Thursday, July 30, 2015

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

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.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

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

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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

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

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 his father's dressing room, Dick flashes back to when he was wounded and at a veterans hospital. Leonora Cambaretti and her friend Ferdi Farro (Jimmy Durante) put on a performance for the patients, one that Dick couldn't see due to bandages over his eyes. Intrigued by the description of Nora, Dick decides to sing "Easy to Love" to her, a gesture that she finds sweet enough to warrant a friendly kiss on the lips. She's irate, though, when she learns that nothing's wrong with Dick's eyes at all--the doctor just hadn't made the rounds yet that day, or else the bandages would be off. Nora jumps back in the pool, leaving Dick with an indelible image of the woman.

Monday, July 13, 2015

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

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 astute when he re-teamed the twosome after the success of the drama Manhattan Melodrama, although MGM wasn't sure if the pair could carry off such a screwball couple. Van Dyke directed four of the six Thin Man movies, but unfortunately, he became ill with cancer and a bad heart. Being a Christian Scientist, he refused treatment and committed suicide in 1943. The series's fifth entry, The Thin Man Goes Home (1945), was directed by Richard Thorpe, while our movie today, Song of the Thin Man, was helmed by Edward Buzzell. While Van Dyke's presence is missed, I'd like to focus on the positives of the end of the Thin Man series.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Another Liebster.

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 Ginger.

2. “Theatrical” is too easy. What’s your all-time favorite TV-movie?
You know, I don't watch a lot of TV movies. Just seeing commercials for them makes me cringe. That being said, I would love to see any of Katharine Hepburn's.

Monday, July 6, 2015

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

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-than-cool image, my mom introduced my sister and I to 1978's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I was in the seventh grade when my mom told us about this mythical film starring Peter Frampton, the Bee Gees, Aerosmith, and many more. The universe clearly wanted us to see the movie when not a week later, my mother randomly found a DVD copy of the film while running errands. One viewing was all it took for my sister and me to become obsessed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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

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 meek to inform the usher that he has had the same opera box for five years and he should be directed to his seats immediately without all this embarrassment! At least that's what his fiancee's mother thinks. She instantly
reprimands the usher and they're taken to their box. However, when they get there, a terribly gauche family has stolen their spot. The family just wants to enjoy the opera, but Herrick's fiancee and her mother are outraged that a lower-class group would have the gall to sit in their box. The daughter of the family, Dot Duncan, repeatedly shows everyone their tickets, but things just escalate until Herrick and Co. are relegated to floor seats. Dot is angered that her paying for such nice seats is questioned, but then her gambling brother, Pigeon, lets it slip that he found the tickets and pocketed the money she gave him. She's mortified that she didn't earn the seats the right way, so much so that she accidentally drops her purse over the balcony and right on to Stephen's head. She and the family quickly leave. You can view most of the ordeal here.