About CineMaven

I am a Capricorn and a native New Yorker who has loved classic films for as long as I can remember. My favorite film? Alfred Hitchcock's “VERTIGO.”

EVELYN ANKERS

Five of us were driving back from CAPITOLFEST this past Monday ( August 13th ) where there was loads of movie talk / opinions / trivia. Aurora, host of the esteemed “ONCE UPON A SCREEN” blog was our driver for this road trip, and she asked us this question:

Name an actor/actress who gave a good performance…in a bad film.

The question head~scratchingly stumped all of us. Ha!! Perhaps we all tend to think our favorite performers made mostly good movies, I dunno. I didn’t think of this name on our rainy car ride home. BUT she certainly comes to mind now. One could argue that she made many more poor “B” films, than distinguished “A” flicks, but I always thought she gave a good performance in whatever I saw her in. TODAY is her birthday. And I’m a fan!

EVELYN ANKERS celebrates her centenary today. 

August 17th, 1918 ~ August 29th, 1985

She was the Queen of the Horror films b’cuz of her beauty…and talent…and ability to scream. But I think she was able to show her stuff even if the material is not up to par. You can read a write~up on her over at THE HITLESS WONDER MOVIE BLOG. Reading her IMDB entry can tell you what you need to know. I just wanted to spotlight her here today, her 100th birthday.

 

 

 

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CLASSIC FILM FANS: INTERNATIONAL STYLE

Do you see this map? Everyone that we’ve ever known or will ever know lives somewhere here on this map. And some of those folks are classic film fans. I know we look through the lens of classic films as movies made in Hollywood during its “Golden Age.” Last year I did a blog post where I asked Classic Film fans from Texas to tell me about their journey and love for classic films. Being an American one might think classic film fans are only American. Au contraire mon frère. Au contraire. With the help of The Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival and my own movie~going experience at NYC’s popular retro movie houses back in the 70’s. I’ve learned that classic film fans come from all over the world.

So I’ve reached out to fans I know from around the world or whose work I’ve read, and asked them if they’d be willing to talk about their love and journey in classic movies. They said yes. They have different ‘voices’ and come to this thing in different ways. We do have a lot in common when it comes to movies. If the old ticker ( and my finances ) holds out, I would definitely love to visit them in their home country…see how the better half lives. 😉 Without further adieu, here are my guests. And as hostess, I’ll share my story as well.

 
 Patrician Nolan-Hall                 Fernando Silva                   Håvard Andersen
            [ CANADA ]                           [ CHILE ]                              [ NORWAY ]

                      
   Karin Mustvedt-Plüss         Letícia Magalhães Pereira        Gill Jacob
[ NORWAY-SWITZERLAND ]                  [  BRAZIL ]                    [ SCOTLAND ]

  
  ALISON BLACKBURN              PAUL BATTERS
          [  ENGLAND ]                      [  AUSTRALIA ]

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[ All names, movie titles and photos are hot~linked. At least I tried… ]

1. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?

PATRICIA NOLAN~HALL: I was born in Nova Scotia, but have lived in Ontario since 1970. I’m a Toronto gal. Toronto is the capital city of the province of Ontario. We are hated by the rest of the country who think we’re all full of ourselves. We can’t help it if we’re the best! I worked as a secretary in several industries. Prior to enforced retirement due to health issues, I was happily employed at the Toronto Police Service. I miss the era of typewriters and stationery shops, and the occasional day when I felt I reached the goal of looking like Della Street.

           CineMAVEN: Paddy has a great classic film blog called CAFTAN WOMAN  ]

“Hiya Paddy. My friend and I visited Canada in September 2016. Toronto is beautiful.”

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FERNANDO SILVA: I work as in-house counsel for a Publicly Traded company in Santiago de Chile. Santiago de Chile is the city I have always lived in, where I studied, made my life…the capital city. Twenty-five years ago people usually stayed and worked primarily in its native city, especially if it was the capital city, like mine with all the jobs, the opportunities, your family…the center of everything.

It has changed, but it is not like in the US where people tend to move from state to state periodically. It is not in our DNA.

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HÅVARD ANDERSEN: Right now, I’m a student at the University of Oslo, where I’m working on a bachelor’s degree in English, that will hopefully be followed by a master’s degree in either Linguistics or Literature. I live in Hønefoss, which is more of a town than a city, I suppose, with its roughly twenty thousand inhabitants.

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KARIN MUSTVEDT-PLÜSS: I live in Telemarkam in hotel receptions mainly, a tour guide and hostess for cultural events on the side. 

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LETÍCIA MAGALHÃES PEREIRA: I work with writing and advertising although my ultimate goal is to be a film critic. I live in Poços de Caldas don’t worry, many Brazilians haven’t heard of it either. And this…is my classic film blog:


Les Classic Film Blog

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GILL JACOBBorn in Paisley near Glasgow, then lived for a short time in Glasgow (both parents from there) then Aberdeen…and now, living in Finland. 

At the moment I’m on a work placement as a Teachers’ Assistant teaching English (as a native English speaker) to primary school aged Finnish kids in a Finnish bilingual school. My previous jobs back home were as a mental health nurse and occupational therapist. I worked in mental health for about 20 years. I was born and brought up in Scotland and moved to Finland six years ago with my then boyfriend – now husband – and apart from missing good friends and family, I’m living happily ever after. In my spare time I write my entertainment blog: Realweegiemidget Reviews Films, TV, Books and More, join fun blogathons and blogging collaborations…and loving it.

Gill’s Classic Film Blog

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PAUL BATTERSI live in the city of Wollongong, which is approximately 1 hour south of Sydney, NSW ( New South Wales ). I teach History at high school and also lecture at the University Of Wollongong in the Masters In Teaching course.

Paul’s Classic Film Blog

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ALISON BLACKBURN: I’m in Chorley, Lancashire. I used to work in a bank in the U.K. primarily helping new business start-ups get off the ground but since 2011 I’ve been unable to work full-time due to ill-health. I now sell crystals and Fair Trade goods because it’s something I can manage within my limitations and I have fun doing it.

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2. WHAT MAKES YOUR COUNTRY UNIQUE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD?

PADDY: Canada has beauty and history, but so do other countries. Canada has a revered public health system, but so do other countries. Canada has an interesting, troubling and diverse history, as do other countries. What is unique to Canada is our geographical location next to a boisterous neighbour, the United States of America. We alternately love and hate our neighbour. Our neighbour can be generous in sharing its space and its culture. Our neighbour can be pushy and clueless at times (ask about my in-laws). Our relationship with our neighbours often defines us in the eyes of others, and in the past would colour how we viewed ourselves. I have noted a rise in Canadian pride, which works best if approached from the angle of our sense of humour. We have taken the dry, understated wit from our Commonwealth background and combined it with the wacky slapstick from those southern neighbours to make come up with our own unique self-deprecating view.

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FERNANDO: What makes my country unique?…..Well, I haven’t really given much thought to that, other than I am happy here and wouldn’t leave this country, with all its flaws. Geographically, Chile is a very long and narrow country indeed, with limits to the East with the Cordillera de Los Andes (the Andean Mountains) and to the West with the Pacific Ocean. It is so long that it has a wide variety of climates: in the North we have a very dry Desert climate; in the center a wide variety of Mediterranean Climates; in the South, we have deep rain forests, Tundra Climate and there’s even a Chilean Antarctic Territory!

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HÅVARDWe are uniquely contradictory on one very specific subject: that of electric cars. Per capita we’re the richest oil-producing nation in the world, but at the same time we own more electric cars per capita than anyone else in the world. That could be misconstrued as meaning it’s okay to pollute, so long as you don’t do it in Norway. On the more positive side, Norwegian nature is quite unique and breathtaking, and up north you also have the aurora borealis to provide a bit of extra dazzle to the proceedings. And if the pull of gravity on hydrogen and oxygen atoms is your thing, then Norway has nine of the ten biggest waterfalls in Europe. The Norwegian welfare system is also fairly unique, and the security it provides really is a remarkable thing, whether we’re talking about free education, free healthcare, or the promotion of gender equality.

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KARINThis will need to a two-fold answer, as I have the privilege of having two countries.

  • Switzerland: A country chock full of contrast, beauty and delicious flavours. Everything is well-organised, people are responsible and hard-working like nowhere else. Somehow (I thank neutrality) the whole country seems to be this swell secret club nobody knows (or cares) about, so we just yodel away and enjoy our bizarre and old-fashioned banter.

  • Norway: Land of equality. Land of trusting and simple people, with a strong sense of the common good and the sanctity of solitude. State-owned enterprise won the geographical lottery of natural resources (we’re in oil – marinated, so to speak), so now we enjoy being privileged while bitching about high prices and poor weather.

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LETÍCIA: I can’t deny that Brazilian nature is amazing and gorgeous.

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GILL: Scotland or Finland? Will answer as a true Scot here and say haggis, which is traditionally a sheep’s stomach skin filled with the ground up organs of the animal with oatmeal and spices added. Never made it from scratch myself as you can buy it tinned, and despite the vivid description it is really, really yummy. Although when I tell the (Finnish) kids at school about it they do look a wee bit ill at the thought of it!

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PAUL: Australia is a continent as well as a country! Our flora and fauna is extremely unique and you will not find them anywhere else in the world (unless you visit a zoo!) There is a wide diversity of climate and environments, as well as a very multi-cultural population.

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ALISON: I think Americans would say our Royal Family or our history makes us unique. We can claim many scientists, explorers, pioneers, warriors and history makers. We have led the world in many things. We have held our own not only in Europe but on the world stage for hundreds of years despite being a group of islands off the coast of Europe. And I like to think, this current political climate aside with some parts of the world including the UK are having a wobble at the moment, the UK still holds a respectful place in world politics.

What makes us unique is the richness of our country’s beauty and our heritage. On a day trip you could travel from a beautiful coastal scene, to a historic site to a stunning countryside setting. If we were guaranteed good weather only the inveterate travellers would vacation abroad.

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3. WHAT’S ONE MISCONCEPTION US FOREIGNERS HAVE ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY?

PADDYThere are still tourists who will cross the border expecting to immediately come upon snow. Try explaining to someone that Toronto is actually south of many American cities such as Boston, Seattle, and Minneapolis.

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FERNANDO: I feel nowadays with the internet and a lot of information available about countries and places in general, U.S. foreigners tend to know more about us than in the past. But I do remember back in 1982 when I was in my second year of High School, my father acted as host to a U.S. family (whose father came here on a business visit). One member of that family became my lifelong friend. They were quite surprised when they arrived in Santiago – especially its two youngest members – that it was quite a “modern” city. I recall that they expected our city to be more “picturesque”, much less developed, with huts and all 😉 …. People from the United States tend to have misconceptions about Latin American countries in general. Do we have to blame Hollywood for that? 😉 

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HÅVARD: That it’s wall to wall white people, a misconception that’s been amplified even more through various media platforms in recent weeks, mainly due to a certain statement made by a certain president about immigration. The truth is that Norway during the last three or four decades has become a very multi-cultural country. If you’re riding the subway in Oslo, you’ll most likely hear a multitude of languages spoken all around you, be it English, Persian, Urdu, Arabic, Somali, Chinese, Russian, you name it. Cultural and ethnic diversity is alive and well in Norway, and for that I am inordinately grateful.

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KARIN:

  • Switzerland: That the cheese has holes in it (that is one vile variety out of a million different ones. Argh!) and that it’s all Germanic.
  • Norway: That we are all dumb blondes invariably married to a big, dumb ox named Sven or Björn (both Swedish varieties of the names, not Norwegian).

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LETÍCIASeriously: we’re part of Latin America but we don’t speak Spanish! We speak Portuguese.

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GILL: Can name a few…They think all Scots run around in kilts (our traditional dress – tartan skirts for men and women) all day and all the men look like Sam Heughan (Jamie from Outlander which they don’t. And we eat really weird food.

 

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PAUL: There are a few! Where do I start? I need to mention two!

One, Australians (or Aussies) are not like ‘Crocodile Dundee‘.  As mentioned, we are very multi-cultural nation and the large majority live on the coast in cities and large towns.

Two, we’re not infested with dangerous killer animals. The truth is that the vast majority of Australians have never and will never see a great white shark, a dangerous snake or a funnel web spider in their entire lives.

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ALISON: That we all live either in villages like in Midsommer Murders or Agatha Christie novels or in places reminiscent of EastEnders or Coronation Street.” I would love to live in the bucolic English Village with a decent expanse of garden. The reality is most of us would, and that makes it an expensive place to live.

Another misconception is that it rains all the time; it’s not quite all the time.

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4. PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT A FILM THAT’S FAMOUS IN YOUR COUNTRY THAT WE MIGHT NOT KNOW.

PADDY: My first thought was Don Shebib’s Goin’ Down the Road from 1970, but that might be too generational. Perhaps Claude Jutra’s 1971 film Mon Oncle Antoine, but is it too regional? When I think of Canadian film, I think of the National Film Board of Canada. The NFB has won many Oscars for their animated and live action shorts. Shown in schools and before features at the theatre, Canadians don’t have to seek these films out as they come to us. Perhaps you don’t know, but would appreciate the experimental techniques used by Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart, combined with the music of the Oscar Peterson Trio, in Begone Dull Care.” Generations have been mesmerized since 1949. 

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FERNANDO: Mmmm… I think I won’t mention locally-produced films, because obviously there are a lot that are not well-known in the USA, and since I am not aware about many of the films being shown these days because I am primarily focused on Classics, I am going to think about an older film.

   

Traditionally, Chile’s primary source for films has been the USA, but there was a time when European and Mexican films were extremely popular here. In particular, I am thinking about one film that was very popular in Chile in the late 1950’s and people who saw it in the Cinemas back in 1957, talked about it for many years after. It was El Último Cuplé (“The Last Torch Song”) (1957) starring Sara aka SaritaMontiel. Via flashback, “El Último Cuplé” tells the story of a fading singer who reminisces about her past. It is definitely a product of its time and it was immensely popular in Spain and in my country. This was Sarita Montiel’s first film after her rather lackluster stint in Hollywood and she was welcomed by the Spanish-speaking audiences with open arms, just as Dolores Del Río was welcomed by Mexico after two decades in the USA. It was a smash hit. I’d say that it is arguably the most popular film Montiel ever made.

 

Also, all the Mexican films starring Cantinflas (aka Mario Moreno) have always been wildly popular in Chile and they cannot be properly translated to English, so I guess people who are not familiar with the Spanish language and especially Mexican slang from the 1940’s and 1950’s, will never be able to fully enjoy his films.

 

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HÅVARDThe first film that comes to mind, is Den Forsvundne Pølsemaker, from 1941. I don’t know if it’s got an official English title or not, but if it does, then it’s probably something along the lines of “The Missing Sausage Maker.” What really makes it stand out, though (other than it being a genuinely fun and entertaining mystery/comedy) is that it was made during the Nazi occupation of Norway, and that lead actor Leif Juster was imprisoned by the Gestapo shortly after the movie was made for mocking the occupational forces on stage at a theater in Oslo. I would also like to give a shout-out to De Dødes Tjern (“Lake of the Dead”), from 1958, as it is regarded as Norway’s first ever horror movie, and not a bad one at that.

  

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KARIN

  • Switzerland: The ‘Uli’ films (Uli der Knecht, Uli de Pächter) are probably the best known classic Swiss films that nobody would know. They are kind of Heimat films – set in rural land, often in ‘the good, old days’ etc. Switzerland has four official languages and within those languages the dialects are very strong. The German-speaking population is by far the biggest, but the spoken language is pretty far removed from regular, written German. In essence, this mean the majority of Swiss people write, function and learn in one language and speak another. However, for these films the actors were allowed to speak their own Swiss German. I am guessing this is why they have become so popular and so much the definition of the patriotic Swiss spirit. (And yes, have no meaning or interest for any non-Swiss citizen.)

 

  • Norway: Flåklypa Grand Prix” (1975) (English title: “The Pinchcliff Grand Prix”). This is the most popular Norwegian film by far, reaching more than 5 million views in cinemas upon its initial release – at a time when the population of Norway was 4.2 million. The film is written by the beloved multi-talented artist Kjell Aukrust, who wrote, directed, drew the sketches for the puppets and the sets of the film. Just about every single Norwegian actor of the time lent their voices to the puppets, music written and recorded by the dearest folk music artist of modern times and the setting and style is so traditionally and typically Norwegian. The script is packed with Aukrust specialties and literary finesse, and the entire film is a triumph of his special brand of humour in details, making this just as much fun for young as it is for the old. Norway has piss-poor traditions for screening classic films, but this is a must around Christmas and New Year’s Eve as well as being a winner all year ‘round. It has been translated to a slew of other languages and is still spawning all sorts of spin-offs, computer games, merchandise etc. and is being re-discovered by young audiences every day.

(English Version)

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LETÍCIA: We can’t deny that Elite Squad (2007) and its sequel – both starring Wagner Moura, who later played Pablo Escobar in “Narcos” are very popular movies.


But, if we consider classics, I must talk about “The Given Word” originally titled O Pagador de Promessas or “The Keeper of Promises” from 1962, my favorite Brazilian film. It won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and was very close to winning a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, an award Brazil never got. The film is about a man who wants to pay a religious promise, but is forbidden by priests who think his promise was ridiculous – he promised he would bring a giant cross to a church if his donkey didn’t die. “The Given Word” is a lot like great Neo-realist classics, and if it was made in Italy it’d be better known and more celebrated.

CINEMAVEN: Lé, I have a question. TCM aired famed Brazilian film “BLACK ORPHEUS back in February for their night of Academy Award~winning Foreign Films. What’s your opinion on how Brazilians see that film? Do young people know about it…do older people ever speak of it? And what do folks think of this Oscar~winning film featuring the Black Brazilians? ( What’s the proper term…Brazilians of African descent? Whaddya call ’em? If you say: “We call them Brazilians,” I will be thoroughly chastised. L0L! ) Talk to me a little about this.

LETÍCIAInteresting question! It was just Carnival, and Black Orpheus is a film that was often in my mind in this period. By the way, over here ‘negro’ is not as offensive as ‘black’ but the most correct term would be ‘afrodescendant’.
“Black Orpheus” is often mentioned in cult circles. It was an Oscar win for France, written by French and Brazilian people, directed and produced by French men. Most of the cast was Brazilian – the guy who played Death was actually an Olympic athlete (Ademar Da Silva) who won two gold medals – and it was shot on location. It’s a perfect example of multicultural film, and because of this we don’t see it as very Brazilian. At least, it’s not so beloved as Central Station or City of God.” And well, in “City of God,” the afrodescendants are the center of the picture. It’s a real thing because most Brazilians are black or “mixed”, although on TV they don’t have a very good representation. All in all, “Black Orpheus” is a beautiful film with an universal story – and setting it during Carnival is perfect because everything can happen during Carnival – really.
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GILL: Gregory’s Girl which I reviewed here, a nice wee film from the early 80s about young love about a gangly and awkward teenage boy who falls for the only girl in his football team and his love for her…but no spoilers. Got a great Scottish cast and it’s a real fun comedy which never lost its charm, even on my re-watch recently. The Scottish accents are a wee bit difficult to understand at times, but add to the timeless charm of the movie.

 

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PAUL: Gallipoli (1981)  Dir: Peter Weir. “Gallipoli is a powerful film which tells of Australian soldiers who fought against Turkish forces during World War One, as part of a British plan to knock Turkey out of the war. It focuses on two men and their journey from Australia to Egypt and finally Gallipoli, Turkey. It is a heart-rending story and incredibly accurate historically. Powerful performances (with a young Mel Gibson) and beautifully directed by Weir.

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ALISON:  I’m not sure there are any movies you would be unaware of !! I’m going to give you three that are set around where I live in the North West of England:

Hobson’s Choice (1954)  This is a play many of us studied at school. Hobson (played by Charles Laughton) owns a successful shoe shop, run by his eldest daughter Maggie (actress Brenda De Banzie). She sees a rare talent in Willie Mossop played by John Mills. When her father refuses her entreaties to be part of the business, she marries the cobbler. Hobson, who has no interest in running his shop – his interest is in supping ale – finds that his customers desert him. He ends up having to give in to Maggie’s demands or face ruin. It’s a great play, a comedy and perfectly cast here with David Lean directing. Charles Laughton had had a successful Hollywood career but this is my favourite movie of his and of John Mills’. De Banzie is a powerhouse as Maggie, the woman who manoeuvres the men into the best position for all concerned. This is set in Salford just outside Manchester.

The next one is A Kind of Loving(1962) starring Alan Bates and June Ritchie with Thora Hird playing the battle axe mother-in-law. A very simple story, set at the beginning of the 60’s. Bates plays Vic, a draftsman who starts courting with Ingrid. They do more than court and she gets in the ‘family way.’ He does the honourable thing and marries her. He moves into her mother’s house and that’s when the marriage starts to break apart due in no small part to his mother-in-law. It’s very reminiscent of photos of my parents’ courting days and that’s perhaps why I like it so much. It’s a photograph of times gone by. Part of the ‘angry young men’ set of films but it has an Everyman feel to it. This was filmed in Preston, which was so close to home, and Southport my nearest costal town.

Finally Whistle Down the Wind (1961) with Hayley Mills, set in the 1950s and again stars Alan Bates who plays an armed bank robber who hides out on Hayley’s father’s farm. Along with Hayley there is a sister and a young brother. In the biggest plot assumption in movie history, Hayley becomes convinced that Bates character is Jesus, a fact that’s only shared with the children. It’s a lovely, sweet movie set in Pendle Witch country, the seat of our most famous witches in the 17th century.

These are all nostalgic feel-good movies to me, as familiar and appreciated as a bar of a Dairy Milk chocolate.

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5. HOW DID YOU BECOME A FAN OF FILMS FROM HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN ERA? HOW DID THAT START FOR YOU?

PADDY: I did not become a fan of classic cinema, I was born a fan. At least, that’s how it feels. My dad was a major film buff, as was, I understand, his father after whom I was named. Watching movies with our dad was fun and a training ground. It was a point of pride that we never refer to a character actor as “what’s-his-name”. There were tests! We would be asked to recall what movies were shot by James Wong Howe (a god in my dad’s eyes). School night or no, if Bogie was on the late show, we would be roused to enjoy the black and white goodness.

Elwy Yost hosted two public television series in Ontario, Magic Shadows and Saturday Night at the Movies.” They began during my teen years. The premise of “SNATM” was a double bill of uncut movies plus an educational component. In direct violation of what surely must be Canadian law, our father would forego Hockey Night in Canada and the family would gather to share the bond of classic movies.

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FERNANDO: Well I’d have to thank my inquiring mind, always avid for knowledge and gathering all kinds of odd data. Also, I was exposed to Classic films from a very early age thanks to Public TV.

My first memories of films seen very early in my life were Anna Karenina (1935) and Mary of Scotland (1936) both of whose endings startled me and lingered in my mind for months.

Another relevant factor was my relationship with my elders in that regard, especially my parents and two of my grandparents. I was always asking questions about the films they saw in their younger years…their favorite stars…etc. I used to write down lists of actors of that Era and I began reading all I could about Old time Hollywood.

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HÅVARDI’ve been a movie geek for as long as I can remember. Over the years, the odd classic would sneak its way in between all the countless Hollywood blockbusters and whatnot that I was watching, like Harvey and The War of the Worlds (the 1953 version), for example; but it wasn’t until much later in life that I fell head over heels in love with classic cinema – some ten or fifteen years ago, probably. I had read a review of The Thin Man somewhere online, and so, with my curiosity piqued, I ended up ordering the box-set from Amazon. A week or so later that wonderful film effectively served as the spark that ignited my obsession with classic cinema, an obsession that’s been going like a four-alarm fire ever since. 

  

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KARIN:  I have always loved history and everything old. As a child I had a cousin with an essential VHS collection (Gone with the Wind AND The Sound of Music) which we would watch repeatedly. Still, it wasn’t until many years later, in high school, that I stumbled upon TCM Nordic (a piss-poor substitute for the American TCM, but it did screen some classics back then). I figured I’d cultivate myself and let the one movie ride: The Great Lie.” And Bedad I liked it! So I stuck around for another one: Undercurrent.” No great film, but I liked that one, too. And so, off I went on my first proper dives into classic movie film careers, that of Bette Davis and of Katharine Hepburn. And I’ve been digging, learning, reading, searching, traveling, buying, thinking, dreaming, talking classic movies ever since, discovering new joys in classics all the time.

     

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LETÍCIAI’ve always loved all kinds of entertainment. I have Asperger’s syndrome and I often get obsessed with some TV show. I loved Hannah-Barbera cartoons by the time I was 9 and I watched old tv-series, like Bewitched and Get Smart, as a teenager.

 Because of Asperger’s, I also have a hard time making friends and I’ve always preferred the companionship of adults to the companionship of kids my age. That’s why I didn’t have friends in high school – and I liked staying with my grandparents, who would sometimes watch old films on TCM, back when Brazilian TCM showed classics.

I learned to enjoy those films. Captains Courageous (1937) left a big impression on me, and I started looking for more and more information about old movies and Classic Hollywood stars.

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GILL: In the seventies, my mum introduced me to Doris Day movies – where I developed a bit of a crush on the leading men Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and Gig Young. So I watched mostly these leading men’s movies and also those of Deborah Kerr, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn. I hoped to meet the Cary Grant-type of man with a lovely voice, good manners and was the perfect gent.

       

However, for some reason, I didn’t make the connection that these movies were made much earlier and was shocked at these stars’ then ages, as these movies were so timeless. Or else, I was a very naive kid.

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PAUL: My grandmother was a great film fan and I was very close to her. When visiting her, she would let me stay up late to watch classic movies on TV. I found myself entranced by the silvers and chromes of classic film. They seemed poetic to me. My aunt also had some beautiful books, featuring photography by Hurrell, of classic era actors and actresses, as well as an A-Z book of classic actors and actresses. She also had a gorgeous book of classic monster films. I poured over these books and I guess it all started from there.

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ALISON:  I’m really not sure about this. It’s not inherited, that I do know. I have memories of growing up in the seventies with old Hollywood films on the box. I was never interested in black and white films but the lushness of The Wizard of Oz was a winner every Xmas. I made an exception when it came to black and white for Laurel and Hardy – they were on TV a lot in my youth. We had only 3 channels then and I’m sure my parents loved the fact  that when Laurel and Hardy was on, my brother and I would sit still for the duration.

I remember films often being on during the weekend afternoons. I never remember watching one from the beginning, but I was often drawing or doing jigsaws, playing with dolls etc., and I’d get drawn in. I had an early fascination with the glamorous actresses but I didn’t know their names when I was young.

   

Fast forward a few years and in my early teens I became fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. A couple of years after that I discovered the very handsome Errol Flynn.

I didn’t know God had made a man as handsome as Errol was in his early photos and films. I think from there my fascination grew as I entered the working world when we realise just how much freedom we had when we were at school and get tied to a strict schedule. Everyone needs some kind of escape route and books and classic films were mine.

* * * * * * * * *

6. MY FUN, EASY QUESTIONS WILL COME AFTER THIS. BUT FIRST…YOU’VE TOLD US HOW YOU GOT STARTED. SO NOW TELL ME WHAT ATTRACTS YOU TO CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD FILMS? PERHAPS I SHOULD SAY WHY? I MEAN, ENGLISH IS A SECOND LANGUAGE ~ TO SOME OF YOU HERE ~ WHICH MAKE OUR HOLLYWOOD MOVIES PRETTY MUCH FOREIGN FILMS TO THE COUNTRY YOU LIVE IN. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THESE OLD MOVIES THAT STILL ATTRACTS YOU TO IT? CARVE AN ANSWER OUT OF MY LONG~WINDED QUESTION. THANKS.

PADDY: Due to the pervasiveness of American culture film, television, music, sports in North America, nothing about Hollywood films ever felt foreign. They were the touchstones of my life. My grandfather’s favourite actor was Fredric March, my father’s Spencer Tracy. My mom crushed equally on hockey players and baseball players. Only as I got older and saw Canada from a Hollywood perspective did I get the nagging little itch of a suspicion that although we get you, you don’t really get us.

What attracts me to classic film today is a mix of comforting nostalgia and an appreciation for the creativity and skill behind the work. The continual stimulation of entertainment combined with education is addictive.

__________

FERNANDO: Well let me see, because most of the times I feel that fondness, and what one likes is not easy to “explain. There is a certain appeal in the movies of the Old days, especially those of the 1930s and 1940s, whose art direction and settings make these movies to be something out of an ideal environment; so different from the times I was living in my boyhood days. (In general, I disliked the very late 1960s and the early 1970s up to 1977 more or less. It is a decade that aesthetically I find horrible: the music, the movies, the decors, hairdos, etc.). So these classic films transported me to aesthetically more beautiful environments and idealized settings, with beautiful, well-groomed people and wonderful places. I idealized these more because of what my grandparents and elders told me about those nostalgic years they missed.

__________

HÅVARD: I suppose it taps into the Americanization that’s been taking place all over the world ever since 1776. And I mean that in the best way possible. 

Because of that Americanization, I grew up watching American movies, as they were a part of my daily cultural diet; and a far tastier one than what Norwegian cinema had to offer at the time, I might add. I fondly remember watching personal favorites like Smokey and the Bandit”, “Star Wars”, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”, Ghostbusters, and “Raiders of the Lost Ark over and over again, until the VHS tapes were literally worn out. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as I basically watched everything I could get my hands on, from Caddyshackto The Terminator”.

My fascination with classic films didn’t manifest until much later, as I’ve already mentioned, but when it did it was with a vengeance. I think part of the reason I was attracted to classic cinema in the first place, was curiosity, and wanting to know where movies like Blade Runneror “Basic Instinct got their inspiration from. In a way, I think I’ve been conditioned all my life to loving classic cinema, as so many of the movies I grew up watching were so heavily influenced by them. And as for what attracts me to them still, I think it’s quite simply the astoundingly high quality that all these classic films are filled to the brim with.

__________

KARINThe thing about movies is that they are basically American, in my opinion and in my experience. Seeing a film from your own country in your own language is much more of a novelty than the other way around.

In Norway, more than in Switzerland, the American culture through movies and TV is so ingrained in our every day that it hardly seems ‘foreign’. In Switzerland the culture has much more influence from German, French and Italian culture and everything is dubbed there, so it’s a whole different ballgame (that I refuse to play).

Now then, with the exception of “The Sound of Musicand Gone with the Wind I was not raised on classic films at all – this happened quite by chance, but I’ve always loved anything that has to do with history, anything that was old, so I guess nobody was surprised. My taste in music has always gone back in time, too. But you ask what attracts me to these movies…still – which is not applicable to me. There is not a continued love, no nostalgia for my own childhood or own experiences in it for me as my upbringing in Norway and Switzerland in the 90’s and 00’s had nothing whatever to do with the Golden Age of Cinema. To me it’s a dive into a bygone era, a window to a world that fascinates me no end – the stars, the productions, the systems, the stories, the settings; everything. Only now, through the TCM Classic Film Festival and other experiences, has real life and ‘reel life’ overlapped.

__________

LETÍCIAWhether we like it or not, classic Hollywood movies are more easily available in South America than classic movies from other parts of the world  including Brazilian classics  because many of them are in extreme need of restoration. There are many classic Hollywood titles on DVD and being shown on TV. And English is a mandatory subject in Brazilian schools, that’s why it’s easy for me to read, write or watch movies in English without closed captions.

What I mean is that classic Hollywood is canon. It’s there, it’s celebrated in film studies and it’s a unique glimpse into our recent past. Hollywood was shaped by and also shaped the past century  and we can only comprehend them together.

__________

GILL: I love those movies now, particularly those timeless romances, musicals, battle-of-the-sexes and romantic comedies with their chiselled-looking leading men and doe-eyed love interests. Love their fun, less contrived story-lines. The plots seem crazy at times but they are a kind of a fun crazy. Through the joy of blogathons I’ve seen some new acting names and some new movies which I’ve constantly enjoyed, as the acting talents’ joy in their roles is more visible than in modern day movies making them so much more enjoyable. Having seen the originals of such films as 1957’s An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, I can see why people get incensed at those Golden Hollywood remakes. Warren Beatty will never replace Cary Grant!!!

__________

PAUL: The magic and poetry of classic films has always been there for me. Like a beautiful art form, that beauty cannot diminish. With streaming services, the Internet and DVD, more and more classic film become available. Sounds corny perhaps – but classic films are like old friends and every time I watch one that I haven’t seen in a while, it feels like a reunion of sorts!

__________

ALISON:  No, they’re not foreign at all. I don’t think anything from the United States is, apart from the way you misuse the language we gave you. Sorry, I couldn’t resist it.

I grew up with them (or snippets of them because my Dad would change the channel to sports) and no doubt it was the glamour and the storytelling. I do remember as a small child I didn’t do black and white unless it was Laurel and Hardy or the beginning of the “Wizard of Oz.” But they are the two things things that still draw me in. I love the way they dressed although I’m as bad as the next person for dressing comfortably these days. If even given the choice I doubt I’d do glamour for anything but the most important occasions though I love to look at it.

I watch for the escapism, the same reason which made them so popular in the first place. Escapism is not a word I would use for today’s films. With the classics, I can inhabit someone’s vision for the length of the movie, to see the finest costumes, the best actors, actresses and directors Hollywood had to offer. To listen to the finest musical scores. To watch a modern art form emerge through all its triumphs and hiccups.

* * * * * * * * *

7. NOW. LET’S GO HOLLYWOOD. NAME THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE CLASSIC FILMS AND WHY YOU ENJOY THEM. YES, I KNOW THAT YOUR CHOICES WILL CHANGE FROM MINUTE TO MINUTE, BUT JUST COMMIT FOR THIS QUESTION. 

PADDYSuch a question cannot pass without the inclusion of Shane, the movie that made me love movies. A theatrical re-release when I was a youngster was my introduction and it was while watching this movie that I became aware of the how I was being emotionally manipulated. An epiphany of seismic proportions.

The Thing from Another World plants me in the middle of the much to be desired Hawksian universe. In my imagination I would like to display such skill; to be so calm when disaster strikes, and so casual with my affection.

   

The Adventures of Robin Hood filled my eyes with wondrous Technicolor and my imagination with the glory of heroic deeds. I was awestruck the first time I watched this movie, and time has not diminished its power and entertainment value.

__________

FERNANDO: Because I name my absolute favorite film of all time does not mean I think objectively that it is a flawless film. (Can one really be objective?) But…it is THE TOP film that appeals to me immensely, and that’s Portrait of Jennie (1948). It’s a film I am sure I saw as a kid and re-discovered as an adult, by chance, while zapping through channels one night while in a Hotel in Paris in 1998. I immediately loved it and wanted to own a copy…and since I bought one, it’s become my favorite film. I have seen it zillions of time and showed it to all the people I could. Its eerie, ghostlike qualities and its supernatural theme of people from different times meeting is simply irresistible to me. Thanks to this film I became a big admirer of Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten and its director William Dieterle.

  

Love Me Tonight (1932) is another absolute favorite; it is my favorite musical film of all time, with its inventive mise-en-scene and camera work. If Rouben Mamoulian had only made this film, he’d be a genius just for this one. It’s a film, just like “Portrait of Jennie” that I need to watch from time to time. This is one of the films that made me love the Pre-Code Era, Maurice Chevalier and made me discover a new Jeanette MacDonald, in her pre-MGM days.

Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), is another film that has a special effect on me, and in my personal opinion it is the best film Joan Fontaine ever made, superior – IMO – to her better known Hitchcockdirected movies Rebecca (1940) and “Suspicion” (1941). [My second fave film of Joanie’s is The Constant Nymph (1943)].

Max Ophüls created a work of art and a masterpiece, about a woman obsessed with someone who never cared a bit for her, and worse, barely realized she even existed. It is a heart-wrenching film that moves me deeply each time I see it.

__________

HÅVARD:  That’s a tough one, but right here and now I think I’ll have to go for “His Girl Friday”, “Out of the Past”, and “Forbidden Planet.”


The comedic brilliance of Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday is so intoxicating that it should come with a warning label. After the opening titles have done their thing, the dueling twosome that is Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell pepper you with a barrage of hilarity that doesn’t relent until the last fade to black. And with the sidesplitting dialog coming in at an estimated 240 words a minute, it’s a movie you can easily watch twenty times over and it’ll still feel as fresh as a daisy.

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦ 


Of all the dangerous dames you’re likely to run into if you take a walk down one of the shadowy side streets of film noir, the one you should fear the most is Kathie Moffat in Out of the Past. Played to perfection by Jane Greer, she is as seductive as vanilla and as deadly as poison, something private eye Jeff Bailey unfortunately learns the hard way. Jacques Tourneur’s “Out of the Past” is a tour de force of dark cinema, and the chemistry between Greer’s femme fatale and Robert Mitchum’s doomed private eye is as potent as rocket fuel. If you play with fire, you will get burned, but in this case it just might be worth the damage. In the words of Jeff Bailey:

“You build my gallows high, baby.”

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦ 


No film has ever come closer than
Forbidden Planet in capturing the visual aesthetic of pulp era science fiction. The stunning artwork found on the covers of magazines like Amazing Stories and Galaxy Science Fictionduring the ‘40s and ‘50s is brought to life like never before (or since) in Fred M. Wilcox’s fantastical adaptation of William Shakespeare’sThe Tempest.” It is a film brimming with imagination and talent, and if the ravishing beauty of Anne Francis as Altaira Morbius won’t make you go all weak in the knees, then the wonderous matte paintings by Howard Fisher and Henri Hillinck are sure to get the job done.

__________

KARIN(This is murder, and well you know it.)

[ CineMaven: Moahahaha! ]

1. The Quiet Man (1952):
Aside from it being visually stunning, fun and even sexy, it was such a labour of love for the whole cast and crew and it has come to symbolise the very special times I’ve spent in Ireland.

 

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦ 

 

2. The Women (1939): This remains such a perfect example of Golden Hollywood’s star power and what a well-oiled dream machine it was. A fantastic cast, brilliant script, excellent direction – shear perfection at every turn.

 

                ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦ 

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦ 

3. What Price Hollywood? (1932): A gloriously cynical look into the murkier sides of Hollywood and the best picture of the whole circus. Once again, everything is right, everything is there in its finest feathers; cast, director, costumes, music, writing.

__________

LETÍCIA

A Star is Born (1937): Oh, I love this film so much! Besides being about one of my favorite film subjects, the film industry itself, I love how director William A. Wellman and producer David O. Selznick decided to play with color in this film. I love early color films, and the primitive three-strip Technicolor here is to die for.

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦ 

 

On the Town (1949): Probably my favorite musical. Watching musicals, especially the ones with Gene Kelly helped me a lot whenever I was sad or tense. “On the Town” is extremely funny, has memorable dance numbers and a gallery of unique and charming characters.

 

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦ 

Sunset Boulevard” (1950): I love silent cinema, and this film may be a way of including this personal passion on the list. The tragic story of Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) is one of the most poignant told in film history. Norma is an iconic character, and a ‘monster’ created by Hollywood itself. We must feel sorry for her, and sympathize with her. And the film also has the amazing Waxworks playing cards (featuring silent stars H.B.Warners, Anna Q. Nilsson andBuster Keaton!!).

__________

GILL:

 

An Affair to Remember” (1957) Love Cary Grant’s chemistry with Deborah Kerr and their sparkling script and obvious film rapport. Didn’t see this until a recent blogathon but so loved it and loved everything about it especially the scenes with his grandmother. Just a lovely film all over. You can read my review of this favorite, here.

 

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

Young at Heart” (1958) Loved this and fancied Gig Young in it. Loved it being about three sisters – same as me – and their love and romances. Great cast too, and was a great fun film ‘til Frank Sinatra turned up and irritated me for the rest of the movie. Because I was totally charmed by Gig from the start.

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

The Philadelphia Story (1940) This one has the edge with lovely Katharine Hepburn who is fantastic and Cary Grant just perfect too for his spot on performance. Both actors are hilarious in their roles and have great film moments between them. There was that undercurrent of chemistry throughout Kate’s and Cary’s film that Bing and Grace didn’t have as much of. Hepburn’s leading men and co-stars are pretty fab too and I remember watching this movie and enjoying it much more than that musical remake which was pretty good too.

__________

PAUL

The Asphalt Jungle The quintessential heist film and beautiful film noir from John Huston.

  

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦ 

Double Indemnity Absolutely top notch and a perfect example of quality film-making and story-telling.

  

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦ 

How Green Was My Valley The beauty of the film lies in the power of memory and the love of family. It’s bittersweet, beautifully filmed and makes me cry every time I see it.

  

__________

ALISON:  Theresa, this is the question to which I’m adding my own nuance as promised. I see classic movies encapsulating all movies and for me musicals and their stars need their own chance to shine.

So three classic movies followed by three musicals and three musical stars.

CLASSICS:

 

City Lights What can I say, I’m a silent comedy girl, and not just Chaplin; I love Buster and Laurel and Hardy too. But for me this is Chaplin’s silent masterpiece.

 

 

 

Letter From an Unknown Woman So many of us watch movies because of the star. This I watch because of the director. Max Ophüls tells a sumptuous tale of unrequited love a woman has for a man who barely realises who she is.

 

Vertigo   This to me is the most Hitchcockian of movies. Themes that have run through other movies merge here. Scotty (James Stewart) is obsessed (with Kim Novak), he’s quite disturbing really but we as the viewers are with him. It’s a beautiful movie to watch. I like to watch this in tandem with North by Northwest, the Cary Grant character being heroic in contrast to Scotty in this movie.

MUSICALS:

 Fred and Ginger Their movies as one category. I don’t have a favourite…I love them all. They’re a snap shot of Depression-era escapism. Fred Astaire made many wonderful movies but Ginger Rogers was his best partner.

 

 

Singin’ in the Rain An American in Paris is such a showcase for Gene Kelly’s talent and so watchable, but “Singing in the Rain” is the most joyful film ever.

 

 

 

 

Footlight Parade   My favourite of the Busby Berkeley musicals, starring Jimmy Cagney. Depression-era decadence. A wonderland of showpieces.

 

 

MUSICAL STARS:

Fred Astaire Dancing perfection with a sartorial charm. Longevity. Beautiful singing voice. The whole package.

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

Gene Kelly Dancing and choreographer workhorse. The opposite of Astaire, wasn’t he called ‘the dancing truck driver’? Kelly was much thicker set, and never tried to do the classical dancing Astaire did, but he pushed dance as an Art and Astaire pushed back. They both made MGM the home of the big musical.

  

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

Judy Garland Child star, singer, dancer, all round performer, wracked with personal demons, a trooper. So much talent, she shone brightly and was capable of great dramatic performances like in A Star is Born.”

* * * * * * * * *

8. NAME YOUR TOP THREE FAVORITE ACTORS AND TOP THREE FAVORITE ACTRESSES. PLEASE TELL ME YOUR FAVORITE FILM FOR EACH, AND WHY.

PADDY: Three, eh?

ACTORS:

James Cagney as Biff Grimes in The Strawberry Blonde.” Cagney is so true to every moment of this character, even when playing Biff at a younger age than himself. We see, we understand, and we root for this character in the wonderful Raoul Walsh film.

 

 

Boris Karloff as John Gray in The Body Snatcher.” When his time as a leading actor came to Karloff, he brought his best to a few less than worthy film roles. “The Body Snatcher” for Val Lewton gave him a role as befits his stature and talent, and he soars. Scenes between Karloff and Henry Daniell are as enjoyable as a great tenor and baritone duet in opera.

 

John Wayne as Sean Thornton inThe Quiet Man.” I grew up with John Wayne everywhere, on television and at the theatre. In “The Quiet Man” the actor John Wayne harnesses his great star power to become one of the ensemble, but doesn’t let those scene-stealers get away with anything. Duke always had a special way of supporting his leading ladies, and it is with a delicate touch he hands their scenes over to Maureen O’Hara. John Wayne is lovely in this labour of love for John “Pappy” Ford.

ACTRESSES:

Irene Dunne as Mama in I Remember Mama. Irene Dunne excelled at both drama and screwball comedy, and she did both by employing an incredible subtlety. “…Mama” was Dunne’s fifth and final Oscar nomination and the star disappears into the role while the actress brings all the unself-conscious warmth of the character to the screen and beyond.

 

Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday.” The next time you watch this movie keep your eyes on Roz Russell. Every movement, every expression on her face, every offhand delivery of an important line is sheer pleasure.

 

 

Barbara Stanwyck as Lee Leander in Remember the Night. Christmas is always a sentimental time, even for a teenager. When I would catch this movie on television I would be swept up in the story through Barbara Stanwyck’s initially tough gal revealed to have a soft and broken core. Her self-discovery and sacrifice still breaks my heart in an ecstasy of tears.

                  __________

FERNANDODifficult question, because there are so many favorites, and depending on the stage of one’s life, preferences may vary. I am leaving out Harding, Tracy, Gable, Loy, Lombard, Colbert, Arthur, Jimmy Stewart, Bill Powell, MacMurray, McCrea, etc., so many favorites…but here I go:

ACTORS:

 

Cary Grant Difficult to say just one favorite given all the first rate films he made, but for the sheer joy it brings to me each time I see it, and for being one of the funniest films of all time:The Awful Truth” (1937).

 

 

 

Ronald Colman A very good actor who gave thoughtful performances and tended to underplay his roles skillfully. Lost Horizon” (1937) would be my choice hands-down. Why? Because I am also looking for my “Shangri-La”, that ideal place of peace, harmony and happiness.

 

Joseph Cotten He is an actor who has grown on me over the years and he never gave a bad performance. He has a melancholic air that makes him ideal in the roles he played in Portrait of Jennie” (1948) my favorite Cotten performance, and in “Love Letters”, September Affair or in The Magnificent Ambersons”, but which gives him a new dimension as Uncle Charlie in the amazingShadow of a Doubt.” He’s an actor that was always believable in any role he played.

ACTRESSES:

Katharine Hepburn Alice Adams” (1935), in which she gives one of her most honest, sincere and heartbreaking performances ever. For me, this film is perfect and George Stevens deftly directs it. She’s been a favorite ever since I saw her in Mary of Scotland (1936).

 

Barbara Stanwyck Remember the Night” (1939), one of the most touching romantic comedies of all time, sensitively directed by Mitchell Leisen. Here, Stanwyck demonstrates her full range as an actress.

 

 

 

Joan Fontaine Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), for the reasons already exposed and because Joan managed to be utterly convincing through all the stages of the character’s life.

 

__________

HÅVARDMy three favorite actors are William Powell, Gary Cooper, and Jack Lemmon. And my three favorite actresses are Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Arthur, and Irene Dunne.

ACTORS:

My favorite William Powell film is The Thin Man, as it is filled to the hilt with delightful characters and unforgettable dialogue (“He didn’t come anywhere near my tabloids”). The fact that W.S. Van Dyke was able to shoot the film in three weeks is just mind-blowing. It should also be mentioned that, in my humble opinion, William Powell is quite possibly the coolest cat to have ever walked the earth.

 

 

My favorite Gary Cooper film is Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, which might also be my favorite Frank Capra film of all time. It is every bit as touching as it is funny, and that is a seriously funny film.

 

 

My favorite Jack Lemmon film is The Apartment.” I could have named most any film he made during his illustrious career, but I’m gonna go with the safe choice here for the simple reason that it so effortlessly manages to thread the needle; to both tickle the funny bone and deliver a scathing social commentary along the way.

 

ACTRESSES:

 

My favorite Barbara Stanwyck film is Double Indemnity, and if that requires any further explanation, then shame on you.

 

 

 

My favorite Jean Arthur film is Easy Living, as it is so darn funny and entertaining from start to finish. A screwball comedy that it is simply impossible not to love.

 

 

 

My favorite Irene Dunne film is Theodora Goes Wild.” Sure, The Awful Truth is arguably a better film, but Irene Dunne’s performance in “Theodora Goes Wild” is just completely and utterly uproarious, especially when she starts going wild.

 


__________

KARIN

ACTORS:

1. Cary Grant He could do it all. He could be funny and silly without being unsexy, gallant and smooth without being slick, smart without being cocky, brilliant without being a show-off, sexy without b…no wait, he was just damn sexy.


Favourite films: North by Northwest”, “Penny Serenade”, “The Awful Truth.”


2. Spencer Tracy The Actor. I believe him no matter what. Unparalleled, natural instinct.


Favourite films: Father of the Bride”, “Test Pilot” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

 


3. Paul Newman  Because he was the best of two worlds: he went his own way and was a star on his own terms. No following the mob of mumbling newcomers and no bowing under to the old school either. He was an extremely talented and natural actor, seemed like a sincerely top-notch fella, had a delicious devilish humour about him and so absurdly hot the drool is still running the world over.

Favourite films: The Young Philadelphians”, “Hud”, “Until They Sail.

ACTRESSES:

(I detest having to choose – this list should include at least 20 names more)

[ CineMaven: I know you do…and I thank thee for doing this! ]

1. Claudette Colbert Her body of work is simply astounding, so many great films, from pre-code naughtiness to wartime drama, or 50’s fun – going from heavy drama to light comedy at the drop of a hat.

Favourite films: Since You Went Away”, “The Palm Beach Story”, “Three Came Home.

 

2. Maureen O’Hara A great actress, though not nearly given enough good roles or chances. Her fire, her spunk, her sheer beauty on and off the screen holds a special place in my heart.

Favourite films: The Quiet Man”, “Dance, Girl, Dance”,“Never to Love”, “Britannia Mews.

 

3. Lee Remick A very new discovery to me, but have been blown away by her talents. A truly great actress – completely natural. What’s more is she seemed like lady who was a housewife, regular Joe and politically engaged citizen who just happened to have talent in abundance and stunning natural beauty.

Favourite films: Wild River”, “Sanctuary”, “Days of Wine and Rosesand “Anatomy of a Murder”.

__________

LETÍCIA

ACTORS:

James Cagney The Public Enemy (1931): This is the first film I saw with him, and the one that made me fall in love. Cagney chews the scenery, steals all the scenes, has a fantastic performance… and the film has a jaw-dropping ending.

 

 

Henry Fonda Fort Apache” (1948): I love this film because Fonda plays against type and by doing this, shows all his talent. Henry Fonda is usually cute and nice in his earlier films, but as the stubborn Owen Thursday he just shines – and leaves little attention to be given to John Wayne.

 

Lon Chaney I can’t choose my favorite Lon Chaney movie. I got to know him by his biopic, “Man of a Thousand Faces” (1957), with Cagney, but the man himself proved to be better than I expected. Every film is made better by his presence like the so-so The Ace of Hearts” (1921) and the boring Oliver Twist” (1922) and Chaney never fails to impress me.

ACTRESSES:

Katharine Hepburn Woman of the Year (1942): Tess Harding Hepburn’s character in this movie – is everything I aspire to be: bold, smart, independent, confident. The film is also very funny and charming, but my main reason for loving it is because Tess is a bad-ass role model.

 

Greta Garbo Flesh and the Devil (1926): I love silent movies, and this one has some amazing images and effects – like the lighting of a cigarette and Garbo just looks stunning. Well, John Gilbert doesn’t look bad either…

 

 

Jean Harlow Red-Headed Woman(1932): Aren’t pre-Codes fascinating? This film is a delight in its ‘incorrectness’ and shows Jean Harlow’s sex appeal perfectly – and, hey, she also could do drama and comedy!

 

               __________

GILL:

ACTORS:

Cary Grant  Fave Role:  An Affair to Remember.” Most charmingly sweet and most lovely of his performances that I’ve seen so far. He excels in both the comedy and dramatic parts in this movie. His on-screen chemistry with Deborah Kerr steals the show. Faultless. I just love this film as explained way too much here.

 

 Rock Hudson Fave Role: Pillow Talk.” Also a fab comic actor and enjoyed him in this and so many of his classic movies. Bit of a hunk too back in the day. I loved this battle-of-the-sexes film and great film rapport with Doris Day.

 

Gig Young   Teacher’s Pet.” Cute and so deserved that Oscar nod…despite Clark Gable. Wonderful screen chemistry with Gable and loved his flair for comedy and seeing more of his talent….which now seems kind of under-used in “Young at Heart.” See my review for Teachers Pet” here.

r’

 

ACTRESSES:

 

Katharine Hepburn Fave role: The Philadelphia Story.” Great chemistry with the cast and loved her sparring scenes with Cary Grant. Great screen presence too and I love her with Grant over other male leads of her earlier movies.

 

 

 

Deborah Kerr Loved her in The King and I.” This introduced me to those great Hollywood musicals and loved her swirling about with Yul Brynner. A magical movie with memorable songs.

 

 

Carole Lombard Saw her for the first time in Nothing Sacred for a Blogathon and loved her screwball performance and those comic moments. She co-starred with Fredric March. I’m definitely going to check out more of her work. Wish she had made more films with her off-screen husband Clark Gable. ( They only did “No Man of Her Own.” ) She was just fantastic.

 __________

PAUL:

ACTRESSES:

Bette Davis  Now Voyager.” Great range of character and emotionally stirring.

Barbara Stanwyck  Sorry Wrong Number. Takes the audience on an emotional roller-coaster ride, where our sympathies ebb and flow for her.

Myrna Loy – The Thin Man. Plays comedy straight to Powell with finesse and class. And gorgeous to look at, if I may say so!

ACTORS:

Clark Gable  It Happened One Night. Gable shows his talent for comedy and was the role that perhaps cemented the ‘Gable image’.

Robert Donat – Goodbye Mr. Chips. Sentimental perhaps but such a wonderful actor, who showed range and ability playing a teacher from his early years through to old age.

James Cagney  Angels With Dirty Faces. He’s simply electric on the screen. His use of movement and voice is near perfect as the gangster who leaves us guessing in his final moments.

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ALISON:  

ACTORS:

My first, although I don’t see him as an actor but as a pioneer/director/genius/personal hero is Charlie Chaplin. Even to people who know nothing about film, they know the name and the recognise The Tramp character. His films went from being produced hectically to tightly crafted works of art. I have so many favourite moments and so much of what he was saying is pertinent today. He was a humanitarian, he believed in the power of people supporting one another. He came from the workhouse  you didn’t get poorer than that  and with tremendous flair and talent he became the most famous man in world before he was 30. Though for the most part he played the same character, Chaplin, more than anyone, understood the power of silent cinema and helped it attain its artistry.

Without words Chaplin could move audiences from tears of laughter to tears of joy. He is a modern icon.

My favourite movie is so hard to pin down but it would have to be both City Lights for perfection and The Great Dictator in terms of lasting message to the world.

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

My second favourite actor is another Brit and a man who has some similarities with Charlie Chaplin: both left-handed and both starting in vaudeville albeit at different times. Cary Grant.

When I think of Cary Grant I think of him as two actors: the funny, acrobatic, screwball comedian and the Hitchcock suave but slightly dangerous anti-hero. Sometimes we get films where he shows his talent for both persona and I love them equally. The fact he’s so gorgeous is a plus, but it’s the talent that makes him so watchable; even men like his movies. I remember watching Michael Caine being interviewed about Cary Grant, saying Grant made it all look so easy. Hollywood actors of his era were often typecast because the studio heads knew what made them money. They wanted Gable to be Gable and Bogie to be Bogie. Cary Grant played to this, but he also broke away. He wasn’t tied to any studio after the thirties. For me, the two movies that demonstrate either end of the Grant acting spectrum are Bringing Up Babyand Notorious.”

Bringing Up Baby is my favourite screwball comedy, with a crazy storyline and pairs him with his best screwball co-star: Katharine Hepburn. I can’t listen to “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” without smiling.

Hitchcock first casts Grant in “Suspicion” where he seemed as guilty as hell and then in the classic Notorious with Ingrid Bergman. When I first saw this as a teenager I couldn’t believe such a sexy kissing scene was in an old film. I’d still rank it as one of the sexiest, most sensual film moments. If ever a girl needs rescuing, Cary Grant is your man. Of course he would go on to make two more films with Hitchcock, in many ways better than “Notorious” but for me it’s never lost it’s power.

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

I’ve puzzled over number three, so two actors are tied for my third favourites: Charles Boyer and Montgomery Clift.

Charles Boyer was never employed for just his looks or accent, but for the depth he brought to his performances. His Napoleon is the most believable I’ve seen. In Gaslight he was chilling. In a whole host of films (The Earrings of Madame De…”, “History is Made at Night”, “Cluny Brown – the list is endless) I first viewed them because of the actresses in the movie. But then I was drawn in by the leading man who was consistently giving great performances, whilst giving his leading ladies their full chance to shine.

Favourite Charles Boyer movie ~ Mayerling.”

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

With Montgomery Clift he mesmerises me. He’s beautiful, he’s haunted, he keeps you guessing. He absorbs the role and lives it, he befriends actors who are more unsure, he’s generous with his art. He was more consistent than Brando – who made some iconic movies, but got bored, lazy or both. Clift died too young, was troubled, never appreciated the joy he brought. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been as good without the demons. He saw acting as an art form, something Studio manufactured stars didn’t. He was an artist who consistently honed his performances and took his art seriously. Actresses who have given their best performances working with him are: Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Taylor, Olivia de Havilland.

 Favourite Montgomery Clift movie ~ Wild River.”

ACTRESSES:

My number one favorite actress has never changed. I have loved her since I first saw a photo of her, way before I saw her in anything. If Chaplin is a hero, she is one of my heroines…so much so I’d have loved to have given my daughter her name: Vivien Leigh.

Like Chaplin, Leigh comes out from the screen and really touches me. She was a naturally gifted film actress, the camera loved her. She hadn’t made many films in England when she got the most coveted role in film as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.” How many times have we watched film versions of much-loved books, only to think of how wrong the casting has been, especially when studios were bound to using their stable of stars. But with Vivien it was like it was written just for her. It’s a technicolor feast, but at its heart is Vivien as Scarlett. Other Hollywood films followed and amongst them she either played well-known women, Emma Hamilton or literature classics like Anna Karenina, making both roles her own. Just as Vivien is Scarlett she’s also Anna. I’ve seen many versions and I’ve read it twice…Vivien IS Anna. And then came an almost complete turnaround with Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire and again Vivien was Blanche.

To some, Vivien might seem a tragic figure. I felt that once upon a time. But if she’d have lived, we’d be more open and understanding of her illness. She’s a tremendously courageous lady who accomplished so much both on stage and screen whilst battling with two terrifying illnesses. She was a woman who saw what she wanted and went after it with dogged determination. She was a woman who probably wouldn’t call herself a feminist, but she was at heart.

To nominate a film for Vivien is so hard as I’ve never seen a bad one but I must go with Gone with the Wind.

My second choice is Marlene Dietrich. The best actress ever? No. Is she one of the most iconic actresses…YES! I love her movies with Josef von Sternberg; they are crafted pieces of art. SHE is a piece of art. Their films together got more and more elaborate, and nothing this side of musicals conjures up the escapism needed in the Depression-ridden thirties as much as the excesses in their movies.

I prefer Marlene to Garbo, the star she was brought in to challenge. With von Sternberg Dietrich parted company with that comparison and found her way in the hard scrabble Hollywood of the thirties. She made some flops but she was always watchable. She broke out of her own mould with Destry Rides Again.” Breaking the mould is something Dietrich would do time and again, whether entertaining the troops       

during the Second World War or keeping her film career going into the sixties. I’m sure if Marlene had been allowed to enlist she was such a force of womanhood the war would probably have ended sooner. What a woman. Then as most women would be winding down, she undertakes a huge one-woman show. She stayed married to the same man for life, unashamedly taking many lovers, whilst her hubby (Rudolf Sieber) had a long-standing girlfriend. Not everyone’s way but it was Marlene’s. Like I said…what a woman.

My favourite Marlene film is Shanghai Express.

I love Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, they’re both underrated and I credit them with drawing me into movies. But my number three goes to Katharine Hepburn, for the same reason I hold Cary Grant so dear. She can do drama and comedy with equal adeptness. And she’s always Katharine Hepburn whether she’s Tracy Lord or Eleanor of Aquitaine or anyone else. Married when she was young then never married again, this long-term partner of Spencer Tracy, starred in many movies with him. She returned to the stage at intervals, always to rave reviews. A highly opinionated woman, she’s perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. And not at all glamorous. One gets the idea that whilst everyone else was suffering making The African Queen she was enjoying the whole thing. Her screen career spanned decades.

Katharine Hepburn Bringing up Baby.” She’s hilarious, leading poor old Cary Grant on a goose chase or ”Baby” hunt that he doesn’t want to be on.

SUMMING UP: All my actresses began their careers in movies in the 30’s. All my actresses are women before their time, none of them fit into the dutiful wife and mother role fully, or at all. I’d  loved to have sat down for tea with Vivien. I’d loved to listen to Marlene and I’m sure Katharine would scold me for something. But they and some of their peers helped advance women’s rights faster than they had been advanced in the previous 1900 years.

And my actors…I’d love to listen to Charlie and ask him so many questions. Cary, I think I’d be struck dumb if he looked as good as he does in the movies. Boyer could read the phone book to me, that voice is like the finest tasting chocolate and Monty, I don’t know, I think I’d like to know who he really was, if in fact he knew.

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9. NAME A CLASSIC FILM YOU WOULD RECOMMEND SOMEONE SEE, AND WHY.

PADDY: Robert Wise’s boxing drama/noir The Set-Up from 1949. Creatively told in real-time with a perfect ensemble of actors, “The Set-Up” is my litmus test for critics. If they appreciate its many pleasures, I will take them seriously. If they dismiss it, as I have sometimes seen, they are dead to me.

  

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FERNANDO: I always recommend films to people, either contemporary or older films, depending on the person to whom I am making the recommendation, his/her tastes, his/her personality, etc., especially when they are not familiar with Classic films.

But I can tell you that a couple of weeks ago, a young guy in his late twenties who works in my company, asked me about films; classics, etc. He asked me to recommend a couple of Classic films. Since he’s not familiar with the Classics, I told him he couldn’t go wrong with Hitchcock. So I recommended Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and Vertigo (1958), stating that for me, these are Hitchcock’s best films.

In regards to “Shadow…” I told my co-worker to forget any prejudices against B&W or films not being widescreen. I told him “Shadow of a Doubt” is a superb thriller with great performances, plot twists and solid pacing that leads to a superb climax. I also told him “Vertigo” was a more complex film that had many layers and perhaps required more than one viewing. I mentioned it was one of the most fascinating films ever made and that he should see it at least once in his life.

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HÅVARDFritz Lang’sSpione.” For the simple reason that it puts every other spy movie made between 1928 and now to shame.

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KARIN

 

 

For someone not familiar with classic films and I’m trying to get them ‘classified’ I tend to recommend North by Northwest”, “Charade”, “The Thin Man,Baby Face”, “The Palm Beach StoryorThe More the Merrier”.

 

 

 

 

For those in the know it’s a whole other kettle of fish. Then I’d recommend lesser known films by great artists, like mentioned here:  Three Came Home”, “Dance, Girl, Dance”, “Test Pilot”, “What Price Hollywood?

 

 

 

 

 

For those not too familiar with classic non-Hollywood films: La Ciociara (“Two Women”) andDas Riesenrad”.

 

 

 

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LETÍCIA:  There are many classics that still resonate with our current world – like “A Face in the Crowd” (1957). I also try to recommend some nice movies on my blog.

But I don’t know which I would recommend to someone – anyone. I think you can’t go wrong with a good comedy, especially the silent ones, because their humor is timeless.

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GILL: He Ran All the Way” (1951) Another one I discovered, when I chose to review it in a blogathon. John Garfield blew my breath away with his screen presence and performance in this movie. He shows amazing depths from romantic to more frightening then to the paranoid side of his character as the movie progresses. This film makes me so want to see more of his work particularly his original take on The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) where he played the role Jack Nicholson plays in  the 1981 remake. You can also check out my review of this Garfield film here.

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PAULSeventh Heaven” (1927). If there was ever a silent film that was visual poetry, this is it (with all due respect to Wings and The Crowd). Borzage is a romantic and I adore the heart and emotion he brings to the film as director. Both Gaynor and Farrell are inspiring as the lovers who refuse to let anything divide them. For me it has the hallmarks of a masterpiece. 

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ALISON: I’d recommend too many. But three favourites films I’d recommend for different reasons are:

1. It’s A Wonderful Life.” Of all the Christmas movies that have ever been made, this, still is the best Christmas movie. It’s a life lesson in a movie. It’s not the only movie to do this but it does it with more power than any other movie, bar one. The other being “The Ox Bow Incident.”

 

2. Singin’ in the Rain ~ My number one happy movie. Technicolor, Gene Kelly, a great score and Cyd Charisse. Say no more.

3. The film that still resonate today and displays both the power of Hollywood to make a statement and propaganda value, it would be Charles Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.” It was made at a time when Hollywood wasn’t quite sure about what to do about the trouble in Europe. “The Great Dictator” didn’t even mildly disguise the fun it was poking at Hitler and Mussolini. The man who was only a few days older than Hitler showed him just what he thought of him. And this film isn’t just us laughing at Chaplin portraying a Hitler character, but it has the trademark slapstick and pathos which are at the heart of Chaplin movies. It’s stood the test of time.

It correlates directly to a time in history when the world sat on the brink of disaster. Yet, its closing speech is one of the most beautiful to come out of a classic movie and it’s as poignant now as it was then. And it resonates even more today when we’re in politically shady times again. I think the film sums up Chaplin himself, his political views, which were somewhat simplistic and humanitarian. He wasn’t an enemy of America and perhaps there’s comfort there knowing that in the early 50’s there were crazy times in politics but rectified itself eventually. May the same happen again.

 * * * * * * * * *

10. ANY PARTING COMMENTS FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD, RE: MOVIES … OR LIFE?

PADDY: We live in an age where the creative hearts and minds of centuries and beyond borders can reach us. We should relish the art that flourishes around us without ignoring the voices of the past.

 

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FERNANDO: My parting comments would be: never trust anyone but yourself when it comes to films. It has happened to me many times that I have read lackluster reviews about some films and after watching them I thought, “thank God I do not trust reviews or critics!” Your only guide should be your own taste, instincts and your will to discover new gems. There is a world full of hidden “easter eggs”; films from all over the world, of all the genres, of all the decades, that are there waiting to be discovered.

And share, share & share. When you find a film that you like share it with the World and try to write about your experience. It is the only way of “keeping the ball rolling” and “passing the torch” to other people and to future generations, especially with respect to older films.

And with regard to Classic or older films, liberate yourself of your prejudices; forget you are watching a B&W film or a Silent film, immerse yourself in the experience and enjoy!

Thank you my friend for considering me for this great experience.

[  CineMaven’s Note: Fernando has allowed me to re~post some of his pithy reviews here on my blog. To satisfy your curiosity please go to the little corner I’ve carved out for him and check him out. Thx!!! ]

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HÅVARDJust that there is a lot we can learn from movies, like “Rocky”, for example, which tells us to never give up, to keep chasing the dream no matter what. And “It’s a Wonderful Life” tells us that we all matter, that our actions in this world, whether big or small, will have consequences. So, make sure to be good to one another, and don’t be stingy with those hugs.

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KARIN:  I hate choosing and singling out names from a sky of bright stars. But anyway, this glorious by-gone world and the beautiful remains of it has become a part of my life. A big part. Thank God.

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LETÍCIA:  Blogging about classic films changed my life. I found my voice, my place and an amazing community. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have a blog. Thank you!

Kisses! Thank you so much for inviting me!

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GILL: Parting comments… thanks for this great wee interview Theresa, it’s been fun! And film bloggers, get out of your comfort zone and review a film you haven’t seen yet. There’s so many films to discover and enjoy that you might just like it. So for that blogathon, just go random…

 

 

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PAUL: It would take a lifetime to discover, watch and talk about classic film – and I intend to live as long as I can to discover, watch and talk about as much classic film as possible. Don’t let the distance from Australia deter you from visiting – we have so much to offer you if you visit! Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my feelings about classic film!

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ALISON: Never underestimate the power of a good movie for being good for the soul. But the reverse is true…time spent on a movie that’s all effects and no storyline is time you can’t get back again.

Without being too philosophical, joy is to be found in small things: a favourite movie, a good friend, a cherished pet, a nice meal, a kindness or compliment given or received, creating something from scratch like a meal or painting or garment. If we instinctively knew this when we were born we might not pursue money, ambition and energy on things that don’t give us the sense of joy, but cost us dearly.

 

 

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APEX ( 1962 )

Terence is at it again. He of “A Shroud of Thought” is hosting his fourth annual “FAVOURITE TV SHOW EPISODE BLOGATHON.” This “is a blogathon in which bloggers write entries about their favourite episodes of their favourite classic television shows.” If you’re interested in seeing everyone’s favorites ( don’t use a “u” ~ I’m an American ) please click on “The Saint.” I participated in this popular blogathon once before with the iconic and poignant “Twilight Zone” episode “Walking Distance” starring Gig Young. But now for something different. Everybody should know by now that Hitchcock’s my boy. He’s left his mark of chilling suspense on movies and tv. Thanks to the MeTV channel, I get to watch Hitchcock’s tv program nightly and this episode is one of my faves.

Here are the title cards for tonight’s episode. I apologize for the UNclarity of the screen caps. Watch along with me. I’m going to walk you through it with my impressions and observations. It will have spoilers, but it won’t have the main spoiler I will leave out. Wait, I’ll put it on another page. This is Season 7 Episode 24 of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I would say sit back and relax, but hey…this IS Alfred Hitchcock.

The lovely Patricia Breslin set this nice homey little domestic scene with handsome Mark Miller of tv’s “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” fame. ( He’s also the dad of actress Penelope Ann Miller ). Patricia Breslin reminds me of Barbara Rush and Dana Wynter. And here she is, your typical 50’s/60’s scene, talking about refurnishing…and sending her man off to work.

      

What’s he stopping for, a quick smoke? Oh snap…he lives next door? WIFE? He’s married?! I see what he did…he checked the window before going into his own house. Having an affair right under his wife’s nose. And lies to her face.

        

Wait, his mistress is friends with his wife? ( Oooh, that never works, trust me! ) What a reveal. This has been going on for over a year? Woweeee! The wife is played by Vivienne Segal. She’s warm and friendly. I feel bad for her.

Margo: “Clara, is something wrong?”
Clara:   “No. Nothing.”
Margo: “Are you and Claude having trouble?”
Clara:   “Not Claude. Just me. And I haven’t a     thing to go on. No mysterious phone calls. No handkerchiefs with lipstick on them. But I think he’s seeing another woman.”
Margo: “Clara, I can’t believe you.”
Clara:   “You can’t? We just had our seventh wedding anniversary. That’s when the itch is supposed to set in.”
Margo: “But you know how much Claude loves you.”
Clara:   “I know how much he says he loves me. Oh Margo, never marry a man who is even a little bit younger or poorer than you.”
Margo: “Well it’d be kind of hard to find anyone poorer.”

She owns the company, like the Countess DeLave owned Dandee Gelatine in “The Women.” There’s a veiled threat he won’t own any part of the company if they divorce.

    

Clara: “Dear it’s getting late and I’ve got to go   to the bakery. I promised Claude we’d have cream puffs for dinner tonight. He loves creampuffs. Don’t pay any attention to me. I’m being ridiculous.”

Margo: “You’re having creampuffs for dinner.”
Claude: “That’s nice.”
Margo:  “You were right.”
Claude: “About what?”
Margo:  “She suspects you.”

Even though it’s just dessert, hearing Margo reveal to Claude he’s having cream puffs feels like such a betrayal to me. Here is Clara, confiding her marital insecurities to Margo, and she goes and tells Claude. I feel bad for Clara. This is not looking good for her.

 

Margo lets him know might be in danger of losing the money AND her. Not wanting to lose either, he’s gotta kill his wife.

  

Claude: “I just couldn’t do it. I could hire someone to do it, but doing it myself…”
Margo:  “Maybe, let me take care of this.”
Claude: “No no. I don’t want you to have anything to do with it. I’ll arrange it.”
Margo:  “If I leave it to you, I’m afraid it’ll     never get done darling.”

He can’t do it. And we see yet ANOTHER REVEAL. Margo’s playing him. Look at her thinking…how to get him back on track. ( She did say she was poor, remember? She’s been working him a year ). Leave it to a man, huh? He can barely find his socks. 

     

Girls, if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. What the hell has Margo up her sleeve?

Margo: “Remember the Rose Petal Tea you said you and Claude had in Tahiti on your honeymoon.”
Clara:   “Yes.”
Margo: “Was it Magruder’s Jasmine Oriental Rose Petal Tea?”
Clara:   “Why yes.”
Margo: “Well stay right where you are. Have I got a surprise for you.”

Uhhh boy. I see where this is going. Run, Clara!!! Run.

This was a close call here. Margo’s about ready to dope the tea when Clara busts in on her.

Margo: “Clara, you’ve gotta snap out of this. It’s just your imagination.”
Clara:   “He left his office at 10 this morning and hasn’t been back since. Is that my imagination?”
Margo: “Well, he probably had some business appointments.”
Clara:   “Then why doesn’t his secretary know about them.”
Margo: “Did you try his club?”
Clara:   “Yes. He hasn’t been there all day.”
Margo: “Well I’m sure there are a dozen explanations for it.”
Clara:   “It’s the real one that worries me.”
Margo: “I’m not saying what you’re afraid of could be possibly be true. But I do know once you decide to be suspicious of a man, you can find a million reasons for it.”
Clara:   “Margo, it’s more than suspicion. I know.”
Margo: “How do you know?”
Clara:   “I just do.”

The phone rings and Clara goes to answer it. Margo can now finish “preparing” the tea.

Clara’s mind is at ease now that she’s hearing from Claude. He was at his club meeting an old friend and tells Clara he’s sending a caddy over to the house to pick up an envelope for him.

It’s now tea time. Poor Clara.

Margo keeps Clara chatting distractedly as Clara continues to drink the bitter tea of General Yen. If it tastes bitter why are you still drinking it. C’mon man. Sloppy plotting. Quit drinking. Jesus! 

Nope, she’s drunk it all…down to the last drop!!!! It’s quick acting. She’s down. She begs for help.

Margo’s takes her sweet time pretending to help. But she’s not helping. She listens to Clara dying. Damn, Margo’s cold. She wants that money. Poor Clara. She seemed like a nice woman. Margo’s pretty methodical with the clean up of finger prints and tea cups. Cool cookie this brunette. She’s about to get away but the doorbell rings. 

There are more great entries to this blogathon if you click on the Maverick Brothers. And surely you have favorites of your own. Leave a comment in the space below. Thank you Terence for giving us a chance to share these.

And IF anyone is interested on exactly HOW this episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents ends…you need only to click on the photo below for the SPOILER. THANKS so much for joining me on “the couch

 

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VERTIGO: CLASSIC FILM’S RUBIK’S CUBE

I wonder if this is a movie that MUST be seen FROM the second time around?

 

I won two free movie tickets via a contest held at the CLASSIC MOVIE HUB website
( Yaaay! and THANK YOU Annmarie ). I grabbed dear old Dad and Sunday night off we went to the movies, for Fathom Events’ screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic, “
VERTIGO.” The trailer:

 

Last Friday night when I mentioned to a bar~drinking, classic film~loving buddy of mine that I was going to see the movie, she said: “Noooo. It’s my least favorite Hitchcock. If you’re going to kill me, you’re going to have to do it on the ground. I am NOT going up those stairs!!”  What am I missing? “VERTIGO” is my favorite movie. But could I be wrong? Have I been had…been took? Had I been hoodwinked? Bamboozled? Led astray? Run amok? Does this movie warrant my father’s “Thumbs Down” during the screening?
( WHAAAT? DADDY!!! ) I swore to myself I would watch the movie objectively, this time. I would see if the pieces logically and rationally fit together in a way that makes sense. I wasn’t going to give Hitch a pass. I would not get caught up in Bernard Hermann’s sublime romantic score. That was the plan. I had my popcorn and Raisinets as a buffer between me and my emotions. Now…show me, Hitch. SHOW ME, dammit! 

There might be spoilers as I ramble on the Couch here, because this really is a motion picture all classic film fans should have seen already. Not that you may like the film, but you should have seen it. So as the story begins in earnest, this is a straight~up detective mystery thing; one last job for a friend before John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson truly throws in the towel. ( JAMES STEWART’s Scottie has developed vertigo, you see, and can no longer chase bad guys ). Gavin Elster gives him the back story on his wife; trances…reincarnation…portals of the past. He needs evidence before he can have her institutionalized. We see Scottie’s reluctance:

“I’m supposed to be retired. I don’t want to get  mixed up in  this thing.”

But Scottie agrees to go to Ernie’s ( the San Francisco restaurant ) to check out Elster’s wife before he decides if he’ll take the job or not.

Madeleine Elster glides into frame for her full~on, Bernard Hermann’d~underscored, breathtaking close~up.

Yep, I’m a goner.  I go down the rabbit hole.

 

Gloriously, hopelessly, quietly deliriously and unapologetically I spiral down into the plot. I’m hooked. Now it’s NOT that I lost my resolve, mind you. But hell, I can’t fight my OWN theory…if you don’t fall for KIM NOVAK, the movie won’t work for you.

Here you go Wendy Merckel ~ your “Wizard of Oz” shot ~  SCOTTIE openS the door from the DARK alley INto wondERMENT JUST LIKE you told me

 

It is the following of her and vesting your emotion in her mystery that’s ~ ( at least to me ) ~ the initial lynch pin in this whole mesmerizing story. I s’pose you don’t have to fall for Novak. Be that way. There’s more twists in this tale to keep you on your toes. 

Elster dangles the puzzle and mystery of Madeleine in front of Scottie and us. Scottie follows Madeleine thus we get the scenic drive through San Francisco. As we drive with Scottie watching Madeleine, it’s as though we are watching a movie. In fact, Madeleine IS a movie.

We follow her like we follow a movie, not knowing what’s going on, but we follow to find out. And like a good director, Elster manipulates this ‘Madeleine Movie.’

 
My friend Lynn says Madeleine’s wet gloves make her look like a ghost.


Garbo comes to mind with Madeleine for some reason. Bear with me while I stretch my movie metaphor a tad more. All those silent movies that fans watched of Garbo’s…not hearing her voice, silently move about on screen…and then in
1930…we hear her for the first time. That’s kind of what we do with Madeleine. We hear all about her. She doesn’t come into the movie until maybe about 40~minutes in for her close~up. We silently follow her around, as I said…she is her own movie. Twenty minutes after thatabout a full hour into the film, she’s steps OUT of her movie, and INTO Scottie’s living room…in his robe. The anticipation has been built, and there she is. That sly dog Hitchcock gets around the censors by showing her wet clothes drying in Scottie’s kitchen. When Madeleine wakes from her near~drowning we finally hear her voice…that distinctive low, husky, whispery voice of Kim Novak’s:

“What am I doing here. What happened?”

( Uhhhhmmm, you DO know Madeleine was really aware she was being disrobed, right? She is a movie at first. And movies are a voyeuristic experience. And we watch movies. So tell me, what makes us any better than Scottie? ) We get to ‘know’ a little more about the mystery woman. She doesn’t know why she does what she does because she doesn’t know what she does. That’s the hook.

 

You see, Scottie’s never been in love before and when it hits him, it’s truly like a ton of bricks.

My father says to me:

“But he’s going to fall in love with another man’s wife? What mess is that? The guy’s supposed to be his friend and he wants his wife?”

ME: “Daddy, how many movies have you seen where people have affairs? We see it all the time. You say that like that’s an unusual thing in movies. But I give you this, Scottie didn’t think this all the way through. Is he going to tell Elster ‘I love your wife, so don’t put her in an institution?’ No, he didn’t think it all the way through, but an affair is not an unusual thing.”

Yes, there IS the warm, attractive Midge ( BARBARA BEL GEDDES ). She’s competent, confident, independent and maybe the death knell to romance: comfortable. She holds no mystery.  But you do see what you’re getting with her, and that’s a GOOD thing. Scottie is acutely aware of the difference between the two women.


You’re a big boy now                           Baby won’t you drive my car  

I get a little miffed at Scottie when he’s slightly prickly because Midge leaves a note for him under his door when she can’t reach him. But Madeleine does the same and he’s fine with that.

 

She protects him…he protects her.

And there’s that quite heart~wrenching scene ( for me ) when Midge teasing Scottie painfully backfires. No coming back from that. He’s already too far gone.  

Scottie’s Mr. Fix-It. He’s solved the mystery of her dreams and shows her this very real place indeed, the mission down in San Juan Bautista. Now that Elster has hooked Scottie, he’s got to make Scottie climb those stairs of the bell tower. Curiosity alone won’t get him up. Madeleine has made Scottie fall in love with her. And that love will make him go up those stairs, in spite of his fear of heights. Elster and Madeleine have made Scottie go outside his fear to try and save this woman he’s fallen for. By this point in the movie, I (almost) forget Scottie even HAS vertigo. But up the stairs he goes; at least he tries. Elster has played dirty pool. That’s the dastardly thing about all this. Elster and Madeleine use Scottie’s fear and love against him. Perfect.

Madeleine’s gaze into the distant past masks what she really sees.

SCOTTIE: “I love you Madeleine.”
MADELEINE: “I love you, too. Too late.”
SCOTTIE: “No no, we’re together.”
MADELEINE: “There’s something I must do.”
SCOTTIE: “There’s nothing you must do. There’s nothing you must do. No one possesses you. You’re safe with me.”
MADELEINE: “No it’s too late…

It’s a great scene at San Juan Bautista BECAUSE Scottie and Madeleine talk past each other. We won’t understand that yet, but we will. And when we do, it will be a Wow! Hitchcock gives us two different movie experiences with “VERTIGO.” One is the “came~the~dawn” experience when things are revealed and we go“Ahhhhhhhh!” The second comes with us knowing all the pieces; the film becomes more suspenseful because we know things the characters don’t know yet.

MADELEINE: “You believe I love you.”
SCOTTIE: “Yes.”
MADELEINE: “And if you lose me, then you’ll know I, I loved you and I wanted to go on loving you.”
SCOTTIE: “I won’t lose you.”
MADELEINE: “Let me go into the church. Alone.”

What the heck does THIS mean? We won’t understand that yet…either. The twist is Madeleine has fallen for Scottie. And THAT is not part of the Grand Elster Plan.

♣ ♣  ♣ ♣

At this point you’re sad about the movie. Scottie loses Madeleine. He couldn’t save her. She jumps to her death. Scottie goes before an inquiry and you get the cold hard facts from the Inquisitor…

“He did nothing. The law has little to say on things left undone.”

…I mean the Coroner ( Henry Jones ). He breaks down the movie for you in the coldest, most dispassionate, judgmental, “just~the~facts~ma’am” kind of way imaginable. It is like cold water in the face; ice cube, tray and all. ( I know…I know: “SNAP OUT OF IT!” ) With that commercial break at the Inquest, and Scottie now off his rocker, Hitchcock brings us to the last third of the movie. This is the part you won’t like. Maybe you’ve obsessed over someone, or they over you and the memory embarasses you. This is the part you won’t like if think with your head instead of your heart. You’ll find it crazy and creepy and edgy and disturbing because you won’t allow for someone to lose control in his quest for love. You might be right. But you’re missing the heart of his movie.

♣ ♣  ♣ ♣

Hitchcock does two things with “VERTIGO.”

(  1. ) He makes an UN~love story Love Story. He deconstructs Love. What is love? Who do we love? Why do we love? Why do we love who we love? What would you do for love? What does it take to get someone to love you? Who says the logical choice in love is the most fulfilling? But if you wanna know the truth about it, he’s not showing you Love. He’s showing you Obsession. Is that two sides of the same coin? No. But I don’t have to tell you how macabre Hitch is.

(  2. ) Hitchcock takes the myths of Osiris and Isis and Orpheus and Eurydice and puts his spin on it. In both these myths, people want to bring loved ones back from the dead…only Hitch has it all take place in beautiful San Francisco. 

[ I’ve Been Waiting For A Girl Like You To Come Into My Life ]

“…Because I remind you of her?”   

“If I let you change me, will that do it? Will you love me?”

The Dream

♣    ♣

We’re all pretzel’d up in the second half of the movie. I won’t go into all the details because you already know what happens ( don’cha )? And if you don’t, I want you to find out on your own. It gets crazy y’all. It gets wild. We can psychologically handle this now, but 1958…not so much. Scottie spirals out of control as this romance movie turns into a dark, film noir suspense thriller. ( Too many genres?? Ha!! ) Little things we didn’t understand, now come to light. No doubt it is disturbing. Scottie’s and Madeleine’s lives unravel.

MADELEINE: “I was safe when you found me. There was nothing that you could prove. When I saw you again I, I couldn’t run away I loved you so. I walked into danger, let you change me because I loved you.”
SCOTTIE: “It’s too late. There’s no bringing her back.”

And like Eurydice sucked back into Hell when her lover Orpheus turns to look at her,  too soon, so does Hitchcock pull the rug out from under us. It feels like a punch in the stomach. The air is sucked out of the room. The movie ends as it began…abruptly. It’s over.

MGM’s youthful, good~natured, affable Jimmy Stewart does some interesting work in his middle~age playing complex men. In “VERTIGO” on the steps of that bell tower, he’s angrier and more insane and pitiable than I’ve ever seen him. But Stewart’s a proven and accepted legend.

It’s Kim Novak who is the revelation for me especially seeing the movie on the big screen. Yeah, I’m a fan, but putting that aside, she does do a phenomenal job playing these two disparate women in a performance I think is still under~rated. Click here to see the Academy Award~nominees and winners for 1958. Novak shows the skill, nuance and smarts to put this over. She gives an amazing performance, and is absolutely stunning to look at.

Thanks to Fathom Events for featuring the 60th anniversary of this complicated, disturbing and mesmerizing film. It’s a movie about emotion, illogic, abandon, losing control. I think “VERTIGO” is classic film’s Rubik’s Cube with all the pieces you have to maneuver. I love it’s ins and outs and twists and turning in on itself. But this isn’t everyone’s cuppa. And I’ll have to be okay with that. Sorta.

After all, some puzzles are not meant for everyone to solve.

 

 

[     H  O  M  E     ]

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

 

THE SHANGHAI GESTURE (1941)

Heck yeah I’m jumping out before the rest of the gang. When you see the entries for my blogathon this upcoming Saturday, you won’t want to read what little ol’ me has to say about “THE SHANGHAI GESTURE.” But you’re here with me now. I’ve got you! And I have a lot to say. It’s von Sternberg…so sit back, relax and pay attention, kids! I’m going to take you on a wild ride. I promise NOT to give away plot spoilers. Read on MacDuff –

I find “THE SHANGHAI GESTURE” to be…one heckuva movie. It doesn’t have the relentless driving energy of Night and the City but it is one of the great roller coaster movie rides I’ve ever had. It has more extras than Ben-Hur” “GWTW andThe Ten Commandments combined. Or perhaps it just seems like it since there’s a lot going on in the casino setting. 

The film is directed by that madcap, zany JOSEF VON STERNBERG of Dietrich fame and cinematic excess. It is an opulent, overloaded, overcooked, three-ring circus and I love it! This was directed near the end of his illustrious career and von Sternberg fills the screen with interesting characters and character actors. Wild! There’s a strange halting way people converse with each other in this movie…like there’s an added beat between each person speaking. Whatever that is, and I fear I’m not describing it adequately here…it does add to the off-kiltered nature of the movie.

“The Shanghai Gesture” makes a number of commentaries on the power of racial privilege, relationships and imperialism. Some points hit us over the head, while others are subtle. Some of these points include:

  • Horrid pidgin-English spoken by actors NOT Asian. ( Hey, the Asian actors speak just fine ).
  • Racial stereotypes spin on its head in the scene between Mother and Poppy:

MOTHER: “Behave yourself Poppy. You’re in China and you’re white. It’s not good for us to see you. You’ll bring discredit to your race if you continue.”

POPPY: “Don’t preach to me.  And let my race take care of itself!!”

  • Relationships are generally not treasured, but used as bargaining chips.  

Look, there’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on in this movie, but at its core, it’s the story of revenge. Let’s take a look at the cast of characters.

♠  ♠    ♠  ♠

THE CASINO AS CHARACTER 

This is the wildest casino I’ve EVER seen in a movie. ( Some casino movies include: Casino” “Diamonds Are Forever” “Croupier” “The Cooler” and “The Honeymoon Machine” ). So much goes on in von Sternberg’s casino. It is hustling, bustling and alive with extras. And the spinmeister…with eyes in the back of his head, and tentacles  reaching for chips and money and jewelry: MARCEL DALIO, Hollywood’s ultimate croupier. You know I swear, I would put him up against any real croupier from the best casino in Monte Carlo. From the overhead shot, “The Shanghai Gesture” casino looks like the seven rings of hell or a snake pit. And in any case Toto, you know we’re not in Vegas anymore.

I contend this set rivals Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.” The casino’s uncaring, unblinking eye witnesses the buying, selling and gambling of souls. Peoples’ valued possessions are appraised, bartered and devalued simply for just…one…more…spin…of…the…roulette… wheel. It’s a pulsating living thing, with people the life’s blood gambling through its veins.

♥ ♥  ♥ ♥

THE ORIENT MEETS BROOKLYN:

I love PHYLLIS BROOKS in “The Shanghai Gesture.”

Brooks plays chorus girl Miss Dixie Pomeroy. Can you get anymore Brooklyn or any more chorus-y than that? She is so delightfully out of place here, with nothing really to do but be very American. She sashays through scenes and rolls her eyes like a younger version of Mae West. With big round eyes and blonde hair in a sea of brunettes, she stands out in Shanghai.

I love her flat twangy voice, while all around her e-nun-ci-ate ev’ry syllable. She and her American colloquialisms are joyfully discordant and brings us back to Earth in this exotic setting. She’s not afraid to stare down the hoity toity Poppy Smith or playfully remind the high and mighty Sir Guy Charteris where they met before. She’s got Dr. Omar’s number and can rub elbows with the high society types summoned to this dinner party, all the while keeping it real.

When she’s told how the casino owner would eat her up like a cat would a mouse, her reply…

“Yeah? That only makes me more hungry. When do we eat?”

In fact, nothing seems to frazzle the sassy brassy Miss Dixie Pomeroy. And Phyllis Brooks plays her to the hilt.

♣ ♣  ♣ ♣

SAMSON WEARS A FEZ

VICTOR MATURE ~ Dr. Omar. Just don’t look for any medical degree unless his sheep skin is in his pants. 

Mature has great fun with this part. It is only his fifth or sixth motion picture. He doesn’t play it for laughs but he knows it’s all a joke. Listen to the way he says: “my sweet” “my little one” “…my little broken-footed antelope.” 

Mature is sooo sensuously serpentine and tactile in this movie. Watch how he fondles Poppy’s dress when he talks to her:

“In short, I’m a thoroughbred mongrel. I’m related  to all the  earth. And nothing that’s human, is  foreign to me.”

Hmmmmm….mmmm…that covers “lots” of things. He hypnotizes and bathes her with his attention:

POPPY: “Then may be you can explain how our friends just vanished.”
OMAR: “We were alone since I first saw you.”

Oh hell…he could talk to me, anytime. Dr. Omar is self-deprecating, weaves a wicked tale and is strangely truthful if you’re really hearing what he’s saying. His exoticism is mesmerizing:

“My birth took place under a full moon on the  sands of Damascus. My father was an Armenian  tobacco dealer and was far away. And my  mother  the less said about her the better. She  was  half-French and the other half is lost in the  dust of  time.”

The signpost to Poppy’s undoing is signalled when Omar tells her:

“I wonder how you’d look with your hair down.”

See, that’s how it always starts, when you let your hair down. If you’ve seen the movie you know what I mean. When you see the movie, you’ll know what I mean.  Poppy is no match for him. You see, Omar has no problem stringing women along until they are strung out…then drops them. He’s a master of manipulative opportunism.

I think Victor Mature has been under-rated as an actor, probably because of his beefcake status. He was a big good-looking man. ( That’s a crime? ) No, he’s not everyone’s cup o’ tea, but when I see him I believe him, whether he was a gladiator or cowboy; caveman or cop. I believe him in the arms of Delilah and I thought he was perfect in this movie.

Being a gigolo doesn’t seem to hurt his manhood in the least:

POPPY: “Were you paying for the drink or was she paying for them?”

OMAR: “I can say with pride I’ve never paid for anything in my life.”

POPPY: “Do you think you can keep up that enviable record?”

OMAR: “Why not?”

And von Sternberg gives Mature a nice close-up when he gets a glass of water thrown in his face. Wet or dry, and working his cape like nobody’s business, Dr. Omar is not above being bought and paid for. Buyer beware.

♦  ♦    ♦  ♦

DODSWORTH TAKES A WRONG TURN & FINDS A FORTUNE COOKIE IN THE SIERRA MADRE

WALTER HUSTON ~ Sir Guy Charteris. Dang, he was just too cool for school wasn’t he? In “The Shanghai Gesture” I have to admit I found him handsome, distinguished, cold, imperious and loved him. I loved the sound of his voice and his slow measured way of speaking. He has deep set eyes and the way he’s lit, you sometimes couldn’t see them.

As Sir Guy Charteris, he is a man who’s used to getting what he wants. When he’s sitting in his chair going over his plans with his secretary, the phone rings. He’s not 12~inches from the phone, yet when it rings he tells her to pick it up. ( I had to laugh ). He wheels and deals without second-guessing himself. Everyone does his bidding. He holds your life in his hands…you’re just a name on his bulletin board. He’s confident and certain about everything. ( How can this be the same actor who will win an Academy Award as a grizzled old prospector in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre? ). He walks up to Mike Mazurki roughly handling his jacket because Mazurki’s nothing but a “coolie” to him. ( Their term not mine ). But no one ‘handles’ Mike Mazurki and he firmly moves Sir Guy’s hand from touching him. ( What a career this former wrestler carved out for himself ). Even that doesn’t phase Sir Guy. I loved his certainty about things. He has one weakness though…his daughter, Victoria. He’s a single parent. And with her, he’s the Rich Doting Daddy. Ev’ry girl should have one. 😉

“It’s not unusual of me to be solicitous about you.  You’re all I have Victoria. And I’ve spent a good  deal of my life trying to protect you from anything  that could possibly hurt you.”

When he has to chide her, he’s not ranting and raving. He still uses that same flat measured tone letting her know what he EXPECTS of her.

His reaction is priceless when he sees his daughter again. But that’s later, later in the film.

♠  ♠    ♠  ♠

BELLE WATLING TRADES THE OLDEST PROFESSION…FOR A PAIR OF DICE, AND LOTSA HAIRSPRAY

“I always pay my debts…a hundred fold.”

Where do you go after you’ve played a Madame in the biggest, most prestigious movie of the entire 1930’s? ( GWTW”, need you ask? ) You work with the director that made Dietrich a legend. ONA MUNSON is Mother Gin Sling.

She is amazing as the woman who runs the gambling casino. Gambling casino…brothel. What’s the diff? She runs rings around Rick’s Cafe Americain. She is described as:

“The most cold-blooded dragon you’ll ever meet.  She’ll devour you like a cat swallows a mouse.”

Oh boy!!

Her entrance is heralded by a gong and music swelling. She comes through beaded curtains ( Is there any other way? I guess as every good “Asian” actress must in the 30’s & 40’s) and we soak her in. Munson stands: almond-shaped eyes made up to heighten their shape; hair coiffed high in its lacquered Medusa hairstyle ( a la Patti LaBelle ), gowned covering her from head to toe wrapped like a mummy’s shroud. She stands at the top of the landing surveying her casino resembling something out of Dante’s inferno; a casino you know she just built out of blood, bribes, sweat and tears. She descends into hell, the seas part for her as she walks down the steps. Her gait is slow…she glides. 

ONA MUNSON is the best thing about “The Shanghai Gesture.”

She is just as strong as Sir Guy and has as much business savvy as he.  But she does have a slight heart; she deigns to give a losing gambler more money. But she is not above bribing the police or possibly having someone killed. ( Look, you don’t have Mazurki around just for rickshaw work ). 

She’s confident. And Mother Gin Sling is just as determined to stay open as Sir Guy is about closing her place:

“Every so often Shanghai decides to clean itself like  a swan in a muddy lake. I shall not move and  I certainly shall not close.”

The gauntlet is dropped.

She doesn’t suffer fools lightly. When Eric Blore gets squeamish about her list of dinner party guests, she tells him:

“Stop behaving like a disabled flamingo and put  down Sir Guy Charteris.”

Ha! Hokey. But I’m buying whatever Mother Gin Sling sells.

Again, the voices…the voices. I’m loving the way she speaks. Short staccato clips (am I explaining that right?) Munson gives it her all. As Mother Gin Sling, she doesn’t back down from confrontation either. When Poppy Smith, the snippy little whipper snapper, comes off antagonistically to Mother Gin Sling, she doesn’t back down. When Poppy makes fun of Mother’s name, she replies:

“There was a girl called Whiskey Soda too. And  another one called Miss Martini. And one called  Scotch Hi-Ball and another Benedictine. In other  places I might’ve been called Rose or Violet or Lili  or even…Poppy.”

BURN! Mic drop. Mother Gin Sling tells her confidante:

“Find out who that Smith girl is. I like her. She has  spirit.”

Poppy’s got spunk. Mother likes spunk! I think she realizes she’s met her match with this junior league debutante. Poppy will probably use her visit to the Orient as fodder for cocktail conversation at 21. Here, she can add notches to her belt before she marries a nice staid “Wall Street” type. (Did you get a load of her escort at the bar?)

But Poppy is small~fry. Mother Gin Sling’s big battle is with Sir Guy. And she’s “got” something on him she’ll use to keep her place open.

“You’re plotting your revenge like an engineer.”

They do say “revenge is a dish best served cold.” By the by…Ona Munson looks positively STUNNING dressed in all white in that dinner party scene!! That whole scene is a wonderfully bizarre extravaganza of food and wealth. 

Mother Gin Sling is a complicated woman. She’s not just the one-note playing of a daughter of Fu Manchu. Nor is she The Inscrutable as Hollywood would have it. Ona Munson plays her cold and calculating but also gives her a soft spot. She gives sage advice to Poppy:

“Fortune can’t be forced. You know, there’s such a     thing as good fortune.”

Poppy’s not listening.

When Mother Gin Sling unleashes her revenge on Sir Guy, her words fire like a machine gun. Anger, hurt, tearfulness are all mixed in her voice when she says:

“Do you know what the China Sea looks like to a  boat filled with passengers without hope? Told to  laugh and be gay and kicked into not weeping.  The soles of my feet cut open with pebbles sewn  inside to keep me from running away. I don’t  know what kept me alive unless it was the hope of  a nice social evening like this one!”

She’s hard, she’s soft. She spits out each port of call she was taken to like daggers; one memory more degrading than the next. It was embarrassing to watch her revelation done in front of all those guests. But she doesn’t care. She has one more thing up her sleeve.

I IMDB’d Ona Munson—> http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0613262/bio. And no, I do not mix her name up with Osa Massen or Ilona Massey. Yes, I must confess I have only seen three of her movies, Five Star Final being the third one besides “Shanghai…” and “GWTW”. Munson has presence, bearing and style; I’m sorry to read she ended her own life. She helps makes “The Shanghai Gesture” much more fun for me. Her look is so over~the~top, but Munson doesn’t play it for laughs. She is utterly magnificent as Mother Gin Sling.

 ♥  ♥    ♥  ♥

Now if you want to see a spectacular performance, I’m saving the best sole reason to see “The Shanghai Gesture” for last…

BEFORE BRITNEY, PARIS, LINDSAY and KIM…THERE WAS POPPY

Gene…GENE. GENE TIERNEY plays Poppy Smith. Perfectly coiffed…impeccable manners… the class and bearing of someone with money. She speaks well, wears her beauty like Mona Lisa, a little cold…and…unattainable.

“THE SHANGHAI GESTURE” would be Tierney’s sixth motion picture. Audiences couldn’t know what her screen persona would evolve to, so maybe I’m cheating talking from the future of 2018 rather than the past of 1941. See, I’ve seen her in future ( Laura” ( 1944 ) / Leave Her to Heaven” ( 1945 ) / The Ghost & Mrs. Muir ( 1947 ),  etc. ) before I saw her beginning ( …Frank James 1940 ). I saw the cool, composed, sophisticated, classy persona she would grow to become, first. Shock and revelation overcame me seeing Tierney come unglued. We watch the spectacular downward spiral of debutante Poppy Smith in this very showy role for young Gene. She’s haughty, over-confident, demanding, throws tantrums, besotted by love and ends up a hot glorious mess. Yes, this movie belongs to Mother Gin Sling, but Tierney’s ‘Poppy Smith’ gives her a run for her yen.

She starts off very polished, bejeweled, hair in tight curls in an upsweep ‘do. She looks at the casino with school girl fascination:

“The other places are like kindergarten compared  to this. It smells so incredibly evil. I didn’t think  such a place existed except in my own  imagination. Has a ghastly familiarity like a half- remembered dream. Anything could happen here. Any moment.”

When all the men’s attention turns to her, I love the way von Sternberg quickly dollies into a c.u. of her eyes as the camera quickly tries to focus. She has a glacial beauty that’s heart~stopping. ( Let me cut in here with a quick memory of Tierney in The Pleasure Seekers with 60’s blonde, brunette and red-haired sex kittens: Carol Lynley, Pamela Tiffin and Ann-Margret. Their beauty combined could not touch Gene Tierney’s in the 1940’s). But I digress…back on the roller coaster–

As Dr. Omar makes his move on Poppy, I don’t think she’s ever felt the feelings he’s getting from her. She’s mesmerized, doesn’t take her eyes off of him. Her eyes are half-closed. ( Tierney’s eyes are deadly ). She’s enticed to gamble and she wins. She says those fateful last words uttered by all addicts:

“There’s one thing you should know about me. I  can stop whenever I want.”

So of course, she starts to lose.

And in her losing, she gets careless, argumentative (you know, the veritable angry drunks). But she still carries this air of entitlement even as her losses mount. She even challenges Mother Gin Sling (a big mistake!):

POPPY:      “You’re not going to ask for credentials too?”
MOTHER: “You asked for 50,000.”
POPPY:      “And why not? I might’ve asked for more.”
MOTHER: “If your credit is good, any sum you wish is at your disposal.”
POPPY:      “My credit is at least as good as yours.”

Oh Poppy…Poopy…Poppy. Wazzup with the attitude, yo? How much of this youthful hubris is racist leanings???

Her luck changes ~ for the worse ~ her behavior changes ~ for the worse ~ and Omar keeps egging her on to continue.

When we see Poppy again, she wears her hair loose. She’s losing heavily and gets jealous to boot when she sees Dixie and Omar. Jealousy and losing are not a good combination:

   

POPPY: “You’re not going to make me jealous, are you?”

OMAR: “Don’t make a scene. How can you be jealous of a little chorus girl who doesn’t own the clothes on her back.”

POPPY: “Don’t play with me. I won’t stand for it! Been watching you both for an hour.”

OMAR: “That’s why you lose. Why don’t you watch the game.”

Her “don’t play with me” line sounds very today, very contemporary and rings very true to me. She starts to cause a scene in the casino and Mother Gin Sling has to take her in hand:

“Behave yourself Poppy. You’re in China and  you’re white. It’s not good for us to see you. You’ll  bring discredit to your race if you continue.”

D’ya think Poppy cares?

“Don’t preach to me. And let my race take care of  itself!!”

There’s the dialogue I quoted earlier, in context. Yikes! She’s losing all comportment. Omar sticks with her…but just barely. You can see he’s tired of her rants and raves and dwindling finances. She bores him. When Poppy tries to get Omar to see him, he won’t let her in his apartment. ( He’s just not that into you ). She cries and screams and acts and like she’s hurt her leg. I’ve never seen Tierney let loose with such abandon. ( If you have, please… cite the movie for me ). And von Sternberg lets that scene play out (maybe just a little too long–but I guess directors took their time back then). As I said before, when she feigns her leg injury in the staircase she really looks like ice skater Nancy Kerrigan to me. When she gets inside his apartment she alternately yells / screams / begs / pleads for Omar’s sexual forgiveness. She is a junkie…strung out on gambling and the good doctor Omar.

We she returns to the movie, she’s a dutiful daughter. She’s pulled herself together to see her father. But she’s not ready to give up her experiences here in Shanghai. Not by a long shot. When Poppy is presented at the dinner party. She is disheveled, her hair is wild. I love the pale lipstick she wears (this also gives her a very contemporary look ). She is a hot mess! And she is ravishing. She does seem to have some sense of self-awareness about her situation when she says:

“I owe Lady Shylock over there twenty thousand  English pounds. And I haven’t much to show for it  except that dressed up clown.”

I wouldn’t say she is embarrassed but more disgusted; disgusted with Omar and disgusted with herself. Look at the false bravado and brave front she tries to put out there as she makes Omar recite yet another poem, trying to hold her head up high ~ “The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on… ~ but she is a mess!

“This is the poet laureate of Shanghai. Some day  I’m going to kill him!!”

Her degradation is gloriously complete.

She’s disgusted and contemptuous. She’s petulant and tantrum-y. Von Sternberg coaxes a performance of complete abandon from Tierney. How did he know she could do it, so young and early in her career…or did he just pick her for her beauty? I haven’t seen all of Gene Tierney’s movies, but I’m certain in “The Shanghai Gesture” she’s all the things that I’ll never see her be again in her career.

At the risk of spoiling the movie I shall end here. But I would like to give a couple of final shout~outs as even von Sternberg would approve:

1 ~ The great Albert Basserman. ( Hes only slightly younger than C. Aubrey Smith! ) Von Sternbergs close~ups of Basserman’s wizened face were beautiful. And even when he didn’t speak, his expressions spoke volumes. Look at his face during Lady Blessington’s “faint.”

2 ~ Roland Lui, who played Kim Chee is absolutely gorgeous; if this was a different time, he could surely play cute boys-next-door. This is my hubba hubba moment and von Sternberg gives him a nice close-up too. He was in The Letter” (1940) and runs to tell Herbert Marshall “Mr. Hammond is DEAD!”

3 ~ To those lovely little handmaidens that helped out at the dinner party. See them standing behind the lead actors. They floated in and out like little fairies and tried to keep a straight face when Lady Blessington is told (in no uncertain terms) to ”SIT DOWN!” and does a slight faint. Watch the girls in the background. They are cracking up and they cracks me up.

~ Mother Gin Sling has a confidante who I just love. I’m sorry I don’t know the actor’s name but he’s about as Asian as I am. He talks of his Wives Trouble ( Wives as in more than one wife ) and he and Gin Sling have a relationship that’s based on mutual respect. He’s like her Consigliere. And he has great reactions.  

If you haven’t seen “THE SHANGHAI GESTURE” I really urge you to find this one. I don’t know where you think this might fit in in Von Sternberg’s canon of work…but you’ll never see another roller coaster ride like this one.

I hosted a blogathon which includes a variety of topics from bloggers you’re gonna wanna read. Set aside some time to check them out here:

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WHO WEARS THE PANTS…


I’m going to steal, plagarize, imitate ( yeh, that’s the ticket… ) ~ …no, better yet: PAY HOMAGE to a feature from one of my favorite bloggers’ set-pieces: FRIDAY FOTO FOLLIES. And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hope my friend approves.

What Aurora over at ONCE UPON A SCREEN does, is post a lot of photos that illustrate a theme. She does all manner of these. Click on Audrey and see what I mean.

We have seen some of the most beautiful women in classic Hollywood wearing designs fit for a Queen…gowned by Edith Head, Irene, Givenchy, Orry-Kelly, Yves St. Laurent et al. But I’m a jeans and boots girl. Casual is my speed. I think slacks are the most comfortable, freeing thing to wear. Taking a page from Once Upon A Screen, my post is self~explanatory: WHO WEARS THE PANTS. Here are some of my favorite actresses in outfits either from a movie, photo~shoot or just lounging around. Some of you might think this look is very unfeminine. But you’d be wrong.

I’ll start with the Patron Mistresses of Pants…Dietrich and Hepburn. And Garbo. Can’t forget Garbo. Comfort Queens.

  
Dietrich                                                     Hepburn


Hepburn wears this beautiful smoking jacket lounging outfit in “Woman of the Year
( 1942 ) and it’s one of my absolute favorites.

  

Androgyny, much?

   
Top hat, white tail and tails. No one wears this better. Alright…if you must count Fred Astaire.

The Great Garbo

Ninotchka” “Anna Karenina” “Queen Christina” and for me, her greatest performance… “Camille” ~ Garbo reigned supreme in classic films of the silent and talkie era. Her mystique is unique. She wore a lot of exotic styles in her films and could carry them off. Not glamorous here, but I love her casual look:


Comfort over style

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Here are some other actresses wearing the pants off…pants.


When I was a kid and watched her in tv’s “Bewitched” I probably had little idea of the fabulous career she had as a leading character actress. My favorite performances of AGNES MOOREHEAD are “Dark Passage” “Caged” and “Magnificent Obsession.” She can cut you to the bone ( “Citizen Kane” ) ~ She wasn’t afraid to be what her character needed her to be. But she also could be a friend. Doesn’t Aggie look marvelously relaxed and youthful here?

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She didn’t care for the name, but ANN SHERIDAN was the Oomph Girl and with good reason; she had it in spades. She was Warner Bros’ glamor girl, but if they gave her half a chance, she showed ’em she could act. Whether comedy or drama, Sheridan could handle both with equal aplomb. She’s pictured here with her director Vincent Sherman, who did two pictures with her: “The Unfaithful” and “Nora Prentiss.” Look at those shades and the hair…do a pair of slacks look like it deters Vinnie? He’s at her feet. 

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Here’s my petite Force of Nature…the Queen, BETTE DAVIS. She built many a soundstage at Warner Bros. from the box office success of her films. Seeing her in pants was such an unusual thing because it’s all about dresses for women back then. I like her riding outfit in “Dark Victory.” For me, that look is prognosis positive. Oooh look, Cora Witherspoon who could play to the manor born or W.C. Fields’ wife. I also like Davis’ outfit in “The Great Lie” when she was keeping Mary Astor company while waiting for “their” baby to be born.

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CAROLE LOMBARD ~ 1930’s icon. She was much more than a screwball comedienne. See her in “Vigil in the Night” “In Name Only” or “Made for Each Other.” But gosh darn it, it’s “My Man Godfrey” and “Twentieth Century” that cements her in our memory almost ninety years later. Looks like she’s talking to the great Lubitsch and comfortable doing it. Could it be… or not to be?

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CLAUDETTE COLBERT could wear the hell out of clothes with that petite little figure of hers. ( Her wedding gown in “It Happened One Night” is to die for! ) She had a great career in film ( “The Palm Beach Story” “Midnight” and “Since You Went Away“…to name a few ) but look at her here at home, chilling out…just as you’d expect from Cleopatra.

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One of my all~time favorite movie stars is DORIS DAY. I am just over the silvery moon about her. Pretty nautical here in her decidedly 1940’s stylized look. What a career she’s had ( comedy/drama/sing/dance ) working with some of the great leading men in Hollywood like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, David Niven, Jack LemmonKirk Douglas…and three guys name Jim: Garner ~ Cagney ~ Stewart. She could also wear her clothes, without them wearing her, whether she’s Calamity Jane or a suburban housewife.  She could do anything. Really. 

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There she is, A girl’s best friend. The great EVE ARDEN who comes in a movie with five minutes of screen time and out she memorably exits, screen left. Here she is in her “Stagedoor” chill. The woman can wear anything. She’s as statuesque as a super model and as sharp as a laser beam. See “Mildred Pierce” if you need proof.

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GINGER ROGERS ~ She could do comedy, drama and dance her *** off. She can put on the glam with the best of ’em ( have you seen her outfits w/dance partner Fred Astaire? ) Doesn’t she look great in these wide legged pants? I always found her to be a natural onscreen.

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HARLOW in satin…is a dream. In slacks…sort of like you and me. I mean, if you and me were glamorous movie star bombshells being relaxed. My favorite films of hers are “Bombshell” and “Libeled Lady” and of course, “Dinner At Eight.” Harlow…you were gone too soon.

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This is my favorite look of IRENE DUNNE’s. She’s on set of “A Guy Named Joe.” She had a nice slacks outfit in “The Awful Truth” too. Never over the top, her talent is always under the radar.

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JENNIFER JONES looks rather pensive. A far cry from her “Portrait of Jennie” “Duel in the Sun” “Madame Bovary” looks. People blow hot or cold over Jones, but I think she’s a fine underrated actress able to exhibit wells of emotion. Her trying to retrieve her love letters from a burning fire brings me to tears. xoxoxo these pants and boots!

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KEEPING UP WITH THE JOANS ~

   

Blonde in the 30’s, brunette in the 40’s. The great underestimated JOAN BENNETT. She can fit any place: on safari or a scarlet street or be the mother of a bride. Yes her sister Constance is known as THE fashion plate. But little sister Joan’s not bad. She’s stylish as diamonds with attitude for days. Whew!!

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She looks like she stepped out of 2018 with those shades and jumpsuit. What can I say about her. No one wore clothes like her. They say no one loved being a movie star more than JOAN CRAWFORD. Well if you’re going to be good at something…

Her career spans decades. I’m partial to her Oscar-winning role in “Mildred Pierce.” But she was good in “Rain“, “Daisy Kenyon” and with Gable. Hell, she’s a STAR!

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“THE LOOK”

You know how to whistle don’t you? LAUREN BACALL is worth whistling for. She was known as “The Look” in her modeling days, and boy she had it. She was never the frilly feminine type. Very tailored. Pants suit her, don’cha think? I like her in “Dark Passage” and “Written on the Wind.” I dunno…I kind of think she was never really given a chance to bloom as an actress. Perhaps not getting good scripts. Perhaps overshadowed by her more famous husband. Perhaps there was more to Life for her. In movies, she always seems down~to~earth, no nonsense; a little intimidating. If you approach her, you’d better bring it. 

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You can’t get more doe-like, more feminine than Loretta Young. Even in this staged photo shoot, she’s a vision. ( Pssst! See her strong performances in “The Stranger” and “Midnight Mary.” )

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For this flaming redhead, comedy or drama, gowns or slacks…LUCILLE BALL could do and wear it all with ease. Yeh, I love Lucy.

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This is MERLE OBERON playing George Sand in “A Song to Remember.” And I have to tell you, I’m floored by this costume. Isn’t it smart? Merle, a unique looking beauty, hasn’t made movies were so memorable other than the towering “Wuthering Heights.” ( I personally like her and Dana Andrews in “Night Song” ). My claim to fame is when I went to see the throngs of stars attend the premiere of “The Godfather” ( 1972 ) back in NYC, I saw Merle Oberon with Robert Wolders. Very few people were excited by seeing her. Boy, I was.

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One of my favorites…PAULETTE GODDARD walks with her beau, Charlie…swinging her shades. Looking sassy, stylish, comfortable and nonchalant. I understand her collection of jewels and paintings is unparalleled in Hollywood. Another actress with not a stellar filmography, her role in “The Women” is a standout. My friend Wendy writes a wonderful essay for my blog on Goddard I urge you to read.

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The Love Goddess is looking mighty casual here in a pair of slacks. Hell, I confess…I don’t care WHAT  RITA HAYWORTH  wears.

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MY STANY!!!!

These are my two favorite fotos of Stany. One she looks younger than one remembers her, and the other she’s so disheveled in “My Reputation” ( 1946 ), her hair and plaid jacket just kill me. 

    

But the theme is pants…

Her career is legendary. But get a load of that blouse, the belt, those leopard print shoes, her attitude. That’s BARBARA STANWYCK alright. See her hand in her pocket? Damn, she’s ready to kick ass, and she ain’t takin’ names either. Elegant.

     

Thank you all for perusing my Friday Foto Follies. I might try this again in the future with another theme I’ve gathered along my way. Once again, I tip my hat to Aurora over at Once Upon A Screen who can REALLY show that a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out her photo galleries by clicking on this photo of 40’s horror Queen, Evelyn Ankers:

…and this?  Oh…it’s just my indulgence. I’m an Evelyn Ankers fan:

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CLASSIC FILM REMINDERS ~ 2017

My blog’s FOURTH birthday is today. Yippee! Yay!!  

I want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to those of you who’ve followed and shared my blog or have stumbled upon my site in your internet travels. THANK YOU!!

~ In the course of the past three years I’ve hosted my own blogathons ~ 

  

~ Flatttered to have co~hosted two ~

  

~ and participated in several ~

      

whether they’re frivolous, serious…or my blind passion. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my take.

         
 Mr. Muckle              The Canterbury Tale                      Vertigo

I want to share my love for classic films with you all who love these films as I do, or are just a little bit curious. I hope I’m an easy read…and that you’ve enjoyed yourself here. THANK YOU!

♠ ♦ ♣ ♥

NOW…to start off my fourth year, I give you this:

ANA EIRE sent me this message. Click photo for her CLASSIC FILM REMINDERS

So with this, I’ll start my new year by showing you some Classic Film Reminders I ran into on my travels in 2017.

If you wish, check out the classic film reminders I saw in 2015 and 2016; you know…things you pass along your travels that remind you of classic films. Well below are reminders I had in 2017. Hope you’ll follow along with my blog in its fourth year and hope it continues to be entertaining for you.

Look at these photos. See if you can guess the Classic Film connection I made when I saw this. Then click on the photo and see the connection. I’ve been having fun doing this blog. It’s kept me outta trouble. Thank you for joining me.

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