Saturday, April 26, 2014

While I was out...

Hello again!
For a few days now, I kept saying myself “You’ve got to post something new, Michaela. It’s been quite a while since you wrote something.” Then I look and it hadn’t even been a month. Ah, me…
Anyway, since I was in the posting mood (is that a thing?), I figured I better go ahead and do something about it. I’ve been pretty busy these past few weeks, mainly because my first year at college will be over by next Friday. Because of that, my creativity is at low tide so I think I’ll just tell you guys about what’s been going on old movie-wise in my life since my last write-up.
Sadly, on April 6th, Mickey Rooney passed away. It still depresses me. He’s been a personal favorite of mine for a while now, and putting him with Judy Garland was one of the smartest things MGM ever did. They were the best of friends, and Judy being as dear to me as she is, I always felt gratitude towards Mickey for supporting her and giving her love during her tumultuous life. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all how incredibly talented the Mick was. It amazes me how energetic the man was. Just watch any of his films, it doesn’t matter which—there was always a confidence and a real love for his craft apparent. I don’t think anyone loved show business as much as Mickey did. I love you and I’ll always cherish your work, you dear, fantastic man.
 On to something a bit happier…I was very lucky last week and got the immense pleasure to attend a lecture at IU’s wonderful campus cinema, given by none other than Roger Corman. Admittedly, I had only watched THE HOUSE OF USHER in my 11th grade English class, but I knew that Corman is a legend. He’s discovered and helped many a talent: Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Ron Howard, the list goes on. He’s mainly a producer now, but I’m much more interested in his directorial work. The night before the lecture, I got on YouTube and was able to find a good deal of Corman films, which surprised me. I watched as many as I had time for, which was sadly only four: THE WASP WOMAN, THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, A BUCKET OF BLOOD, and THE TERROR, with Jack Nicholson playing opposite Boris Karloff in one of his first movies.
Corman is notorious for his B-movies, and also for his great skill at making low-budget films that turn out a good profit at the box office. Sometimes he could even make two films out of one film’s budget and sets! I’ve actually been wanting to educate myself on B-movies for a while now, especially the horror and sci-fi stuff, which was Corman’s specialty. THE WASP WOMAN was definitely a B-movie, with a plot about a female CEO of a cosmetics company who becomes obsessed with finding a youth serum. She finds one, but becomes greedy with her injections, resulting in her head turning into that of a wasp’s at random, often leading to her stinging and killing whoever is nearby. It was one of Corman’s first films, and it’s interesting to watch, but I don’t think I’ll return to it for a long while.
THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and A BUCKET OF BLOOD were two of the three films Corman did with Charles B. Griffith, a screenwriter who actually appears in HORRORS as a burglar. You all probably know HORRORS as the stage musical, but this was the film that started it all. It’s very strange, but it left me thinking at the end, which I like. A BUCKET OF BLOOD was very similar in plot: a sweet, young man works in a beatnik café and wants to be an artist himself. One night, he accidentally kills his landlady’s cat; instead of burying the animal, he covers it in clay and presents it as a sculpture. He’s celebrated as an artist, which leads him to kill more and more so as to get more and more praise. It’s very sad to see this adorable man go down this path, but it’s also fascinating.
 HORRORS and WASP WOMAN actually introduced me to two interesting talents: Dick Miller and Barboura Morris. Miller caught my eye when he first appears in HORRORS. He walks into the flower shop and orders a few carnations, and promptly eats them! From then on, his character comes to this shop, salts some flowers, and chomps away. Morris played the CEO’s secretary in WASP WOMAN, and as superficial as it was of me, I noticed Morris’s looks before her acting. She has one of the best smiles I’ve ever seen, weird as it sounds. I was happy to see that Miller and Morris had the two leads in A BUCKET OF BLOOD—they do a marvelous job.
I’m getting off track a little. Back to the lecture. I got there as soon as I could, which was before the doors even opened. I picked a seat in the fourth row and waited. About 40 minutes later, the cinema director took to the stage. He talked about Corman’s career and then a film reel that consisted of four of the films Corman produced in the ‘70s played. Finally, Corman and the man leading the lecture came on stage. I knew that Corman is in his eighties, and when I saw him walking with a cane, I panicked a little, thinking that maybe he wouldn’t be all there…which made me look like a fool the minute he opened his mouth. With a deep voice and a clear memory, Mr. Corman was no disappointment. He was great, even if the guy leading the lecture really wasn’t. When it came time for the audience Q and A, I kept raising my hand, hoping to ask him about working with Vincent Price on all those Poe films he directed in the ‘60s. I sadly noticed that the lecture didn’t talk a whole lot about his directorial work—it was more about what he produced. I was so upset when I kept getting passed over for someone else. I never got to ask my question, but at least I got to see the legend in person.
 I think that may be it for now, mes amis. Oh, except for one more thing: I get to see the beautiful and absolutely heart-stopping Errol Flynn on the big screen this Saturday in my favorite film of his, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. There’s a magnificent theater here in Franklin, IN called the Artcraft. Practically every weekend, they show a classic film and it’s always fun. The building was closed years ago, but thankfully Franklin’s historical society have renovated and kept the original architecture. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a classic in a 1940s theater. Just lovely. It's become a tradition for my mom and me to go to the Artcraft and we just adore it.
Alright, now that should be all. Until next time…
With love,

Monday, April 7, 2014

An American in Paris: A Case of the Doubles

I’ve seen Vincente Minnelli’s classic multiple times, so I was surprised to notice during one viewing that there was a lot of pairing being done. It sounds a little weird, I know. Maybe it’s just coincidental and I’m making too big a deal out of it, but it sparked my interest and to be honest, it lets me type up a somewhat lazy post. Anyway, read my list below and decide for yourself.

1.      Milo buys two of Jerry’s paintings.

2.      Jerry and Lisa each lead two lives: one with each other, and one with other people.

3.      Adam, Jerry, and Henri are introduced twice in the beginning—the first time is a fake-out, while the second time isn’t.

4.      Jerry has two women in his life: Milo and Lisa.

5.      Lisa has two men in her life: Henri and Jerry.

6.      Two languages are dominant, French and English. Just look at the title—American/Paris, English/French.

7.      The Art Students’ Ball has two colors, black and white.

8.      Jerry does two ballets that bookend the film—there’s an everyday-life one in the beginning when he’s moving around his apartment, and there’s the big “An American in Paris” one at the end.

9.      Two for one: Jerry sees a fellow painter at Montmartre who is a double of Winston Churchill, which causes Jerry to do a double take.

So, what’s the significance of this all? I honestly have no clue, but I’m wondering if it was done to reinforce the idea of the story’s main focus: the romantic coupling of Lisa and Jerry. It’s either that or Alan Jay Lerner, the screenwriter, is messing with me. Or maybe it’s both. Regardless, I’m glad to see that even though I can watch a film hundreds of times, I can still find something new about it.

With love,

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy Birthday, Doris!

Today is the 90th birthday of one of my favorite actresses, the lovely Ms. Doris Day. (It’s really her 92nd, but she says 90th, so just go with it.) From the first moment I saw Doris, I knew she was great. No, make that incredible. I’m not going to recount her life story, review her films, or anything like that. Instead, I’d like to tell you all what Doris means to me. Katharine Hepburn may be my number one, but sometimes, Doris gives her a run for her money. (Yep, you read that right.)

I don’t remember my first Doris Day film. Or the first time I heard that beautiful voice of hers. I knew who she was—if you said her name five years ago, before I became a die-hard classic film fan, I could’ve told you who she was. At that point, she was a singer from a long time ago who for some reason was considered supremely outdated. But then I slowly started to delve into her work. Piece by piece, I was learning more and more. Suddenly, I knew a whole lot about Doris, and my past ignorance about who she really was struck me as extremely embarrassing. How did this incredibly stylish, funny, and gorgeous woman get such an incorrect reputation?