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Showing posts from 2015

My third Liebster.

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The sweet Virginie over at The Wonderful World of Cinema has kindly nominated me for a Liebster Award, my third one in less than a year. I'm ecstatic -- being recognized for my blog is something I could never take for granted. In case you're unaware of the rules, in order to accept the award I need to answer Virginie's 11 questions, nominate up to 11 other bloggers, ask 11 of my own questions, and tell you 11 things about myself. Here goes!
Virginie's questions: 1. If you had to “promote” a not too well-known classic film, what will be your choice? I have quite a few I'd love to give more popularity, but for this question, I'll say Having Wonderful Crime, a funny, fast-paced murder mystery that was clearly an attempt to capitalize on the success of The Thin Man. Carole Landis and George Montgomery are an amazing team, and while I'm not the biggest fan of Pat O'Brien, I enjoy him in this film too. I wasn't expecting much when I recorded it, but it'…

Sinatra knocks 'em dead in... Pal Joey (1957)

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Joey Evans was a role Bob Fosse coveted. An insincere womanizer, Joey is a drifter, forced to search for nightclub job after nightclub job, not because he doesn't have talent but because he constantly racks up debts or pisses off his bosses. Cynical and hardened, Joey Evans was the part of a lifetime for Fosse -- hell, he practically was Fosse. Pal Joey premiered in 1940, with many revivals popping up after its original run. One such revival occurred in the early 1950's, which cast a young (but not inexperienced) Fosse as the understudy for Joey. Hollywood quickly came calling, and the dancer was whisked into one MGM musical after the other, proving himself as a great talent in 1953 alone with Give a Girl a Break, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, and Kiss Me, Kate. Stuck in the supporting cast, though, was certainly not
Fosse's style -- he wanted to be the next Fred Astaire, a man he idolized since childhood. The irony is that he was more like Gene Kelly than Astaire, a fitt…

Ginger wreaks havoc and wins Fred in... Carefree (1938)

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Today I was hoping to talk about Kiss Me, Kate as part of the "Try It, You'll Like It!" Blogathon. Sadly, my laptop got a virus and I can't get it fixed until Sunday. I still have more to write and more screenshots to take and it just wasn't looking like I would make the deadline in time. Although I had to drop out of the blogathon, I already had this post ready to go whenever so I hope Fred and Feathers make up for the loss. If you want to read the blogathon entries (and you should!), click here.

The Ballad of Martha and Henry, or Heaven Can Wait (1943)

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When I think of Ernst Lubitsch, I think of dreamy black and white creations, with a twinkly-eyed Maurice Chevalier seductively singing, lovers running around and trying to get their act together, all of it handled with a light touch and a feeling that love is the greatest game in the world. Who wouldn't want to live in a universe run by Lubitsch? I'll admit I'm not a connoisseur of the director's works -- they haven't been as readily available to me as I would like -- but I'm a reader and so I've conjured up ideas of what a definite Lubitsch film is. That's why Heaven Can Wait threw me for a bit of a loop. Tender, devastating, and rendered in stunning Technicolor, Heaven Can Wait is a film that I never expected. Since we're all friends here, I'll be honest with you... I just wanted to see two of my favorite actors, Don Ameche and Gene Tierney. That's what fueled my late-night decision to buy the DVD during an exciting Criterion online sale,…

Evelyn Keyes is magic in... A Thousand and One Nights (1945)

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TCM has introduced me to countless movies, as I'm sure it has to many others. I owe the majority of my film knowledge to the channel, and while not every film is an absolute gem, there are quite a few that turn out to be spectacular: Kiss Me, Kate, Vivacious Lady, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, Rebecca... and today's film, 1001 Nights. If you've never heard of it, I'm not surprised, although I'm certainly hoping to persuade you to give it a chance. A comedic take on the familiar Arabian Nights-style fare, 1001 Nights is a movie that deserves to be more well-known. It's not even released on DVD! While it resides in my DVR, I had to rent it on Amazon Instant just to get my screenshots -- there was no way I was taking photos of my TV on this one, the Technicolor is seriously that good. Let's get to it!

Disney demonstrates its genius again in... 101 Dalmatians (1961)

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I have zero patience. I wrote my first entry for this blogathon on Disney's magnificent Sleeping Beauty a day early, and while I planned on posting my second and final piece two days later, I just couldn't help myself. I get a weird rush out of publishing my posts, what can I say? Anyway, now I bring you a totally different Disney flick, the irresistible 101 Dalmatians. For the other great celebrations of cartoons, click here.
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As a Disney Kid (copyright pending), you watch everything you can, from the minuscule to the major, and you don't just watch them once -- try at least a few dozen. When you're little, you don't really have a discerning taste yet. You know what's pretty and what's funny and what's sad, but you have no clue what exactly all the machinations are. For me, I didn't quite get 101 Dalmatians. I found it boring and stuck to that decision for the longest…

Dreams, Tchaikovsky, and One Scene-Stealing Owl: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

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I'm very excited to present my first post for Movie Movie Blog Blog's "One of My All-Time Favorite Cartoons" Blogathon, a dream for a girl who watches cartoons every day. I'm a hardcore Disney fan -- I've kind of lived and breathed it every day for the past 21 years now -- and oddly enough, I had been thinking about writing up pieces on Disney classics when magically Steve's blogathon popped up. And then I got so giddy that I chose two films, which couldn't be more different despite only three years separating their release dates: 1959's Sleeping Beauty and 1961's 101 Dalmatians. Are any of you as thrilled as I am to get started on this?! Probably not, but thanks for pretending.

Deanna Durbin juggles murder and romance in... Lady on a Train (1945)

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Ever since I became a classic film fan, I've been hearing about Deanna Durbin. Since Wizard of Oz was a giant favorite of mine, and since Durbin was the unofficial rival of Judy Garland, I was steadfast in believing that Durbin wasn't for me. It honestly made no sense, I know. I never had any interest in Ms. Durbin until this year's 1947 Blogathon, where I read a piece about Something in the Wind, an appealing picture starring Durbin, John Dall, and Donald O'Connor. I don't know what happened, but suddenly I couldn't wait to get my hands on anything Deanna Durbin. I bought a collection of her films (found here) and I fell in love. This gal was sweet and cute, but also smart and scrappy -- and yes, she could sing. Lady on a Train is one of her best, and in the spirit of Halloween, I thought it was a good time to bring you some murder and mayhem (of the fictional kind, of course). By the way, there will be major spoilers throughout this post, so if you don't…

Double Trouble: That Night in Rio (1941) and On the Riviera (1951)

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Here's my second entry to this blogathon, dedicated to looking at Hollywood's favorite pastime: remakes. You can see the other entries here.
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As I said yesterday -- okay, insisted -- I try not to hold grudges against remakes. Despite coming from the same source material, remakes can be vastly different from the original, such as the two films I talked about yesterday, the comedy masterpiece Libeled Lady and the fun musical Easy to Wed. Today's case is a little different because both movies are like Easy to Wed: colorful, lightweight, and very easy on the senses. That Night in Rio was 20th Century Fox's chance to team up three of its biggest stars: Alice Faye, Don Ameche, and Carmen Miranda. Ten years later for On the Riviera, Fox again saw the opportunity to cash in on big names: multitalented Danny Kaye and Fox royalty Gene Tierney. Interestingly enough, these movies are both remakes of …

Twice the laughs: Libeled Lady (1936) and Easy to Wed (1946)

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This is one of two entries I'll be writing up for the fun They Remade What?! Blogathon, which looks at that popular Hollywood activity of remaking its own films. You can check out my other post tomorrow and here's the complete roster.
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Let me get this out of the way: Libeled Lady is without a doubt one of the most quintessential films ever made. It has a stellar cast, a script so clever you can't believe it, fast-paced direction, and plenty of other adjectives. It's simply a wonderful comedy, a movie that we will sadly never see the likes of again. So, why did MGM deign to try and repeat Libeled Lady's magic? Well, money, of course. But also because Hollywood doesn't really seem to care whether or not they're taking a favorite of yours and messing with it any which way they can. And that's why people appear to hate remakes as much as they do -- it feels like a personal aff…

Jerry Lewis presents... The Nutty Professor (1963)

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If you're a regular reader of my blog, you've probably noticed that a lot of my movie discoveries have come from my mom and my sister -- my mom will recommend something or mention someone I should check out, and then I wind up watching it with my sister (which can be good or bad). The same goes for my love of Jerry Lewis. Besides always mixing him up with Jerry Lee Lewis, I never had an encounter with the guy or his work, especially since my main source of films is TCM and they don't show Lewis's movies nearly enough, maybe once every few years. Then came the magical day when my mom recorded a documentary, Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, a wonderful piece that I would recommend to everyone. My sister and I were transfixed, laughing hysterically at every film clip we saw. The channel that was airing the documentary also held a marathon of a minor portion of Lewis's films, including the one that many consider his best: The Nutty Professor. It's not often t…

Van Johnson gives Esther Williams the... Thrill of a Romance (1945)

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When Esther Williams died in 2013, I was only blithely aware of her so when TCM aired a tribute to the million dollar mermaid a few days after her death, I snatched up the opportunity to see just what Ms. Williams was all about. Thrill of a Romance was my first introduction to the wondrous world of Williams, where Technicolor astounds, musical numbers pop up like little surprises, and Esther mesmerizes with the seemingly simple feat of swimming. I fell in love with it all, and the presence of Van Johnson certainly contributed to my feelings, him being a great partner for Williams. Shall we take a dip?

Bacall and Peck's worlds clash in... Designing Woman (1957)

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When you're a classic film fan, finding out about certain movies is like finding a hunk of gold -- you're exhilarated and giddy, and you can't wait to tell everyone you know about it, regardless of whether they care or not. When I discovered that Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck made a romantic comedy together, I was all sorts of excited. And then you add the fact that Vincente Minnelli directed it -- perfection. Designing Woman is like the best Tracy/Hepburn movie that Tracy and Hepburn never made, and it seriously gets better with every viewing. Before I dive into the film, I want to talk about the interesting framing device it employs. The majority of the movie is a flashback, with the beginning and the end featuring five different characters breaking the fourth wall as they talk directly to the camera. Throughout Designing Woman, each of these five people have alternating narration, which is surprisingly refreshing and well-done. It includes the audience in the story, a…

Blasphemy!

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As a classic film fan, I'm more inclined to watch the oldest Judy Garland over the newest Channing Tatum. If you're reading this blog, maybe you're the same way. There are millions of reasons why I would rather spend my time viewing a gorgeously lit black-and-white film instead of a...well, whatever headache the Transformers series is. However, I'm not immune to our modern movies. I'll admit to being a huge Will Ferrell fan, and I'll certainly catch whatever new thing Disney/Pixar is doing. Being a fan of the oldies, it's sometimes dismissed that you'd like anything else. It's true that Knocked Up isn't my favorite movie (yes, I heard a girl say that once and yes, I cringed), but there are quite a few that rank alongside Dangerous When Wet and The Third Man in my book. I'll limit myself to only eleven here, and I'm excluding Disney/Pixar releases because that could take over all eleven slots.

Disclaimer: The following list is based purel…

Ingrid and Cary learn to avoid coffee in... Notorious (1946)

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Virginie over at The Wonderful World of Cinema is hosting a great blogathon devoted to screen goddess, Ingrid Bergman, and naturally I had to be a part of it. Ms. Bergman's 100th birthday is today, and what better way to honor her? Check out the other fantastic contributions here!
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I made a terrible discovery last night while taking notes for this post -- I've completely taken Notorious for granted. The first time I saw it, I loved everything about it, from its magnetic leads to its delicious dialogue. I could recite every camera angle and every scene. However, it had been awhile since I had seen the film, so watching it again suddenly became like a revelation to me. I've championed Notorious for years, and I was completely justified as it unfolded before me for the umpteenth time. This movie is damn good, and I'm so glad I picked it for this blogathon.

Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn find... Love in the Afternoon (1957)

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The Summer Under the Stars celebration continues! Previously I wrote about Fred Astaire and Debbie Reynolds, but my last entry will be on that gorgeous hunk of man named Gary Cooper, whose day on TCM is the 30th. The rest of the blogathon's roster is constantly being updated and can be found here.

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One of my favorite Gary Cooper films, maybe even my absolute favorite, is Love in the Afternoon. Hell, it even ranks high in Audrey Hepburn and Billy Wilder's separate filmographies for me. It's a beautiful confection of a film -- funny, interesting, wonderfully photographed, and supremely romantic. And before anyone mentions it, yes, there is an age difference between the leading man and lady, but no, I will not be commiserating over it. I detest reducing good performances to a stupid number and/or appearance, because that's not what I care about when watching something as lovely as Love in the Afternoon. On to the …

My Second Anniversary.

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Good golly. It's been two years already? When I started this blog, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. I've found many other blogs I now adore, and I hope that I've been blessed with new readers of my own. For the past year, I've really been trying to improve not just the quantity of posts, but the quality of them. I've changed formats and colors, as well as paid more attention to the details in films. I started including photos I took myself in order to provide a better aesthetic and understanding for the movies I talk about (I admit, for better or worse--my laptop doesn't have a DVD player and so I have to improvise my own "screenshots" using my TV and phone camera). I'm also trying to take advantage of adding YouTube videos to my posts. They're all little things, but they're designed to make my blog much better for you lovely people, and so I'll sleep better at night. I even started participating in blogathons, which have been…

Jane Powell and Ricardo Montalban spend... Two Weeks with Love (1950)

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Today I celebrate Debbie Reynolds's day as part of the continuing Summer Under the Stars Blogathon, although her day isn't until tomorrow starting at 6 am. My first entry on Fred Astaire can be found here, and the list of other entries are here at Journeys in Classic Film.

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Although finally reviewing Singin' in the Rain was mighty tempting, I wanted to do something unique for the incomparable Ms. Reynolds. So, taking a look at her filmography, I decided to shed some light on one of Debbie's first major films, the charming Two Weeks with Love. Although Jane Powell is the real star here, I think you'll soon find out why I picked this for a post celebrating Debbie. We go back to the early 1900's...

Shirley MacLaine shows Michael Caine she's no fool in... Gambit (1966)

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I'm very happy to say I'm taking part in the great Anti-Damsel Blogathon. You really must read the other entries. Or else the ghosts of Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, and Katharine Hepburn will come get you. You can find the list here.
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The story of Gambit is simple: a thief and his art forger partner hire a nightclub dancer to pull off the theft of a sculpture. Everything goes smoothly, it's the perfect heist, everyone parts ways, the end. Uhhh, no. The best thing about Gambit is that it turns its simple plotline on its head, effectively screwing with audience expectations. This is one of those films that you wish you could see for the first time every time, and it's also one that you might not want to read about before you see it. Just warning you -- I'll be indulging in plenty of spoilers in order to talk about the ball of delight that is Shirley MacLaine's character, Nicole Ch…

Jennifer Jones and Greg Peck can't quit each other in... Duel in the Sun (1946)

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This is my entry for the Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon, which celebrates all actors with the last name Barrymore. To read the rest of the stunning roster, click here.
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Imagine you're David O. Selznick. In 1939, you poured everything you had into a giant Civil War epic, a picture that was touted as the greatest movie to ever come along -- it was such a phenomenon, its impact and cultural status were recognized immediately, unlike say, Citizen Kane. Every movie you did afterwards, some critic or middling intellectual or gossip columnist had to sniff that it wasn't the next Gone with the Wind. So, you decide to go for broke once more and create another sprawling historical drama, and this time it'll star the biggest sensation Hollywood has ever seen, a beautiful actress named Jennifer Jones, who you just happen to be in love with. The film is Duel in the Sun, and despite Selznick's ulcers and n…

Top Ten: Fred Astaire's Partners

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Every August, TCM dedicates one day to one exclusive star. It's times like these I'm thankful to the television gods for both airing TCM and for creating the DVR; Summer Under the Stars covers a vast array of different films and I can always find at least five that I've been dying to see. This August is a bit different because I'll also be contributing to the SUTS Blogathon that runs alongside the programming, hosted by Kristen at Journeys in Classic Film. I really wanted to cover a bunch of people, but things have been absolutely bonkers for me lately. I have other blogathons I already committed to that I still have to write for, I'm going back to IU shortly, and I had gallbladder surgery recently that kept me away from my blogging (but not my film viewing!). Because of all this, I just chose three wonderful stars -- sorry, my beloved Gene Tierney and Kate Hepburn! -- and today I bring you the first of those. For the complete list of entries, click here. There…

Powell and Pressburger entrance with... The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)

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Deservedly praised for their delectable Technicolor creations and thought-provoking stories, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger are a film lover's dream team. Tales of obsession have never been portrayed so beautifully and so bitterly, as evidenced by the likes of The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, and more. I'm always awed by Powell and Pressburger, so when I saw the opportunity to participate in a blogathon celebrating British films, I knew I wanted to write about one of their movies. But which one? I confess that The Red Shoes is my favorite from the twosome, but for months their 1951 collaboration The Tales of Hoffmann has been sitting in my DVR, just begging for me to watch it. Like Hoffman himself, I can't deny the calling of a good story.

Ann Sothern and Robert Young can't stop marrying each other in... Lady Be Good (1941)

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Is this poster not gorgeous? I would hang this on my wall in a second. Lately I've been watching a lot of Eleanor Powell films, which wasn't by design. I like Powell--she was a terrific dancer, a good actress, and a woman who portrayed intelligence, ambition, and kindness. It's a little crazy that her legacy isn't nearly as well-known as her male counterparts'. I could be wrong here, but I think Ann Miller, Cyd Charisse, and Ginger Rogers are more likely to spring to mind if someone were to ask you to name a female dancer. Eleanor Powell was only in Hollywood for a decade, from 1935 to 1945, with a quick return in 1950 for a cameo as herself in the Esther Williams/Van Johnson flick Duchess of Idaho. Although Lady Be Good was Powell's first time in a supporting role during her peak years, it may be my favorite film of hers. Let's dig in.

Esther Williams dazzles in... This Time for Keeps (1947)

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After my outing with Nick and Nora (and Asta!) yesterday, I'm really enjoying this 1947 Blogathon. For the other marvelous discussions, click here and don't look back. If you missed my previous entry for the blogathon, you can find it here. But at this moment, let's jump in the pool with my favorite mermaid...
On stage at a ritzy theater, opera star Richard Herald performs as his proud son, Dick Johnson, looks on in the audience. Sitting by Dick is his snooty fiancee, Frances Allenbury, and her mother, both of whom seem to only want the marriage because it will link them to the prestigious Richard Herald. Richard is thrilled to have his son back home after service in the army, and immediately starts pushing an opera
career on the boy. Dick loves singing and he loves his father, but opera just isn't right for him, something that doesn't register with his father or his fiancee. Noticing a newspaper advertisement for Leonora Cambaretti's (Williams) Aqua Capers in…

Nick and Nora sign off with... Song of the Thin Man (1947)

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This post is part of the wonderful 1947 Blogathon, which covers many of the fabulous films from that year. Click here to check out the many other fun entries! You'll be surprised at how many great works appeared in 1947. Be sure to check in tomorrow, the 14th, for my second entry in the blogathon. I had such a hard time choosing which movies to cover, I just had to do two posts, so we'll be swimming around with Esther Williams and Jimmy Durante tomorrow. For now, though, let's have a ball with the incomparable Charles family...
Instead of doing my usual plot details, I thought I would try something different. A lot of people seem to malign the Thin Man series after the first two entries, something I just can't agree with. Admittedly, I'll watch anything with William Powell and Myrna Loy, especially if they're together--if there was ever a pairing that could carry a film with simply their chemistry, I'd bet it was Powell and Loy. W.S. Van Dyke II was quite …

Another Liebster.

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Stop it, guys, you're making me blush. Less than a month ago, I was nominated for the Liebster by the terrific Leah at Cary Grant Won't Eat You, and today I found myself nominated again by Steve over at the great Movie Movie Blog Blog. I'm truly very thrilled. If you haven't heard of the Liebster Award before, the rules are that to accept it, I must answer my nominator's 11 questions, nominate up to 11 bloggers, ask 11 of my own for my nominees to answer, and I have to provide 11 things about myself.
Steve's Questions: 1. “All-time favorite movie” is too tough. What is your favorite genre, and what is your all-time favorite movie in that genre? It's a tie between comedies and musicals. My favorite comedy is Some Like It Hot, without a doubt. It's way too funny for its own good. Naming my favorite musical is apt to keep me awake for nights on end, so I'll just answer one that is definitely in my top 5: Follow the Fleet, with the inimitable Fred and Gi…

Appreciating the campy delight that is Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)

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This post is my contribution to the fun Beatles Film Blogathon hosted by Steve over at Movie Movie Blog Blog. To read the other entries, click here. For the benefit of Mr. Kite, please do.
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Ever since I can remember, I've been aware of the Beatles. The amazing thing is I think almost everyone can say that. I didn't really appreciate them until one summer I listened to a Greatest Hits cassette tape that was my dad's, a tape that I played over and over until the stereo I used went kaput. And then a great thing happened to me: I took a class last semester on the history of 1960's rock music. I thought I knew the Beatles, knew their songs, appreciated them. Uh, no. Not even close. After discussing the band in class for two weeks, I immediately bought all but two of their albums and I knew I was in love. But before I could worship the Beatles for their more-than-impressive catalog and cooler-t…

Lucille Ball sparkles in... A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob (1941)

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Lucille Ball is one of my favorite actresses, although at this point, you're probably wondering "Who isn't your favorite?" To which I reply, "Oh, getting fresh, are we?" (Can you tell I just watched Gold Diggers of 1933?) Anyway, I'm such a fan of the glorious Ms. Ball, it's a guarantee that I will watch anything she was a part of, especially her films. She may not have thought they were much to write home about, mainly because she was the "Queen of the B's," but even if I don't like the material, I always adore her performance. Recently I caught the charming comedy A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob on TCM and I was so pleasantly surprised, I knew I should share it with you all.

We open at the Civic Opera House. A well-dressed man, his date, and his date's mother arrive, but they're stuck at the door while the man searches for their tickets. The man is shipping magnate Stephen Herrick (Edmond O'Brien), and he's much too mee…

A memorable moment with Danny Kaye.

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This may be my greatest challenge yet... I found out about this blogathon and knew I had to join, but my excitement quickly turned to panic. You see, the point of this blogathon is to talk about one scene from one movie, a scene that you instantly rewinded or that you love watching so much, you drive away friends and family because you just can't stop viewing it and quoting it and reenacting it. (Not that I would know what that's like.) A hundred different ideas came to mind, but I finally decided to look at something from On the Riviera, a Danny Kaye-Gene Tierney picture I have mentioned before. I adore this movie, and although I plan on writing it up this summer, I figured I'd go ahead and give you all just a taste of the musical comedy fun that is On the Riviera. Definitely check out the rest of the wonderful roster, though. It's just too too.
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On the Riviera (1951) stars Danny Kaye as …

The Liebster Award.

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I got nominated for a Liebster Award! The lovely Leah at Cary Grant Won't Eat You nominated me, and I'm very grateful. The rules are that I have to answer Leah's 11 questions, share 11 things about myself, nominate up to 11 bloggers, and ask my own 11 questions. It's a tall order during all these crazy blogathons I'm working on, but I can't ignore this, so here goes...

I nominate...
The Blonde at the Film
Flickin' Out
Back to Golden Days
Now Voyaging
Girls Do Film
Moon in Gemini
Silents and Talkies
The Wonderful World of Cinema
Once Upon a Screen
Serendipitous Anachronisms
Leah's Questions. 1. What’s your favorite movie when you’re feeling blue? Starting with a toughie! I would say anything with Fred and Ginger. Their charm, goofiness, singing, and dancing could lift anyone out of the doldrums. Plus, they're so darn cute.
2. Angry? Bathing Beauty, Dangerous When Wet... (I clearly suck at narrowing it down to one specific film.) Esther Williams films are a major …