Monday, 28 November 2011

Movember: Highlighting The Classic Actors With Moustaches :-D

Here's my contribution to the blogathon I'm hosting, "Classic Moustaches For Movember" in support on Movember which raises money for Man-Cancer charities. Don't forget, there are still a couple of days left for you to participate! Just visit my original post about it here.

Before you read my post, please go and donate here for the UK and here for the US, or you could buy yourself a debonaire pair of these more than fantabulous TOMS created for Movember and chuckle to yourself over your amazing moustache-footwear,
or perhaps bag one of these amazing T-Shirts.

I'm jealous. My Dad even grew a moustache for Movember this year!

There have been posts before about classic moustaches, namely Kate-Gabrielle's "Is That Moustache Really Necessary?" posts, but I've chosen three of my favourite actors who proudly sported 'taches:

Clark Gable

Clark gable is often chosen to epitomise the "Man of The Golden Age Of Hollywood" and guess what, he probably has just about the most famous moustache ever in the world of anything. He just had to have that mustache. Close your eyes and think of him without it... Yes... Keep going... Now, open your eyes and look at this!

Ahh!!!! It's not even that it's awful... Just a little weird... But come on. Even his slightly-greying moustache in Teacher's Pet (1958) is quite intriguing... Who doesn't think of Clark Gable saying "Frankly my dear... I don't GIVE a damn," with that charming facial hair when they hear, "Moustache" he just is the moustache man. too darn amazing.

William Powell

William Powell. The man of the fabulous The Thin Man series (just a little obsessed... Have the entire collection box-set and am convinced that Myrna Loy and William Powell were actually a married couple) was never seen without his little sophisticate-moustache. 

Just think about it, would he have made such a fantastic Godfrey or Nick Charles without said facial hair? I don't think so. And he was just so snazzy and hilarious that he could totally rock the moustache look. William Powell wins at the moustache game, even if it isn't quite long enough to twiddle.

Charlie Chaplin

Now, I can imagine that Charlie Chaplin's mustache may have gathered some controversy over the years, I mean it does share a remarkable resemblance with the infamous Fascist-dictator of the thirties, but I like that he took this to his advantage and came up with what is essentially a badly-disguised movie-parody of said dictator, named, The Great Dictator (1940). But before his antic in the world of facial hair could even come into question, he managed to create one of the most famous images in the cinematic world, ever. "The Tramp". His little suit, hat and moustache. It's iconic and his moustache plays a large part in that. LOVE CHARLIE CHAPLIN!


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Photo Of The Day: On Location For The African Queen

{Scanned By Me}

Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn and the crew of The African Queen. This photo came from my book "The Making Of The African Queen or how I wen't to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and almost lost my mind" by Katharine Hepburn. It's quite tricky to get nowadays, but try. It's sooo good!

I have a day off school tomorrow (YAY!) and 12 Angry Men has been sitting on my shelf unwatched for ages. Movies here I come!


Sunday, 20 November 2011

For The Boys Blogathon: Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

"Yes that's right he's dead. He's been dead about twenty minutes. And all the weeping and wailing in the world won't make him any deader twenty years from now."
~ Geoff Carter, Only Angels Have Wings

I've chosen the film, Only Angels Have Wings starring Cary Grant and Jean Arthur for my contribution to The Scarlett Olive's "For The Boys" blogathon. I chose it because while I was watching it, it did occur to me that I was watching what is essentially a man's adventure movie. Sure there are some bits of romance in there, but you have to admit it is mainly a film driven by men. I really enjoyed watching this. I'd heard about it before and seen pictures in my awesome Taschen Cary Grant picture book (I have a Kate Hepburn one too, they're awesome). I'd also heard that it was one of Howard Hawks celebrated movies - the Howard Hawks of Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday fame - so I decided to get it and see what I thought.

Only Angels Have Wings is a film set in the South American town of Barranca about a mail service flying planes out into the high Andes mountains to deliver mail to remote places. Leader of a group of fearless and dedicated flyers, Geoff Carter (Cary Grant) is a strict and determined man who has been an experienced flyer for years. He's doing perfectly well heading the operation, until gusty blonde showgirl, Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur) turns up and accidentally turns the place upside-down. She arrives on a boat and only intends to stay for the night until she goes back down to the port to pick up her next boat. Two pilots with Carter's organisation meet her, invite her for dinner to the flying headquarters and fall head-over-heels for her, all in quick succession. However one is called out for duty and is so anxious to go to dinner with her that he crashes into a tree and dies when coming back. Bonnie is shocked by the nonchalant attitude the flyers take to this man's death.

But Bonnie starts to fall for Geoff and she decides to stay, even though Geoff has told her about his non-committed attitude to relationships. Her presence throws everyone and everything out of whack, but they are all very endeared to her and she grows many a happy relationship with the workers at headquarters. But then everything is tilted on it's axis yet again when the new flyer, Bat MacPhereson (Richard Barthelmess) comes to replace the one who has just been killed. Said flyer had been in a crash with the brother of the favourite member of the team, Kid (Thomas Mitchell), but jumped from the plane and left him to die. No-one in the flying team will talk to him, and his wife, Judy (Rita Hayworth) - an old flame of Geoff's - wants to know more...

As you can probably see by the cast, this film couldn't have been that bad. That being said, I've seen plenty of films that have had amazing casts and directors but have still flopped (maybe not at box-office, but in my head). You need that extra bit of magic to pull the movie through. There has to be some sort of spark, atmosphere or cleverness of the cast or crew. Despite it's model airplane special effects and minimal sets, Only Angels Have Wings has that special "thing". From the moment you start watching you know you're in for a really good film.

The performances from both of the leads are great. Cary Grant is fantastic as the tough, manly Geoff Carter  (but then again, have I ever disliked Cary Grant in anything? NO!), and Jean Arthur is great as Bonnie. Both possess the perfect skills and talents to play these pretty hard roles.

Though you may see them as playing against-type (well, Cary Grant this early in his career anyhow), that's often what makes a performance so wonderful. There have been many fantastic performances from people playing totally against-type. I think that this can be what brings out the totally unexpected in an actor. Plus, the chemistry between the two of them is electric.

Now - why did I chose this as a "Boy's Movie" and what's so cool about that? Well, for a while I was thinking of doing something like Cool Hand Luke (1967) or The Great Escape (1963) which are completely undoubtedly boys movies, but I started thinking about how similar they are and that they come from the same era, and how they were probably two of the more obvious choices. I didn't want to do the same as anyone else. So with that in mind, I went about looking for a different movie and my Mum suggested Only Angels Have Wings. Great!

Only Angels Have Wings is fueled by the power of the male actor's prowess. Since there are only two real female parts (those went to Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth) weight of the responsibility naturally rested on the men's shoulders. The entire supporting cast is male. And the two supporting actors are amazing in my opinion: Thomas Mitchell

 and Richard Barthelmess.

The scene that they do in the airplane was very moving (despite the fact that I found it a little comical for them to be fatally injured by a few stubborn geese who couldn't be bothered enough to see a plane coming towards them).

I would probably say that this is the template upon which many great adventure films were made. I actually haven't seen that many adventure movies (my favourites are The Great Escape, classic war movies and The African Queen - my very favouritest :-D), as actresses in them are often there only for decoration or so the lead actor can have some romantic conquest by the end of the film. That really isn't what I usually like about classic film. One of the many reasons I adore classic film so is because there are so many wonderful films where women actually take the lead and (excuse my hipster slang, innit bruv!) "own" the picture. This is practically unheard of now, and I should know. I've played boys in productions quite a few times for want of a less wimpy part. Where have all the good girls parts gone? *Weeps to self*

But obviously there are some exceptions, and I'd certainly class this as one. Part of the reason I love this film is that the female lead, Bonnie (Jean Arthur) is a strong person. She isn't afraid to speak her mind or do what she thinks is best. Plus I just love this scene where she totally pushes Cary Grant off the piano and shows him how to really play!

Plus, Howard Hawks is a really talented director. He was famed for his screwball comedies but I think that this one was just as good a movie as any of those.

So that's why I love this "Boy's Movie" probably just about as much as some "Woman's Pictures" that I would have usually picked over an adventure movie any day. If you haven't taken a look at this great flick already, then do! It's on YouTube right now but you better watch quick, as you probably know, they often take down movies!


Monday, 14 November 2011

Little Women (1933)

I seriously love "Little Women". I really enjoyed reading the book and I refuse to watch any other adaptation of it other than George Cukor's 1933 adaptation starring Katharine Hepburn, Paul Lukas, Joan Bennet and Spring Byington. It's pretty much this film that really made me want to read the book. Some people did this thing on their blogs maybe last year or early this year where they did a "Character Soup" full of the characters from films that they think are like them. I think that Jo March would be pretty high up on my list of soup ingredients. She was such a tomboy and pretty hyper and LOUD. I swear that my entire family has the loudest voices in the UK. Wow we're pretty loud, and as of yet I have never had problems with voice projection in productions (touch wood). I just get up there and speak only a little louder than when I talk... Is that good or bad? And I actually physically refused to wear a skirt until I was 10/11 so that's something to relate to! I was (and probably still am a little) a real tomboy (who occasionally played with hamsters, Star Wars toys and Barbies at the same time)! A-N-Y-W-A-Y. Moving on, here's my review of this charming film :-)

{My GIF}

Little Women (1933) Directed by George Cukor, based of the book by Louisa May Alcott


Plot (if you've been living on mars these past 100 years :-D):

The Marches are a happy and on-the-whole contented family living in Concord, Massachusetts compiled of four daughters, (in age order, eldest to youngest) Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, and their parents. They try to get along as well as they can with their father away at The Civil War and each of the daughters contributes to the family and works hard at their own personal goals too. Meg works as a governess to two rich children, Jo as a companion to her Great Aunt March, Beth keeps house and helps her mother with house-hold duties (being shy and a little frail), Amy goes to school and works hard - though she is constantly being reminded to think of others as well as herself. Meg had no particular passion, neither did Beth except looking after her cats and her dolls, but Jo adored writing and Amy loved to paint and sculpt.

Rehearsing for their Christmas play (written by Jo)

One christmas the orphaned grandson of their rich neighbour, Mr Lawrence comes to stay and Jo wants to meet him stating that "he looks like a capital fellow".

That kitten though...

His name is Laurie and she goes over to meet him and give him some "get well soon" gifts as he had a cold and it turns out that they get on very well, and she even finds she likes Mr. Lawrence elder, whom they'd all found a little creepy.

They get older and more mature and Jo Publishes several stories, Meg marries Laurie's tutor,


and Amy has remained Amy, only a little more sophisticated.


But Beth had a bad case of Scarlett Fever which scared everyone. Especially as Marmee had just been called out to Washington to meet her husband who had become ill in a hospital there... But Beth pulls through, though she is weaker than ever, and the family again goes about their busy lives.

But Jo starts to realise that Laurie is getting fonder and fonder of her and one day he finally asks her to marry him, but she refuses, saying that he will always be a brother to her, but not a husband. So she goes away to New York and stays in a boarding house, earning her keep by governing two children at the house. She goes hoping to improve her writing, but comes away with valuable advice from her new friend, the German professor at the boarding house, Mr Bhaer instead. She is called away by news that Beth is again very ill, but this time she doesn't struggle through and dies peacefully.

With Mr. Bhaer

All the while, Aunt March has taken Amy on the trip to Europe that Jo had longed to go on her whole life, so she hasn't even been back to see Beth before she died. But Laurie also happens to be out in Europe at the same time, so they meet up and become very good friends...

The Verdict:

This film is just lovely. I can't really pick any holes in it. The direction from George Cukor is great as usual and every character is cast to perfection. I've recently read the book, and no, not everything is there. Most of Amy's trip to Europe is gone, and there is no argument between Jo and Amy about going to the theatre or anything, but it doesn't matter. I probably would have chosen the same parts of the book to include. There are so many little episodes in the book that they couldn't all be included. But what is there is very true to the book, often using the dialogue from Louisa May Alcott's novel which was a great idea. That doesn't always happen when books are adapted for the screen, and I really like it, personally.

Katharine Hepburn with George Cukor

Katharine Hepburn is perfect in the role of Jo. George Cukor said that she "was born to play Jo" and she does a fantastic characterisation which would have been hard to imagine any other actress at that time doing. I love the play scene at the begging where she is teaching Amy how to scream "RODERIGO" and faint - so funny. My mum always starts crying when Marmee reads the letter to the girls and then they start singing Christmas carols... It is really touching!

Joan Bennet is great as Amy, perfect for all of her snooty affectedness, but still sweet enough to show the emotion that Amy has, because although she is overtly the least likeable of the foursome, she has feelings too and Joan Bennet showed them just as I thought she should. Interesting fact, Joan Bennet was in fact pregnant during filming and grew more and more pregnant as production went on. She hadn't told David O Selznick this when he cast her in the role, and she put everyone in a very interesting situation - the woman playing the 12 year old sister is actually about to have a baby. Awkward. But they redesigned her costumes, and all was well.

I also quite liked the guy playing Laurie, Douglas Montgomery. But will someone tell me please... Who is he? He is just there and I actually don't know who he really is. I've never seen him in anything else and I would be grateful if someone could tell me... WHO ACTUALLY IS THIS MAN??? The internet says nothing, as usual, so no help there.

The music is gorgeous. Max Steiner is up there with my favourite film composers, like Bernard Herrman and all that jazz. The music is so catchy and sweet. My whole family automatically know that when we see Max Steiner on the credits the music will be great.

This can't be the usual set up for a publicity shot...

Spring Byington is adorable as Marmee March. A nicer actress will never be seen to grace the screen (hey! I'm a poet and I didn't even know it :-D). My whole family love her in this and as Penny Sycamore in You Can't Take It With You (1938). She's one of those really reliable actresses you know will always deliver.

If you haven't seen this movie, go and watch it now! You'll feel really happy and want to go out and climb trees, I assure you.


Friday, 11 November 2011

They look Like Each Other: Spencer Tracy and Carl Fredricksen

I'm sure I'm not the first to pick this up. I like to think that it's Hollywood's little belated tribute to Spencer Tracy. I hope so, if it is it's lovely :-) Up has been one of my favourite modern movies to come out these past few years. It was magical. And of course you all know how I feel about Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. Best film ever. Well, at least one of 'em!


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Classic Moustaches For Movember Blogathon - In Support Of "Movember"

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.

I think this is a really important cause. Several members on my Dad's side of the family have been severely affected by man-cancers, and I'm all for fundraising for it. I think It's very important indeed, and that's why I developed this blogathon.

Ok, so evidently I can't grow a tache for Movember in support of prostate cancer because... I'm a girl. BUT I can blog about moustaches! So I'm hosting a little blogathon in support of Movember, "Classic Moustaches For Movember". Bloggers, gather 'round. All you have to do is post about something to do with moustaches in your own classic-movie-blogging way, and link to the donation page (that one is for the US, but it's easy to find the UK one too) on the Movember website! There are more famous, debonaire classic actors with moustaches than you can fit in one book, let alone one post, so there should be lots to blog about :-)Your post can go up any time before the end of November. I hope this gives everyone time to participate!

Just comment with a link to your blog on this post and I'll add you to the list of blogs participating. Naturally, normal blogathon etiquette applies, so in your post just link back to this one if you don't mind :-), and this blogathon will be going on until the 31st November. It would be cool, no? *twiddles moustache* If you'd like to join, grab one of my badges for it and spread the word! We can have a classic moustache party :-D

My post for the blogathon will go up sometime next week. Happy moustaching!

Blogs Participating:
Dear Mr. Gable
Java's Journey
Frankly, My Dear
In The Mood
Silver Screen Modiste
The Movie Projector
Noir And Chick Flicks
True Classics
Random Ramblings Of A Broadway, Film and TV Fan
Sittin' On A Backyard Fence
Blame Mame
The Most Beautiful Fraud
Silents And Talkies (I think. Kate, can you let me know which blog you'd like to post on? I imagined it would be this one but it would be good to make sure.)
ClassicBecky's Brain Food


"Tough Question?" "Mmmm-mmmm. Tough roast beef." Desk Set 1957

Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) is an engineer looking to improve efficiency for all of the workers at the research department of a large TV station. All of the research girls - headed by Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) - are suspicious of his presence, looking around and inspecting them, but he doesn't let any of them know what he's doing there. When Bunny is let down by her beau, Mike Cutler (Gig Young) she doesn't react much. But in his absence, she gets to know Richard Sumner better, but is distraught when he installs a large silver flashing machine that immediately starts printing little pink "fired" slips for her and all her collueges.

I think I'm gonna have to break the news slowly... Desk Set wasn't great {by the way, I don't completely condemn it to the DVD recycling plant in this post. I gather this film has somewhat of a large fan club, so don't stop reading now!}. I was disappointed to be frank. I've seen all the Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movies except Without Love and Sea Of Grass and I was looking forward to this one, but it was... mediocre. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it, but it wasn't good. There were some sweet moments in it, but it didn't nearly come close to comparing to their other pairings. I really liked Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in it, in fact the film only survives while they're on screen, and that shouldn't be. The film should hold up on it's own, too, but the script was just not good. Plus, I didn't like Gig Young! That's odd, because I usually like him. But, it wasn't like it was awkward, we did actually laugh a few times.

I'm not taking it off my iTunes or anything, because there were certain scenes I liked, and I may come back to it and find I like it more or something. At any rate, I can't actually bring myself to pan something with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, giant 50s computers and Joan Blondell in it, so here is a little post of some GIFs and pictures from the film I've either taken or found lying around on the internet. It was very pretty anyway so that's something going for it! :-)

This means awesomsauce, but I should have read the other credits.

Pretty research office :-)

I don't know either Kate. Seriously.


Doesn't matter what the movie's like. Spence and Kate win at everything. Especially pretending to be on a cruise in a library.

Her costume comes from the scene where she looks like Santa Claus, and Gig Young buys her a stuffed Bunny (get it?). Then she goes up to the piano and the bongo drums and starts singing "Night And Day". Sheesh, this film was crazier than my blog is, HA!

Peg Costello: Then one day you realize you're out of circulation. It's all happened. You don't even know when it happened. 
Bunny Watson: Well, when that day comes we'll move in together and keep cats.

This scene is pretty cool. I wish I was as good at maths as Bunny Watson. He asks her questions about train stops and passengers and how many got on, how many got off etc. etc. etc. So she gets the answers right and when he asks her how, she just goes "There are nine letters in Chappaqua, and I've been to White Plains three times in my life." WHAT THE HECK??? I wish I was this ninja at word problems.

I wouldn't over-recommend this movie, it's a bit odd... But if you are a big Tracy/Hepburn, Hepburn/Tracy fan, the take a look anyway, bits of it are fun :-D