The Apartment (1960)

apartment-1960-jack-lemmon-shirley-maclaine-pic-2

This was coming sooner or later. I should tell you that The Apartment (1960) is my favorite movie of all time, so I might be biased here, but bear with me. I’ve decided to only write this now because it’s New Year’s Eve and this is the movie I associate with it the most, and because I wanted to finish off the year with my favorite movie. I first saw it when I was 15. Billy Wilder-wise (get it?), I’d already seen Some Like it Hot (1959) and Sunset Boulevard (1950) and loved them both. Then, one day, I saw The Apartment. Up until then, I wasn’t quite sure what my favorite classic movie or my favorite movie in general was. I used to go back and forth between Casablanca (1942), All about Eve (1950), and The Philadelphia Story (1940). They are now my second, third and fourth favorites, in that order, simply because The Apartment came along and changed everything.

It’s hard to explain how a movie becomes your favorite or why, but when I saw The Apartment, I knew this was ‘it’. From then on, I decided I wanted to become a screenwriter. I wanted to be like Billy Wilder. I wanted people to feel about my movies the way I felt about The Apartment. The movie is almost 56 years old and it’s one of the big, big classics, so I’m sure I won’t have to tell you the plot. But this isn’t about the plot. It’s about what Billy Wilder and Izzy Diamond do with it. The balance between comedy and drama is perfect, to say the least. Billy Wilder was and still is the king of ‘dramedy’. In the scene where Fran (Shirley MacLaine) talks about how her affair makes her feel (‘wife goes away, the boss has a fling with the elevator girl’), he doesn’t let it get too dark. Like in almost every scene, he brings it back up with a touch of comedy (‘they don’t make these shrimp like they used to’). Oh, that Billy Wilder touch!

The characters, all of them, are morally dubious and undeniably flawed, but we root for them nonetheless. We can relate to them and we want everything to turn out okay for them. Especially for C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon), who is undoubtedly one of the greatest characters in movie history. And what a performance! Everyone and everything was Oscar-nominated in this. It ended up winning 5, including for Best Picture and, you guessed it, Best Screenplay. How could it not? The script is flawless. Everything falls into place perfectly and at the right time and nothing is left unsaid or unresolved. It was chosen as the 15th greatest screenplay of all time by The Writer’s Guild of America, but, in my opinion, it should have been at least in the top 10. It’s a masterpiece and a masterclass. This, to me, is the best. Billy Wilder-wise and otherwise-wise. Happy New Year!

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Liebster Award nomination

So, my good friend Virginie from The Wonderful World of Cinema has nominated me for a Liebster Award! Basically, it’s an award given to bloggers/blogs and when one gets a nomination, they have to answer 11 questions posted by the person who nominated them, then say 11 things about themselves, then nominate 11 blogs and ask them 11 questions and so on. So here they are!

  1. If you had to “promote” a not too well known classic film, what will be your choice?

The Big Combo (1955). Very underrated movie, even within the classic movie community.

2. You are participating to the making of a film. What’s your job?

I’m the screenwriter!

3. Do you share your birthday with one of your favourite movie stars? If yes, who?

Yes, Lauren Bacall. 16th September. I’m so proud of that!

4. What is your favourite movie score?

Probably Vertigo (1958).

5. How many films per week do you usually watch?

It depends. I really don’t know.

6. What do you think is the most CREATIVE movie ever made and why?

That’s a very, very difficult question. Depends on which aspect you’re looking at. As an aspiring screenwriter, I find ensemble cast movies the most creative, because there are many stories going on at the same time. So, probably Grand Hotel (1932).

7. Do you have a child name after a certain movie star or movie character? Or are you planning this for your future kid (if you plan to have one, or many!). I’ll tell you, I’m still young, but if I have a daughter one day, I’d love to call her Ingrid in honour of Ingrid Bergman!

I’m not planning on having children, but if I did, I’d name them Kate. You can probably guess why.

8. How much does classic films influence your everyday life?

Classic films ARE my life.

9. What are you planning to do to honour Olivia de Havilland’s on her centennial next July? 😉

I’ll probably watch The Heiress.

10. What do you enjoy the most about blogging?

Connecting with classic movie buffs, and sharing my passion. I also love binge-reading blogs. I can do it all day long.

11. Do you have any advises, suggestions for future bloggers?

Well, speaking of Ingrid Bergman, here’s one of her quotes: ‘Be yourself. The world worships the original.’

11 things about myself:

  • I love 80s music. In fact, it’s my OTHER big passion. Actually, I love music in general, but the 80s are just the best. Duran Duran are my favorite band, I saw them live earlier this month and it was AWE to the SOME!
  • I travel quite a lot, usually with my mum. London, New York, LA and Venice are my favorite cities, in that order.
  • I love Agatha Christie. ‘And then there were none’ is my absolute favorite book of all time.
  • My favorite color is yellow.
  • I have two dogs, George and Geri. They’re labs, brother and sister, and they are the puppies of our dog Musa, who sadly passed away in 2012.
  • My favorite tv show is Whose Line is it Anyway? When it came back in 2013 (against all odds), my mum and I went to LA to see a taping. We did the same thing in 2014.
  • I met one of my closest friends, Denise, on YouTube, through classic movies.
  • I’d love to work for TCM one day.
  • My favorite food is burgers from Hard Rock Café.
  • My favorite dink is Lemon Ice Tea.
  • I love British panel shows.
The 11 blogs I nominate for the Liebster award:

Shadowsandsatin

BNoirDetour

Once upon a Screen…

Backlots

**** 4 Star Films ****

Crackedrearviewer

The Motion Pictures

Vienna’s Classic Hollywood

Travalanche

The Hollywood Revue

Journeys in Classic Film

 

11 questions:

  1. What was the first classic film you ever saw?
  2. Who do you think is the queen of screwball comedies?
  3. And who’s the king?
  4. If you could go back in time to a specific year in Hollywood history, what year would that be and why?
  5. Which two stars do you wish had worked together in a movie?
  6. All about Eve (1950) or Sunset Boulevard (1950)?
  7. Have you ever been on the TCM cruise? If so, how was it?
  8. Does anybody in your family share your love of the classics?
  9. What is your favorite decade in terms of movies and why?
  10. What is your favorite book about Hollywood?
  11. If you could have witnessed the shooting of any movie, which movie would you choose?
Answer these questions on a post in your blog, then say 11 random things about yourself, then nominate 11 blogs and ask them 11 questions and voila!
Once again, Ginny, thank you for nominating me 😀

 

It’s Chriiiiiistmaaaaaas!

Time to watch It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and Miracle on 34th Street (1947) with my mum and our dogs! We do it every year. Tradition, you know? That, and the karaoke.

Anyway, have a wonderful Christmas, my lovelies, and thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. You guys have given me so much love and support since I started the Garden. Love you all ❤

 

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Ace_in_the_HoleAce in the Hole (1951) is probably the darkest Billy Wilder has ever been. Maybe. I mean, he did do Double Indemnity (1944), after all. But Ace in the Hole is a different kind of dark. Not in a noir way, but rather in a raw, real and unapologetic way.

It’s a satirical drama about a reporter who, after being fired from eleven newspapers in New York, settles in a small town and tries to turn a simple story into a big carnival (which is, by the way, the movie’s alternative title). As you can imagine, there aren’t many laughs in this, except for maybe three or four one-liners, which Billy Wilder always excels at.

While other movies about reporters had mostly been screwball comedies up until that point (i.e. His Girl Friday (1940)), Ace in the Hole turned this whole thing around and showed us the dog-eat-dog reality of it all. This movie is the king of ‘doing whatever you can, however despicable, to get the story’ movies. Kirk Douglas gives one of the best performances of his career and, in my opinion, should have been nominated for an Oscar. He would have been up against Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), and Bogie in The African Queen (1951), though, so it’s probably safe to say he wouldn’t have won. But still, it’s a great performance in an equally great yet underrated movie.

5 Directors, 5 Underrated Movies

Most people can name 7 or 8 movies by some of the most legendary directors ever. But unfortunately, there are always those gems that never seem to get the attention they deserve. So, here is my list of 5 movies by 5 very, very great directors that I think deserve more praise.

Billy Wilder (1906 – 2002)

  • A Foreign Affair (1948)
  • The Emperor Waltz (1948)
  • Stalag 17 (1953)
  • One, Two, Three (1961)
  • Irma La Douce (1963)

Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980)

  • Mr and Mrs Smith (1941)
  • Spellbound (1945)
  • Dial M for Murder (1954)
  • To Catch a Thief (1955)
  • Frenzy (1972)

Fritz Lang (1890 – 1976)

  • Fury (1936)
  • The Woman in the Window (1944)
  • Scarlet Street (1945)
  • Clash by Night (1952)
  • Human Desire (1954)

George Cukor (1899 – 1983)

  • A Bill of Divorcement (1932)
  • Holiday (1938)
  • A Woman’s Face (1941)
  • Keeper of the Flame (1943)
  • Pat and Mike (1952)

Howard Hawks (1896 – 1977)

  • Twentieth Century (1934)
  • Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
  • Ball of Fire (1941)
  • I was a Male War Bride (1949)
  • Monkey Business (1952)

 

So there you have it. Give these lovelies a chance, will ya?

 

#PayClassicsForward

My friend Aurora from the oh-so-wonderful blog Once Upon a Screen started a really amazing thing: PayClassicsForward, where classic movie bloggers will make a list of movies they think people who don’t watch the classics will like. And the whole thing is based on the popular Christmas song ’12 Days of Christmas’: ONE directorial debut, TWO duos, THREE foreign films, FOUR soundtracks, FIVE westerns, SIX dance routines, SEVEN comedies, EIGHT films noir, NINE inspiring movies (non holiday fare), TEN performances, ELEVEN movies for children (not animated and assuming everyone has seen The Wizard of Oz),  and TWELVE heroes. If you have a blog, please join in. You can change it up a bit if you want (some people have done the whole list based on just noirs, for example). And please don’t forget to use the hashtag #PayClassicsForward.

Spread the word!

ONE directorial debut – The Maltese Falcon (1941) John Huston

TWO duos – Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy and William Powell

THREE foreign films– Persona (1966), La Dolce Vita (1960), Rififi (1955)

FOUR soundtracks – The Apartment (1960), Rebecca (1940), The Third Man (1949), Vertigo (1958)

FIVE westerns – Shane (1953), The Searchers (1956) Johnny Guitar (1954), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), My darling clementine (1945)

SIX dance sequences-Never gonna dance (Swing Time), That Girl on the cover (Cover Girl, 1944), Moses Supposes (Singin’ in the Rain, 1952), Dream Ballet (Oklahoma!, 1955), Begin the Beguine (Broadway Melody of 1940), Cheek to Cheek (Top Hat, 1935)

SEVEN comedies – The Philadelphia Story (1940), Bringing up Baby (1938), Some Like it Hot (1959), Twentieth Century (1934), The Women (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), The Gold Rush (1925)

EIGHT noirs – Double Indemnity (1944), Laura (1944), The Big Combo (1955), The Big Sleep (1946), Out of the Past (1947), The Killers (1946), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

NINE inspiring movies – To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), An Affair to Remember (1957), Stage Door (1937), Mr Smith goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1942), The Lost Weekend (1945), Mildred Pierce (1945), 12 Angry Men (1957), The Best Years of our Lives (1946)

TEN performances – Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter (1968), Bette Davis in All About Eve (1950), Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd (1950), Lee J. Cobb in 12 Angry Men (1957), Barbara Stanwyck in Ball of Fire (1941), Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937), Cary Grant in Notorious (1946), Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight (1944), Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen (1951)

ELEVEN movies from children– Bit of a cheat, but the Little Rascals movies

TWELVE heroes – Gregory Peck in To Kill a mockingbird (1962), Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Bette Davis in Now, Voyager (1942), Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year (1942), Gary Cooper in High Noon (1952), Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men (1957), Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night (1967), Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront (1954), Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Edward G. Robinson in Double Indemnity (1944), Ingrid Bergman in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)

So, there you have it, my darlings. Join in and share. Let’s fill the Internet with classics, shall we?

Ernest Lehman

elErnest Lehman will go down in history as one of the most prolific and successful Hollywood screenwriters of all time. As an aspiring screenwriter myself, he’s one of my main inspirations. How could he not be? Look at this: Sabrina (1954), The King and I (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), North by Northwest (1959), West Side Story (1961), The Sound of Music (1965), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Hello, Dolly! (1968)… He wrote ALL of those, among others. I’ve mentioned Sweet Smell of Success here on the Garden before, and it’s one of my very favorite movies of all time. And that’s mostly due to that fantastic screenplay. Those one-liners! It’s one of those movies that you go like ‘Oh, I wish I’d thought of that!’. Weirdly enough, he got four Oscar nominations for writing in his career, but this wasn’t one of them and it’s probably his best screenplay, in my opinion. He did, however, get nominated for Sabrina, North by Northwest, West Side Story, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. He said of his screenplay for North by Northwest that he wanted it to be ‘the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures’, and by golly, isn’t it?

In 2001, he became the first screenwriter to receive an Honorary Oscar from the Academy, given to him by his good friend Julie Andrews. He passed away only four years after that and is buried in Westwood Cemetery in LA.

Bette…

Bette DavisBette Davis really was something, wasn’t she? Not only was she a tremendous talent and a consummate professional with an extraordinary career that includes Jezebel (1938), All about Eve (1950) and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), but she also, as they say, ‘fought the system’. She fought for better roles for women, she fought for good scripts and good directors, she refused to be the ‘girl next door’, she became the first female President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1941, and in 1942, she and John Garfield created the famous Hollywood Canteen. On top of that, she sued Warner Bros. She talks about it on her 1972 interview with Dick Cavett, which you can watch on YouTube. Fascinating story. The whole interview is an eye-opener and a great insight into 1930s and 1940s Hollywood. She talks about her ‘enormous discipline’ and how that helped her along the way. And, as you can read on her tombstone, she did it the hard way. Hats off.

My top 10 Favorite Classic Movie Scores

I’m a big fan of movie scores and composers, and I’ve tried sooo very hard to do a top 10, top 20, and whatnot, of my favorite or ‘best’ movie soundtracks of all time. I’m not very good at that type of thing, but I think I’ve finally come up with something. So these are my personal favorite movie scores of the classic era (in no particular order).

Double Indemnity, 1944 (Miklos Rosza) – daaaa… da-da-daaaa….. DA-DA-DA-DAAAA… That opening sequence is epic!

Laura, 1944 (David Raksin) – the score of this film will continue to live through the ages. The film is not nearly as well-known as it should be, but somehow, the score is.

Now Voyager, 1942 (Max Steiner) – one of the most instantly recognizable scores of all time. In fact, I bet you’re singing it in your head right now.

Psycho, 1960 (Bernard Herrmann) – this is probably the most famous of them all. Those strings!

Rebecca, 1940 (Franz Waxman) – so mysterious and spooky, just like the movie itself.

Sunset Boulevard, 1950 (Franz Waxman) – it hooks you from the opening credits and it never lets go.

The Apartment, 1960 (Adolph Deutsch) – the scene when Baxter comes home and has to clean up everything is perfectly complimented by the sweet, lovely little tune. Did I ever mention that this is my favorite movie of all time?

The Lion in Winter, 1968 (John Barry) – a very unusual score for an equally unusual film.

The Third Man, 1949 (Anton Kara) – a lively, unusual score that makes a wonderful contrast with the plot and theme of the movie.

Vertigo, 1958 (Bernard Herrmann) – the greatest movie ever made (according to Sound & Sight magazine) also has one of the greatest scores and probably my number 1 favorite.