CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Be My Guest - Tracy (Gilby 37) Part 2

Here is the second part to my be my guest series with this month's guest blogger Tracy (Gilby 37). Tracy writes the terrific blog: as well as What We're Watching on TV which I contribute to as well.

My first classic movie experience is hard to pinpoint. You see I grew up in a house with a father who was a HUGE fan of classic films. My mom also watched old movies and to this day she loves classic TV (try prying her away from Hawaii Five-O or Mannix DVDs when she's watching them!) Dad was a big lover of Bette Davis so my earliest memories are of Bette -- in particular, The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex always sticks out in my mind as one of the first great "old" movies I saw and loved. Ironically, my mom says it was one of the movies she remembers watching while pregnant with me! [So maybe that was my first experience] I was also very lucky because every Sunday my mom took me to the matinee -- often it was a Disney re-release. As you can see, it is not surprising I have a love of classic movies. I have happy memories of watching The Wizard of Oz every year with my parents -- it was an event in the age before DVRs and DVDs. I also remember the first time Gone With The Wind was shown on TV. It was on NBC over two nights -- needless to say that was what we were watching in the Gilbert household in November of 1976. My fondest memory of sharing a classic with my siblings was watching The Poseidon Adventure every year on TV. To this day, my brother Donn will dare people not to cry when Shelley Winters sacrifices herself for the good of the group.Granted, The Poseidon Adventure may not be a classic to everyone, but I love this All Star Disaster film which to me was one of the most perfectly cast ensembles of all time.
I can't pick just one favorite movie. I have a favorite "feel good" movie, a favorite "chick" flick, and a favorite "Hollywood at its best." My favorite feel good movie is The Trouble with Angels starring Rosalind Russell and Hayley Mills. This film was a wonderful coming of age movie as well as great comedy. I also loved the way Ida Lupino directed the film -- she managed to give equal time to her established star and the rising star. Lupino was highly underrated and watching the sensitive way she handled the stars and material indicates how skillful she was. My favorite chick flick is Now, Voyager. To me, it is Bette Davis' great moment as tender character. Charlotte Vale was not the typical role Davis played. However, her poignant depiction of a spinster tranformed by friendship and love remains my favorite portrayal. In lesser hands, the final line of the film could have been laughable -- that God Bette delivered "Oh, Jerry, let's don't ask for the moon. We have the stars."

Finally, to me, Casablanca represents the ideal Hollywood classic. It is a movie that is wonderfully cast and stands the test of time. Is a romance? Yes -- but more importantly it is a story of truth. Each of the main characters discovers his/her own truth during the course of the film. Rick realizes he and Ilsa are not destined to live "happily ever after." Ilsa recognizes her genuine love for Rick but necessity to remain with Victor. Victor is not naive, I honestly believe he understands Rick's sacrifce and love for Ilsa. Last, but not least, Captain Renault discovers he can not be a stooge in the Vichy regime and goes off with Rick at the film's end. For me, the casting was outstanding, everyone fit his/her role to a tee. In addition, I still get a little teary eyed when La Marseillaise is sung by the patrons in Rick's Cafe. Rick allows Victor Laslo to lead the band and Laslo's courage inspires his fellow patrons to sing along and drown out the German officers who are singing their anthem. They don't make movies like that anymore.

I loved all your responses Tracy. The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind were yearly favorites as my house too growing up. You're the second guest of mine to have chosen Bette Davis as their favorite actor/actresses. And I loved your reasoning behind Casablanca. Good stuff Tracy.

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