Saturday, 29 September 2012

"You've Such A Way Of Looking At People!" Happy Birthday Greer Garson!

This post is a tribute to Greer Garson but I'm saving some of my recent Greer Garson writing for my entry to the Letters To The Stars blogathon where I'm writing a letter to Greer Garson.

"I`ve been offered nymphomaniacs, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, homicidal maniacs and just plain maniacs. I think producers felt that after playing a long series of noble and admirable characters there would be quite a lot of shock value in seeing me play something altogether different. But I prefer upbeat stories that send people out of the theater feeling better than they did coming in. It`s my cup of tea."
Happy Birthday, Greer Garson!

Today would have been the 108th birthday of the gorgeous, lovely and intelligent red headed actress, Greer Garson. Born in London to British parents in 1904, she grew up to study French and 17th Century literature at Kings College London, take various other courses in subjects such as botany, but eventually end up on London's West End stage - which lead her to Hollywood and fame as a movie actress. She makes me proud to be British. Since her movie debut in Goodbye Mr Chips (1939) she's been gracing our screens and warming our hearts with her lovely presence. She was also famous for her 8-movie partnership with actor Walter Pidgeon, leading Tumblr fans to dub them "The Pidgeons" even though they never were together or married... Whether in black and white, highlighting her pale skin, or vibrant technicolor - letting rip her firey red hair, she glowed on the screen.

"I think the mirror should be tilted slightly upward when it`s reflecting life -- toward the cheerful, the tender, the compassionate, the brave, the funny, the encouraging, all those things -- and not tilted down to the gutter part of the time, into the troubled vistas of conflict."
Unfortunately, in the 21st Century we seem to have forgotten Greer in the lexicon of Hollywood Glamour Girls. Where people idolise Lauren Bacall and everyone seems to know about Marilyn Monroe, hardly anyone still remembers Greer Garson for much except her unrivalled performance in wartime classic, Mrs Miniver. It's a great shame and I hope that by all of the appreciation she gets on Tumblr and Blogger, that we're spreading the Greer love. It doesn't help that her films are nigh impossible to get hold of. TCM release more of her films!!!

If you want some more Greer information, then I highly recommend Michael Troyan's biography, "A Rose For Mrs Miniver: The Life Of Greer Garson". But if you've never watched any Greer Garson before - this problem must now be rectified. I'm going to have another Greer double bill today - I'm starting off with Random Harvest (1942) and ending with the Valley Of Decision (1945). They're not the best paired double bill, but they're ones I haven't seen in a while or that I need to rewatch. I would recommend a triple bill to start you off, with Mrs Miniver (1942), then Random Harvest (1942) and then as a pick me up, Julia Misbehaves (1949). If you're really dedicated then you could tack on Blossoms In The Dust (1941) for the tears factor and Greer's flawless hair as well! Have a happy Greer day!


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Private Lives (1942) Starring Cary Grant and Greer Garson!

[This poster was made by me, this film never actually happened, the picture is from the rehearsals for a radio show they did together. As much as it breaks my heart, they never made a film together. Just in case I was unclear :-D]

It's always been a complete mystery to me how Greer Garson and Cary Grant never worked together. Two of the best voices in Hollywood - both British and both gorgeous. How did this never happen? As you can see they were in a radio play together (alas, just "Bed-Time Stories") but they never made a film. They would have been perfectly suited to Noel Coward's Private Lives. I'm thinking we could have George Cukor directing it. Yes, good.

How wonderful would Greer Garson have been as the fiery and lively Amanda? I can see her smashing records over Cary Grant's head. She would breeze through her dialogue with all the right intenation and everything. Not to mention the fact that Greer Garson was in a play directed by Noel Coward when she was young, and he adored her, so no problems with casting there! Well, actually in the initial audition he said she was "Too mannered, too tall and over-annunciates her words," but he then said, "But that HAIR will set fire to every one of my lines!" Also - we could have her singing "Someday I'll Find You (Moonlight Behind You)". THERE ARE NO DOWNSIDES TO THIS PLAN.

Of course Cary Grant is perfection as Elliot. He can be the right mixture of a little nervous, romantic and over-sensitive. I can see him now saying the lines "Oh stop it, you know you adore being made love to!" and screaming "SOLOCHS!"

Can you imagine what he and Greer Garson would have looked like on screen together? They would have lit up the screen. I was debating whether to have this filmed in Technicolour or black and white, but in the end I thought it would be best in colour (yes, this decision was reached mainly because I wanted to show off Greer's hair).

They would have honestly been the best pairing ever. I was actually getting extremely frustrated about the fact that this perfect film never existed. There is simply one solution - I have to go make friends with The Doctor and hitch a ride in his TARDIS. Problem is, I'd probably just want to be in the film with Cary Grant myself - sorry, Greer!


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Julia Misbehaves (1948)

I had a mini Greer Garson marathon the other day - we started with Jack Conway's loveably insane Julia Misbehaves (also starring Walter Pidgeon, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Lawford) and then followed up with the heart-wrenchingly sad yet a little uplifting Blossoms In The Dust. I wouldn't recommend you do it that way around, but it was a great movie night. It made me realise that I've never written about this film on here before, so I said "This problem shall be rectified!" And, errr, yes. This is the rectification.

"When Greer Garson starts a picture in a bubble bath, that's news!" Such was the publicity issued from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on January 16, 1948, as Greer prepared for the opening scene of Julia Misbehaves. As she sat, chatting gaily with the crew before a warm bathtub filled with Ardena Fluff Milk Bath while her hairdresser, Edith Hubner, swept her hair up into a curly mass, she seemed like her old self. She was pleased that despite a "No admittance" sign on the sound stage door, a steady line of friendly well-wishers crowded their way into the eight-foot-square replica of an English bathroom. While Jack Conway and Joe Ruttenburg prepared prepared to film the scene, prop man Tony Ordoqui kept filling the tub with bubbles. Irene was there to check on Greer's skin-coloured bathing suit. Al Block, the studio censor, moved about nervously, anxiously second-guessing the Production Code's view on modesty. Finally Conway shooed everyone out except Walter Pidgeon. "After all," Pidgeon argued, "as an actor who has been married to Greer Garson four times, I should have some privileges."- A Rose For Mrs Miniver: The Life Of Greer Garson by Michael Troyan. [via]

Julia Packet (Greer Garson) is a ditzy, passionate, beautiful, loveable chorus girl living in London. Married to William Packet, they have been estranged since the end of WWI. She lives on the edge, pretending suicide so that her good friend Benjie will lend her money. Suddenly out of the blue she receives a telegram asking her to her daughter Susan's (Elizabeth Taylor) wedding. William's mother sent Julia away when her daughter was a baby worrying that she would be an bad influence on Susan. Despite this, she goes to France, determined that she will see Susan's wedding. She goes by ship and on that ship she meets Freddie Ghenoccio (Cesar Romero), and The Flying Ghenoccio Brothers acrobatics Vaudeville team. She misses William in Paris who has come to tell her it was all a mistake because she suddenly had to replace Freddie's mother in their act (insert Greer dancing and singing amazingness). 

Freddie announces that he loves Julia and wants to marry her, but Julia doesn't reply. Julia gets to the Packet house and is told by William's mother that she is not wanted at the wedding. After she meets Susan who admits she sent the invitation in secret (in an emotional scene - only Greer Garson could make me cry in a screwball comedy) Julia decides that she simply cannot leave her. So she decides to stay for the wedding and is intrigued by Susan's relationship with the family painter (Peter Lawford), all sorts of crazy antics ensue including a Greer Garson certified warning about Cyclamen Pink and a tale about sea lions, but can Julia realise that she really loves William?

It seems there are three groups concerning this movie. The first is the people who've never seen it (shame on you), the people who love it (me, Sophie, Rianna, FrankaFairbanksjr and Sara) and the people who hate it. So obviously this film is better than Citizen Kane (it isn't, that was sarcasm.) Ok, so it isn't the best film in the entire world, although my 10 year old sister would dispute you on that matter, but it's sweet, fun and lovely. Jack Conway (Libeled Lady) and his comedic timing as a director is great. Greer Garson has fantastic comedic timing and I wish she'd made more comedies and hadn't been type cast as housewives as much (something that caused her much woe in her professional life).

Greer Garson is wonderful of course - as always. Her dance numbers are great as well. She just gives her all no matter what she's doing. She actually is a great singer and a fairly good dancer but even though she's no Judy Garland it doesn't take away from the greatness of the numbers. Also, there have been many a chat about "Greerlegs" on tumblr. Watch this and random harvest and you'll know why. As I said before she makes me cry when she first meets Elizabeth Taylor... ;____; SADNESS! Also, that scene where she nearly is drowned by Walter Pidgeon and his ill-advised boating trips and she wears a tablecloth? 

DAMN GURL YA LOOK GOOD EVEN IN A TABLECLOTH! Also, the dialogue in that scene after she and Walter Pidgeon sank their old rowing boat...

Greer Garson: If I'd known you were so anxious to get me in here [Walter Pidgeon's wood cabin] I could have saved my self a long cold swim!
Walter Pidgeon: Well you're here and it's results that count!
Greer Garson: I'm in no position to say your method isn't effective.
Walter Pidgeon: Well it should be, I've devoted many years to perfecting it.
Greer Garson: Oh, I suppose the method always worked!
Walter Pidgeon: Uh, had one failure, she drowned, stubborn wench.
Hahahaha. Yes. I love Greer Garson in this and everything. She's particularly lovely and vibrant in this film because in real life she had just met her final husband, Buddy Fogelson, whom she was with until he died (38 years). By the way, star of The Help, Jessica Chastain's favourite actress is Greer Garson :-D

Walter Pidgeon is hilarious and sweet as always and he and Greer work so well together. So well that my mother said at one point "WHY WERE THEY NEVER MARRIED, THEY WERE! I WON'T BELIEVE THEY WEREN'T!" Mother, welcome to my ways *evil laugh*.

Elizabeth Taylor is all young and nice and Peter Lawford is pretty creepy as he always is. I mean why would you paint Liz Taylor's head on a Lady Godiva being chased by race-horses? He's always a little weird but we'll deal with it for this movie because actually it works quite well. Elizabeth Taylor looks so youthful in this film. It was her first real romance on screen, a good four years before A Place In The Sun. She and Greer Garson work well together (Best Family: Greer Garson is your mother, Walter Pidgeon is your father and you're Elizabeth Taylor).

[My Gif]
Overall, this film is fun and enjoyable to watch



Thursday, 6 September 2012

Greer Garson's Technicolor Screentest For Blossoms In The Dust (1941)

Greer Garson appears in Technicolor for the first time in her screen test for Blossoms In The Dust (1941).

I think there should have been a law created when this screen test came out that no Greer Garson film was ever to be made in black and white - only Technicolor for this redhead! She looks so perfect in Technicolor and her performance in 1941's Blossoms In The Dust is no less than mind-blowing. She had conveyed such emotion in her previous films, and this screentest just proves that she can make the same effect in glorious Technicolor. I got hold of this footage on my Warner Brothers DVD copy of The Shop Around The Corner in a documentary named "A New Romance Of Celluloid: The Miracle Of Sound". So if you already own this fabulous James Stewart and Maureen Sullivan movie, The Shop Around The Corner, take a look on the special features menu and watch this interesting documentary voiced by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy and catch a glimpse of this stunning screen test.


Monday, 3 September 2012

School. School. School.

The day has finally come - after six weeks of freedom, classic movies, reading, family holidays and general fun times - that my summer holiday has come to an end. Tomorrow I'll be going back to school. back to where Greer Garson and Robert Donat aren't running the school, where Maggie Smith isn't trying to send my friends off to fight wars in Spain (heaven forbid. Brodie group *shudder*), and Jean Arthur doesn't teach drama (lucky Meryl Streep gets all the breaks).

Tonight I watched Goodbye Mr Chips as a "Back To School" flick, and also as a kind of tribute to my old teacher who was really inspiring and has left this year. So that made me sad, and then Greer Garson and Robert Donat were the cutest thing since pandas, and then SHE DIED. MOST UNNECESSARY CHARACTER DEATH - EVER! Seriously guys. And then - JOHN MILLS AND PAUL HENRIED DIE TOO. WAS THIS MOVIE CREATED TO DESTROY ME???

Life ruiner
I think I wrote something like that last year, I also illustrated my heartache at returning to work and kind-of-play. This year there is only one gif to sum up my emotions (It's even Goodbye Mr Chips related, BEST SCHOOL MOVIE)

[My Gif]
Yes. This summer I’ve watched a great deal of interesting film and interesting actors. I’ve read many great books and I was getting a little concerned the other day about how many fictional characters and dead film stars I’ve become unnaturally attached to - I'm going to have to give myself some limit next year!

This summer I've become seriously obsessed (healthily/unhealthily?) with Laurence Olivier and watched and re-watched quite a few of his movies. I watched That Hamilton Woman which was a film I should have posted about but didn't (shame on me). I liked it a lot! New OTP, Larry and Vivien. For sure.

I had a Greer Garson resurgence (seriously tho, when am I not lovin Da Garson?) and I watched a couple more of her films, Valley Of Decision, Mrs Parkington and Scandal At Scourie (more on that in a fangirley post to follow later, hopefully). They were all wonderful and Greer was fabulous in all of them. FLAWLESS. Guys, we need a fan club here. The "What A Difference The Navy's Made To Me" song in Julia Misbehaves can be our anthem. Hell yeah.

Greer Garson presenting the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 24th Academy Awards, 1952.

Of course there were countless more obsessions but for now here's a half-remembered list of movies I've watched :-D
  1. Journey To Italy (1956) New
  2. Indiscreet (1958) Rewatch
  3. Roman Holiday (1952) Rewatch
  4. Funny Face (1956) Rewatch
  5. Charade (1969) Rewatch
  6. Rebecca (1940) Rewatch
  7. Wuthering Heights (1939) Rewatch
  8. That Hamilton Woman (1941) New
  9. The Valley Of Decision (1945) New
  10. Pride And Prejudice (1941) Rewatch
  11. Julia Misbehaves (1948) Rewatch
  12. Mrs Miniver (1942) Rewatch
  13. A Streetcar Named Desire (1956) New
  14. A Woman's Face (1938) New
  15. Blossoms In The Dust (1942) Rewatch
  16. Mrs Parkington (1944) New
  17. Scandal At Scourie (1953) New
  18. Hamlet (1948) New
  19. La Regle Du Jeu (1939) New
  20. Libeled Lady (1936) Rewatch
  21. Adam's Rib (1949) Rewatch
  22. Gypsy (1962) Rewatch
  23. Funny Girl (1967) Rewatch
  24. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) Rewatch
  25. Hugo (2011) New
  26. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) Rewatch
  27. The Big Sleep (1946) New
  28. To Catch A Thief (1955) Rewatch
11 new, 17 rewatched.

So I'm going back tomorrow morning! Ugh. Anyway, there's a lot to look forward to. In October, I'm playing Juliet in an abridged production of Romeo and Juliet that we're doing for the Shakespeare School's Festival. Also, I get to wear two new jumper colours in May, and I'm sure there will be loads of things to look forward to. SPANISH EXCHANGE! Anyway. If you're back at school/work, I hope you're having fun, and if you're still on holiday, HAVE FUN!