Tuesday, December 6, 2016

10 days until the Vincente Minnelli blogathon!

It's true! Just ten days until my first blogathon! I've been incredibly pleased with the turn-out so far, especially because I've never hosted, so thank you to everyone who has signed up! I'm super excited to read your entries.

If you're reading this and you decide "Hey, I'd love to help celebrate Vincente Minnelli," you can still drop me a line. Feel free to comment on this post or on the original announcement post. I'll be accepting participants until the very last day of the blogathon (Dec. 18th)!

If you can't participate, please help spread the word through whatever social media you use, and if you have a blog, please consider posting one of my banners to help me advertise. I'd appreciate it greatly!

But wait, there's more! At the end of my Minnelli blogathon, I'll be announcing my next blogathon! Yep, I haven't even hosted my first one yet and I'm already thinking of my second -- it's fun stuff. It'll take place in April and it may or may not be for someone's birthday... but that's all I should say for now.

With love,

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Grant, Loy, and Temple charm with... The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

It sounds like an icky premise. A playboy artist is forced by a judge to play along with the teenage crush of the judge's 17-year-old sister; comedy ensues. Thankfully, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is a joyful and hilarious film that is handled expertly by the likes of Cary Grant (never more charming), Myrna Loy (gorgeously wry), Shirley Temple (doe-eyed perfection), and the Oscar-winning script of Sidney Sheldon (so much fun). Let's dive in!

It's morning at the Turner household, and maid Bessie (Lillian Randolph) is having a rough time waking the house up. Teenager Susan (Temple) doesn't budge until Bessie threatens to bring in her older sister Margaret (Loy), which is a laugh since Margaret is still cozy in bed herself. Later at the breakfast table, Susan gives us a bit of foreshadowing when she asks Margaret what sentencing she gave in her latest case, the one where an older man ran away with a 16-year-old girl. It turns out that
Susan has been placing bets with her classmates on her sister's cases and she is pretty terrible at guessing what Margaret will decide.  "You know I'd die for you, only sometimes you're very hard to live with," the clever Margaret replies. The gals then go their separate ways, Susan to school and Margaret to work.

Changed into her judge's robe, Margaret talks with her uncle Matt (Ray Collins), a court psychiatrist and constant nuisance. He is always bugging his niece
about getting married, believing that the Turner women need a man in the house (ugh). Luckily she is saved from another lecture by Tommy (Rudy Vallee), the Assistant District Attorney who is also basically her beau. Tommy has brought Margaret a gift, but she quickly figures out that it's a little bit more of a bribe. You see, her first case this morning concerns a Mr. Richard Nugent, an artist who is constantly getting into trouble over public brawls and damages, and the DA's office would like to see Nugent finally pay. Margaret would rather be fair, though, and goes off to hear the case.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Friendship of Victoria Grant and Carroll Todd.

Friendships in the movies have been varied. You have the perfect best friends, like in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, or the not-so-perfect ones, like in Old Acquaintance -- you even have the friendships that are liable to get you killed, such as The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Harper (I don't know what Paul Newman did, but apparently he pissed some people off. Is it jealousy over the blue eyes?). For me, the gold standard is Victor/Victoria, Blake Edwards's wonderful 1982 comedy, starring three of my favorite people: Julie Andrews, Robert Preston, and James Garner. It's almost too good to be true.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Doris Day finds the elephant in the room in... Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)

In 1935, showman Billy Rose staged a gigantic show appropriately titled Jumbo at the New York Hippodrome. Rose wanted the best, hiring Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur to write the script, George Abbott to direct, Jimmy Durante to star, Paul Whiteman to conduct, and Rodgers and Hart to write the score. With over a dozen circus acts and about 1,000 animals in the cast, Jumbo was posed to be a smash. Except it wasn't. The show ran for just five months and Rose had a hard time recuperating the costs, mainly because the show was so big that it kept absorbing any profit that it could have made.

In 1943, MGM bought the rights to the show, with Arthur Freed planning to turn it into a Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney vehicle. Later in the 1940's, it was thought that Garland and Frank Sinatra would give it a go (!!!). Then in 1947, Jumbo was supposed to be longtime choreographer Charles Walters's directorial debut, but instead he was given Good News. In 1952, after Singin' in the Rain, Stanley Donen was attached to direct Jumbo with Red Skelton, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor as his stars, but that only got so far as pre-production. Ten years later, Chuck Walters finally got his mittens on the film, seeing it as a welcome return to the old-fashioned musicals he missed doing. With screenwriter Sidney Sheldon, they rewrote the script with their new cast in mind, allowing the film to be tailor-made for stars Doris Day, Martha Raye, Stephen Boyd, and Jimmy Durante, who came back to the screen after a ten-year absence to play Day's father.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Frank, Bing, and Grace are sensational in... High Society (1956)

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of High Society is probably its predecessor, The Philadelphia Story. Every classic film fan has their own opinion about which is better, what works and doesn't work in the other, et cetera. I'm not really interested in that. Instead of comparing the films, I want to look at the merits of just one of them. (I'll admit upfront that I prefer The Philadelphia Story. The three leads are three of my favorite people who ever walked on Earth, for one thing. Funnily enough, my sister hates the 1940 film and enjoys High Society infinitely more.) I've never had the urge to vilify High Society for daring to be a remake of a pretty fantastic movie. They're allowed to co-exist, especially because they are both wonderful in their own ways.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Fashion of Fred and Ginger's Characters.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers had to be two of the most stylish people to be captured on celluloid. Impressively, their fabulous looks weren't always the result of the studio's wardrobe department -- Rogers and Astaire were both fashion-conscious and took particular care in their style, on the screen and off. Not only did the team become famous for their dancing, they also became icons through their look. I'm pretty sure the universal sign for the duo is a man in top hat and tails and a woman in a feather-covered dress.

If Fred had had his way, though, those tails wouldn't have been a part of the equation. In his 1959 autobiography Steps in Time, he recalled how fond he was of doing films that put him in military uniforms, saying "Some people objected to me in these [military] outfits, thinking I should always be decked out in those damned tails, I guess, but I liked it." Fred's personal fashion sense was well-known in Hollywood, with impeccably-dressed stars such as Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra praising the dancer's consummate style. My favorite look of Astaire's is when he would wear a scarf as a belt for his slacks, something he did on film and in real life. His socks were always perfect complements to his outfit, too.

Besides being influential in the world of musical film, Astaire was also highly regarded in the fashion world -- indeed, he still is today, with designers such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger still trying to emulate his style. Most of the clothes you see on Fred were picked by the man himself. After all, he had to make sure he could move in them and not be restricted. Fred's style is so amazing that it actually caused Forbes male fashion editor G. Bruce Boyer to write a book on the subject! You can find it here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Second Sunshine Blogger Award!

Just when I thought I couldn't get any luckier, Carol from The Old Hollywood Garden nominated me for my second Sunshine Blogger Award! Thank you, Carol! It was very sweet of you!

Once again, the rules are this:
- Answer the 11 questions posed by the blog that nominated you.
- Nominate 11 other blogs.
- Ask 11 questions of my own for my nominees to answer.

Friday, October 14, 2016

How to be a World-Class Detective, Courtesy of Inspector Clouseau

Watching Humphrey Bogart and Dick Powell, you realize that being a detective looks hard. You have to constantly smoke, you need to be able to brood but still crack jokes, you probably need to be able to throw a punch, and you have to be witty all the time. Sounds exhausting, no? Well, luckily, the movies have given us Inspector Jacques Clouseau, a man who knows how to make detecting look as easy as pie and as fun as eating said pie. Follow his lead and you're sure to be on your way to becoming one of the greatest detectives the free world has ever seen!

Do whatever you can to follow a lead.
Do you need to go to a nudist colony to check out what your suspect is up to? Take off everything and do it! Need to impersonate a dentist to infiltrate the villain's lair? Go for it! Nothing is too crazy if it means solving your case.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

To the Women of Classic Hollywood.

I'm at a loss as to how to begin this letter. I have a million things to say, trust me, but organizing my thoughts is difficult when it comes to confessing my adoration for the people I call my heroes. And trust me, you gals are my heroes. I've always been proud to be a woman, but watching you on the screen consistently makes me hold my head up a little higher. We have a camaraderie, despite coming from different places, cultures, and time periods, and there has never been a time when I felt disconnected from you. Can I relate to you snuggling with blindingly handsome leading men? No. Can I recall a moment where I was dressed in Adrian, Irene, or Givenchy creations, looking stunning with my Bud Westmore-applied makeup and Sydney Guilaroff hairstyle? Absolutely not. But can I giggle when you make a funny face at that leading man? Can I do the most horrific sobbing when the plot deals you an undeserved hand? Can I cheer when you finish a complicated dance or complete a beautiful song? Definitely.

I've been very lucky because all of my life, I've been surrounded by the strongest and most amazing women imaginable. I've never been lacking in that department, and when I happened upon classic Hollywood, things only got better. I don't think I could ever picture myself as an actress, with the relentless publicity and premieres and working under hot lights and the media's constant obsession with appearances. That's not why I try to emulate you ladies. I try to follow in your footsteps because you were shrewd, ambitious, hardworking, warm, utterly wonderful, and so many more adjectives, all in your own ways. Things are about to get real sappy here...

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Spending September with Gene Wilder.

When I found out Gene Wilder passed away a month ago, I was thrown for a loop. Although it makes absolutely no sense, I had always assumed he would be around. A world without Gene Wilder? That's insane -- but it's what we have now, and because I'm a sentimental fool, I've been trying to fill my life with as much Wilder as I could. Reading all of the dedications to him made me realize that I had only seen a small portion of his filmography, the usual suspects if you will: Bonnie and ClydeWilly Wonka..., and his three with Mel Brooks. The only outlier was Haunted Honeymoon, a flick I had checked out of my local library years ago when I had finished Wilder's autobiography and was curious to see what he and Gilda Radner were like together. Practically all of my September has been devoted to Gene's films and the big takeaway is this: I love Mr. Wilder more than ever. Below are short reviews of all of the movies I watched, plus where I found them if you want to host your own Gene marathon (which I highly recommend).