Sunday, January 22, 2017

In Praise of Cary Grant.

When you think of The Philadelphia Story, your first thought is likely of Katharine Hepburn. Who can blame you? Hepburn had a stunningly powerful cinematic presence, and The Philadelphia Story is without a doubt her film – playwright Philip Barry wrote it for her, after all. However, in order for the movie to be successful, Hepburn needed to be matched with two actors who wouldn’t be totally devoured by her. On Broadway, she had Van Heflin and Joseph Cotten (can I travel back in time to see that?); on film, she wanted Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, but what she got was just as wonderful: Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant.

As Mike Connor, the jaded reporter who becomes enchanted by Hepburn’s socialite Tracy Lord, Stewart won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress and Ruth Hussey, playing Stewart’s quick-witted photographer girlfriend Liz, found herself nominated for Best Supporting Actress. The odd man out here is Cary Grant, a statement that feels so wrong to type. Not only was Grant ignored by the Academy, his performance in The Philadelphia Story isn’t often given the recognition that it merits.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Lombard and MacMurray fall head over heels in... Hands Across the Table (1935)

Crafted around the comedic talents of Carole Lombard, Hands Across the Table is a charming romantic comedy that contains a trio of sensitive, fabulous performances from Lombard, Fred MacMurray, and Ralph Bellamy. This film marked the first pairing of Carole and Fred, although she originally wanted Cary Grant (scheduling conflicts made it impossible). Lombard had heard of MacMurray before, but not as an actor -- she knew him from his saxophone playing in nightclubs! The duo would make three more films together: The Princess Comes Across (1936), Swing High, Swing Low (1937), and True Confession (1937). Personally, this is my favorite of their pictures.

Regi Allen (Lombard) and her friend Nona (Marie Prevost) are practically pushed out of the busy city subway as they make their way to their jobs at the ritzy Savoy Carlton Hotel, where they work as manicurists. Upon arrival, Regi is informed that room 1502 needs her; knowing that that suite is particularly pricey, Regi asks her boss if the occupant is married. You see, our heroine has one goal in life: marry rich. It looks like she may get her wish when she meets Mr. Room 1502, Allen
Macklyn (Ralph Bellamy) -- they immediately hit it off, although Regi does hesitate at first when she realizes that Allen is in a wheelchair. Noticing a picture of a dashing pilot, Regi asks if it's Allen's brother, but he replies that it was actually him. He used to fly, hinting that it was a plane crash that put him in the wheelchair. Things have clearly been depressing for Allen ever since. On her way out, Regi is told by Allen's butler that it's been a long time since he has heard his employer laugh like that.

Monday, January 9, 2017


This photo of Audrey is basically how I'm feeling. Nine days into 2017 and I'm just now publishing my first post of the new year. In my defense, things have been a little crazy for me and also I just felt real lazy. My college's winter break is almost a whole month long, which is nice but also makes it difficult to return to school mode when the time comes. This time around, I'm really feeling sluggish. Hopefully this changes soon because I've got some interesting things coming down the pipeline. In a few weeks, I should be hearing back about my graduate school application, and I might have the opportunity to contribute one or two guest posts to the blog of my beloved IU Cinema, one of the greatest resources my college offers. My family is also talking about vacationing in San Francisco this summer, so I'm becoming pretty excited over that. (Vertigo locations and Walt Disney Family Museum, here I come!)

Every new year, I try to establish a few new things that I want to do with my blog, but honestly, I don't think I ever follow through on them. I was supposed to do a series on old TV shows, dig into Ida Lupino's filmography, and although I said this in an anniversary post and not a "New Year" one, I also said I wanted to discuss more current films (re: post-1970). I think I'll still try to do at least one of these ideas, but I'm not going to fully commit to them, at least not yet.

There is one thing I'm totally committed to, however: my upcoming Doris Day blogathon! She's kind of the best and after the devastating loss of Debbie Reynolds, I'm trying to appreciate the amazing artists we still have from classic Hollywood. This has inspired me to go back to writing letters to a few of those stars. For a year in high school, I sent out about a dozen letters and only received two responses, which probably caused me to give up doing any more. I wish I had kept at it, especially since one of those initial letters was to Ms. Reynolds, so 2017 is the year of maximum letter-writing!

Until next time,