Showing posts from 2013

"All that I know is you'd be hard to replace..."

Today’s post will be my last one celebrating Fred and Ginger’s anniversary, and I’ll admit that initially I had no clue what more I could write. I tried thinking of many different things, but it wasn’t until I was watching ROBERTA a few nights ago that I figured something out—I’d write a list of my favorite things about our favorite dancing duo’s films. So, without further ado, behold The List.

What I Love about Fred and Ginger’s Films:

1. The dancing I know, I know, this goes without saying. But creating this list without including their dancing would’ve been sacrilegious. Their dancing was what helped seal the deal with audiences 80 years ago, and without it, who knows what would’ve happened to the movie musical. There are not enough words in the world to describe everything I feel about their dances, so I’m not even going to try. You’ve all read plenty about it in my earlier posts, anyway.

"There may be trouble ahead, but while there's music and moonlight and love and romance, let's face the music and dance..."

To honor the 80th anniversary of the pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I wrote a post about the origins of their teaming, so today, I decided to post my personal list of Fred and Ginger’s films in order of my least favorite to favorite. This was a bit of a challenge for me, because I really do love all of their films, just in different ways. When I started this venture, I thought I had it all figured out, but then I went through a curious phase where all I wanted to watch was FOLLOW THE FLEET for about two weeks, which helped change my perspective on it a little bit. Anyway, please let me know what you think of my list and feel free to share yours.

10. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)
Fred and Ginger play the Castles, a nonfictional dancing duo that took the world by storm in the early 20th century. The movie takes the audience through the whole relationship of the Castles, from when they first met, their successes, Vernon joining World War I, and the death of Vernon…

Austerlitz and McMath.

Frederick Austerlitz and Virginia McMath were just two young kids at first, both setting their sights on fame in vaudeville, Broadway, and finally Hollywood. But not together, of course. No, Fred started an act with his sister, Adele, who was considered the star of the two. Together they studied dancing and singing until they were ready to debut their act—after a small name change of “Austerlitz” to “Astaire.”

Shortly after that, their father got them a major contract with the famous Orpheum Circuit. Adele and Fred continued polishing and creating their act, slowly moving up the ranks. Fred even developed a friendship with George Gershwin, one which would serve both of their future careers. In the 1920s, the Astaires were on Broadway, and Fred was gaining notice as “the greatest tap-dancer in the world,” as quoted by Robert Benchley in 1930. 1932 brought the break-up of the team. Adele was going to get married, but Fred knew he had to keep going, especially while his star was still ho…

Happy Anniversary, Fred and Ginger!

On December 29th this year, there’s something pretty magical to celebrate: the 80th anniversary of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers pairing. On that day 80 years ago, FLYING DOWN TO RIO was released and movies were never the same. To celebrate the big day, I’m going to be posting some more on our favorite twosome throughout the month, so be sure to check back in soon. Until then, I’ll leave you with some quotes from Fred and “Feathers,” just in case you didn’t already love them enough. “All the girls I ever danced with thought they couldn’t do it, but of course they could. So they always cried. All except Ginger. No no, Ginger never cried.” – Fred

“Ginger had never danced with a partner before. She faked it an awful lot. She couldn’t tap and she couldn’t do this and that…but Ginger had style and talent and improved as she went along. She got so that after a while everyone else who danced with me looked wrong.” – Fred

“I adored Fred. We were good friends. Our only problem is that we nev…

Being in Love with Holiday Films.

Thanksgiving is next Thursday, and naturally, I’m getting excited. However, it’s not the upcoming feast that’s making me happy (although I would literally kill a family member if it got me a piece of pumpkin pie—with whipped cream, obviously. I’m not a total animal.) No, what thrills me about Thanksgiving is a tradition that my mother started when my sister and I were little. Before going to my aunt’s for the big family dinner, we get all the Christmas decorations out of the attic and bring them to the living room. We re-open boxes and containers, finding forgotten things or ornaments that we know we must put on the tree. Now, I’m sure you’re all thinking “what does all this have to do with old films?” I’ll tell you: for me, Thanksgiving is the kick-off for Christmas movies, arguably my favorite time of the year. And it all begins with HOLIDAY INN. Ever since I can remember, decorating the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving was never complete without watching HOLIDAY INN. It’s so deeply em…

Hitch's Heroes.

Something I’ve always found interesting about Hitchcock’s films is the way he makes sure ordinary people can picture themselves in the same fantastic adventures his heroes experience throughout the course of a film. Hitch achieved this in two major ways. The first way is he used actors we could relate to, like Jimmy Stewart. When Stewart hesitates to marry Grace Kelly in REAR WINDOW because he thinks they’re too different, we get it. I mean, it’s Grace Kelly—she’s the epitome of elegance and beauty. Of course an “average” guy like Stewart is intimidated. We would be, too. The second way the audience identifies with Hitchcock’s heroes is said heroes’ careers. When you have a job, you can’t help but apply your job’s skills to something else in your life. I’ll use my mom as an example. She used to be a waitress, so now whenever we eat at a restaurant, she feels obligated to gather all of our empty plates and whatnot to make it easier for whoever has to clean up the table. This principle o…

"Money isn't dirty. Just people."

I was lucky the other day and got to have the day off from work due to miserable weather. Naturally I curled up on the couch and watched as many films as I could. I ended up viewing four films, all new to me. They were PUSHOVER, PERFECT STRANGERS, TWENTIETH CENTURY, and TIGHT SPOT. This was the first time I had ever spent a whole day just watching films I had never seen before, so I decided to sit down and write my thoughts on these films. Well, except for PERFECT STRANGERS. By the time I finished writing up everything, I remembered I had seen STRANGERS—which is telling that I had forgotten the thing entirely while remembering the other films clearly. I mainly watched STRANGERS because it starred Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan ten years after KITTY FOYLE, and you all know I love my Dennis like crazy. But this film was worth the two stars my TV guide gave it. You know a film’s bad when it can’t be lifted by Thelma Ritter. So here’s my opinions on the other pictures I saw, and please l…

Dennis a Menace? Hardly.

Alright, let’s talk about someone who you may or may not know: Dennis Morgan. Or if you’re not sure, here’s his picture.

Now, you’re probably thinking “What’s so great about him?” Well, here’s my confession — I love Dennis Morgan. I absolutely adore him. Every time I see that a film has Dennis Morgan in it, I get excited. I can’t wait to see his beautiful smile, it totally melts me.

Is this a weird crush to have? I feel like it is. Hardly anyone talks about Dennis. He wasn’t a major star, and when he was popular during the 1940s, it wasn’t for very long. He wasn’t as glamorous as Cary Grant, as elegant as William Powell, as talented as Humphrey Bogart, as funny as a Marx Brother… the list goes on. So why do I adore him as much as I do? I don’t know.

Watching Dennis Morgan gives me such a warm and comforting feeling—he’s my film comfort food. I know he’s not the best actor, but I really don’t care.

The very first time I saw him was opposite Ginger Rogers in KITTY FOYLE (1940). (Spoilers ahe…

First Viewing Woes.

There’s nothing like watching a film for the first time. It’s your very first experience with something, and after that one viewing, you won’t share the same feelings with it again. Maybe a surprise won’t jump at you or a kiss won’t thrill you as much because you know it’s coming. But lately I’ve noticed something else about first viewings—they can really suck. Sometimes I wish I could just skip the first time I see a film and go on to the second. For some reason, I just don’t seem to appreciate most films as much the first time as I do the second, third, and fourth time. I’ll give you some examples.

The Day I Was Hitched.

Five summers ago, my mom was given a DVD of TO CATCH A THIEF as a Mother’s Day present. I was just beginning my dive into the world of old films, so I figured I might as well get my hands on this movie. I remember very clearly sitting in my living room on a weekend, with the sun lighting up the room and cool breezes blowing through the screen door. I had to share the room with my dad and my sister, but once the film started, I didn’t even care. It immediately had my attention because of its setting--I’ve always been fascinated with France, and since TO CATCH A THIEF was shot in the beautiful locations of southern France, I was satisfied. And then there it was—a close-up of the most handsome face I’ve ever seen. Only a fool couldn’t have been hooked by then. It was the first time I ever laid eyes on Cary Grant—it was the first time I had even heard of him! The next famous face I saw was one I knew: Grace Kelly. The chemistry between her and Cary was so palpable. Not to mention all the do…

My Relationship with Classic Films.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been watching old movies. When I was little, I was obsessed with THE WIZARD OF OZ. I had a Dorothy doll, shiny red shoes, the VHS tape—I even went to a "Wizard of Oz" festival dressed just like Dorothy. To this day, it’s my favorite film.
Thankfully, my mom is a big classic film fan, too. She’s probably the main reason why I’ve found this whole other world called the Golden Age of Hollywood. Every year around Christmas, ever since I can remember, we would watch HOLIDAY INN. More than likely it was my first black-and-white film.

Welcome to Love Letters to Old Hollywood!

Hello, everybody! Welcome to my very first blog, Love Letters to Old Hollywood. I’m really excited about starting this adventure, and I can’t wait to see the impact it’ll have on me, and hopefully on you, the reader, as well.
Classic films have really become my life. I’ve never been more passionate about something in my life. I used to love photography. I was convinced that I would go to college and major in it. But my love for film was just so overwhelming; the more I learn, the more engrossed I get. Now I don’t know what my plans are for a bachelor’s degree. I just know that I have to do something that connects to my beloved films. Maybe I’ll be a film historian, or maybe I’ll be a librarian.
For the present, though, I’m a college freshman who stumbled across a blog one day called Best of the Past and was instantly enthralled. Then I thought, “How great would it be to have my own blog? One where I can just geek out all the time about my old movies?” And that’s what I plan to do. I don…