Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dueling Lions: The Women and Ninptchka

Two of the biggest films of 1939 happened to be by MGM (no, not Gone with the Wind or The Wixard of Oz), and they both used fantastic melodramatic actresses in new found roles of comedy.
The Women is aptly titled because there are over 130 roles in the film, all played by women. In addition, no art represents the male form, and all of the animals used in the film were female. Talk about an estrogen-fest!
What really struck me about The Women was the speed at which Rosalind Russel was able to speak. No wonder she is on the cover of a book I recently read called "Fast-Talking Dames".

I love the dress with the eyes!
I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed Norma Shearer in this picture. Honestly, I have never cared at all for "Queen Norma" in the past. She often fell in my school of over-actors with Elizabeth Taylor and Susan Hayward. She was refreshingly likable and mostly sensible in this film, even in the scene where she gets a little bit cheesy. Over all, I respect her much more after seeing The Women, the only other picture I have seen of hers is The Divorcee, and I couldn't stomach the melodrama long enough to finish it.
"I've had two years to grow claws, mother. Jungle Red!!!"
Joan Crawford was also fabulous as the evil Crystal Allen. How about that clear bathtub?

I love that Virginia Weidler got her own card in the trailer. She was cute in the film, but I don't think they had fully realized her potential until The Philadelphia Story the following year. Maybe there just wasn't enough room in this film for another witty dame.

Qhile The Women was disguised as a high-class drama to afford tons of women sinking their claws in to each other, Ninotchka was a true high comedy directed by the king of aristocratic fare, Ernst Lubitch. The film was promoted with two very powerful words: GARBO LAUGHS.
With writers Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, and Walter Reisch, there were plnty of laughs. It got off to a rather slow start (as I find many Billy Wilder films to do. It seems to take an absurd catalyst to get the ball rolling), but about 20 minutes into the picture I began to really enjoy it.

Go to bed little father!
William Powell, Cary Grant, and Spencer Tracy were courted to play Leon. Melvyn Douglas does a fine job, but I would have preferred Powell or Grant.
Ninotchka was remade as Silk Stockings, with, get ready for it, Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. I saw it a few months ago and I hated it, as I do most of the musical remakes I have seen.

That's all for now. Have a fun and safe new year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


First, the National Film Registry announced its 25 selections for 2009 this morning. Here are the films that made the cut. I'm still angry that Life of the American Fireman has not made the list, as it is the first example of sequential editing. whatevs. At least Pillow Talk and Mrs. Miniver were added!

The Classic Movie blog made a wonderful post about the stars that are fortunately still with us. Let us celebrate the ones we still have instead of mourning the ones that have left us (but I will still be sad that I don't have Ginger).

I bought a cheap-o old laptop the other day, and once I get my wireless card installed, I will give you another entry tomorrow about The Women and Ninotchka!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gone With the Wind (1939)

Can one sum up one of the greatest films in history in one word? I'll try: stunning. Not only is this a fascinating tale, but it serves both as a historical service and a comment on society in 1939 and impending war.
Technilogically, this film was a breakthrough in many ways. First, for its superior use of technicolor, which until then was only used in pieces of films (see early 1930s musicals like Dixiana or the fashion show in The Women). GWTW and The Wizard of Oz figured out how to light and costume a technicolor picture without the awkward amount of time that sound technology took to perfect. GWTW also maintained historical and logical integrity in the costuming department by not using wild colors just for the hell of it, like most technicolor musicals of the 1940s (ahem, The Harvey Girls anyone?).
Another unprecedented technique was the use of mattes combined with shots. Not only did it save money on set construction, it painted the full picture and gave the movie a more dreamy look. I had no idea that this was used until after I finished the movie, but now that I look back I can just barely see the difference between the real and the painted. For 70 years old, that's pretty damn good.
I say I'm not a huge fan of Vivien Leigh, she overacted just the right amount for Scarlett. I don't think there could have been any other interpretation of the character, although I really would have liked to see alternate versions with some of the other actresses who were considered (especially Paulette Goddard and Carole Lombard). Speaking of screen tests: if you're looking for a laugh, look no further than Jean Arthur's. Poor thing, just try to keep a straight face while hearing her say "fiddle dee dee". It seems like every actress in Hollywood but Ginger read for the part. Does she mention it in her autobiography? I can't remember off the top of my head.
I also LOVED Olivia DeHaviland as Melanie. Andre Leeds (Kaye from Stage Door) also read for the part. She would have been wonderful, but I think it was Olivia's role from the day she was born. No one can deliver a line as sweetly as she can. The only casting decision I did not understand was Leslie Howard. He was too old, and his reservations about playing the part came through on screen. He's just not the siren that it seems like he should be in order to catch the eye of the young and flirtatious Scarlett. Perhaps if he has been played by more of a heartthrob, more people would have understood Scarlett's undying love for him. On the other hand, maybe that was the point: he wasn't anything special, he was the one she couldn't have, and that's the only reason she wanted him. Hopefully I will understand better when I read the novel.
And oh, the costumes. I can't decide which dress is my favorite:
Weird, because I don't usually go for Red.
I usually balk at long movies because I have become used to the classic model of no more than 1.5 hours. However I was so enamored with GWTW that I didn't even notice that it was approaching 1 AM when it ended. Then I stayed up even later and watched the "making of" documentary that followed.
I am really happy I finally sat down and watched this movie. What I expected to be a melodramatic and overrated epic was actually a fantastic piece of cinematic history. I was pleasantly surprised, and I hope this happens more often.

Over the Top Blog Award!!

Ok, not quite.
Matthew over at the delightful Movietone News was kind enough to give me my very first blog award, and given my last post, I think it's pretty safe to consider me an "over the top" blogger!
The rules of this award state that I must complete this questionnaire with only one word per answer. oy!

Where is your phone? pocket
Your hair? Ginger
Your Mother? iffy
Your Father? similar
Your favourite food? Popcorn
Your dream last night? Insane-in-the-membrane (haha, I had to!)
Your favourite drink? Vino
Your dream/goal? Film!
What room are you in? Bedroom
Your hobby? Embroidery
Your fear? rejection
Where were you last night? blizzard
Something that you’re not? short
Muffins? cupcakes
Wishlist item? Love
Where did you grow up? Oklahoma
Last thing you did? eat
What are you wearing? hair
Your TV?
Your pets? stinky
Friends? different
Your life? inane
Your mood? quixotic
Missing someone? Ginya
Something you’re not wearing? boxers
Your favourite store? antiques
Your favourite colour? purple
When was the last time you laughed? constant
The last time you cried?
Your best friend? dead
One place that you go to over and over? bed
Facebook? sometimes
Favourite place to eat? couch

Now I'm supposed to give it to people...but I don't know who to give it to! Comment and take it. Spread the love!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jennifer Jones 1919-2009

I tried to watch The Song of Bernadette last night on Youtube, but the only available copy looked like it had been videotaped right off the TV, and the sound was even worse. Instead of haphazardly paraphrasing wikipedia, I am going to point you to some other stellar posts about her from people who know what they're talking about.
CK Dexter Haven is, like me, not really in to miss Jones.
Glamour has seen quite a few of her films and offers insight to them.
The best one I have read is from the Styled Siren. They not only look at her films, but her somewhat tumultuous love life and its connection. After all, her producer husband David O Selznick influenced her career more than I can say.
Now for some pictures. Miss Jones and I are from the same home town, Tulsa, Oklahoma. It's a fairly large city that boomed after oil was discovered here in the late teens. For a while it was a very stylish city for oil barons and their fur-wrapped wives. It is also a mecca for art deco architecture. I have a feeling that my being brought up around the best surviving examples of art deco, from skyscrapers to fire houses has heavily influenced my preference for the look and feel of the 1930s. We even have a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Jones' childhood home is in a very rich part of town, both then and now. It is less ornamented than some of the other homes in the area, but is still very nice and would have cost a pretty penny in the early 20s. It is a very nice home on a corner lot with a large back yard.

She went to school at Monte Cassino, a private catholic school about 2 1/2 miles from her home. When she won an Oscar for her first film, The Song of Bernadette, Monte Cassino dedicated a statue of her as Bernadette on the grounds. Here it is:

It is aptly facing a small grotto modeled after Lourdes. There is, unfortunately, no plaque to tell the young MC students the significance of this statue or the legacy that Jennifer Jones leaves behind. Some of my friends and I will be contacting Monte Cassino in the coming weeks to encourage them to add a plaque in her memory.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

Oklahoma is experiencing a record amount of December snowfall. We have about 7 inches here in Tulsa, and in Norman, where I live and go to school, we had 14 inches!

Indy (R) and Bella (L) don't seem to mind. They like pretending to be Sonya Henjie!
Back inside, there's not much to do but watch movies and this:

I have watched quite a few movies, though. I'm going to list them and tell you briefly what I thought:
Why We Fight: Very good. I wish I had watched it before I wrote my paper on Foreign Policy!
Once Upon a Honeymoon: Finally showed this one to my mom. We agree: It gets of to a fantastic start, but loses complete focus when it turns in to a Nazi dramedy. Pick one and stick with it, and since you have Cary, Ginger, and Leo McCarey, you should have picked comedy.
That Touch of Mink: Doris Day and Cary Grant. I feel that the plot of this film has aged better than Doris' other sex comedies, namely Pillow Talk.
The RKO Story: See it as soon as possible.
An Affair to Remember: pretty much a shot-for-shot remake. I liked the Irene Dunne/Charles Boyer version significantly better.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Very good Carole Lombard film, one of her last. I can't quite understand why Alfred Hitchock was assigned to it. I guess everyone has to pay their dues.
Gone With the Wind: HOLY CRAP. I will be writing a full entry to tell you how much I love it.

Tonight I plan on watching "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte" and "Song of Bernadette", the latter so that I can write you a fantastic obituary on Miss Jennifer Jones, which is long overdue.

I have discovered a new cure for cabin fever, especially if you are completely insane like me. allows you to add sparkly unicorns and rainbows to the picture of your choice. Here are a few of mine:

Hollywood the Golden Years: The RKO Story

I just watched the first three episodes of Hollywood the Golden Years: The RKO Story. I can't believe how much I didn't know from reading the other books about the studio and star autobiographies. What I especially liked was episode 3: A Woman's Lot. It followed the RKO contract years of both Ginger and Katharine Hepburn, featuring interviews from both. While very informative, it also showed how different their experiences were because of their different approaches for fame.

I love Ginger to death and beyond, but let's all admit that she was a little more than full of herself. There are plenty examples of it in this show, namely the contrast between Katharine's view of the studio as a big family that knew what was going on with every body. Meanwhile, Ginger says that she never met most of the people at RKO, and that maybe some technicians went from movie to movie, but she never interacted with them. Kate on the other hand begins to name many people from the cutting room to wardrobe, to electricians. It's obvious that while Kate entered the RKO gates and socialized, getting to know her colleagues and making great friends with them, Ginger maintained the "secluded star" ideal, with Lela in tow making her decisions. I can't say that this is the approach I would take to showbiz, but I can't knock her because she made it work. Or did she? I wonder if at least a little smidge of the difference between Kate and Ginger's legacy is their approach to their craft and the connections they made with their fellow technicians.

The complete RKO Story episodes are available on most BitTorrent websites as a download. I don't know why TCM doesn't air it (besides the fact that it was a BBC production). They should definitely look in to securing the rights and airing it frequently.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy festivus!

There is at least 6 inches of snow on my doorstep, so I will be catching up on all the great movies available on Netflix Instant watch. I will hopefully catch up on some blogging too!
Here is the view from my front door (yes, I live on a street, but my flash doesn't go that far!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Irene Dunne!

Yesterday would have been Irene Dunne's 111th birthday. Let's celebrate by watching some great clips. It was hard to narrow them down, there are so many!
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is a wonderful Jerome Kern standard, and Miss Irene premiered it.

I was always amazed at how young she looked. As a latecomer to movies (32 in her first film), she still played young women despite being in her forties during most of her best roles

Irene's voices were fantastic!!!

It was hard to pick a scene from my favorite movie "The Awful Truth:. You should probably just watch the entire movie.

More great Irene films to watch to celebrate: My Favorite Wife, I Remember Mama, Theadora Goes Wild, Joy of Living

Friday, December 18, 2009

Coming tomorrow...

1. a special post about Jennifer Jones, including some pictures from her (and my) hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma
2. Gone with the Wind!

But first, my best friend and I are going to celebrate the end of this semester with a little libation!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

National Film Registry

If you have not yet nominated films to be protected by the National Film Registry, your days are running out!
Here are the films I selected. I think most of them are pretty self-explanatory:
Life of an American Fireman
The Broadway Melody of 1929
The Champ
A Bill of Divorcement
The Most Dangerous Game
What Price Hollywood
Flying Down to Rio
Hallelujah, I'm a Bum
Private Life of Henry VIII
The Gay Divorcee
Of Human Bondage
Sadie McKee
Becky Sharp
Camille (1936)
Follow the Fleet
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
The Petrified Forest
Theadora Goes Wild
A Damsel in Distress
Easy Living
Lost Horizon
Make Way for Tomorrow
Shall We Dance
Stage Door
Vivacious Lady
You Can't Take it With You
Bachelor Mother
Dark Victory
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Love Affair
Intermezzo: A Love Story
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
The Roaring Twenties
I know that the maximum amount that can be submitted is 50, but I was so distraught at how many films from 1939 had not yet been added that I stopped there. I have not seen about half of the films I nominated, and that is exactly why I nominated them: they are not readily available to the public, even to a sect of the pulic that thoroughly searches for them.Make Way for Tomorrow is a specific example of this. I read about it at another blog (whose name escapes me at the moment). It sounds fantastic. I have been regularly requesting it on TCM, but we all know that that doesn't mean much.
Anyway, make sure that you nominate 50 films before the year is out! I'm trying to do all I can to promote preservation among fans before it actually becomes my job.
To nominate, email your submissions to
Here is a list of notable films that have not yet been named to the registry (only a few. for example, Roberta is not listed and not in the registry), and here is a list of films that have been named.

Oh, and PS: I heard back today about an internship at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. If I'm selected, I will intern in the film department, and perhaps aid in the curation of an exhibit of costumes ranging from Pickford to Cate Blanchett. I may actually get to handle a gown worn by Bette Davis (who is quickly rising in the ranks of my favorites).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Delays upon Delays

Since I moved in to my apartment, I have been using an unsecured wireless internet signal, because I am a broke college student and adding internet to my already astronomical cable bill ($77!) would put me even farther over the edge. Anyway, last Wednesday, whomever owns this linksys signal decided to be a meanie and make it password protected. Alas, I am without a signal and am currently blogging from the OU Fine Arts Library.
The Pro: I have more time to watch the over 70 movies I currently have on my DVR.
The Con: I can't tell you about them!

I'll leave you with one I watched Friday night, a new favorite: The Philadelphia Story. With each subsequent KH movie, I like her a little more (I also watched Woman of the Year last night).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Two new Ginger movies-Teenage Rebel and Primrose Path

I have watched two new (to me) Ginger pictures this past week.
First I watched Primrose Path, a 1939 Gregory LaCava picture. I will talk more about this when I begin my series on 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year in the coming weeks, but for now I will say that I was surprised at how subtly this film handled the many issues it covered. In fact, it is likely this subtlety that has caused it to slip between 1939's enormous cracks: there were so many deliberate films that year (Gone With the Wind, Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, etc.). Like I said, I will study this film in a more in-depth fashion when I begin my series on the films of 1939. I plan on assessing each of the Oscar nominees (not just for best picture, but also acting, directing, and of course music). There's something for you to look forward to!
Last night I watched Teenage Rebel, a 1956 picture directed by Edmund Goulding at Fox. It tells the story of Nancy Fallon and her daughter Dodie, with whom she has been estranged for about ten years. She is court-ordered to spend three weeks with her estranged mother, who does all she can to patch up their relationship.
I had a lot of trouble with this movie. It was difficult for me to imagine Ginger as a mother, and it looked to me like it was an awkward experience for her as well. The script seems a little haphazard, especially combined with the title, as Dodie never really rebels. In fact, the opposite happens. She goes from being totally stiff and completely lonely to learning how to socialize and relate to other people.
It seems like this film is inching towards a really strong message about the importance of mothers to young girls, but it never quite makes it. Goulding, who also contributed to the screenplay, was in his sixties when this was produced, so I can imagine why it didn't quite capture the mother/daughter relationship to a "T".
There is one scene worth watching: when Nancy gets PISSED at Dodie. Skip to :46 for the fight!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm going to LA!!

I just received word that my proposal of a UROP grant (Undergraduate Research Opportunity) has been accepted! I will be getting a little bit of money to cover travel expenses to LA, where I will spend a couple of days conducting research at the UCLA film archives.
My proposal outlined a project that will hopefully encourage more scholarly study of the films of Ginger Rogers. I have not yet decided if I want to focus on Carefree, or if I want to take another route. That will all depend on the materials I can get my hands on at the archives. I can't tell you how excited I am! I'm trying to think of some of the places I want to go. Of course, I will only be there for about 4 days max, so some things will have to wait until next time:
1. Oakwood Park Memorial Cemetery (of course)
2. 1605 Gilcrest Drive (another obligatory one)
3. Grauman's Chinese Theater
4. Forest Lawn Memorial Park: lots of people to see here: Lucille Ball, Franklin Pangborn (!!), Joan Blondell, Eric Blore, George Cukor, Edward Everett Horton, Max Steiner, Jimmy Stewart, so many more...
5. Hollywood History Museum
I'll probably try to drive by a couple of houses, probably the ones from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and Double Indemnity.

As you can probably tell, I can hardly wait!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I've been so busy lately, and that will only continue in the following weeks. I have 2 papers due this week, and I'm trying to get my embroidery "business" off the ground. I started doing hand embroidery almost a year ago, and since posting pictures of my work on my facebook page, I have received a couple of commissions! I am also trying to build up enough stock to start an etsy shop.

Today I would like to share with you a website that I enjoy. It's called Movies in Frames. I'm a sucker for movie trivia of any kind, and I also have a semi-photographic memory, so this site serves as a little challenge to me every day.
The concept is simple: contributors provide us with four frames of a film. The title, year, and director are given underneath. I don't know if anyone else uses it as a quiz like I do, but it's darn fun for me.

Another site is the fabulous magazine Mental Floss. They post quizzes every day that are pretty intense. Occasionally, the topic is classic film. While you're there, take a look at some of the articles. If you're a knowledge junkie like me, you will be thoroughly entertained.

Tomorrow my quizbowl team will be competing in TRASH Regionals, a tournament made up only of film, TV, Sports, and music trivia. I kind of rock at it, and occasionally there are classic film questions!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween! I'll be back tomorrow with an entry about my "Rocky Horror Picture Show Experience" tonight. Have fun and be safe!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Love Affair (1939): A New Favorite!

I watched Love Affair on Wednesday. I apologize for this entry being short, but it took the words out of my mouth. It was a beautiful, heart-wrenching movie that has sadly fallen through the cracks, being one of so many great films made in Hollywood's greatest year.
It tells the story of Terry and Michel, who meet on an ocean liner and hit it off right away. Unfortunately, they are both engaged and not quite ready to make such a sudden decision about their futures. Terry smartlydevises a plan: the will re-evaluate their lives, and at the end of 6 months, they will meet at the top of the Empire State Building. Even though it's pretty obvious that they will both go, it makes them feel better about tying up loose ends.
July 1st comes, and Michel is there early. Terry does not show. She was so excited to get there that she did not look before crossing the street to the building. The doctors know where she was going and encourage her to tell Michel what happened, but she refuses. She will not tell him until she can run in to his arms.

I don't want to give away everything, so I will stop there. I do want to highlight a couple of beautiful scenes. First, they visit Michel's grandmother in Madiera soon after they meet. Grandma Janou is played beautifully by Maria Ouspenskaya. Terry sees her life and the beauty in her mind, and knows instantly that this is the life she wants, and that Michel must be a part of it.

Another musical number in the film (out of 3) is when Terry teaches three orphan girls a song she wrote based on Michel's words about wishing. The sisters are played very sweetly by the Brian Sisters, who unfortunately never reached the fame that the boswell sisters saw. This video also shows when all of the orphanage sings it later in the film. The voice leading in the larger version is truly angelic (the audio is not good in this video, but you will get the idea).

Now, wipe away your tears and read just a little longer.
This was the second pairing of Irene Dunne and director Leo McCarey, who first directed her in my all-time favorite movie The Awful Truth (1937). Both Dunne and Boyer consider this their favorite of all their films, and I can see why. McCarey frames them beautifully in every scene. Apparently he was fun to work with too: Boyer noted that he would work his tail off to memorize long speeches from the script, only to have McCarey order all lines paraphrased. Like all his films, he worked with a lot of improvisation, and encouraged the actors to talk over one another. This gives Love Affair a wonderful realistic touch among this amazing romance.

With six Oscar nominations and no wins, this film has fallen in to obscurity. It is now in the public domain, and I hear that the DVD print is in remarkably poor condition. The print used for the TCM broadcast is okay, but the black and white changes to a bluish tint during the middle section. Hopefully once I am a preserver of classic films, I can restore this gem to its 1939 beauty.

"Wishes are the dreams we have when we're awake".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coming tomorrow

After this long absence, I promise you some action tomorrow (gee, that sounds naughty!)
Love Affair
Now, Voyager
Pather Panchali
a vintage hair and makeup tutorial
and....a new header courtesy the lovely Amanda!

I hate to give you excuses, but here goes: the day after I returned from Atlanta, I got very ill. The doctor said it wasn't the flu, but that's what it felt like. I was on my butt the rest of the week. I ended up missing 6 days of class, so the past 1 1/2 weeks have been me playing catch-up, including 3 papers! I've been so terribly busy that my blog was (unfortunately) the last thing on my mind. Have no fear, I still love you!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Classic Cinema Survey!

Amanda over at A Noodle in a Haystack has come out with a new classic film survey. I often don't complete these because I would have really null responses to many of the questions (since I'm relatively new to this world of classic film, there are still quite a few actors/actresses that I'm not familiar with yet.

1. What is your all-time favorite Clark Gable movie? I love It Happened One Night

2. Do you like Joan Crawford best as a comedienne or a drama-queen? I haven't seen any of her comedies yet. Mildred Pierce and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane are two of my favorites!

3. In your opinion, should Ginger Rogers have made more musicals post-Fred Astaire? The musical she did make post-Fred was infamously terrible (Lady in the Dark), so no. I like the way her career went. If she had continued with musicals, they would have been just like the ones with Fred, but without Fred. Just like when they tried to plug other girls in to Fred's movies, it often didn't work. 

4. I promise not to cause you bodily (or any other serious) harm if you don't agree with me on this one. So please be honest: do you like Elizabeth Taylor? Hm? No, but like Kate Gabrielle, it wouldn't detract me from watching a movie like other over dramatic actresses I don't care for (see Susan Hayward).

5. Who is your favorite offscreen Hollywood couple? I found an old hollywood gossip mag last week and loved pouring over the pictures of young Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis.  

6. How about onscreen Hollywood couple? Definitely Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, followed closely by Fred and Ginger.

7. Favorite Jean Arthur movie? Mr Smith Goes to Washington. I love the drunk scene.

8. What was the first Gregory Peck movie you saw? To Kill a Mockingbird.

9. What film made you fall in love with Alfred Hitchcock? (And for those of you that say, "I don't like Hitchcock" -- what is wrong with you?!) I have loved The Birds since I was a little girl, but the one that really made me appreciate him was Psycho.

10. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaption? The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

11. Do you prefer Shirley Temple as a little girl or as a teenager? I haven't seen any teenager movies yet.

12. Favorite character actor? oh boy, so many. Jack Carson, Franklin Pangborn, Alice Brady, Phyllis Kennedy, Charles Coburn...I could go on!

13. Favorite Barbara Stanwyck role? Double Indemnity!!!

14. Who is your favorite of Cary Grant's leading ladies? Irene Dunne, followed by Ginger (sure, they only did two movies, but they were great ones!).

15. Bette Davis or Joan Crawford? too difficult to choose.

16. What actors and/or actresses do you think are underrated? Irene Dunne (not necessarily underrated, but forgotten), Lucille Ball (her film career)

17. What actors and/or actresses do you think are overrated? Susan Hayward, definitely. I'm also not an Audrey Hepburn fan.

18. Do you watch movies made pre-1980 exclusively, or do you spice up your viewing-fare with newer films? I'm open to everything, but I will go for an older one over something new when given the choice. Frank Capra once said "The best movies have not yet been made".

19. Is there an actor/actress who you have seen in a film and immediately loved? If so, who? Ginger, Irene Dunne, Simone Simon, Alice Brady

20. Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire? Obviously, Fred. Gene was a cutie, but Fred was so much nicer to his women!

21. Favorite Ginger Rogers drama? Kitty Foyle.

22. If you wrote a screenplay, who would be in your dream cast and what roles would they play? (Mixing actors and actresses from different generations is allowed: any person from any point in their career.) Ginger is a wise-cracking stage performer who is fighting with socialite Katharine Hepburn for the love of playwright Cary Grant. Charles Coburn plays the bumbling theater manager and Jack Carson ends up with whoever doesn't get Cary.

23. Favorite actress? Ginger Rogers.

25. Favorite actor? Cary Grant

26. And now, the last question. What is your favorite movie from each of these genres:

Drama: Mildred Pierce and Casablanca

Romance: Notorious (okay, the romantic parts of it!)

Musical: Swing Time

Comedy: The Awful Truth

Western: no favorite (yet!)

Hitchcock (he has a genre all to himself): Notorious and Sabotage

Road Trips and Illness

Once again, there will be a delay in my posting. The day after I returned from my Jeopardy audition (which went quite well, I think) I was knocked on the ground with what I thought was the flu. I went to the doctor yesterday, and apparently  it's a sinus infection. I couldn't sit up or do anything on Tuesday, and not much more on Wednesday. Today I'm up because I have to work, and tomorrow I have to go back to school, both of which are going to totally knock me out!
I was hoping that being sick would allow me to catch up on all the movies on my DVR that I need to watch, but I haven't been able to stay awake long enough to get through one! I will have new posts on Now, Voyager and Plan 9 from Outer Space by this weekend.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Au Revoir!!

I'm leaving in about 15 minutes! I'm going to Atlanta, Georgia to try out for the Jeopardy College Tournament. I'll be spending the night in Memphis tonight to reduce driving time, since I'm going alone.
I was looking to visit some classic film locations, but I couldn't find any :(
I'll leave you with some cute pictures of our Ginge:

Until Tuesday,

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Does this look familiar?

Ginger designed a line of nightgowns and lingerie in the 60s and 70s called "Formfit Rogers". I was just browsing through some stuff on ebay, and came across this:
Look familiar??

A striking resemblance!

I'll be off in Atlanta, Georgia until Tuesday. I'm going there to audition for the Jeopardy college tour, and to visit my uncle and his family. Happy Trails 'til next time!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I'm thinking of changing the title (and therefore, URL) of my blog. Maggie's Film Journal just isn't exciting. Would it be a big pain in the butt for you guys to follow my new blog? If not, I'll make the new one later tonight.

Love and Ginger,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Confronting a demon...

The title of this entry is a little morbid, but I am confronting a feeling I never expected to feel: could I actually like Katharine Hepburn?!?!?!
If you are a fellow Ginger fan and have read her autobiography (if you haven't, what's wrong with you?), then you know that Ginger and Kate did not get along famously. Ginger recalls that Kate once poured a glass of water out of a two-story window on to her brand new coat, claiming that "if it's real, it won't curl". According to some reports she also slandered Kitty Foyle after Ginger took home the 1940 best actress Oscar, claiming "I and every other girl in Hollywood turned down that filth".
In reality, can I dislike Katharine Hepburn for saying a few rude things to my favorite person? It's an irrational conclusion to jump to. Another irrational thought is the one that Ginger was totally innocent and did not warrant any of these comments or actions. Like all actors, Ginger was pretty full of herself. Kate was too, and they were competitors for the non-existent title "Queen of RKO". While Kate garnered awards, Ginger was raking in the dough with her musicals and side projects. They were (understandably) jealous of each others' positions. Ginger longed to be taken seriously as an actress, and Kate didn't want to be shoved out of the business for being "Box Office Poison" (she was voted #1 box office poison in 1937 or 38).
My point is: Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn were both human beings, and so am I. We can't all agree on everything: there are plenty of things about Ginger that I don't like, so why should I shun Kate's entire career for being a little mean every once in a while?
Reluctant as she was, Kate was a great comedian. These are the pieces of her career that I really enjoy. It began with Stage Door.

I have read that Kate threw quite the fit over her second billing. In her autobiography she states that after hearing comments from preview audiences, her billing "was restored to its proper place", ie side-by-side.
I admire Kate's spirit and attitude toward life. She was a fighter, but not in a belligerent way.

I want that dress!!!
In a couple of weeks, I will return to the topic of Ginger and Kate. They have interesting career parallels that deserve further exploration.

The Wizard of Oz in HD!!!

I had the great pleasure of attending the special HD presentation of "The Wizard of Oz" on Wednesday. What a wonderful way to spend an evening. I skipped a class (My Writing about Film screening of "Away From Her"). It was definitely worth it.
The film opened with a brief introduction by our favorite spokesman Robert Osborne, followed by a short documentary about the production. It wasn't terribly detailed for a classic film fan, but the less-devoted people around me seemed interested in it. I did enjoy the stock footage of Margaret Hamilton describing her casting as the witch. She seemed like a hoot.

The film was spectacular. I got a little misty-eyed when the opening credits began to roll. I couldn't stop thinking about how lucky 1939 audiences were to be able to see this for the first time on the big screen. There were things I had never noticed before-the details in Munchkinland and Oz especially. Things I never saw on the 27-inch TV that first presented me with this film in my childhood. Even though I have never known a world without color images, the transition from sepia to color was mesmerizing, like a whole new world was being opened up to me.
Another thing I realized during the film was that I had never seen it the whole way through in one sitting! Bert Lahr as the cowardly lion really steals the show, and Jack Haley is adorable.
There are many theories as to what this movie means to 1939-just beginning to recover from the Great Depression and gearing up for WWII. It must have been a nervous and uncertain time. I haven't fully made up my mind yet, but I think there are definitely some political and religious symbols. Perhaps after I read the book I will have a better background on what was added for the film.
Please let me know if you were able to attend the event, and how you felt about it. The host, Fathom Events, is hosting another special event Thursday, October 8th. It is "Plan 9 from Outer Space", featuring an all-new MST3K commentary. I will be attending that one as well. To fin the nearest involved theater, check here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My collection

I've been putting off this entry for a while because I keep finding new things to add to my collection, so I tell myself "Wait until you get this in the mail". I realized today that collections will always grow, so now is the time to tell you about what I already have!
I was raised going to Garage Sales ad Flea markets, always searching for a deal and enjoying the beauty and craftsmanship of older things. It's unfortunate that most of my generation would rather buy crap from Walmart than something well-made and already broken in!
Sheet music was an important part of family entertainment through the 1940s. There was usually one person (often a young girl or mother) who played piano in each household. After seeing a picture, if you wanted to hear the music from something, buying the sheet music was your only option until the later introduction of LP soundtracks in the late 40s.
Before I became interested in classic musicals, I started buying vintage sheet music for decoration. The first pieces were from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado", an operetta I have seen a couple of times and really enjoy:

With the advent of my classic film obsession came a classic film collection. I began only getting sheet music at garage sales and flea markets, then gravitated to the dangerous eBay (dangerous because I spend too much money!). My goal is to collect every piece of sheet music from all 10 Fred and Ginger movies. By my estimation, I am about halfway through.
I have 3 from "Flying Down to Rio", but my camera ran out of battery while I was trying to photograph them.

I have 2 covers from Carefree, which are really special and will be descirbed at the bottom of the post!
Including the Carefree covers, I am only missing one movie: the elusive Vernon and Irene Castle. I know there was some sheet music published for the film. I saw a piece once in an ebay lot that went for over $70-not worth it for one piece (except the piece at the end...:D). I may never find all the pieces from Vernon and Irene Castle, as the movie was not nearly as popular as their previous films. Also because it was more a dance film and a period piece, the music was not relevant to 1939 popular music styles.
Some other movie memorabilia:

A cover of the Family Circle from 1940, an original framed picture of Ginger from Vernon and Irene Castle, and an original publicity still for "Don't Bet on Love".

This lovely picture came from the personal collection of Gail Patrick! I went to an antiwue show this summer, and this guy had literally thousands of pictures of her that he purchased from her step daughter after her husband's death. There were also many large pictures of other stars-everyone from Cary Grant to Anna May Wong-autographed to Gail. Very interesting, and I love the back story.
Now for the item to end all items! I am most proud of the sheet music I have collected from "Carefree", as it is the most rare (and beautiful!) of the Fred and Ginger music I have so far. This is especially true of the music for "I Used to be Color Blind" because it's AUTOGRAPHED by BOTH FRED AND GINGER!!!!! I almost died when I found this on eBay. I ended up spending $70 on it, but I'm so happy I did. I'm having it appraised in a couple of weeks, along with an original poster from "Roxie Hart" which should arrive in the mail today.

Look at the signatures-it's definitely them!
Of course, that's only about half of my collection. I'll post more later.
Ta-ta for now!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

I noticed that the 1939 masterpiece "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is airing on TCM this Sunday evening, so I thought I would tell you about it, hopefully to spark your interest if you have never seen it. It is a great film among hundreds of the best films ever made during Hollywood's best year.
This version stars Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O'Hara as Esmerelda (no, she's not gypsy-ish, but she does a wonderful job in one of her earliest American roles).
This version of Victor Hugo's novel is considered the best adaptation, and the most faithful to Hugo's original intentions. Some things are changed (like the ending), but that is to be expected from a Hollywood adaptation, especially during the Production Code era. Despite the novel being centuries old, there are definitely symbols of life in 1939. America was gearing up for World War, and deciding what kind of role they wanted their country to have. The film opens with a theme about the invention of the printing press and the dangers of the written word spreading among the masses. It's interesting to compare how leaders in medieval times and the 1940s were concerned about their people knowing too much. As I learned this week in my Writing About Film class, no historical movie is completely about the past.
This film is worth watching for so many reasons. an entire Notre Dame replica was built on the RKO Ranch, along with a few acres of surrounding town that were detailed down to the roads that wound between the buildings. Thousands of extras donned costumes to look like a literal sea of people in the opening scenes of the festival. It's insane and extremely well-directed. If you watch this on DVD, be sure to check out Maureen O'Hara talking about the direction style of Dieterle. He wore white gloves and said very little, yet pulled off this extraordinary feat and many more.
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is available on DVD and is airing on TCM tonight, Sept. 13th at 10 pm (eastern). It airs again on November 29th.

Mildred Pierce

I thought my mom and I fought! Boy, Mildred Pierce (1945) really opened my eyes to some seriously screwed up mother/daughter relations.
Directed my the "genius of shadows" Michael Curtiz, this movie is the story of titular character Mildred Pierce, played amazingly by Miss Joan Crawford. After she splits from her unfaithful husband, Mildred does everything in her power to give her daughters the wealth, security, and (most importantly) the social standing that it is implied Mildred had as a youngster. This is especially applied to the older daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). Veda is a spoiled brat whose actions repeatedly tear down the boundaries of what normal people would consider rational behavior.
The film opens with a murder. It looks as though Mildred has committed it, and she begins telling the story in great detail to the police after they conclude that the murderer is her ex-husband. She insists that it is not, and the flashback that we believe to be a very detailed confession reveals the true killer. Of course, I won't tell you who did it, but I will tell you that they wait until the last possible second to tie up the loose ends. It was nerve wracking for me, but apparently that is the favorite method of early to mid-forties cinema (See my review of The Major and the Minor and Double Indemnity, among others).
I could go on and on about how much I loved this movie. It kept me completely enthralled thanks to brilliant jobs by Michael Curtiz, Joan Crawford (in a well-deserved oscar-winning performance), and one of my favorite second-men Jack Carson. Even though there is a different cinematographer than Casablanca, Mildred Pierce features similarly stunning lighting and shadows that radiate in black and white. Movies like this make black and white sparkle.
The music by Max Steiner is, as I expect from Steiner, wonderful (after all, he blessed us with King Kong and the early Fred and Ginger musicals!). I can't remember specific instances where it was remarkably clever, but that's probably because it's been a week or so since I've watched it.

I just realized that I had forgotten to mention Eve Arden and her wonderfulness. I love her so much! She, as always, delivers the perfect wisecrack in Mildred Pierce.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Guys, I feel TERRIBLE for causing such a delay in my blogging. I've been in school a week now and only moved in to my apartment on Friday. That's right, I spent a week sleeping on my best friend's couch. Not fun.
Anyway, I've almost got all of my pictures hung, then I need to organize some things and procure some means of DVD storage. Then, I will post pictures! I think you guys will enjoy all of my Classic Hollywood touches!
I rpomise I will write something within the next 24 hours on "Mildred Pierce", which is on TCM right now. I got my DVR (!!!) yesterday, so I'll be watching it this evening.

Don't forget to watch or record "Tender Comrade" on Friday morning!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More pics

Posting those pictures earlier and doing some digging with Juliette led me to searching for more Ginger pictures. I ended up with 37 pictures I had never seen before! Here are a few:

This was taken from a balcony at the entrance to the Cocoanut Grove, the site of the 1940 Oscars.

Ginger, Lela, and Walter Owns (Lela's dad and Ginger's grandpa) fighting over a sandwich on the set of "The Major and the Minor". Could this get cuter?

A Rare color picture from the set of The Barkleys of Broadway.

From about 1933. Anyone have more information on this one?
Happy Trails,