Thursday, June 25, 2015

A memorable moment with Danny Kaye.

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 Jack Martin, an American nightclub entertainer, and Henri Ducan, a suave French pilot who is as famous as Lindbergh. Despite having a lovely wife in the form of Gene Tierney, Ducan would rather openly have affairs with many other women while he sets new flying records. Jack Martin spoofs Ducan one night in his show when the pilot and his wife come as honored guests. Based on how excellent the impression is and how similar the men look, when Ducan disappears to do a business deal on the night of an important party, Martin is hired to impersonate him for the night. It's all ripe for mistaken identities, running in and out of rooms, avoiding certain guests, and changing clothes a lot. The first time I saw this film, I loved everything about it, but one scene in particular kept replaying itself in my head...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Liebster Award.

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 weakness for me. She's such a favorite, and watching her get sassy with her leading men is one of life's greatest pleasures.

3. Nostalgic?
Disney classics. Watching Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, et al. are instant time machines. Right away I'm back in my princess outfits, sipping from a Sebastian mug, and hanging out with my sister.

4. Giddy?
Ball of Fire. It's already such a fun and lovely movie, it would double my giddiness. Singin' in the Rain would too.

5. Undercaffeinated?
Betty Grable movies are sure to perk you up. She had so much energy and attitude, you'll feel like emulating her for sure.

6. What invention in your lifetime has affected you the most?
Uhhh... the Internet? Sure, why not.

7. Which actor or actress (the performer/character he/she plays) would make the best superhero in your estimation? Why?
Errol Flynn would have been outstanding as a superhero. I mean, he already did the prototype for it a hundred times with his adventure flicks. Plus, Errol Flynn and tights are always a good combination.

8. Which classic movie character would you ask romantic advice?
I would totally talk to Deborah Kerr's Terry McKay from An Affair to Remember. She's level-headed, witty, and definitely has experience in the hardships of romance. She stays best friends with her ex, and she winds up with Cary Grant. Girl knows what she's doing.

9. Which movie character (classic/current) would give you terrible advice about everything?
Aunt Hortense (Alice Brady) from The Gay Divorcee. She's so flighty and incredibly forgetful, not to mention she's been married so many times, she's lost count. She seems pretty self-absorbed, too.

10. Which literary/movie character would you ask to help you with your least favorite errand?
My least favorite errand is probably dropping off and picking up my niece constantly--she always has something going on. I would need someone who was fun to be in a car with, and I think Amanda Bonner (Kate Hepburn) from Adam's Rib would be fascinating to talk with while I drive around. Just look at her conversation with Adam in their car--it's smart, empowering, and thought-provoking. I also have a feeling we drive the same way, so she can't judge me.

11. Which actor/actress are you surprised you like? Why?
Dennis Morgan. He wasn't the best actor, and he was largely relegated to lesser-known films, leading many to either forget him or not know who he is at all. (Hint: he played Ginger Rogers's rich beau in Kitty Foyle.) I'll admit he's not the best actor by any stretch of the imagination, but dammit, there's something about Dennis Morgan that entrances me. To read more about that, click here.

Eleven Things About Myself.
1. I've been playing guitar since 6th grade, so...8 years. My guitar teacher has become one of my favorite people ever, and she's patiently been trying to get me to believe in my abilities, which still hasn't worked. I can't play by memory, which is frustrating, but who needs memorization when you've got the notes written down in front of you?

2. I have a miniature French poodle, and she's kind of my child.

3. My grandmother and aunt on my mom's side are great artists, although they haven't painted in years. I finally encouraged my mom to start painting herself and last year she took my request and did this marvelous thing: Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant silhouetted.

4. For years, I did gymnastics at the local YMCA. I wasn't training for competitions or anything; it was just a fun thing to do for exercise. I loved gymnastics so much, I got a lovely little stress fracture in my back from it. I wish I had kept with it.

5. Thanks to my mom, I'm a huge classic rock fan. Sinatra may be my favorite singer, but I love me some AC/DC, Van Halen, the Rolling Stones, Foreigner... I actually saw AC/DC and Van Halen live, and it was basically magical for me. If you ever want to get me angry, say Sammy Hagar is better than Diamond Dave.

6. I cross-stitch, a hobby I thought was out of date until I proudly announced to a college classroom that that's how I spent winter break and every girl responded with "I love cross-stitching! Knitting and crocheting are great, too!" So, there went my superior attitude...

7. My great aunt Kay was a stewardess in the 1950's-1960's and she got to meet a fair share of celebrities, including Dean Martin and Eddie Fisher. In fact, it was during her run-in with Fisher that she meet Debbie Reynolds. I guess Fisher gave my great aunt and her fellow stewardess tickets to his show, and then afterwards he asked his then-wife to take my great aunt back to the airport. And Reynolds was pregnant with Carrie Fisher at the time! It's mind-boggling. Above is a snapshot of my great aunt (left) with Fisher. She couldn't believe it when he left Reynolds for Liz Taylor: "Debbie was so sweet!"

8. I've started collecting old sheet music. Not only do they look gorgeous and make for great wall art, they're also from the time when Hollywood released sheet music as part of promotion for their musicals and other films. It's a cheap way to collect movie memorabilia. Plus, I get to use them in my guitar lessons.

9. My family used to own a shop dedicated solely to Coca-Cola items. My great uncle Paul, husband to Kay, loved Coke memorabilia and worked for the company for decades. When he retired from there, he opened his own little shop which sold Coke items only. He was my dad's favorite uncle, so when he died, my dad hated to see the shop just disappear. We owned it for about five years, but sadly the shop just couldn't keep up. It got so bad, we started selling Pepsi items, which you wouldn't think is a big deal but it really is for Coke collectors. And yes, there is such a thing as Coke collectors. We had customers who would come once a year and buy a good amount of stuff for their collections. It was sad to see the place go, but it was a big relief too.

10. I'm basically stuck in a different era, technologically speaking. I have a typewriter my grandma gave me that I wish I could use every day. I love listening to vinyl. I have a Nook, but prefer actual books. I still take notes by hand in class. It broke my heart when my VHS player gave up two months ago--and right after I bought Mickey Mouse cartoons on tape! I really want to bring back the rotary phone.

11. I've been dying my hair ever since the fifth grade. All my classmates were amazed my mom allowed me to do it, and that she did it herself. I'm naturally a brunette, but I've been a blonde, one time because of bleach. I've had purple, bluish green, and fuchsia hair on separate occasions. I went with highlights for about two years. For one year I decided to see what my hair color really was, but now I've switched to a reddish brown, or auburn.

Eleven Questions for The Nominees to Answer.
1. Who is your second favorite actor/actress, and why?
2. Favorite on-screen duo?
3. Which actor/actress/director/etc. do you wish wrote an autobiography?
4. If you had the money, what film-related item would you buy in an instant? Memorabilia, a theater, old costumes...?
5. What is your personal favorite flick from 1939?
6. Splashy 1950's musicals or gritty 1940's films noir?
7. Is there a director you wish got more attention, during their time and/or today?
8. Who do you think was Fred Astaire's best partner?
9. If you were allowed only one movie-related book, what would it be?
10. Favorite Disney film? (I'll include Pixar.)
11. Is there a movie you're ashamed to admit you hate/love?

Thank you so much, Leah! I've been trying so hard with my blog, and it thrills me that you chose to recognize that. And to my nominees, you're all amazing and deserve this!

With love,
Michaela

Friday, June 19, 2015

Claudette Colbert and Don Ameche are John Barrymore's parents in... Midnight (1939)

Let's all say a big, collective "Happy birthday!" to the one and only Billy Wilder. To celebrate the director's birthday on June 22nd, I'm taking part in this wonderful blogathon. You simply must read the other posts. You wouldn't want to upset Mr. Wilder, would you?

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I made a terrible error, you guys. In my list of my favorite Wilder films, I egregiously left out Midnight. How could I, you say? My weak defense is that I wrote the list months before I published it, before I ever watched the masterpiece that is Midnight. I mean, my goodness, it has Claudette Colbert, Mary Astor, Francis Lederer, and John Barrymore in my favorite performance of his. And did I mention Don freaking Ameche? I've said it once, I'll say it again: I love Ameche. LOVE. No Ameche haters are allowed here. Now that I've probably alienated some of you, let's get this Wilder lovefest started.

On a rainy night in Paris, Eve Peabody (Colbert) is woken up in a train car. Through her conversation with the conductor, we learn she's just come from Monte Carlo, where she lost all her money and had to pawn her suitcase in order to afford a ticket to Paris to look for a job. Outside the station, all the cabbies are trying to pick up customers, including Tibor Czerny (my gorgeous Mr. Ameche). While he chomps on an apple, Eve tries to make him a deal: she has no money, but if he drives her to nightclubs as she searches for a singing job and she lands one, she'll double his pay. No dice. But when Tibor sees her walking in the rain with only a measly newspaper as protection, he takes pity and takes her up on her offer. He wasn't getting any other customers, anyway.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bill Holden has women trouble in... Rachel and the Stranger (1948)

Rachel and the Stranger is one of those films that I've only barely been acquainted with. You know that person from high school that you knew by name and slight gossip, but would never actually engage with, yet you still say hello when you bump into them in public because it seems polite and you clearly know who each other are? Yeah, that was this movie for me. For a few years now, I would see it listed on TCM's line-up, but I never decided to record it until last week. I have a feeling a few of you might not be familiar with it, which is shameful when you hear that it stars William Holden, Loretta Young, and Robert Mitchum. Sounds interesting now, right? We begin in the mid-1800's...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Watch out! Esther Williams is... Dangerous When Wet (1953)

I'm loving this rush of blogathons I've been able to be a part of! This post will be my contribution to the fun Beach Party Blogathon, and please check out the many other awesome posts! Many of the films are quite new to me, and I'm sure it'll be very enlightening.

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From the minute I laid eyes on Dangerous When Wet, I knew it was my favorite Esther Williams flick. It's funny and romantic, with great songs, out-of-this-world chemistry between the leads, and lots of heart. I've made no bones about my love for the marvelous Ms. Williams, but I've yet to write about one of her films. It's certainly time to remedy that, don't you think?

It's a bright, beautiful morning at the Higgins' dairy farm. Giving us what may be the most optimistic opening to a film ever, the cute family leaves the house one by one on their way to their daily exercise routine. They're all singing "I Got Out of Bed on the Right Side," they're wearing their workout clothes, they do stretches in synch--they even swim in synch! All except oldest daughter Katy. She would rather look amazing in her short shorts and baseball cap while reading a book (I already love her!). When it comes time to jump in the water, she dips her toe in and goes back to reading, which is a great way to disorient the audience. Esther Williams is going to read about farming instead of swim?!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monroe, Bacall, and Grable show you... How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

Happy first day of June! But more importantly, happy birthday to that little-known actress...oh, what was her name? Oh yes, Marilyn Monroe. Like all her fans, I grieve at the "shoulda, coulda, woulda's" of Monroe's life and career, but I'm immensely grateful for what we do have and I will always celebrate the marvelous films she left behind, one of which I decided to give special attention to today. In honor of Marilyn, let's dig into that supreme Cinemascope creation, How to Marry a Millionaire.

Schatze Page (Bacall) gets out of a cab and enters a high-rent apartment building. A cute little man shows her a beautiful, spacious apartment, assuring her that the place can be hers since its previous owner, Freddie Denmark, is evading the IRS for a year's worth of unpaid taxes. As soon as the deal is done, Schatze calls up her girlfriend, Pola Debevoise (Monroe), who races over. She has a tough time seeing her way to the door, but once she's inside, Schatze chastises her for not wearing her glasses. Finally able to see, Pola is amazed at the apartment and wants to call her friend, Loco Dempsey. Immediate alarm bells for Schatze: "I can't shack up with a dame I've never met, and she's crazy!" Pola tells Schatze to give Loco a chance, so they invite her up and ask her to stop somewhere and bring them lunch. Schatze is even more skeptical of Loco, though, when she informs them that she only has a quarter on her. "Now, there's a fine contribution to a million dollar proposition--one whole quarter!" "Maybe, but she's awful clever with a quarter," Pola beams.