Laura (1944)

laura_1944_webb-gene2Laura (1944), directed by Otto Preminger, is one of my favorite movies. And second favorite noir, after Double Indemnity. 1944 was a hell of a year for noir! The 1939 of noir, if you will. And I’ve always felt that Laura doesn’t get enough credit. It’s a fantastic film, with fantastic performances. Gene Tierney was born to play Laura, Dana Andrews has the dead-pan delivery of a detective down to a T, and Clifton Webb deservedly got an Oscar nomination for playing probably the most arrogant and self-absorbed character in all of film noir, and that’s including ALL the femme fatales. Vincent Price and Judith ‘Mrs Danvers’ Anderson are also in this and what a great double act they make!

The mystery surrounding Laura and what happened to her is played out perfectly and with a great twist. And that opening line! ‘I shall never forget the weekend Laura died’ BOOM, you’re in. This is ‘hooking-the-audience-from-the-first-scene’ 101. Oh, and David Raksin’s score will haunt you for years. The American Film Institute named it the 7th greatest movie score of all time. Pretty great, huh?

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Goodbye Maureen O’Hara

maureen-oharaAnother legend has left us. The fantastic Maureen O’Hara has died at the age of 95. She was one of the most versatile and prolific actresses from The Golden Age and will probably be best remembered for the great Westerns she made with John Wayne (those two made one amazing duo!) and the Christmas favorite ‘Miracle on 34th Street (1947). After years of talking to and becoming friends with classic movie buffs on Facebook and things like that, I can tell you that she was one of the most beloved stars from The Golden Age. Everybody always speaks so highly of her and they’re all devastated. It’s always incredibly sad when a star from the good ol’ days passes away. But there’s always the movies.

Rest in Peace Maureen O’Hara 1920 – 2015

Lauren!

Lauren BacallAh, Lauren Bacall. The wonderful Lauren Bacall. Don’t you just bloody love her? Endlessly and effortlessly cool, sophisticated, commanding, sexy, strong, independent, and, yes, that voice! THAT voice. Probably the most recognizable female voice in Hollywood history. Always imitated, never duplicated. I’ve tried to impersonate her once, you know, the ‘you know how to whistle’ line, didn’t work, but hey, I tried. Oh and I share my birthday with her, so YAY! Very proud of that. I’d like to think that we would have had joint birthday parties in New York City with all our movie star friends and all and then we’d watch The Big Sleep (1946) and try to figure out what in the world is going on in that movie. That’d be so awesome.

Top 5 Screwball Comedies

We all love a screwball comedy! They’re completely insane, and hilariously funny. You can never go wrong with one of those gems. So here is my top 5 Screwball Comedies. These are MY favorite comedies, so this isn’t, like, the official top 5 or anything. P.S. I didn’t include The Philadelphia Story because I think of it more as a romantic comedy than a screwball comedy.

5. The Awful Truth (1937) – Irene Dunne is priceless as always and actually got an Oscar nomination for this. Didn’t win, shame, but this is still probably her most memorable performance. She’s insanely funny. Her and Cary Grant always made a fantastic duo.

4. Twentieth Century (1934) – Ohhh, this takes the red velvet cake for the craziest, most bonkers screwball comedy ever. Seriously, the train sequence is to die for. I saw this at the BFI in London and everybody went nuts over it. John Barrymore gives a great performance, as does Carole Lombard. Oh, I love Carole Lombard!

3. My Man Godfrey (1936) – See, I told you I love Carole Lombard. ‘Godfrey loves me, he put me in the shower!’ Try keeping a straight face.

2. The Lady Eve (1941) – There’s a snake in this. That’s how crazy it gets. And this is probably the most sophisticated of them all, as well. Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda and Charles Coburn and his eye monocle. Awesome.

1. Bringing up Baby (1938) – Duh. Like it was going to be anything else. Kate, Cary, the leopard and George. And the dinner scene which is still one of the funniest things ever put on screen.

‘Match me, Sidney…’

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Sweet Smell of Success (1957) directed by Alexander MacKendrick is one of my favorite movies. I think this is Tony Curtis’ best performance, and possibly Burt Lancaster’s best performance as well, after Elmer Gantry (1960).

The story revolves around Burt Lancaster’s character’s obsession with his sister and his desire to break up her relationship with a musician. He hires Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) to do the job for him and, as you’d expect, it doesn’t go too well.

This is one of the most quotable movies ever made. Things like ‘You’re a cookie full of arsenic’ and ‘Match me, Sidney’ will be stuck in your head long after you watch it. The only way I can describe this movie is ‘claustrophobic’. There’s a sense of urgency from Sidney’s point of view and you can feel everything closing in on him. Oddly enough, like some of our beloved classics (i.e. Vertigo), this was a flop when it came out. And it shouldn’t have been, ’cause it’s probably the best movie of 1957. But no biggie, it’s a classic now and that’s what matters.

Party like it’s 1943!

Joan, Judy and Jane

Being an old soul, whenever I see photos like this one, I think to myself. ‘Can someone get me a time machine please?’. I mean, just the Hollywood bit, though. I wouldn’t want to live in ‘real-life 1940s’. But Hollywood? Oh yes indeed. Ahh, those wonderful Hollywood parties! Everytime I watch That’s Entertainment! (1974) and that party footage comes up, I always wish I could have been there. All those amazing people, laughing and drinking and talking about the arts. *SIGH* And it’s so wonderful to think they all knew each other. Some of them may not have worked together, but when the evening came, they all went down to the Trocadero and voila! See this picture here for instance, don’t you just wish you knew what Joan Crawford was saying! Judy Garland and Jane Wyman seem to be having a ball. I want to be friends with all of them. And Eve Arden. I have the feeling that if you were friends with Eve Arden, you’d never stop laughing. I can do a good impression of her too, but that’s a different story.

Grace

Grace Kelly 2This is one of my favorite photos of all time. It’s just so cool and sophisticated and sexy. Grace Kelly could not take a bad photo. She was insanely beautiful. I just love her, she’s one of my favorites. My mom and I went to Monaco a few years ago and we drove by the place where she tragically died in 1982. The same place where she and Cary Grant filmed that scene in To Catch a Thief (1955). A piece of history right there. So sad and so nostalgic… But hey, she made some great movies. Those three she did for Hitchcock are probably what people will remember her best for. She was the best Hitchcock blonde to me. I do prefer Ingrid overall, but Grace was perfect for his movies. Legend goes that he actually offered the lead in Marnie (1964), but that, for whatever reason, she either turned it down or wasn’t allowed to do it. Well, it doesn’t matter. Her film legacy and her life legacy will live on.

Dinner party

One of the most popular questions among classic movie buffs is ‘If you could have ten people for dinner, who would you pick?’ It’s a heart wrenching question as well, ’cause we love them all and we want to meet them all and be best friends and have pillow fights and all that. And for some reason, it’s always 10. Well, I’m going to pick 15! *GASP* yes, that’s right. I just couldn’t leave some of these out. So, here are the 15 people from Hollywood’s Golden Age I would invite to a dinner party.

  • Katharine Hepburn
  • Cary Grant
  • Bette Davis
  • Tallulah Bankhead
  • Spencer Tracy
  • Lauren Bacall
  • Humphrey Bogart
  • Carole Lombard
  • Jack Lemmon
  • Billy Wilder
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Ingrid Bergman
  • Barbara Stanwyck
  • Jimmy Stewart

Honorable mention to Eve Arden, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Judy Garland and Marlon Brando. SEE??? Impossible.

The flapper

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The tragic death of Olive Thomas in 1920 is widely thought to be one of the first major Hollywood scandals. Weirdly enough, like many silent movie actors and actresses, most of her movies are lost and her legacy lives on her death. She was just 25 years old when she accidentally drank what she must have thought was water, but instead turned out to be poison. Her husband, Jack Pickford, Mary’s younger brother, rushed to the bathroom when he heard her scream ‘Oh my God!’. What happened next is still unclear, but she died 5 days later. She did, however, have a kick-ass career. She was voted the most beautiful girl in New York City, she was a model and the muse of Alberto Vargas, she was a Zeigfeld girl before moving to Hollywood, then went on to star in over twenty films in just four years, and on top of that, she was the originator of ‘the flapper’, one of the most iconic fads of the 1920s, when she starred in the film of the same name. She was also part of Hollywood royalty (her sister-in-law was Mary ‘biggest female silent movie star in the world’ Pickford, after all). Oh and her ghost is said to haunt the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York. So there’s that as well.