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Friday, 30 September 2011

Darling Deborah Blogathon: Memories of The King and I

It's been about 14 years since I first saw The King and I (1956), and, in the years since then, I've watched it innumerable times through both the good and the bad. If it hadn't been for The King and I you wouldn't be reading this blog now because without it, I wouldn't have fallen in love with Deborah Kerr, and consequently fallen in love with classic film. 

The first time I remember seeing it was when I was 4 or 5. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and my Grandma, Mum, and I were sitting in the living room after dinner not doing much, just happy to be in each others company. At some point, my Mum must have switched on the tv because she told me that The King and I was on. Whilst my Mum went off to do something else, my Grandma and I watched the film; I lying on my stomach in my special "film-watching" place, just in front of the tv and squeezed between the coffee table and the hearth, and Grandma on the settee. It was love at first sight. From then on, my early childhood years were taken up with the challenge of deciding whether to be Anna Leonowens or Maria von Trapp when I grew up. I have vivid memories of dancing around the piece of grass in the front of our row of houses whilst singing, rather loudly, "Shall We Dance" and clutching a tracksuit top (aka, the King of Siam). Then, when I was 6 or 7, I spent what seemed like the entire summer sitting in my parents room replaying the "March of the Siamese Children" over and over on my Dad's cassette player whilst "playing along" with an old xylophone I'd been given. Playing that track (now on a CD ;D) still gives me the same thrill that it used to. I'll never tire of it. 

Everyone, even those in my extended family, knew how much I loved (read: obsessed over) The King and I. My Aunty gave me the VHS of it for Christmas, which I still have and will never get rid of because of all the memories attached to it. I'm surprised I didn't wear out the tape, I watched it so many times. Whenever I was allowed to watch a film or asked if I could watch a film (I spent the majority of my first 13 years playing outside at every possible moment, so films weren't a huge part of my life) it was a certainty that I would watch The King and I or The Sound of Music. I was in love with the music, the gorgeous sets, the story, and, most of all, Anna Leonowens. When I was young, Deborah Kerr to me was Anna Leonowens, just like Julie Andrews was Maria von Trapp and Audrey Hepburn, Eliza Doolittle. It was only a few years later that I realised I didn't just love Anna, I loved the actress playing her. That's when I started to discover Deborah's other films and the rest, as they say, is history. 

As I said before, if I hadn't loved The King and I so much, I would never have become so engaged in my obsession with classic film. I suppose the root of it all is Deborah. Although I'm sure I would have loved the story just as much had another actress played the role of Anna, it would never have drawn me in to the extent that it did with Deborah in it. Something about her face and her voice was so comforting and extraordinarily beautiful to me. I turned to her whenever I was feeling down or sick and she was there with her red hair and hoop skirts. When I turned 13, I started clinging to my slowly slipping away childhood by watching The King and I. It relieved me of the troubles of adolescence for a couple of hours. However, whilst in my formative years one film was enough to love Deborah in, as I grew older I needed more. I watched as many of her films as I could lay my hands on and it was was whilst working my way through her filmography, I began to realise that Deborah had become somewhat of a muse to me in a way that no one else had ever been. I started to realise that I was growing up (or being "dragged up", kicking and screaming) and I desperately wished that, if I had to grow up, I could grow up to be like her, the seemingly unattainable epitome of beauty, elegance, wit, and compassion. And I did try to be like her when I was 13/14, but I think I've probably turned out almost polar opposite to her (I like to think I'm a modern day Eve Arden, and several people have been good enough to bolster my belief that I'm half as awesome ;D). It doesn't bother me that I didn't turn into a miniature Deborah though. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but, in all honesty, it's a bit creepy. 

Despite having seen over almost half of her films by this time, and having many new, exciting, favourites, on the night of October 19th, 2007, the night my Dad told me, rather bluntly, that Deborah Kerr had died, I turned to the old favourite, The King and I. It's the film that I watched three times one night (and bawled my eyes out each time) on a semi-dead laptop I'd been given by my brother. It's the film I've made friends watch and a film that, when talking about Deborah, I always ask if they've seen. It's the first film I remember seeing. It's my film.

The King and I instilled in me a love for musicals that, though it waxes and wanes, I will never be able to get over. Something sets of fireworks inside me whenever I hear the overture to a well-loved show, or even one that I don't know that well. And, in my opinion, there's no musical like a 1950's musical. The majestic, boldly coloured sets, the glorious music, and the marvellous, larger than life actors, all made the 1950s the decade for lush, aesthetically pleasing musicals. 

Although The King and I may not be my No.1 favourite of Deborah's films any more, it remains among my top five because apart from it being a wonderful film, I owe it (more correctly, I suppose, I owe Rodgers and Hammerstein) so much. It introduced me to musicals, to Deborah, and, through her, one of my biggest passions, classic film. So, thanks Rodgers and Hammerstein. And thanks a million and one times over, Deborah, for being my refuge throughout my childhood, my teenage years, and, I hope, throughout the rest of my life! ♥

The Darling Deborah Blogathon Posts

Today's the day! It's the Darling Deborah Blogathon in honour of what would be Deborah Kerr's 90th birthday. I'll keep updating this post with all of the participants posts so that you'll get a chance to read them all. Unfortunately, I'm going away for the weekend in, well, less than an hour, so I may not get a chance to read all the posts today. I'm sure I'll be able to get on the internet, but, just in case I seem like I'm ignoring contributions, I'M NOT! I appreciate all the posts that have already been submitted and all of those to come! Hope you enjoy reading! 

Mr. Mythical Monkey talks about 1957 film Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison in his insightful and very interesting post.

The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World writes about the 1944 Deborah made with Powell and Pressburger, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.

The Lady Eve's Reel Life writes about Deborah's 1961 intensely terrifying and creepy film, The Innocents.

Forever Classics sings the praises of The Innocents in her blog post.

Via Margutta 51 talks about the underrated gem of film that is The Naked Edge.

Blame Mame writes about the ultimate romantic comedy, An Affair To Remember.

True Classics reviews one of Deborah's first Hollywood films, which gave her one of her most challenging roles, Edward, My Son.

Frankly, My Dear talks about 5 things she has in common with Deborah.

All Good Things writes about the films in which Deborah played a governess.

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear reviews and talks about the suspenseful 1946 film I See a Dark Stranger, in which Deborah plays a young Irish girl who loathes Britain and everything British.

Thanks so much everyone!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Happy birthday, my bonny daisy! ;D

107 years ago on this very day (although the lady in question would like to have you believe it was 104 years ago ;D) a rather beautiful, red headed, baby was born in England. Her name was Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson and she grew up to be the earth-shatteringly gorgeous and talented actress we know as, well, Greer Garson.

Happy birthday, Greer! 

You all know that I love this woman more than I can possibly say and that I would watch her anything and everything, and listen to her OTR broadcasts all day every day if I could. She was a beautiful, kind, hilarious, and intelligent woman whom I would have given anything to have meet in real life. I'm going to leave you with one of my favourite scenes from the wonderful 1947 film, Julia Misbehaves. It's so sweet and perfect and proves the fact that no one will ever wear a tablecloth quite like Greer. ;D

P.S. Don't forget it's the Darling Deborah Blogathon tomorrow! It's not too late to participate, everyone is welcome! :D I'm not actually going to be here most of tomorrow as I'm leaving for the weekend (something I didn't know when I planned the blogathon), but I have a couple of posts queued up and hopefully I'll be able to get online to compile a list of all the participators posts. I look forward to reading all the wonderful Deborah-ness! :D

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

10 Favourite Directors

It has come to my attention that I've never really paid much homage to the great directors of classic film on my blog previously, so I thought I would remedy that with a list, in no particular order, of my 10 favourite classic directors. Enjoy!

Sir Alfred Hitchcock

Favourite film(s): The 39 Steps (1935), Shadow of a Doubt (1944), Rear Window (1954), The Birds (1963)

Billy Wilder

Favourite film(s): The Lost Weekend (1945), The Apartment (1960)

Preston Sturges

Favourite film(s): The Lady Eve (1941), Sullivan's Travels (1941)

William Wyler

Favourite film(s): These Three (1936), Mrs. Miniver (1942), Detective Story (1951), The Big Country (1958), How To Steal a Million (1966)

Howard Hawks

Favourite Film(s): His Girl Friday (1940), Ball of Fire (1941), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Elia Kazan

Favourite films: Gentlemen's Agreement (1947), Splendor in the Grass (1961)

Leo McCarey

Favourite film(s): Make Way For Tomorrow (1937), The Awful Truth (1937), Love Affair (1939), An Affair to Remember (1957) 

George Cukor

Favourite film(s): The Women (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), I'll Be Seeing You (1944), My Fair Lady (1964)

George Stevens

Favourite film(s): Swing Time (1936), The More the Merrier (1943), I Remember Mama (1948), Giant (1956)

Frank Capra

Favourite film(s): It Happened One Night (1934), Meet John Doe (1941)

Who are your favourite directors? I had to leave several whom I really love of this list, but it had to be done! *sobs* 

Monday, 26 September 2011

If fictional characters could live in our world...

I recently watched The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985, dir. Woody Allen) and afterwards got to thinking about the concept of the film: a character steps out of a cinema screen and becomes part of the real world. It's certainly a very intriguing, thought-provoking idea and there are so many possibilities to be expanded upon. I thought I would share my thoughts on the whole, crazy idea with my readers because it fascinates me and I'm sure some of you might be equally fascinated.

From The Purple Rose of Cairo we know that the character entering our world is capable of leaving more than one screen, which begs the question, what would happen if there were several dozen identical people walking around in the world? At the least, it could make for some awkward, paradoxical situations (or not, because, if the characters aren't actually real then there can't be any contradiction!). And nowadays, when there are so many screens both large and small for the characters to emerge from, I'm sure within the matter of a few weeks the world would be ridiculously overcrowded. Unless there is a way to stop them from passing through the screen. Maybe they would have to go through customs first!

Another thought I had was, would the characters coming into our world bring with them troubles/problems peculiar to them? If so, I can only imagine the madness that would ensue. Imagine dozens of Melanie Daniels wreaking havoc in every town that she (they?) appears in. And, if they do bring their own problems, they would be introducing fantastical creatures, aliens, demons etc. onto the world. In essence, we would be unleashing our own nightmares upon ourselves. Madness!

And then there's the question of whether or not only fictional characters could "come alive", so to speak. If any character on the screen could be introduced to our world, then we could very well be welcoming, among others, infamous dictators back onto earth. The fact that, as revealed in TPROC, these characters can't actually be injured presumably means they can't die (either of natural or unnatural causes) which, in turn, means that they would just stay as they are... forever. I think that's a pretty terrifying thought.

Of course, as well as contemporary film characters coming into our world, there would also be characters from things like period dramas wandering around. How would an 18th century lady-in-waiting, for example, cope in our modern, technologically advanced world? In TPROC, the fictional character Tom Baxter kept mentioning how he didn't know about this or that because it wasn't written into his character, but at least he was a contemporary in the world which he stepped out of the screen into. I'm sure it would send the 18th century lady into a state of shock.

All in all, I think it's probably a good thing that film characters can't come to life because it would probably cause quite a disturbance. I always thought that it would be wonderful if some on-screen characters could come to life so I could be friends with them (or marry them.. *cough*) but now I'm not too sure. Well, as long as it was just one character who was very well-developed by his creator, I think it might be OK!

I could talk about this topic all day as it's taken over my mind a bit, but I'll finish now and I urge you to share your thoughts because I want to discuss this with you all!

I thought, as final, fun thing to do with this post, I would make an only partially serious list of 10 film characters I would love to meet in real life.

Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)

After seeing the film and reading the book both for the first time this year, I can honestly say that Atticus is one of my favourite fictional characters of all time. The gentle way that he fights for what he believes in reduces me to a gooey mess. 

Mame Dennis (Auntie Mame)

OK, technically the character of Auntie Mame is based on a real person but... no one in real life could possibly be so fantasmagorical as she is. I want to be her!

Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man series)

There's no party like a Nick and Nora party!

Winifred Banks (Mary Poppins)

The real question here is, why wouldn't you want to meet her? The woman is marvellous!

Mother Superior (The Trouble With Angels)

There's something about Roz Russell's Mother Superior in this film that reminds me of a nun I know, so I instantly loved her. I greatly admire both the fictional and real nun.

Golde (Fiddler on the Roof)

Golde's resilience in the face of poverty and the fear of being Jews in Tsarist Russia is remarkable. She's such a strong woman and she's been one of my favourite characters since I was little.

Maxine Faulk (The Night of the Iguana)

Oh, Maxine! Lost, lonely Maxine. I want to give her a hug.

Margo Channing (All About Eve)

Who doesn't want to meet Margo Channing? I would constantly be trying to make her mention seatbelts. 

Baroness Elsa "Fabulous" Schraeder (The Sound of Music)

Because there was actually no Baroness Schraeder in the real Maria von Trapp's story (although there was another woman, but she wasn't a baroness and she wasn't called Elsa Schrader), I think she counts as fictitious. When I met her, I would first tell her that I was too old to be shipped off the boarding school, then I would creepily touch her hair because it's gorgeous, then I would steal all of her clothes... and Captain von Trapp.

Mama (I Remember Mama)

I love Mama! I think all mothers should aspire to be as caring and sacrificing as she is. 

Which characters would you like to meet?

Oh, and just before you go, some shameless self promotion: Waitin' On a Sunny Day is now on facebook! I'd really appreciate it if you could all click the little 'like' button if you're on Facebook.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Fashion in Film Blogathon: 10 Outfits I Would Love To Find in my Wardrobe

... and then find that they looked as good on me as on the original wearers. 

I'm not the most fashion conscious person you will ever meet. In fact, I don't follow, or know the slightest bit about, fashion at all. I wear what I like and what I'm comfortable in.  So, don't be expecting all of the following outfits to be haute couture. I see a dress, it looks nice, that's that.

Deborah Kerr's "Shall We Dance" dress from The King and I

I've loved this dress ever since I was a little girl and secretly I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to own it myself (provided the person who bought in the auction last year lets me have it ;D). In the past I've said that if I ever get married I want my wedding dress to be a replica of this but I'm not sure I'd get down the aisle. 

Eleanor Parker's ball gown from The Sound of Music

Again, this is another dress I've loved since I was a little girl. The way it looks on Eleanor just takes my breath away - I want to sit and look at her forever. 

Debbie Reynold's "Good Morning" dress from Singin' in the Rain

This has to be the cutest film costume ever! I love everything about it, and, out of all the dresses on the list, I think it's the only one that would look OK on me. I subconsciously drift towards anything that resembles this little number when clothes shopping, and one day I'm sure I'll find my perfect "Good Morning" dress.

Deborah Kerr's white floaty dress from An Affair to Remember

I love the way Deborah's gorgeous red hair looks with this dress and the way the dress glides along with her. It's so simple yet so absolutely beautiful at the same time, much like Deborah herself. 

Audrey Hepburn's black lace dress (and mask) from How To Steal a Million

I have no words for this stunning dress (and mask ;D). It makes me want to cry.* 

Marilyn Monroe's black dress from The Misfits

The first time I saw Marilyn in this it took my breath away, and still does, as a matter of fact. The simplicity of it coupled with the perfect fit, the hair, and that beautiful face, just makes me gasp. 

Joan Crawford's decorating outfit from Mildred Pierce

Now THIS is what I call an outfit. I'm pretty sure that she could have made the whole decorating job a bit easier if she'd worn a pair of trousers (how do you even get up a stepladder in a pencil skirt?!) but this outfit won my heart from the first moment I saw it. I've been searching for a button front skirt like Joan's for months and the nearest I've got is this. Someday, I am going to decorate a house Joan Crawford style (minus the flawless face and legs.... which brings me to another point, WHO CLIMBS A LADDER TO DECORATE WHILST WEARING HEELS?!).

Audrey Hepburn's little black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's.

I have never been too fussed with Audrey's long, black dress from the beginning of the film, but this one is pure love. I have a dress that I call my "Holly Golightly" dress because it sort of (not really) resembles this one. I know it's a bit of a cliché but no one does the LBD like Audrey Hepburn.

Eleanor Parker's barbecue dress from Home From the Hill

You know how Anne of Green Gables is always moaning about how it's her lifelong sorrow that she can't wear pink because she's a carrot top? Well, Eleanor Parker is living proof that you can be a redhead and wear pink, and what's more, look absolutely ravishing in it. '50s dresses with full skirts are my weakness, I absolute love them (it's the way they whooosh and rustle). 

Grace Kelly's evening dress from High Society

I may not be a fan of Grace Kelly, but there's not denying she wore some really beautiful dresses in her 11 films. Her dresses in Rear Window are all really gorgeous but this stunning dress from High Society takes the cake.

Special Wardrobe Mentions To:

Deborah Kerr's entire wardrobe from Dream Wife


Greer Garson's entire wardrobe from Mrs. Miniver

*Disclaimer: I don't actually weep over dresses. Or over any items of clothing. Well, I haven't for a long time at least...
This is an entry for the Fashion in Film Blogathon hosted by The Hollywood Revue

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

CMBA Guilty Pleasures Movie Blogathon: Count Your Blessings (1959)

I'll be the first to admit that when it comes to my favourite actresses' films I usually spend most of the film peeping over the top of my wannabe film critic's glasses because I just can't find it in me to judge their films, especially if they're stinkers. Deborah Kerr's 1959 film Count Your Blessings is no exception.

I first saw it 4 or 5 years ago when a very kind soul uploaded it to YouTube, along with many other rare Deborah films. Despite it's terrible and often utterly ridiculous script, it was love at first sight. I watched it over and over again and even transferred parts of it to my tiny mp4 player so I could watch it whenever I wanted.

Rated 4.4 on IMDb, I certainly wasn't drawn to it for it's rank among the great classics (although 4 years ago I probably wasn't as discerning as I am now in regards to film. Wait, who am I kidding? I still feel no sense of shame in admitting that I like live action Disney films more than most of the films I've ever seen...). What I was drawn to, however, was Grace (Deborah) and Charles' (Rossano Brazzi) whirlwind romance and everything that ensued: English girl meets dashing Frenchman during WWII, they get married, he goes off to serve his country, she has a baby, he doesn't come back for 9 years, she then finds out he's been having affairs all over the globe, she gets mad, he gets mad, they get a divorce, their son decides that he likes the amount of affection he gets through the divorce so purposefully keeps them apart, but everything works out all fine and dandy in the end because rubbish films can't afford to be Debbie Downers (no pun intended). 

All of that is beside the point though, the most important part of this brain-fryingly awfully wonderful film is the astonishing beauty of Deborah Kerr. Although Deborah looking disgustingly gorgeous is nothing knew, I think you tend to notice and appreciate it even more when it's the only thing, other than the cute, French guy's (You know who I mean! The one who pops up in every film set in France. Thank 'eavens for leetle girls!) accent, keeping you sane (even if you don't realise that you're going insane because you're actually revelling in this rotten mess of a film). Usually Brazzi would be a keeper of the sane too, but in CYB he is more detestable than that woman who stole Captain von Trapp away from the Baroness. I want to bite him. 

Looking beautiful, as always. 

So, yes, this is definitely one of my favourite guilty pleasure films. I can't write that much about a film which only has a vague outline of a plot and no interesting, flamboyant characters (à la Auntie Mame or Winifred Banks) but if you're a massive fan of Deborah, you really should check it out and maybe you'll end up loving it as much as I do! If you're not a fan, you should probably avoid it - unless you're a masochist.

With the nice, French guy.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Classic Film Q&A With... My Grandparents!

For the second instalment in my "Classic Film Q&A With..." series, I interviewed my Grandma (my Dad's Mum) and my step-Granddad, both of who have been mentioned on my blog in the past when I've had interesting classic film conversations with them. Once again I'll be using the pseudonym "Gordon" for my step-Granddad. Hope you enjoy!
Which genre of film do you most like to watch?

Grandma: Oh, I like a thriller!
Gordon: I like things like Knights of the Round Table...
Me: Like swashbucklers?
Gordon: Yes.

What is your favourite classic film?

Grandma: My favourite is Gone With the Wind.
Me: That wasn't obvious at all! (she's always talking about it ;D)
Gordon: I like a lot of films. The Count of Monte Cristo and Moby Dick.
Grandma: I like Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando. And On the Seafront too.
Me: On the Waterfront...
*everyone starts laughing*
Gordon: A Tale of Two Cities was good too.

Your favourite actor and your favourite actress?

Grandma: James Dean...
Gordon: Who was him who played in those swashbuckling films?
Grandma: Errol Flynn?
Gordon: No, there was another one.
Me: Tyrone Power?
Gordon: Yeah! I liked him.
Me: What about your favourite actresses?
Grandma: Bette Davis!
Gordon: Marilyn Monroe.
Grandma: But she couldn't act much. Bette Davis was the best actress I think. And Vivien Leigh and Lauren Bacall.
Gordon: Her with the red hair...
Grandma: Maureen O'Hara! And there was... Rachel Roberts. She was a really good actress.

What is the first classic film you remember watching?

Grandma: Gone With the Wind.
Gordon: (The Adventures of) Robin Hood was the first I think I saw.
Grandma: We were all crying when we went to see Gone With the Wind.

Your favourite musical?

Grandma: Oh, that one where he sings... *starts singing* some enchanted evening!
Me: South Pacific!
Grandma: That's it. What about you, Gordon?
Gordon: I like Oklahoma!.
Grandma: Oh, and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers! I love Howard Keel singing in that.
*we all start singing Bless Your Beautiful Hide*

Your favourite decade for films?

Grandma: Oh, definitely the 1950s.
Gordon: Yes, the 1950s.

~Musical Interlude during which we sing George Formby songs~

Joan Crawford or Bette Davis?

Grandma: Bette Davis. Joan was a very bad woman. She used to kill (she didn't mean she used to murder them rather, abuse them) her adopted children!
Me: She didn't! There is plenty of evidence of old Hollywood actresses who were friends saying that they never saw the side to her* that her daughter said about... *long winded rant about the subject*
Grandma: Eee, she must have made it all up... and she wrote that book about her! 

Favourite Hitch film?

Grandma: Pyscho and The Birds.
Gordon: The Birds yeah. 

Do you have anything to say about silent film?

Grandma: I don't know, I never went to one. I can't remember them. 
Gordon: They were just a bit before us.

Who is the King of '60s cool: Paul Newman or Steve McQueen?

Grandma and Gordon: Paul Newman.

Trivia question time! Who said "The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder."?

Grandma: Alfred Hitchcock. (She got this straight away. Needless to say, I was very impressed!)

* I know there are other actors and actresses who said they did apparently witness abuse, but... I will always be very dubious. That being said, Mommie Dearest is a highly enjoyable film as long as you don't take it too seriously. THIS AIN'T MY FIRST TIME AT THE RODEO!
Thanks for reading! I had such fun with this interview and there were so many little anecdotes that  I didn't include just because I couldn't do them justice when I typed them out. You may have noticed I missed out a lot of the questions about how well they knew my love of classic film. This was because, whilst everyone in my family knows I love the classics, pretty much only my immediate family could answer those questions. 

Sorry I haven't posted in over week. My laptop fan decided to die over the weekend and then come back to life so I couldn't really write any posts. Hopefully I'll be back to posting more regularly again soon. Also, thank you to all the people who volunteered to write Box Set Monday posts, I'll be sending you emails soon to work it all out! :)
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