Saturday, 24 December 2011

"Christmas isn't just a day; it's a frame of mind!" {A Miracle On 34th Street Appreciation Post}

Merry Christmas everybody! I feel very christmassy and cheery so here's my wishes to you for a happy time and Katharine Hepburn ice-skating.

I hope you all have a wonderful time and eat lots and watch lots of Christmas movies :-D. I did this last year with my favourite It's A Wonderful Life (1947) and this year I'm doing the same with A Miracle On 34th Street (also 1947). It's a general appreciation post because I feel like I don't ever want to go and criticize or look deep into a movie that is so magical and full of Christmas spirit like this one. So here you go! A compilation of graphics, facts, GIFs and photos of my favourite cutest and most Christmassy moments. All graphics and GIFs have a link back to the source.

Doris: Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.
Susan: Huh?
Doris: I mean, just because things don't turn out the way you want them to the first time, you've still got to be believe in people. I found that out.
Susan: You mean it's like, "It at first you don't succeed, try, try again".
Doris: Yes.
Susan: I thought so. 


Miracle On 34th Street Trivia!
  • Darling 7 year old Natalie Wood truly believed that Edmund Gwenn was really Santa Claus all through the filming of this movie and only realised that he wasn't when he turned up at the after party without his costume.
  • Miracle On 34th Street was released in May because the studio didn't just want to publicise it as a "Christmas Film". They wanted it to have a larger appeal.
  • This is the first film that legendary character actress Thelma Ritter ever made.
  • When Santa Claus asks the newly adopted Dutch girl who has come to visit him what she wants for Christmas (in dutch) the translation of what she replies is "I don't want anything because I got my gift by being adopted by my new mother."

  • Maureen O'Hara initially refused her role because she had recently gone home to Ireland but she took it immediately after she read the script.
  • Maureen O'Hara and Natalie wood formed a strong and lasting bond while filming this film.


Friday, 23 December 2011

The African Queen (1951) and Sabrina (1954) - For The Humphrey Bogart Blogathon

For the Humphrey Bogart blogathon hosted by Meredith I've decided to write about the older Bogie in two roles that many people wouldn't have consider very Bogie at all. He played the older, business orientated brother in a rich Long Island family who falls for his chauffer's daughter in Sabrina; and a boatman delivering mail and supplies to people in German East Africa who teams up with and falls for Rose Sayer, an English missionary, in The African Queen. Neither of these films involve gangsters, and neither  involves a sexy temptress such as Lauren Bacall coming to seduce him. Both require him to step out of his comfort zone somewhat and they both have interesting leading ladies that you might not think of for Humphrey Bogart normally. Both of these are fantastic and outstanding films. Each is one of my very favourites. I'm going to write about them in chronological order.

The African Queen (1951) Dir. John Huston

Brief Synopsis: 

Rose pouring out Charlie's liquor.

A rough and tumble captain of a boat, Charlie Allnut and a prim yet spirited missionary, Rose Sayer join forces to try and destroy the German battleship, the Louisa, in German East Africa in WWI. Rose's brother has died and their missionary camp has been destroyed by the Germans, and Charlie just wants to stay out of danger at first. Fuelled by Rose's ambition and determination and their growing love for each other, they set out for the biggest adventure of their lives

"It's a great thing to have a lady aboard with clean habits. It sets the man a good example. A man alone, he gets to living like a hog. "

{I could write DVD covers y'all.}

This was surprisingly the only film that Bogie ever won an Oscar for. He works fantastically with his leading lady, my favourite, Katharine Hepburn. You'd never think initially to put them together but they work like a dream. Her eccentric mannerisms and amazing physical acting are matched to perfection with Humphrey Bogart and his honest and fearless portrayal of Charlie Allnut. He really steps out of the box for this character.  I can't think of any other Bogart performance where he is so free and totally at ease with a character. Much as I love Bogie, his usual characteristic on screen is his laid-back attitude and almost stern facial expressions. It's a characteristic that I think usually works and it did become his fall-back attitude on-screen but only in his face and voice. He is as experimental and interesting with his physical acting as Katharine Hepburn is.

My Scan.

Overall I would list this as one of my favourite Humphrey Bogart performances. He worked stupendously with John Huston (who infuriated Hepburn at the start of the production by not finishing the script or talking to her, just hunting elephants). You can see that just from the way that everything runs so smoothly. The camera work is also amazing thanks to the wonderful Powell and Pressburger cameraman Jack Cardiff. The scenery is beautiful and so is Charlie and Rose's relationship. A really quite special film. If you haven't seen this film yet, then I strongly recommend it. It's a truly classic film and a riveting adventure too.

Bogie snoozes. My scan.

For more info and stories, read the wonderful "The Making Of The African Queen, or how I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and almost lost my mind" by Katharine Hepburn.

The Bogarts. My Scan.

Sabrina (1954) Dir. and  co Written by Billy Wilder

Brief Synopsis: 

Chauffeur's daughter Sabrina Fairchild has been in love with the younger, most overtly attractive son of the rich Long Island family her father works for all her life. So much is she in love with him that her father sends her away to Paris to learn how to cook like her late mother, hoping that she will forget all about David, who doesn't notice her. His plan backfires when she comes back a very sophisticated young lady who David immediately falls for, even though he is engaged to someone else. David's engagement, to the daughter of a sugar cane magnate, is a crucial part of  his brother Linus's latest business venture. So Linus tries to make Sabrina fall in love with him as part of a cunning plan to ship her back to Paris while David is recuperating from a nasty 'accident' with two champagne glasses. 

"David . Yes, I got over that. I'm cured. But now how to get over the cure..."

Humphrey Bogart yet again out of his comfort zone starring with the young Audrey Hepburn in her second picture. This time Bogart showed his discomfort and made quite the nuisance of himself on set. He made it known that he disliked Wilder and William Holden, playing David. He was a last minute replacement for Cary Grant who was to play Linus until he realised (probably rightly) that he wasn't the one for the part. This also angered Bogart: he was second best to Cary Grant. He also reportedly wanted Lauren Bacall for the part of Sabrina (WHAT THE HELL!?!?!?!?!?) and that made him also dislike Audrey Hepburn. He reportedly apologised later for his on-set behaviour.

Despite this, in this role he gives what I think to be one of his best performances. He is sophisticated, mature, yet still very romantic in spite of himself. It's a touching performance that goes right to the heart just as Audrey Hepburn's Sabrina does (It's my favourite of her movies. Actually, it's one of my top five ever movies). Perfectly complementing William Holden's equally brilliant performance as David, Humphrey Bogart is completely syllable perfect as Linus. It was a difficult part to be sure, but Humphrey Bogart handled it with the thought and emotion that he put into all of his roles. You need to watch this movie, my love for it knows no bounds :-D.

I hope you enjoyed this post about older Bogie and that I've inspired you to maybe go and watch one or both of these films again or for the first time. And thanks ever so for Meredith hosting this great blogathon :-D


Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Lion In Winter (1968) non-review post {for the Dueling Divas Blogathon}

This is My Contribution To Backlots Dueling Divas Blogathon

While thinking about what a diva was and what films I could write about that I haven't before, I actually just redefined "Diva" as I think it should be, or at least what I thought made sense. I always thought a Diva was someone who was a show-off or a prima-donna or basically someone who thought a lot of themselves. So, with this in mind I chose the complete and utter best cuss and put-down movie ever created... The Lion In Winter (1968) starring Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton.  I can promise you that you will never find a more quotable movie to help  when you are in need of comebacks for a verbal fight.

I think that Peter O'Toole as Henry II is as much of a diva as any of the Bette Davises and Joan Crawfords that people have been writing about. And as for Eleanor of Aquitaine, well, she's my favourite, strongest and most powerful "diva".  So this post might not be what most people expected for this blogathon, but I thought it was the best way for me to go about it.
Henry II: HA! What shall we hang... the holly, or each other? 

I've already written my review "proper" for this movie which I will post at a later date, now I'm just going to let rip with the whole amazingness of the script and, if you'll pardon the expression - there just doesn't seem a better way to put it - badass characters from just about the most bitch-fightiest movie ever created. Ok. So here we go. *Insert James Mason evil laugh*

The most popular "cusses" as they are named, right now among boys my age {if you are not familiar with the likes of 13 year old boys, then I applaud you. Somehow you have managed to live a pain-free and pest-free existence} are all variations on, "Oh my god your such a F****** Idiot!" To which the second teenage boy replies, "So's your mum!" Teenage boy one is then deeply, deeply emotionally scarred and says something along the lines of, "What you say about my mum?" Said first teenager then starts to poke the second and the second pokes back etc. etc. This may go on for some time, though it never gets any more interesting than the occasional stroppy huffing and puffing. {By the way, if you've fallen asleep by now, don't you dare start complaining. I have to deal with this every day. Good god.}

The Richard Evil Eyes...

Aside from one rather strange boy who likes to tell me that I have "beard hair", should take up "surrealist painting" and claims he's going to sell me to the circus {no, I don't think he's had therapy as of yet, and I am reluctant to tell him to get any because he watches Hitchcock movies. Such is the insanity of my everyday life}, most boys are like that. Now, take these two cuss exchanges from two boys in The Lion In Winter,
King Henry II: Now see here boy...
King Phillip of France: I am a king! I am no man's "Boy'!
King Henry II: A King? Because you put your ass on purple cushions?

Well, need I say more? And that's only the men. Eleanor Of Aquitaine (A.K.A. Kate the Queen Of The Insult Hepburn) hasn't even been let out of her prison yet. Plus, she was only put there because she was way too smart and legendary for the king to deal with. But did she just sit in her prison with those nuns doing her embroidery like a good little girl? No. She sat there like a boss doing her embroidery, but all the while she was actually planning a way to get her son Richard the throne and win Henry back.

They're all pretty amazing at cusses except John who... well...
John: You stink. You're a stinker and you stink!
When Eleanor gets home, all sorts of hell break loose. Henry and Alais's (his mistress who just happened to be raised by Eleanor like a child of her own. No I'm not joking, and yes. Woody Allen may spring to mind) relationship is put to test and the competition between Eleanor and Henry's three sons is magnified by a crazy amount. She has been locked up in this horrible dungeon for almost a year and instead of wasting her time mindlessly embroidering or knitting, she plans how she will overthrow the king or win him back or both at the same time and she comes back to the castle ready to start working on her evil scheme. MWAHAHAHAHAHA! And she also has her own plans for verbal battle.


Eleanor: What would you have me do? Give out? Give up? Give in?  
Henry II: Give me a little peace.  
Eleanor: A little? Why so modest? How about eternal peace? Now there's a thought. 
The most disturbing and I find probably effective, is her taunting Henry of how she had an affair with his father. She keeps going on and on about the details of their relationship. We are to believe that Eleanor is slightly older than Henry so the way she keeps reminding him that she had an... interesting youth. *shudder* But she does get the best put-downs.
Prince John: [rushing in] What's wrong? What's happened? 
Eleanor: Richard's getting married.  
Prince John: Getting married? Now? He's getting married now 
Eleanor: I never cease to marvel at the quickness of your mind. 

The "duel of the divas", as it were, goes on until finally the film is concluded in a massive fight in the dungeons of the castle. But don't worry, the film does end with some hope for the future, but I don't wan't to spoil it for you :-D


Thursday, 15 December 2011

I've Hit 100!

Oh. My. God. I saw this right before I went to school this morning (for my last day of term!) and it made my day. Thank you so much people!!! I still can't believe this blog has so many followers.

So into the tripple digited blog follower figures I plunge. Thank you all so, so much for following, commenting, and reading my little blog. Glad you've put up with my craziness so long and I hope you stick around... I like you guys. Lots.

Obviously blog follower numbers change, and there's always the possibility it will go below 100 again, bit this is a post to say that I actually made it there. Finally. So, I thought that to celebrate hitting the tripple digits, I would set up a new page/feature/post...


Just kidding. You readers are all totally amazing and are surely made of unicorns and rainbows and pandas. You all make my day just by looking at my blog. THANKS CHUMS! So, I thought I'd set up a "question time" page/post with questions contributed by you! You can ask me pretty much anything, and it doesn't have to be classic movie related (but be polite, I'm only and innocent teenager) and you can either leave it on a comment on this post or email it to me at (yes, worst address ever). The final date you can submit anything is the 15th January, so you've got about a month. I'll select my favourites and add them to a "question time" post/page. Think it sounds like a good idea? Should be fun :-D


Sunday, 11 December 2011

State Of The Union (1948)

I'd had State Of The Union (1948) stored away in my Katharine Hepburn box-set for a while now, because I'd started it with my family a little way back and we hadn't read the plot summary, so we thought that it was just a but nasty, really. I mean, Spencer Tracy cheating on his loving wife Katharine Hepburn plus getting involved with an immoral section of the Republican party? Of course my initial reaction to Spencer's behaviour was,

but it was actually my sister who said she wanted to give it another go after I read out the plot summary, so we gave it another try.

State Of The Union (1948) Directed by Frank Capra {alternatively titled The World And His Wife}



Grant Mathews is a very successful airplane tycoon, with political views and a strong minded head on his shoulders. He has in intelligent wife, a successful career, and two adorable children. What more could a guy want? Well, evidently just a little more. The trouble with his wife started at a dinner party a few months ago, when newspaper business woman, Kay Thorndyke gets too close to Grant, and Mary slightly drunkenly throws her out of her house. Since, he and Kay have grown quite close, and Grant and Mary are not on good terms. Kay's father dies and leaves his newspaper to her.

Along with Spike McManus, Kay convinces Jim Conover to take on Grant Mathews as a new candidate for the Republican party with long-term plans for him to run for President of The United States. Jim agrees to let Grant come and meet with them, expecting Grant to be wanting to persuade them about how fantastic a president he would be - but is surprised to find that he has to be sold on the idea.

He finally is persuaded, but the whole group are agreed that Mary has to come out and support him because, let's fact it, no one will vote for a man whose wife won't come out to even see him, so they invite Mary over to Washington DC where they are all convening. She gets there, but with no real inkling of the nature of Grant's work. When she finds out, she is initially upset, but decides to stay on with Grant because she admires his honesty and political views, and is still in love with him. They go on tour making speeches across the country. Grant's first speech comes straight from him and signifies exactly what he feels, but Kay and Jim think it's much too outspoken and force him to change his future speeches to fit their agenda, and his speeches inevitably lose their individuality. *Insert a few awesome scenes before a speech, in which Katharine Hepburn wears an awesome dress*

Mary isn't very happy with it, but she leaves the situation alone on the whole. When they get back home, Grant starts to prepare for a family radio and television broadcast in his own home. Mary is told that she absolutely has to invite Kay to the party because otherwise everyone would expect that there was something wrong in that area. Reluctantly Mary agrees and promises not to get drunk and throw her out again, but after finding out about Kay's involvement with her butting in on Grant's campaign and her ongoing affair with Grant, Mary does get drunk. She doesn't care about the broadcast anymore because she knows that her husband has been dealing completely immorally and against his and her wishes. Obviously she can't go on the radio any more, and she forbids her children from going on too. But what will Grant do?


The Verdict:

{Scanned By Me}

I liked this movie a lot more than I expected to. I expected the worst because of the false start that I had watching this film the first time, but I really enjoyed it in the end and - lets face it - you just gotta love that Frank Capra feel. Just to put it out there before anyone goes to watch it, even if you're Tracy & Hepburn fans, this is deep. It's pretty sad and quite complex. It relates to family life in a pretty unhappy family, unlike many other Capra films and I found the way he chose to show it quite heart-breaking. Add to this that it's Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in an unhappy marriage. Did you hear that UNHAPPY! That's pretty sad. Most of the ones with them I've seen they've either been friends, not friends, married or together at least. There are a few I haven't seen, Without Love, and Sea Of Grass, but from the ones I've seen, when they're unhappy, I'm unhappy. Big time. It just doesn't fit right, ya' know?

{This one isn't mine... but can I just say, that awkward moment when you're searching for photos and Google comes up with your blog? I get that "YAY! I'M ON GOOGLE!" feeling :-D}

Now, Adolphe Menjou (the king of all sleazy immoral people) is quite good in this film, but his character isn't the main focus of the supporting cast, and neither is Angela Lansbury who I expected to be like, WOW - Van Johnson stood out most for me.

Van Johnson is pretty cool, and he's so funny in that scene where Spencer Tracy decides to take them up in his airplane and do loop the loops (as you do). It was really funny and cute :-)

Mary after checking that Grant's parachute did open after he jumped off the plane.

This film had all the hallmarks of a classic Frank Capra film. There is the person who is tempted by a powerful, yet not quite morally correct society and his family or his friends come and save him from the depths of dispair. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but the ending is quite similar to It's A Wonderful Life and I am glad they ended the film happily, I would have cried if they hadn't.

{Scanned By Me}

Yes, the film in the end was probably only a smidgen less depressing than I expected, but it was good, and it wasn't a nasty film. I had thought Angela Lansbury would have a larger role, but in fact the main three actors in the whole film were Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson and Adolphe Menjou.

Spencer Tracy gave a really great performance as Grant Mathews. He never really fails, and he's good at playing roles like this where the success or failure of the film really lies on his shoulders. I've found that also in Keeper Of The Flame (1943). He and Katharine Hepburn are always fabulous to watch. They are one of my favourite on-screen-pairs, and even though they are in an unhappy marriage, they still have some really nice scenes together. Katharine Hepburn is fantastic as Mary Mathews and she gives an air of kindness and genuineness that is really needed in the film. If she wasn't there then the entire film would just be a mass of immorality... and that kind of thing. I particularly thought she was good in the final few scenes and the scene where she gets drunk was really upsetting for me to watch towards the end.

I just have to dedicate a little paragraph here to the whole Spencer Tracy talking-while-Kate Hepburn-is-crying-but-not-quite-crying thing. It's amazing and totally moving. This is actually one of the things that make Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967) so sad for me. Spencer tracy starts talking about something really important and it gets so intense that somewhere else in the room, Kate Hepburn is silently crying to herself while he talks to these other people. This is the cue for the director to start cutting from him to her and him to her and then for me to start crying too. By the end of it, lots of people are crying.

Not My GIF, I would have cried making it :'-(

Overall, this wasn't the most enjoyable Tracy/Hepburn film that I've seen (I'll save that award for Woman Of The Year, Adam's Rib, and Pat And Mike) but it is most certainly worth a watch. Frank Capra is a great director and all of his films I've seen (save Mr Deeds Goes To Town, which I just didn't get the appeal of) have been brilliant.


By the way, is Without Love (1945) good? I haven't seen it but really want to... any opinions?