Wednesday, 21 December 2011

My Favourite Classic Holiday Movies

It's that time of year for watching holiday movies, and everyone knows the best holiday movies are from the classic days of Hollywood. Here's my personal fave list; feel free to chime in with your favourites!

1) White Christmas: It doesn't get better than this: Bing's crooning, Rosemary's sultry tones, Danny's one-liners, and Vera's perfect gracefulness in this ageless classic. Gaining new fans every year and enjoyed by pretty much anyone who sees it, White Christmas is a "must-watch" for me each year. 

2) In the Good Old Summertime: An odd title for winter, isn't it? But much of the key plot happenings occur at Christmastime in this film. Judy Garland and Van Johnson are witty, attractive, and charming together in this 1949 MGM musical. A remake of the 1940 classic The Shop Around the Corner, Garland and Johnson fight for much of the film thinking they hate each other, when in reality they are each others' romantic pen pals. A film that is wonderful year-round, but for me, a favourite for the month of December.

3) Meet Me in St. Louis: Perhaps the ultimate family film, Judy Garland shines in this 1944 MGM musical classic. Again, not all of the action occurs in the winter, but certainly key scenes do. Movie audiences of the day would have heard the classic holiday song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for the first time in the film, and Garland's moving and effortless rendition has never been matched. Plus, which hopeless romantic doesn't love the scene where Garland's dancing Esther Smith is led by her grandfather behind a huge Christmas tree, only to emerge with her "boy next door" lover John Truitt (Tom Drake)? Every Garland fan loves this movie at Christmas.

4) Holiday Affair: An under-seen and little-known gem, with a young Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum as stars. Leigh is a single mother raising her son (her husband has died in WW2), and meets and falls in love with carefree and offbeat Mitchum, while involved with a dependable but uninteresting lawyer. Leigh and Mitchum make a wonderful and natural couple with considerable chemistry, and Gordon Gebert steals the show as Leigh's daughter Timmy. Clocking in at only 87 minutes, if you want a fast way to get into the Christmas spirit, this movie will certainly do the trick!

5) The Apartment: While rarely mentioned among holiday films, much of The Apartment takes place between Christmas and New Year's Eve. One of the finest films ever made by legendary director Billy Wilder, Jack Lemmon was never better than he was as C.C Baxter, an insurance man in love with the elevator operator, Fran Kubelik (played by the adorable Shirley MacLaine). A seamless blend of comedy and drama, Lemmon and MacLaine make movie magic together, and Fred MacMurray is excellent as the slimy executive Jeff Sheldrake. The final scene is one of the most beautiful and touching moments in movie history, and will get you feeling all warm and fuzzy and ready for the holiday season.

Other faves worth mentioning: If I didn't mention It's a Wonderful Life here, I would be neglecting perhaps the greatest Christmas movie of all time, and what a wonderful movie it is. Everyone needs to see this one at least once in their life, and if you don't cry, there is something wrong! The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young is also always worth a look, if only for Grant fans to see him play an angel!

Happy viewing, and please let me know your favourites to see at this time of year!!

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Artist tops Golden Globe nominations

I finally saw The Artist yesterday. An absolutely beautiful film, and such a love note to Old Hollywood. Jean Dujardin is a revelation in his role, as is his leading lady Bérénice Bejo.

Check out the video that discusses the Golden Globe nominations and well-deserved Oscar buzz for the film, director, and actors!!

Monday, 12 December 2011

White Christmas!

I had the pleasure of seeing the holiday classic White Christmas on the big screen yesterday, thanks to the ongoing Cineplex Classic Film Series.

One thing that struck me seeing this film on the big screen for the first time was how beautiful the costume design was. Edith Head was certainly at the top of her game designing the beautiful gowns and suits for the film. From Vera-Ellen's beautiful pink gown and Danny Kaye's classic grey suit for the "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing number to Rosemary Clooney's stunning black mermaid gown for her torch song, "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me," each outfit is a jaw-dropper on the big screen.

Seeing Vera-Ellen's brilliant "Abraham" tap number was also a real treat... she's at the top of her dancing form here, and, sadly, one of her final dance appearances on the big screen.

 

One number that struck me as particularly beautiful seeing the movie this time around was Clooney's "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me." It's one of Irving Berlin's most poignant lyric-writing endeavours, and Clooney, one of the great jazz/popular singers of her time, pulls the number off like nobody else could with her rich and unique alto voice. Take a look here if you haven't seen the movie before. 

The Cineplex Classic Film Series is in its second year of presenting classic films for audiences to see for only $5! How can you go wrong? Up next: The Bridge on the River Kwai, followed by the one of the most beautiful films ever made, To Kill a Mockingbird. Check out the link to find the closest Cineplex theatre near you and to look at the schedule of films that are playing up to this August!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Debbie Reynolds Auction tomorrow!

I hope you'll join in on the twitter conversation tomorrow and/or be watching the live bidding tomorrow! It's gonna be lots of fun!! I'm @judygenefan on twitter! What item are you most excited about?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Hear my new Christmas song recording!

Hi everyone! As some of you may know, when I'm not blogging about Old Hollywood, I am a singer! Mostly jazz music. My dear friend John McLelland wrote a beautiful Christmas jazz tune, and I was lucky enough to be the first to record it!

Go to my website: www.marycatherinemp.com to hear the new song! I really hope you enjoy it. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Debbie Reynolds Auction Take 2!


Showbiz icon Debbie Reynolds is at it again, with her second auction of her astounding movie memorabilia collection of costumes, props, posters, pictures, and cameras of Hollywood's Golden Age. The auction is scheduled to take place on December 3rd.

Reynolds's original goal was to open a museum to house the Old Hollywood treasures. Even though she is a movie star herself, she is also a movie buff, and rescued a lot of her collection when MGM was going to simply throw away legendary items worn by stars like Clark Gable, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, and so on. She kept these iconic items safe for 40 years on her own, while trying to find a permanent place to display her collection. However, that plan never came to fruition, since she couldn't find a space or supporters of her project. Hence her first auction this past summer, which was a HUGE success, and should make anyone who rejected her idea of a museum ashamed and embarrassed. Clearly, powers-that-be had no idea of how valuable and well-loved costumes worn by the likes of Marilyn Monroe (some of her costumes were auctioned off for over a million dollars) and Judy Garland are to the public. While it is tragic that these jewels of Hollywood are no longer being stored together in one collection, it's a comfort to know that real fans and the general public appreciate how much these items need to be remembered and lovingly cared for.

Anyway, I'm sure you're all wondering which beloved items are being auctioned off this time around! Well, my friends, for a complete list, go to the Profiles in History website, but here are a few of my personal favourites that will soon be in the hands of the "people."


1) Judy Garland's "Manuela" dress from The Pirate


Perhaps the fact that this is one of Judy's most underrated and under-appreciated films is the reason that this beautiful gown is expected to go for only $4000 at auction. However, I am 99% sure that a devoted Judy fan will snatch this up, and pay far more than $4000. The dress is still in amazing shape!

2) Vera-Ellen's costumes from Three Little Words and Words and Music


I've always thought that Vera-Ellen was at her most beautiful (and most beautifully costumed) in Three Little Words with leading man Fred Astaire. I truly hope a devoted Vera-Ellen fan will get their hands on her "Mr. and Mrs. Hoofer at Home" outfit shown above, as well as another lovely gown from the same film. Also up for grabs: her Slaughter on 10th Avenue costume, which was her personal favourite dance routine. Gene Kelly was her wonderful partner and choreographer.
















3) Rita Hayworth's black Affair in Trinidad gown



Rita returned to the screen after a three year absence with Affair in Trinidad. An attempt at
"redoing" her classic Gilda with a film-noir feel and with Glenn Ford as her leading man again, Rita wears this stunning black gown in the number, "I've Been Kissed Before," somewhat reminiscent of her iconic "Put the Blame on Mame" number from Gilda. The dress appears to be in stunning shape, and I'm sure it will go for big bucks at auction.


4) Marilyn Monroe's Let's Make Love gown


While certainly far from being her best film, I think Marilyn was extremely beautiful in this film, and what a stunner this gown is! One of the highest ticketed prices on the auction list, this and her Bus Stop leotard are sure to be the most popular at auction this time around.

Other personal favourites: gowns worn by Jennifer Jones from Love Letters and Love is a Many Splendored Thing, two beautiful dresses worn by a young Kim Novak in The Eddy Duchin Story, Jane Powell's quilt dress from the classic musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and outfits worn by Ava Gardner, Marge and Gower Champion, and Howard Keel in another classic musical, Show Boat.

I hope be live-tweeting the auction (I'm @judygenefan on twitter) on the day of the auction, eagerly awaiting how much these treasured items go for! I hope you'll be watching too! Profiles in History will probably have a live video feed from the auction room! Let's celebrate Debbie Reynolds and her amazing memorabilia collection together this Saturday!!

Monday, 28 November 2011

87 year old Doris Day keeps fans smiling with "My Heart"

If anyone can be deemed a survivor, it's Doris Day! The beloved singer and screen actress has released a new album, "My Heart," available in the U.S. on December 2nd. Full of her favourite songs that she's recorded, and never-before-released recordings from the 1980s, the album is a must for any Doris fan. The album landed on the U.K. charts at #9 when it was released there, making her the oldest artist to do so! Go Doris! You're an inspiration to us all!

The album is dedicated to her late son Terry Melcher, who sings a track on the album as well: the beautiful "Happy Endings." You can sample it on youtube here:

Doris also serenades us with the tune "You Are So Beautiful." Recorded in 1985, the recording proves Doris never lost her voice... if anything, it got better and even more poignant with the years. Take a listen here:

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this album! Doris Day fans are rejoicing everywhere! There can never be too much Doris Day in our lives!

Thank you Doris, for the gift of your longevity, staying power, talent, and for being the classiest of class acts. Get "My Heart" on December 2nd and smile like the always-beaming Doris Day!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Great Gene Kelly Rare Book Find


Thanks to the charming and knowledgeable Mike Orlando at the Hollywood Canteen in the Mirvish Village, Toronto, I picked up this amazing and rare book on Gene Kelly, published in 1972. Included are rare pictures, an interview with Kelly, and a short biography. And Mike gave it to me for the amazing price of $15! Thanks, Mike! You guys at the Canteen are the best!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dyan Cannon's "Dear Cary" a must-read


If you're a Cary Grant fan and anything like me, you probably think that Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon's relationship, marriage, and ultimate divorce was a weird mismatch of two very different (and differently aged) individuals who never belonged together. How wrong I was. Dyan Cannon's beautifully written account of their love story reveals a couple that was truly in love. Their eventual divorce was one of tragedy, and not a result of lack of love between the two.


Cannon's stories of their early romantic days together reads like a Cary Grant movie. He took an interest in her after seeing her on TV, she started dating him and slowly fell in love with him, and they seemed to be two very individual and well-matched individuals. She fell for his charm, his distinguished personality, and his humour. He fell in love with her young vivacity, her spunk, and vibrancy. And for a while, they were wonderful together. One particular comedic and lovely story involves a sick Cannon, a dressed-up Grant on his way to Frank Sinatra's dinner party, and a spilled glass of coke... read the book to find out the "punchline."

But, eventually, Grant's insecurities about marriage (he had already been married three times) and trust issues took over, and Cannon tried to overcompensate by becoming someone she wasn't, and losing her identity in the process.

Cannon desperately wanted to marry, and Grant resisted, but finally relented. It proved to be a mistake. Grant started treating Cannon differently, keeping her at a distance, instructing her what to wear, and how to act. Cannon responded by losing her identity in a desperate attempt to keep their marriage together. In the process, she became a shell of the woman she once was, and a woman Grant no longer loved. Soon after their divorce, Cannon suffered a nervous breakdown.


One positive thing that emerged out of their marriage though: their daughter Jennifer. She is the only child born to Grant, and they both loved their daughter deeply (who now has a son named Cary Benjamin).

Cannon's story is one of romance, heartbreak, and, ultimately, forgiveness and love. Before I read her book, I would have thought her opinion of Cary Grant would not be a kind one. My assumption couldn't have been further from the truth. One only needs to read Dyan's personal letter to Cary at the close of the book to realize that their relationship really was at one time the true thing, and she has no regrets or ill feeling toward the legendary and eternally loved Cary Grant.

Amazing Grace Kelly Exhibit at TIFF



If you are in the Toronto area, you NEED to check out the amazing North America exclusive Grace Kelly Exhibition that TIFF is putting on from now to January. Tons of her original and personal items are on display, including her breathtaking Oscar gown, her Oscar, her "High Society" goddess swim coverup, the dress she wore the day she met Prince Rainier, her civil ceremony wedding dress, and a replica of her iconic and timeless wedding dress. In addition, personal letters to Grace from the likes of Bing Crosby, Alfred Hitchcock, George Seaton, and more, are on display for your perusal. If you're a fan of grace, style, and beauty, you will love this beautifully arranged exhibit of her life.

Tickets are $15 for TIFF non-members, and are well worth the admission. Go to the TIFF website for more information.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Spotlight on Vera-Ellen, the Unsung Dancing Genius

She partnered with the likes of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Donald O'Connor. She was part of such musical classics as On the Town, White Christmas, and Three Little Words. She was a capable and beautifully natural actress. And she died in seclusion and without fanfare at the age of 60. Vera-Ellen was the greatest and most versatile dancer of her generation, and she still to this day is not mentioned among the likes of Cyd Charisse, Ann Miller, or Eleanor Powell. So, this blog is for you, Vera, the most underrated dancing genius in film history. 

Anyone wanting a definitive biography on Vera-Ellen will be hard-pressed to find one. One excellent source, however, and an evident labour of love, is David Soren's "Vera-Ellen: The Magic and the Mystery." It's an in-depth, chronological account of her life, complete with rare pictures, critiques of her movies and her acting and dancing in each film, and personal details (she was one of the first celebrities to battle obsessive compulsive disorder and eating disorders) as well. Soren's book is the best source out there, and the fact that the author had to go through an independent publishing company to get the book published goes to show you how underrated and under-appreciated Vera-Ellen remains. 

As evidence that Vera-Ellen gave us some of the most beautiful dancing moments to ever grace our screens, here are some of my favourite Vera-Ellen movie moments.

Donald O'Connor once said that Vera-Ellen was the best dancer he ever danced with, and did his best routines of his career with her in Call Me Madam. Their upbeat and effortless dance to "Something to Dance About" is proof positive of all of his statements. Sheer magic.

It's almost impossible to believe that two human beings could dance like this. Vera and the magical Fred Astaire dance to "Thinking of You" from Three Little Words.Why this isn't hailed as the most romantic dance of all time is beyond me. They defy gravity, Vera floats and twirls effortlessly, and you can't help but get lost in the beautiful dream that is this dance.

Vera-Ellen was most proud of the "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" dance with Gene Kelly from Words and Music than anything else she did in her dancing career. And she should have been. This was Vera's first film at MGM, and Kelly's choreography was her first chance at showing what she was capable of as a dramatic dancer. Kelly and Vera-Ellen are one of the great dancing teams in movie history, and this is their highlight.

This is but a mere sampling of the brilliance that Vera-Ellen brought to the screen. If you haven't seen Vera-Ellen in a movie, you must watch her. She is charming, down-to-earth, and then once she starts dancing, you won't be able to help yourself: you'll fall in love with her.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Spreading the June Haver love


I've always loved the musicals of June Haver. She had such a charming and natural screen presence. I've often wondered why more people don't talk about her nowadays! She dances just as well and is just as charming as co-star Betty Grable in The Dolly Sisters, one of her better-known films. Yet, there is no biography of her life and/or work. An underrated talent to be sure. And a woman with an interesting life: she left films in 1953 to become a nun, left the convent because of an illness, and who did she fall in love with while she was recovering out of the convent? Hollywood actor Fred MacMurray! No more convent for her! The two were married until his death. True Hollywood romance.

In light of the need for a Haver appreciation, I have decided to start spreading the Haver love! Here are a few of my favourite Haver movie moments.

June's last film is one of her best: The Girl Next Door. She has a great partner in Dan Dailey, a charming song and dance man, and a very able performer. Here's "You're Doing All Right" with somewhat terrifying tenor Dennis Day.



Dailey and Haver also share a gorgeous dance duet as they dance to the title song... they don't have moments like this in film anymore. Makes Haver fans wish she had stuck around in the business! Looks like she reached her peak here.



My favourite June Haver film is Look for the Silver Lining, and is available now from the Warner Archive (click on the title to find it at amazon). Definitely worth taking a look if you can get your hands on it. Haver is charming as the legendary stage actress Marilyn Miller, and shares the screen with newcomer at the time Gordon MacRae, who sings in his beautiful baritone, and dancing legend Ray Bolger. If you pick one Haver film to watch, this would be my recommendation.To give you a taste, here is the trailer:


Here's Haver doing a great tap solo, and then is joined by dancing great Gene Nelson. From The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady.



June Haver was once a bigger star than Marilyn Monroe! Don't believe me? Take a look at this trailer for the charming 1951 comedy Love Nest, starring Haver, and featuring Monroe in one of her first roles.



Another June Haver movie, rare though it may be, is one of her best. I'll Get By with costars Gloria DeHaven, William Lundigan, and Thelma Ritter is truly worth a look if it ever pops up on TV. No DVD is available as of yet. And, of course, check out The Dolly Sisters with Betty Grable, which made Haver a star, and is easily attainable on DVD.

I hope this inspires you to delve more closely into the work of June Haver, one of the cutest, perkiest, happiest, charming, and real performers the movie musical ever knew.

Stay tuned... my next blog will be a tribute to the cruelly underrated dancer Vera-Ellen!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Judy and Mickey tribute!



The never-let-up spirit of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney's backstage musical classics hasn't diminished. Mickey just celebrated his 91st birthday! A living legend if there ever was one. So, a tribute for Mickey and Judy is certainly in store and timely.

From 1937-1948, Judy and Mickey made a staggering nine movies together. Judy as the supposed ugly duckling (how anyone ever perceived her as such is beyond me, especially when you look at the picture posted above... a knockout and one-of-a-kind beauty if there ever was one) with the golden voice that was the selling point of each show, and Mickey the young man about town with the grand, Broadway-scale ideas. The result was movie magic. And so, today, I leave you with of my favourite clips of the grand duo, thanks to the magic of youtube!

Babes on Broadway is probably my favourite backstage musical from the duo. Judy is a stunning young woman, gets more respect from Mickey than earlier films up to this point, and they share this understated and lovely duet in an apartment. Shows you they didn't need those elaborate Busby Berkeley production numbers to pull off a number! Here's "How About You?" from the beginning of the film.


My favourite early Mickey-Judy moment, here's the classic "Good Morning" from Babes in Arms:



The end of the Mickey-Judy black and white era was 1943's Girl Crazy, and what a delightful role reversal of their regular characters! Judy is the one being pursued by Mickey, and Mickey is pining after Judy's beautiful mail girl at Cody College. Their humourous first number, with Judy taking no interest in Mickey's character, is one of my fave Mickey-Judy moments.



The Judy-Mickey swan song five years later proves the magic wasn't gone. Here they are, Mickey as composer Lorenz Hart and Judy playing herself. "I Wish I Were In Love Again."

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Friday, 16 September 2011

Happy 87th Lauren Bacall

While she will forever be known as part of "Bogie and Bacall," Lauren Bacall is a class act all on her own. Still active in the biz today, she's an inspiration to us all, and a survivor.

So, as a tribute, here are my (probably surprising) faves of the birthday girl. Bogie and Bacall fans, don't shoot me!

How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

I've always thought Bacall made too few comedies. She has a great knack for it, and shares the screen with two other legends: Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable. As the strong-willed Schatze Page, she is perfect as the "leader" of the trio who is the brainchild of the goal to marry a millionaire. Bacall is at her comedic best in this Fox Cinemascope charmer. 


Written on the Wind (1956)

 The trademark Douglas Sirk melodrama has never been more evident than in Written on the Wind. Bacall is great as the Lucy, the woman married to Robert Stack's Kyle Hadley while truly in love with
heartthrob Rock Hudson's Mitch Wayne. While the whole movie is ridiculously over-the-top, that's the fun of it. And Bacall adds a touch of class to the production.

Designing Woman (1957)

Bacall at her comedy best with film great Gregory Peck and the stylish direction of Vincente Minnelli. Bogie was ill at the time, and Bacall found doing a comedy very therapeutic at such a difficult time. The role was a departure for her, and she is wonderful in it. She and Peck make a funny team.

Other faves include her supporting turn with Henry Fonda in Sex and the Single Girl, a lesser known Bogie-Bacall endeavour, Dark Passage, and her more recent turn as Barbra Streisand's mother in The Mirror Has Two Faces. Bacall effortlessly steals every scene she is in with Streisand.

So, get a slice of birthday cake, and take your pick from these Bacall flicks tonight!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Warner Archive: Singing The Praises

 One of the best sources for the classic movie fan is the Warner Archive: http://www.wbshop.com/Warner-Archive/ARCHIVE,default,sc.html

Now available in both Canada and the U.S., classic movie fans can rejoice at finally finding some of their favourite, hard-to-find, or lesser known movies on DVD. Made on demand at the time of order, some amazing titles are available.

Here are some of my favourite titles from the Warner Archive:

For Cary Grant fans, his moving and soapy escapade with the one and only Carole Lombard, "In Name Only," and the cruelly underrated comedy-drama with the great Ginger Rogers, "Once Upon a Honeymoon."





Judy Garland fans can enjoy a lot of her early MGM titles, like the 1938 "Everybody Sing," or her dual role in the charming "Little Nellie Kelly."

Gene Kelly fans can see his rarely seen but brilliant all-dance film achievement, "Invitation to the Dance."



















Other great musical titles from the archive: Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ann Miller, Red Skelton, and Marge and Gower Champion team up for a fast-moving and underrated MGM adventure in "Lovely to Look At," an all-star cast team up for the MGM WW2 musical "Thousands Cheer," and June Haver makes a charming Marilyn Miller in "Look for the Silver Lining" with a young and handsome Gordon MacRae.

Romance abounds with Dorothy McGuire in the unique and deeply moving "Enchanted Cottage" and Ginger Rogers, Walter Pidgeon, Lana Turner, and Van Johnson all find love in the MGM remake of "Grand Hotel," "Weekend at the Waldorf."

Hundreds more titles are available through the Warner Archive site. Operating mainly online, the archive has made its way into some specialty DVD shops in Canada and the U.S. If you don't feel like ordering online, check your local DVD stores and see if they carry or special order from the archive. Also, please check my widget on the tabs on the right of the blog to see my complete Warner Archive recommendations, and you can order titles directly from amazon.ca!!

Happy watching! And I'd love to hear your favourite Warner Archive titles!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Happy Birthday Peter Lawford!



If Peter Lawford were alive, he would be 88 today. Sadly, he died on Christmas Eve, 1984 at the age of 61. Thankfully, he has left a legacy full of charming films. I particularly enjoy Lawford's appearances in the great MGM Musicals. He appeared in many, despite not being particularly musically inclined. But, he could carry a tune, and perform a simple dance when needed.

This is particularly evident in "Good News", a 1947 musical from MGM. Co-starring with the cute-as-a-button, adorable June Allyson, they make a charming pair. The "Varsity Drag" finale, with Lawford and Allyson front and center, is a prime example of the wonderful ensemble numbers MGM turned out.

He also proves a worthy adversary to Fred Astaire's Don Hewes in the MGM classic "Easter Parade", where he vies for Hannah Brown's (played by screen legend Judy Garland) heart. While it is always clear that Garland and Astaire will (and should) end up together, Lawford's Jonathan is Peter at his most handsome and charming. He even shares a vocal duet with Garland, "Fella With an Umbrella".

Lawford had a diverse career while under contract to MGM in the 1940s, along with an array of female costars. Over the years, he fancied the likes of songbird Kathryn Grayson, swimmer Esther Williams, and lavender-eyed Elizabeth Taylor, and perky songstress Jane Powell, to name a few.

While Lawford is most known today because of his MGM movies, one of my personal favourites is a film he did at Columbia in 1954. "It Should Happen to You" paired him with one of the greatest comedic film actresses of all time, Judy Holliday. He, in classic Lawford style, is involved in a love triangle in this charming comedy. The man he competes with to win Holliday's heart? The legendary Jack Lemmon in his film debut.

Lawford's career from mid-1950s onward saw him frequently on television, and much less often on the big screen. But, us classic film watchers still remember and enjoy Lawford's big screen appearances.

Happy Birthday to you, Mr. Lawford!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Modern silent movie to hit the Toronto Film Festival

This looks fascinating. A black and white silent movie, set in 1927... when was it made? This year! Looks like it was very successful at Cannes, and it's being screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9th and 10th. I very much look forward to seeing it! Something unique actually hitting the movie theatres!

A great read for Monroe and Olivier fans



I'm currently reading Colin Clark's book "The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set with Marilyn and Olivier". http://www.amazon.com/Prince-Showgirl-Me-Marilyn-Olivier/dp/0312143958

It's a fascinating account from Clark, who served as 3rd Assistant Director during the making of the infamous "The Prince and the Showgirl", and kept a daily diary during filming. He published the diary in essentially its complete form, and provides some fabulous insight into the behind the scenes atmosphere of the movie that brought together two very unlikely stars in Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe.

Clark confirms in the book what I could almost sense while watching the film. Monroe gives what appears to be one of her most natural, charming, and adorable performances, while director/leading man Olivier seems unable to hide his distaste with the project through his onscreen character. Clark states that the real-life atmosphere was similar: Olivier was disgusted with Monroe's tardiness and inability to remember lines, and this was reflected in a wooden, unfeeling performance. And, once the rushes were viewed, it was Monroe's performance that always seemed effortless and scene-stealing, despite sometimes requiring upwards of 30 takes to get the scene in the can.

Clark's account is also fascinating in his discussion of the "supporting players" associated with the film: Monroe's new husband, famous playwright Arthur Miller, and Olivier's legendary actress wife Vivien Leigh. Clark's observation of Miller is very low: an egotistical intellectual who viewed Monroe as his beautiful trophy wife, and therefore, showed her little respect. Clark views Leigh as charming and the most beautiful woman in the world, with a wit that seemed sugar-sweet even if she was blatantly insulting someone (in one particular case, Monroe).

Overall, there is much for the Monroe fan to eat up through Clark's account of a few months with the world's biggest film star. Clark sees her in many different lights throughout the course of the book: as both breathtakingly beautiful and shockingly ghastly in physical appearance, surprisingly observant and intelligent, charming, terrified, depressed, unfocussed, irritating, needing to be loved and assured, and above all, magical on screen.

Introduction!

Hi everyone! Welcome to my blog! I have wanted to start a classic movie blog for a long time now, and finally it's a reality! I hope you find my posts interesting, and can't wait to hear your comments! First official post to come soon!