Friday, 28 January 2011

Holy Jumpin' Catfish! - A Post About "It Happened One Night"

I actually have a brand new obsession. I predict that I am going to become uncontrollably obsessed with It Happened One Night after I watched it this evening. At the weekend we ordered three brand new Frank Capra films, It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939). As you can imagine, I was all jumping up and down when they arrived, but I had to wait until today as I am now completely almost homework-less. I decided to start off with It Happened One Night. I adore Clark Gable and I think my little sister looks like Claudette Colbert. What could possibly go wrong? NOTHING, I TELL YOU!!!!! NOTHING!!!!!

It Happened One Night (1934)
Cast (Director, Frank Capra):

Rich daughter of wall street journalist Alexander Andrews, Ellie, has married fortune hunter, "King" Westly against her father's wishes. Before the marriage can be properly made official, Ellie is stolen away by her father and put on his boat with her. He threatens to annul the "Non-Existent" marriage, but Ellie has other ideas, and jumps off the boat and swims away from sight. Planning to run away on a night bus, hoping no one will recognize her and notify the police (who are now scouring America for her), Ellie bumps into wisecracking tough-edged newspaperman Peter Warne.
After an initially frosty start, they get to know each other and Peter ends up blackmailing her into letting him write a story about her stay away from home.
Blanket drawn...
At first she isn't crazy about the idea, but when her journey gets tough, Peter helps her along the way and she starts to fall for him (Sorry to interrupt the plot summary, but how could you not?) in secret.
Stranded and starving (and sleeping on hay) Peter gets some raw carrots for them to eat, but she refuses to eat them unless they are cooked.
She's like, "Really?"
Peter decides that there is no choice but to hitchhike. He tells her that there are three basic types of hitchhiking.
One: The independent *Short, quick, thumb up, backwards gesture*, The Smile (or something, I can't remember :-S) *Cheesy grin, backwards gesture with thumb up, shaking hand while moving it*, The Desperate one *Long sweeping gesture with hand, thumbs up, melancholy face*. None of them work. Suddenly, a long line of speeding cars drive past and he has to do them all in quick succession with no success. Exhausted, Peter dares Ellie to do any better. She goes up to the road and simply raises her skirt just above the knee.
A car immediately pulls up. After a series of unfortunate events, they settle in a hotel for the night. Ellie tells Peter that she loves him, but he seems to have no reaction, and because they insist on having a blanket drawn to separate the two halves of the room, Ellie doesn't see Peter leave the room.
Blanket still drawn.
She gives herself up to the police and is escorted home. It turns out, however, that Peter was going to collect some money from his newspaper firm so he can propose to Ellie. She gets engaged to her old beaux again, but just before the wedding, she tells her Father that she is still in love with Peter Warne, the man she met while she was on the road. Funnily enough, Peter has asked Ellie's father if he can repay him for the costs of looking after Ellie. While Peter is with him, Alexander asks Peter if he still loves Ellie. Peter says yes, and the next day, as Ellie is walking down the aisle, her father tells her that she is making a great mistake and that Peter still loves her. She runs away and she and Peter are together at last.

Yay!!! *Happy dance* :-)

Frank Capra, Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable
This has to be one of the best romantic comedies ever made. Not only is Frank Capra a spectacular director, but Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable is one of the best screen pairings ever! The plot reminds me a little of Roman Holiday if Audrey Hepburn knew that the man was actually a newspaperman. I have to start using Clark Gable's OMG phrase, "Holy jumpin' catfish!". When Clark and Claudette are on the hay in that forest...

This film is just amazing, and I will never look at a raw carrot in the same way again. Nor will I ever get over Clark Gable in this film... Watching all these amazing people in films (as well as my own awesome family who watch them with me) are setting my standards of people communication ridiculously high. It can't be good for me.

If you'll excuse me, I intend to read Bette Davis' autobiography until the small hours of the morning go to sleep.


Monday, 24 January 2011

But Most Of All, I Remember Mama

I watched I Remember Mama (1948) yesterday for the second time and it was just as wonderful as I remembered it, and it seemed the perfect topic for today's review. I also just finished "Home" by Julie Andrews and really liked it. I love Julie Andrews in films such as:
  • The Sound Of Music
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie (One of my all-time favourite movie-musicals!)
  • Star! (Contrary to comments previously)
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Princess Diaries, 1 and 2 (Cheesy but I love them!)
It was a very well written autobiography, nice and informative as well as really showing what a sweet person she was. I may post a review at a later date. Before you read my review, if you are feeling like a rebel today, you can watch the whole film on youtube in little parts.  Here is the first part, but it has links to the others there too. I have embedded part one in the plot section of the review, and you could watch the whole thing from there if you wanted! Sorry, this plot summary is quite long.

I Remember mama
Cast: (Directed by George Stevens)

Katrin Hanson is writing a book about her childhood memories about her life in 1910 as part of a family of Norwegians in San Francisco, and she tells us how she remembers everything very vividly, but most of all, she "remembers Mama."


It is now 1910 and the Hanson family are gathering for their weekly budget count. Marta (Mama) puts a pile of large silver coins on one side for the landlord, then some for the grocer and so on. At the end Papa looks up at her and says, "Mama, is all?" To which she replies "Is good! We do not have to go to the bank."

This was a regular routine for the Hanson family. If there was not enough money they would go to the little 'bank' in a tin in the other room and select the needed amount. If there was any in there. The Hanson family were happeir than most. They are contented with what they have and if Mama is ever asked if she moved to America to get rich she simply replies "I came here because all of the family had already moved here. Family is where Mama fits best. Right in the heart of things." One day, Aunt Trina comes to tell Marta that she wants to get married, but doesn't have the guts to tell the other aunts or Uncle Chris. Marta ends up telling the aunts, but leaves telling Uncle Chris to Trina's fiance.
Uncle Chris decides to come for a visit from his farm in the north, much to everyone's surprise. On that very day, the youngest of the four children Dagmar, who calls her tom cat Uncle Elizabeth, gets a bad ear problem and has to go to the hospital to have an operation. Uncle Chris's presence doesn't help matters any, and neither does the fact that Mama is not allowed to see Dagmar after the operation. Devastated that she can't see Dagmar, Mama sneaks into the hospital dressed as a cleaner to get into Dagmar's room.
When Dagmar comes home fully recovered, they realize that Uncle Elizabeth is very ill. Despite everyone's belief that Mama can fix anything, Mama feels helpless and she and Papa send the eldest brother Niels to the drugstore to get something to put him to sleep. They are all astounded the next morning when Dagmar walks in with a sleepy but perfectly well Uncle Elizabeth in her arms.
Their lodger Mr. Hyde who always used to read them beautiful books, mysteriously leaves leaving them a large check. They are overjoyed at the financial miracle, but they soon find out that the check is worthless.
Katrin is boasting about getting a large dresser set for her graduation present, but she learns that she is to be given her mothers precious old family heirloom broach, and reacts in a very ungrateful and spoilt way. Mama wears the broach every day, but has traded it with the shop owner for the dresser set. Katrin is acting so smug that just before she goes to her school play (in which she is playing Portia in The Merchant of Venice) her sister Christina tells her that Mama traded her broach for the dresser set. Ashamed of her selfish behavior, and mortified by what she has made her mother do, she acts badly in the play and afterwards runs straight to the shop to get the broach back.

I won't tell you any more, for fear of spoiling the end for you :)
I remember the first time I watched this I was so moved by the way the family operated and made the most out of everything. I sat on my mum's lap and cried for ages completing the scene with a dramatic, "I will never be wasteful again Mum!!!" I think it's great when a film can make you feel that strongly about something. Funnily enough, this and Random Harvest are the films I cry the most at. It is unbelievably hard to choose a best performance, but Irene Dunne is amazing in her role and I just love her adorable Norwegian accent. But I also adore Oskar Homolka as Uncle Chris as well, he is pure genius. The direction is very unique - it really works well with the old fashioned structure of the film. One of my favourites, yet again!

I had the strangest dream the other day. It was all so weird. There was Greer Garson, and then for some reason completely unknown to me, Joan Crawford was her mother. (?) I was either Greer's daughter or watching the whole thing like god (so cool). Anyway. Greer Garson, Joan Crawford and me were all in this big hall and Greer and Joan were having a huge argument, and then, out of nowhere, the floor separated and the whole room turned into a giant swimming pool like in It's A Wonderful Life.
Then I woke up. I was so bemused by the experience I nearly walked into my bedroom wall. I have dreams involving classic movie stars before, but this was by far the craziest.


Thursday, 20 January 2011

My Word Of 2011

I have seen that lots of bloggers have been posting a word that they want to represent 2011 for them, and I really liked the idea. I know I'm a little late, but better late than never... Right? I gave it some thought and came up with a word that I would really like to be my buzz word this year.

Aspire: To have an ambitious plan or a lofty goal.

This year, I'm going to aspire to do lots of things I've never done before.
I'm going to aspire to blog almost every day, even with everything going on.
I'm going to aspire to write in my beautiful moleskine passions film journal lots. It should make a wonderful accompaniment to my blog. (I tried taking my own photos, but they didn't work. It's dark now and photos taken on my camera look rubbish with the flash.)
I'm going to scan all of my old movie photos. It is so bad that I have amazing photos in lots of books that I would love to share that I haven't scanned. I really need to just free up a weekend and do it all in one go. 
I'm going to aspire to do my best in all my subjects at school and choose the GCSEs that will suit me and help me best. And then, after summer, I'm going to aspire to kick off my GCSE courses in the best way possible.
I'm going to aspire to do well in my performing as well as my academic subjects, because they are important to me too.
And last but certainly not least... I'm going to aspire to watch even more movies :D!!!

I'm going to keep this photo at the side of my blog. I just love the photo of Greer Garson with the flowers. I wish that aspiring to have hair like Greer Garson was a realistic aspiration, it would be at the top of my list.


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

An Affair To Remember (1957): Because... IT IS CARY GRANT'S BIRTHDAY!!!

I was so happy when I got home from school and I saw all of the Cary Grant "Happy Birthday" posts on my dashboard! I was like this.

January 18th 1904 - November 29 1986
So, in honour of his awesomeness, I am going to review An Affair To Remember which not only has him in it, it has Deborrah Kerr as well. Need I say more? Also, thanks so much to everyone who read my North By Northwest post. I have had loads of great comments on it. So whithout further ado, here is the review!

An Affair To Remember
International playboy, Nickie Ferrante and refined singer and muscician, Terry McKay could not come from more different worlds. They meet on a cruise from Europe to New York and fall in love. They both have the same problem, they are each engaged to someone else.
While on the ship they live a glamourous life of pink champagne and fine dining experiences, but they both know that they will have to go back to their partners after the voyage. When they stop off in France, Nickie takes Terry to see his grandmother in her mountainside villa.
They grow even more close after his grandmother expresses her admiration for Terry and how she is helping Nickie to be more like he used to be before he became a renowned playboy. Now seeing Nickie in a new light she falls even more in love with him, and at the end of the voyage they both decide that they will meet each other at the Empire State Building (Terry says "It's the closest thing we have to heaven in New York") in six months if they still feel the same way about each other.
All goes according to plan at first, with Terry breaking up with her partner and going back to work as a singer and Nickie effectively doing the same and starting to paint again (he had always had a gift for art). But on the way to the skyscraper to meet Nickie...

~ ~ ~ SPOILERS AHEAD ~ ~ ~

Terry is hit by a taxi and is paralyzed from the waist down. Nickie, unaware of Terry's situation, waits at the top of the Empire State Building until midnight and then assumes that she no longer feels the way she did about him. Once recovered sufficiently, Terry starts teaching music at a local elementary school. Nickie is still devastated by the incident, but Terry refuses to go to see him because she doesn't want to be accepted just because of her injury. Later on, at Christmas, Nickie goes to see her, and because she is sitting down (and can't get up) he thinks she is being rude and makes some none too subtle remarks about how he waited for many hours for her at the Empire State Building.
But he sees something that makes him realise why she couldn't make it... And they all thive happily ever after :-)!!!
This is such a weepy film, and I just love Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant together. What a great duo! Watching this I realise yet again that I love Cary Grant so much and he is probably one of the best actors evah. You may or may not have read my post on double-takes, but I found a picture of the woman (playing Nickie/CG's grandmother) who does that really strange one!
Yay! I would reccomend this film to anyone, it is such a weepy!


Sunday, 16 January 2011

CMBA Hitchcock Blogathon: North By Northwest (1959)

I have recently been accepted by the Classic Movie Blog Association, and this will be the first event I have taken part in! Here it is, an in depth post dedicated to the legendary Hitchcock classic, North By Northwest. This is a serious review, you may be glad to hear - not as much rambling. Hopefully more thought (?!?!)...
North By Northwest

Lots of people remember Alfred Hitchcock for the classic scene in North By Northwest where Cary Grant's character is being chased by a crop duster sent to kill him, in the middle of a desolate field.
Hitchcock made many classics in his time, and is generally known as the man who captured and mastered the thriller. He thrilled us all with his earlier films such as Rebecca (1940) and Notorious (1946), and scared the daylights out of us with his gruesome later films like The Birds (1963), Vertigo (1958), Rear Window (1954). And Psycho (1960) - so I am told. Because of the film's age limit and my fear of gruesome horror films, I will be avoiding this film for as long as possible. These films were all made at similar times and seem to be part of the same genre. North By Northwest seems to have gotten accidentally caught up in this period with a load of films that seem to be of a different theme. Is this why this films sticks in our mind when thinking of Hitchcock?

North By Northwest is about an advertising man named Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) who is mistakenly identified as George Kaplan when a coincidence in a hotel luncheon room leads Kaplan's kidnappers to believe that he is Kaplan. They take him back to a Mr. Townsend's house and forcibly make him drink a large bottle of Bourbon. This "Mr. Townsend" is actually Phillip Vandamm (James Mason). Drunk and confused Thornhill (Cary Grant) is put in a car to drive home on a rocky cliff road. He manages to control the car and survive far enough to be seen by a police car. After he is bailed out of jail by his mother, a group of detectives take a look at the house and into the men who supposedly kidnapped him. They find nothing. When Roger stupidly takes a look in Kaplan's hotel room he is mistaken for him again, and he finds out that no one ever seems to have seen this man. We see the CIA talking about the situation after the murder of the real Mr. Townsend is framed on Roger Thornhill, who they know is now known as George Kaplan. They discuss how George Kaplan is a fictional character created to trap criminal, Phillip Vandamm - the now exhausted audience finally finding out who Kaplan is. Thornhill sneaks onto a train to Chicago and meets beautiful lady, Eve Kendall (Eve Marie Saint). 
They fall in love and she agrees to hide him in her compartment on the train as he hasn't got a ticket. When they get to Chicago, she dresses him as a bellboy and tells him where to go. Subsequently he arrives at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere and is pursued by a crop duster (hence the legendary scene). He finds out that Eve is a spy for Vandamm who has been lying to him and reporting back to Phillip. When a CIA agent tells him the truth, that she is a double agent working for them, he realises that he has to go and save her from a fate worse that death. Said saving includes climbing down Mount Rushmore in an attempt to escape from Vandamm and his henchmen. 
The final scene shows Roger pulling her up onto a bunk on a train, and the final shot is the view of the tunnel the train goes into.

One of the first things that strikes you when you watch this film (other than the genius directing, which I am saving till last), is the exquisite way that the colours have been coordinated. The main five colours in the film are red, grey, dark green, yellow and navy blue. All colours that are not part of this scheme are either shown discretely, or worn or used in a way so that it bonds with the main five colours. I have had the amazing experience to see North By Northwest on a large projector screen, making me appreciate the effort that evidently went into the art direction of this picture even more.

You can't review North By Northwest without a mention of Bernard Herman who composed the amazing score with the legendary theme making it's debut in the opening credits - which is said to be the first opening credits to use kinetic typography - and is used throughout the film as the main piece of music. When Eve and Roger are on the train Herman uses echos of music more from the romantic period (so my Dad tells me) to convey the mood.
I also really love the shot that looks like a painting, used for the scene outside The United Nations. It is so lovely, another great touch to the look of the picture.

Eve Marie Saint is really lovely as Eve Kendall. I have only seen her in one other film, The Sandpiper which I thought she was also lovely in. Her clothes! I need them. The beautiful dark blue suit she wears on the train and then later (not pictured) the stunning red dress! First I would also need her hair, but that can be arranged... My darling Cary Grant is gorgeous as always (how could one expect anything else?) and he is playing his forte, the mistaken guy who always gets blamed for things he didn't do. He apparently quarreled with Hitchcock about the wandering plot of the script, but was convinced by Hitchcock's air of wisdom.

What can I say about Hitchcock?! He is just amazing. Every tiny thing has been covered with him. The way he shoots the films is so unique to him, that my family have ended up playing a "Spot the Hitch shot" game whenever we watch one of his films. He even thought to make the house at the end look like a Frank Lloyd Wright house, as he was the most popular architect in America at the time. Without a doubt one of the best directors who ever lived. That is after all, the reason for this blogathon!
Read the 17 other great Hitchcock posts at

I leave you with one of my favourite moments in the movie.
If you can't read the subtitles that small, it says:
Ticket Guy: "Something wrong with your eyes?"
Roger Thornhill: "Yes, they're sensitive to questions."

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Photos Are A Classic Film Fan's Best Friends

I think that photo's are cherished in a very special way by classic film fans, because hey... If we didn't have all those lovely pictures of Cary Grant and Laurence Olivier,  we would have no way of seeing them in their natural habitats. If we didn't have those snazzy pictures of Greer Garson, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman... How would we have outfit and hairdo inspiration? The answer is probably it wouldn't be easy. Here are some of my most recent and/or favourite ones at the moment.
A beautiful moment in a beautiful film: An Affair To Remember. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr pictured.

Not so lucky with fur here... But it's Greer so we'll forgive her. Right?!
Beautiful Ingrid Notorious costumes. Love these dresses, but am afraid I will need to grow 6 inches to make me the same height as she was (5ft 9).
She really loves Cary Grant in this scene. How could you not?
This photo has probably been posted thousands of times on blogger, but I love James Dean! I always thought he should have been in The Great Escape.

What this post is also about, is the Classic Movie Blog Association's Hitchcock blogathon that is taking place on Monday. It is restricted to members of the CMBA and I shall be doing North By Northwest. This should be fun. 18 or more Hitchcock reviews on one day, yay!

I love the feeling of being back at school and being able to learn about cool things. It is so refreshing to be enlightened by the subjects I love, and it's just as refreshing to breath the fresh air when I get out of the classes I don't like. But that will all be different next year, I will be free to study my favourite subjects selected by me during the next six weeks. As of next wednesday my GCSE option choice process begins. I have to sit in assemblies and talk to teachers about mine and my parent's choices. I don't know how much time this will take and how complicated it will be, but blogging is sure to be my salvation along with my music and acting, as always.


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

Jimmy Durante has been having me in hysterics for the past few days. He is just so crazy that I just watch open-mouthed as he puts into practice what must be a PHD in slapstick comedy, or at least 30 years of experience as a comic madman.

Banjo: "So I borrowed the B19 from The Army, and I'm on my way to Nova Scotia!"
Sheridan: "What on earth do you want to go to Nova Scotia for?"
Banjo: "I'm sick of Hollywoood and there's a dame in New York I don't wanna see. So I figured I'd go to Nova Scotia... and buy some SMOLKED SALMON :-D!!!!!"
Banjo: "Whiteside, I'm here to spend Christmas wid ya... I think. I may stay a month, or I may leave immediately. I dunno...*Tosses piano music* Everytin's so uncertain."
Banjo: "Shhhh. I brought you a very special present. This sweater was once worn by Lana Turner. Try it on for size."
This clip comes from the movie The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) which I watched the other day and enjoyed immensely.

The Man Who Came To Dinner
(I'm sorry for the vague plot summary, the bug I have has rendered me practically creatively useless. If you want to read the whole plot, you can read it here.)
Esteemed writer and lecturer, Sheridan Whiteside is travelling to Ohio to do a lecture. He has been invited to dinner by a well respected family in the area along with his trusted secretary Maggie Cutler, but he is very reluctant. He slips on their front steps on the ice and is confined to a wheelchair. With nowhere else to be taken in, the Stanley's take him under their wing. His overpoweringly sarcastic attitude drives everyone to distraction, and his elephantine ego offends more than a few people. Maggie finds herself falling in love with the lovely newspaper man Bert Jefferson, but Whiteside, being the troublemaker he is, tries to break it up by asking his actress friend Lorraine Sheldon to come and stay. As if this all wasn't enough, deliveries for Mr. Whiteside keep arriving at at door, but not just normal deliveries. Octopuses (when the octopus arrives, the first thing Sheridan says is, "Perfect! Now I'll have someone intelligent to talk to in the evenings."), penguins (during his live Christmas broadcast his nurse runs into the recording room and screams "OOOOWWWW!!!!! A penguin bit me!" As you do...), and a baby seal.

The Review:
Without exception, every performance is spot on. from Billy Burke's Mrs. Stanley, to Monty Woolley's Sheridan Whiteside. Bette Davis gives a refreshingly relaxed performance in which she uses a strange laugh, like, "Hmmnnn... Hmmmnaaahmmmmhmmm." She also talks whilst eating a sweet potato and ice-skates, which are both firsts. But, it's not her performance you remember, it's Monty Woolley and Ann Sheridan. Monty Woolley is so cynical that I laugh at most of the things he says, which is good, or it would just seem horrible. Ann Sheridan plays Whiteside's glamourous  friend who ends up being carted off in an Egyptian sarcophagus to Nova Scotia with Banjo (Jimmy Durante) where he intends to "fill it up with smoked salmon and send it back to ya [Whiteside]!" the film isn't particularly imaginatively directed, but it doesn't matter. One of the funniest films I have seen since The Odd Couple.

I found some hilarious GIFs of Rosalind Russel in The Women from Tumblr (they were found on stardust-melody's tumblr log). I Hope they work!