Saturday, December 26, 2015

My third Liebster.

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's a definite little gem.

2. You are participating in the making of a film. What’s your job?
My best friend is actually a budding director and he often has me edit his scripts and make all kinds of suggestions. I'm not sure what job that is, but I always joke that once he makes it big, I'll be his script girl.

3. Do you share your birthday with one of your favourite movie stars? If yes, who?
I actually do share a birthday with a pretty big star -- Carole Lombard!

4. What is your favorite movie score?
I adore Henry Mancini, and his score for The Pink Panther is probably my favorite. It's jazzy and cool and immediately evokes the spirit of the movie.

5. How many films per week do you usually watch?
Well, I try to watch one film every day... I'd say on average I watch at least six a week. When I'm at home on break from school, that number doubles for sure.

6. What do you think is the most CREATIVE movie ever made and why?
That's a really hard question. All I can think of are film segments, not entire films... I really admire everything Alfred Hitchcock and Vincente Minnelli did -- I think they were insanely creative with all of their movies. But I think for this question, I'll tentatively say The Red Shoes by Powell and Pressburger. It's gorgeous and heartbreaking in each individual element, and the ballet sequence is supremely brilliant.

7. Do you have a child named after a certain movie star or movie character? Or do you plan on naming your future child after one?
I don't want kids at all, so no. I do, however, want to name a dog Asta in the future.

8. How much do classic films influence your everyday life?
Practically everything I do is related to classic movies. If I'm not watching them, I'm reading or writing about them. Any way I can fit more movies into my life, I try to do. I certainly never stop thinking about them.

9. What are you planning to do to honor Olivia de Havilland on her centennial next July?
I'd like to watch The Adventures of Robin Hood with a glass of wine and a little dessert.

10. What do you enjoy the most about blogging?
I get to geek out over the thing I'm most passionate about. It used to be that I didn't really have an outlet for this at all, besides trying to fit films into all of my school assignments. Now I can share my thoughts on Esther Williams, Fred Astaire, and more and I know that someone else will be reading this and they'll appreciate it too. Discovering a blogging community has been great as well. You really do realize that you're not alone in liking things that are 80+ years old, and it just feels wonderful to talk to people who actually understand.

11. Do you have any advice or suggestions for future bloggers?
Oh yes. Get involved in blogathons -- you get to meet other bloggers, your blog gets noticed more, and it's a great way to keep writing, especially if you have trouble figuring out what to write about on your own. Really research before you set up your blog -- I only looked into going with Blogger, but after two years of using it, I'm seriously considering switching to WordPress in order to have more control over the look of my blog. You can never write enough -- writing more posts has helped me improved my writing style a lot and I was able to figure out how I wanted to organize my posts. When all is said and done, remember that you started your blog to ultimately please yourself, so never stop trying to do that. It's a rewarding expression of your feelings and you should enjoy it.

I haven't had a lot of luck in others taking up my nominations, so although I know of many blogs that deserve it, I'm only nominating two this time:

My questions (sorry for the lack of creativity -- I'm not the best at this kind of stuff. If you want to make a drinking game out of it, take a sip every time I use the word "favorite"):
1. What's your favorite thing that you've posted, or one of your favorites?

2. If you could change anything about classic movies, what would that be?

3. Do you have a favorite modern day actor?

4. Favorite modern day actress?

5. Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes?

6. What do you wish you had known when you first started blogging?

7. Do you have a favorite pet from a classic film?

8. Who is your favorite character actor?

9. What's your favorite holiday and why?

10. Do you have a favorite episode of I Love Lucy?

11. Favorite holiday film?

For my eleven things, I'm just going to do what I did last time and answer my own questions:
1. What's your favorite thing that you've posted, or one of your favorites?
I'm really hard on my writing, however, I enjoyed my post on Sabrina. Some of it came from a college paper, I admit, but I think I had some good ideas.

2. If you could change anything about classic movies, what would that be?
I would have to say the depictions of race. I know times were different back then and I keep that in mind while watching these movies, but it doesn't make me wince any less.

3. Do you have a favorite modern day actor?
There isn't one name that pops out at me more than others. I do like a lot of them, though, even if I don't necessarily like their films. I'm seriously struggling to name someone right now... not a good question for me.

4. Favorite modern day actress?
Same as #3, although I can list a couple of names: Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Cate Blanchett... yeah, that's all I got. I promise there's more, my brain is just malfunctioning.

5. Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes?
I enjoy both, but Looney Tunes has more variety and much more bite. It's still pretty hilarious to this day.

6. What do you wish you had known when you first started blogging?
As I mentioned above, I've been thinking about moving to WordPress. I hadn't realized that it was an option when I first began my blog -- I only used Blogger because the few other movie blogs I found used it and I figured it worked for them so it should do just fine for me. Then I got into blogathons and started looking at the other blogs and the look of mine just aggravates me now. I really wish I hadn't bothered with Blogger because it totally limits your blog's appearance unless you're a whiz at Photoshop and whatnot. Now I'm faced with leaving this site and starting from the ground up again. Decisions, decisions.

7. Do you have a favorite pet from a classic film?
Toto, of course!

8. Who is your favorite character actor?
That could change at any given moment, to be fair. This time, I'll give it to S.Z. Sakall. He was so adorable and funny. His presence always brightens up a film.

9. What's your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas -- just thinking about it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I love the decorations, the family parties, the weather, the movies, and yes, the gifts, both giving and receiving. It's just a great time to show appreciation to others.

10. Do you have a favorite episode of I Love Lucy?
I'll admit this question is skewed towards me because Lucy is my favorite TV show and just generally one of my favorite things ever. I adore so many episodes, but I'd name "The Young Fans" as my #1 by a smidge. A teenage girl becomes obsessed with Ricky, and in her attempt to drive the girl away, Lucy finds an unwanted admirer in a teenage boy. Exasperated, Lucy and Ricky hatch a scheme to pretend to be very old in order to scare the teenagers off. It's incredible -- I love seeing Ricky be crazy with Lucy rather than trying to stifle her zaniness.

11. Favorite holiday film?
Holiday Inn. It has the advantage of being one of the first movies I can remember, but it's also just a damn fine musical.

Thank you so much to Virginie, and congratulations to my fellow nominees and those that I nominated myself!

With love,

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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

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 fitting comparison when you consider that Kelly was the guy who originated Joey Evans.

Pal Joey was one of the first shows to let the male lead be an antihero instead of a good guy that the audience has no problem cheering for. Joey Evans wasn't a straight-up villain, but he wasn't someone you would take home to meet the family either. The songs were written by the fabulous Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, who provided sexually suggestive lyrics alongside beautiful melodies. The show was a wonderful vehicle for Kelly as well; he would soon leave it once MGM offered him a contract that began with For Me and My Gal, a picture that made him co-stars with the already-legendary Judy Garland. Famously, Pal Joey's original
chorus also boasted Van Johnson and Stanley Donen, future Kelly collaborators and well-known in their own right.

Columbia's studio head Harry Cohn sought to transfer Pal Joey to the screen for years until something finally stuck in 1957. The list of Cohn's cast ideas are certainly interesting -- over 17 years, possible stars included: Irene Dunne, Gloria Swanson, Ethel Merman, and Mae West for the part of Vera Simpson, and James Cagney, Cary Grant, and Marlon Brando for Joey. Of course, Kelly was Cohn's first choice, but Louis B. Mayer asked for too much money to release his star to a rival studio. Oddly enough, over the years Rita Hayworth was always considered for the role of Linda English... until 1957. By then, Columbia had Kim Novak, an actress who began as an imitation Marilyn Monroe and wound up removing Hayworth as the queen of the lot. Rita became Vera Simpson, while Pal Joey became her swan song for Columbia. Meanwhile, Bob Fosse saw the film as his last chance in Hollywood -- if he didn't get Joey Evans now, his desire to be Astaire's successor would be shot to pieces. Although by 1957 he was a Tony-winning choreographer for The Pajama Game, Pal Joey still had a hold on him. Cohn barely gave Fosse a thought, instead seeing big box office by casting Frank Sinatra, a man who was at his absolute peak professionally. The closest Fosse ever came to immortalizing Joey Evans was in an off-Broadway production in 1963.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

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

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.