and Bing fall in love.  But then Fred wants her as his new dance partner after Virginia runs out on him, and soon the two are both vying for her singing and dancing skills.....and her heart.

Daddy Long Legs
~ summer~
Starring Fred Astaire, Leslie Caron, Terry Moore, Thelma Ritter

Fres is a millionaire, and while traveling through Paris, he sees a beautiful orphan (Leslie Caron) during a stop at an orphanage.  He feels bad for her, and wants her to have a good life, so under the understanding with both the orphanage and his business partners that he will maintain no contact with her and will be anonymous, he pays for her college education in America, and buys her loads of clothes and things to take to said college.  But she doesn't understand why her anonymous sponsor won't answer her letters, and after he eventually reads them, he decides to visit the college during a family and friends event, and simply not tell her who he is.  But then they begin to fall in love, and she still doesn't know who he is....but don't worry, everything works out in the end!
I particularly like that this film doesn't ignore how old Fred was at the time (he was in his 60s), and just stick him with a 20 year old in a film.  Instead, they worked it into the storyline. :-)

Good News
Starring June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Patricia Marshall, Joan McCracken

Peter Lawford plays the big ladies' man on campus, a football hero.  And June is the girl working herself through college by working in the library.  Patricia Marshall (who plays a character who has the exact same name as herself) is the new student on campus, a transfer from finishing school, and she thinks herself the cat's pajamas (and so does every boy on the campus). But she rebuffs Peter's character, and he doesn't like that.  But he eventually falls in love with June instead......and then accidentally breaks a date with her when fickle Pat decides to go out with him after all.  Broken hearts all around, but perhaps Miss Fickle can be made to put her attentions elsewhere...

Starring Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore

Miss Colbert, one of my favorite actresses, plays a showgirl who bet everything in Monte Carlo, and then subsequently lost everything in that bet too.  She ends up back in Paris, and strikes a deal with a cab driver (Don Ameche) to drive her around to look for work, and if she gets a job, she'll pay him double the meter.  But he likes her, and although she rather likes him too, she's dead set on marrying a rich man!  So she sneaks into a fancy party, where a high society gentleman (John Barrymore) decides to employ her help in taking his wife's lover's attentions off his wife!  But the cab driver isn't going to give up so easily on finding her, and so what ensues is a long path of assumed identities (Claudette pretends to be a rich baroness), hilarious comedy, and romance.

So there's my list!!  I just realized that the good majority of them are 1940s films, but I hope you won't mind. :-)

Ta-ta, dahlings!!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Movie Matinee Monday: Forever Darling(1956)

My opinions on the poster:

It's very simple, but this was released at the height of Lucy's and Desi's popularity.  I don't think they needed more than two big drawings of their faces on the poster.  I didn't know that 'riotous' was a word....but I love it on the poster!!

The stars:

Lucille Ball ~ as Susan Vega
Desi Arnaz ~ as Lorenzo (Larry) Vega
James Mason ~ as the Guardian Angel Whom Just Happens to Look Exactly Like James Mason
Louis Calhern ~ as Charles Bewell
Natalie Schafer ~ as Millie Opdyke

The critic's opinions:
2.5/5 stars

I hate to give a movie starring my favorite Old Hollywood couple a less than five star rating, but I've got to be fair.  The truth is, although I find the movie endearing and I adore it, it's not the best OH film out there.  Lucy and Desi play characters that are, at their root, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo of I Love Lucy.  Susan Vega has the same tendencies as Lucy Ricardo to get into scrapes, cause trouble, and end up in slapstick comedy.  And Lorenzo Vega continues to use such language as 'dun't' and other such classic English. :-). The first time I saw this movie, the only other film I'd seen James Mason in was North by Northwest (also starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint).  Quite a change of characters....Mason was the evil villain in the Hitchcock picture.  Here he plays Susan's guardian angel, and he does a terrific job; Mason definitely is able to play a wide variety of roles.  Of course, there's the terrific joke of the guardian angel looking like James Mason.....because he is James Mason!!  Many watchers of this film, even if they are die-hard OH fans, tend to find it a bit boring, and definitely a less than par watch.  The truth is, those watchers are agreeing with the box office back at the movie's original release.  Unlike The Long, Long Trailer, which was released three years earlier, Forever Darling just plain failed to be a box office smash.  In fact, it didn't even make all that much of a profit, at least compared to The Long, Long Trailer.  Forever Darling's budget was $951,000, and the box office was $2,288,000.  With The Long, Long Trailer, on the other hand, the budget was $1,534,000 and the box office was $4,985,000.  Quite a difference, huh?  The truth is, I think the guardian angel angle of the plot doesn't mesh in with the comedy.  The film is quite obviously an overall romantic comedy....but the guardian angel angle gives it some kind of odd fantasy/sci-fi overtone.  It just doesn't fit.  If the guardian angel had gotten to be more comedic, or there were more comedic episodes involving him, I think it would've been better.  I also wish he'd gotten a little more screen time towards the end....he completely disappears during the camping trip, and then randomly shows up at the end to save everything.  At first Susan is annoyed with the angel, and then she likes him.  As in, she like likes him.  Of course, at the end she likes him as a friend, but at times, the entire guardian angel plot seems like a completely different movie than the comedy parts.  Then there's one more little problem: Lorenzo's and Susan's marriage problems parallel Lucy's and Desi's at that time way too much.  It rather puts a damper on the entire film, since we know what they were going through at that point.  But, enough with the negative.  Why should you watch the film?  Well, Lucy and Desi are in it.  That's a million reasons right there.  Also, despite all my ranting, there are plenty of good scenes in the film, including the slapstick and awesome camping trip they go on near the end of the film.  And, it's fun to see Lucy in color, along with her outfits, a few of which I believe I also spotted on I Love Lucy.  Susan's wedding dress is beautiful, and also looks stunning in the many publicity photos it was featured in.  And finally, you have to see it just to see all of Lucy's 'major' films. :-)

The bottom line:

A decent watch.  I recommend seeing it at least once, just so you can judge it for yourself.  You may enjoy it more than others.  It's not a film I'd say to go buy on DVD, but if it's in a box set with others (like the TCM sets), I think it's a nice film to have around and watch occasionally.

My favorite film moments {I try to stay spoiler-free}:

~ The entire camping trip

~ Lorenzo's and Susan's wedding 

~ When Susan talks to the guardian angel for the first time and realizes he is real

~ The's amazing and fabulous.


I'm sorry all the photographs are lobby cards, but that was all I could find.  Which should give you an idea of how popular Forever Darling is....


Movie trailer:
The trailer was not on youtube, unfortunately.  I am so sorry about that!!

Ta-ta, dahlings!!