Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Tender Trap from November of 1955

November of 1955 brought us The Tender Trap. This is a probably lesser-known Frank Sinatra and/or Debbie Reynolds movie, but believe me when I tell you that it's absolutely hilarious and so much fun to watch. Being from WI, I especially enjoy the woman who brings back "rare Wisconsin cheeses." Combine Sinatra's womanizing character with Debbie Reynolds' innocence and you have a couple of characters that evolve during the movie to be able to be together.

Very eligible and successful bachelor, Charlie Reader, played by Sinatra, suddenly finds himself a girl, played by Debbie Reynolds, who doesn't fall so easily for his lines and is only looking to settle down. For a guy who has more women than he knows what to do with, is he up to that challenge?

The Players:
Frank Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds

Frank and Debbie have great chemistry in this movie and are pretty adorable. Debbie is just 3 years older than when she played Kathy Sheldon in Singin in the Rain. I especially enjoy the exchange below where he insists that she "can't throw a song like that away." Show her how it's done, Frank.

David Wayne and Celeste Holm
 David plays an old friend of Charlie's who comes to stay with him for a while. During this time he gets to witness all of Charlie's many women that he rotates through, and begins to covet it. Although married, he begins to keep Charlie's highest class doll, played by Celeste Holm, company.

In the end though she tells him, "Joe, you know what you've got?  You've got the married man's dream.  You want a girl.  That's what you all want -- a girl.  And that's what you can never have, because the only way to have a girl is not to marry her, because then she becomes a wife.  That's something entirely different." 

Why You Should Check it Out
 This is a really fun movie and you just need to keep in mind the era in which it was filmed. The themes made sense in the 1950's. Just concentrate on Frank singing :)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Classic Halloween Movie- Dracula

Dracula has been a character that has stood the test of time and has inspired many other vampiric characters as well. I loved the book from the first time I read it and I think that the classic movie with Bela Lugosi is one of the best. There's something special about the way he plays Dracula that shines through in the movie. So in another suggestion for Halloween, I would recommend Dracula from 1931.

An ancient vampire comes to England and "corrupts" young women.

The Players:
Bela Lugosi-
Bela had such success in his stage role as Dracula that he was obsessed with repeating it on film. Before he was even cast, he was an intermediary between Universal Studios and Bram Stoker's widow to negotiate the price for the filming rights. He was able to get her down from $200,000 to $60,000. When he was cast, Bela was only paid $500 a week for filming. According to imdb.com, this was an insulting salary for an actor even during the Depression.

The plan originally was to make a big budget film that followed the book closely, but given the Stock Market Crash and the Depression, they then adapted it to a stage play, which ended up essentially being the movie.

Bela did not wear fangs to play Dracula.

His performance was so great that he received more fan mail from women than Clark Gable did.

Watching it now, it may seem odd that there's no music playing in the background. During this time, sound was so new to movies, it was believed that audiences wouldn't accept sound without a proper reason for it, such as the characters being near an actual orchestra.

Rumors that surrounded Bela Lugosi:
The suggestion that Bela Lugosi learned the lines phonetically, which accounts for the cadence in his speech, is a rumor. He could speak English.

That Frank Sinatra paid for his funeral is a rumor. His widow and ex-wife did, although Sinatra did send him money during Bela's drug rehabilitation.

That Bela Lugosi was buried with his Dracula cape is true!

Dwight Frye- Frye played the marvelously insane Renfield.

Why You Should Check it Out:
 Do you want to see where all these vampires came from? Go to the source of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Read the book and watch the movie. The book is also a great example of using other means to convey things that wouldn't get past the censors of the time.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Movies to watch this Halloween- Arsenic and Old Lace

So in getting into the spirit {see what I did there?} of October and therefore Halloween, I would like to feature some favorite Halloween-themed movies of mine this month. We're starting out with one from the classic era-Arsenic and Old Lace!

Mortimer Brewster finally ties the knot, but his honeymoon plans are interrupted when he realizes that his aunts have been murdering old gentlemen and burying them in the cellar.

The Players:
Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane-

These two had great chemistry. Check out the scene below. Anyone with a pulse would catch on to what Cary Grant's character is talking about, but this is how they used to have to get around censors. Even though censors passed this through, it's still a sexy scene.

Althoough Cary takes issue with his performance in this film, I think his great expressions really make the movie a riot. He thought it over the top, but I think it adds so much to the comedic value of this movie.

Josephine Hull and Jean Adair
The aunts both reprised their roles from the stage and they are just adorable as murderous sweet old ladies. 

Peter Lorre and Raymond Massey
 I love Peter Lorre and anything I see him in, I always appreciate him. He has sort of a demure quality in this movie as he plays the doctor to Mortimer's brother played by Raymond Massey. The brother was originally brought to life by Boris Karloff onstage, but Massey does a respectable job. He is frightening and delivers his expressions and lines in a beautiful, terrifying way.

Why You Should Check it out:
 This is a magnificently done black comedy and while the idea behind it is disturbing, the movie itself is funny, ironic and wonderfully done. It's hilarious and it's a must for anyone's October.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Happy Wizard of Oz Month!

Happy Wizard of Oz Month, everyone! This month will feature 4 different installments related to The Wizard of Oz. Believe me, there is that much that we can talk about!

In this one, I am paying tribute to the song that almost never was- "Over the Rainbow." 

What do you mean, almost never was?

I'm proud to say that the town where I was born, Oconomowoc, WI, saved "Over the Rainbow." 

Although no cast attended, the movie was originally previewed at The Strand Theater in Oconomowoc, WI, on August 12, 1939. Before this, Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, wanted to cut the song. He felt that Judy Garland shouldn't be singing in a barnyard because he was grooming her to be a star. Stars didn't sing in barnyards!

Due to the positive response to the song in Oconomowoc, it was kept in and history was made! I don't even want to think about a world where this song didn't exist. It was so beautiful and a great scene of Judy's. Cutting it from the film would have been awful.

Sadly, the theater is now gone and I never even had the chance to see it. There is a parking lot where it used to stand. It's really too bad. Oconomowoc doesn't even have any movie theaters anymore, but we classic movie fans should be glad that at one time it did!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Neptune's Daughter with Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban and Betty Garrett

Happy June, everyone! Today I am featuring a bit of a lesser known film called Neptune's Daughter, which came out in 1949. Although this is not a well-known movie by any means, it does feature quite a few well-recognized actors.

Esther Williams is quite aptly cast as a swimsuit designer. When her younger sister, played by Betty Garrett, falls for a heart breaking polo player, Esther tries to keep them apart and ends up falling in love with him herself.

The Players:
Esther Williams-(Eve) The should-have-been Olympic winning "America's Mermaid" missed out on competing due to the Olympics being cancelled in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II. Instead, she made an interesting movie career for herself and carved out her own niche, swimming in each movie she was in. In this one, she plays a swimsuit designer, which she would become later on in real life!

Ricardo Montalban-(Jose) Ricardo is best known for his roles as Khan in Star Trek II and Mr. Roarke in Fantasy Island so you might be surprised to see him here in a musical during his younger years. He even sings a song that you should recognize as it's played every year at Christmas. An added bonus is Garrett and Skelton's rendition also below.

Betty Garrett- (Her character is also named Betty!) I've always loved Betty Garrett's early movies. She is once again the aggressor here, which is how the movies she did with Frank Sinatra went as well.

Red Skelton- (Jack) Jack is mistaken for Jose by Betty. He is in no hurry to correct the attention as she fawns over him.

Why You Should Check It Out:
This is a fun comedy featuring a mistaken identity and fun songs. Plus, it's a rare treasure for Ricardo Montalban to sing. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Vertigo featuring Kim Novak and James Stewart

May of 1958 brought us the highly acclaimed classic, Vertigo!

It flopped at the time. Many, including director, Alfred Hitchcock, attribute the failure to Jimmy Stewart because he was thought too old to play a romantic lead. Hitchcock also thought Kim Novak was miscast. Seems he wasn't happy at all with this! It is now considered one of the best.

In this Alfred Hitchcock confusing classic, a retired detective suffering from a fear of heights is asked by an old friend to help him with his wife's strange behavior by tailing her. As he does, he becomes obsessed with her. Twists and turns ensue!

The Players:
Jimmy Stewart-I think it was unfair to blame the original failure of this film all on Jimmy. I think he does a great job. He's so intense and his character's obsession really shines through!

Hitchcock never worked with him after this since he blamed him for the movie's failure. It's now considered Hitchcock's best films.

Kim Novak- Kim was loaned out from Columbia for this movie, which she accepted gratefully. She was happy to get away from Harry Cohn for any amount of time! She did feel that Columbia was paying her too little for how much money they were making from loaning her out. So she went on strike during filming, got a raise and then went back to work {good for her!}.

She played dual roles in this-one of Madeline, the blonde wife, and Judy, the woman that Jimmy Stewart's character meets and tries to makeover to look like Madeline.

Their Relationship-This was their first film together and was followed up later in the year with Bell, Book and Candle, which you can read about here. Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak became very close during the filming of this and their next movie.

Why You Should Check it Out:
Honestly, this is a weird movie and if you haven't seen it before, the ending will definitely surprise you. It keeps you guessing all along.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy Easter! Movies to watch this weekend!

Need some Easer-themed movies to watch this weekend? Of course you do! Here is the best one!

Easter Parade!
Don Hewes loses his long-time dancing partner and lady love to another show which prompts him to proclaim that he can teach any girl to dance! Influenced by booze, he invites a dancer in a local club to rehearse with him the next day and be his new partner. He learns the next day that she doesn't even know her left foot from her right foot. He has his work cut out for him!

The Players:
Judy Garland-Judy is in fine form in this movie. I feel it's one of her best. It has a great story and she gets to show off her comedic talents. See her marvelous fish face below..

Fred Astaire-Fred came out of retirement to do this film after Gene Kelly, who was originally set to star, injured himself playing volleyball. He still looks great.

Peter Lawford- I love the underrated Peter Lawford. He was handsome, and while his singing won no prizes, I quite enjoy his voice. He tries! See if you can pick out the change in Judy's feather atop her hat. At one point the dye ran all over her face so they had to slick it up with vaseline.

Ann Miller-What can you say about Ann Miller.. best to showcase it below. I feel like she is the female equivalent to Gene Kelly. Powerful, strong dance steps. Shake your blues away, honey!

Why you should check it out!
This movie showcases some great performers and performances, it's a sweet love story and it's funny. Plus there's an Easter theme running though it. I know I'll watch it this weekend!