Drunk Paul Newman

Drunk Paul Newman

Notice any similarities?


Friend to many, detriment to most.

It can be sipped and savored with friends, tossed around by co-workers and was religiously used by classic Hollywood movie stars as a way to ‘self-medicate’ decompress after a long day of shooting.

More often than not, alcohol is used as a plot device, with screenwriters using the liquid as a physical manifestation of the inner turmoil that the characters are suffering with.

There are two instances where Hollywood’s resident salad dressing salesman™, Paul Newman begins a movie he’s starring in drunker than a freshman at college tailgate party.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Cool Hand Luke were made almost a decade apart from each other, but, they still manage to touch on some similar themes.

Drunk Paul

source: Warner Bros.

In Cool Hand Luke, Lucas Jackson was a free spirit. We see this when he gets sent to prison for drunkenly cutting off the heads of parking meters. When ‘Luke’ arrives at the labor camp he proceeds to “have a bit of fun” by ‘stirring the pot’ among his fellow prison mates and the guards.

Inmates like ‘Dragline’ played by George Kennedy, at first, found ‘Luke’ peculiar, wanting to put him in his place before he gets out of line. Eventually, the pair becomes allies as they join forces to fight against the tyrannical reign of the sadistic prison guards.

The question is, what led Luke down this path?

He was a decorated war veteran, presumably dealing with some sort of mental stress from being in such a high-risk environment, he had a face to die for with the charms of a KPop idol oozing out of every pore and he had the intrapersonal intelligence to make friends with everyone that came in contact with him.

What happened?

Well, according to the film, ‘Luke’ had some family issues, specifically with his sick mother. This, combined with the added mental scars from his war days may have led ‘Luke’ to have a “happy go lucky” attitude about life. This explains why he was up at 3 A.M vandalizing parking meters without a care in the world.

He’d pretty much lost everything: his mom, his mind, and by the end of the movie, his will to live.

Drunk Paul 2

source: MGM

In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick’s situation is slightly different.

While ‘Luke’ didn’t care too much for other people’s opinions, Brick, on the other hand, cared too much.

This has him fall into a deep, alcohol-fueled depression where not even the advances of his very attractive wife Maggie, played by Elizabeth Taylor, can rescue him from the grasps of perpetual sadness.

Brick’s problem’s, unlike ‘Luke’, stems from his overbearing, classically Southern father ‘Big Daddy’ played by Burl Ives. At the climax of the film, ‘Big Daddy’ and Brick air their grievances with a 10-minute long conversation about the latter’s stubbornness. During the “talk” Maggie saunters in and explains to her father-in-law that it was the loss of his best friend Skipper that sent Brick into this state.

Maggie had always been jealous of their relationship. Brick spent every waking moment of his life with ‘Skip’, naturally that would make any woman upset. As payback, Maggie ruins their friendship, which probably contributed to Skipper’s suicide.

With that out in the open, the first scene of the movie where Brick drunkenly stumbles upon a track and field course and attempts to hurdle every last one of the barriers before being humbled by a broken leg makes sense.

Brick was trying to recapture his youth. He wanted to go back to a time where there were no family picnics, no responsibility, and no doting wives.

He blamed Maggie for his best friend’s death, is it any wonder why he didn’t want to sleep with her anymore; well, that and several other reasons.

In the end, alcohol was just a coping mechanism for deeper problems for each of these men- a side effect of the emotions they were both dealing with.

Paul Newman had a knack for picking good scripts. He certainly didn’t disappoint with these two and I am forever grateful.




The Free For All Blogathon…

Elvis was a foodie 2

The key to his heart? Food, probably…

I’ve always been intrigued by Elvis.

His music, legacy, the way he styled his hair- everything.

My curiosity for the man spiraled into obsession when a couple of months ago, I stumbled upon the music documentary (or ‘rockumentary’, if you prefer), Elvis: That’s the Way It Is otherwise known as, the ‘Elvis Show.’

Sure, he’s been in several films, many of which I have a deep attachment to, but I’ve always regarded him as a musician first, actor second.

This documentary cemented that belief for me.

Elvis is a foodie

source: MGM

The film gives viewers a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at Elvis and his band during Las Vegas rehearsals for his Summer Festival that took place during the month of August 1970.

The 108-minute documentary shows a different side of Elvis, one that’s playful, outgoing and group oriented. Perhaps, the most telling part of the film was how much Elvis cared for his bandmates. There were several scenes where Presley was joking around and ‘ribbing’ his contemporaries like he would his family members – it was astonishing to see.

Normally, the Elvis that I’ve thought about was cold, distant and rather aloof. This ‘rockumentary’ changed the way I perceived him.

Once the movie ended I immediately wanted to know about the man I’ve neglected for so long. One of the first pieces of information I ran into was Elvis‘ fondness for food, particularly a sandwich dubbed the ‘Fool’s Gold Loaf.’ The contents of the meal include a hollowed out loaf of Italian bread, filled with a pound of bacon, with peanut butter and grape jelly rounding out the ingredients.

It’s a monstrosity, but it’s totally Elvis.

I can imagine him with bandmates, sitting around with wide eyes after rehearsals while they eat these things, talking about anything and everything. From life to religion, to that cute brunette that was sitting three rows from the back during one their concerts.

Imagine the stories they must’ve told.

That’s an endearing thought to have. Country boy Elvis and friends talking about the world and it’s inhabitants, with a beer in one hand and a calorie-loaded sandwich in the other.


If you wish to read the rest of the entries in this blogathon click: here.

The Elizabeth Taylor Blogathon…

Furious Love

source: Harper’s Bazaar

Furious Love.

Can one ever love something too much?

Can love be destructive?

What would you give up for love?

Friends? A vice? Your sanity?

These questions encapsulate the problematic romance between two classic Hollywood giants: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

She was Hollywood’s sweetheart.

She grew up in front of the public eye, driving everyone who laid eyes upon her to develop a sense of protective possession with every move she made.

He was a foreigner; a brash man whose love for acting was forged by the written works of Willam Shakespeare. He paid his dues at The Old Vic in London, working years to hone his craft before being plucked out of obscurity by the bright lights of Hollywood.

How they met? Well, that’s easy to explain.

Take the history of the last active ruler during the Ptolemaic Kingdom era of Egypt, slap on some old Hollywood glitz and glamour, add on a legendary director like Joseph L.Mankiewicz while throwing millions of dollars at the production and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a high stake on set affair.

1962. Rome, Italy.

Taylor, Burton, and Mankiewicz fly to the peninsula to help salvage an, already, delayed and over budget shooting schedule. Sometime during the production, Burton and Taylor fell into bed together, which led to something more.

On top of an already delayed filming schedule and the astronomically rising costs due to Taylor‘s various illnesses (and vanity), their affair was straw that broke the metaphorical camel’s back.

Burton and Taylor 2

source: Time Magazine

When shooting ending and everyone went their separate ways, Burton and Taylor, on the other hand, did not. With both of them in marriages (Taylor‘s being the more high profile of the two) the revelation of their relationship didn’t go over too well.

The studios couldn’t wait to capitalize on their scandal, quickly shoving the two stars in a movie that reflected the real-life headlines about them.

The V.I.P.S was commercially and critically successful, drowning out the negative press that came from Cleopatra set just a couple of months earlier. After completing the movie, Burton and Taylor made their dalliances official and married on March 15th, 1964.

This is where their ‘charming’ love story turns from Hollywood legend to lore.

Nicknamed ‘Liz and Dick’, the ‘Burtons‘ lived a lifestyle jet-setting lifestyle that saw them in the headlines every other day of the week; Diamond rings, fur coats, vintage cars, the whole she-bang. Not only did they have the time to live this lifestyle, they also managed to complete mutltiple movies together throughout the decade. Some of the more memorable ones include The Sandpiper in 1965, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966, and The Comedians in 1967.

Those were happier times, of course, compared to what happened in the latter part of the decade.

Taylor‘s career was on the decline and so was her marriage. By the time 1970 swung around Taylor was overweight, and out of favor with Hollywood producers. Newer, younger and slimmer actresses like Jane Fonda and Julie Christie made it difficult for her to find roles and that frustration (along with Burton‘s heavy drinking) boiled over into their marriage.

Burton and Taylor 3

source: Vanity Fair

By the time 1974 rolled the so-called ‘power couple of the decade’ divorced after 10 fabulous years of marriage.

The pair reconciled married, however, briefly, a couple months after the fact only to divorce as swiftly as they got back together, thus ending a real-life fairytale.

The Taylor/Burton was one of the first affairs you hear about when you get into the world of classic movies. 10 years, 11 films, and countless articles, this is the only classic Hollywood pairing where being friends was preferable to being lovers. Even when they were both old, and gray, they never stopped loving each other.

Isn’t that what true love is about?

Despite everything you may have gone through together, at the end of the day you’ll still care for each other no matter what happens.

That’s what makes their romance so legendary.


With that, I’ll leave you with a quote from Richard Burton about Elizabeth.

She has turned me into a moral man but not a prig, she is a wildly exciting lover-mistress, she is shy and witty, she is nobody’s fool, she is a brilliant actress, she is beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography, she can be arrogant and wilful, she is clement and loving, Dulcis Imperatrix, she is Sunday’s child, she can tolerate my impossibilities and my drunkenness, she is an ache in the stomach when I am away from her, and she loves me!

…Elizabeth is an eternal one night stand. She is my private and personal bought mistress. And lascivious with it. It is impossible to tell you what is consisted in the act of love. Well I’ll tell you, E is a receiver, a perpetual returner of the ball! I don’t write about sex very often, because it embarrasses me, but, but…

‘E’ and I did our going to bed exercises last night together. It is especially droll when we do running on the spot as she has to hold her breasts – one hand on each – for firm as they are, they are pretty big and the resultant wiggle-waggle is a pretty fetching sight and were it open to the public it would fetch in a lot of people. Like 10 million.

If you wish to read other entries in this blogathon click: here.

The Best of M-G-M: Sunday in New York (1963)

Sunday in New York

source: MGM

The 1960s were a complex time for Jane Fonda, to say the least.

She went from being the squeaky-clean daughter of an American film legend to being cemented as the country’s resident sex symbol by the time decade ended. But, before Vadim, Barbarellaand the unbridled activism, there was Jane Fonda: the ingenue.

Ahhh, yes. We all remember that Jane. 

The perpetual virgin who was hesitant to sleep with a man she didn’t love; the dreaded stereotype.

Of course, this was a noble stance to take, but in the context of romantic pictures, it makes for hilarious situational comedy. Because of this, Jane had the tendency to make multiple versions of the same film.

Girl meets boy, boy loves girl; boy wants to take things a bit faster than the girl was anticipating, girl gets nervous and runs away. Boy gets offended and pursues her even harder until girl relents or she’s talked into it by an older brother or a friend.

Fonda’s early 60s career was littered with movies like this. They were your usual romantic comedies filled with rudimentary plot points that you tend to forget about halfway through the movie – nothing truly notable.

Sunday in New York 2

source: MGM

One of the less bothersome and perhaps the more charming films during those years is the sex romp Sunday in New York.

Adapted from the Norman Krasna screenplay of the same name, the film tells the story of wealthy 22-year-old music critic Eileen Taylor and her struggles to come to terms with her sexuality, fueled by a break up with her fianceé.

Eileen hopes to get her mind off of the situation by taking a Greyhound down from Albany to New York City, wanting to drown her sorrows in alcohol with her older brother Adam, played by Cliff Robertson.

Adam, on the other hand, has other ideas.

Instead of commiserating with his baby sister, he’s anticipating a love filled weekend with his modelesque girlfriend Mona, played by Jo Morrow.

When he isn’t neglecting his brotherly responsibilities by day, he flies jetliners by night, spending his off days smoking, boozing, and spending an inordinate amount of time with his girlfriend, primarily living the playboy lifestyle.

You can imagine the look of shock he had when Eileen unexpectedly dropped in for a weekend wanting a shoulder to cry on. This predicament forces Adam, who’s already on thin ice, to postpone his weekend tryst with Mona, much to her dismay.

Sunday in New York 3

source: MGM

Pushing aside more “immediate pleasures,” Adam gives his unbridled attention to his sister, hoping to punch the guy out get to the bottom of the situation.  When she tearfully explains that her finaceé dumped her for not “putting out” Adam’s male instinct kicks in.

“How dare he!”

Ironically, Adam was about to try the same spiel on his girlfriend before his baby sister waltz into his apartment, but that doesn’t matter. He thinks this is an abomination! No one treats his sister this way!

“Do as I say, not as I do,” right?

As Eileen emotionally implodes, Adam reassures her that not all men think that way. If she’s patient enough, her “knight and shining armor” will eventually find her and all of her tears will be in vain.

Albeit cringe-worthy, Adam’s words comfort Eileen enough for her to calm down and with more than enough time for him to make amends with Mona. With that, Adam rushes to the phone and begs her to meet him on his next flight out of NYC.

She agrees and with that, Adam bolts out of the door leaving Eileen alone with her tear stained cheeks and mangled emotions.

Sunday in New York 4

source: MGM

Being left alone for a few hours forces Eileen to re-evaluate her decisions. She thought about her brother words and how disingenuous they sounded coming from him. Eileen was aware that Adam lived the lifestyle he scolded her about.

This infuriated her, she didn’t want her older brother dictating her life. With that, Eileen took the matter into her own hands and sauntered onto the streets of Manhattan looking for a suitor who would indulge in her fantasy.

Adam, in the meantime, is trying, and failing, to win back his girlfriend’s affections. Due to a series of miscommunication about his plane schedule, Mona ultimately ends up boarding the wrong flight, making her even more irritated and dissatisfied.

Karma? Maybe. It sure seems that way.

Back on the street, Eileen awkwardly succeeds in picking up a suitor. Mike, played by Rod Taylor, is a tall, handsome, newspaperman with a knack for seeing right through people. Eileen brings him back to her brother’s apartment wanting to seduce him but fails when Mike quickly catches on to her drift.

Ashamed and flustered, Eileen has ANOTHER breakdown, forcing Mike to not only yell at her in frustration, but also rethink his life choices.

The latter part of his inner monologue kicks into overdrive when, surprisingly, Eileen’s ex fianceé, Russ played by Robert Culp, walks in on the pair in just their underwear (or in the classic movie sense, their robes.)

Russ returns triumphantly, taking Eileen in his arms and greeting Mike like he’s her brother. He apologizes for the way he treated her and begs for forgiveness, which leaves Eileen with no other choice but to accept his offer.

Sunday in New York 5

source: MGM

As if the situation can’t get any more interesting, Adam walks in a few moments later suspicious of the entire thing.

He knows who Russ is, but isn’t entirely sure why this strange man in a bathrobe in his apartment. He suspects why but waits until the situation escalates to voice his displeasure.

When it does, Adam is introduced as Mike’s co-pilot, ending Russ’s confusion, only enraging Adam even further.

Later that night, the trio go out to eat where the tensions rise to unparalleled degrees.

When Russ excuses himself to go the restroom, Adam takes this opportunity to swiftly punch Mike in the nose, shocking Eileen in the process.

Through the pain and humiliation, Mike comes to terms with his feelings for Eileen. He realized this during his introspective walk with her through Manhattan before she invited him back to her brother’s apartment. Even though she ultimately wanted to use him for selfish purposes, he had a soft spot for her, he took on the role of ‘protector’ which made him fall for her even harder.

When Russ comes back from the restroom and sees Mike doubled over in pain and Eileen tending to his wound, he uses context clues to figure out what’s going on and officially re-breaks his engagement with Eileen. In the final scene of the movie, Adam loosens his metaphorical grip on Eileen and “allows” her to continue to see Mike without any hassle.


Sunday in New York conclusion

source: MGM

Written right before the sexual revolution of the 1960s, Sunday in New York is just risque enough to keep the audience interested but also charming enough for the classic film purists.

Norman Krasna carefully crafted a romantic comedy that, strangely, feels very modern. Despite it being released in 1963, the rugged looks of Rod Taylor and the fresh-faced Fonda made for an interesting, if not very charming, couple. They bicker, argue, and inevitably makeup, all within the backdrop of the steel towers of Manhattan

Speaking of the leads, Taylor and Fonda did a fantastic job of portraying the three stages of Eileen and Mike’s relationship; first as potential love interests, then enemies, and eventually star-crossed lovers.

The supporting cast didn’t have much to do, but when they did, they knocked it out of the park. Praise is in order for Jo Morrow, Robert Culp, and of course the very handsome Cliff Robertson for doing such a respectable job with almost little to no screen time.

Sunday in New York is a lovely romantic comedy, that often gets overlooked for, flashier, more star-studded affairs. Films like this are one I live for. They aren’t well known, but they sure are movies that should be given more attention.

Hidden Gems: Spencer’s Mountain (1963)

Spencer's Mountain

source: Warner Brothers

If you ever longed to live in the vast, open spaces of the Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming while drinking your favorite brand of bourbon till the sun goes down, annoying not only your significant other but also your fellow townsfolk, children and their friends, then Spencer’s Mountain is a movie that may pique your interest.


Where the Spencer’s laid down their roots.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Earl Hamner Jr. Spencer’s Mountain tells the story of Clay Spencer, played by Henry Fonda, and his struggles to build a better life for his family.

His wife, Olivia, played by Maureen O’Hara, tries her best to accommodate Clay and his ambitions but finds it difficult when he continually deviates from the path he stringently set for himself.

Among some of Clay’s ‘distractions’ include mild alcoholism, perpetual flirtations with other women, and the occasional adversarial comment about his wife’s religion.

Clay’s carelessness causes his family more harm than good.

The Spencer’s essentially live in the middle of nowhere. They don’t own any vehicles, horses or telephones, this leaves the family especially helpless during emergencies. When they do need some assistance, Clay just harrases his eldest son ‘Clayboy’ a freshly minted high school graduate, to run a couple of miles to the nearest police station.

It isn’t a very effective way to go about things, but, it’s the best they have.

‘Clayboy’ played by James MacArthur, is the only man to graduate high school in the Spencer family. He wants to make something out of himself, and he decides that living in the backwoods of, in his words,”the middle nowhere” is no way to live a life.

Strangely enough, his father agrees, and when ‘Clayboy’s’ teacher chooses him for one of the few scholarships that his school offers, he jumps at the chance.

Spencer's Mountain 2

source: Warner Brothers

This is where Clay’s redemption story begins.

‘Clayboy’s’ teacher nominates him for a “divinity” scholarship. It wasn’t necessarily the one he wanted, but it was better than nothing.

Knowing the elder Spencer’s general grumpiness about religion, he’s hesitant to agree to this. Olivia, on the other hand, is ecstatic that her baby boy is potentially pursuing a career as a pastor.

All the while this is happening, Clay begins renovating his home, hoping to use a plot of old Spencer land to create his dream residence. With ‘Clayboy’s’ dream of going to college, all of that is put on hold.

After letting this ruminate in his heart for a few days, Clay casts aside his prejudices and quietly accepts his son’s decision. Just as he came to terms with himself, it turns out that ‘Clayboy’s’ scores in Latin were too low for his scholarship to be accepted.

Frustrated, Clay drives up to the university to give the dean a piece of his mind. A couple of hours of contentious conversation later, the dean gives him an ultimatum: if ‘Clayboy’ can learn Latin before the semester starts, then he can enroll, but his scholarship will be dropped as a result.

Problem solved, right?

Well, not exactly.

It takes the Spencer’s a couple days to figure out where they could possibly find a Latin tutor in the middle of the dense backwoods of Wyoming. When they do, it comes as a shock to Clay when it’s the local priest that selflessly agrees to help his son.

Divine Intervention.

Spencer's Mountain 3

source: Warner Brothers

Preacher Goodman (played by Wally Cox) forces Clay to go to his services on Sunday in exchange for ‘Clayboy’s’ lessons. Sure enough, next Sunday Clay sticks to his word and attends the service, much to the delight of not only his wife but the entire town.

It appears that the hard-drinking, no-nonsense, Clay Spencer has finally begun to soften up a bit.

His newfound faith would be tested, however, when he and his father Grandpa Spencer (played by Donald Crisp) get crushed by an unsuspecting falling tree while trying to remove the stump before it grows into the family funeral plot.

The irony.

‘Clayboy’ arrives moments after the incident, bringing a pail of lunch the pair requested hours earlier. As he steps closer to the scene, ‘Clayboy’ knows that this is quickly turning into a life or death situation.

Scared out of his mind, he drops everything he’s doing and runs to the nearest ’emergency bell’ immediately alerting anyone near. Subsequently, everyone heads up the mountain bringing all the tools and medical supplies that are needed.

Spencer's Mountain 4

source: Warner Brothers

Clay escapes with a few injuries but it’s Grandpa Spencer that takes the brunt of the damage, ultimately losing his life.

Months go by after the accident.

Clay preoccupies himself with his new “dream house” project, expecting it to take his mind off of what happened. It does for a little while, but his ambitions only serve as a reminder of his dad who also shared the same dream.

The next day, Clay and ‘Clayboy’ head up to the dean’s office to show him that he successfully passed his lessons. The dean agrees and proudly scribbles ‘Clayboy’s’ name on the roster. Knowing that the last thing they need to do in order to enroll is a tuition deposit, Clay gives up on his dream of building a new home and literally sets the house on fire.

Once it simmers down and there’s nothing left but ash and disappointment, he sells the land for a hefty fee, which goes towards ‘Clayboy’s’ tuition.

The end of the movie sees the Spencer family send-off ‘Clayboy’ to college. With a clear conscience and a happy wife, Clay Spencer can definitely rest easy knowing that he made his dad proud.



source: Warner Brothers

This movie is the equivalent of drinking iced tea on the banks of a canal that sits a couple of feet behind your home, watching the sunset while you quietly ignore your responsibilities.

Director Delmer Daves truly outdid himself with this one. Not only does the movie give you a sense of familiarity, it shows a different side to what one would call a “nuclear family.”

Everything is not what it seems in Spencer’s Mountain.

I’ve always seen Henry Fonda as the soft, brooding type of guy. So it came as a bit of a surprise when I saw him acting “out of character” – so to speak – in this film.  Maybe I need to watch a couple of more of his movies to break this stereotype, but I’d say that his portrayal of Clay Spencer did a perfect job of that.

As for the film itself, it’s certainly a fun one. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the acting performances put on, particularly James MacArthur who, I have to admit, made my heart flutter during multiple instances in the movie.

If you have the chance to check out this film, I recommend that you do. It may not be the most exciting, or the most angst-inducing, but it’ll have you compelled to cast aside some selfish need for the sake of your family.


The Clark Gable Blogathon…


source: MGM

A story of principle.

There have been many movies over the years that exemplify this precious sentiment. What there hasn’t been, however, is a film that makes sticking to what you believe in a matter of life or death.

Manhattan Melodrama is a film about convictions, love, and how far one is willing to go to keep them together.

Director W.S Van Dyke tells the story of two boys who grow up together, and how time and different circumstances lead them to live different lives.

Clark Gable and William Powell star as ‘Blackie’ Gallagher and Jim Wade, the two boys whose friendship is thicker than blood. Their friendship goes through countless ups and downs, through several trials and tribulations, but despite those hardships, Wade and ‘Blackie’ were inseparable.

Their misfortunes begin at the beginning of the film when the cruise liner they were traveling on catches fire, leaving everyone to fend for themselves.

This unlucky accident has both of their parents die in the frenzied blaze, leaving both of the boys parentless. As the boys and other survivors swim to safety, they run into a homely man named Poppa Rosen (played by George Sidney.) It’s shown that he also lost a family member, a son, the same age as ‘Blackie’ and Wade.


source: MGM

As the trio grieve together, Rosen offers to become their guardian. With nowhere else to go, the boys jump at the opportunity.

A couple of years pass by and everything seems to be going well for the boys (well, at least for one of them.) Wade is studying to become a district attorney and ‘Blackie’ is dipping his toes into the grimy world of petty crime.

After living comfortably with Rosen for a few years, he’s accidentally trampled to death by a policeman’s horse at a pro-Communism rally.

The movie skips ahead to the year 1920, where Wade has triumphantly become District Attorney and ‘Blackie’ runs an illegal gambling ‘joint’.

Both boys have found success in very, very different lines of work.

The law is the only thing that keeps them separated.

The two boys – now men – run into each other one night at a boxing match. They laugh, and joke around like old pals, prompting ‘Blackie’ to invite Jim out for drinks. Jim declines citing work as his excuse. That doesn’t deter ‘Blackie’ though. If he couldn’t be there he’ll send the next best thing, Eleanor – his mistress girlfriend (played by Myrna Loy.)

When Eleanor and Jim meet, she’s immediately impressed by the class and charms that oozes out of Wade, the polar opposite of ‘Blackie’s’ brash and coarse demeanor.

Eleanor returns from her impromptu ‘date’ and she realizes that she doesn’t want to live the “gangster” lifestyle anymore and ends her romance with ‘Blackie,’ eventually marrying Jim.


source: MGM

Her decision proves to be the correct one when a couple of days later a man who owed ‘Blackie’ money is mysteriously shot in his hotel room.

The man behind the crime?

Edward J. ‘Blackie’ Gallagher.

But, Wade doesn’t know that.

Run he starts his campaign for governor later that year, his assistant Richard Snow essentially harasses him into looking deeper into the murder case. If Jim doesn’t comply with his wishes, Snow would expose his close friendship to ‘Blackie’ thus ruining his chances of winning the race.

Coincidentally, Eleanor and ‘Blackie’ reunite at a horse track, where Eleanor explains the predicament that Wade has got himself into.

‘Blackie’ being an all-around “bad guy” tells her that she shouldn’t worry and that he’ll “take care of this, himself.”

We all know what this means.

Lo and behold, ‘Blackie’ shoots Wade’s assistant point blank in a restroom during a hockey game in Madison Square Garden. Because, why not?


source: MGM

What ‘Blackie’ thought to be a blind man sitting outside the restroom when he committed the crime turned out to be a concerned citizen who quickly reports the crime to the police.

Jim is now forced to choose between two of the things that he loves the most: his career or persecuting ‘Blackie.’ He wins his gubernatorial race, but his mind can’t shake the obvious conflict of interests.

Ultimately, his conscience takes over, as much as it pains him to do so and against the objections of his wife, he prosecutes ‘Blackie’ for both murders sentencing him to death by electric chair.

He almost retracts his sentencing, however, when Jim visits ‘Blackie’ in prison, he reiterates to him that he’s proud that he stuck to his conscience and didn’t relent in his charges. Agreeing, Wade gives up and lets ‘Blackie’ have a peaceful death.

The movie ends with Jim tendering his resignation from his governor seat, stating that a murder influenced the result of his election, therefore, making it invalid.



source: MGM

When you combine the genius of Joseph L. Mankiewicz and the directorial magic of W.S Van Dyke, you’re bound to get magic on the silver screen.

That’s exactly what makes Manhattan Melodrama a film that deserves more recognition. This movie has it all: excellent writing (absolutely incredible, I can’t stress that enough), outstanding acting, and exceptional directing – the trifecta.

W.S Van Dyke has quickly become one of my favorite directors because of pictures like this. He has the magic touch when it comes to movies where you need to have that delicate balance of drama and comedy (e.g The Thin Man.) Though ‘MMD’ isn’t necessarily a comedy, there were several moments in the film where the witty banter between Powell and Gable flowed organically, like they’ve known each other all their life.

For that, we have Mr. Mankiewicz to thank.

Manhattan Melodrama is a film that will make you reflect on what you truly believe and whether or not you can stand for it when the going gets tough. Not only is the film visually stunning and terrifically written, it also has an underlying message of morality and virtue.

There are not many movies that could do this, but ‘Melodrama’ is one of the few that does it so well.

If you wish to read the rest of the entries in the blogathon, click here.



The Best of M-G-M: The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)

Ginger and Fred on Broadway

source: MGM

When discussing famous dynamic duos of yesteryear, there are a number of different couples that spring to mind; Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis are more than enough to satisfy anyone’s movie watching sensibilities.

Perhaps one of the more popular and sexier pairings is the timeless coupling of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

Filming 10 movies in the span of 17 years (9 with RKO and just 1 with MGM) Rogers and Astaire were truly a force to be reckoned with. If you’ve ever heard the saying “She gave him sex, while he gave her class” more often than not that quote can be attributed to their relationship.

From Top Hat to The Gay Divorcee, everyone and their mother (whether they like to admit or not) has a favorite Rogers and Astaire film. One picture that doesn’t nearly that get enough recognition and love is their musical swan-song, The Barkleys of Broadway.

Released in 1949, The Barkleys of Broadway is a comedic look at the hardships of being a Broadway star and the unintentional consequences and stresses of working with your significant other.

Ginger and Fred on Broadway 2

source: MGM

In the film, Rogers and Astaire play married couple Josh and Dinah Barkley. It’s the opening night of their new play in downtown Manhattan, and despite getting a standing ovation from the audience, behind the scenes tells a much different story.

As as the Barkleys step behind the satin curtain, quickly deafening the roar of the crowd the veneer of stability is tarnished when we find out that Josh is irate at his wife’s brazen flirtation with French playwright Jacques Pierre Barredout (played by Jacques François.)

Naturally being a red-blooded, American male, Josh doesn’t take too kindly to some foreigner ogling his very attractive wife. In retaliation, he confronts Dinah – and not her French boy toy – about the debacle, which only fans the flames even further.

In actuality, Dinah was speaking with Jacques after he made an off the cuff remark about her lack of dramatic roles. Tensions increase further when later that night at an art gallery, another artist compares Josh to Svengali and that Dinah’s entire career hinged on Josh’s command.

After a couple of days of contemplation, Dinah found herself agreeing with the Frenchmen and secretly began shopping scripts with the hope of starring in one.

Astaire and Rogers on Broadway

source: MGM

One weekend, Dinah would get her wish when she and Josh are invited up to Jacques’ bungalow in the cozy fictional town of Danbridge, where he’s celebrating the completion of his new script.

While Josh meanders out into the garden, Dinah questions Jacques’ judgment when she learns that actress Pamela Driscoll (who she’s not very fond of) is cast in the starring role.  Jacques agrees with her sentiments and smoothly asks Dinah if she would like the role instead; guilt-ridden, she accepts his offer.

A couple days later after the twosome returns to New York after their weekend getaway, Josh discovers his wife’s secret when he accidentally sees her rehearsing lines from a script that obviously didn’t pertain to their stage act.

Jumping to a conclusion faster than Wile E. Coyote plots to catch Road Runner, Josh accuses Dinah of having an affair. She scoffs at this accusation and promptly walks out on not only Josh but everything they’ve worked for.

With the freedom to be an independent woman and a chip on her shoulder, Dinah scurries back to Jacques, cementing her place as the new leading actress in his latest play.

Fred and Ginger on Broadway

source: MGM

Josh attempts to perform the next batch of “Barkley” shows alone, while Dinah spends her newfound freedom rehearsing for Jacques’ upcoming play. Seeing as though Dinah spent the majority of her career as a comedic actress, the transition to more serious roles proved to be a challenge.

Things for the Barkleys get worse when their sardonic family friend Ezra Miller (played by Oscar Levant) deceives them into performing together again at a hospital benefit.

Being the iconic duo that they were, their performance receives a standing ovation. Josh suggests that they get back together, feeling a bit nostalgic about their past accomplishments. Dinah rejects his offer, claiming that he’s, “taken her services for granted for too long.”

Fair enough.

But, that doesn’t stop Josh from being a doting husband.

When Dinah isn’t paying attention during rehearsals, Josh has a habit of watching her practice through a small window hidden behind various curtains and props. When he sees her struggling with some of the lines one day, he takes the initiative to call her using a very fake French accent disguised as Barredout using a nearby payphone.

How scary thoughtful!

Astaire and Rogers on Broadway

source: MGM

A few days and many painstaking practices later, Jacques’ play finally premieres. With Josh watching from behind the curtain, he stands in awe of his wife as she pours her heart out on stage.

The play ends and Dinah’s performance passes with flying colors. While tears are being shed and champagne is getting popped backstage, Dinah finds out that it was, in fact, her husband who was giving her the tips that she initially believed were from Barredout.

What Josh thought would be a pleasant surprise for his wife turned out to be one of disgust. Dinah is “shocked and annoyed” at Josh’s harmless ‘prank’ and she admits to him that she was, indeed, having an affair with her director.

Naturally, this leaves Josh absolutely devasted and on the verge tears, until Dinah relents and quickly retracts her statement revealing to her husband that this was just, as he would put it, a ‘harmless prank.’

In the end, the Barkleys reconcile not only as a musical duo but as a couple, thus forgetting all hardships they went through for the past couple of months.

Conclusion and Some Interesting Behind The Scenes Information

Astaire-Rogers on Broadway

source: MGM

The Barkleys of Broadway is a very good musical. It’s not the best, nor is it the worst Astaire/Rogers collaboration, but it holds its own.

Many classic movie fans may not consider it to be on par with some of their other films, but it can still be considered a picture worthy of praise.

The film is impeccably directed and flawlessly paced; there was never a dull moment in this movie. Bringing together Ginger and Fred again for what I thought was an unnecessary nostalgia trip is a decision that should be lauded.

The intriguing thing about this is that the role of Dinah almost went to MGM’s resident musical expert Judy Garland.

In 1948, Astaire and Garland gained raved reviews for their performances in the musical comedy Easter Parade. This prompted producer Arthur Freed to give the ‘go ahead’ to the writing team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green to begin a new screenplay that would reunite Judy and Fred in another musical.

The title? The Barkleys of Broadway.

Things were all going to plan for Freed and Garland until her long battle with depression started to catch up with her, forcing her to drop out of the project. The stars finally aligned when a couple of days later after the first reviews were released for Easter Parade, Rogers sent Freed a telegram congratulating him on his success. 

Fully aware that he needs a replacement for his film – and fast, Freed reached out to Ginger again and delicately asked her if she’d care to work again with her former dance partner.

Ginger-and-Fred on Broadway

source: MGM

Apparently, Ginger was rather irritated the question but it was a necessary evil for Freed. Out of a leading actress for his upcoming movie, desperate times called for desperate measures, right?

Luckily for Freed (and the movie watching public for that matter), Ginger accepted the offer making The Barkleys of Broadway their 10th and final movie together.

As far as musicals go, The Barkleys of Broadway is certainly not the best, but for what it lacks in plot, it more than makes up for it in the chemistry between Astaire and Rogers.

I supposed that’s the biggest appeal of this movie.

It isn’t something you watch to enjoy with friends, it’s a movie you keep hidden away in your personal collection, only bringing it out when you’ve finished binge-watching the rest of the Rogers and Astaire‘s filmography.

A perfect ending to 10 years of cinematic excellence.


Late Nights, Early Flights, Green Tea, and Lisa Carol Fremont


esource: Paramount Pictures

I adore TCM.

Thanks to Ted Turner‘s genius, thousands of tasty morsels from the wonderful world of classic cinema are merely a couple of remote clicks away. Despite the abundance of good that TCM provides to the starving film fan, there is a downside to having only a handful of movies stored in their archive. Usually, this means that the network has the tendency to replay a lot of movies.

This would irritate me, normally, but there’s always an actor (or director in this case) that’s an exception to this phenomenon.

In this case, it’s Alfred Hitchcock.

A couple of months ago, I was on my way to visit some family members in the northern part of the United States.

I’m an anxious flyer so, naturally, to calm my pre-flight jitters, I turned on TCM just a few hours before my flight left the following morning. Fortunately, all throughout that month, the network decided to sporadically play Hitchcock‘s voyeuristic masterpiece Rear Window in celebration of what would have been Grace Kelly‘s 88th birthday.

Grace's Window

sources: Paramount Pictures

I’ve seen Rear Window about a dozen times on several different occasions (I even own it on Blu-ray) but, for some reason, this viewing felt very unusual.

Instead of enjoying the cheeky humor, incredible sets, and the brilliant screenwriting, I took an active effort at trying to understand the intricate fusion between the character of Lisa Carol Fremont and Grace Kelly – the actress.

As you may know, it has often been said that Grace Kelly had a ‘dual persona.’

This is in reference to the “ice queen” image that plagued her throughout her career. There’s no denying that Kelly was a pretty reserved person in her personal life – depending on which biography you read, but what about her movies?

This is where my re-viewing of Rear Window helped me to understand that this dichotomy that followed her career (and to a lesser extent her private life) wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Lisa Carol Fremont as a character was at times rather selfish, stubborn, and oftentimes just plain rude. That’s understandable, of course, when you realize she’s dealing with a man with a proclivity for adventure and a fear of commitment (played to perfection by James Stewart), yet as I was re-watching Grace as Lisa with a different set of eyes, I quickly recognized, “well, of course, she would act this way.”

Alfred Hitchcock specifically picked Grace for this role due to this persona. Lisa was a fashionista, she loves clothing and even would forgo going on a trip with her boyfriend because she didn’t have the “proper attire” for the environment she’d be traveling in.

Who in their right mind would do something like that?

Right! An “ice queen” who gives off an air of entitlement and impenetrability.

Late Night Grace

source: Paramount Pictures

There are some moments in the film where Lisa could be extraordinarily cold and distant, but it only ever happened when she was in crisis or when Jeff wasn’t conforming to her standards of what their relationship should look like.

Grace’s “ice queen persona” helps a lot in this aspect; she was the only actress that could’ve taken this role. Hitchcock deliberately crafted the role of Lisa Carol Fremont for Grace, he knew that if any other woman stepped into that role, the entire tone of the film could have been something that he didn’t intend to mean.

Hitch’ has always carefully crafted his pictures this way, it doesn’t surprise me that he chose Grace for this role. This same sentiment could be applied to her role in 1955’s To Catch a Thief as well.

If it wasn’t for Hitchcock‘s cinema IQ and Grace’s typecast, I don’t believe Rear Window would’ve been as good as it is.

It’s funny, all it took for me to understand this was my fear of flying and my love for overanalyzing movies.

Go figure.

The Influence of Paris On Classic Hollywood Cinema

Hollywood in Paris

source: Paramount Pictures

Lise: Paris has ways of making people forget.

Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It’s too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way.

-Leslie Caron as Lise and Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan in An American In Paris (1951)


Since it’s industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, the self-proclaimed,”City of Lights” has grown to represent a number of different things in the human psyche.

Whether it be the sound of the cobblestone streets beneath your feet as you walk beside the Seine River, the monotone “bonjour” as you stride into your favorite Boulangerie or the thousands of tourists who are jostling with each other in a race to see who can snap the most cliché selfie, Paris has been tourism hot-spot for decades.

In the eyes of the classic film fan, however, Paris holds a special connotation in our hearts.

Arguably starting with Humphrey Bogart‘s legendary quote during the climax of Casablanca, the City of Paris has been a staple in pop culture since the advent of the movie camera. It’s no wonder that many classic film directors have chosen “The City of Love” as the backdrop to several of their movies.

Paris in movies

“……French New Wave at it’s finest.”

So, what makes Paris so special?

In the classic film sense, it encapsulates everything that’s so extraordinary about that specific era in movie history.

Paris is the place where a lonely writer can turn into an international marvel, where an ex-GI can chase his dreams of being a painter, and where a homely librarian can turn into a top model; Paris is the place where dreams become reality.

There are several movies that embody this feeling.

An American in Paris, Funny Face, and Moulin Rouge! are some of the better examples of this phenomenon. Other films in this category include The Last Time I Saw Paris, Les Girls, and 1958’s Academy Award Winning film GigiEven the plot of light-hearted romantic comedies like Stanley Donen‘s Charade has a feeling of improbability and absurdity that could only to recreated in a city like Paris.


Paris in Hollywood 2

When good Americans die, they go to Paris.” 
― Oscar Wilde

In summation, Paris’ importance to classic Hollywood has been immense. Filmmakers, actors, actresses, producers, and screenwriters have all come together to help create a lore to this city that’s been so prevalent in our movie history.

The next time you happen to view a film that takes place in the ‘City of Love’, be sure to take a good look at its surroundings, you never know what magic Paris will conjure up this time.

Classic Film Reviews: Vivacious Lady (1938)

Vivacious Lady

source: RKO

Every now and then, one stumbles across a movie that completely subverts your expectations.

Whether it be a comedy that makes you cry or a drama that makes you laugh, it’s always good every once and a while to have your assumptions thrown into a tizzy; that’s one of the many reasons why the romantic comedy Vivacious Lady works so well.

Released in 1938 and directed by George Stevens, the movie stars Ginger Rogers, James Stewart, and Charles Cogburn, plus a talented supporting cast including James Ellison, Beulah Bondi, and Frances Mercer.

The movie tells the story of Peter, a homely botany professor who falls in love with a nightclub singer (played by Ginger Rogers) while on a trip to the city to retrieve his playboy cousin Keith (played by James Ellison) who’s been “painting the town red.”

The catch? Peter’s parents (specifically his overbearing father) would no doubt disapprove of his new relationship.

Sounds amusing? Well, it is.

Vivacious-Lady-1938 1

source: RKO Pictures

Peter spends the bulk of the film trying to convince his dad Peter Morgan Sr. (played by Charles Coburn) that his “floozy” girl he picked is actually his new fiancée. The only dilemma is Peter isn’t the most assertive chap, so, emphatically proclaiming his love for an “uneducated” showgirl won’t sit too well with his father.

As stated earlier, the movie starts in lively fashion when Peter is forcibly removed from his office by his domineering father and forced to search for his rowdy cousin Keith who’s cavalierly traversing through each and every Manhattan nightclub.

After exhausting every resource he had to look for Keith, Peter finds him in a nightclub trying to ‘take home’ (if you catch my drift) a blonde showgirl who wants nothing to do with him.

Francey or “Fran” (played by Rogers) was initially infatuated by Keith’s charms, but, in typical classic Hollywood fashion, her eyes quickly moved towards Peter after realizing his “better-looking family member” is a bit of a lush.

After pulling an all-nighter and walking around the snow-covered streets of Manhattan till their heart’s content, Francey, and Peter decide to elope.

vivacious-lady-1938 3

source: RKO Pictures

The trio return to the Morgan household located in the sleepy town of Old Sharon, New York where Fran finds out how seriously Peter takes his day job.

Seeing as though his father is a very egotistical man, Peter is apprehensive about telling him about his recent marriage. When he does muster up the courage to tell his dad, not only does the elder Morgan brush off his son’s concerns, he mistakenly believes that this “blonde hussy” is just another student at the college Peter teaches at.

Uh, oh.

Being the soft-spoken man that he is, Peter tries to broach the subject again, only to be rejected for the third and final time.

vivacious lady 1938 4

source: RKO Pictures

It isn’t his father who spurns his advances this time, however, but his mother Mrs. Morgan who apparently has a chronic heart issue. Naturally, with her nervous disposition, this makes it fairly difficult to bring up the subject that Peter so desperately wants to get off his chest.

Sick and tired of being walked over, Peter decides it would be a good idea to reveal the true identity of his wife during the College’s semi-annual student-faculty prom (apparently this something that happened back in the day…). With the help of his cousin, Peter coerces Keith (despite having a fiancée) into taking Francey to the dance as his own date.

Increasingly growing frustrated that she has to continue to pose as a student, Fran inadvertently develops a close friendship with Peter’s mother (this will be very important later.) Fran’s cover is almost when Keith’s fiancée Helen (played by Frances Mercer) picks a fight with her in a jealous rage which eventually has Fran accidentally punching Peter’s father in the face.

Sidenote: this scene genuinely had me on the ground howling with laughter, I couldn’t gain my composure for a good 10 minutes. 

vivacious lady 1938 5

source: RKO Pictures

After un-pausing the movie and regaining my senses, the film continues with Peter candidly shouting at his dad (mostly due to frustration) that the blonde-haired student that’s been following him everywhere is actually his wife.

“Finally,” he thought. “I’m no longer burdened with this secret that’s been shredding my heart to smithereens.”

Not so fast.

It turns out that his dad was about to give a “state of the union,” – so to speak – to the higher-ups at the college board. This results in a quarrel between the two which causes Mrs. Morgan, who’s sitting a few steps away, to have another heart “flare up”. Concerned for her well being, Peter orders Fran to take Mrs. Morgan back to her dormitory.

This is where Mrs. Morgan comes clean about everything. She confesses to Fran that she knew who she was the entire time and that she regularly fakes her heart ailments to get out of arguments with her husband (I should try this when I get married.)

Thanks to George Stevens, we get this hilarious scene where Keith, Mrs. Morgan, and Fran essentially celebrate having a couple of minutes away from the insolent spirit of the elder Morgan.


source: RKO Pictures

After their brief moment of bliss, Mr. Morgan confronts Fran and demands her to separate from Peter. When that doesn’t work, he threatens Peter’s job security. Ultimately, Francey gets the hint and begrudgingly leaves.

Mr. Morgan’s strong statements prompt Mrs. Morgan to drudge up some hidden feelings about the state of their marriage that have been ruminating inside her for years. Taken aback by his words, she hitches her wagon to Francey’s one-way ticket out of Old Sharon.

Free from the clutches of the elder Morgan, both women get on the first train down to Reno.

Peter’s resolution to the problem is to create possibly the most disrespectful situation a child could possibly subject their parents to – public drunkenness. As you can imagine he makes a complete fool of himself.

He loosens his tie, takes off his shoes, and downs about 7 glasses of whiskey in his classroom’s broom closet accompanied by who’s Keith cheering him on a couple paces away. Peter claims he’ll continue on this downward spiral until his father retracts the statements he spewed so flippantly a few hours earlier, even if this stunt costs him his cushy office job.

Vivacious Lady 1938 9

source: RKO Pictures

Several hours and many bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue later, Peter hits the hypothetical brick wall of drunkenness. This sees him miss the train that was carrying his emotionally distraught wife and mother.

When this was happening, Fran (being the typical woman) expects her ‘knight and shining armor’ to come galavanting down the train tracks, enter the convoy, sweep her off her feet then ride off into the sunset hoping to reconcile their failed marriage. When that doesn’t happen, she accepts her fate and proceeds to cry into Mrs. Morgan’s supportive shoulder.

Surprisingly, while Peter is knocked from his all-day ‘bender’, Mr. Morgan swallows his pride, finds the train before it leaves the station and takes it upon himself to apologize to both his wife and daughter- in- law.

You may be wondering, “how does one man stop a 100,000+ pound train dead in its tracks?” “Surely, it must be impossible.”

Well, if your first answer isn’t to park your car it in front of its path, then you may be a heartless jerk (according to what the movie says, anyway.)

Miraculously, Mr. Morgan finds his way onto the train tracks and hobbles his way into the shared cabin of Francey and Mrs. Morgan. With Peter not too far behind, the elder Morgan manages to weasel his way back into the loving clutches of his wife, profusely apologizes to both women. As for Peter and Francey, everything appeared to go smoothly for them.

Fortunately for the duo, they reunited without a hitch and forgave each other fairly quickly. Unfortunately for the audience, that happened to be the last scene of the movie, but based on their reactions, I have it on good authority that something as petty as this  probably won’t happen again to the Morgan clan.


Vivacious Lady 1938 7

source: RKO Pictures

Vivacious Lady is a picture that made my heart soar. Since the plot wasn’t as convoluted as some other romantic comedies from this era, the sole focus revolves around Ginger and James‘ incredible chemistry that permeated every inch of this movie.

Filled with pure amusement and warmth. The phenomenal attraction between Rogers and Stewart is what makes this movie tick. If this film had any other pair of leading actors, It might not have worked as well.

We can thank George Stevens for masterfully crafting a romantic comedy that genuinely feels romantic. Now, that sounds a bit redundant, but, there have been plenty of times where I’ve watched romantic dramas/comedies where I felt no connection to the characters, plot, or outcome. With Vivacious Lady, however, I was very interested in whether or not Fran and Peter (and to a lesser extent Peter’s parents) would be able to fix their issues.

All in all, Vivacious Lady is charming romp about star-crossed lovers and the many forces that threaten to derail their relationship. The movie is funny, touching, and slightly sensual (thanks to the pre-existing real-life relationship between Ginger and Jimmy.)

What more, as a classic film fan, could you possibly want in a movie?

It’s perfect.