Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My favorite.

I think all film lovers can agree: naming your favorites can be hard. I’ve often tried to do a top ten list here for you all, but I practically break out in hives before I can even start. However, if you ask me my absolute favorite, I can say without hesitation that it’s The Wizard of Oz. I don’t know how it happened, but one day I suddenly decided it deserved the number one spot. I had watched it on repeat when I was little, and then I went through a short phase where I decided it terrified me and I didn’t want to see it anymore. 

But then I came back to it, until it finally struck me that what I was watching was really incredible. It was like when the Wicked Witch puts her potion for the field of poppies on her giant crystal ball—it’s cloudy at first, but then the picture suddenly comes in clearly and you can see Dorothy and the gang on their way to Emerald City. My re-discovery of Oz was just like that. I noticed more and appreciated it more. (By the way, nothing is more embarrassing than finally realizing at the age of 13 that the farmhands are literally the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow.) The weird thing is that I’ve always answered that Oz is my favorite. I can remember in kindergarten and elementary school when teachers or other kids would ask me my favorite movie, and more often than not I would surprise them with my response. It’s amazing to me that it’s always been my number one, but I didn’t realize how right I was until I got older.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy 111th, Cary!

 Let's all just sit and stare at that beautiful face for a few minutes...

Okay, I'll be serious. Cary Grant may have the most handsome face in history, but he was always more than his looks. Like Fred Astaire, he had class, grace, modesty, generosity, and enormous talent. (There's a reason Gene Kelly called Astaire the Cary Grant of dance.) Cary will forever be my favorite actor--I loves him to pieces.

I'm particularly at a loss today as to what more could be said about Cary. He had perfect timing. He was an amazing leading man. He knew comedy in and out. His dramatic performances were, and sometimes still are, underappreciated. He deserved an Oscar at some point in his career (I say for Notorious or Bringing Up Baby). He was extraordinarily good-looking. Exhibit A:

All of the above is true. The man defines a real movie star, one we will likely never see again. But he was also an incredible person. Sometimes it makes me tear up just reading about his love for his only child, Jennifer. His heart knew no bounds, and he was sensitive about his feelings. The one time he really put his heart on his sleeve for a picture, None but the Lonely Heart, it was a professional failure and Cary swore to never do anything like it again. I think one of the biggest misfortunes that ever happened in Hollywood was Cary turning down A Star is Born (I still love you, James Mason). I will forever be jealous of George Cukor--he had his friend perform the script to try and get him to sign on to the film, but all Cukor got was the memory of what he said was Cary's best performance. After the rejection of None but the Lonely Heart, Cary didn't want to be that vulnerable again. Another sad misfire is that Grant and Billy Wilder never worked together. It would've been amazing to see what they could do as a team.

Despite all that, though, let's celebrate today the fantastic films that Cary did leave us with. I've never found a performance I didn't enjoy, and I bet anyone would be hard-pressed to say they've disliked one. Cary was the best--no arguments about it.

Happy birthday, Archie.

With love,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Forgotten Classic: DuBarry was a Lady (1943)

Late one night, about five years ago, I couldn’t fall asleep. My stomach was making me feel nauseous and sleep just wasn’t happening. I walked into the living room where I knew my mom was and complained to her, hoping her magical mom powers would make it all better…and they actually did. She suggested that I lay on the couch and watch a movie until my stomach calmed down. So, at one o’clock in the morning, I bundled myself up and started DuBarry was a Lady, a musical comedy directed by Roy del Ruth (On Moonlight Bay, Broadway Melody of 1938, It Happened on Fifth Avenue) and starring—wait for it—Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly, Red Skelton, Virginia O’Brien, “Rags” Ragland, Zero Mostel, and Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra.

May Daly (Ball) is a nightclub singer who is adored by many a man, including hatcheck boy Louie (Skelton) and a fellow club performer named Alec (Kelly). May reciprocates Alec’s love, but she is determined to marry for money after seeing her parents struggle with finances all their lives. Alec promises May that once his songwriting career takes off, they’ll be set, but May believes she will only be in his way. Louie, meanwhile, is chased by cigarette girl Ginny (O’Brien). One day, Louie wins the Irish Grand Sweepstakes, prompting him to propose to May. She accepts, but makes it clear that she doesn’t love him and she is only doing it because he can provide for her. Annoyed that Alec disagrees with May’s choice to marry him, Louie’s friend Charlie (Ragland) convinces Louie to let him slip Alec a Mickey before the engagement party. Charlie, of course, mixes the drinks up and Louie downs the pill.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy second day of 2015!

I had wanted to post something for Christmas and New Year's Eve, but my brain just didn't want to function. I figured if I couldn't think of anything, I shouldn't publish something half-baked. But I hope you all had great holidays!

I have some ideas in the works for this year's blogging, including a series focused on the oft-forgotten Ida Lupino. I've noticed that my pieces on Esther Williams and Astaire & Rogers were the most popular posts I've done, so I'm going to try and write more things like that. I usually don't like reading or writing biographical stuff--I'm more into analysis and opinion--but I have an idea of how to tweak it to please everyone.

I also want to write about classic TV shows. I'm already putting together a post for the 1960's Batman series, and I'd love to publish something on The Addams Family and I Love Lucy. Hopefully I can get my hands on more series through YouTube and Netflix.

One of the things I'm most excited for this year is the Orson Welles centennial celebration taking place at IU. The Lilly Library will have memorabilia and other items on display for the majority of the semester, and I think I read that lectures will take place there as well. The Cinema will be showing all sorts of exciting films--there will be the usual Welles canon (The Magnificent Ambersons, Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil...), but they'll also be showing the new documentary Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles, the recently-found Too Much Johnson from 1938, and other rare footage from Welles. Scholars like James Naremore (who's a professor at IU!), Joseph McBride, Patrick McGilligan, and filmmakers who are connected to Welles will be giving lectures, introducing films, and doing Q&A sessions after screenings. It's going to be fantastic, and I'll be sure to blog about everything I can.

Here's to an exciting new year!

With love,