Today is ANN HARDING’s turn to shine brightly.

In August, TCM airs a unique programming feature called SUMMER UNDER THE STARS ( #SUTS ) where each day they feature a full day of one movie star’s films. Today is ANN HARDING’s day. When I first saw Ann Harding I didn’t know I was seeing Ann Harding. It was a “B” movie calledI’VE LIVED BEFORE” where pilot Jock Mahoney believes he’s… lived before. Harding plays the older woman, who confirms that Mahoney is really the reincarnation of her fiancee who died in WWI. Who IS this woman…dulcet voice, so poised, elegant, white blonde hair? I had a passing interest.

I probably saw her again in “THE MAN IN THE GREY FLANNEL SUIT.” There was so much else to pay attention to in this 1956 film, but she had a quiet moment with this other old movie star, Fredric March. (“Hey, there she is again.” I later discovered they first appeared


together before in 1929’s “PARIS BOUND” ). Again, my notice was slight, but piqued. To be honest with you all, I can’t tell you when I really truly SAW Ann Harding for the actress she is, but I’m grateful I did. She had an ethereal mien that was distinct from anyone of her time. Yeah, you’ll see the word “ethereal” bandied about a lot below. Her  contemporaries had a different qualities…the great Garbo ~ ( aloof, cool ), Norma Shearer ~ ( fluttery, busy, actress-y ), Harlow ~ ( fleshy, carnal…hotter than the sun ). The actresses who I think are the same ilk as Harding would be a Mary Astor,  Myrna Loy and Irene Dunne. There’s a naturalness, a sincerity, an authenticity is the only way I can explain it. A friend of mine gave me a great description for Ann Harding, [ though her thoughts differ on my comparison ]:

“One thing I’ve always liked about her is her calmness. She’s calm and has this comfortable silence about her sometimes manifested in a confidence. Other times in her naturalness. Just, calm.” ~  Karin Mustvedt-Plüss

Pish posh…enough with the comparisons and explanations. Today is HARDING’s day on TCM and screening today will be:

  6:00am  “Private Affair” ( 1929 )
  7:30am  “Condemned” ( 1929 )
  9:00am  “The Conquerors” ( 1932 )
10:30am  “The Life of Vergie Winters” ( 1934 )
12:00pm  “The Lady Consents” ( 1936 )
  1:30pm  “Witness Chair” ( 1936 )
  2:45pm  “Janie” ( 1944 )
  4:30pm  “Eyes In The Night” ( 1942 )
  6:00pm  “It Happened on Fifth Avenue” (1947)
  8:00pm  “Biography of a Bachelor Girl” (1935)
  9:30pm  “The Animal Kingdom” ( 1932 )
11:15pm  “When Ladies Meet” ( 1933 )
  1:00am  “The Flame Within” ( 1935 )
  2:30am  “Double Harness” ( 1933 )
  4:00am  “The Magnificent Yankee” ( 1950 )

Now while the below directory is by no means all encompassing, I thought I’d give you a little taste of public opinion on her. Below you’ll find several reviews on Ms. Harding’s work. I, of course, will weigh in, as will my friend Fernando ~ who has a quiet little corner on my blog where his pithy reviews are published. My canvassing writers about her didn’t turn up a bushel. But I’ll cite the big Kahunas of bloggers who do give their detailed, full~throated review of Harding films. I’ll even “try” to be mature enough to share a dissenting opinion about her. ( Oh, my aching ‘fair & balanced’ reporting! )

But the most important thing YOU can do is judge for yourself by tuning in to TCM today and seeing some Ann Harding films. Be warned, the stories might creak, but you’ll find her performances quite contemporary. Hey, you’ll either be a fan…or you won’t. But here’s hoping you will.

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CineMaven’s Essays From the Couch


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SILVER SCREENINGS                            SPEAKEASY








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FERNANDO’s CORNER ~ Bite-sized pithy morsels of thought:






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The blog: MOON IN GEMINI  is holding its WORKPLACE IN FILM & TV Blogathon this weekend. I’ve clocked in to talk about this 1959 film which I enjoy very much. I admit it’s one of thOse “comfort food” movies because of my familiarity with the movie and familiarity of characters that are pretty much archetypes ( or prototypes…or stereotypes if you wanna be a big ol’ meanie about it! )

What a Character! Ann Doran and Lurene Tuttle

My guilty pleasure is THE BEST OF EVERYTHING.”

From 16 until I retired I spent my working life earning a living in the clerical world of The Office, trying to understand and navigate human dynamics and office politics. I took Civil Service exams to work my way up, had affairs with co~workers, maintained confidences as Secretary to a few bosses, crammed all I could into one~hour lunches ~ more or less ~ (…mostly more ), and cultivated friendships that went past the bounds of 9~to~5 to include some of my best Friday night memories where we went dancing, or hung out at the Blarney Stone with games of Pictionary and glasses of booze strewn across the table by night’s end. ( I remember this time I offered my friends $50 to whoever jumped into the City Hall fountain, but that’s another story… )

The office terrain in the movie is very familiar to me. The dramatics of the life of these secretaries are drastically different from mine. Let’s take a closer look at “The Best of Everything.”




  • One ambitious blonde………………. ( HOPE LANGE )
  • One innocent brunette………………. ( DIANE BAKER )
  • One free and easy redhead….……… ( SUZY PARKER )
  • One sexually harassing boss……….. ( BRIAN AHERNE )
  • One cruelly handsome but brooding, slightly inebriated publishing agent
  • One regretful blonde………………… ( MARTHA HYER )
  • One rich and oily playboy who knocks ‘em up and gets them abortions……………………… ( ROBERT EVANS )
  • One love ‘em and leave ‘em Broadway director………
  • One tyrannical terrorizing Executive Secretary who is the mistress of the company’s V.P. and accepts any crumbs of his time as he allows… ( JOAN CRAWFORD )


Gently place all the ingredients into a wide colorful Cinemascopic pan ~ actually baked in New York City ~ stir gently and put in a heated oven. Sit comfortably for two hours and VOILA!!! A delicious soufflé of soap operatic portions is prepared by Chef Negulesco.

There are all kinds of things sort of wrong with this film’s message. It IS sexist. ( Hell, my description of Ingredients is sexist ). But It’s 1959 dumpling, 1959, AND the Dark Ages ( to paraphrase ‘Julie‘ in “JEZEBEL.” The film’s credits trick us into thinking we’re about to enter into the ‘World of Women In the Work Force.’ We see women come off busses and trains,

rushing around the urban jungle of NYC into office buildings, readying themselves for a day’s work; quite the opposite of the suburban housewives of “No Down Payment” or “Strangers When We Meet.” But though the women of “The Best of Everything” are more glammed up than a bunch of 1940’s Rosie the Riveters revving it up in the munitions factory, the Rosies had more of a sense of purpose for work. They were doing it for the cause. And their men were mostly at war. Here, in The Best of Everything,” work is really window dressing. Work is not a reward unto itself but a means to an end; and the be all and end all…was marriage. This is a “woman’s picture” not “Executive Suite.”

SPOILERS ~ Because if you haven’t seen this movie already, well, frankly my dear, c’mon —

Here’s a working girl…who had a boyfriend on the side with vertigo…and didn’t look like she was in a rush to marry

Look at it…wide~open prairie land.

Surveying the land is our first ‘working girl’ in white hat, gloves and pearls. She’ll meet one of the denizens of The Office. ‘Mary Agnes’ is our first intro into the working girl in action. Played by Sue Carson, she makes the most of her brief screen time in this movie. She’s a New York hoot with an accent from Brooklyn.

Plainly put she is the office gossip who’ll give us the lowdown on all the characters. She talks fast and knows the ropes around office life. Besides, she’s caught the brass ring; she’ll be married in a few weeks and will escape. Office gossip, a staple in the world of work.

There is definitely sexism involved…

MR. SHALIMAR: “Are you looking for experience Miss Bender?”  as he fondles her knee. Check.
CAROLINE BENDER: (sternly) “Of a sort, Mr. Shalimar.” She moves his hand from her knee. Checkmate!

Ageism is touched upon…

MIKE: “Don’t underestimate him, Miss Bender. Treat him with respect. Start being 55 and worried about a job that’s not even good enough for you.
CAROLINE: “Why should he lose his job?”
MIKE: “You. Young people like you. Bright young kids with drive and a flair. He’s afraid.”
CAROLINE: “Afraid of me?”

But yo…it doesn’t excuse the sexism. Brian Aherne’s Mr. Shalimar is especially egregious in the sexual harassment area. Diane Baker’s April Morrison has her moment with him in this sequence where this aging wolf (the boss with all the power) creeps up on our Mid-Western girl. She’s supposed to be taking dictation after 5:00pm. Well…


Ahhhhhh…bring back the days of “MAD MEN,” said the CineMaven… tongue~in~ cheek.

But director Negulesco gives Baker a nice little moment after the embarrassing scene for her character April. Shalimar’s given her cab money and a sandwich and sends her home. She waits for the elevator and thinks about what’s just happened. She goes from being mad and indignant, to feeling a bit sophisticated by his pass. Like she’s crossed some sort of line of becoming less small~town girl…to big city woman. Yes, it’s still harassment folks, but April’s a sponge soaking in all her experiences in New York City. She’s so sweet taking it all in and accepting it.

Now’s a good time to take a look at the threesome of “The Best of Everything.” Hope Lange, Diane Baker and Suzy Parker come from a long line of cinematic triumvirates:

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BLONDE AMBITION ~ ( HOPE LANGE as Caroline Bender )

Lange’s working until her betrothed ( Brett Halsey ) comes back from a business trip to marry her. But there’s an earnestness to her approach to work. She wants to do a good job, learn all she can. We see her toughness when she squares off against Executive Secretary Amanda Farrow, played

with easy imperiousness by legend Joan Crawford. She faces her with snarky retorts.

MISS FARROW: “Caroline? When I buzz twice it means I want you for dictation.”
CAROLINE: “Excuse me. I didn’t know.”
MISS FARROW: “Makes one wonders what they DID teach you in college.”
CAROLINE: “Guess I forgot to take the course in buzzers.”

Feisty. Lange is easy on the eyes and easy to get along with, garnering two roommates within the blink of a New York minute. And 1959 girl~talk ensues. The sexual revolution is just around the corner:

CAROLINE: “Well I don’t know. If Eddie hasn’t married by the time I’m twenty~six I may take myself a lover.”
APRIL: “Really? At twenty~six I guess you’re right. If you’re that old you have a right to live.
CAROLINE: “If my mother heard me talk about love so casually I think she’d die.”
APRIL: “My mother never talks about love in any way. She’d no more tell not to have an affair than she’d tell me not to go out and steal a car. She knows I wouldn’t think of it.”
CAROLINE: “But you do think of it.”

APRIL: “Think about it all the time.”

She’s attracted to the company’s handsome teen magazine editor (Stephen Boyd) who drinks a lot. Their relationship is rocky because they both want different things for her. He practices armchair psychology with Lange, trying to sway her from a career in publishing to get her back on track to a career that really counts, being a wife and a real woman and maybe be a part of his life.

MIKE: “Don’t you get caught, Caroline. Get out while you can. Work six months, prove whatever you have to prove and marry the med student, or law student and love happily ever after.”
CAROLINE: “I plan to.”
MIKE: “No business career, no fame, fortune? No ambition?”
MIKE: “How wonderful.”

See…no need to worry about her. She’s got a fiancée, plans for her future with him…while working nights to read manuscripts:

Lange is a good solid actress in the Eva Marie Saint mold of reality~based acting. Okay okay, you may think I say this because they’re both blondes, but not really. Lange has three breakdown scenes she pulls off believably without going over the top. As smart as Lange’s Caroline Bender is, she is still kicked in the gut when she finds her fiancée has married someone else:

CAROLINE: “How do you stop loving somebody when they’ve stopped loving you?”

MIKE: “The man you’re engaged to? Well, this calls for old Dr. Mike’s favorite prescription. Two scotches, straight.”

The movie follows her journey and growth.

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MARY AGNES: “And take your time. Farrow never gets back ‘til 3:30.”
CAROLINE: “She doesn’t?”
MARY AGNES: “Of course not. She’s an executive.”
CAROLINE: “How does she get any work done?”
MARY AGNES: “Executives don’t do the work. The higher up you get, the less you have to do. Unless you’re the top man. Then you have to make decisions. The ones just under the top have the best deal. Funny about Farrow. She always wants someone like you. You know, sophisticated.”

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‘April Morrison’ is the nice, sweet, wide~eyed innocent from Colorado who longs for love in The Big City.

APRIL: “It’s wonderful to be in love, isn’t it?”
CAROLINE: “Yes it is.”

APRIL: “I’m in love too.”

CAROLINE: “What’s his name?”
APRIL: “I don’t know. I haven’t met him yet.”

You will honey. You will.

As a secretary…she’s a little scattered, but can do her job. I already showed you how smarmy hambone publishing exec Brian Aherne makes a crude pass at her. He plants a kiss on her and she convincingly recoils from. Her next encounter is something else again. A kiss from an old wolf like Mr. Shalimar is no match to her run~in with a good~looking, smooth~talking, spoiled, oily~haired cad named Dexter Key…played by a good~looking smooth~talking, spoiled, oily~haired young future Paramount producer: Robert Evans. Trouble really enters Diane Baker’s world with this guy.

APRIL:     “Did you ever make a girl pregnant before?”
DEXTER: “Not that I know of.”
APRIL:     “You mean some girls became pregnant and didn’t tell you?”
DEXTER: “Some girls don’t.”

His Dexter is a playa; kisses the girls and makes ‘em pregnant. At least he was gentlemanly enough to get them to a “doctor” before skulking away. I was especially shocked at 1959’s suggestion of an abortion. It’s a painful watch seeing Baker’s sweet naive character go down that well~worn road. She was not alone in 1959. She’s not alone in 2017.

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“I always have a sandwich with my boyfriend at a mutually convenient place, like Grand Central. While I’m working on the nightgown, he’s saving up for the furniture. French Provincial. Both rooms. See ya later.”

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“All I want is a man who’ll love me. For a little while. My mother was married three times. Each one I’d start calling Dad. Then off he’d go. It was confusing at irst, but then I bean to look forward to the change. And now the only thing I want is to be free. To have no ties. To have, to hold and then to let go.”

‘Atta girl!!!!

I have to admit Gregg Adams ( as played by the gorgeous Suzy Parker ) is my favorite character. She’s an easy breezy fast talker; beautiful, glamorous…and doesn’t really care about her job. ( Things I wish I were ). The job is a means to an end for her real dream: a career as an actress.

Let me capture this sequence for you of how we’re introduced to Gregg Adams.


Oh man…look at her!! She goes on auditions during office hours, blows off the director, catches taxis, and her gal pals at work cover for her. What more can you ask for in a glamour working girl. She lives by the skin of her teeth. And when she’s not hired at the audition, she doesn’t care. At least she pretends NOT to care. In a scene that pre~dates “Breakfast at Tiffany” she tells her truth to the alley cat:

“You know something kitty, I wanted that part like hell.”

It’s a facade. Parker has it interesting because she’s playing this character Gregg on a couple of levels. Parker is an actress who plays an actress who can’t act. You might think her descent into stalking is a bit of a leap, but I can buy it ‘cuz she’s like the hunter captured by the game.

FaceBook poster Stephanie Kreps writes on Suzy Parker:

“Yes, she is so beautiful and a pretty good actress. This movie was like watching a 50’s version of “The Devil Wears Prada.” The great difference, of course, was that the women were not yet ‘woke’ to their rights as far as sexual harassment or equality in the workplace. The happy ending was not a better job or moving up in their careers but learning their place and getting married or at least the promise of that. Even the most successful woman, Joan Crawford’s role, was seen as a sad loser because she had no real relationship with a man. Many of the men were users and cads. The woman’s job was to find one who wasn’t and nab him.”

You see, Gregg has an affair with the Broadway director who has turned her down for a role. He’s played by that continental dreamboat, Louis Jourdan. She becomes obsessed with him I s’pose ‘cuz it’s all mixed up with having an affair with your boss. She’s too blind to see he uses ye olde casting couch to bed actresses as fast as he can cast ‘em. The Gregg Adams’ character’s motivation might be explained better in the book, but I take things at face value in movies. I’ll take the leap with you, as long as the ‘shark’ doesn’t jump too high. As I say, Gregg becomes unhinged by her obsession for Jourdan ( attending rehearsals after she’s been fired, going through his garbage… ). It’s painful to see him literally kick her to the curb as she claws to hang on. She seems like the confidant type to bag a millionaire based on her looks and banter. But underneath…vulnerable. And tragic.

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HE:    Uhhhh, Miss…
SHE:  St. John. Bobbi.

Along with Midge in Vertigo is my other patron saint of working girls, ANN DORAN. She’s all manner of sidekick and Gal Friday. She has a lovely five minute scene with Van Heflin in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” as Kirk Douglas’ secretary. She goes from cynical to interested to concern to skeptical in a seamless blink of an eye. Looks like she can handle anything Heflin or any man throws at her. Ahhhh, if only our three smart girls could. ( I’ll go into Doran’s scene more in~depth at a later date. )  

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We see the different approaches to work for our three musketeers. Well…to be honest, the different approaches to love. But we do see how work has…worked out for two other women who’s been at the company: Joan Crawford and Martha Hyer. Both of them heads of their department. And both of them in various stages of being/or having been with married men.

Crawford is a bit of a stone~cold bitch in this film but I may have to amend that; is she really a bitch? Isn’t she just as any male boss would be: demanding expectations. She expects her Secretary(s) to be professional. Crawford does seem to have it in for Lange’s character. Perhaps Lange’s is a younger version of herself with potential to replace Crawford in the company. It was great to see this Lange’s moxie in the face of Crawford’s jibes and digs.

Lange not only holds her own with Crawford, but with two love interests as well. Seems her ex~fiancée ( Brett Halsey ) wants to resume his relationship with her.

“I will not become your mistress!!!”

And the second ( potential ) love interest from the publishing company wants her for himself. Or at least warns her of the pitfalls of working for work’s sake. It’s the dangerously handsome Stephen Boyd as Mike Rice, and he keeps trying to dissuade her from working, suggesting she settle down and marry.

MIKE: “Don’t you get caught, Caroline. Get out while you can. Work six months, prove whatever you have to prove and marry the med student, or law student and love happily ever after.”
CAROLINE: “I plan to.”
MIKE: “No business career? No fame? Fortune?”
MIKE: “How wonderful.”

Sheesh! It’s almost as if something’s wrong with a woman who wants to work. They have tiffs about this very thing, but he’s also there for her, in a chivalrous way, when her fiancée breaks her heart and Boyd takes her out for a bender. He’s a good guy; just a product of his time…women should be married.

“I have one small corner of your life. I’ve never asked for more. And I will not settle for less. Now you and your rabbit-faced wife can both go to HELL!”

Is the movie’s underlying message if you stay at a job too long, it turns a woman into a harridan like Crawford? [ She’s a ball buster, but you hear her on the phone with her head-of- the-company-married-lover-asking-for-more-time-together. Been there, done that ]. Martha Hyer is the other example of a working girl. She heads the fashion department, has had an affair with a married man who seems sincerely into her as we watch him look at her longingly, and follow her around to iron things out. Nice wistful romantic music is also played underneath their scene.

SIDNEY: “How’s your baby?”
BARBARA: “Fine. How’s your wife?”
SIDNEY: “Fine, too. She’s in Nantucet for the summer. Have dinner with me.”

BARBARA: “I’m the girl that wants to get married again, remember? The girl for whom an affair with a married man, is not enough.”
SIDNEY: “Have dinner with me. Just dinner.”

BARBARA: “Why Sidney? Because your wife’s gone for the summer?”
SIDNEY: “No. You know that’s not why.”

She has quiet reserve but you can tell this affair has broken her. I understand much of Hyer’s role in the film was left on the editing room floor. A shame. I’d have liked to have seen more of her story ~ home and work. ( Sidney is played by Donald Harron.

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MR. SHALIMAR: “Ahh Miss Bender. I’ve just been talking to Miss Farrow. You are no longer a typist here.”
CAROLINE: “Well I’ve worked very hard—”
MR. SHALIMAR: “You are now a Reader.”
CAROLINE: “A what?”
MR. SHALIMAR: “A Reader. You’ll get a raise. I fought for you upstairs and managed to get you $20 more.”
CAROLINE: “$20 more a week?” MR. SHALIMAR: “No,  not a week, a month. Oh perhaps it isn’t very much, but think of the honor.”

I’d actually think of calling H.R. and find out what the male Readers get ( if there ARE any ) but oops…it’s 1959. She runs into her nemesis Miss Farrow.

MISS FARROW: “I told Mr. Shalimar that you were not qualified, Miss Bender. You’re too soft. I don’t think you could stand up to a writer and say: ‘Your work is no good.’ I don’t think you have the guts.”
CAROLINE: “Thank you for your confidence in me.”
MISS FARROW: “I call them as I see them.”

CAROLINE: “I’m beginning to think you’re right not to like me, Miss Farrow.”

To get Miss Farrow’s respect is a hard row to tow. She might’ve wanted someone like Caroline ( …what did Mary Agnes say: “Funny about Farrow. She always wants someone like you. You know, sophisticated” ). But faced with the person she used to be when she started out, she might just be seeing pitfalls ahead for Caroline.

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Near the end of the movie there’s a big wedding reception for one of the gals ( …the chatterbox from early in the movie ) The brass ring: Marriage. [ An interesting side note: The movie definitely had parts filmed in New York as I recognized. And when Lange and Boyd attend the reception, they’re walking onto the grounds of the public housing development I used to work in, Jacob Riis Houses, along the FDR Drive. When they walk into the apartment…THAT is definitely a movie set. No project apartment is that big ]. What does work mean to a person. It provides freedom and independence and a means to make one’s way in the world.  You’ll see many other entries from bloggers in this blogathon where the crux of the matter is more work~related. I like a post I wrote two years ago on His Girl Friday where we spend the bulk of the film INSIDE the job, and see Roz Russell at work. Admittedly with “The Best of Everything” work is pretty much tangential, the bulk of its story a shiny, glossy microcosm of human relationships dealing with sacrifices, compromises, self-worth, and most importantly…finding love. 


I think this is a great idea for a blogathon Debra, and for you folks out there, there are some more bloggers who tackle the Job of Work. Just click on the banner above to read more. Thanks for reading and thanks for including me, Debbie.

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The Police. Do they ever get it right? Geez!! The wrong man has been Hitchcock’s theme in many of his movies. And “SABOTEUR” uses it as well. Airplane factory worker, ROBERT CUMMINGS is wrongly accused of setting fire to the plant. We know he didn’t do it, but the police weren’t sitting next to us in the audience, so they haven’t a clue. With just the flimsiest of leads, Cummings goes on the trail for the real saboteur. Cummings is good. He’s clean cut, earnest, all-American and believable. It wouldn’t be a “wrong man” film, if Hitch didn’t have ‘The Disbelieving Girl’ by our hero’s side who comes to believe and love him. And yes, she is a blonde. Fitting that disbelieving bill very nicely is PRISCILLA LANE. She’s shamed by a community of circus folk into giving our hero a break. In fact, Cummings is shown interacting with “just-plain-Americans” giving him just that inch of a break. Hitch shows examples of our American character back then: fair, helpful, giving a fella an even break that’s warming to see.

Hitchcock also gives many satisfying jolts of suspense throughout “Saboteur”:

  • cutting the handcuffs with a car engine
  • police questioning the circus caravan ( include muzzling that weasel who wanted to squeal )
  • escaping a fancy dress ball
  • the pièce de résistance – the Statue of Liberty ( that seam unravelling is killer; I’m sure tailors all over the country were aghast. )

Of course I must give a shout-out to a great Hitchcock villain. I’m not meaning NORMAN LLOYD who was wonderfully serpentine as Frye, the beady-eyed villain you could see coming from a mile away, and who was very menacing by saying very little. ( In real life Lloyd is loquacious indeed, regaling us with his show business tales at a few TCM Film Festivals. ) This time the great Hitchcock villain I’m actually talking about is the capitalist named Tobin played by OTTO KRUGER. Kruger plays Wealth ITSELF, with big house, swimming pool and a network of tentacles that keep his own hands clean. This exchange:

CUMMINGS: “Why is it that you sneer every time you refer to this country. You’ve done pretty well here. I don’t get it.”

KRUGER: “You’re one of the idle believers. The ‘Good American.’ Oh there are millions like you. People that plod along without asking questions. Hate to use the word stupid, but that seems to be the only one that applies. The ‘Great Masses’. The ‘Moron Millions.’ Well there are a few of us that aren’t willing to troop along. A few of us who are clever enough to see that there’s much more to be done than just live small complacent lives. A few of us in America who desire a more profitable type of government…”

Interesting how Hitchcock keeps Kruger in a long shot delivering this speech, as he cuts the camera closer and closer to Cummings bringing us closer to him, not Kruger. I love Otto Kruger’s voice. Yes, he might’ve had a magnificent obsession with Dracula’s daughter but here Hitchcock uses Kruger in all his condescending sibilantly-spoken glory as the villain you don’t see coming ( a la Joseph Cotten, James Mason, Claude Rains or use your own etceteras. ) Kruger may be the kindly grandpa or the well~respected, well~heeled high society guy. But his villainy is more insidious. He not only wants to explode America from the outside with fires and bombs, but he wants it to implode her from within. Hitchcock’s done it again.

From the out of the past of 1942, this movie sounds very horribly current to me.


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Oy vey!!! He leaves the toilet seat up. She wears too much perfume. He never asks directions. She’s always late. You want his money. He wants your sister. Poison? Driven to suicide or just a bullet in the brain? Do you do it yourself? Or do you get someone to help you?  Trust is never as important as it is when murder is involved. You must kill her. You must kill him. And if you don’t do it yourself, you must trust your accomplice.  Is love a many~splendored thing?

Hell…what’s LOVE got to do with it.

I got the idea of murder listening to the episode: “WIVES IN PERIL” by the ANY LADLE’S SWEET THAT DISHES OUT SOME GRAVY podcast, hosted by two very lovely ladies: Danielle Smith and Megan McGurk. You can find them on FACEBOOK. I thought this would make a good topic bloggers could really seek their teeth into. Well they certainly did. There are many tried and true favorites here and a couple of new movies I’ve never heard of. Below is the directory of bloggers who decided to write of mayhem and murder and marriages gone wrong. Thank you for reading, and a big THANK YOU to the bloggers who make a blogathon what it is.

And now…MURDER: 

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[   H   O   M   E   ]




Submissions should be flooding in today and I can’t wait to share them with you all on Monday ~ July 24th. With my ‘Till Death Us Do Part Blogathon, bloggers will explore films where spouses attempt to murder each other. Some succeed, some fail, some get off Scott~free, some are caught. Since I’m hosting this shebang, I guess I’ll go first with a film that precedes Julia Roberts’ “Sleeping With The Enemy” by 54 years.

In loving classic films, I approach them two ways: one, with anticipation and the other with obligation. I felt the latter with HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT.” All this time, I was thinking it was some frou frou-y cotton candy confection with Chevalier and MacDonald. You know…singing princesses and cavalier playboys. ( I hadn’t even bothered to IMDB it to see who the actual cast was ). With my obligatory viewing, I entered this screening with, my dumb ol’ pre~conceived notions. I wanted to re~cast it. The unlucky triumvirate to my meddling re~casting were: JEAN ARTHUR, CHARLES BOYER and COLIN CLIVE.

Oh Boyer could stay, but I wanted to replace Jean Arthur with Irene Dunne and Colin Clive with Basil Rathbone. As the movie unfolds, I threw away my silly casting notions and went with the hand director FRANK BORZAGE.




The movie starts right away, with a note taped to the mirror ( I thought of “BUtterfield 8” ) which explains all we need to know: A jealous husband; a wife who’s sick of him…and she’s left him. I loved the complexity of the story and how “History…” unfolds is seamless. I reveled in the twists and turns and mix-ups and misunderstandings. Yes, I love how the movie is plotted out; a divorce correspondent case cum jewelry robbery cum “meet cute.” The way Borzage goes from damsel-in-distress…to…romance… to…disaster film is masterfully handled. Smooth transitions, nothing abrupt; like I said…seamless. I was totally absorbed and invested in each part of the story. There were a few things I predicted ( which still didn’t spoil what I watched ) and I was surprised by others. There were many points of foreshadowing that were answered throughout the movie. What a pickle the film puts Boyer and Jean in. How will they get the heck out of this. The stories’ weaving made a beautiful, disturbing tapestry.


Bruce: “I ought to kill you for this.”
Irene: “Why don’t you. Then I’d never have to see you again.”

Ouch! She knows. He knows she knows. And now she knows he knows she knows. (Mull that one over). Colin Clive is dastardly. He’s utterly galling. Clive plays the part to an infuriating fare-thee-well as shipping magnate Bruce Vail. His obsessive possessiveness need to control was beyond the pale. He wants to control her, make her his. He’s had a portrait painted of her and presents it to her:

Bruce: “Well, what do you think of your portrait? I had it painted from a cherished photograph. I’ll hang it in the Royal Suite of the Princess Irene.”

Irene: “By the neck until it dies?”

OMG! Harsh. Harsh for 1937, and just as harsh eighty years later. I was taken aback by the deadness of her voice and comment. It was devoid of life.

Bruce was absolutely diabolical. He couldn’t be dissuaded by detective or lawyer. I dare you to find…one…redeeming…thing about him other than he loves her. Wait…this can not be love. To consider wrecking an entire ocean liner with hundreds of passengers just to kill her is a Pyrrhic victory of outrageous proportion. Normally I would laud that and file it away in my Rolodex of Villainy, but I just couldn’t here. Probably because the victims were Jean Arthur and Charles Boyer ( in spite of my initial mental “Casting Switch” ). He was mean. Abusive. Sick. Control control control. He grabs her by the neck. Pushing, taunting. He made me sick!!! I hate emotional blackmail. Divorce is not an option for Clive’s character. He would never let her go no matter what. Men like that never…let…go.

What is stunning, like something ironic out of mythology is, Bruce’s fear ~ his wife cheating on him ~ he causes TO happen. And when it does happen, I love her speech about it:

“This time there IS another man. You set a trap to catch me with one, and another came instead, to tell me that he loved me. And for me to tell him I loved him too. And YOU did it. You did it all by yourself. Isn’t that funny? Don’t you think that’s funny? Before he came, I never even looked at another man. But you wouldn’t believe me. So you created one and sent him right into my arms.” 

D’ya think this is a lesson learned? Naaaah.


Oh….I could swoon at the love story of Paul and Irene in “History…”. Acting~wise, I’m just about a Jean Arthur convert now; of her apple cheeks and unusual hoarse and scratchy voice. Her laughing while crying. Or is that crying while laughing. She’s sensitive, her vulnerability is sexy. She can wear the hell out of those clothes. ( Who DID her costumes? ) And I believe her. I believe her distress. I believe her in love. I see the touch of comic timing here. There is something engaging about her. She’s different here than the light pixie I am used to seeing. Boyer as Paul…Welll….welll now ladies. Can we talk? I mean, can we talk? I know. Not here; too public. But girls…Boyer. He’s got it. I really now see him as so underrated an actor. His name’s not bandied about like other 30’s and 40’s favorites among classic film lovers. I don’t know why…now. Love sick. Hurt by love. Loved by love.
( Boyer in love ):


They dance in the restaurant from night ’till dawn. Fall in love without words.

Paul: “Now…it would be okay to say. But I can’t. Unless you will believe it. Will you?”

Irene: “I think I will believe it. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because tonight is what I’ve waited for. Maybe it’s because I’ve needed tonight more than anything in my life. Because I’ve never been happy before. Because…”


Boyer’s accent, his dark looks already get my vote. But his ‘Paul’ was a nice caring loving man. But is he similar to Bruce? Both are businessmen, both interested in Irene…but for different reasons: one to possess / one to love. ( Two sides of the same coin? ) What a contrast. Look at him in his restaurant and how he treats customers and waiters. When he’s in New York. Look at him in his new restaurant and how he handles staff; firm but caring. But is he obsessed? After all, he’s taken over this restaurant and left a table permanently vacant in the hopes that one day, Irene will come in. I guess obsession is okay depending on which side of it you’re facing. How hurt he was when he finally sees Irene come into his restaurant…with her husband.


An ominous foghorn underscores everything. I am in shock when Bruce gives the Captain the order to go with that speed test. Full steam ahead! Captain, my Captain, you crazy! The ship will break apart at this speed, and does. The S.O.S. montage was well~done. Chaos, fear…perfect. Life boats, jumping sinking ship. Women and children first. And lovers last. If Bruce cannot have Irene, no one will. Only then can he put a bullet in his brain.

“HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT” shows a man consumed by jealousy to insane degrees he will do anything to hold on, even if he has to destroy it. His unreasonable jealousy is ultimately self~destructive. “History is Made At Night” has also made me a convert on a couple fronts. I forgive Boyer for how mean he was in “Gaslight.” I must actively seek out Frank Borzage films with a vengeance. And as for Jean Arthur…Ms. Arthur, will you forgive me?

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Won’t you come back Monday July 24th and check out these bloggers who show you how marriage can be murder. ThanxXx!


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As I prepare to write my big Kahuna of a post ~ my experience at this past April’s 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival ~ I go over my notes and pictures and memories from the festival earlier this year. People come from all over the country ( and the world ) to get their classic film fix there in Hollywood, and as I’m meeting and greeting people, it’s dawning on me that a lot of the festival~goers I’ve met come from Texas. Now though I’m a native New Yorker, I always throw out the same FYI when I meet a Texan: “My sister lives in Killeen. She used to be in the military.” Maybe that’ll give me some street cred with them. The Texans politely smile. 😉

I have States’ pride. I love being from the neon~lit, asphalt jungle of New York City. But I imagine being a Texan is a whole ‘nother animal altogether. How could it not be, when one comes from such wide open spaces. Texas, at 268,000 square miles is the largest state in the Union after Alaska ( …it has 570,665 square miles ). Texas has the Rio Grande which makes our NYC Hudson River look like a creek. Texas had cowboys and Indians and warring with Santa Anna in another country, and ranches the size of Manhattan. Okay, I confess, all I know of Texas is what I see in “
Giant” “The Last Picture Show” “Urban Cowboy” tv’s “Dallas” or HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” which is filmed in Waco. It got me wondering if being from any particular region of our country…or of the world, plays any part in our liking or choosing certain classic films. I’ll make this blog post my Texas issue, and I’ll be asking five Texans a couple of questions to get an idea. It seems as there are as many differing views of Texas as there are Texans. And no doubt ( at 268,000 square miles ), Texas is big enough to hold a wide variety of views…of Texas.

Meet . . .

Wendy, Ollie, Christy, Kelly and Theresa


[ Movie titles, photos, names of places have been hot~linked for further info. ]



I moved from northern Indiana to Texas when I was 10 years old, so not a native Texan, but not too far off.  And I’ve lived here ever since, most of the time in the Ft. Worth/Dallas Metroplex area, and specifically in Grand Prairie now. 



Born and raised in Austin, on the “wrong side” of a family with ranches that once covered hundreds of miles of Texas. There are family-names across various buildings, parks and streets although not in Austin itself. (Whew!)

Dad’s father was a child of the family’s civil war, splitting branches into Rich Complacents vs. Do-It-Yerself’ers that never reunited, so claims to those buildings and streets take on a Rooseveltian Oyster Bay vs. Hyde Park sneer for those of us on “the wrong side.”

I left Austin in the late ’80s for twelve years of almost constant world travel, and returned with a wonderful wife to raise a family simply because our neighborhood seemed to offer many ideals for child-raising a park just beyond the backdoor, a constant presence of wonderful neighbors and a lot of pets.



I’m a native Houstonian, but I’ve lived in New Orleans, Tampa, Chicago, New Jersey, several parts of Texas, several states in Mexico, and currently reside near Houston. My maternal grandmother raised 18 children here in Texas; 6 of her deceased sister’s children, and 12 of her own. After her husband died, she lost the farm during the Depression and moved into town to run a boarding house for day laborers and Aggie Corpsmen. My father’s family were from Cullman, Alabama, and were jostled around quite a bit and finally ended up in Longview, Texas, around the time Bonnie and Clyde were doing a little banking business.



I am pretty darn Texan. I’m a fourth generation Texan on my Mom’s side. I was born in Fort Worth, moved to El Paso when I was almost 10, then we moved to Houston when I was 12. Once I graduated from high school in Houston, I went to the University of North Texas in Denton, which is just north of Dallas and Fort Worth about 30 miles or so.

After college, I made the natural migration down to Dallas and have been in this area ever since. Once Mark and I married in 2006, we moved to the nearest suburb of Dallas called Richardson. We love it here.



I am definitely a Texan baby! Proudly! I was born and raised in
Austin, though I’ve lived in four different cities in Texas so far. Recently my husband and I bought a house in Leander. My whole family lives around us. My parents reside in Burnet and my grandparents all live right outside Austin. So we have rootin’ scootin’ Texas times together.

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WENDY: To me, the Metroplex is unique because it has the best of two totally different aspects of Texas.  Ft. Worth has the history and heritage side of the state, with the Stockyards and cattle and the old-time small town feeling.  But Dallas is the big, bustling sophisticated city side of the state. I live right in between the two, so I get the best of both worlds.


OLLIE: Downtown Austin offers a pedestrianism that is comparable to the largest cities, plus a music scene that has been fairly rabid since the mid~‘60s. It has a large public university (University of Texas) which is the heart of its free-living attitudes.

But it also has Life’s Rectum because it’s the State Capitol, full of society-hating cowards known as Republicans, most of whom claim residency far from Austin and claim to constantly hate it – but they’re always around, as indicated by their constant stream of arrests for assaults, property crimes, public lewdness, urination, prostitution, drugs and child-porn. Pretty much the standard GOP lifestyle.

Geologically, Austin has a giant fault running north-south thru it, separating flat black-soil East Austin from rocky, hilly West Austin. The fault creates scenery and recreation on the west side, and great gardens and farming on the east. And our house and park are smack-dab in the middle of that fault line.


CHRISTY: Some of the best seafood in the entire Gulf Coast area, the best Tex-Mex food, several first-class museums (with excellent film screenings), home to well-dressed jet-setting doyenne Lynn Wyatt, friend to the rich and famous. (I once met Wyatt and Lauren Bacall at the River Oaks Theatre here in Houston.) We also have the best medical center in the world. When the world’s rich get sick, the fancy hotels around the medical center area fill up, and M.D. Anderson Hospital is the mecca for oncology.

KELLY:   Well, each of the areas of Texas I have lived in, especially the Fort Worth to El Paso part (which was like moving to a foreign country) and then to Houston, are vastly different.

In Richardson, where we are now, is very similar to Fort Worth in climate. We are lucky here that when it rains, it usually cools off afterwards; unlike Houston, where it just gets hotter and stickier after it rains.

We’re lucky to have mature trees in our neighborhood and green grass. In El Paso, many of the yards are filled with rocks because it is hard to get grass to grow.

Richardson is also a very racially and religiously diverse area of town, and Mark and I love living in the middle of it all. We have a sweet Muslim family next door on the right, an African-American grandmother directly across the street with all of her kids and grandkids constantly visiting her, a young Hispanic couple next to her, and a Lesbian couple down the street with 4 kids (3 of whom are adopted). Asians, Mexicans, retired white people, gay couples, Muslims, Jewish, Christians – all living in great harmony. We prove it can be done!

Richardson is known as the Telecom Corridor with Texas Instruments around the corner from us. TI is where the transistor radio was invented in the 1950s.


THERESALeander is just outside of Austin, which is where I was raised. Austin is the capital of Texas and they say, “Keep Austin Weird” for good reason. We’re an odd bunch! This city is very artistic and simply teeming with musicians left and right. Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World”, it doesn’t let you down with concerts all over the city every night of the week. 

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WENDY: I’m a legal assistant in the corporate/securities section of a law firm in downtown Ft. Worth.


OLLIE: I’ve been a performing musician since age six, graduating from high school and joining eight different performers on national tours in those first two years.  Back in college, I fell in with a bad group of engineers and we developed circuitry, software and equipment to create that circuitry. I continue with both endeavors, although “wife and kids and neighbors” consumes a wonderful portion of my time. 


CHRISTY: I write, teach, consult and play the piano. I work as an English professor at one of the most culturally diverse areas in the country with college students from at least 40 different languages. In the last two years, I’ve worked with many Nepalese students who were victims of the April 2015 earthquakes. Many emotional tales of woe from that tragedy came to my desk from those bereft students. I’m close to the Kemah Marina and Galveston Island, always an entertaining getaway from the rigors of the 9 to 5 doldrums. I currently am working on a biography entitled “THELMA RITTER: HOLLYWOOD’S FAVORITE NEW YORKER,” to be published in the latter portion of 2018 by the University Press of Mississippi’s Hollywood Legends Series. As author of the Sue Sue Applegate columns on the TCM Message Boards and The Silver Screen Oasis website and my blog Christy’s Inkwells I’ve had the privilege of writing about all the TCM Film Festivals since 2010.


KELLY:  On April 1st, I celebrated 22 years of having my own business. I am a former journalist – editor, film critic, arts and music writer, etc. who left the arts and entertainment weekly guide I helped start – to switch to the other side to become a publicist.

I consider myself more a media-relations expert. Basically, I’m the liaison between my clients (filmmakers, film festivals, film venues like Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in DFW) and journalists (which includes traditional media: TV, radio, and print as well as bloggers, podcasters, any online outlets). All that to say, I am a film publicist working full time for 22 years in Dallas, Texas!


THERESAI have my own little business called Lady Butterscotch Co. I carve rubber stamps and craft handmade cards in bulk for others, including small businesses, to give their clients custom thank you cards for that personal touch. I also make wedding/party invitations by the dozens. I didn’t expect so many people to like this idea, but it’s really taken off! I love it! Perfect for being able to also take care of my newborn.

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WENDY: The perception is changing, but in the years I was growing up here, folks outside of Texas seemed to think we all were involved in the oil industry and wore cowboy boots and hats (and that all the women had really BIG hair!). For many years, whenever we traveled outside Texas or the United States, when people found out we were from the Dallas area they invariably answered, Ah, yes! J.R. Ewing.


OLLIE: Distance. The phrase “Everything’s bigger in Texas” is a cliché, but driving distances seems much much further because the State’s topology and geography takes 3-4 or even 8 hours to cross from one to another. Every drive can seem long, Long, LONG. And many of those drives are just as scenic in the dark – even more so! – than in the light of day. (Hint! Hint!)

Texas has five distinct geographic zones, and it takes hours to cross thru even one of them.  Classic film fans that want to ‘see Texas’ are usually left dragging their tongues – “The drives are so long and soooo boring!”  Yes. 


CHRISTY:  MYTH #1 occurs when citizens from Texas are perceived as ignorant because they have an accent with long vowel sounds different from an accent of citizens in colder climates or different regions of the country with shorter vowel sounds.

So turnabout is fair play…

MYTH#2 ~ Texans feel that citizens of colder climates or other regions of the country who have accents with short vowel sounds and speak more quickly than we do are untrustworthy.

It is obvious to me that both attitudes are misinformed. I don’t believe that judging someone on appearance or listening to someone for a short period of time can determine the worth of a human soul.


KELLYA common misconception about Texas is that we are all conservative, rednecks who wear boots all the time. As a 4th generation Texan, I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots. And of the 60~plus hats I own, not one of them is a cowboy hat. 

     Kelly in her go~go boots

I do, quite proudly at that, embrace Texas standard vocabulary words, like:

              y’all =   (plural: all y’all; possessive: y’all’s),
              fixin’ =  (meaning: getting ready to start),
              tump = (meaning: tip + dump = tump.)

Example in a sentence:

“The wind and waves are fixin’ to tump the sailboat over, and y’all will land in the water!”


THERESA: People ask me all the time if Texans really wear cowboy boots and ride horses to work. It always makes me giggle. Yes, we still live in the year 1889. Ha! 😉 There are horses all over the state, however, they are mostly outside the big cities and people drive to work in cars like normal people of this century. 

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WENDYMy love for classic film started after seeing “GONE WITH THE WIND” when I was about 11 years old or so.  I don’t think being from Texas really shaped that.  I remember “THE ALAMO” with John Wayne being shown to us in middle school for Texas history class, but I don’t recall falling in love with it as a “classic film.”


OLLIE: Most cities under a few hundred thousand people in the ’50s and ’60s had limited TV options. When movies came onto the Single TV Station in Austin, everyone watched. Or didn’t. And everyone talked about them. Or why they didn’t watch. TV and movie reviews, book reviews – those were constant topics.


CHRISTY: My mother took me to the movies, the drive-in, and we watched films on television. I think the first film I remember seeing with her was “HEAVEN KNOWS, MR. ALLISON.” I was frightened to death when the rat began crawling on Robert Mitchum when he was hiding in the supply tent. And then my mother’s fascination with Ray Milland’s sexy self and Ginger Roger’s fashions in “THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR” captured my attention.

I think one of the first films I remember seeing at the drive-in was the Burt Lancaster/Audrey Hepburn film “THE UNFORGIVEN,” before Clint got an Oscar for the newer title. Hepburn draws a line on her forehead with some makeup or mud, and the next day when I was home, I wanted to be Native American, too, and found my mother’s pancake makeup and did the same.


KELLY: I remember when I was 3 or 4 looking forward to the yearly TV showing of “THE WIZARD OF OZ” and “GONE WITH THE WIND” in the ‘70s. But it was when my Mom took me to a revival screening of “THE SOUND OF MUSIC” at a beautiful old movie palace in 1973 that I truly fell in love. I remember it so clearly as I was the same age as the youngest girl in the film, Gretl. We were both 5 years old. I remember feeling so connected to her and the film that when we got home, I discovered the soundtrack in our album collection. I played that album over and over and over again. I sang and danced playing every part. 

My Dad loved John Wayne films. So it seems that there was a Western on every Saturday. I kinda grew up thinking that John Wayne equaled Texas because of my Dad.


THERESAI began my love for classic film at the age of 2 or 3 while my grandmother baby~sat me. She has this massive library of classics in her collection. Every time I went over there, she would sit me in her living room and put on one of those many beautiful old films I now consider my favorites. 

My Grandparents

I do think growing up in Texas made an impression on which films my grandmother put in front of me. Memories of watching them, all cuddled under a fuzzy blanket with my grandmother, are some of the best that I have. Whether it was “
THE YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS,” “GIANT,” or even the later film “SUGARLAND EXPRESS,” I just marveled at these masterpieces that showcased my beautiful state in all its glory.

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WENDY:GONE WITH THE WIND” is my all-time favorite movie, no question about it. There’s a reason why it’s considered the most popular movie ever made: it’s got everything! And it really started my love of classic film, so that makes it even more special to me.

My second favorite would be “WIZARD OF OZ.” I grew up on it, eagerly looking forward to its once-a-year showing on television (remember those days?) I adored Judy Garland and was just fascinated by her when I was a little girl.

I don’t have a clear favorite third film, there are too many to choose from that I love so much, in just about every genre. There are literally dozens and dozens of movies I adore.


OLLIE: Bogart’sMALTESE FALCON” is a favorite because it has stood the entertainment test of time – “Can I stand to see it again? YES.” The finale of martial music with the elevator’s bars pasting shadows across Mary Astor’s

face…the first encounters with “Joel Cairo“… the great performance by Elisha Cook Jr… and has any actor had a better opening film performance than Sydney Greenstreet?

THE WIZARD OF OZ” (1939) gets my vote for Most Important Film in Hollywood History because of the special effects, the cast & characters, the sets, the filming techniques and music. I can’t name any other film that has every song as a standard. Or so many lines of dialog that are clichés, all deservedly so because they’ve been used millions and billions of times. And will be. I can’t think of a more influential set of characters in any film across all walks of life. The Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, Munchkins, Toto, Kansas, Ruby Slippers, Yellow Brick Roads, the Wizard and those flaming head special effects, and of course the ultimate villain, the Wicked Witch Of The West. I won’t even mention the number of people who confess that flying monkees are a lifelong nightmare.

SAFE IN HELL” (1931) with Dorothy MacKaill is influential because it’s about a woman’s struggles when men have forced their demands and pleasures onto her. And though she has a Good Man around sometimes, he doesn’t understand the brutality that other men inflict on women… on her. He’s busy with work. She’s busy trying to survive.

This is not a film to like. It’s a hard HARD film and it has preyed on my mind since the first time TCM showed it. 


CHRISTY: HEAVEN KNOWS, MR. ALLISON Two actors, one beautiful location, and the misery and fear of what might happen to them because of World War II and because of their feelings for each other.

PATTON I loved watching this film with my father when he was alive. It would be one of the few times he would share experiences of World War II and the European Theatre, and being part of Patton’s Third Army for a time.



NOTORIOUS Claude Rains, Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, an entertaining script, a captivating love story, and…a bottle of wine, Chateau LeCaught.


One of the films I still have a childhood fondness for is “BELLS OF ROSARITA,” a Roy Rogers and Dale Evans film that features a lovely story about Dale Evans and her grandmother. Now it’s not set in Texas, but it showcases our Texas affinity for family stories about the “olden days.


CineMaven Side Note:

“ ‘Cowgirl’ is an attitude really. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head-on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands; they speak up. They defend things they hold dear.”


KELLYTHE WIZARD OF OZ” is my all time favorite film from when I was like 3 or 4. Why? Judy! 

A STAR IS BORN.Why? Judy! 


You’re probably seeing a theme here.  😉 


THERESA:  TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE” (1950) is the very first classic I remember seeing as a kid. I have to say, it has stayed one of my very favorites, because it never grows boring. It’s just such a cute film that makes you feel good even when you are feeling at your worst. I think some of that is also a nostalgic feeling, but I love that I still have that memory.

RANDOM HARVEST” is also in my top three. First, I have to say that Greer Garson is my favorite actress, so that has a lot to do with this choice. I just love the intense emotion encased in this one film. It gives you feeling and makes you question. To me, that’s part of what makes a great film…not to mention, the beautiful Ronald Colman costarring. You just can’t go wrong.

My third choice would be “FUNNY GIRL.” I mean, it’s Barbra! Do you really need another reason? I think I related to her in this film, as a kid, because of her struggle with self-image and her confident drive to live her biggest dream.

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WENDY: I think “GIANT really captures a lot of the Texas spirit. The huge expanses of land (seriously, you can drive almost 800 miles in a straight line and never leave the state!), the feeling of being on the Western frontier in much of the state, the Texas swagger and pride in the state, and the attitude toward and treatment of minorities. Obviously, a lot has changed in the 60+ years since the movie came out, but I see a lot of Texas today in it, too.


OLLIE: I’ve never seen an accurate portrayal of a Texas lifestyle in a film, although “VIVA MAX” (1969, Peter Ustinov) has a Mexican general deciding to re-capture the Alamo in a “Mouse That Roars” concept, and at least some of the San Antonio residents cheer him on. This was, after all, the beginning of the Republican destruction of society – i.e. the first term of Nixon.

I simply don’t believe there’s a film that portrays “Texas.” There are films that portray towns well enough (a decade-younger Archer City in “THE LAST PICTURE SHOW” but just about every small town had been or would be facing all the same forces). Carthage, Texas (northeast Texas) was slightly portrayed in Richard Linklater’s 2011 film “BERNIE,” but most of the filming was 150 miles away in the BBQ Capitol Of The World: Lockhart, which is smart. If every town’s about the same, why not have the greatest selection of BBQ nearby?


CHRISTY: Well, “GIANT,” because there are so many lessons intrinsic in its development that make it iconic, and I think it showcases James Dean’s best performance. Jane Withers’ story about Dean leaving his pink shirt with her to wash for him when he returned from his trip endears me to the film. At last report, Withers’ still owns the shirt. Also, the documentary “The Children of Giant,” is an important coda to the impact of the original film.

I enjoyed seeing “Giant” on TCM during Billy Bob Thornton’s Guest Programmer appearance, and thought Thornton had some relevant comments, but he and Ben Mankiewicz neglected to add that one of the serious issues dealt with in the film was Leslie’s feminist attitude toward those “cave men” points of view. If they mentioned it, I missed it. Thornton also does a “spot-on” imitation of Robert Duvall.

I enjoy “CONAGHER,” although it was filmed in Arizona, but it’s a Louis L’Amour tale that rings true. People sometimes would ride off and never return. Nobody every knew what happened to them, and they would have to move on with their lives no matter what. I like “HONDO” for some of the same reasons: the characters, the scenery, and the romance. Some of the Westerns, while not set in Texas, reveal the attitudes that Texans espoused at one time. Texas is a “Maverick Nation” of many different cultures and peoples. See this link to the Institute of Texan Cultures.

For me, the best film about Texas has to beLONESOME DOVE,” because it’s also one of the best books about Texas. Men and women with vision and persistence. Plus I have some very personal connections associated with it. ‘Nuff said.


KELLY:  Most of them are over the top with Texas culture. The one that comes to mind that is pretty accurate (especially for its time) is “STATE FAIR” (1962). 

In Texas, we LOVE our State Fair. It is FULL of fun and history with the livestock judging and auctions, and Mark’s Dad’s pickles have won countless food competitions at our State Fair.


THERESAI think “GIANT” is a remarkable example of an iconic film that portrays Texans in a surprisingly accurate way. The different personalities in the film are very much a product of the historical culture in Texas. Most people I have known and met, have that tenacious drive to fight for what they believe in and what they want in life. As they say, “Everything is bigger in Texas!” Personalities included.


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WENDY: I think classics like “GIANT” and “WRITTEN ON THE WIND” have certainly fed the perception that most people in Texas are in the oil industry (really, folks, I don’t have an oil rig in my back yard!), that we all have the Texas twang and wear cowboy boots and ride horses. I know before I moved to Texas as a child I certainly expected the boots and horses thing (no, that didn’t happen), because that’s what I saw in movies and on television.

As for my own perception of Texas, I see films like “THE ALAMO and so many others that recount the battle there and it totally makes me understand the mindset of so many Texans. They are very proud of their history here and the sacrifices that occurred. They are fiercely independent and hate authorities who try to dictate to them. John Wayne is the biggest movie hero of all in this state, and I think much of that is due to “The Alamo,” and his role in the film, and of fighting and resisting authority and perceived injustice.


OLLIE: Classic Westerns often claim Texas as a theme but I don’t know if any of them were filmed in Texas due to its distance away from NYC or Hollywood, the very low population densities (i.e. few even untrained helpers) and remoteness. Southern California has scenery much closer, and film professionals readily available. The same could be said, to a lesser degree about skilled workers, in Arizona, and even Monument Valley and Moab, Utah (just across the borders from Grand Canyon has even more).

The Red River Valley is a pretty song, but that’s an eons-old flood valley that’s forested, pretty hilly and it must have been tough to drive cattle down a 40-mile slope to a wide or deep river, and then back up the other side for a 10-mile climb. Doing it on film would have been, well, impossibly expensive. Arizona was nice, relatively flat with enough mesas in the background to provide the American Southwest setting – that’s whereRED RIVER” was filmed.

RIO GRANDE is a great name for a film. Contrast that to its locations around Moab. If the film had been named MOAB, what’s the likely reaction? “What’s MOAB? Is this something about a whale-chasing captain’s very lost brother?  I’m not interested in a Western featuring some sailor who can’t find the sea!”

CHRISTY: Well, everybody seems to like our myths about ourselves. I stopped traffic in Newark Airport in the 1980’s when I went to visit my best friend from 6th grade. She wanted me to wear my cowgirl hat, my jeans, and my boots when I arrived at the airport. (In truth, the only time I would wear that ensemble would be on ‘Go Texan Day’ at the beginning of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, or when I went out in the country to visit friends on their ranches or went line-dancing.) At the airport, one of the security guards screamed:

“Look! It’s a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader!”

I enjoyed that ‘fer sure. Then, when my friend took me around to meet her family and friends, she wanted me to tell the same joke over and over – “If they drill one more oil well on mah Daddy’s property, I’m a gonna hafta move!” They all screamed whenever I said that. Don’t ask me why. We never had any oil wells, and we weren’t rich. But you always want to keep the mineral rights to any property you purchase. ‘Memba that, honey.


KELLY:  The thing I love about Texas is that it embraces others’ perceptions of it wholeheartedly! Meaning – that Fort Worth really IS where The West began, and there is a Longhorn cattle drive through the Historic Stockyards twice a day:

On the other hand, I have to totally agree with Jim Parson (“Big Bang Theory”) and his assessment of Houston in a Visit Houston campaign. I lived in Houston from the time I was 12 until 22 (when I wasn’t in college in Denton), and he phrased it perfectly:

“I saw more art in Houston than I’ve seen in NY. And I saw more horses in NY than I saw in Houston.”


It is fun to play with perceptions and to mix them in and mix them up all at the same time!


THERESAEveryone knows the history of Texas to be all about the Alamo and cowboys, but there is so much more to the culture of this state. I definitely think classic film had a lot to do with that. There are so many films that depict the wars and battles fought on this land. I think that has made many others see Texas as only a gun-toting, no-nonsense place, and it isn’t. We are such a welcoming state, full of good southern hospitality! 

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The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the El Paso Plaza Classic Film Festival and the Kansas Silent Film Festival. And the gold standard in classic film festivals: the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood as well as the TCM Cruise.


OLLIE: Cannes 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2002 with my wife. Austin has a dozen formal film festivals but 40 and 50 weekends a year are filled with “weekend festivals” put on by friendly citizens who supply films (or at least themes) and supportive advertisers to several theaters for all kinds of classic (and not-so classic) films. There were festivals in Berlin I attended in 1992 and 1993, which was my introduction to the crowd working Cannes because they were my business clients for PA and new sound systems for their theaters. It helps to know the insiders; even better when they trade access-passes for some additional service. AND it didn’t hurt that I was helping to supply a rock band for their evening parties. Ahem…


CHRISTY: I’ve been to all the TCM Film Festivals, the McKinney Classic Film Festival and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.


KELLY:  I have been to all eight of the TCM Classic Film Festival and the last Kansas Silent Film Festival. We hope to go more festivals that are not work-related. I’ve been working (in some capacity) some sort of film festival every year since 1993. And in many cases, I’ve worked between three to seven film festivals in a year.

By the way, my husband Mark and I MET at a film festival. That’s right ~ it was at the 2005 Deep Ellum Film Festival. They were one of my clients and Mark volunteered (which he continues to do with all the film festivals I work.) The rest, shall I say, is history. 


THERESAFrom 2013-2016 I went to the TCM Classic Film Festival. I’m hoping and thinking I can go to next year’s fest. I’ve also been to the Austin Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival also in Austin.


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WENDY:GIANT,” of course. And while it wasn’t actually MADE in Texas,RED RIVER” with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift is a wonderful movie with a great feel for Texas. And “HUD,” with Paul Newman has great Texas flair, too.



OLLIE:  The only film I could recommend “about Texas” would be the slapstick melancholy ofTHE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN” (1972) that takes as many tall-tales and rolls them together. The film stars Paul Newman, a great supporting cast AND Ava Gardner. It was filmed in Arizona with a passing shot of the ‘old historic towne’ at Langtry, a very small, half-maintained tourist trap. As a 14-year old, that film impressed me for one reason: it has a couple of beauties (Victoria Principal, for one; and hardly no other actress was hotter in the 1970’s than Jacqueline Bisset). But when Ava walked onto the screen, I knew the difference between the temporary hotness and A Real Classic Woman.  Accept no substitutes! 


CHRISTY:  Again, “LONESOME DOVE,” and films by Austin’s Richard Linklater. “BERNIE” entertains with a fascinating story, andBOYHOOD” is transformative. (Wes Andersen is from Houston and his films are also a must likeRUSHMORE.)

Other films include: “BONNIE and CLYDE.” (My grandfather paid a nickel to see their bullet-riddled car on display in Longview shortly after their capture.) PLACES IN THE HEART,” filmed in Waxahachie, has some of my grandmother’s story wiggling around in the narrative. “TRUE GRIT” (1969) because it’s so iconic, but it wasn’t filmed in Texas. I also enjoyed “TRUE GRIT” (2010), and much of it was filmed here in Texas, so the scenery was familiar, and it was more faithful to the book in some ways. “THE SEARCHERS” ~ set in Texas but not filmed here ~ is also a favorite, inspired by the real-life travails of one of the saddest tales in all of Texas history, Cynthia Ann Parker. (I once worked with Parker’s nephew on a biography of her woes.) Ethan’s role in the film hearkens to how we Texans sometimes choose to be the outsider or relish our role as brooding, unconventional mavericks. We do love our eccentrics, bless their l’il hearts.

Others include: “THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA, John Wayne’s THE ALAMO” (because like it or not, he got some of the facts right, and it’s ‘purdy’ on the screen), the genius of Bogdanovich and McMurtry in “THE LAST PICTURE SHOW,” “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” and I would be remiss if I didn’t include Horton Foote’sTHE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL” with the fabulous Geraldine Page to my Texas recommendations. Can’t believe I ‘fergitted’ it. (Little kids say that all the time around these here parts.)



KELLY:  I work on an annual fundraiser with the Dallas Producers Association called “It Came From Dallas,” and people would not believe how many films have been made in Dallas as far back as 1916. Many of those early shorts are lost to the winds of time, but there are important films that were made in Dallas that I think are very important films for Classic Film Lovers to seek out: Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection.

Spencer Williams, best known for his role as actor in “Amos & Andy” on early TV in the 1950s, was a filmmaker in Dallas. He made Race Films that played at black theaters and churches showcasing life of African Americans in the 1940s. The amazing thing about these films was that he hired an all Black cast and an all Black crew except for one: the cinematographer.

He had to have a white cinematographer in order to get film stock. And even then, they were only ever able to acquire the ends of unused reels that others would have thrown away. This made each filmed scene very precious, in that they lacked the ability to reshoot scenes multiple times. So the majority of Williams’ films are one-take films. Watching them with this in mind helps viewers of today have a bit of grace in the performances that can be a bit rough but have an authentic feel to them.

Experimental Art filmmaker, Thom Andersenmade a short film called “JUKE” which uses passages from Williams’ films that show “…the dignity of black life and the creation of dynamic culture in the segregated society in small-town north Texas.”

My runner up film that all Classic Film Lovers should see when they are in a campy mood is “MARS NEEDS WOMEN” (1967). “Mars Needs Women” was shot in Dallas at the same time as another film on the other side of the film ratings spectrum was being shot: “Bonnie and Clyde.”

Star Yvonne Craig (yes, TV’s Batgirl!) was asked out on a date by Warren Beatty. (That date never happened, however, because Yvonne was mugged on her way to meet Warren. Can you imagine?)

Mars Needs Women” is so much fun with a grown-up Tommy Kirk (of Disney fame in “OLD YELLER” and other Disney live-action films) playing a Martian on a mission to “transpond” Earthling women to help populate Mars! Seek this one out!! It is Mystery Science Theater 3000 fun.

Speaking of MST3K, there were several other Dallas made films on their roster:




John Wayne portrays the quintessential determined Texan with a “never-quitting” stance on life. It portrays the tension and difficulties of Native~Americans vs the new settlers so incredibly well! It’s just so beautiful, everyone should see this film!

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WENDY: Yes, y’all come visit Texas some time!  There is so much to do and see here, from the arts and culture scene in Ft. Worth and Dallas and Houston to the classic-film loving city of Austin and the beaches on the Gulf. And El Paso, Texas has a wonderful classic film festival for two weeks every August. It may be 100 degrees outside during the festival, but the air~conditioning works just fine in the beautiful old movie palace called The Plaza.


OLLIE: Like most places, Texas is full of city rivals. Houston hates Dallas, Dallas hates Houston, every city hates Austin – usually because it’s the center of politicians AND usually the center for civil disobediance – i.e., the center of attention-getting. But any two towns, 30 or 60 miles apart, are rivals.

Texas easily has five distinct geographical zones, and spending time in one or two clearly gives a mistaken impression of all others.

I could spend two weeks crossing Texas – even knowing it very well – and still not see half of the basic must-see spots. My first direction would always be “avoid the big cities. Fly in, and drive away on small roads.” Fly into El Paso, head east and south into the Big Bend area. Fly into San Antonio and head south to the Rio Grande Valley. Fly into Houston and drive east and north into the piney swamps.

And stop any State Trooper or County Sheriff and ask for recommendations and directions. They can be the BEST tourist guides. 


CHRISTY:  Have fun with the myths, embrace your friends, and share what you have with those less fortunate. Texas is the friendly state.

We all still miss Ann Richards and Molly Ivins.


KELLY:  Don’t judge us Texans too harshly. We know when people are trying to make us look bad (our legislators, Hollywood and “reality TV”), but most of us take it all in stride and try to have fun with the stereotypes. We love it when people are pleasantly surprised to find out Texas has events like the biggest Art Car Parade in the world.

Hands down we are welcoming and friendly. Did you know that the meaning of Texas (or Tejas) is “Friends”? Come and visit us; we will offer you a room and show you all the things that *we* love about Texas! We have a spare room just waiting for friends to fill. 


THERESA: There will always be a little bit of western cliché coming out from the shadows of the Hill country. I love being a Texan and rather enjoy that everyone thinks we dress and act like cowboys, because of people like The Duke and Gary Cooper. It makes for great classic film conversation. Always!


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CineMaven ~ May I please add a note here:

My friend Sheila Schlesinger is a San Antone girl brought to the wilds of Brooklyn, New York at the age of five. I hadn’t included her because she’s been in New York most of her life. I was gently chided by her via text this morning:

GULP! Let that be a lesson to me ( and YOU! ) Another time, I’ll let Sheila tell you the story of actor Leo Carillo being her babysitter back in Texas.

I can’t tell you what a fun exercise this was for me. It certainly has been my pleasure getting to know these Texans either by hanging out with them at the festival, or reading their work, and getting this glimpse into knowing what makes them them. I learned much more about what it means to BE Texan. Seems to be a Texan is to be a myriad of different things. I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed the read as much as I have of putting this all together.

Now y’all come back to the couch real soon. Thanks again!


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