Hollywood birthdays

You know how April 5th is such a well-known date amongst Classic Hollywood buffs, ’cause so many people were born that day? Bette, Spencer Tracy, Greg Peck, etc… Well, I was just posting birthday wishes on The Old Hollywood Garden’s Facebook page and I realized that February 8th is pretty much just as ‘iconic’. Look at all these birthdays: Charlie Ruggles (1886), King Vidor (1894), Lana Turner (1921), Jack Lemmon (1925), James Dean (1931). Pretty awesome!

Dodsworth (1936) – O Canada blogathon

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When I saw that Ruth of Silver Screenings and Kristina of Speakeasy were hosting a blogathon about Canada, I knew I had to join. Being part-Canadian myself, it was only logical. The point of the blogathon was to talk about all-things Canada, movie-wise. So basically, actors, directors, movies set in Canada, whatever… So, I decided to talk about a movie that is just too wonderful to ignore and a performance that is quite possibly the greatest ever performance by a Canadian actor in a movie: Walter Huston in Dodsworth (1936).

Retired automobile magnate Sam Dodsworth (Walter Huston) and his wife Fran (Ruth Chatterton) have been married for 20 years. After Sam’s retirement, they decide to go on a trip to Europe, but things soon turn sour when they realize they want different things in life. Sam wants to enjoy his retirement with his wife, while she wants to have fun and enjoy herself. It soon becomes clear that a fling (for both of them) is almost inevitable and so is the prospect of divorce.

William Wyler’s Dodsworth is not like other movies. Dodsworth is about a failing marriage, by which I mean, the failing marriage isn’t a plot device for something else to happen, like in Three on a Match (1932), nor is it used for comedic effect like in nearly every screwball comedy, for instance. Dodsworth is ABOUT a marriage in crisis, the marriage is at the center of it all and it’s raw, it’s real, it’s unafraid and you better brace yourselves for it.

With a cast that also includes Mary Astor, Maria Ouspenskaya, Paul Lukas and David Niven, the performances are the best thing about the movie. And while everyone is great, it’s Walter Huston’s that stands out, without a shadow of a doubt. It’s an absolutely brilliant performance that will destroy you emotionally. Having previously played the character on stage in New York, he was obviously the right choice for the film and he was, of course, nominated for an Oscar.

Dodsworth is brilliant and painful. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor. But get in the right state of mind first.

You can read the other entries for the O Canada blogathon here.

Movies references in music, part 3

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Part 3 is here! It’s been a while!

I love movie references in songs. I’ve done two other posts about this, and they were really popular, so I thought I’d do a third one. Hope you guys like it, and do check out the songs!

 

The Damned Don’t Cry by Visage – An awesome New Wave song named after the 1950 movie of the same name. I love Visage.

Robert DeNiro’s Waiting by Bananarama – I love this song. Wonderful melody. Bananarama were adorable!

Spellbound by Siouxsie and the Banshees – So cool. Named after the Hitchcock movie.

E=MC2 by Big Audio Dynamite – A great tribute to Nicolas Roeg’s movies.

Where do you go to my lovely? by Peter Sarstedt – ‘You talk like Marlene Dietrich’ RIP Peter Sarstedt.

Robert Mitchum by Julian Cope – An absolutely adorable tribute, a lot like Judy Garland’s tribute to Clark Gable

Rock on by Davis Essex – ‘Jimmy Dean…. James Dean’. Such a sexy song! David Essex was amazing!

If you want to check out the other lists, click here and here.

Have a great week, guys! ❤

 

Easy Living (1937)

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Screwball comedies are good for you. In fact, you should probably watch one every day when you wake up. Wouldn’t that be nice? Go on, write that down. Make it your resolution for 2017. And if you want my advice, I think you should start with Mitchell Leisen’s Easy Living (1937).

After finding out that his wife Jenny (Mary Nash) has bought yet another expensive coat, millionaire banker J.B. Ball, played by the adorably grumpy Edward Arnold, gets fed up and decides to throw it over the balcony. It lands on working girl Mary Smith (Jean Arthur) and when she tries to return it, he tells her to keep it. This leads to an array of gossip and misunderstandings – well, of course, it’s a screwball comedy -, made worse by the fact that Mary ends up falling in love with J.B.’s son, John (Ray Milland), and vice-versa.  

Written by the mighty Preston Sturges, based on the novel by Vera Caspary (who also wrote Laura), Easy Living is one of the great screwball comedies. For me personally, I’ve always found that screwball comedies have the ability to make me laugh and calm me down at the same time and this one is no exception. I think it has to do with the balance between the slapstick moments (which, as you can imagine, are hilarious) and the relationship between Mary and John, which is just the cutest thing ever. Although, I have to say that, if I had to pick a favorite thing about this film, it would probably be Mr Louis (Luis Alberni)’s lines, which – and I wish I was kidding – I have written down to use at some point in my life. But I can’t pick a favorite, really. There are so many great things about this movie. Jean Arthur and Edward Arnold are comedy geniuses, and their scenes together are fantastic, namely the one in the taxi right at the beginning of the film. That scene is probably the second best taxi scene ever, after On the Waterfront (1954).

In short, Easy Living is fabulous. And you need it in your life.

Twentieth Century (1934)

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The absolutely wonderful Carole Lombard is the subject of the much-anticipated blogathon hosted by Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood, and since I’m a gigantic fan, I immediately signed up for it. I decided to go for a movie that is just ridiculously hilarious and criminally underrated: Howard Hawks’ Twentieth Century (1934).

Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore) is a Broadway empresario who is ever so slightly insane. He casts Lily Garland (Carole Lombard) in his newest production, and she becomes an overnight sensation. Together, the two of them rule Broadway, producing hit after hit, even if they drive each other crazy behind the scenes. After a while, Lily decides to go to Hollywood. She becomes a movie star and Jaffe is lost without her. He decides that he needs to get on the 20th Century train to Hollywood and bring her back. What he doesn’t know is that she is on the same train… And thus begins the wackiest train journey you’ll ever see in a movie. Trust me on this.

Twentieth Century is the craziest screwball comedy of all – arguably, I mean, look at the competition! -, and that’s mostly due to the performances of Carole Lombard and John Barrymore. The two of them make one heck of a duo! John Barrymore gives one of the best performances of his career (I still can’t believe he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar), and Carole Lombard…. Well, Carole Lombard is just a comedy genius. Inviable comic timing, flawless delivery and the best facial expressions. Not to mention, the funniest crier! She was so naturally funny, you kind of go like ‘just HOW does she do it?’. She was, without a doubt, one of the greatest comediennes who ever lived and quite possibly my all-time favorite. I mean, is it even possible not to love her?

If you want to read the other entries on the blogathon, click here and have fun!

The Chase (1946)

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I’ll be honest with you, when I read that Phillip Yordan wrote the screenplay, I was there like a shot. I mean, he did write The Big Combo (1955), after all! So obviously, I had big expectations for The Chase (1946) and I can safely say, it absolutely lived up to them!

Robert Cummings (come for Phillip Yordan, stay for Bob Cummings, I say) plays Chuck Scott, a WWII veteran who, after finding a wallet, decides he should return it to its owner, a gangster called Eddie Roman (Steve Cochran). Roman realizes that Scott doesn’t have a job, so he hires him as his chauffeur. Scott – or Scotty, as Roman calls him – soon finds himself drawn to Roman’s wife Lorna, played by the recently departed Michele Morgan, and when the two of them run away together to Cuba, Roman and his right-hand man Gino (Peter Lorre) begin their chase…

Based on the novel The Black Path of Fear by Cornell Woolrich and directed by Arthur Ripley, The Chase is satisfyingly bizarre and delightfully unusual. It’s one of those films that will make you go ‘whaa…?’ every now and again, trying to baffle you as much as it can and then giving you an explanation for every twist that is even more baffling than the twist itself. And you thought The Big Sleep (1946) was confusing!

With a cast that also includes Nina Koshetz, Jack Holt, James Westerfield and Lloyd Corrigan, The Chase will draw you in from the first second and it won’t let you go until the very end. In fact, probably not even then.

Coming soon…

As challenging and exhausting as My Top 20 Favorite Films Noir was, it was also SO MUCH FUN!!! I was really happy with it in the end, even though I had to leave out some big favorites.

So now I’ve decided that I’m going to do the same thing with screwball comedies (second favorite genre)! Really excited about this!

Time to re-watch some classics as well as some gems I haven’t seen yet. Woohoo!

Have a great day, guys ❤

Carol x

 

Trouble in Paradise (1932)

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If you’re as obsessed with Billy Wilder as I am, you’ll know that he had a sign on his wall that read ‘How would Lubitsch do it?’. If you watch Trouble in Paradise (1932), you’ll understand why.

A thief, Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) and a pickpocket, Lily Vautier (Miriam Hopkins), fall in love and decide to team up and con the owner of a perfume company, Mariette Colet (Kay Francis). However, things don’t go as planned and Monescu falls in love with Mariette.

Dripping with sexual innuendo and sophistication, Trouble in Paradise has ‘the Lubitsch touch’ written all over it. You can’t really explain what ‘the Lubitsch touch’ is, you can only watch it and nod to yourself amusingly when it hits you. It’s as subtle and witty as they come and everybody in Hollywood knew it. In fact, Trouble in Paradise is so influential that almost every type of comedy can be traced back to it: screwball comedy, sophisticated comedy, romantic comedy, comedy of errors, you name it. They’re all there.

With a supporting cast that includes Edward Everett Horton, Charles Ruggles and C. Aubrey Smith, Trouble in Paradise is arguably Ernst Lubitsch’s masterpiece. And that’s saying something when you’re talking about a man who hardly ever made a bad film.

Happy 2017!

Hope you guys have a wonderful 2017!

If you’re going out tonight, be safe and have fun. If you’re staying in, may I recommend The Apartment (1960)? Or indeed, The Philadelphia Story (1940) ^?

Anyway, thank you for being here and for being the loveliest lovelies ever. I love you all ❤

Happy New Year!

Carol x