Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reel Life | My Week With Marilyn (2011)

It was a few months ago, somewhere on the web, that I learned about the new almost bio-pic about Marilyn Monroe titled My Week With Marilyn. Immediately I knew I had to see this. As everyone knows this isn't the first time Marilyn has been the subject of a film, but this time the part was going to Michelle Williams, an actress that most wouldn't have pictured in the role. In the films I have seen Williams in, she fully embodied the character she was portraying in the film. This had me very interested to see her take on the famous star. Would it be another floozy sexified portrayal or would it be the first real role based on the actual woman behind the image.

The film was released on November 23rd, so I kept checking my local theaters to see when I could see the film. To my disappointment, it seemed as though it wasn't going to be released in New Orleans, or anywhere near here to be exact. But I didn't give up and kept checking the movie listing any how. Good thing I did because it came to a theater in the city just a few days after its release.

It was playing at the Theaters of Canal Place, which is a really high-end mall. I had heard many times how nice the theater was. This theater catered to the people with money. With  plush arm chairs and waiters to bring you anything you wanted to order, it seemed like it would be a really classy experience. I was NOT let down by the experience, I just shutter at the tole it has taken on my bank account. Matinee ticket... $10. Popcorn and soda... $11 (plus 17% gratuity automatically added). Parking... $15. Yes, to see My Week With Marilyn I spent $36. While I really enjoyed the film, I cant even remember the last time I went out to dinner with someone and the total bill was that much. I guess you learn... find cheaper parking and bring your own drinks/snacks.

The theater was gorgeous though. When you go to purchase a ticket, you must use the touch screen register that lets you pick your seat in advance. You then take your ticket to an usher who brings you to your very large spacious seat. There isn't a ton of seating in the auditorium... maybe 30-40 seats. You are then handed a really fancy menu with silverware (yes you can get actual food) and your order is taken. The screen was smaller than what I am normally used to, but it was so crisp and sharp. The movie looked beautiful... almost seemed like HD like a Blu-Ray.

Now that I have bored you with the details of this movie experience, you are probably asking yourself... where is the review? Well this post was just about the experience of seeing this film. I will write a review when I have more time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Old Hollywood Headlines #2

And here we are with out second addition of Old Hollywood Headlines. This hasn't exactly worked out as a weekly write up, so I wont continue to promise that it will be, but I hope you enjoy!

Blame Mame

001. I do want to apologize for the lack of updates, but a few things have happened in my personal life and I have been without a computer. I will try to stop by here as much as possible, but it is hard to update from an iPhone. 

002. And as usual, don't forget to 'Like' Blame Mame over on Facebook!

► Blogospshere
001. Over on Facebook, Comet Over Hollywood shared a rare screen test Judy Garland did for the 1967 film Valley Of The Dolls. The role later went to Susan Hayward, and from what Jessica  said... it was for the best. Nonetheless, it is fun to see Judy in these very candid shots. Check it out here.
002. Angela over at The Hollywood Revue continues to highlighting 30 Pre-Code films in 30 days. She even mentioned one of my favorites, the Norma Shearer film The Divorcee and even got me wanting to see in the 1930 Joan Crawford film Paid!

003. There is still time to get your posts ready for Bette's Classic Movie Blog's Classic Moustaches For Movember Blogathon! I've already completed my entry about the great Clark Gable and his fine piece of facial hair.

004. Speaking of Blogathons, over at The Scarlett Olive, you can check out all of the contributions to the For The Boys Blogathon. It's interesting to see so much testosterone on the usually very feminine classic film blog... which is the point of this blogathon. Make sure to check out my post about 3 of Hitchcock's films... what else would a boy need?

005. On the Movies Unlimited site MovieFanFare, there is an article about which films should be shown to young people to keep their interest. I replied on their Facebook with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the ladies and North By Northwest for the guys. Do you guys have any suggestions? Which films would you show people my age (early twenties) to get them interested in those 'boring old movies'?

► Reel Life

001. As I am sure most of you know, the new motion picture My Week With Marilyn starring Michelle Williams as the most famous of all of the blonde bombshells came out on November 23rd. From what has been said about the film, Williams gives quite a performance and gives life to the often misunderstood star. It just started playing here in New Orleans on Friday, so I definitely will have to check it out ASAP. [PS. You may have noticed I changed the picture on this layout to honor this new film and the star it is based on]

If you want to see the film for yourself, check out!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Film | Hitch Triple-Feature (For The Boys)

I had a different idea in mind when I decided to put into The Scarlett Olive's For The Boys Blogathon, but with recent events that happened in my life, I was unable to do what I wanted. This was a post I had already written, but I think it fits well with the theme. These masterpiece films by Hitchcock are full of suspense and beautiful women... sounds like these films are 'for the boys.' So here it goes...

I've recently learned how much I adore Alfred Hitchcock. After seeing my first Hitchcock film, Vertigo, a month or so ago, I have been hooked. Every one of the films I have seen so far have become instant favorites of mine. I find myself thinking about how clever these films are and how beautiful they are to watch. Below you will find reviews of three of his films... we'll go ahead and call it a Hitch Triple-Feature!


"Is this the man she was waiting for...
or the man who was waiting for her?"

Ray Milland as Tony Wendice
Grace Kelly as Margot Mary Wendice
Robert Cummings as Mark Halliday
John Williams as Chief Inspector Hubbard

Director Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece of double-cross and intrigue stars Ray Milland as former tennis champ Tony Wendice, who concocts a plan to kill his rich but unfaithful wife (Grace Kelly), who's embroiled in a liaison with a writer (Robert Cummings). When Tony's plans go awry, he improvises a second act of deceit, but the entire bloody affair turns out to be far messier than he expected. John Williams plays a sly Scotland Yard inspector. [Netflix]


I went into this film not knowing what to expect. It isn't often referred to as one of Hitchcock's masterpieces, so I didn't expect anything on par with Rear Window or Vertigo. I am always glad to be proven incorrect, and I definitely was with this film. While it wasn't an in your face thriller, you knew what's going on through the whole picture, but you are still on edge because all you want is for Tony to be figured out. I wasn't sure how it was it would happen, and then came the Hitchcock genius. He always surprises me with how he brings story full circle.

I learned while reading about this film that Hitchcock came up with the idea to have Grace Kelly's wardrobe go from bright colored to dark to mimic her characters downfall. He does a great job doing so. In the beginning when she is happy and in love she is seen in a bright red gown, and at the end when she learns of her husband's betrayl, she is seen in a dark brown outfit. 


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"It's love and murder at first sight!"

Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill
Eva Marie Saint as Eve Kendall
James Mason as Phillip Vandamm
Leo G. Carroll as The Professor

What if everyone around you was suddenly convinced that you were a spy? This classic from master director Alfred Hitchcock stars Cary Grant as an advertising executive who looks a little too much like someone else and is forced to go on the lam (helped along by Eva Marie Saint). Hitchcock's sure-handed comic drama pits Grant against a crop duster and lands him in a fight for his life on Mount Rushmore -- a true cliffhanger if ever there was one. [Netflix]

I knew starting out I was going to love this film. I mean it stars Cary Grant, is directed by my good friend Hitch, and promises to take you on a thrilling ride... how could you not get excited? Honestly, I knew nothing of this film when I sat down to watch it. All I knew was that it is on many must see list and the DVD cover art was pretty amazing. After seeing the picture, it is hard to put into words how much I loved this film.

One thing I found interesting is in this film and in The Birds is that the leading ladies seem to be made to look like Grace Kelly.  The style of clothing, the short blonde hair, even their acting all reminded me of Kelly. This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy Eve Marie Saints performance, because she was great, I just found it hard to not draw comparisons. Eve was great an acting with her eyes when her character needed to convey her feelings but couldn't blow her cover.

I loved the scene in the auction house where Cary Grant makes a spectacle in order to avoid being killed by the hit man. The reactions the auctioneer had to the outrageous behavior of Grant's character  were priceless. It was a clever way to deal with a sticky situation like that.

The end sequence was one of the most suspenseful scenes I've ever seen. It was the first time I got a modern feel from a classic film. The grandeur of the shots in that scene as well as the earlier scenes reminded me of today's big blockbuster films. Had me on edge to the last cliff-hanging second.


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THE BIRDS (1963)

"Nothing You Have Ever Witnessed 
 Before Has Prepared You for 
SuchSheer Stabbing Shock!"

Tippi Hedren - Melanie Daniels
Rod Taylor - Mitch Brenner
Jessica Tandy - Lydia Brenner
Veronica Cartwright - Cathy Brenner

Chic socialite Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) enjoys a passing flirtation with an eligible attorney (Rod Taylor) in a San Francisco pet shop and, on an impulse, follows him to his hometown bearing a gift of lovebirds. But upon her arrival, the bird population runs amok. Suddenly, the townsfolk face a massive avian onslaught, with the feathered fiends inexplicably attacking people all over Bodega Bay. [Netflix]

Usually when I decide to see a film it's because I was drawn to it by a certain actor, but with this film that wasn't the case. I wasn't familiar with any of the cast (at first), and I  wasn't sure of how the story would play out, but all I needed was to know that Hitchcock was the director.

I was glad to see that Edith Head was apart of this films crew, so I was expecting some beautiful costume design. I was a little let down that Tippi's character only had two different outfits, but I was amazed at how perfect each of them was. Even though Edith only had two outfits starring in the film, she made those two count. The seemed to be ripped from the perfect wardrobes of Grace Kelly in Rear Window.

Watching the film I was in awe of the gorgeous scenery, only to find out in the special features, most of it was painted matte boards. The way Hitch was able to seamlessly combine live action with the gorgeous Painting was amazing.

The film had none stop action. You never knew when the next attack would take place and to what lengths the birds would go to get their prey. The most exciting scene was outside the school house. The character of Melanie is sitting in front of a jungle Jim and as the camera goes back and forth between her face and the jungle gym more and more birds gather. Than they get a tight close up of Tippi and hold it there until you can't stand it anymore. All you want to do is yell for her to turn around and then the camera pans back to a wide shot! The entire play area is covered in birds! All I could do was gasp! One of the best shot scenes ever!

This is the first classic era film I've seen that actually had a degree of gore. When they showed the farmers body mutilated by the birds, it was a horrific sight. The blacken eyes and bloody mess makes your skin crawl. It was at that point I became worried about the characters.

This was a great film and the ending leaves you wanting more. I heard that Hitchcock had an alternate final shot planned. He was going to have the car arrive in San Francisco only to find the Golden Gate Bridge covered in birds! That would have been awesome to see.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blogathon | Clark Gable For Movember

"During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men." -

Bette over at Bette's Classic Movie Blog is throwing a Blogathon (Classic Moustaches For Movember) in honor of the nationwide cause to raise awareness for men's health. I had never heard of this, but apparently every year the 'Mo Bros' with their 'Mo Sistas' by their side start clean shaven and then groom, trim and wax their new growing moustaches into works of art. They then seek out sponsorship to raise funds for the cause. I thought this was a fun idea, so here is my contribution to the cause...

One of my favorite actors after Cary Grant is the great Clark Gable. During his film career he played opposite some of Hollywood's most famous leading ladies and made all of their hearts melt with his neatly groomed moustache. Women wanted to be with him and men wanted to be like him. While Clark's moustache didn't appear until a few years into his career in the 1932 film Strange Interlude, it wouldn't take long for it to become one of the most famous pieces of facial hair to ever grace the silver screen. In 1939, as Clark Gable played lead opposite Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind, his moustache was setting trends across the country. Below you will find pictures of Clark along side his lovely leading ladies that span his lengthy career. What a stache!

Before the images come, make sure to head on over to the Movember (US) Donation Page and learn more about this great cause.

With Joan Crawford | 1933 | Dancing Lady

With Myrna Loy | 1934 | Manhattan Melodrama

With Claudette Colbert | 1934 | It Happened One Night

With Jean Harlow | 1937 | Saratoga

Monday, November 14, 2011

Film | Mr and Mrs Smith (1941)

It has been a few months since I made my post about 'Stars To Watch', but I finally got around to seeing one of the films I talked about on that list. Carole Lombard was one of the stars I talked about and after the Carole-tennial(+3) Blogathon, I figured why not start with one of her films. When I found out this was directed by Hitchcock, it was put at the top of my Netflix Queue.


"Lombard and Montgomery Get Hitched
As They're Getting Unhitched !"

Carole Lombard as Ann Krausheimer Smith
Robert Montgomery as David Smith
Gene Raymond as Jefferson Custer
Jack Carson as Chuck Benson

No less than Alfred Hitchcock takes a turn at the helm of this decidedly romantic comedy starring Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard as the titular couple, David and Ann Smith. After three years of highs and lows in a mercurial nuptial, the two discover they aren't truly married after all. David hesitates sealing the deal for real, which drives Ann to the arms of the straight-laced Jeff (Gene Raymond). Is a happily-ever-after not meant to be? [Netflix]

The dinner scene when David goes out with his male friend and the two 'beautiful' ladies made me laugh out loud. David was already a little uncomfortable sitting with these two ladies that weren't up to his standards, and then in walks Ann. When he sees that Ann is there with his long-time friend Jefferson, he feels the need to make her jealous rather than have her laugh with the company he is keeping. So he cleverly uses the more attractive lady to his other side to make Ann believe he is with her. He mimes words into her ear and it works until the lady's gentlemen friend sees what is going on. Poor David never had a chance.

This was Alfred Hitchcock's first and only screwball comedy. It has been said he only did it as a favor to friend Carole Lombard, but papers from RKO show that is was actually Hitchcock that pursued the project. Lombard took over directing for part of the film. When it was time for Hitch to make his cameo appearance, Carole made him do the act numerous times until she thought it was perfect.

It turns out Carole was quite the jokester. Playing on the quote Hitchcock made about "all actors being cattle", he walked on set one day to find a corral with livestock inside. There were three heifers with nameplates that read Lombard, Montgomery and Raymond.

This was my first time seeing one of Carole Lombard's films, and I must say, it makes me anxious to see more. She was very likeable and seemed very real. She was funny without trying and demanded your attention in all of her scenes. I had read prior that this was the second to last film she made before her death, so watching the film had a bitter-sweet feeling to it.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Film | Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

This is another DVD I picked up a few years and have just gotten around to watching. I knew it was full of wonderful music and was going to be beautiful with his colorful wardrobes and sets, but I didn't expect to love it so much. I say that about almost every film, so don't mind me.


"A cast of favorites in the Charming . . .
Romantic . . . Tuneful Love Story
of the Early 1900s !"

Judy Garland as Esther Smith
Margaret O'Brien as "Tootie" Smith
Mary Astor as Mrs. Anna Smith
Lucille Bremer as Rose Smith
Tom Drake as John Truitt
Marjorie Main as Katie the maid
Leon Ames as Mr. Alonzo Smith

Judy Garland stars as Esther Smith, who just can't ignore the boy next door (Tom Drake), in director Vincente Minnelli's musical masterpiece about the trials and tribulations of a tight-knit family living in St. Louis on the eve of the 1904 World's Fair. Memorable characters and charming songs, which include "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "The Trolley Song," make this one of the greatest American musicals ever lensed. [Netflix]

This entire film was delightful to watch, but my favorite scene came toward the end of the film. When Tootie gets upset about leaving St. Louis, she storms outside to destroy her snowmen. Big sis Esther comes to her aid and we are treated to one of the most memorable performances ever. When Judy sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", you are captivated. From the beautiful framing of Garland to her beautiful vibrato, you cant help but to tear up.

This film has been credited with kicking off the Golden Age of the MGM musical. It is considered of of the studio's signature films because of it's style and look. The success of this film started a wave of what are considered today as top rate musicals. Vincente Minnelli and Arthur Freed would follow Meet Me In St. Louis with such films as The Bandwagon (1953), Brigadoon (1954) and An American In Paris (1951).

At first Judy Garland was reluctant to play another teenage girl role, but I am sure her mind changed once she fell in love with director Vincente Minnelli. You can see the love that Minnelli had for Judy through the way he framed her in every one of her scenes. Never has a film captured her beauty more than this one.

I am not sure what else needs to be said about this film. The beautiful colors, sets, costumes and of course the music make this a wonderful film. If you are a fan of Judy Garland, musicals, or just a fan of great cinema... make sure this is on your list of films to see.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Grace Kelly

Up until a few weeks ago I didn't know much of Grace Kelly. To be honest, I had no interest in her at all. She seemed cold and boring... boy was I wrong. As soon as she came on the screen in Rear Window, she demanded my attention. I have now had a chance to see her in To Catch A Thief and Dial "M" For Murder, and have definitely become a fan. So with kudos for winning me over... Blame Mame wishes Grace Kelly a Happy Birthday! It would have been her 82nd!

Check out all of my other post about Grace here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Old Hollywood Headlines

I've seen similar post like this on other blogs and decided to do my own version of it. Weekly (hopefully), I will do a post titled "Old Hollywood Headlines". In these posts you find news about Old Hollywood, post I enjoyed reading on other blogs, and news about Blame Mame. So here it goes...


Blame Mame

001. As you can see, Blame Mame has a new look. I was tiring of the old layout and this is what I came up with. Featured in the picture to the left is my top favorite and top diva Bette Davis. I've always liked this picture of Bette, and this gave me a chance to use it.

002. In case you didn't get the hint from the banners within posts or the links to the left, Blame Mame is now on Facebook. So if you would like updates from Blame Mame to show up on yours Newsfeed... please head on over and 'Like' the Blame Mame Facebook page.

003. I have been watching quite a few films lately... especially the films of Alfred Hitchcock. I have 5 films that I need to still write reviews for, so keep an eye out for those. Films such as Mr and Mrs Smith (1941), Dial M For Murder (1954) and The Birds (1963) will be featured.


001. Dawn over at Noir and Chick Flicks enjoyed my review of 1962's The Notorious Landlady so much, she highlighted it on her The Week On N and CF post. Thanks!

002. Over on Facebook The Felix In Hollywood Tour Company has been highlighting Elisa Jordan's articles chronicling the time Marilyn Monroe was at Columbia Studios in the 1940's. Click here to read the first part and from there you can find the other parts of the series.

Reel Life

001. I've recently purchased a few films I am excited to finally get to see: Christmas In Connecticut (1945), The Red Shoes (1948), The Lady Eve (1941) and Suspicion (1941). Got them all for great prices at Barnes And Nobles. The Red Shoes and The Lady Eve I actually got for 50% because of The Criterion Collection sale they are holding now. In fact... I got The Red Shoes with a 25% coupon stacked on top of the sale price for a grand total of $13.50!

002. When I get paid next week... The Jean Harlow: 100th Anniversary Collection will be mine!

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Don't forget to keep reading below because I just posted a review on the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire!

Film | A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

I have actually owned this DVD for a few years now, but never got around to watching it. I had sat down to watch the special features awhile back, which got me interested in seeing the film. Now that I have seen it, I wonder why it took me so long. It was such a great film, but it was not at all what I expected. I'm not sure what I expected from it, but it was much more grim and real than I had imagined.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

"...When she got there she met the brute Stan, and the side of New Orleans she hardly knew existed."

Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois
Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski
Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski
Karl Malden as Harold "Mitch" Mitchell

After losing the family plantation to creditors, aging Southern belle Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) travels to New Orleans seeking solace in her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter). Instead, she goes toe-to-toe with Stella's brute of a husband, Stanley (Marlon Brando). [Netflix]

The whole film was captivating, but I was really taken back by the scene that follows Stanley hitting Stella out of rage. While she and sister Blanche take refuge at the upstairs neighbors home, Stanley realizes the mistake he has made. His expression goes from big brute to a crying baby. I had no idea what a great actor Marlon Brandon was. This was my first film of his. The best part of the film was when Stanley is yelling Stella's name from the bottom of the stairs with tears in his eyes and his shirt torn. The expression on Stella's face as she hears his voice screaming her name pretty much wraps this entire film up. The blank look of desire for this man she lusts for shows how much they are truly in love. As she walks down the stairs almost teasing Stanley with what he could lose was some of the best cinematography I've ever seen. I would go so far as to call this scene perfect. His expression of wanting her back, her vamp-like walking down the stairs, the sexy jazz tune playing in the background... you feel the sexual tension between them. Then they embrace at the bottom of the stairs as she digs her nails into his bare back and you understand how they feel about each other.

I later learned that this scene in the original theatrical cut of the film was drastically different. The Production Code had the close up of Stella's face showing her 'desire' for Stanley cut, as well as the close-ups of her walking down the stairs. They even changed the music from sexy horn based jazz tune to a string arrangement. I am glad I was able to see the scene the way it was originally intended. I often feel grateful for the invention of DVD and digital imaging, they are able to restore films like this to their original state.

Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis and Richard Garrick repeated their roles from the original Broadway play for this film. Jessica Tandy, who originated Blanche on Broadway, was in line to reprise her role, but the studio felt she didn't' have enough star power to carry the film. At the time Marlon Brando hadn't reached his full star potential, so they felt it necessary to cast a well-known leading lady in the role of Blanche. Greats such as Bette Davis and Olivia De Havilland were considered for the role. As we all know the part went to Vivien Leigh, who played the role in the London production of the play. Leigh had the star power from such films as Gone With The Wind to get people into the theaters. I personally couldn't imagine the role played by anyone else. I thought Vivien was Blanche DuBois. Turns out the film almost went on without Marlon Brando as well, as the role was originally offered to John Garfield who turned it down because he felt his character would be overshadowed by the actress playing Blanche. 

Being that I live in New Orleans and have become quite familiar with the French Quarter, I thought the film was all shot on location here in the city. I was surprised to learn only the opening scenes where Blanche arrives in New Orleans were shot on location. The rest of the film was shot on a sound stage with a replica of the French Quarter. The set designers really captured the essence of the historic part of the city. Even the streetcar that was named Desire had to be made for this film. The streetcar used is actually still in service today in New Orleans, but goes by the name Perley Thomas #922 now.

Another thing I found interesting was that when the sets were designed, Kazan made the walls moveable. With this he was able to make the apartment walls move in closer and closer to Blanche. This was to help mirror Blanche's oncoming psychotic break.

It was fun for me to hear the characters use many references to real establishments here in New Orleans. In the film Blanche asks where she can find Elysian Fields (which is a real street here in New Orleans) and the two ladies dine at Galatoires (a real restaurant in the French Quarter still around in New Orleans).


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Film | The Notorious Landlady (1962)

Every time I watch a movie like the one I did tonight, 1962's The Notorious Landlady, and I enjoy it so much... I always ask myself, "What if I never discovered this picture?" I say that because I loved this picture so much! From start to finish, it had me hooked. How could you go wrong with a comedy/mystery starring Jack Lemmon, Fred Astaire, and Kim Novak?


"Did she...or did she?"

Kim Novak as Carlyle 'Carly' Hardwicke
Jack Lemmon as William 'Bill' Gridley
Fred Astaire as Franklyn Ambruster
Lionel Jeffries as Inspector Oliphant

After moving to London, American diplomat William (Jack Lemmon) begins an exhilarating romance with his sexy landlady, Carlye (Kim Novak). When he learns the police suspects Carlye of killing her husband, William finds himself caught in the middle of a murder investigation. [Netflix]

This film, directed by Richard Quine, pays homage to works of Hitchcock, while mixing in witty comedy that was delivered wonderfully by the whole cast (which by the way includes Fred Astaire). The story is based on a short story titled "The Notorious Tenant" by Margary Sharp that originally appeared in the February 3rd, 1956 issue Collier's magazine. The script was co-written by Blake Edwards and Larry Gelbart ("A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and TV's "M*A*S*H").

This was Novak's third pairing with Jack Lemmon. The two had previously starred in Pffft (1954) and Bell Book and Candle (1958) together. While I would have understood because the film is based in England, I was very happy Kim's English accent was only temporary. If she would have spoke that way the entire movie, it would have been most distracting. When the titles rolled before that start of the film, I was surprised to see that all Kim Novak's gowns were designed by her. Her wardrobe in this film was simple, yet elegant. I must say that Kim did a wonderful job putting together her costumes. I must say, while it was a great performance, it seems Kim Novak had only one way of acting. All of her films I have seen so far, she seems to have the same style of acting. I will hold that judgement until I can catch a few more of her flicks.

It was quite different for me to see Fred Astaire starring in a film that was not a musical. This was a first for me, and I thought he did a wonderful job. Although, there are a couple of scenes where they show Astaire walking down a hallway that reminded me of his musical number "Bonjour Paris" from the 1957's Funny Face. He walked with such rhythm and elegance, I was expecting an impromptu dance routine. Fred actually did record a song written by Sammy Fain and Mack David for the film, but it wasn't included in the final version of the film. That sure would have been an added treat. You would never know that Astaire was in his early 60's when this film was made, he was just as charming and fun to watch as when he was younger.

As for Jack Lemmon, he was his typical funny self. I've only seen a few of Lemmon's films, but I consider him one of those actors that can do no wrong. Every film I have seen with him has been great (especially 1959's Some Like It Hot). His way of delivering a comedic performance is so simple, yet can make you bust out laughing. His body language and facial expressions are the best. In this film I couldn't stop laughing at the climatic yet hilarious ending where his character must chase a wheelchair down a hill before it goes over the cliff. He was definitely one of the best when it came to physical comedy.

This picture is now going to be added to my lengthy list of favorite films. It is for sure going to be on the list of movies to see again.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review | On Cukor by Trachtenberg

Yesterday my wife and I decided to take a little trip 'out of town' to visit the closest Cracker Barrel restaurant. We have to drive about 40 minutes North of New Orleans, but it is always worth it. While we were out there, we decided to stop by Books-A-Million to see what they had going on. We don't have one of those in the area either. While I was unimpressed with the set-up of the store, I was happy to stumble upon a book I hadn't seen before in the bargain area. It is a book titled 'On Cukor'. I was immediately intrigued, but the damn book was wrapped in plastic. So needing to see the inside of the book, I tore off the plastic. 

George Cukor on the set of Sylvia Scarlett with Katharine Hepburn

The book was marked at only $9.97, so I would have bought the book regardless, I was quite excited to see it's contents. The book has a complete filmography for the 'women's director', with excerpts about the filming of each film. Also throughout the book are rare pictures from Cukor's own personal collection. My favorite images I have seen so far are the one of Cukor on set with his stars. Another interesting part of the book are the 'Interludes' where the text was taken from a taped one-on-one interview that took place with Cukor in the early 1970's. He discusses his thoughts on the films, friends, and the stars of the films he directed. You get to see his take on people such as Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Greta Garbo, and Lana Turner. 

George Cukor on the set of Dinner At Eight with Jean Harlow

Cukor has directed many of my favorite films [i.e. The Women & A Star Is Born], so I am sure this book will be a fun read. If I actually read this book, it will be a rare event. I usually skim through books, looking at the pretty pictures, and read parts that stand out, but think this time I will actually read the whole book. It is about my favorite films, one of my favorite directors, and talks about some of my favorite stars... why not read it?

George Cukor on the set of The Women with the entire cast!

As with most things I write about, I always do a little research on the subject. I was excited to see there is actually a DVD that goes along with this film, with the same name. It is priced under $10, so I may pick that up next week when I order my Jean Harlow: 100th Anniversary Collection. If anyone has a local Books-A-Million... you should look out for this greatly priced book.