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Monday, 28 February 2011

Look! It's what's-her-face!! Oh, wait... no it's not.

Jean Simmons. Arlene Francis. Irene Dunne. Katharine Hepburn. Vivien Leigh. Ava Gardner. Norma Shearer. Cyd Charisse. Maureen O'Hara.

There is something that all of these actresses have in common besides their being part of Hollywood's Golden Age. That something is the fact that at some point I have confused one or more of them with another. My "confusions" have lasted from years to just a couple of months, but the evidence of my folly is there - and it's made all the more embarrassing by the fact that several of them are my absolute favourites now. So, without further ado, I will reveal to you just who exactly I mixed up...

Jean and Vivien

Jean in Great Expectations and Vivien in Gone With the Wind look quite similar. THEY DO, THEY DO, THEY DO! Except their hair is light and dark respectively - a minor detail! Anyway, I was always confusing them until 4/5 years ago. I also used to think that Jean played Bonnie in GWTW. Now that is really embarrassing.

Cyd and Ava

Always, always. I am a huge fan of both Cyd and Ava, but I still occasionally glance at a photo and think, "What a nice photo of Cyd... Ava... ".

Katharine and Maureen

I find it really hilarious to think that I ever confused these two women. 4 years ago I saw The Wings of Eagles on the tv and the picture must have been excessively bad, or I must just be stupid, because I saw CHEEKBONES, RED HAIR and snappy tones and thought I was watching a Maureen O'Hara film. I'm not sure exactly when I realised that Kate was in fact Maureen, but it was certainly after the film had ended.

Irene, Arlene and Norma

I can't even begin to explain how much confusion these three ladies have caused me in the past. I confused Arlene with Norma, Norma with Irene, and sometimes all of them with each other. I don't even know why because they don't resemble each other at all, unlike the previous people I have mentioned who I think do have a look of each other.

There are quite a few more people I could mention whom I've confused (Errol Flynn and Laurence Olivier anyone? No? *cough*... ) but I feel like I've embarrassed myself enough already. But everyone gets people mixed up at sometime or other, don't they? The shame is not all mine, I hope.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

My Favourite 1930s - 1960s Best Picture Winners!!

Greer and James at the 15th Annual Academy Awards

Unlike many of my online friends, I am not watching The Oscars tonight. For one thing, we don't have Sky and my laptop does not take kindly to me watching live streams. It's also on rather late here in England. The main reason, however, is that it would be a waste of time because I've only seen one of films from 2010, Inception.If I'm honest, the only other films I'm interested in seeing from the films nominated for Best Picture are The King's Speech, 127 Hours, and Toy Story 3. Anyway, I thought I'd pick my favourite Best Picture winners and also my favourite from the films that were nominated but didn't win, from 1930s-1960s.

1930's Best Picture Winners (also including 1928 and 1929 winners)

1928 - Wings
1929 - The Broadway Melody
1930 - All Quiet on the Western Front
1931 - Cimarron
1932 - Grand Hotel
1933 - Cavalcade
1934 - It Happened One Night
1935 - Mutiny on the Bount
1936 - The Great Ziegfield
1937 - The Life of Emile Zola
1938 - You Can't Take It With You
1939 - Gone With the Wind

Favourite 1930's Nominations

1934 - The Thin Man

Honourable Mentions

1932 - Shanghai Express
1937 - Stage Door

1940's Best Picture Winners

1940 - Rebecca
1941 - How Green Was My Valley
1942 - Mrs. Miniver
1943 - Casablanca
1944 - Going My Way
1945 - The Lost Weekend
1946 - The Best Years of Our Lives
1947 - Gentlemen's Agreement
1948 - Hamlet
1949 - All the King's Men

Favourite Film From Nominations

1942 - Random Harvest

Honourable Mentions

1941 - Blossoms In the Dust
1943 - Madame Curie
1944 - Since You Went Away
1945 - Mildred Pierce

1950's Best Picture Winners

1950 - All About Eve
1951 - An American In Paris
1952 - The Greatest Show on Earth
1953 - From Here To Eternity
1954 - On the Waterfront
1955 - Marty
1956 - Around the World In 80 Days
1957 - The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958 - Gigi
1959 - Ben-Hur

Favourite Film From Nominations

1958 - Auntie Mame

Honourable Mentions

1952 - The Quiet Man
1956 - The King and I

1960's Best Picture Winners

1960 - The Apartment
1961 - West Side Story
1962 - Lawrence of Arabia
1963 - Tom Jones
1964 - My Fair Lady
1965 - The Sound of Music
1966 - A Man For All Seasons
1967 - In the Heat of the Night
1968 - Oliver!
1969 - Midnight Cowboy

Favourite 1960's Nominations

1964 - Mary Poppins

Honourable Mentions

1960 - The Sundowners
1961 - Judgement at Nuremberg

I was going to post a list of the people who should have won several Oscars but who in actual fact didn't win even one (Deborah, Stany, Maureen (she hasn't even been awarded an Honorary Oscar. HANG YOUR HEADS IN SHAME, ACADEMY!)... to name but a few) but that would take too long and I would end up bashing Grace K. and her ridiculous Oscar before moving onto Audrey Hepburn and her almost equally ridiculous RH Oscar (Really though... DEBORAH, AVA AND LESLIE (I haven't seen Maggie in TMiB) and you give the award to Audrey in one of the dullest films of all time?!! I'm sorry, I just can't help myself. You all know I love Audrey... but really?!). Anyway, have a photo of a Greer and Walter kissing at the 15th Academy Awards...

... they make everything better :D

If you're going to be watching the Oscars tonight, enjoy yourself!! And I hope The King's Speech wins everything, even though I haven't seen it, because... come on, the cast is awesome!! ;D

P.S. Let me know which are your favourite winners (and nominated!) films from each decade!!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Photo of the Day

Tony snapping a picture of Deborah and baby Melanie whilst out on a stroll. Melanie looks ridiculously adorable but also rather hilarious in that bonnet.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

My Classic Film Scans: Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich, 1947
Photographed by A. L. "Whitey" Schaefer

I decided that I would start scanning some of the photos from my classic film books today. The book I picked to start with was "Hollywood Colour Portraits" by John Kobal. Whilst the photos in it aren't particularly rare, they are of a stunning quality. The colours are absolutely astonishing - you don't see photos like that anymore! It's a really wonderful book to have just to sit and flick through sometimes. If you're interested in purchasing the book, I found mine on Amazon.co.uk for under £5 inc. P+P :)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Thrill of It All (1963) - love love love!!

The Thrill of It All. I wanted to see this film because Arlene Francis is in it. I love Arlene Francis. You probably already know that already though. I do not, however, love Doris Day. When I was little, I loved her -- no, I ADORED her, especially in Calamity Jane. A few years passed and I grew out of my love for her and hadn't seen any of her films for about 4 years, until the other day when I received a Doris Day double feature in the post. I only bought the double feature because it was cheaper to buy The Thrill of It All + Pillow Talk as opposed to the former by itself. I decided to watch Pillow Talk because I've heard so many good things about it and... I suppose I was feeling adventurous. All I have to say is: WHY HAS DORIS DAY NOT BEEN IN MY LIFE THE PAST FEW YEARS?! I have been depriving myself of her brilliance and I feel so very ashamed. I don't know what happened... maybe my 13 year old self thought it was "uncool" to like Doris. Eh, what did she know!? I HEART YOU DORIS!! I intend to watch as many of her films as possible as soon as I possibly can.

Anyway, I'm not here to discuss my new-found love for Doris Day. Well, I am, but only in connection with the absolutely wonderful film The Thrill of It All. The cast is pretty much perfect now that I've discovered my love for Doris again. JAMES GARNER - excuse me while I drool over his beautiful chin. ARLENE FRANCIS - ;KDFJA;DKFJ;A;SLDF'ALKFG;KAHS;EIFJASD = my emotions whenever I see her in anything! There's also Edward Andrews, Reginald Owens, and GLADYS KRAVITZ-- I mean, Alice Pearce.

The film has on the most hilarious opening scenes ever. You will not be able to keep a straight face, and whenever you think about it you will find yourself laughing. You know how you sometimes dream about a film in which Arlene Francis dances around whilst laughing and squealing in the most adorable and hilarious manner possible? Yeah, well, you don't need to dream anymore.

WHEEE! Arlene is clearly extremely excited and happy about something...

She gets into the lift with a bunch of miserable-looking business men, but unable to contain her joy, bursts into infectious laughter which sets off all the men laughing.

It turns out that Mrs. Fraleigh (Arlene) and her husband have been trying to have a baby for 20 years without success. But then James Garner, or rather, Dr. Gerald Boyer, steps in and recommends that they stop trying and go on a 3 month ocean cruise. Et voilà, RESULTS! As a sort of thank you for helping to get her pregnant (I realise how odd that sounds, and so does Doris), the Fraleighs invite the Boyers (I actually wrote the "Garners" first... WHOOPS!) to a dinner party they are holding in celebration of the happy news. It's at this dinner party that Beverley Boyer (Doris) is offered the opportunity of starring in a tv advert for "Happy Soap" after she unwittingly tells the soap manufacturer (Old Tom Fraleigh - Reginald Owens) about an experience she had with the soap earlier on in the day. At first she is unsure, but when she finds out that she'll earn $300 (or it might have been $400... ) she accepts. It doesn't go well... in fact, it goes terribly. Beverly's nerves get the better of her and she says the first thing that comes into her head, which happens to be the last line of a terrible play that was performed just before the advert...

Beverly Boyer: Hello, I'm... Beverly Boyer and I'm a pig.
Her son: What did Mommy say?
The maid: She said she's a pig.

The whole episode is thoroughly embarrassing and humiliating for poor Beverly. She was in tears... I WAS ALMOST IN TEARS. OH, THE PAIN!! Honestly though, you can't help but feel so sorry for the poor woman.

After that, you'd think she would never want to step in front of a camera again, but a juicy offer of $80,000 to appear on television every Friday for a year to advertise Happy Soap causes her to reconsider. WHAT IS THIS FOLLY?!

She never seems to completely lose her nervousness in front of the camera, but the public loves her and she becomes somewhat of a celebrity. Well, not quite a celebrity... but she gets noticed in restaurants and asked for autographs. This irritates James-- I mean Gerald. He looks so beautiful. His gorgeous eyes with the cheeky twinkle in them... that dazzling smile... the chin dimple. THE CHIN DIMPLE. SAVE ME FROM THE ADORABLENESS OF THE CHIN DIMPLE. I'm sorry, what was I saying? Oh, yes, Gerald doesn't like that his wife's face is plastered all over bill boards, and that they can't go to a restaurant without someone asking for her autograph, that she spends hardly any time with the children (Brian Nash and Gretl-- Kim Karath), and that his work hours and her work hours leave them hardly any time to see each other. JAMES IS HAVING NONE OF IT. So he drives his car into a swimming pool.

(I should probably tell you about the pool. Old Tom Fraleigh ordered it to be installed in the Boyer's garden as a "surprise". Needless to say, Beverly was not impressed and dreaded having to tell James (I'm sorry but I'm not even going to try and call him Gerald anymore). She was asleep when he came home that night though, and when she woke up they start kissing (because that's what you do with James Garner, ok?) and she didn't tell him. This was a bad move on Beverley's part because the filter in the pool made it sound like it was raining (apparently.. it didn't sound like rain to me) and so James had to go back outside so he could put the convertible in the garage. SPLASH.)

James is the unimpressed with the speed with which the pool has been installed. In fact, he is not only unimpressed, he is furious. He rushes back upstairs, packs his bags in a hurry, and leaves - kicking over a few boxes of Happy Soap's detergent that are by the side of the pool on his way out. Beverly is angry as well because James won't listen to her, but we're not interested in that. We're interested in the fact that James has kicked over several boxes of detergent by the side of the pool. By the side of the pool. Water. Detergent.

Soap suds. Everywhere. It looks like it would be so much fun to play in, but in reality... I don't think so. Beverly gets some waste disposal men to come and take away the suds, because clearly that's the logical thing to do... *cough*

This whole scene is ridiculously and bizarre, but also really hilarious.

After this escapade, a whole lot of other things happen but none of them are important because Arlene-- MRS. FRALEIGH goes into labour at the Cartier Hotel.

Mrs. Fraleigh: Gardiner, I'm going to have a baby.
Mr. Fraleigh: Yes darling, I know... Oh my God! Are you sure?
Mrs. Fraleigh: Quite sure.
Mr. Fraleigh: Beverly! Call your baby, my wife's having a husband! Quickly! Quickly!

They attempt to drive to the hospital, but are held up by heavy traffic in the streets.

Mr. Fraleigh: Sidney, do something!
Sidney [the chauffeur]: Shall I blow my horn, sir?
Mr. Fraleigh: Yes, damn it!
Mrs. Fraleigh: Gardiner, your language-- OH DARN IT!!!
Mr. Fraleigh: She said "darn it"! She has never, ever said that.


James tries to get to them but with all the traffic it's impossible in the car, so he jumps onto a police horse. He's cool like that.

He manages to get the car, and delivers a beautiful, bouncing baby girl before they arrive at the hospital. It's a good job that the "car" was actually a limousine.

Here's a photo of Arlene's beautiful face after just giving birth in the backseat of a car. She still has her earrings on and I don't know why, but that amuses me.

Doris then falls into James' arms, cries a little, and then they go home. Kim Karath then demands she gets a baby sibling.


I LOVE THIS FILM. I WANT TO WATCH IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Especially the opening scene and the soap suds scene. So much love!

Anyway, you should definitely check out this film. It's fantasmagorical. I give it ★★★★★
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