Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Riptide (1934)

“Listen, you can write her off your next year's income tax as an unavoidable”

            If you have seen a Norma Shearer film you have pretty much seen them all. Shearer was “Queen of the Lot” at MGM and what people wanted to see from The Queen was melodramas. And boy did movie audiences get their fill of Norma Shearer melodramas in the 1930s. But unlike many of her films at the beginning of the thirties which were Pre-Code Riptide is her first Post- Code film.
            Riptide has the most original beginning I have seen in classic films starting with Mary (Shearer) and Lord Philip Rexford meeting to go to a party. Their first meeting is odd because they were supposed to be on their way to a costume party where they had to dress like insects. They decide they look hideous and felt very uncomfortable so they skip the party. Mary goes to pick up Philip and they meet out of costumes. They are instantly drawn to each other and after a little flirting and eyes from Mary they kiss.
            A few months go by and they cannot stand to be apart. Philip is supposed to leave to go back to England for business. He does not get on the ship instead he stays with Mary and they get married. Five years go by and they are happily married living in England with their daughter. One day Philip has to leave for business in New York. Mary cannot stand to be apart from him saying they have not been apart since they have been married. While they were talking Philip’s Aunt Hetty comes by to meet Mary. The two women hit it off perfectly and Hetty is next telling Mary she should go to the Riviera with her.
            Mary goes to the south of France and has a great time. Also in the Riviera is Tommie Trent (Robert Montgomery) a man Mary used to hook up with every now and then in New York. Mary and Tommie have a fabulous drunken time together. Mary feels so light and free that she flips off a diving board into a pool fully clothed. Tommie tries to kiss Mary but she backs away but the rest of their time together she flirts with him. When she senses things are getting too much between them she leaves without saying goodbye. Tommie is not happy she left so back in his hotel room he decides to cut across the balconies to her room. He does not get to Mary’s room he falls from one of the balconies through a canopy. Mary goes to visit him in the hospital and she agrees to kiss him. Unfortunately a newspaper photographer gets a picture of them kissing and the next day their kiss is spread far and wide in the newspapers.
            After this things get a little complicated. It becomes a big back and forth between Philip wanting to divorce Mary and then he does not but Mary is not sure she wants to go back to him but she is willing to work things out. The film gets to be kind of a pain at this point and because it is a post-code film you can guess the ending.
            Norma Shearer has her moments where she is excellent and not over dramatic and then she has her over the top dramatic moments. I really enjoyed her scenes with Robert Montgomery when Mary and Tommie were drunk running around and dancing together. Shearer was really good at being silly but as I said at the beginning of this post she was known for her melodramas. I liked seeing her lighter side especially when she flipped into the pool. After the scene where she was caught kissing Montgomery she was back to being her over dramatic self. But I have to say she was a good actress and she does make the whole film. Out of all the films I have seen of her so far I think this was one of her best acted films. Shearer as Mary, just like in The Divorcee and A Free Soul, is very good at portraying sexuality and flirting which I feel a lot of actresses in her time could not pull off as convincingly as she did. I always feel like no matter what her sins are I want her to be forgiven and get back with the man she really loves. Her acting only enhances the film. You can almost feel her sexual tension and her desire for her leading man and that is what makes us want her to be sinful and lustful and why we root for her characters.
            Robert Montgomery is always a joy to watch I always enjoy him in a film. I just wish that he was the leading man mostly because he seems to be the other man with Shearer (such as in The Divorcee) and he would have been so much more convincing it was difficult to see why Mary loved Philip so much.
            Famed MGM costume designer Adrian made all of Norma Shearer’s gowns. He designed all of Shearer’s gowns while he was at the studio. I have issues with some of his designs the more I see of his costumes. Some of his costumes were just weird and over the top. There was one really questionable outfit Shearer wore towards the end of the film but for the most part her costumes were very pretty and were very typical 1930s- Art Deco clothing. There was one scene where Shearer was dressed in a nightgown and I have to say she looks stunning she had the perfect figure for it. Even in her other “racy” films prior to this she pulled off wearing “risqué” clothing to perfection.
            Edmund Golding wrote and directed Riptide. I do not believe I have ever seen one of his films although the name sounds familiar. I think he did a great job directing the film he got some great close ups of Shearer and was really good focusing on the characters it was not all about the leading lady. The script was not bad but the plot got a bit confusing.
            Riptide is typical Norma Shearer- MGM melodrama but it has some very amusing and well acted scenes. While the story lags in many parts there are many scenes, mostly when Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery are together, that pulls the film up. Riptide follows the typical 1930s marital strife plot but it should not be missed.
            Riptide is available on DVD and to view on Youtube.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Ingrid Bergman!!!

"I've never sought success in order to get fame and money; it's the talent and the passion that count in success."
August 29, 1915- August 29, 1982

            Yes, I know that Ingrid Bergman’s birthday was yesterday but as a huge fan of hers I cannot let her birthday go uncelebrated here at Une Cinéphile.
            I am not going to go into a big ordeal about her life because she is one of the most celebrated and well known classic actresses. Everyone knows (or should know) that she was Swedish, she came to the United State to make films after David O. Selznick saw her in the Swedish version of Intermezzo: A Love Story and cast her in the American film version, Bergman made many pictures including the incredible Casablanca and Notorious with Alfred Hitchcock, in the 1950s she had an affair with Roberto Rossellini while she was still married to her Swedish husband and was denounced on the floor of the American Senate, and once she made her comeback in Anastasia all was forgiven and she became a Hollywood icon.  
            I cannot remember when I first became a fan of Ingrid Bergman’s all I remember was picking up Hitchcock’s Notorious on DVD because Cary Grant was in it and she just so happened to be the leading lady. After that I found Casablanca on DVD. I liked Bergman I thought she was a good actress but it was not until I read Charlotte Chandler’s Ingrid: A Personal Biography that I became a great admirer of hers. I cannot even tell you why I bought Chandler’s biography but I did and from the moment I started reading it I immediately liked Bergman and saw that she was not just some classic actress she was a classic actress who was one of the best there ever was.
            What I greatly admire about Bergman is that she was an actress who loved what she did; she enjoyed acting that was who she was. You can clearly see how much she loved to act not just by the volume of her works but by her acting. Never have a seen a film of hers that she is not amazing. I loved reading in Chandler’s book the story of when Bergman was just starting out in Sweden she was in a film where her face had to be disfigured (I do not believe it was A Woman’s face this was just when she was an extra). Bergman said that she kept her makeup on and I believe a mouth piece in as she walked home. She did it as sort of an experiment to see how people looked at others who were disfigured. Who would ever want to do that? To me that is dedication. I feel that by watching Bergman’s films you can see her dedication to her craft. She played so many different types of characters and was just fabulous.
            My favorite Ingrid Bergman film is Casablanca. Casablanca is just my all time favorite film. Bergman was so good as Ilsa Lund.  She pretty much plays all different ranges of emotions from longing, lusting, deceiving, to caring and kindness in one film. Bergman just pulled the character off to perfection, I can never see anyone else playing Ilsa better than she did. In Notorious she is brilliant. I think she had her perfect acting match in Cary Grant and it is a shame they did not work together in more films (they were in Indiscreet in 1958). Bergman could be paired with any actor and create an insane amount of on screen chemistry with them. Spellbound and Gaslight are also two of her best films. With Gaslight Bergman won the Academy Award for Best Actress and deserved it. But one of my favorite roles she played was Greta in Murder on the Orient Express and again she won an Academy Award and again deserved it she was had the best part of the whole film and was funny.
            I can seriously just go on and on about how amazing Ingrid Bergman was. I can say that had I not become of fan of Bergman’s when I did (and I also became a Hitchcock fan around the same time) I would not be as big a classic film buff as I am at this moment. I do not what more I can say about Bergman as an actress other than Hollywood will never see another actress that was as dedicated and as talented as her again. Ingrid Bergman is the ideal actress that everyone aspiring actress to look up.
Ingrid Bergman
“I have no regrets. I wouldn't have lived my life the way I did if I was going to worry about what people were going to say.”

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Perils of Pauline (1947)

The Perils of Pauline is based on the silent actress Pearl White and her famous serials “The Perils of Pauline”.  The film tells the story of how Pearl (Betty Hutton) went from working in a garment factory to a stage actress to a famous screen actress to the ending of her serials when the genre went out of favor.
            Pearl works in a garment factory where she is none too happy. Her boss is a work horse never really giving the ladies a fair deal. One day a stage actress named Julia Gibbs (Constance Collier) comes into the factory after a dress of hers was made for a new show she will be performing that night. The owner will not allow Julia to pay for the dress with a check so he sends Pearl along to make sure Julia pays for the dress. Pearl is so excited she wants to be on the stage so bad all she wants is to be an actress. Since Julia was let getting to the theater the head of the acting company Michael Farrington (John Lund) sends Pearl onto the stage as an opening act. She sings a song called “Rumble Rumble Rumble” with such enthusiasm she nearly brings the house down.

            With Julia’s help, Michael gives Pearl a chance on the stage but she keeps messing up and never performs to his standards. He is constantly yelling at her and bringing her down. While rehearsing for a kissing scene sparks happen between them and they begin to fall in love… or at least have some kind feelings for each other. The scene they rehearsed for does not go too well. Michael is furious with her but Pearl lets him have it and leaves the company. Julia standing behind Pearl leaves as well.
            Julia’s agents give her a job in the movies. She is not thrilled about it but she takes it. Right from the moment she enters the set she is insulted by getting a pie in her face for the scene but the director does not tell her. Pearl is furious and trying to help her friend they accidentally walk through multiple sets including one with a lion. Pearl does not even realize she pushed a lion out of the way until the director tells her he will pay her one hundred dollars a week as an actress because of what she did with the lion.
            Pearl becomes a star with her serials “The Perils of Pauline.” Every week Pauline comes close to death in a new adventure. Pearl does all her own stunts falling off of airplanes, jumping from buildings, being captured by bad guys. Meanwhile, Michael and Timmy (one of the members of the acting company) have not had it easy. The company folded and they were jobless. Pearl gives Timmy a job in her serials. Michael was working as a sideshow announcer when Pearl finds him after so long. Michael still thinks he has a chance as a serious actor and is reluctant to go into the movies. He becomes Pearl’s love interest in her shows and Timmy is the villain.
            Michael falls in love with Pearl but after he becomes disillusioned with films and even Pearl he leaves her. Once again the two actors do not see each other for a long time. Michael is now a successful actor on Broadway. Silent serials went out of style leaving Pearl without a job so she moves to Paris where she is now a singer and dancer in a nightclub.
            Besides Betty Hutton the cast to me is nothing really to brag about. Hutton was just incredible I seriously cannot believe the amount of energy and enthusiasm she had and put into her character. The Perils of Pauline is the reason MGM used her to replace Judy Garland in Annie Get Your Gun. If you watch the video I posted for “Rumble Rumble Rumble” you will see why they chose her for Annie. I really have nothing but love and admiration for Hutton she can go from being crazy and all over the place to being calm and dramatic the next being fantastic either way. She was the perfect example of the ideal entertainer she could literally do comedy and drama as well as musicals. I love her singing voice as well as her speaking voice.
            The Perils of Pauline offers the Code-d version of the story of Pearl White. Of course the film ending has Pearl and Michael ending up together but in real life Pearl died in Paris when she retired from films after word got out her stunt double died doing one of her serials. The actress died from alcoholism and drugs. If this was made today of course we would see the sad, realistic version but this was made in 1947 at MGM so the ending had to be happy. I gotta say though I would rather see a happy ending.
            The Perils of Pauline is a cute film. Betty Hutton is definitely worth sitting through the film for she is fantastic. Definitely see this film. It is available on DVD and the music numbers are available on Youtube.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Annie Oakley (1935)

“Toby Walker, you're supposed to be a sharpshooter and you can't even see a woman gal under your own nose.”
“I can see anything I'm aiming at.”

            A while back I watched Annie Get Your Gun with Betty Hutton and Howard Keel. From liking this film I found out that Barbara Stanwyck played the character in the 1935 version of Annie Oakley. I found Stanwyck’s version and watched it.
            Toby Walker (Preston Foster) has just been signed by Jeff Hogarth (Melvyn Douglas) to be the new sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Rough Riders show. While in Cincinnati a challenge is set up to see if anyone can win a shooting match against Toby. MacIvor the owner of a hotel gets on the line to his friend in a small town who knows the person who shoots the quails for his kitchen. The hotel owner thinks the challenger is a man named Andy Oakley and is shocked that Andy is actually Annie (Stanwyck). He wants to call off the challenge but Jeff and Toby stick to it and have the challenge go on as planned. Annie is winning but she sees everyone is making fun of Toby for getting beat by a girl so she lets him win. But Jeff sees that Annie would be a great addition to Buffalo Bill’s show and signs her as well.

            Bill is not too sure about Annie at first. All she seems to be able to do is shoot she does not have any theatrics. Toby helps her out with some stunts and by the time the show is over Annie is a hit. Toby does not really like the idea of Annie being billed before him so Bill and Jeff come up with an idea that they can do a Battle of the Sexes act. Annie can see Toby does not like this but he says he does not care just as long as he can be with her.
            The two sharpshooters fall in love but keep it private and play up their “rivals” aspect of the show. Everyone even Bill and Jeff think Annie and Toby really are rivals. At a show in Annie’s home town, one of the locals goes to kill the Indian Sitting Bull by shooting him. Toby was in the chief’s teepee and got rid of the person before they got to Bull. Unfortunately the man’s gun went off right in front of Toby’s face temporarily blinding him in one eye.
            At the show that day Annie has the announcer say that Toby is going to shoot a quarter out of her hand. Toby is upset he says he will not do it since he has not told anyone he cannot see straight. All the men in the stands and in the show start to pester him about being a pansy so he shoots. He misses the quarter and hits Annie’s shooting hand. The whole company thinks Toby hit her on purpose because she was more popular than he was. Annie knows he did not mean it they love each other and she trusts him. Toby is fired from the show.
            Annie is heartbroken throughout the show’s trip through Europe. She wants to leave the show after it plays in New York. She misses Toby. Of course they get back together though and it is really cute how they get back together.
            Barbara Stanwyck was so perfect as Annie. To me she is always the tough cookie and perfect that way. I just cracked up that she was supposed to be from the back woods of Ohio and she had a Brooklyn accent. Never saw Preston Foster in a film before this. He kept driving me nuts he reminded me Brut Reynolds and I hate Burt Reynolds. Melvyn Douglas was not front and center and was not really a good character but I liked him I like him in any film he does.
            Annie Oakley is a good film and it is not very long at an hour and a half. Definitely suggest seeing it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Devotion (1946)

“All our lives there has been too much left unsaid between us. Loving is the only thing that really matters, Charlotte. It's worthwhile being hurt a bit to find that out.”

            Last summer my brother Anthony had to read Wuthering Heights for his AP English class. My mom read it too so she could help him out with the story and he could have someone to talk it over with. By the time Anthony finished the book and watching a BBC production of the story I was so sick of hearing about Heathcliff and Cathy I wanted to scream. I seriously never want to read the book the story annoyed the hell out of me. Then I realized since the book was published how many other great literary novels and films (Gone with the Wind in particular in both mediums) were based off Emily Brontë’s literary masterpiece. I have seen the 1939 film version with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in a film class and wanted to scream my head off.
            I love to read but I tended to stay away from literature with my preferences leaning towards mysteries, history books, biographies, and film books. But after reading Gone with the Wind I now have an interest in reading literature masterpieces… well ones I know I will understand, I do not have the patience to sit and try to decipher the meaning.
            Now you may be wondering why on earth I am ranting about Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, and reading literature. Well two weeks ago when I was home by myself for the weekend I got to peacefully watch Devotion that I had recorded off of TCM. Devotion tells the (dramatized and romanticized) story of Branwell (Arthur Kennedy), Charlotte (Olivia de Havilland), and Emily Brontë (Ida Lupino) (as well as a little bit of their sister Anne). Branwell is like the black sheep of the family; he drinks too much and causes scenes when he is drunk. Charlotte wants to see the world in order to write her stories while Emily is very content to stay home on the moor near their Yorkshire home.
            Charlotte, Anne, and Branwell get the opportunity to travel to London for a few months. While away a new priest named Reverend Arthur Nichols (Paul Henreid) comes to help their father at his church. He and Emily spend an awful lot of time together. They even fall in love a bit but there is no sharing of feelings between them. In time the three traveling Brontë siblings return home. The first time Arthur lays eyes on Charlotte he falls in love with her but she does not like him.
            Branwell has not been behaving himself and feels awful he wants to do something nice for Emily and Charlotte. He sells one of his paintings and sends his sisters to school in Brussels to further their education as well as to teach. Charlotte is loving the experience and she is falling in love with the married school master. Emily misses the moor and England. She repeatedly has dreams of Death on a horse where she cannot see his face. She dreams of Death while in Brussels and she finally sees his face and to her this means she does not have time left and must go home.
            Both sisters return home. Charlotte begins to see Arthur loves her and begins to fall for him. Emily is upset because now she will never be with him. She pours all her feelings about Arthur and her lost love into Wuthering Heights. Charlotte finishes writing Jane Eyre and has it published along with Wuthering Heights. Both books are huge successes. Charlotte lives it up in London with all the attention on her. But yet again she finds herself returning home and this time it is because Emily is very sick.
Ida Lupino in 'Devotion'
            I know this is a very short description with not too much detail but I do not want to give away too much detail and the film was long. If you really want to know what happens to the sisters and brother look them up online.
            I really, really liked the cast. I have never seen Ida Lupino in a film before and I found myself liking her a lot. Her best scene is when Emily was walking in the moors with Arthur. There is a house on the hill of the moor and she tells Arthur that she calls the abandoned house Wuthering Heights. Just then her vision of Death on his horse appears in the distance. The description was incredible and Lupino’s acting was superb. That scene I now count as one of my favorite scenes from a film it was just acted, filmed, and written so well. Lupino may have gotten top billing but the film definitely belonged to Olivia de Havilland. De Havilland was in the film the most and she was, as always, so amazing. She was adorable in one scene where Charlotte goes on a date with the married head master of the school in Brussels. They go on the Tunnel of Love ride and she wonders why they named the ride so. Well when they emerge they definitely found the reason! Their hair is a mess and their hats are out of place and de Havilland has the best look of bliss on her face. This was the first time I have ever seen Paul Henreid outside of his role of Victor Laszlo in Casablanca. I liked him as the reverend and I now see that he was a very good actor.
            The film was finished filming in 1943 but was not released until 1946. At this time Olivia de Havilland was fighting Warner Bros. for adding extra time to the end of her contract with a suspension. Jack Warner held the film back for three years and gave the actress third billing in an attempt to damage her career. This is when she sued the studio going all the way to the Supreme Court and winning her case. After winning her case and leaving the studio de Havilland went on to win two Academy Awards. The de Havilland Decision is the reason why TV actors are only contractually obligated to a show for six years and no actor can sign a contract for longer than six years.
            The score was created by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. I like Korngold’s scores they were always dramatic and fit perfectly with the stories of the films. He created a great score for Devotion especially in the scene where Emily is in the moor with Arthur looking at Wuthering Heights and sees Death on his horse.
            Devotion, although a highly dramatized story based off the Brontë family, is very well done. The acting by all the actors is amazing, the writing is excellent, and the direction and cinematography are perfect. After seeing this film I am now thinking about giving Wuthering Heights a chance and I now would really like to read Jane Eyre (I find it funny that Olivia de Havilland played Charlotte who wrote the novel and her sister, Joan Fontaine was in the first film version of the story playing the main character). My brother liked Wuthering Heights, he likes anything with a tragic ending (except for Gone with the Wind he was so upset that Rhett and Scarlett did not get back together). I can always ask him if I am confused with the story. I do plan on getting Devotion on DVD and will be showing it to my brother.
            Definitely see Devotion it is a very well made film but just remember it is a film telling of the Brontë family it is not going to be completely accurate.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Headline Shooter (1933)

“You gotta cold? No wonder you’re putting the freeze on me.”

            Headline Shooter is about a newsreel camera man Bill Allen (William Gargan). Bill is a lady’s man and a hot shot with his camera work. He is the guy who gets to where the news is happening before anyone else and gets the best shots by the time all the other cameramen come. He even goes where other cameramen will not go.
            While covering the Long Beach earthquake he meets a tough, wisecracking female reporter named Jane Mallory (Frances Dee). She gets in the way of one of his shots but he does not stay mad at her for long. Jane and Bill decide to work together she can do the reporting and write the story for his film story. They walk all over the city gathering all kinds of stories.
            News cameraman and reporter see each other throughout the week. Bill begins to fall in love with Jane, he even tells her that he has been seriously thinking about her and that she is the only woman he has considered settling down with. Jane likes him as well but her father was a reporter she knows all about the long nights and the drinking he did to finish a story. She does not want that life and that is the reason why she is engaged to a banker down in Riverport, Mississippi named Hal Caldwell (Ralph Bellamy).
            Jane leaves California for Riverport. After a traumatic incident where one of his cameraman buddies dies, Bill realizes that he cannot let Jane get away so he goes after her. When he gets down to her she has a nice sized ring on her finger. Bill could not have gotten to Mississippi at a better time. The levee breaks and he and Jane sees this as a great thing to cover. They go to where the levee broke and they find that the stone used to build the levee breaks apart very easily. Bill gets the flood on camera as well as Hal breaking the stones together. Jane interviews several people. On their way back to town Bill is forced to give his footage of the levee to town officials but he keeps the footage and gives them blank film. He says that the public has the right to know the truth of what happened. Unfortunately the mayor of Riverport kills himself over Bill's film getting out to the public. Jane gets mad at him and and now without doubts know she is supposed to be with Hal.
            Back in California, Jane goes to her office to resign so she can marry Hal and move with him to Riverport. As she walks out of her interview Jane is kidnapped by the gangster. Now Bill and Hal have to go look for her.
            Of course they find Jane and I am sure you can guess who she winds up with in the end.
            TCM aired the film as part of their Summer Under The Stars with one day being dedicated to Ralph Bellamy. Bellamy is only in the film for the last few minutes. Just as many of his parts to come he played the guy who initially has the girl but in the end he gives her up to the guy who really has the girl’s heart. I liked William Gargan I have never seen him in a film before this. I liked his character even if he was a womanizer he was not nasty about it and he was really nice to Jane. Alright now onto Frances Dee… she was so ridiculously adorable and so fabulous. She is definitely one of the most underrated actresses. I have seen so many films with her and she is excellent at playing so many different types of characters. Right from the moment Dee comes on screen she was a spitfire giving it right back to Gargan. She is the best at the end after Hal and Bill save her. As soon as everything is all clear she gets on the phone to her boss and tells her she has a big scoop for the paper. All excited Dee tells her boss “I witnessed my own rescue.” Gargan and Dee were very good together they had some good chemistry.
            Max Steiner composed the score. Right off the bat you can tell it is a Steiner score if you have ever heard any of his scores. If you are a big film buff and really know Steiner’s score you will notice that his “Fanfares 1,2,3” from King Kong playing with the credits at the end.
            Headline Shooter is a very good Pre-code film made by RKO. I came across this completely by accident I do not even know what made me look at the description but once I saw Frances Dee’s name of course I had to see it. But besides Dee being in the film it is really good. It is pretty odd how much it echoes today’s issues with journalism and news and the public having the right to know what is going on.
            Headline Shooter was never released on VHS and it is not available on DVD. Keep an eye out on TCM’s schedule to see if the station ever airs it again. I definitely suggest seeing it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nothing But the Truth (1941)

“No, I don't lose. That's not a lie. That's an opinion. If I said YOU were good-looking - That'd be a lie.”

            Nothing But the Truth is the third pairing of Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard. While The Cat and the Canary and The Ghost Breakers were in the same vain story wise Nothing But the Truth is a departure. Even though both of their previous films’ plots were pretty much the same they were still funny and entertaining. Hope and Goddard are very entertaining without a doubt but there are many aspects of the film that keep it from being all around amusing.
            There really is not much to the plot and nothing really outstanding about it. Hope plays Steve Bennett who has joined a stockbroker firm down in Florida. As soon as he gets there his boss Ralston’s niece Gwen Saunders (Goddard) comes in with money. She got the money from running a scheme. Gwen gives ten thousand dollars in cash to Steve and he tells her he can invest it and get her double the money. He has no idea how she got it and does not ask because he has become smitten with her.
            At a meeting with Ralston and his associates Steve says that no one has to lie someone can be an honest business man and tell the truth. Ralston and his associates offer Steve ten thousand dollars. Steve takes the bet so he can double Gwen’s money and right after the he agrees to the bet he sees Gwen walking out with one of the associates.
            So now Steve is stuck with telling the truth for the whole day and Ralston and the others cruelly ask him personal questions that he has to honestly answer. Ralston even has him come on his private ship for a weekend with some important people. Gwen will be on the ship as well. Ralston continues to abuse Steve with the questions in front of the guest.
            Once on the ship the whole film goes all over the place and gets too silly.
            Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard were excellent despite a drawn out plot and really ridiculous moments. I will let it slid that Hope gets stripped of his clothes and has to put on a woman’s robe! There is not too much else I can say about the rest of the cast I did not really like their characters which I guess is the point.
            Edith Head once again designed the costumes for Paulette Goddard as she did for many of the actress’s other films.
            Nothing But the Truth has its moments where it is really funny and well done but most of the time I found it to be over the top and annoying. It was predictable mostly because Screwball comedy was on its way out and had been done so much previously. I do not mind the fact that I sat through it I am glad I sat through it, I am always happy to sit through a Paulette Goddard film because it seems a handful of her films are hard to find. I caught Nothing But the Truth on TCM when the station had Paulette Goddard as their actor of the day a few weeks ago and it is available on DVD through a Bob Hope collection called Thanks for the Memories. See the film if you can.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Murder by Death (1976)

“If you ask me, anybody that offers a million bucks to solve a crime that ain't been committed yet has lost a lot more upstairs than his hair”

            Last night I was home with my parents (yes I have no life) and my dad had the remote so needless to say we were not really watching anything. He decided to look through the free movies on On Demand. There were so many that I would love to have sat through but I was not in control of the remote. Going through the comedy section he came across Murder by Death. I had heard of this film but I had never seen it so I told him to put it and so did my mom and when she says she wants to watch something my dad usually puts it on. Right from the credits I knew it was going to be good.
            A man named Twain (Truman Capote… yeah that’s right the author. He was a creepy bugger) has the world’s greatest detectives all come to a dinner party at his house. The detectives are Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) and his son Willy, Dick Charleston (David Niven) and his wife Dora (Maggie Smith), Milo Perrier, Jessica Marbles Elsa Lancaster), and Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) and his secretary/lover Tess Skeffington (Eileen Brennan). They all arrive at the house and when they each ring the door bell it is not a bell but an ear splitting scream that sounds like someone is being murdered. And before they can step into the house they are all almost killed by a falling gargoyle. Oh on top of all the insanity the butler Bensonmum (Alec Guinness) is blind as a bat.
            The night and the people grow odder and odder. The cook hired for the evening is a mute and cannot hear so Bensonmum winds up bringing nothing to the table but clean dishes. The lights go out and flicker in odd colors and their host appears. Twain tells all the detectives that one of them will die by the end of the night. When Twain leaves they all panic.
            I do not want to tell too much about the movie because it is so funny and so silly. There are so many funny lines and scenes and the characters just become more and more outrageous as the movie progresses.
            Once I figured out that Murder By Death was a parody of all different detective stories and that all the characters were based off of famous detective characters I enjoyed so much more. My favorite detective parodies were Dick and Dora Charleston who were supposed to be Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man (Are you shocked about this if you follow my blog? I thought not) and Sam Diamond and Tess Skeffington who were supposed to be Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall which I got right off the bat (and let me just say that Eileen Brennan was perfect to play a Bacall-type character). At the end Diamond almost says one of the best film lines of all times as originally said by Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not “you do know how to whistle don’t you?” and then he gets frustrated and does not say the entire thing haha. I got a little weirded out seeing Alec Guinness as a character that was not Obe Wan from Star Wars. Marble and Perrier are based off Agatha Christie’s characters Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Sidney Wang and his son are from the Charlie Chan series.
            Some interesting trivia courtesy of IMDB: Myrna Loy was offered the role of Dora Charleston but she declined because she said it would be “Myrna Loy playing Myrna Loy” and she did not want her “ass pinched by David Niven.” I can understand her not wanting to play herself pretty much but I think that would have been cool to see her play Nora Charles with a twist. Maggie Smith was very good as Dora though and you can see where they tried to make her look like Nora/Loy. And I read that Loy and Niven were friends but I guess he liked pinching her behind! The character of Nurse Withers, who is Miss Marbel’s guest, was supposed to be a woman named Dame Abigail Christian to be played by Katharine Hepburn but once Hepburn learned that Myrna Loy backed out she backed out too. What a crime that these two incredible actresses backed out that would have been awesome to see them together in a film. The scream when the door bell was rung was Fay Wray’s scream from King Kong.
            Murder by Death is a hilarious movie. If you know your murder mystery films or stories you will love it. A part in the ending is the best when Twain yells at all the characters for the way their mysteries and hits the problems with them very well on the head. Even if you do not know your detective stories well it is still funny watch. If you like Clue or spoof movies (and I mean the Mel Brooks good kind not the crappy ones from today) you will like Murder by Death.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My 30 Day Hollywood Meme from Tumblr

I did this 30 day Classic Hollywood Meme from Tumblr last month. I enjoyed filling out these questions. I figured I would post my answers to let you, my wonderful followers, know a little bit more about me and my love of classic films. (please visit my Tumblr page and join if you are a memeber:

30 Day Old Hollywood Meme - Day One

 Four films you’d pick as the TCM guest programer
1. Casablanca
Cannot even explain why I love Casablanca so much. I find it so beautiful from the writing, lighting, direction, acting, and just about everything. To me Casablanca is one of the many films that makes classic Hollywood so amazing.
2. The Thin Man
From the moment Nick and Nora Charles came on screen the first time I watched the film I was hooked by their wittiness and how flawless Myrna Loy and William Powell were together. The Thin Man is such a great screwball comedy it has to be seen by all film lovers.
3. Sadie Thompson
Sadie Thompson starring Gloria Swanson is one of the greatest films of all time and probably one of the greatest to come out of the silent era. Many people may only know Swanson as the crazy old bat from Sunset Blvd but in Sadie Thompson she is fierce and strong and independent. The story is based off a W. Somerset Maugham novel entitled Rain and it is amazing.
4. The Great Dictator
One of the greatest films ever made (and I mean this in all honesty). This is a film I tell everyone to watch because it is so genius. Charlie Chaplin is incredible as the dictator and a Jewish Barber. I have seen so many films that I am barely moved by them but The Great Dictator moved me.

Day 02- Film that got you interested in Old Hollywood

Before I watched Rebecca I had a liking towards classic films but at this point they were just Cary Grant films. My great grandmother told me about Rebecca that I would really like it so the next day I went out and bought the DVD. After my first viewing I was completely hooked to Hitchcock and from there my love of clasic films and old Hollywood began. From Hitchcock’s films I became a great adimirer of Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck and many more of the actors and actresses he worked with and from liking them I got into their other films and and some of the other actors and actresses in those.
With Rebecca I saw the beauty of classic films and how amazing they were made and acted. I still get the chills and sit on the edge of my seat whever I watch this film.

Day 03- Favorite Actor

Cary Grant is hands down my favorite classic actor.

Day 04- Favorite Actress

My favorite classic actress is a tie between Myrna Loy and Ingrid Bergman. Both of them incredible actresses with immense talent.

Day 05- Actor or Actress you think is underrated

I tend to think actresses are more underrated than actors. for me to pick just one actress is hard but if I had to pick…

number one underrated actress goes to Irene Dunne. So many people agree that Dunne is highly underrated as an actress and I have to wholely agree. Dunne has got to be one of the most versitile actresses of the Golden Age she did both comedy and drama as well as musicals to perfection. I do not think she is well known because she did not belong to one studio back in the day she freelanced between RKO, MGM, and another studio. There was nothing ever scandalous about her and she was also older and a successful stage actress when she started making films. I know this is a typical answer but it is true Irene Dunne is very underrated if she had not been in a Cary Grant movie or a Fred and Ginger’s Roberta I would never have known who she was.
honorable mentions go to Gloria Swanson and Norma Shearer

Day 06- Favorite Movie From Your Favorite Actor

Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby
I love Cary Grant when he made his screwball comedies more than I like him in his dramas. He is just so screwy and so frazzled in this film. One of my all time favorite film scenes is when David picks up a shoe the dog just dug up and he goes to hit Susan, she says “Now David don’t hit George” and he replies “But I wasn’t going to hit George”. He’s such a wreck in the scene I was doubled over laughing. Cary Grant was screwball comedy perfection here.

Day 07: Favorite Movie from your Favorite Actress

I had to go for a tie between two Myrna Loy films as my favorites from her:

I adore Loy’s performance in both films, she did not over act she just showed the perfect amount of emotions and drama.

Day 08- Favorite Old Hollywood Couple

I am being very unconventional and going with Frances Dee and Joel McCrea as my favorite old Hollywood couple. I really like them as indivdiual actors and their films together are very good they were excellent together. Dee and McCrea were married for 57 years… that is totally unheard for any era of Hollywood celebs.

Day 09- Old Hollywood Stars You Wished Had Worked Together

Two old Hollywood stars I wished had worked together would have to be Ava Gardner and Cary Grant. I am putting this down more as of an unbelieveable occurance since Cary Grant worked with just about every actress during the Golden Age but he never worked with Ava Gardner. I would have liked to have seen how that would have worked out.

Day 10- Favorite Movie

Casablanca is my favorite classic film. I find something so beautiful and moving about it.

Day 11- Team Bette or Team Joan

Bette Davis or Joan Crawford?…..
i’m not really a huge fan of either of them I haven’t seen many of their films to properly answer this question.

Day 12- Favorite Barrymore

Uh, i’m not really into the Barrymores. The only Barrymore I have seen a lot besides Drew is Lionel and I think he was really good.

Day 13- Classic Movie You Just Could Not Get Into

Could not for the life of me get into this movie. It bored the hell outta me. I think James Dean and this movie are outrageously overrated

Day 14- A Legend Everyone Appreciates But You Can’t Stand

Personally cannot see the appeal of Marylin Monroe and James Dean. I understand that Monroe was a sex symbol and all that but putting her on the AFI top 25 greatest actresses of all time is a bit much she was not a great actress. Same with James Dean I think he is so overrated but with him I really do not understand his appeal.
……sorry Marylin and James fans

Day 15- Actor or Actress You Have Been Meaning to Give a Chance But Haven’t Gotten a Chance to Yet

Rita Hayworth

Day 16- Favorite Director

Alfred Hitchcock is my all time favorite director. The man just knew how to pick stories and knew how to direct them to perfection. Hitchcock is the reason I became a classic film fanatic after I watched Rebecca. He was truly a genius in every aspect of filmmaking and his talent will never be touched.

Day 17- Favorite Line from a Film

Day 18-Actor or Actress who Should Have Won an Oscar

Geez there are so many!!!
Myrna Loy, Irene Dunne, Barbara Stanwyck, William Powell, Carole Lombard, Gene Tierney, Gloria Swanson, Lauren Bacall

Day 19- Who’s You Like to Party It Up With in the Afterlife?

Can I cheat and just say every classic Hollywood actor/actress I like? It would be one giant, elegant cocktail party :)
Here’s my list:
Myrna Loy, Ingrid Bergman, Ginger Rogers, Gene Tierney, Susan Hayward, Paulette Goddard, Vivien Leigh, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, Ava Gardner, Frances Dee, Carole Lombard, Irene Dunne, Gloria Swanson, Judy Garland, Norma Shearer, Bette Davis
Cary Grant, William Powell, Gregory Peck, Gene Kelly, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Montgomery, Joel McCrea, Gary Cooper, Calrk Gable, Dana Andrews, Errol Flynn

Day 20- Favorite Silent Film Star?

Gloria Swanson

Day 21- Old Hollywood Couple You’d Watch a Sex Tape Of

Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra. I can imagine a tape of theirs being really dirty.

Day 22- If You Could Go Back in Time and Trade Places With an Old Hollywood Star Who Would It Be?

I would want to trade places with Ingrid Bergman. I want to know what it was like to be so dedicated to acting like she was and to play the characters she played and work with the actors she worked with.

Day 23- A Film You Think is Underrated?

Apart from the messy ending and a kind of complicated plot I think Four’s a Crowd with Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Rosalind Russell, and Patric Knowles is underrated. De Havilland is adorable and some really funny scenes and Flynn is so much fun to watch being silly and falling all over the place and he looks so handsome. I think it is really interesting to see Russell play a newspaper reporter before she famously played Hildy Johnson.
Day 24- Favorite Film From Hollywood’s Greatest Year 1939?

The Wizard of Oz is my favorite film from 1939. Ever since I was a baby I have loved The Wizard of Oz. Now that I am older I realize what a great escape this film is and how awesome it must have been for people to see this when it was released. I still feel like a little kid every time I watch Dorothy, Scarescorw, Tin Man, and Lion.

Day 25 -Which Character From a Film Do You Fantasize About Being?

This one is tough because the only character I ever fantasize about being is Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark and that is not an Old Hollywood film.
For Old Hollywood maybe Nora Charles or Scarlett O’Hara or Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon because I am jealous of how amazing she danced. Whenever I watch an old film I usually just love the actresses so much in their roles and I could never even invision myself playing the character remotely as well as they could.

Day 26- Which Unsolved Scandal Would You Most Like the Answer To?

I do not really pay attention to Hollywood scandals they bug the crap outta me. Even the ones involving death are all just such a load of gossip. If I had to pick if Marylin Monroe’s death is a scandal that is one that would be interesting to hear what really happened.

Day 27- Who’s Death Hit You the Hardest and Why?

A lot of the classic actors and actresses I like have been dead longer than I have been alive so none of their deaths really hit me hard. Some of them are sad because they died young or were not that old but were sick.
One actress that I do admire who died a few years ago and hit me was Anne Bancroft. Bancroft was a wonderful actress who could switch easily from drama to comedy and be incredibly awesome in both genres. She made doing both genres to perfection look easy. I think I felt really bad more for the fact that Mel Brooks lost his wife. Mel Brooks is a comedic genius and just to think he was grieving made me sad the most.

Day 28- A Movie You Never Expected Yourself to Enjoy?

Never ever had a desire to sit through Gone With the Wind but since I figured if I am going to be a classic film lover I have to sit through it some time in my life. I downloaded it and within the first 45 minutes I was totally captivated. The moment I saw how beautiful Vivien Leigh was I was hooked. Now I have the film on Blu-Ray and I am currently reading the book (and loving it).
UPDATE: I have finished reading the novel and it was amazing!!!! One of the best stories I have ever read.

Day 29- who’s Private Lifestyle Shocked You the Most?

I knew Ava Gardner was a bit wild but I never knew how wild until I read Lee Server’s amazing biography on her called “Love is Nothing.” I don’t even think the best writers in Hollywood could have made up a story like Ava’s it was happy, sad, moody, depressing, and entertaining all at the same time. I felt bad for her she was never comfortable being in her own skin. Ava Gardner had a voracious appetite for all the wrong things and just never seemed happy.

Day 30- Which Five Old Hollywood Stars Would You Invite to Dinner?

Can I cheat and go with ten old Hollywood stars? Ok then I am cheating.
I would invite:
Myrna Loy, Ingrid Bergman, Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Irene Dunne, Paulette Goddard, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, William Powell, and Charlie Chaplin
all these people I would just want to question them about acting and their films they made especially Charlie Chaplin about The Great Dictator.