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,

A Rainy Oklahoma Day...

My application for the apartment was approved! I'm going back Friday to sign the lease and start handing over money (yuck). Anyway, I am really relieved to have a place, since the last place backed out the day before I was supposed to move (grrrrrrr).
I woke up to some heavy rain here in Oklahoma. Even though the sun has come out, I'm posting some pictures and video clips that get me through any rainy day! Inspired by the adorable pic over at Gingerology.
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Look ma, no hands!!
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Ginger.....WITH A BEARD?!?!?! If anyone knows what the heck this is from, please let me know!

Boy is this song beautiful. (PS: That was definitely a very open-mouth kiss! Look at 2:27. haha.)

I'm not a huge fan of "fan videos" that use random songs. This song is pretty cheesy, but it's edited really well.
Have a good day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favorite Star Combinations part 3: Penny Serenade

I just returned from Norman, after looking at an apartment and signing an application on it. I have finally found a place to live! Now let's hope they take me. School starts Monday!!

Penny Serenade (1941) is the third and final pairing of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, screwball royalty by my standards. Unfortunately, this film fails to uphold anything that the actors had built up in their previous films. It features very poor direction, a ridiculous plot, and little to no music in a film about the significance of a book of albums on the lives of a married couple.
This movie is about Roger and Julie Adams. Julie has decided to leave Roger. As she is packing her things, she happens upon their albums, cataloged like a photo album with little trinkets of the history of their married life. She begins playing them, and the rest of the story is told in flashback vignettes, segued by her changing records. They meet, he proposes, they marry, he moves to Japan, she joins him, she gets pregnant, she loses the baby because of an earthquake...pretty standard stuff for a romance film from 1941. They proceed to set up a small newspaper in a town in California, and adopt a baby girl. I usually don't give away the endings of films, but this one is so ridiculous that I have to tell you: the little girl dies at age 6. It hits them hard, and their grief and innability to communicate drive them apart. What brings them together is a call from the adoption agent, saying "We just got a child, and he's great. He's what you wanted when you first came to us". You see, when they adopted Trina, they actually wanted a curly blonde toddler boy, but ended up with a brunette 5 week old girl. The ending, the fact that they are staying together and replacing their dead child is supposed to be hopeful, but I could only find it laughable. Sure! We'll hide our grief by replacing her with what we really wanted all along!

Aside from the odd plot twists, other things that bother me about this film include the strange, silent film-type directions by George Stevens. He is a master of the Golden Age of Hollywood, yet I feel like this picture regresses back to the era of oddly placed close-ups, which are frequent in this film. There are some interesting shots, especially the recurring theme of the house being cut so that the camera moves upstairs with the actors, but there are also awkward shots like when one actor completely blocks out the other, who is speaking. One instance in particular is the train sequence. I can't find a clip of that part alone, so I suppose you will have to watch it if you want.

Now that I think about it, one perspective on the style of direction would be to take us back to the "good ole'years", just as the film does, but I think that would be a concept lost on early forties audiences. Still, that doesn't mean it's not the true intention. Even if this was the desired effect, I think it was overdone and interfered with the story.

Another problem I had with this film was the lack of score. Yes, a great composer knows when to take advantage of silence, but there was too much in this movie, especially since its underlying theme is the power of music and memory. The score could have been comprised of really smart variations on the song that triggered the memory, and that likely would have saved the film for me (because a great score could save anything for me [that's what she said]).

If you're looking at Penny Serenade for a great Irene Dunne and Cary Grant picture, this will likely disappoint. I read about many who love the film, but after seeing "The Awful Truth" and "My Favorite Wife", I wanted more of the same, or at least something similar. It has a couple of slightly funny scenes, but nothing like the previous two. I guess it's indicative of the aging of both actors and their personas. "The Awful Truth" has them acting like teenagers: making one another jealous by dating others and being suspicious. "My Favorite Wife" is a little more mature, dealing more with sex and the idea of settling down, and "Penny Serenade" is much more serious and grown-up. The audience that enjoyed "The Awful Truth" in 1937 is about to go to war, and they have a lot of growing up to do (I see a paper about Irene Dunne and Cary Grant's personas in my future...).

If you would like to watch "Penny Serenade" it is available on DVD. I believe it is in the public domain, as I purchased it in the dollar DVD section as a double feature with "Charade". It is also available to watch on everyone's favorite video website. Please let me know what you think, especially if you disagree.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I'm sorry that it has been so long since my last update. I am getting ready to move on Saturday back to Norman OK, where I will be a Junior at the University of Oklahoma. Tuesday and Wednesday, I went there to work as a preliminary before I was officially hired. I will be cleaning apartments after people move out in exchange for a free apartment!
When I get all moved in and get internet (I'm going to have to sign up for a credit card so I can get cable and internet. Really frustrating that they won't take my debit card!), I'll post with pictures of my fabulous vintage furniture! Until then, allow these pictures of Ginger to hold you off.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009


Since I read about this story last night, I have become a little worried.
The House where Our lady of Gingeriness was born is up for sale. It's REALLY cheap at $20,000 (less than half of what we bought my piece of crap house from the 20s for in 1996) and no one is interested.
Honestly, this house isn't THAT important, I guess. Ginger and Lela only lived there for a couple of weeks, when they moved back in to Lela's parents house. That should be the house that is preserved. I looked it up a few months ago on google maps and it seemed to be in good condition. Here it is, 3306 Bellefontaine Ave:

View Ginger in a larger map
Once you go in to street view, go just a little to the right. It's the house with the screened porch, stone foundation, and a red car in the driveway. Here's a picture of baby Ginger on the porch:

I hope the historical society takes note of the importance of preserving these homes. The birth house has a plaque as seen on the website of the realtor. Oddly enough, July 16th 1994 was Ginger's last birthday, as she passed away in April of 1995. She spent her first and last birthdays in the same house. Maybe that doesn't strike anyone else as interesting, but I'm weird like that. I'm sure if someone bought the birth home and turned it in to a small museum, it would do well, especially if they could get hold of some of her costumes and personal items.
I am considering writing to the historical society in Kansas City. If I did, would other readers back me up?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Move Over, Darling (1963)

As part of my Sunday evening stood-up-for-a-date double feature I also watched Move Over, Darling, a nice 1963 remake of My Favorite Wife starring Doris Day and James Garner. This movie was funny in its own way, but I had some issues with the movie.
Like My Favorite Wife, Move Over, Darling tells the story of Ellen Wagstaff-Arden (Doris Day), who returns from being shipwrecked on a deserted island for 7 years to find that her husband Nick (James Garner) has married a new woman Bianca (Polly Bergen).
I would say that this is about a 75% shot-for-shot remake. Many shots and sets are constructed similarly, and key lines are preserved, like her response to hearing about her funeral: "Oh, I wish I'd been there". I think the responding line sums up my feelings for the movie. Nick replies with "Well if you'd been there, there wouldn't have been a funeral". Yeah we know, and you kind of just ruined the jokes.
Not that I didn't enjoy the film, it just didn't feel right. I think it is because lines were directly ripped from My Favorite Wife, most of which were improvised by Dunne and Grant themselves. They worked for Cary and Irene's Nick and Ellen, but James and Doris' Nick and Ellen were played differently and more according to their respective images.
That's the fundamental problem with remakes that remain extremely faithful to their predecessors. If actors with similar images or personas are not cast, then the original script ain't gonna work. This includes the supporting cast. Another review describes Polly Bergen's character perfectly: "too obvious". I think Gail Patrick did a much better job. Also, Thelma Ritter's talents were a little wasted as she didn't play a drunk.
My main problem with this remake is that it makes the story seem, as it is, completely improbable. One thing I love about My Favorite Wife is that you never once doubt that Irene Dunne spent 7 years on a deserted island. She gets out of the truck at her house in some man's clothes and needs a bath. Doris, on the other hand, comes off a navy ship looking like this:

Apparently they had bleach on this island!
I can't just bash this film though. It was very cute and moderately enjoyable. One thing that I liked and would have enjoyed seeing in the original is a dream sequence on the island, imagined by Nick. In it, Doris is wearing some serious I Dream of Jeannie/B-52's hair. Hilarious.
I also like the obvious reference to My Favorite Wife, when Doris, disguised as a swedish nurse (yes) notes the similarity to a movie she saw as a child.
The end, when the children and Nick are hiding in the pool and Doris jumps in is very cute and a very satisfying ending to the film. You can't help but giggle when she jumps in with all of her clothes on.
This movie has some interesting back story. A couple of reels were shot under the name Something's Gotta Give, starring Marylin Monroe. This is what would become her last film. She was fired after missing more than 50% of her scheduled days. The special featured on the DVD show a large amount of the unused footage, which also starred Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse as Bianca. Marylin was not right for this movie, and it's very evident in the footage, especially with her children. She seems to be more connected to the family dog than the fruits of her womb. Doris on the other hand had been separated from her son Terry for several of his early years, so she had those emotions stored in her, making those scenes equally as touching as Irene Dunne's, who was just a damn fabulous actress :) When I read more about the lifeof Marylin, perhaps I will return to an entry about Something's Gotta Give.
All in all, I was really picky about Move Over, Darling, since it's a remake of one of my favorite films. If you like Doris Day, I'm sure you will like this movie.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Star Cominations: Cary Grant and Irene Dunne pt. 2.

I got stood up for a date today, so what better than to start reading Doris Day's biography, and watch one of my favorite movies!
If I had to pick a favorite movie overall, I think that 70% of the time my answer would be "My Favorite Wife" (1940). This was the first Grant/Dunne picture I saw, and it left me with an incurable case of the giggles that often overcomes me when I see a film that I really love.
"My Favorite Wife" is the story of Nick and Ellen Arden. After Ellen disappears in a shipwreck, Nick meets another woman, and marries her on the same day that Ellen is declared dead. Coincidentally, Ellen returns from her deserted island on the very same day and is determined to get back her husband!
I could go on for days about each line that makes me laugh. It is chock full of the same farcical fun you will find in its predecessor "The Awful Truth"-including a Southern impersonation, a cabin in the mountains, and of course the "Irene Dunne laugh". No one can sound snootier than Miss Dunne can.
I first saw this picture in my "Music at RKO" class in spring. This movie features a wonderful score provided by the great Roy Webb (of Notorious and Cat People fame). This film is a great example of an effect we call "Micky Mousing", when the actions of the orchestra follow the actions on screen. This can be clearly seen when Nick first sees Ellen in the elevator and falls as the door closes. The score also descends in a chromatic scale. It definitely adds comedy to the picture. I have seen some pictures where Mickey Mousing is used far too much, and it becomes a joke. Roy Webb does it perfectly in this picture. My Favorite Wife also has a wonderful, extremely hummable love theme that plays during the credits among other places.
Speaking of which, what complex credits! Each slide is its own embroidered (by hand I'm assuming) handkerchief. All that work for about 45 seconds!

Another wonderful addition to this film is the beautiful and under appreciated Gail Patrick. As usual, Gail is playing "the other woman"-Nick's new wife Bianca. Even though she is very stiff and rude to Nick and the children at times (actually, she's never nice to the children), I can almost see where she's coming from. In fact, I attribute my semi-sympathy to Gail's fantastic job as an actress. Compared to Polly Bergen's take on Bianca in the remake Move Over, Darling who is just plain stupid, Gail's Bianca is reasonably frustrated and chooses to project it on everyone else, I suppose.
My Favorite Wife is available on DVD, and canalso be watched on a certain video website. I own it as part of a5-DVD Cary Grant collection that also includes The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Night and Day, and Destination Tokyo.
It's getting late now, but I will definitely write about Move Over, Darling tomorrow.

Also coming this week: my first entry about my classic hollywood collection. Get excited!!!

ugh. delays

I'm so sorry about my irregularity. My internet is unpredictable. I promise to write something later today and have it posted tonight.
In the meantime, consider Myrna Loy's Chicken Soup for supper.