Saturday, October 10, 2009


I have a new blog address. Now git!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I changed the title and URL of my blog. Unfortunately, It didn't carry over my followers. Here is the new blog. Please go there and being following to continue the journey with me!

Love and Ginger,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Confronting a demon...

The title of this entry is a little morbid, but I am confronting a feeling I never expected to feel: could I actually like Katharine Hepburn?!?!?!
If you are a fellow Ginger fan and have read her autobiography (if you haven't, what's wrong with you?), then you know that Ginger and Kate did not get along famously. Ginger recalls that Kate once poured a glass of water out of a two-story window on to her brand new coat, claiming that "if it's real, it won't curl". According to some reports she also slandered Kitty Foyle after Ginger took home the 1940 best actress Oscar, claiming "I and every other girl in Hollywood turned down that filth".
In reality, can I dislike Katharine Hepburn for saying a few rude things to my favorite person? It's an irrational conclusion to jump to. Another irrational thought is the one that Ginger was totally innocent and did not warrant any of these comments or actions. Like all actors, Ginger was pretty full of herself. Kate was too, and they were competitors for the non-existent title "Queen of RKO". While Kate garnered awards, Ginger was raking in the dough with her musicals and side projects. They were (understandably) jealous of each others' positions. Ginger longed to be taken seriously as an actress, and Kate didn't want to be shoved out of the business for being "Box Office Poison" (she was voted #1 box office poison in 1937 or 38).
My point is: Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn were both human beings, and so am I. We can't all agree on everything: there are plenty of things about Ginger that I don't like, so why should I shun Kate's entire career for being a little mean every once in a while?
Reluctant as she was, Kate was a great comedian. These are the pieces of her career that I really enjoy. It began with Stage Door.

I have read that Kate threw quite the fit over her second billing. In her autobiography she states that after hearing comments from preview audiences, her billing "was restored to its proper place", ie side-by-side.
I admire Kate's spirit and attitude toward life. She was a fighter, but not in a belligerent way.

I want that dress!!!
In a couple of weeks, I will return to the topic of Ginger and Kate. They have interesting career parallels that deserve further exploration.

The Wizard of Oz in HD!!!

I had the great pleasure of attending the special HD presentation of "The Wizard of Oz" on Wednesday. What a wonderful way to spend an evening. I skipped a class (My Writing about Film screening of "Away From Her"). It was definitely worth it.
The film opened with a brief introduction by our favorite spokesman Robert Osborne, followed by a short documentary about the production. It wasn't terribly detailed for a classic film fan, but the less-devoted people around me seemed interested in it. I did enjoy the stock footage of Margaret Hamilton describing her casting as the witch. She seemed like a hoot.

The film was spectacular. I got a little misty-eyed when the opening credits began to roll. I couldn't stop thinking about how lucky 1939 audiences were to be able to see this for the first time on the big screen. There were things I had never noticed before-the details in Munchkinland and Oz especially. Things I never saw on the 27-inch TV that first presented me with this film in my childhood. Even though I have never known a world without color images, the transition from sepia to color was mesmerizing, like a whole new world was being opened up to me.
Another thing I realized during the film was that I had never seen it the whole way through in one sitting! Bert Lahr as the cowardly lion really steals the show, and Jack Haley is adorable.
There are many theories as to what this movie means to 1939-just beginning to recover from the Great Depression and gearing up for WWII. It must have been a nervous and uncertain time. I haven't fully made up my mind yet, but I think there are definitely some political and religious symbols. Perhaps after I read the book I will have a better background on what was added for the film.
Please let me know if you were able to attend the event, and how you felt about it. The host, Fathom Events, is hosting another special event Thursday, October 8th. It is "Plan 9 from Outer Space", featuring an all-new MST3K commentary. I will be attending that one as well. To fin the nearest involved theater, check here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My collection

I've been putting off this entry for a while because I keep finding new things to add to my collection, so I tell myself "Wait until you get this in the mail". I realized today that collections will always grow, so now is the time to tell you about what I already have!
I was raised going to Garage Sales ad Flea markets, always searching for a deal and enjoying the beauty and craftsmanship of older things. It's unfortunate that most of my generation would rather buy crap from Walmart than something well-made and already broken in!
Sheet music was an important part of family entertainment through the 1940s. There was usually one person (often a young girl or mother) who played piano in each household. After seeing a picture, if you wanted to hear the music from something, buying the sheet music was your only option until the later introduction of LP soundtracks in the late 40s.
Before I became interested in classic musicals, I started buying vintage sheet music for decoration. The first pieces were from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado", an operetta I have seen a couple of times and really enjoy:

With the advent of my classic film obsession came a classic film collection. I began only getting sheet music at garage sales and flea markets, then gravitated to the dangerous eBay (dangerous because I spend too much money!). My goal is to collect every piece of sheet music from all 10 Fred and Ginger movies. By my estimation, I am about halfway through.
I have 3 from "Flying Down to Rio", but my camera ran out of battery while I was trying to photograph them.

I have 2 covers from Carefree, which are really special and will be descirbed at the bottom of the post!
Including the Carefree covers, I am only missing one movie: the elusive Vernon and Irene Castle. I know there was some sheet music published for the film. I saw a piece once in an ebay lot that went for over $70-not worth it for one piece (except the piece at the end...:D). I may never find all the pieces from Vernon and Irene Castle, as the movie was not nearly as popular as their previous films. Also because it was more a dance film and a period piece, the music was not relevant to 1939 popular music styles.
Some other movie memorabilia:

A cover of the Family Circle from 1940, an original framed picture of Ginger from Vernon and Irene Castle, and an original publicity still for "Don't Bet on Love".

This lovely picture came from the personal collection of Gail Patrick! I went to an antiwue show this summer, and this guy had literally thousands of pictures of her that he purchased from her step daughter after her husband's death. There were also many large pictures of other stars-everyone from Cary Grant to Anna May Wong-autographed to Gail. Very interesting, and I love the back story.
Now for the item to end all items! I am most proud of the sheet music I have collected from "Carefree", as it is the most rare (and beautiful!) of the Fred and Ginger music I have so far. This is especially true of the music for "I Used to be Color Blind" because it's AUTOGRAPHED by BOTH FRED AND GINGER!!!!! I almost died when I found this on eBay. I ended up spending $70 on it, but I'm so happy I did. I'm having it appraised in a couple of weeks, along with an original poster from "Roxie Hart" which should arrive in the mail today.

Look at the signatures-it's definitely them!
Of course, that's only about half of my collection. I'll post more later.
Ta-ta for now!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

I noticed that the 1939 masterpiece "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is airing on TCM this Sunday evening, so I thought I would tell you about it, hopefully to spark your interest if you have never seen it. It is a great film among hundreds of the best films ever made during Hollywood's best year.
This version stars Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O'Hara as Esmerelda (no, she's not gypsy-ish, but she does a wonderful job in one of her earliest American roles).
This version of Victor Hugo's novel is considered the best adaptation, and the most faithful to Hugo's original intentions. Some things are changed (like the ending), but that is to be expected from a Hollywood adaptation, especially during the Production Code era. Despite the novel being centuries old, there are definitely symbols of life in 1939. America was gearing up for World War, and deciding what kind of role they wanted their country to have. The film opens with a theme about the invention of the printing press and the dangers of the written word spreading among the masses. It's interesting to compare how leaders in medieval times and the 1940s were concerned about their people knowing too much. As I learned this week in my Writing About Film class, no historical movie is completely about the past.
This film is worth watching for so many reasons. an entire Notre Dame replica was built on the RKO Ranch, along with a few acres of surrounding town that were detailed down to the roads that wound between the buildings. Thousands of extras donned costumes to look like a literal sea of people in the opening scenes of the festival. It's insane and extremely well-directed. If you watch this on DVD, be sure to check out Maureen O'Hara talking about the direction style of Dieterle. He wore white gloves and said very little, yet pulled off this extraordinary feat and many more.
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is available on DVD and is airing on TCM tonight, Sept. 13th at 10 pm (eastern). It airs again on November 29th.

Mildred Pierce

I thought my mom and I fought! Boy, Mildred Pierce (1945) really opened my eyes to some seriously screwed up mother/daughter relations.
Directed my the "genius of shadows" Michael Curtiz, this movie is the story of titular character Mildred Pierce, played amazingly by Miss Joan Crawford. After she splits from her unfaithful husband, Mildred does everything in her power to give her daughters the wealth, security, and (most importantly) the social standing that it is implied Mildred had as a youngster. This is especially applied to the older daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). Veda is a spoiled brat whose actions repeatedly tear down the boundaries of what normal people would consider rational behavior.
The film opens with a murder. It looks as though Mildred has committed it, and she begins telling the story in great detail to the police after they conclude that the murderer is her ex-husband. She insists that it is not, and the flashback that we believe to be a very detailed confession reveals the true killer. Of course, I won't tell you who did it, but I will tell you that they wait until the last possible second to tie up the loose ends. It was nerve wracking for me, but apparently that is the favorite method of early to mid-forties cinema (See my review of The Major and the Minor and Double Indemnity, among others).
I could go on and on about how much I loved this movie. It kept me completely enthralled thanks to brilliant jobs by Michael Curtiz, Joan Crawford (in a well-deserved oscar-winning performance), and one of my favorite second-men Jack Carson. Even though there is a different cinematographer than Casablanca, Mildred Pierce features similarly stunning lighting and shadows that radiate in black and white. Movies like this make black and white sparkle.
The music by Max Steiner is, as I expect from Steiner, wonderful (after all, he blessed us with King Kong and the early Fred and Ginger musicals!). I can't remember specific instances where it was remarkably clever, but that's probably because it's been a week or so since I've watched it.

I just realized that I had forgotten to mention Eve Arden and her wonderfulness. I love her so much! She, as always, delivers the perfect wisecrack in Mildred Pierce.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Guys, I feel TERRIBLE for causing such a delay in my blogging. I've been in school a week now and only moved in to my apartment on Friday. That's right, I spent a week sleeping on my best friend's couch. Not fun.
Anyway, I've almost got all of my pictures hung, then I need to organize some things and procure some means of DVD storage. Then, I will post pictures! I think you guys will enjoy all of my Classic Hollywood touches!
I rpomise I will write something within the next 24 hours on "Mildred Pierce", which is on TCM right now. I got my DVR (!!!) yesterday, so I'll be watching it this evening.

Don't forget to watch or record "Tender Comrade" on Friday morning!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More pics

Posting those pictures earlier and doing some digging with Juliette led me to searching for more Ginger pictures. I ended up with 37 pictures I had never seen before! Here are a few:

This was taken from a balcony at the entrance to the Cocoanut Grove, the site of the 1940 Oscars.

Ginger, Lela, and Walter Owns (Lela's dad and Ginger's grandpa) fighting over a sandwich on the set of "The Major and the Minor". Could this get cuter?

A Rare color picture from the set of The Barkleys of Broadway.

From about 1933. Anyone have more information on this one?
Happy Trails,

A Rainy Oklahoma Day...

My application for the apartment was approved! I'm going back Friday to sign the lease and start handing over money (yuck). Anyway, I am really relieved to have a place, since the last place backed out the day before I was supposed to move (grrrrrrr).
I woke up to some heavy rain here in Oklahoma. Even though the sun has come out, I'm posting some pictures and video clips that get me through any rainy day! Inspired by the adorable pic over at Gingerology.
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Look ma, no hands!!
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Ginger.....WITH A BEARD?!?!?! If anyone knows what the heck this is from, please let me know!

Boy is this song beautiful. (PS: That was definitely a very open-mouth kiss! Look at 2:27. haha.)

I'm not a huge fan of "fan videos" that use random songs. This song is pretty cheesy, but it's edited really well.
Have a good day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favorite Star Combinations part 3: Penny Serenade

I just returned from Norman, after looking at an apartment and signing an application on it. I have finally found a place to live! Now let's hope they take me. School starts Monday!!

Penny Serenade (1941) is the third and final pairing of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, screwball royalty by my standards. Unfortunately, this film fails to uphold anything that the actors had built up in their previous films. It features very poor direction, a ridiculous plot, and little to no music in a film about the significance of a book of albums on the lives of a married couple.
This movie is about Roger and Julie Adams. Julie has decided to leave Roger. As she is packing her things, she happens upon their albums, cataloged like a photo album with little trinkets of the history of their married life. She begins playing them, and the rest of the story is told in flashback vignettes, segued by her changing records. They meet, he proposes, they marry, he moves to Japan, she joins him, she gets pregnant, she loses the baby because of an earthquake...pretty standard stuff for a romance film from 1941. They proceed to set up a small newspaper in a town in California, and adopt a baby girl. I usually don't give away the endings of films, but this one is so ridiculous that I have to tell you: the little girl dies at age 6. It hits them hard, and their grief and innability to communicate drive them apart. What brings them together is a call from the adoption agent, saying "We just got a child, and he's great. He's what you wanted when you first came to us". You see, when they adopted Trina, they actually wanted a curly blonde toddler boy, but ended up with a brunette 5 week old girl. The ending, the fact that they are staying together and replacing their dead child is supposed to be hopeful, but I could only find it laughable. Sure! We'll hide our grief by replacing her with what we really wanted all along!

Aside from the odd plot twists, other things that bother me about this film include the strange, silent film-type directions by George Stevens. He is a master of the Golden Age of Hollywood, yet I feel like this picture regresses back to the era of oddly placed close-ups, which are frequent in this film. There are some interesting shots, especially the recurring theme of the house being cut so that the camera moves upstairs with the actors, but there are also awkward shots like when one actor completely blocks out the other, who is speaking. One instance in particular is the train sequence. I can't find a clip of that part alone, so I suppose you will have to watch it if you want.

Now that I think about it, one perspective on the style of direction would be to take us back to the "good ole'years", just as the film does, but I think that would be a concept lost on early forties audiences. Still, that doesn't mean it's not the true intention. Even if this was the desired effect, I think it was overdone and interfered with the story.

Another problem I had with this film was the lack of score. Yes, a great composer knows when to take advantage of silence, but there was too much in this movie, especially since its underlying theme is the power of music and memory. The score could have been comprised of really smart variations on the song that triggered the memory, and that likely would have saved the film for me (because a great score could save anything for me [that's what she said]).

If you're looking at Penny Serenade for a great Irene Dunne and Cary Grant picture, this will likely disappoint. I read about many who love the film, but after seeing "The Awful Truth" and "My Favorite Wife", I wanted more of the same, or at least something similar. It has a couple of slightly funny scenes, but nothing like the previous two. I guess it's indicative of the aging of both actors and their personas. "The Awful Truth" has them acting like teenagers: making one another jealous by dating others and being suspicious. "My Favorite Wife" is a little more mature, dealing more with sex and the idea of settling down, and "Penny Serenade" is much more serious and grown-up. The audience that enjoyed "The Awful Truth" in 1937 is about to go to war, and they have a lot of growing up to do (I see a paper about Irene Dunne and Cary Grant's personas in my future...).

If you would like to watch "Penny Serenade" it is available on DVD. I believe it is in the public domain, as I purchased it in the dollar DVD section as a double feature with "Charade". It is also available to watch on everyone's favorite video website. Please let me know what you think, especially if you disagree.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I'm sorry that it has been so long since my last update. I am getting ready to move on Saturday back to Norman OK, where I will be a Junior at the University of Oklahoma. Tuesday and Wednesday, I went there to work as a preliminary before I was officially hired. I will be cleaning apartments after people move out in exchange for a free apartment!
When I get all moved in and get internet (I'm going to have to sign up for a credit card so I can get cable and internet. Really frustrating that they won't take my debit card!), I'll post with pictures of my fabulous vintage furniture! Until then, allow these pictures of Ginger to hold you off.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009


Since I read about this story last night, I have become a little worried.
The House where Our lady of Gingeriness was born is up for sale. It's REALLY cheap at $20,000 (less than half of what we bought my piece of crap house from the 20s for in 1996) and no one is interested.
Honestly, this house isn't THAT important, I guess. Ginger and Lela only lived there for a couple of weeks, when they moved back in to Lela's parents house. That should be the house that is preserved. I looked it up a few months ago on google maps and it seemed to be in good condition. Here it is, 3306 Bellefontaine Ave:

View Ginger in a larger map
Once you go in to street view, go just a little to the right. It's the house with the screened porch, stone foundation, and a red car in the driveway. Here's a picture of baby Ginger on the porch:

I hope the historical society takes note of the importance of preserving these homes. The birth house has a plaque as seen on the website of the realtor. Oddly enough, July 16th 1994 was Ginger's last birthday, as she passed away in April of 1995. She spent her first and last birthdays in the same house. Maybe that doesn't strike anyone else as interesting, but I'm weird like that. I'm sure if someone bought the birth home and turned it in to a small museum, it would do well, especially if they could get hold of some of her costumes and personal items.
I am considering writing to the historical society in Kansas City. If I did, would other readers back me up?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Move Over, Darling (1963)

As part of my Sunday evening stood-up-for-a-date double feature I also watched Move Over, Darling, a nice 1963 remake of My Favorite Wife starring Doris Day and James Garner. This movie was funny in its own way, but I had some issues with the movie.
Like My Favorite Wife, Move Over, Darling tells the story of Ellen Wagstaff-Arden (Doris Day), who returns from being shipwrecked on a deserted island for 7 years to find that her husband Nick (James Garner) has married a new woman Bianca (Polly Bergen).
I would say that this is about a 75% shot-for-shot remake. Many shots and sets are constructed similarly, and key lines are preserved, like her response to hearing about her funeral: "Oh, I wish I'd been there". I think the responding line sums up my feelings for the movie. Nick replies with "Well if you'd been there, there wouldn't have been a funeral". Yeah we know, and you kind of just ruined the jokes.
Not that I didn't enjoy the film, it just didn't feel right. I think it is because lines were directly ripped from My Favorite Wife, most of which were improvised by Dunne and Grant themselves. They worked for Cary and Irene's Nick and Ellen, but James and Doris' Nick and Ellen were played differently and more according to their respective images.
That's the fundamental problem with remakes that remain extremely faithful to their predecessors. If actors with similar images or personas are not cast, then the original script ain't gonna work. This includes the supporting cast. Another review describes Polly Bergen's character perfectly: "too obvious". I think Gail Patrick did a much better job. Also, Thelma Ritter's talents were a little wasted as she didn't play a drunk.
My main problem with this remake is that it makes the story seem, as it is, completely improbable. One thing I love about My Favorite Wife is that you never once doubt that Irene Dunne spent 7 years on a deserted island. She gets out of the truck at her house in some man's clothes and needs a bath. Doris, on the other hand, comes off a navy ship looking like this:

Apparently they had bleach on this island!
I can't just bash this film though. It was very cute and moderately enjoyable. One thing that I liked and would have enjoyed seeing in the original is a dream sequence on the island, imagined by Nick. In it, Doris is wearing some serious I Dream of Jeannie/B-52's hair. Hilarious.
I also like the obvious reference to My Favorite Wife, when Doris, disguised as a swedish nurse (yes) notes the similarity to a movie she saw as a child.
The end, when the children and Nick are hiding in the pool and Doris jumps in is very cute and a very satisfying ending to the film. You can't help but giggle when she jumps in with all of her clothes on.
This movie has some interesting back story. A couple of reels were shot under the name Something's Gotta Give, starring Marylin Monroe. This is what would become her last film. She was fired after missing more than 50% of her scheduled days. The special featured on the DVD show a large amount of the unused footage, which also starred Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse as Bianca. Marylin was not right for this movie, and it's very evident in the footage, especially with her children. She seems to be more connected to the family dog than the fruits of her womb. Doris on the other hand had been separated from her son Terry for several of his early years, so she had those emotions stored in her, making those scenes equally as touching as Irene Dunne's, who was just a damn fabulous actress :) When I read more about the lifeof Marylin, perhaps I will return to an entry about Something's Gotta Give.
All in all, I was really picky about Move Over, Darling, since it's a remake of one of my favorite films. If you like Doris Day, I'm sure you will like this movie.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Star Cominations: Cary Grant and Irene Dunne pt. 2.

I got stood up for a date today, so what better than to start reading Doris Day's biography, and watch one of my favorite movies!
If I had to pick a favorite movie overall, I think that 70% of the time my answer would be "My Favorite Wife" (1940). This was the first Grant/Dunne picture I saw, and it left me with an incurable case of the giggles that often overcomes me when I see a film that I really love.
"My Favorite Wife" is the story of Nick and Ellen Arden. After Ellen disappears in a shipwreck, Nick meets another woman, and marries her on the same day that Ellen is declared dead. Coincidentally, Ellen returns from her deserted island on the very same day and is determined to get back her husband!
I could go on for days about each line that makes me laugh. It is chock full of the same farcical fun you will find in its predecessor "The Awful Truth"-including a Southern impersonation, a cabin in the mountains, and of course the "Irene Dunne laugh". No one can sound snootier than Miss Dunne can.
I first saw this picture in my "Music at RKO" class in spring. This movie features a wonderful score provided by the great Roy Webb (of Notorious and Cat People fame). This film is a great example of an effect we call "Micky Mousing", when the actions of the orchestra follow the actions on screen. This can be clearly seen when Nick first sees Ellen in the elevator and falls as the door closes. The score also descends in a chromatic scale. It definitely adds comedy to the picture. I have seen some pictures where Mickey Mousing is used far too much, and it becomes a joke. Roy Webb does it perfectly in this picture. My Favorite Wife also has a wonderful, extremely hummable love theme that plays during the credits among other places.
Speaking of which, what complex credits! Each slide is its own embroidered (by hand I'm assuming) handkerchief. All that work for about 45 seconds!

Another wonderful addition to this film is the beautiful and under appreciated Gail Patrick. As usual, Gail is playing "the other woman"-Nick's new wife Bianca. Even though she is very stiff and rude to Nick and the children at times (actually, she's never nice to the children), I can almost see where she's coming from. In fact, I attribute my semi-sympathy to Gail's fantastic job as an actress. Compared to Polly Bergen's take on Bianca in the remake Move Over, Darling who is just plain stupid, Gail's Bianca is reasonably frustrated and chooses to project it on everyone else, I suppose.
My Favorite Wife is available on DVD, and canalso be watched on a certain video website. I own it as part of a5-DVD Cary Grant collection that also includes The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Night and Day, and Destination Tokyo.
It's getting late now, but I will definitely write about Move Over, Darling tomorrow.

Also coming this week: my first entry about my classic hollywood collection. Get excited!!!

ugh. delays

I'm so sorry about my irregularity. My internet is unpredictable. I promise to write something later today and have it posted tonight.
In the meantime, consider Myrna Loy's Chicken Soup for supper.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Major and the Minor (1942) 5/5, and pre-war cinema

Tonight I exposed my celluloid-weary Dad and his Girlfriend to one of my favorite movies, Billy Wilder's "The Major and the Minor". It is a hilarious and really well-made movie that makes some interesting points about the latter half of 1941, sex, and disguises, while maintaining the conventions of its genre as a well-constructed and witty comedy.
We begin with Susan Applegate, an attractive girl in her late 20s (?-Ginger was 30 during production). She gives up on New York and the promise of excitement after the last in a million pinches and cat calls comes from Mr. Osburne, a greasy older man who has called her for a scalp massage (played well by Robert Benchley). The one thing New York doesn't get out of Sue Applegate is $27.50, the fare back home to Stevenson, Iowa. There's only one problem: the rate has been raised, and all Susan can afford is a half fare ticket, which means she will have to masquerade as a soon-to-be 12-year-old "SuSu" to get back home.

Her guise is soon discovered, and she runs in to the drawing room and arms of Major Philip Kirby, played by the dreamy Ray Milland. She is immediately smitten, but, for obvious reasons cannot reveal her true identity, especially not after they are discovered by his suspicious fiance. All this nonsense means she will have to go to the Wallace Military Institute with "Uncle Philip" so that he can make his case and avoid scandal. What follows is so funny and also complicated, that I will let you watch it on your own and find out!
I cannot tell you how much I love this movie. For obvious reasons, I love it because Ginger is especially adorable and hilarious in this part. What a role to take on, especially right after such dramas as "Primrose Path" and "Kitty Foyle", her Oscar-winning role. This is truly a statement to her bravery and security in her talent. We also have her to thank for Billy Wilder's coming to the United States. This was his first American picture, and he would have never been trusted to direct it had Ginger not requested him specifically.
Above all of those charming details, what I love most of all is Lela Rogers' appearance as Mrs. Applegate, Susan's mother in the end of the film. I had never heard Lela speak or see her move. Gosh, Ginger is a little clone of her. Here is a picture of Lela, Ginger, and Lela's father Walter Owens on the set of the film:

Most of the time when I'm watching more recent movies, I try to imagine how it could (or could not) have been made in the past. This film is the opposite: a movie that can never be made again. It was remade in the 50s as "You're Never Too Young" with Jerry Lewis and Diana Lynn, who appears in the original as a smart-aleck young girl who wasn't fooled for a second. There are so many strange lines in this film that had no trouble with the code in '41, yet wouldn't be touched by any sensible studio today. I suppose the issue of Pedophilia was not a common one in that day. Not to say that it didn't happen, but that it was rarely, if ever seen in courts or talked about. It must have been a non-issue for it to be the subject of a comedy!
Another element of this film that I enjoy are the comments about the impending war. Although the film was made in'41, it was released, like Casablanca, in 1942 after the US entered the war. I love looking at films made in these two years and their sentiments about the war effort. Warner Brothers, for example, strongly supported FDR and the New Deal.In Warner Brothers pictures during this time (including Casablanca), they would discuss when the war was going to happen, not if. The Major and the Minor, which was a Paramount picture, is more cautious. They say "if" several times, but it is not just an "if". There are clear preparations, but not firm and unbridled support. Hopefully I will soon watch more pictures from this year to provide some more comparison.
I've been blabbing long enough. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. It is available on DVD from Amazon for $12.99 (it's also uploaded on a certain video website that I won't name). More people need to know about this gem of a movie! I'll leave you with the trailer.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

links and followers

I was excited to see that my "following" has grown to 5 today! I've added link list to the side bar. If you would like to be linked, please let me know, and I would appreciate the same!

Also, have this nice picture of Ginger, a lovely early color photo from a Life magazine shoot:
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The Circle Cinema Slumber Party

WARNING: There is lots of blood in this entry!
While a part of me (a very large part) loves the innocence of classic movies, musicals, screwball sex comedies etc, another part loves gore films from the 70s and 80s. I like them much better than straight horror because they rarely jump out and try to scare you. In gore, you pretty much know every death about three minutes before it happens. Gore films are hilarious and satisfying.
I had the pleasure of attending the 1st ever Circle Cinema Slumber Party. We met up at 10:00 pm for a night of cult horror classics, keeping in mind the promised $10 cash back on our $20 tickets if we could handle an all-night gore fest. The 110-seat theatre sold out quickly, and nearly all of us stayed the entire night to watch some of the best worst movies ever made.
About my last sentence: there is a stark difference between “best worst” movies and “worst best” movies. The order is key in telling the difference. Best Worst movies are cult cult classics and other bad movies that happen to be so terrible that they inadvertently become immensely enjoyable, while Worst Best movies are those that we know are classics and should be revered, but tend to be staunch and difficult to sit through. Everyone has different Worst Best movies, but mine happen to be 60s and 70s European Cinema, especially Fellini and Godard.
Our first movie was “Return of the Living Dead” (1985), an enjoyable satire of zombie movies, specifically “Night of the Living Dead”. After two dim-witted employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally bust open a tank with a radioactive dead body inside, The gases leak in to the air and wake up the neighboring cemetery. Yes, there are blatant factual errors about the story of “Night of the Living Dead”, like saying it happened in ’69 when the movie was made in ’61, but it’s all in good fun. You can see the strings that make the skeletons move, and at one point a puppeteer is visible. It’s still a really fun movie.

Number two was a surprise to the guests until it started. “Hausu” is a Japanese horror flick from 1977, we knew from the first minute that this was going to be fun. It is summer vacation, and seven teenage girls are heading to Gorgeous’ (yes, that’s her name) aunt’s house to spend some of their vacation in the country. Of course, the house is haunted and systematically eats them (or maybe it’s the aunt controlling it? It’s really hard to tell). Basically, this is a feature-length acid trip without the acid. Cats have sparkling eyes, a girl is eaten by a piano while giggling, etc. To tell more would make it seem unbelievable.

Hopefully this film will soon have a DVD release. The print I watched had a Janus Films logo, so some restoration has occured.
After a shortbreak to return to planet earth, we watched “The Burning”, the embarrassing debut of the Weinstein brothers, Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter. A camp caretaker is horribly burned after a prank gone wrong (dubbed by my friends and me as the best prank ever!!). He returns to the camp,bent on revenge. Who cares if all of the offending campers are long gone? He’s going to kill everyone in his path, including this group, out rafting to find one of the canoes that mysteriously went missing in the night.

The fourth, and my second favorite aside House was “Night Warning”, a reverse-oedipus complex thriller from 1983. It stars Susan Tyrell as Aunt Cheryl (you may recognize her as Ramona from Cry Baby), who is in love with her nephew who is in her care after his parents’ freak death (an awesome beheading followed by the car going down a cliff, then exploding!). As she descends in to madness, Billy begins to figure things out. But is it too late?
This movie was the best one for re-enacting “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. In fact, one man deemed me “the winner” for a comment that I added. Unfortunately, it was too dirty to share here.
The only youtube clip that I can find is the opening car crash, and for some reason they cut the explosion, which happens literally one second after this video ends.Oh well, you get the idea:

The final movie was the other surprise listing. It was “Race with the Devil” (1975), starring Peter Fonda. It is a car chase/occult thriller hybrid. Unfortunately, it started at abuot 5:30 am, and after the first ten minutes, I succumbed to my urge to sleep. I couldn’t help it! I’m one of those people who likes at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and I had to sing at church in the morning. My friends seemed to enjoy it.
I had a wonderful time at the Circle Slumber Party. I can’t wait for next year!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Favorite Star Combinations: Lover Come Back (5/5)

The second of three Rock Hudson/Doris Day vehicles, Lover Come Back (1961) is a hilarious romp through the lucrative world of New York Advertising agencies. After Carol Templeton loses a huge deal to Jerry Webster, she begins investigating his means of securing deals, which often include large amounts of alcohol and less-than-clothed ladies.
After Jerry is reported to the Ad Council for unethical activity, he creates a new product called VIP to woo the star witness out of a testimony and in to commercials. Carol hears about VIP and does everything in her power to stop it-even by falling in love with who she thinks is the inventor.
Like the other two Rock and Doris pictures, Lover Come Back is very stylized-very early sixties. Doris wears some truly terriblehats, like these, which surface during their obligatory dating montage:

It's like a lavender christmas tree! At least the swim suit is adorable.
There is really only one word to describe these movies: Delightful! Now that I have the Rock Hudson/Doris Day Collection, these movies will always be there for a pick-me-up.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Ginger!!!

It's here!
I'm sure you guys have heard these stories thousands of times, but here's a brief overview of her life.
Ginger was born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence Kansas on July 16th, 1911. Her mother Lela was separated from her father, and she was raised largely by her grandparents while Lela was traveling to New York and LA, trying to make enough money as a writer for her daughter to join her.

Eventually Ginger (a nickname developed when her cousin could not say Virginia, and called her "Ginya") did join her in Fort Worth, TX, where Lela landed a job with a newspaper. Through her mother's work reviewing theatrical productions, Ginger caught the performance bug, and entered a Charleston contest, which she (of course) won. She went on to win the state Charleston contest, and began touring the Southern Orpheum circuit. Ginger no doubt made several stops through my town, Tulsa Oklahoma. Tulsa was an oil boom town that boasted two Orpheum theatres. Neither are standing today, but eventually I will make my way over to the Historical society to look for a program of "Ginger and the Redheads".
Vaudeville lead Ginger to Broadway, where she won a lead role in "Top Speed" and the Gershwin musical "Girl Crazy". Ginger was the first to expose the world to such classics as "Embraceable You" and "But Not For Me". She was an instant hit in New York, and began making small pictures in New York with Paramount, and then RKO Pathe pictures. After the closing of Girl Crazy, Ginger left New York for Tinseltown, and the rest is history.

After her stint with Fred, Ginger went on to act in both serious dramas and hilarious comedies. Ginger even won an Oscar in 1940 for Kitty Foyle, beating Bette Davis for the Letter, Katharine Hepburn for The Philadelphia Story, and Joan Fontaine for Rebecca. Many consider the results of the best actress race to be one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history.

Ginger with James Stewart, a former boyfriend and fellow winner in 1940.
Ginger continued to make great films through the 40s, and a couple of good ones in the 50s (though some in the 50s were total DUDS!). After leaving the business with the Jean Harlow biopic "Harlow" in 1965, Ginger retired to the "Rogers Rogue River Ranch" in Oregon. Here's the view from the Rogers Rogue River Ranch Roof (say that 5 times fast!)

To sum up this post, here are two rare old "Merrie Melodies" cartoons from 1937 and 1940 respectively. Both feature caricatures of Ginger.

Both of these cartoons use a clip from the very end of "The Gay Divorcee". I love the attention to detail-the fact that Ginger never touches the second chair, just like in the movie.
Have a great day!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ginger's 98th

Tomorrow marks the 98th birthday of none other than Miss Ginger Rogers. I have made some special celebration plans:
I'm going to watch at least 2 pictures of hers that I have never before seen. I bought Black Widow about a month ago, but I've never gotten around to watching it. My mom is also very interested in seeing that one, so I'll probably watch that one in the evening. I'll likely watch Vivacious Lady on Youtube earlier in the day.
I have also not yet seen The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to watch that one yet. They were discussing it on Reelcast a couple of months ago, that a lot of the fans saved one for a long time before watching it, because they were sad about it being the last one. I think that's definitely the case for me. After I watch Vernon and Irene, there will be nothing else of Fred and Ginger for me to see. kind of depressing. Anyway, who knows how I'll feel about it tomorrow.
I'll be wearing something pink tomorrow.
I'm going to mix up the Ginger Rogers cocktail. Yes, Ginger never drank, and I'm sure she would be less than thrilled to know that there is a cocktail named after her, but this sounds too delicious to pass up, and I need to use up the Ginger syrup that I made the other day. I suppose I could serve Ginger snaps or Gingerbread men as well, if I'm feeling crazy.
Now for some pre-birthday pic spam. Don't worry, there will be PLENTY more tomorrow :D
(I know these are messing with the layout,sorry. This layout just isn't working for me. I'll tryto find another one this afternoon)
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Friday, July 10, 2009

Layout Help

I can't seem to find the right layout. The current one Is too narrow, and I don't know how to customize it. I don't hink a thing about HTML, so I'm just copying and pasting whatever I find. Do you know of any good websites that offer free or relatively cheap and customizable layouts?
I really love the design at She Blogged By Night and TCM's Movie Morlocks, with a seamless header that flows in to the sidebar. If anyone can give me some tips, I would really appreciate it!

Away We Go (2009) 5/5

I know classic cinema is my usual thing, but I loved this movie so much that I need to tell you about it.
"Away We Go" is about Bert and Verona. Along with their pregnancy, they also discover that Bert's parents are moving to Belgium one month before Verona's due date. They no longer need to live in this town (never mentioned) where they stayed to be close to his family, so they start looking around. From Phoenix to Montreal, until they find home in a heart wrenching scene.
This was one of the most visually stunning movies I have ever seen. The lighting and colors in this picture were superb, especially in an early scene when Bert is lighting candles, and Verona's face is subtly filled with light. It was perfectly timed and operated. Kudos to lighting.
This film was also very well-acted. I'm sure it's impossible to make John Krasinski unlikable in a movie, but still, he was great. I almost love him more as Bert than I do as Jim. Maya Rudolph was also great. Wonderfully tender and sincere. Supporting players included cameos by Catherine O'Hara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
If I could sum up "Away We Go" in fewer words than above, I would say that "Away We Go" did for me today what "Juno" did for me last year. It's a great moment of tenderness, with a good heaping of humor.
See this movie!!!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Wonderful Giveaway!

Kate-Gabrielle at Silents and Talkies is giving away some fabulous stuff! Head on over to her blog to win one of three fabulous gift sets. I've got my eye on those prints in prize #2!

She sells awesome prints of everyone from Louise Brooks to Barbara Stanwyck.

I've talked enough. Now git!

Mash Game: Predict Your Future at eSPIN-the-Bottle

Behold... My Future
  I will marry Cary Grant.  
  After a wild honeymoon, We will settle down in Hollywood in our fabulous Mansion.  
  We will have 1 kid(s) together.  
  Our family will zoom around in a White 1936 Ford.
  I will spend my days as a actress, and live happily ever after.  
whats your future