CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Sunday, February 28, 2010

All Good Things In March

In addition to my daily movie viewing next month, here are some other things I have planned in March.
The classic movie goddess will be one of my favorites, Ann Sheridan. I also promised Kate over at Silents and Talkies I would contribute a piece about Ann on her blog. I will do a spotlight on actress Brooke Bundy as I have promised by buddy C. Parker over at Starlet Showcase. And start a new poll since my last one will expire tonight. I think my new poll will focus on something about the Oscar. So I hope to be very busy next month, which begins in less than 6 hours from now. But at least I will enjoy what I'm doing. Oh and Dawn, we will get around to discussing Doris Day too, I promise. And plus regular postings on the other blogs I contribute to like FilmPhiles, Noir and Chick Flicks, Westerns, etc. So many blogs, so little time.

31 Days of Movies - Monty style

During next month, which also happens to be my birthday (the 31st) I am planning to watch at least one classic movie a day. That used to not be a problem but with work and other responsibilities and blogging, exercising, etc, there is not enough time in the day. But for next month I will try my very best to do it. Once upon a time, I use to watch 2 or 3 a day, so hopefully this will get be back into the flow of things. And I will try to post a review of the film I watch, if not I will at least mention it on my blog.  I sometimes feel like Cary Grant from Bringing Up Baby in the picture to your left. The first movie of the month for tomorrow night will be 42nd Street. I am taking a page from Nicole over at Vintage Film Nerd, who manages to see at least one classic film a day. My hats off to you Nicole. Keep up the good work as I do enjoy reading your blog.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: These Three (1936)

I watched this excellent film a few days ago and I thought it was one of the best films I've ever seen. Based on the Lillian Hellman play, The Children's Hour, the main storyline has been changed from lesbianism to a heterosexual triangle involving two women and a man. But the film still remains a solid dramatic effort. The film casts Miriam Hopkins as Martha and Merle Oberon as Karen, college roommates, who graduate and face the future with no place and no money.

Karen, however, has inherited a farmhouse from her grandmother, and gets the idea that she and Martha can turn it into a school for girls. They travel to the farmhouse, which turns out to be quite rundown, and all hope seems lost, until they meet Dr. Joe Cardin (played by Joe Cardin), who tells them not to give up, to take out a loan, fix up the farmhouse, and it will work out. And before you know it, the school is open and full of young girls. And Karen starts falling in love with Joe. Even though Martha longs for the good doc herself. All seems to go according to plan, until one student devises a scheme for revenge for being punished by the teachers. The student is Mary Tildford (played by Bonita Granville) as the child from hell. Her lie about an affair between Karen and Joe spreads quickly and all over town. And before you know it the parents quickly remove their kids from the school without an explanation to the titular three. Well Joe decides he wants answers and goes to Mary's grandmother's house to get some. Mary's grandmother is played by the wonderful Alma Kruger. Once there the story comes out to the three young people, they can't believe that this has happened. There is a trial and the whole town is against our three young individuals. After the trial Karen decides it's best if Joe leaves as she is preparing to close down the school. Flash forward a few months later and the truth finally comes out that Mary made the whole thing up and even bullied her classmate Rosalie (a superb Marcie Mae Jones) to corroborate her story. But the damage has been done, that has ruined the lives of three people. Martha finds out and is relieved but still saddened. Karen goes looking for Joe, who is living abroad and they end up together finally.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film from beginning to end. I thought all the actors involved gave very strong performances beginning with Hopkins who had the most delicate of the lead roles and she delivered it superbly. Hopkins shows that she can act when the need arises. Oberon was good also, but got kind of overshadowed by Hopkins in some scenes. It's not her fault, it's just that Martha is the juicier of the two roles. McCrea is his typical strong leading man self. Granville is truly monstrous as the child brat who is just teeming with hatred and deceit. But she finally gets what coming to her when her playhouse comes falling apart and gets one of the all time best film slaps in the face ever. And guess who delivers it.. none other than Margaret Hamilton, the wicked witch of the west, from The Wizard Of Oz. Hamilton plays the maid for Mrs. Tilford. And I cheered when she gave that slap to Granville. I was like finally someone steps up to give that girl what she truly deserved. These Three was expertly directed by the great William Wyler, who would also direct the remake, The Children's Hour (1962) with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine. I haven't seen that version but I doubt it can be any better than this classic. This is what you get when you get all the stars aligned with great performances, solid direction, and that old Hollywood magic. These Three is a must see.

Recently Purchased DVDS

Just bought two classic movie DVD sets, one with Cary Grant and the other with Frank Sinatra. There are 5 films in each set and I paid $40 bucks for both sets. Awesome deal. The Cary Grant set is called Screen Legend Collection and features 5 of Cary's early films. They are:

Thirty Day Princess (1934) with Sylvia Sidney
Kiss And Make Up (1934) with Helen Mack and Edward Everett Horton
Wings in the Dark (1935) with Myrna Loy
Big Brown Eyes (1936) with Joan Bennett
Wedding Present (1936) with Joan again.

And it will be a treat because I've never seen any of these films.

On the Sinatra set, the films are:

The Man With The Golden Gun (1955) with Kim Novak
Marriage on the Rocks (1965) with Deborah Kerr and pal Dean Martin
None But The Brave (1965) with Clint Walker and Tommy Sands
Some Came Running (1959) with Dean Martin and Shirley Maclaine
The Tender Trap (1955) with Debbie Reynolds

Now I have seen Some Came Running and The Tender Trap but it's been awhile. So all in all, 10 movies for $40 bucks is a heck of a deal. I got them at this local video store called Movie Stop. I have spent much money there over the years. Just wanted to share this with everyone.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review: The Holiday (2006)

Well done romantic comedy/drama that features all four leads in great form. Let me start out by saying that Kate Winslet is one of my favorite modern era actress. She is awesome. For me it's Kate and Sandra Bullock, then everyone else. I've loved her ever since Heavenly Creatures (1994). Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz are women who are having men trouble and decide to switch homes over the Christmas holiday. Each will stay at each other houses to get away from their normal routine and away from their significant opposites. Kate comes to LA while Cameron goes to England. Jack Black and Jude Law play the new men who come into their lives. A very pleasing film with solid performances by all, especially Kate Winslet. Kate is one of the best actress in today's cinema. Cameron is funny as usual and gorgeous. Jack Black gives a surprising engaging performance as the guy who falls for Winslet. And Jude Law who in past movies can be very annoying is actually pretty good here. And veteran Eli Wallach almost steals the movie as a writer from Hollywood's golden age who becomes friends with Winslet. You will laugh and cry and enjoy this wonderful movie. The Holiday is one of me and wife's favorite movies.

Graham: "Long distance relationships can work, you know."
Amanda: "Really? I can't make one work when I live in the same house with someone"

Review: The Lady Eve (1941)

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Very entertaining screwball comedy from Preston Sturges that teams Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.
Fonda shines in a rare early comedy role, his second with Ms. Stanwyck. They paired up three years earlier in the delightful The Mad Miss Manton (1938). Here he plays Charles Pike, a young rich man, on his way back from a year long scientific research in the Amazon, aboard a cruise ship. Charles is accompanied by his bodyguard/friend Ambrose, played by Sturges regular William Demarest. Charles is promptly tagged by con artists Jean Harrington (Stanwyck) and Harry (Charles Coburn) who pretend they are father and daughter and who love take rich people to the cleaners, mainly through cards. Well on this rare occasion, Jean falls in love with Charles and is ready to settle down. But Charles finds out about her past and things turn sour fast.

Having being jilted by Charles, Jean tries to get back at him by pretending to be a English woman who is visiting Charles family. Of course Charles thinks it's Jean, but she tells him her name is Eve and he promptly falls in love with her. Cue screwball antics. I love this movie. It's one of my favorites of all time. Stanwyck and Fonda show that they can do more than just drama and thrillers and are perfect in this film. One of the funniest scenes to me in this film is when Jean is checking out Charles with her mirror on the ship and pretends to do the conversation she sees Charles having with a young lady. It's hilarious as all get out. I wouldn't be surprised if some of that was ad-libbed the way Barbara handles the scene. It's awesome. The duo get great support from Coburn and Demarest. One of the best screwball comedies ever made. And directed with the usual great flair by Preston Sturges.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: Five Came Back (1939)

Another great film from that golden year of 1939 that got overshadowed by the big guns of Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The  Wizard of Oz and others. But this little taut thriller is really good and deserves to be on that list of 1939's best films. Twelve people are aboard Coast Air Line's flagship the Silver Queen enroute to South America when the airplane encounters a storm and is blown off course. The people include Lucille Ball as Peggy, a woman with a past. C. Aubrey Smith as Professor Spengler with his wife Martha (Played by Elizabeth Risdon). Also on board is Wendy Barrie as Alice, a secretary secretly eloping with her boss/fiancee Judson Ellis (played by Patric Knowles). Then there is the always reliable Allen Jenkins as racketeer Pete who is escorting Tommy, the son of his boss back to America. Also on board is John Carradine as Crimp, who is escorting the criminal Vasquez (played by Joseph Calleia) to stand trial for his crimes. And finally the pilots Bill (Chester Morris) and Joe (Kent Taylor).

The pilots are able to land the plane into a remote jungle, but it is populated with headhunters. The pilots have to repair the plane before they can try to take off and it's a race against time. As the headhunters drums signal they are preparing to attack. Days turns into weeks and most everybody pull their own weight except for Crimp and Ellis who become full on alcoholics. Everyone else remains strong and vigilant. The top performances are by Calleia who actually turns out to be a fair and actually likable man. He is at ease with the current situation because he knows once the plane if fixed, he is that much closer to being hanged for his crimes. Lucille Ball is very good in a rare dramatic role that makes her tarnished lady trying her best to be a better person, despite the resistance from others. Wendy Barrie is also very good as the lovestruck secretary who manages to put her alcoholic fiancee in check. Allen Jenkins is tops as Pete, who believes in honor, despite being on the wrong side of the law. Morris and Taylor are very good in their roles as the pilots. And C. Aubrey Smith is excellent as the Professor who is very knowledgeable about the current situtation. The final twist at the end is a shocker and makes one take value of life and choices. There are a few deaths before then but when the climax comes you will be completely enthralled.

The running time is only about 75 minutes long but it is a taut, tension filled 75 minutes. It's to the director's skill and credit that we actually never see the headhunters but we know they're coming thanks to those constantly banging drums. Five Came Back is a top notch thriller that deserves more attention now since it didn't receive it back then. A pleasing little B thriller from yesteryear.

A Double Feature with Anne Baxter

Tonight on TCM, there is a double feature starring the wonderful Anne Baxter. They are two of Anne's earlier films: Five Graves To Cairo (1943) directed by Billy Wilder and The Fighting Sullivans (1944). If you get a chance, check out at least one of them of this highly underrated actress. Anne was best known as the young Eve Harrington, who sparred with the great Bette Davis in the classic All About Eve. For my money Anne was one of the best actresses ever to come along. I recently did a top 25 favorite actresses list and she just missed it by an hair. I may have to rethink that list now. Or maybe expand it to a top 50. Anyway check out the lovely and talented Anne Baxter tonight on TCM. It starts at 8pm EST.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Special Thanks to Kate Gabrielle over at Silents and Talkies

Thanks to Kate for letting me on the great actor Dirk Bogarde. I recommend everyone to watch a Dirk film now, and I know that's possible thanks to the generosity of Kate herself. She is mailing out copies of her Dirk movies to all those that responded to her blog a few days ago. If it wasn't for Kate, I would have never known about Dirk Bogarde. So this is my way of telling Kate thank you very much. And for people to check out her wonderful blog, Silents and Talkies. Click on the post title to go to Kate's site.

My First Dirk Bogarde Experience

Thanks to my new friend over at Silents and Talkies, Kate Gabrielle has introduced me to the wonderful world of actor Dirk Bogarde. She actually sent out free DVD copies of her Bogarde collection to anyone who requested one. I chose The Woman In Question and I eagerly await it's arrival. As I told Kate the other day, I actually came across a Dirk movie that I had recorded on my DVR a while back called Cast A Dark Shadow (1950). I forgot I even had it on my machine. I sat down to watch it and was thoroughly enthralled by it.

In this terrific thriller Dirk is cast as Edward Bare, a clever fortune hunter who, kills his elderly wife, and actually gets away with the crime. But he is shocked to learn that his wife did not change her will to provide him with all her wealth, much to the delight of her lawyer. Edward gets the estate home but all the money goes to his wife's sister who lives in Jamaica. So now desperate for money, Edward meets up with a new woman, the tell like it is Freda Jeffries (played by the wonderful Margaret Lockwood of Hitchcock's 1938 classic The Lady Vanishes (my favorite Hitch film by the way). Freda is a recent widower herself and before you know it, she and Edward are married. But Freda quickly lays down the law that her money is her money and Edward has his. Of course Edward is broke and is now desperate. He eventually meets another woman named Charlotte Young (played by Kay Walsh) who is not all she seems to be. Edward takes a fancy to her much to the dismay of Freda.

In the meantime laywer Philip Mortimer is keeping close tabs of Edward, hoping to catch him in a mistake. All things will converge in a splendid climax involving Edward bragging about how he did kill his first wife and got away with it. I won't spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't seen it yet but it packs a punch. Dirk Bogarde is phenomenal in this movie. He is suave, calculating, smart, and a real ladies man. He radiates as much charm as he does disgust. As I had mentioned to Kate, I had only seen Dirk in only one other film, the ensemble military epic A Bridge To Far. This is the first time I've seen a film where Dirk is front and center and I was very impressed with his performance. I can't wait to watch more of his films now. That's the cool thing about blogging and networking, you get to meet new people who show you new things or ideas. Thanks Kate. And to my followers, check out Kate's site Silents and Talkies. It's one of the best out there. Click on this post title and it will take you directly to Kate's blog.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kathryn Grayson: Beautiful and Talented

Here is a short video of Kathryn singing Time After Time with Frank Sinatra on piano and Peter Lawford being starstruck...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Never Nominated...Are You Kidding Me?

We know that the Academy has made colossal blunders in the past like Saving Private Ryan losing to Shakespeare in Love even though Steven Spielberg won Best Director that year. Or that they gave Best Actor to Paul Newman for The Color Of Money but not for The Hustler, when he played the same character of Eddie 20 years earlier and better. But I came across this article that lists several big time actors and actresses who were never even nominated a single time. Which is a lot more heartbreaking than never winning like Cary Grant or Deborah Kerr did. But I was amazed at the ones who never received a single nomination their entire career. Just amazing and unbelievable. So here is some of the ones I came across to make a Top Ten list of Oscar's biggest blunders.

1. Marilyn Monroe - I know some may dispute her acting ability but you can't deny Monroe's presence in any film she ever did. Her Sugar Kane in Some Like It Hot is iconic and she gave a very strong performance in Bus Stop. But then for her final film, The Misfits, she gave the type of performance that Oscar would normally be salivating at, a tortured turn by a popular actress trying to show her dramatic skills. But alas, no nod for the overlooked Marilyn Monroe.

2. Joseph Cotten - Really? This is a total shocker right here. Cotten was a proven actor and was sometimes the best thing going in some of his films. He had several out right classics like The Third Man, Citizen Kane, and what I thought would have been an automatic nod was his highly effective performance as Uncle Charlie in Hitchcock's Shadow Of A Doubt. This omission is a real head scratcher.

3. Myrna Loy - No way. Not Nora Charles. Those entertaining films aside, she gave an understated yet touching performance as a postwar wife trying to keep her family together in the classic film, The Best Years Of Our Lives. Unbelievable. I will be saying this word a lot during this blog.

4. Errol Flynn - I guess the Academy overlooked Flynn because of the all derring and swashbuckling he did and he made it look so easy. But toward the end of his career and after the notorious scandal, he wowed his peers with his performance in The Sun Also Rises, which was pretty much autobiographical.  A man who once had it all, and then to lose it through alcohol and bad choices. But no nomination for our man Flynn.

5. Maureen O'Hara - The glorious redhead who entertained audiences for over 50 years never got love from the Academy. Her pairings with John Wayne are legendary, especially as Mary Kate Danaher in the rollicking The Quiet Man.

6. Edward G. Robinson - Let me tell ya something, when a actor can play a volatile gangster in Little Caesar and then later on play a middle aged painter who falls for a hooker in Scarlet Street, he has to get a nomination. This guy had some range and could play more than the tough guy gangster which I guess a lot of people judged him by. Also had a strong supporting turn in Double Indemnity.

7. Fred MacMurray - Which leads to Mr. MacMurray who also gave a memorable performance in Indemnity. Then he backed that up with another solid role in The Apartment. I guess after feeling no love from The Academy, Fred bolted to TV for a long run on the enjoyable series My Three Sons.

8. Kim Novak - May have been judged early on as a Monroe knock off and doesn't have a long resume. But she gave one hell of a performance as two distinct characters in Hitchcock's Vertigo. Oscar - please.

9. Peter Lorre - What? Are you kidding me? His accent alone is worthy of a nomination. Of course everyone knows his big roles in Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. But Lorre was sensational as the child serial killer in the classic film, M.

10. Donald Sutherland - The Dirty Dozen. MASH. Klute. Don't Look Now. Ordinary People. Anyone of those films should have netted Sutherland a nod. But no such luck.

So there you have a list of 10 actors and actresses who didn't receive much love from the Academy. And I'm sure there are lots more that have been overlooked. If anyone has anymore, feel free to chime in.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958)

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Superb film. Liz is smoking hot in this Tennessee William's adaptation. And she gives a great performance, to boot. Easily could have won an Oscar for it. Liz is Maggie the cat and she's married to Paul Newman as Brick, who have come home to celebrate his dad's birthday. He's called Big Daddy , wonderfully played by Burl Ives. Jack Carson is Gooper, Brick's brother. And Dame Judith Anderson is Ida "Big Momma", wife to Big Daddy. When a southern family like this get together, all kinds of drama starts to unfold. This is the type of film where you just sit back and watch the fireworks go off, because it's an actors showcase. And there are several scenes where you just see where everyone is at the top of their game. Trading insults and bringing up shameful secrets from the past. Things get emotional as temperatures fly high with everyone but Brick. He manages to stay pretty mellow, until he finally lets out some rage at Big Daddy. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof  is an extremely satisfying film experience and lets all involved have some of their juiciest film roles. One of my favorite films of all time. Sitting right there in my top 10.

Brick Pollitt: What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?
Margaret "Maggie" Pollitt: Just staying on it I guess, long as she can.

Ann-Margret says Good Morning...

Hope everyone has a lovely day....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

One of the best blogs to be reading...Chick Flicks Musicals

Just wanted to let everyone I know that one of my best friends Dawn, who I met through blogging has one of the best blogs out there called Chick Flicks Musicals. She even invited me to contribute which I gladly accepted. In her own words this is how she describes the blog: MUSICALS, include humor, music, dancing and a story. One of the reasons I love musicals, is the use of beautiful background scenery. Dancers seem to perform as if there is a live audience watching. This is my version of DANCING WITH THE STARS. So I'm trying to pass the word around that this is definitely one of the most entertaining and enjoyable blogs out there. Give it a try sometime. Just click on the title to go to the blog and tell Dawn that Monty sent you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Classic Movie Goddess Of The Month - Elizabeth Taylor Part 4

For the month of February I chose Liz Taylor as the classic movie goddess. Here I list what I think are her essential films that movie lovers need to see, that show her at her very best. I will start with my favorite Liz movie of all time: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958) Without a doubt, my favorite Liz Taylor movie. She gives a terrific performance as Maggie, the wife of Paul Newman in Tennessee Williams southern tale of family and their secrets brought out during one long and hot summer day. Liz was robbed of a Best Actress Oscar that year for sure.

WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966) Liz did pick up an Oscar (her second) for her sensational turn as the harridan wife of Richard Burton that is basically a clinic on Acting 101. Liz totally convinces the viewer that she is this forty-something frumpy and slightly overweight shrew who loathes her husband. Liz was only 33 when she made this film and turned in this magnificent performance.

FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1950) A fresh faced and 18 year old Liz shines brightly in this sentimental comedy classic. She is charming as the young bride to be Kay Banks and holds her own with veteran actors Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett. This film was so successful, a sequel followed with Kay now expecting a child.

CLEOPATRA (1963) While not one of Liz's best films, this is definitely a must see for the sheer spectacle of one of the most epic movies ever brought to the silver screen. And amid all the sets and thousands of extras, Liz is still the main attraction.

GIANT (1956) Engaging epic film has Liz as the wife of a rich Texas rancher (Rock Hudson) dealing with
miscegenation, moral dissipation, racism, the oppression of women and a lot more. James Dean is on hand for what turned out to be his final role before his untimely death. A true Hollywood epic that they just don't make like they used to.

A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951) Powerhouse film that has Liz sharing the screen with Montgomery Clift and Shelley Winters. Memorable for the final scene between Liz and Montgomery. This is the breakout performance Liz gave that moved her from child and teen-ager roles into full adult roles and she never looked back.

NATIONAL VELVET (1944) Entertaining family classic with Liz as Velvet Brown, who prepares to race her horse in the Grand National - England's greatest racing event. Liz is wonderful as the young girl and she gets great support from Mickey Rooney. A timeless classic.

BUTTERFIELD 8 (1960) Liz is saddled with the great name of Gloria Wandrous, a New York call girl who becomes involved with a married man. Now this is pure 60's soap opera kitsch and not that good of a film. It's very dated and kinda slow. But Liz did win her very first Oscar for Best Actress with her performance in this film. And while it may not be one of her best, she still commands your full attention. Plus she is definitely at her sexy best in this one.

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (1967) And last but not least, the Shakespeare classic is given the Hollywood treatment and real life husband and wife Richard Burton and Liz go at it with such gusto and authenticity, the line between acting and real life becomes a blur.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Good Morning from Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Gene Kelly

Good Morning as sung by Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Gene Kelly in the musical classic Singin in the Rain.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Good Morning from Elizabeth Taylor

Every day I will post a pic of an actress to get everyone going with a Good Morning. Today it's La Liz.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Banks

(1974-present) A lovely and pleasing actress of today's film. Her films include the Spider-Man films, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Role Models, and Sea biscuit. She also had a recurring role on the comedy TV series, Scrubs.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Kathryn Grayson

Born in 1922, Kathryn turns 88  today and she is still alive to celebrate it. A wonderful and talented actress whose credits include Anchors Aweigh, Show Boat, It Happened In Brooklyn, and Kiss Me Kate.

Kathryn Grayson

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Lana Turner

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite actresses ever...Lana Turner (1921-1995).

Happy Birthday Jack Lemmon

The great and wonderful Jack Lemmon (1925-2001). Here's to you on your birthday.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Classic Movie Goddess Of The Month - Elizabeth Taylor Part 3

Here are some notable quotes from La Liz herself:

My mother says I didn't open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked.

I don't pretend to be an ordinary housewife.

Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.

If someone's dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I'm certainly not dumb enough to turn it down.

I believe in mind over matter and doing anything you set your mind on.

I, along with the critics, have never taken myself very seriously.

You find out who your real friends are when you're involved in a scandal.

There's still so much more to do. I can't sit back and be complacent, and none of us should be. I get around now in a wheelchair, but I get around.

[on Marilyn Monroe] She seemed to have a kind of unconscious glow about her physical self that was innocent, like a child. When she posed nude, it was 'Gee, I am kind of, you know, sort of dishy,' like she enjoyed it without being egotistical.

[On the death of Michael Jackson] I just don't believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others. How I feel is between us. Not a public event.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Photo of the Day

A lovely pic of the beautiful Jeanne Crain...

Review: Pinky (1949)

I had never seen this film before TCM aired it the other night and was completely blown away by it. The story follows a young light skinned black woman who passes for white, leaves her home in Mississippi and goes north to attend nursing school. Pinky as she is called and played by Jeanne Crain, returns home after graduation to see her grandmother (Ethel Waters). Once there Pinky finds out that Granny has been caring for the ailing Ms. Em (Ethel Barrymore) and doesn't like it too much. Granny's little shack house sits on Ms. Em very large plantation estate. Pink recalls how she was treated badly by Ms. Em when Pinky was a child and has issues with her when Granny asks her to take care of Ms. Em as her nurse. At first Pinky wants no part of it but changes her mind once Granny tells her of how Ms. Em cared for her when she was sick. So their first meeting is tense as expected but over the next few days Pinky and Ms. Em come to understand each other. The rest of the film deals with Pinky dating a white doctor who finds out later on about Pinky's heritage and a legal battle over Ms. Em's estate between Pinky and Ms. Em's sister. This is a strong and emotional film, expertly directed by Elia Kazan, who gets three remarkable performances from his three women. Ethel Waters is just effortless in her part as Granny, that you don't even view her acting, but as a person trying to deal with a headstrong granddaughter and race relations. The great Ethel Barrymore is superb as usual and gets the most of her performance via scenes with Ms. Crain. Her character may have been a fixture of the old South and their traditions and views, but she is willing to accept the new way of thinking by her interaction with Pinky. And finally Jeanne Crain who gives probably the best performance of her career. She plays Pinky perfectly which is amazing, because this type of role could have easily been either over the top or not strong enough. She is white but has to play a black woman and she pulls it off with grace and class. I was genuinely moved by her performance that had several scenes where she said that she should be treated as a person and not judged by the color of  her skin. She should have won the Academy Award that year but alas did not. But regardless, Pinky is a great film that needs to be seen by everyone. It ranks right up there with To Kill A Mockingbird in my opinion.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Great Film Perfomances: Elizabeth Taylor - Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

For this month's great film performance I chose Elizabeth Taylor's searing portrayal of middle age wife Martha in Who's Afraid Of Virgina Woolf? Liz happens to be my classic movie goddess for the month of February on my own blog and she is celebrating her 78th birthday on the 27th of February. Liz deservedly won her second Best Actress Oscar for her performance here as the harridan wife who constantly verbally abuses her husband George (real life on-again, off-again husband Richard Burton). This is the kind of role actors and actresses would kill to have and Liz takes full advantage of the terrific script as written by Ernest Lehman based on the stage play by Edward Albee. Liz gives a clinic on acting 101 and it's a treat to watch. The banter between her and Burton comes alive in every single scene they have together. She transforms herself into this frumpy, middle aged bitter wife by wearing little or no makeup and putting on a few pounds. And says what is on her mind to anyone without hesitation. Liz is very convincing in this role as she was only 33 when this film was made. She gives a truly remarkable performance that truly earned her a Academy Award. Liz won an Oscar years earlier for Butterfield 8, but felt that was a gesture of sympathy from the Academy voters due to her illness at the time. Well, there is no doubt about her win for Virginia Woolf, she is truly magnificent in this film. Her performance as Martha at first may have you hating this woman, but by the end of the film, you will understand and even sympathize with her. It's to Taylor's credit and ability that you can feel anything for this woman at all, but you do. She gets to strut her acting ability to the fullest in one of the best screen performances of all time. And let me just add, though while Liz downplayed her beauty here, she was still quite attractive. Only Liz Taylor could pull something like that off. Here is a sampling of some of the sensational dialogue delivered in this great film:
Martha: I looked at you tonight and you weren't there... And I'm gonna howl it out, and I'm not gonna give a damn what I do and I'm gonna make the biggest god-damn explosion you've ever heard.
George: Try and I'll beat you at your own game.
Martha: Is that a threat George, huh?
George: It's a threat, Martha.
Martha: You're gonna get it, baby.
George: Be careful Martha. I'll rip you to pieces.
Martha: You're not man enough. You haven't the guts.
George: Total war.
Martha: Total.
Martha: I swear, if you existed, I'd divorce you.
Martha: I disgust me. You know, there's only been one man in my whole life who's ever made me happy. Do you know that?
Martha: George, my husband... George, who is out somewhere there in the dark, who is good to me - whom I revile, who can keep learning the games we play as quickly as I can change them. Who can make me happy and I do not wish to be happy. Yes, I do wish to be happy. George and Martha: Sad, sad, sad. Whom I will not forgive for having come to rest; for having seen me and having said: yes, this will do.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kitty (1945) on TCM Thursday, Feb 4th at 10pm EST

Another classic film that I have never seen but will be watching is the 1945 comedy Kitty with Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland. Directed by Mitchell Leisen. Paulette is a 18th century wench who gets involved with nobility. I can't wait to see this film. I love Paulette. She is a natural comedienne and was extremely talented.

Review: Who's Afraid Of Virgina Woolf? (1966)

Flixster - Share Movies

In honor of Liz Taylor being the classic movie goddess of the month, I'm going to post personal reviews of her best films. I'll start with the highly dramatic but effective 1966 drama Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. It pairs her with on-again, off-again husband Richard Burton as aging bitter couple Martha and George who become friends with a young couple named Nick and Honey (played by George Segal and Sandy Dennis). Having the young couple over for drinks turns into verbal sparring between Martha and George that turns very ugly very quickly. The young couple are pretty much terrified at the display they are witnessing but are scared to leave. This small B&W film with mainly the four actors on constant display is an actors dream to play in. The performances are all exceptionally good. Taylor is terrific as Martha who has several scenes where she just goes off on poor George. And kudos to Liz for deglamourizing herself  and putting on a few extra pounds to convincely  play this harridan. Liz was only 33 when she made this movie, but comes across believably as this middle aged shrew. Burton is good too as George, who takes the verbal abuse only for so long until he fires back. The banter between the two is well written and excellently performed. I mean if any two people knew more about each other than anyone else it's Liz and Richard. George Segal and Sandy Dennis are also good as the young couple who get in on the verbal sparring eventually. Director Mike Nichols of Silkwood, Working Girl and other later films makes his solid debut with this well made film that is really an actors showcase. One of Liz's best performances ever. I give it a solid rating of B+

Pinky on TCM tonight at 8pm EST

Never seen this film before and it sounds interesting. I'm a fan of Jeanne Crain so I think I'm gonna check it out tonight. It also stars Ethel Barrymore and Ethel Waters. Directed by the great Elia Kazan. The story is about a light skinned black woman (Crain) who returns to her grandmother's house in the South after graduating from a Northern nursing school. Of course complications arise when she comes home. I'm really interested in seeing this film and glad TCM is showing it tonight.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Classic Movie Goddess Of The Month - Elizabeth Taylor Part 2

Here are some facts and trivia about the fabulous Liz:

Height: 5'2"
Nicknames: Liz, Kitten

She was bridesmaid for Jane Powell for her first marriage. Powell was bridesmaid for Taylor at her first marriage.

Has three children and nine grandchildren.

Liz was a close friend of Montgomery Clift until his death in 1966. They met for the first time when Paramount decided that she had to accompany him to the premiere of The Heiress (1949) because they were both to star in the upcoming A Place in the Sun (1951). They liked each other right away. Clift used to call her "Bessie Mae". When he had a car accident a few years later that disfigured him, he had just left a party at Liz's house. It was she who found him first, got into the wreck and removed some teeth from his throat that threatened to choke him.

At one point during her life-threatening illness while filming Butterfield 8 (1960), she was actually pronounced dead.

First actress to earn $1,000,000 for a movie role (in Cleopatra (1963)).

Along with Julie Andrews, she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II on New Year's Eve, 1999.

The stories of her Oscar win for BUtterfield 8 (1960) have grown legendary. It is generally accepted as truth that she won Oscar voters by a vote of sympathy, because of the recent death of her husband, Michael Todd, and her near-fatal illness and emergency tracheotomy to save her life (her scar was very visible on Oscar night). Wisecracker and Rat Pack member Shirley MacLaine, who was favored to win for her role in The Apartment (1960), said afterwards that "I lost out to a tracheotomy."

She was voted the 11th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.

Ranked #7 in the American Film Insitutes list of the 50 'Greatest American Screen Legends', the top 25 male and top 25 female.

Although born in England, her parents were actually Americans who were just working in England. Her mother was of German descent and her dad was of Scots-Irish descent.

She and Richard Burton starred together in 11 movies: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The V.I.P.s (1963), Under Milk Wood (1972), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), The Sandpiper (1965), Hammersmith Is Out (1972), Doctor Faustus (1967), Divorce His - Divorce Hers (1973) (TV), The Comedians (1967), Cleopatra (1963) and Boom (1968). She had an uncredited cameo in Burton's film Anne of the Thousand Days (1969).


Larry Fortensky (6 October 1991 - 31 October 1996) (divorced)
John Warner (4 December 1976 - 7 November 1982) (divorced)
Richard Burton (10 October 1975 - 1 August 1976) (remarried) (divorced)
Richard Burton (15 March 1964 - 26 June 1974) (divorced) 1 child
Eddie Fisher (12 May 1959 - 6 March 1964) (divorced)
Michael Todd (2 February 1957 - 22 March 1958) (his death) 1 child
Michael Wilding (21 February 1952 - 30 January 1957) (divorced) 2 children
Conrad Hilton Jr. (6 May 1950 - 1 February 1951) (divorced)

My List of TCM's Top Academy Award Films

Monday, February 1, 2010

Classic Movie Goddess Of The Month - Elizabeth Taylor Part 1

A short bio of the legendary Liz Taylor, one of my favorite actresses of all time. Liz was born Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor on February 27th, 1932 in Hampstead, London, England. Although she was born an English subject, her parents were Americans, art dealers from St. Louis, Missouri (her father had gone to London to set up a gallery). Her mother had been an actress on the stage, but gave up that vocation when she married. Elizabeth lived in London until the age of seven, when the family left for the US when the clouds of war began brewing in Europe in 1939. They sailed without her father, who stayed behind to wrap up the loose ends of the art business.

The family relocated to Los Angeles, where Mrs. Taylor's own family had moved. Mr. Taylor followed not long afterward. A family friend noticed the strikingly beautiful little Elizabeth and suggested that she be taken for a screen test. Her test impressed executives at Universal Pictures enough to sign her to a contract. Her first foray onto the screen was in There's One Born Every Minute (1942), released when she was ten. Universal dropped her contract after that one film, but Elizabeth was soon picked up by MGM.

The first production she made with that studio was Lassie Come Home (1943), and on the strength of that one film, MGM signed her for a full year. She had minuscule parts in her next two films, The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) and Jane Eyre (1944) (the former made while she was on loan to 20th Century-Fox). Then came the picture that made Elizabeth a star: MGM's National Velvet (1944). She played Velvet Brown opposite Mickey Rooney. The film was a smash hit, grossing over $4 million. Elizabeth now had a long-term contract with MGM and was its top child star. She made no films in 1945, but returned in 1946 in Courage of Lassie (1946). In 1947, when she was 15, she starred in Life with Father (1947) with such heavyweights as William Powell, Irene Dunne and Zasu Pitts.

Throughout the rest of the 1940s and into the early 1950s Elizabeth appeared in film after film with mostly good results. Her busiest year was 1954, with roles in Rhapsody (1954), Beau Brummell (1954), The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) and Elephant Walk (1954). She was 22 now, and even at that young age was considered one of the world's great beauties. In 1955 she appeared in the hit Giant (1956) with James Dean.

Sadly, Dean never saw the release of the film, as he died in a car accident in 1955. The next year saw Elizabeth star in Raintree County (1957), an overblown epic made, partially, in Kentucky. Critics called it dry as dust. Despite the film's shortcomings, Elizabeth was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Southern belle Susanna Drake. However, on Oscar night the honor went to Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (1957). In 1958 Elizabeth starred as Maggie Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).

The film received rave reviews from the critics and Elizabeth was nominated again for an Academy Award for best actress, but this time she lost to Susan Hayward in I Want to Live! (1958). She was still a hot commodity in the film world, though. In 1959 she appeared in another mega-hit and received yet another Oscar nomination for Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). Once again, however, she lost out, this time to Simone Signoret for Room at the Top (1959). Her Oscar drought ended in 1960 when she brought home the coveted statue for her flawless performance in BUtterfield 8 (1960) as Gloria Wandrous, a call girl who is involved with a married man. Some critics blasted the movie but they couldn't ignore her performance. There were no more films for Elizabeth for three years. She left MGM after her contract ran out, but would do projects for the studio later down the road. In 1963 she starred in Cleopatra (1963), which was one of the most expensive productions up to that time--as was her salary, a whopping $1,000,000.

This was the film where she met her future and fifth husband, Richard Burton (the previous four were Conrad Hilton, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd--who died in a plane crash--and Eddie Fisher). Her next handful of films were lackluster at best, especially 1963's The V.I.P.s (1963), which was shredded by most critics. Elizabeth was to return to fine form, however, with the role of Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Her performance as the loudmouthed, shrewish, unkempt Martha was easily her finest to date.

For this she would win her second Oscar and one that was more than well-deserved, but her films afterward didn't approach the intensity of that one. Since then she has appeared in several movies, both theatrical and made-for-television, and a number of TV programs. In February 1997 Elizabeth entered the hospital for the removal of a brain tumor. The operation was successful. As for her private life, she divorced Burton in 1974, only to remarry him in 1975 and divorce him, permanently, in 1976. She has had two husbands since, Senator John Warner and Larry Fortensky.

Classic Movie Goddess Of The Month - Elizabeth Taylor

For the month of February I've chosen Liz Taylor as the Classic Movie Goddess. I will be posting pics, facts, my rankings of her films, and all other kinda goodies. She is one of my favorite actresses of all time.


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