Favorite Director Blogathon….

6acc04d9c0a24bcafda2a7d34ea4f99d

Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Stanley Donen on the set of Charade (1963) source: Universal Pictures

Stanley Donen is a living legend.

It’s no surprise that his movies have made such a lasting impact on the film industry. From comedies, romantic dramas and even musicals, Stanley Donen was the renaissance man of the golden age. In no other film does this exemplify his versatility than 1963’s Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.

I think this movie showcases the best of Donen as a director, and that’s the main reason why I chose this film for the Favorite Director Blogathon. Starring Audrey Hepburn (at her loveliest), Cary Grant and Walter Matthau, Charade has one of the funniest and most intriguing plots of any Donen film I’ve ever watched. Often times, I hear a lot of classic movie fans say that this is the most ‘Hitchcockian‘ movie they’ve seen without it being directed by ‘Hitch‘ himself.

So, without further ado, let’s explore why this movie is a perfect example of Stanley Donen‘s talents.

charade4

source: Universal Pictures

The plot of the movie revolves around Regina ‘Reggie’ Lambert, played by Audrey Hepburn. While on a skiing trip in the east of France, she tells her best friend Sylvie Gaudel, played by Dominique Minot that she’s divorcing her husband. Shocked and dismayed at this decision, Sylvie tries to argue against this- to no avail.

Suddenly, a handsome stranger approaches the table where the two are sitting and introduces himself. This man, played by Cary Grant, is Peter Joshua. After a bit of back and forth, he eventually leaves the two women alone.

Cut to the next scene.

We see Reggie back in Paris, only to find out that her apartment has been completely emptied. The police inspector that was in her apartment investigating what happened tells Reggie that her husband has been murdered.

Before he met his demise, he sold off all of their belongs which are now missing. As if this couldn’t get any more strange, her husband left behind a duffle bag containing some passports in different names, some stamps, a ticket to Venezula and letter that’s adressed to her. A few days later, she attends his funeral. As she’s sitting there mourning the loss of her husbad, 3 rather unfamiliar men walk in.

charade

source: Universal Pictures

She brushes this off, merely believing that these men were just old friends, until she meets with a CIA administrator named Hamilton Bartholomew, played by Walter Matthau. He tells her that three men that showed up were suriviors of a failed OSS operation in World War II.

Their mission (including a man named Carson Dyle and her husband) was to deliever $250,000 in gold to the French Resistance, but instead of doing the right thing, they stole it

This leaves Reggie in a predicament.

Now that her husband is dead, these 3 men were searching for the missing loot. Not only do these louts want the money, the US Government is also looking for it also. Perplexed at what she do next, Regina refuses all help.

This changes quickly as soon as Peter Joshua, coincidentally, tracks Reggie down in Paris and helps her move into a hotel. On three separate occasions, these men individually come to Reggie’s hotel room, demanding that they tell her where the money is.

Now, the next part is a bit tricky.

One of the criminals, named Scobie, tells Reggie that this ‘Peter Joshua’ fellow was one of the men alongside them during the attempted heist.

charade2

source: Universal Pictures

Caught in a lie, ‘Peter Joshua’ confesses that he really isn’t ‘Peter Joshua’, but a man named Alexander, the brother of the heist member Carson Dyle. According to “Alexander”, he’s convinced that one of these 3 men killed his brother. Despite this little bump in the road, the five continue their search for this missing ‘treasure.’

The plot thickens.

While walking around the hotel, one of the men dies, leaving only two left. Naturally, per usual in films like this, Reggie ends up falling in love with Alexander. But, before the two get all ‘lovey dovey’, one of the two remaining criminals admits that, once again, Alexander isn’t who he says he is.

Stuck in a bit of a pickle, he admits that he’s not any of the men he said he was. In actuality, he’s a man named Adam Canfield and he’s only here to steal the money for himself. Even though he admits this, Reggie still finds him attractive.

Anyway, the two go to an outdoor market where Reggie’s husband had one last ‘appointment’ before he died. Adam see stamps traders, and realizes that her deceased husband must have purchased some rare stamps that where now in Reggie’s possesion.

The only problem is that these stamps are now missing and Reggie is the only person who knows where they are. She accidentally gave those stamps away to her best friend’s nephew while on vaction in France and few days eariler.

charade3big

source: Univesal Pictures

Ironically Sylvie and her nephew, named Jean-Louis, happen to be at the same stamp collectors that Adam and Reggie were at a few minutes earlier. Before Jean-Louis could trade in his stamps, thankfully, Reggie stops him.

Exhausted, Reggie returns to hotel room where she finds ANOTHER one of the henchmen murdered. Chillingly, before the man died, he wrote in blood on the floor of his hotel room the name ‘Dyle.’ Reggie, understanding who that is, calls Hamilton Bartholomew, who wishes to meet with her.

While on her way to meet the CIA administrator, ‘Peter/Alexander/Adam’ spots her and proceeds to chase her through the streets of Paris. She manages to evade him and finds Bartholomew at the spot where they’re supposed to meet up.

Before she could actually talk to him, she gets stopped by Adam, who tells her that Bartholomew is actually Carson Dyle. He claims that he wasn’t killed in the heist only wounded. Reggie doesn’t understand how this could be possible, seeing that they met in his office only days before.

Adam tells her that he cleverly scheduled their appointments so that when the real Bartholomew was on his lunch break, they could meet uninterrupted.

charade-the-end

source: Unversal Pictures

The chase continues through an empty theatre where ultimatley Bartholomew is shot and killed by Adam. After that whole ordeal, the two go to the US Embassy the next morning to return the stamps. Inside, they’re escorted to the office of Brian Cruikshank, a Treasury official who is responsible for stolen items.

They go inside the office and Reggie finds out that Adam is actually Brian Cruikshank. Reggie, who still isn’t dismayed that this guy lied to her throughout this whole entire ordeal, wants to marry him. Finally, the movie ends with Brian relenting, while Reggie sits on his lap, promising him that they’ll have four kids based on the four names that he used during their escapades.

Why This Perfectly Captures Stanley Donen’s Career

poster

source: Universal Pictures

Stanley Donen really out did himself on this one.

Charade is one of the most interesting, funny and exhilarating films I’ve ever seen. It definitely pays to watch this film without any spoilers. I know that the first time I watched it, I wanted more, and I think that’s a testament to Stanley Donen as a director.

From cheery movies like Singin’ In The Rain, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers  to more grounded ones like, Indiscreet and Two For the Road, Charade is that happy mediumWith a perfect blend of drama, sex and comedy, Stanley Donen took a script that could’ve been a Hitchcock copy and turned it into his own. This is why Stanley Donen is my favorite director. He isn’t some knock off of a director that came before him, he’s unqiue in his own right, and for that, I thank him.

My Obession With……the films of Audrey Hepburn

tumblr_n1mn0kNJpY1qbilh4o2_500

Where do I begin with Ms. Audrey Hepburn? Class personified, and a role model to all women and an ideal woman to all men. A veteran of over 30 movies Audrey Hepburn is the quinessential classic Hollywood figure. In order to properly get a sense of who Audrey was, I’ll pick a few of her movies to get a complete understanding of why she’s so revered as not only a fashion icon, but also as a tremendous actress.

Roman Holiday (1953)

romanholiday

source: Paramount Pictures

Roman Holiday is one of my favorite movies.

If I’m ever introducing someone to classic films, this is the movie I make sure to put on the top of my list. I mean, how could someone be disappointed when they’re watching Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck frolic through Rome? Directed by William Wyler, Roman Holiday tells the story of Princess Ann and her struggles with feeling increasingly isolated in her royal life.

While on a scheduled trip to Rome, she decides to neglect her royal duties and escape the embassy that she’s staying at. The only problem is, her family gave her a sleeping pill to help ease her ‘anxietes.’ This causes her to sleep walk throughout the city of Rome and eventually into the arms (and apartment) of journalist Joe Bradley, played by Gregory Peck.

When she wakes up the next morning, naturally, she’s utterly confused. Bradley quickly realizes who she is and wants to write a story on her. Ann, or Anya as she would later be called, rebuffs his advances and is hell-bent on exploring Rome by herself. Perturbed at her rejection, Bradley follows her around until they coincidentally meet up at a Roman cafe. For the rest of the film, we see Bradley shed his journalistic instincts while ultimately ending up falling in love with Anya as the two explore Rome together.

I will refrain from posting spoilers on this post because I want people who’ve never seen these films to enjoy the endings as they are. However, to those who have seen Roman Holiday, it’s one of the most touching and romantic movies in Hepburn’s filmography.

The fact that Hepburn won her first and only Academy Award is a testament to how wonderful and heartwarming this movie is. The chemistry between Hepburn and Peck adds to the movie’s already poignant nature, and the ending definitely capitalizes on that.

Funny Face (1957)

funny-face-audrey-hepburn-fred-astaire-opening-credits

source: Paramount Pictures

The next film on this list is a complete departure from the warm and fuzzy feelings of Roman Holiday. From the cobble streets of Rome to the slick sophistication of Paris, Funny Face is a romantic-musical-comedy directed by Stanley Donen. 

In the film Hepburn plays a shy, and rather homely bookkeeper named Jo Stockton who’s accidentally photographed by a fashion photographer during a photoshoot at her bookstore. Astonished at how beautiful this “random girl” was in the background of his photo, the man who photographed Jo invites her to model for him in Paris.

As the get to know each other better while snapping photos in front of iconic Parisienne landmarks, they eventually fall in love. Unfortunately, the pair face a plethora of obstacles that hinder them from actually consummating their relationship.

Also starring Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson, Funny Face is your archetypal classic Hollywood musical. With gorgeous scenic shots of Paris, a marvelous soundtrack and killer musical numbers (my favorite in particular is ‘Bonjour Paris‘) Funny Face rivals any MGM musical from that year; and the best part about that is, it stars Audrey Hepburn.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960)

breakfast-at-tiffanys-blu-ray-movie-title-1280

source: Paramount Pictures

Fun Fact about this movie: Marilyn Monroe was Truman Capote‘s first choice to play Holly Golightly.

This ‘fun fact’ probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise though. Being that the original version Capote intended to put on the screen was much more scandalous for 1960s audiences, the movie had to be toned down significantly in order to appease the censors. The tonal shift meant another, less sexual version of Holly Golightly had to be cast.

This is where Audrey Hepburn steps in.

Directed by Blake Edwards, Breakfast at Tiffany’s also stars George Peppard, Patricia Neal and Mickey Rooney in supporting roles. BAT’ is a story about Holly Golightly’s relationship with writer Paul Varjak, played by Peppard, and the ups and downs that the couple go through.

I have a special relationship with Breakfast at Tiffany‘s. It surely isn’t my favorite Hepburn film, but, I think it symbolizes a change in film roles that Hepburn would take from that point on in her career. You see, as the 1960s progressed, Hepburn’s filmography would increasingly feature a number of movies where the subject matter wasn’t as ‘lighthearted’ as her previous films.

Breakfast at Tiffany‘s was the first pillar, then rest came falling down in films like, The Children’s Hour, Two for The Road, Wait Unitil Dark and Charade. The movies I listed are complete departure of the jovial and romantic movies of Hepburn’s earlier roles, and because of that is the reason why Breakfast at Tiffany‘s is a must see. Not only is the film an iconic piece of movie history, it also signifies a shift in Hepburn’s career.

How to Steal a Million (1966)

how-to-steal-a-million-hd-movie-title

source: 20th Century Fox

The last film on this list is apart of those later movies Hepburn would go on to do.

How to Steal a Million is a superb example of a 1960s era romantic-comedy. Directed by William Wyler and starring Peter O’Toole as burgler Simon Bonnet and Hepburn as Nicole Bonnet (the daughter of an art collector,) the movie follows Hepburn and O’Toole‘s character’s as they seek to steal back a piece of art that accidently got loaned to a local museum.

Why are they stealing the art back? Well, it’s because Nicole’s father is an art forger, and if they allow his ‘art’ to be displayed for all to see, it most certainly wouldn’t bode well for his business.

What ensues is a massively funny and endearing romcom that had me laughing and swooning (over Peter O’Toole) during it’s 2 hour and 7 minute runtime. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie and I hope all of reading this will have the privilege of watching it one day.

Conclusion

Audrey Hepburn is one of my favorite actresses. The fact that she had such a large imprint on movies in such a short amount of time is a testament to her charisma. I can only hope that you love the movies on this list as much as I do!

Five Stars Blogathon…

Before I begin, I would like to thank the Classic Film and TV Café for hosting this wonderful, very interesting blogathon!

This is my first ever blogathon and I’m quite excited about it, I’ve been wanting to do one for a while. The topic for this specific blogathon is to list my five favorite movie stars and write about what I adore about them, so, without further ado, I present to you my five favorite classic Hollywood actors/actress of the golden age of Hollywood.

Number 5: Doris Day

dorisday

It’s no wonder that the band Wham! wrote a lyric in their song Wake Me Up Before You Go Go about her.

Doris Day is one of those classic Hollywood icons that everyone loves and no one hates- I mean, how could you hate her? Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff was born on April 3rd 1922 in Cincinati, Ohio to parents Alma Sophia and William Joseph Kappelhoff.

Doris started her career at a young age. Her mother put her in singing lessions which eventually landed her first singing gig on a radio program named Carlin’s Carnival sometime in the early 40s. This is where jazz muscian Barney Rapp first heard her, and quickly called her up to come audition for his jazz band. Fortunately for Day, she got the job.

The next few years Doris would spend her days traveling with band leaders like Jimmy JamesBob Crosby, and Les Brown. While working for the Les Brown Band, she caught the eye of songwriter Sammy Cahn who recommened her for the starring role in Michael Curtiz’s film, Romance on the High Seas. This is where Doris started her movie career that would last around 20 years and include 43 movies, with memorable ones such as The Man Who Knew Too Much, Please Don’ Eat the Daises, and Lover Come Back.

Doris Day is the reason I fell in love with classic movies, Pillow Talk was one of the first films from Doris that I ever watched, after that- I was obsessed. Her warm and radiant presence on screen kept me coming back for more. The 1960s alone were a goldmine for great Doris Day movies. I can only hope that you find a classic Hollywood actress that you love as much as I love Doris Day.

Film recommendations: Pillow Talk, Calamity Jane, Love Me or Leave Me, Move Over Darling, Send Me No Flowers.

Number 4: Fred Astaire

fred-astaire2

Ahhhh, Fred Astaire. Where would dancing in movies be without you?

This swave hoofer was born in Omaha, Nebraksa as Fred Austerlitz on May 10th 1899. Much like Doris Day, Fred got started quite early, dancing with his sister Adele in several shows as a partnership at the age of 6.

By 1918 Fred quickly outgrew the pair and eventually his sister. Despite this obvious talent disparity, the two continued to tour, performing in London in shows like The Bunch and Judy, Lady Be Good, Funny Face, and an early version of The Band Wagon from 1922 through 1931.

Hoping to give the partnership one last shot, the siblings took their act to Hollywood for a screen test- only to be rejected by Paramount Pictures. The pair split in 1932. Adele went on to marry and settle down in a comfortable home life, while Fred honed his craft and continue to work on Broadway. Aspiring to expand his range, Astaire once again went to Hollywood to try his luck, and boy was he lucky.

After screentesting for RKO Pictures, David O Selznick decided to sign Astaire to a contract and the rest was history…

Astaire would go on to become one of the most memorable and recognizable on screen dancers of the 20th Century. Starring in 8 films alongside Ginger Rogers and dancing with some of the most gorgeous leading ladies of his lifetime, Fred Astaire was a force to be reckoned with.

I love Fred for this very reason. No matter what movie he was in, you could guarentee you’ll have a great cinematic experience. His work ethic was unparallelled and it showed in his dance numbers.

For that reason, I have him on the number 4 spot on this list.

Film Recommendations: Funny Face, Silk Stockings, The Barkleys of Broadway, The Band Wagon, You Were Never the Lovelier.

Number 3: Ingrid Bergman

ingridbergman

Ingrid Bergman is one of those actresses that you wish were still alive today. In her prime, she made some remarkable movies that I still re watch to this day. I only wished she could’ve made more…

Ingrid was born Stockholm, Sweden on August 29th 1915 to parents Justus Bergman and Frieda Adler. As a child, she wanted to become an opera singer, so she took singing lessons for 3 years. Even though she longed to become an opera singer, she always knew should would become an actress. Later in her teen years, Ingrid recieved a scholarship to the Royal Dramatic Theatre School in Stockholm. She accepted and quickly got a part in the school’s new play Ett Brott (translated in English to: A Crime.)

The thing is, this was completely violating school procedure. In order to star in a play, you’d have to be in your 3rd year of studies, but alas, Ingrid broke that rule.

That summer, Ingrid was hired for her first movie role, which ultimately saw her drop out of University.  Her first role after dropping out of college was a tiny part in the film, Munkbrogreven. She continued her career in Sweden, acting in two more films before she got her big break.

In 1939 she got the leading role in the movie in David O Selznick‘s romantic-drama Intermezzo (a lovely film, by the way.) Selznick brought her to America for this specifically to star alongside Leslie Howard. At first, Ingrid didn’t believe that the American audiences would be accepting of her. But, she recanted and did the movie anyway, only to quickly to return to Sweden with her then husband Petter Lindstrom and her daughter Pia.

It was only when Intermezzo was a hit that Ingrid returned to America to continue her career which included fantasic films like: Casablanca, Anastasia, and Murder on The Orient Express. 

Film Recommendations: Notorious, Spellbound, Gaslight, Goodbye Again, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Number 2:  Frank Sinatra

Screen-Shot-2015-12-12-at-12

Frank Sinatra. What more can I say? Probably the most influential pop figure from the 20th century we’ve ever had. Singer. Actor. Influencer. Womanizer.

Need I say more?

Compared to the rest of the stars on this list, by the time Frank started his movie career, he was already a full-fledged pop crooner. In the early 40s he made his film debut in Las Vegas Nights, where he had an uncredited cameo as a night club singer. In 1943, he had another cameo in the film Reveille with Beverly before getting a starring role in the movie Anchors Aweigh co-starring Gene Kelly. Sinatra’s fame quadrupled in size when he started his acting career and from that point on, it would only continue to get bigger.

I love Sinatra’s acting career. It has a lot of different genres and themes where Frank was able to show that he could take on a multitude of different roles. From movies like Take Me Out to The Ball Game, It Happened in Brooklyn and eventually winning an Oscar for From Here to Eternity, Sinatra’s acting career is almost as good as his singing one- almost.

Film Recomendations: On the Town, The Man With the Golden Arm, The Tender Trap, Guys and Dolls, High Society, Pal Joey, Ocean’s 11

Number 1: Kim Novak

novak698

Sooooo, Kim Novak.  A blonde bomshell whose career isn’t as appreciated as some of her fellow actresses of that decade. A fairly tragic story if you ask me…

Kim Novak was born Marilyn Pauline Novak on Feburary 13th 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. One summer while Kim was modeling cross country for a refrigerator company at trade show in Los Angeles, she and a friend decided to auditon as extras for the Jane Russell film The French Line and the RKO picture Son of Sinbad. This is where she was spotted by an agent who signed her to a contract to Columbia Pictures.

It was here that the studio try to mould Kim into something she wasn’t comfortably with (aka another Marilyn Monroe.) Novak would make her film debut in the film noir Pushover in 1954 then quickly follow that up with 5 Against the House in 1955. Her career would finally pick up when she starred in Picnic in 1955. This movie would springboard her into more film roles like The Man With The Golden Arm, Vertigo, and Bell Book and Candle.

You know, sometimes I feel really bad for her. I mean, she deserved way more then what she got during her career. She always been overlooked for her acting ability solely on the fact that she happened to be in the same era of the ‘blonde bombshell.’ The studio tried to mould her into something she wasn’t and for that, I truly believed her career suffered. Luckily for the limited amount of movie she did do, hold up just perfectly.

FIN

So, those are my top 5, I’m excited to see what everyone else put on their list!

The Best of M-G-M: Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954)

Seven-Brides-For-Seven-Brothers

source: MGM

I don’t think there’s any other film that fills me with such as happines as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers  does. Released in 1954, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a romantic-musical-comedy starring an all-star cast of talented singers, dancers, and actors, spearheaded by the two leads of Howard Keel and Jane Powell.

Set in the 1850s in Oregon Terrority, the film’s plot follows the Pontipee brothers as they go about their lives in the backwoods of Oregon. Filled with astonishing dance numbers, breathtaking backdrops and sensational character acting, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of MGM’s most memorable and least appreciated musicals.

Now, in order to see how phenomenal this film is, let’s go through each group of characters – one by one.

Adam & Milly

sevenbridesforsevenbrothers1954_16147_678x380_05292014020909

source: MGM

The main characters in ‘Seven Brides‘ are Adam and Milly Pontipee, a newly wedded couple who struggle to come to to terms with getting married so quickly without knowing each other.

One day, the eldest brother Adam Pontipee, played by Howard Keel, goes into to town to find himself a caretaker, or as he calls it- a wife, to help him and his 6 brothers. He gets to the town square and searches all over for a suitable mate to marry. He eventually finds a wife in a small, blonde, but boldfaced woman named Milly, played by Jane Powell.

When they first meet, Milly is a barmaid at a tavern serving her food to warry travelers. Insistant on trying some of this food, Adam sits down, anxiously waiting to taste one of Milly’s meal to determine whether or not she’s fit to be his wife. It turns out- she is! With a bit of coaxing and bargaining, Milly agrees- only on one condition: she gets to finish the chores she’s obligated to do before she hightails it out of there.

With many objections from Milly’s family, she marries Adam anyway.

When the two get to the cabin, Milly is in shock. She didn’t realized Adam had 6 other brothers until all of them come rushing out like wildmen to the front porch to see what all the hubbub is about.

This is where the movie starts to pick up…

The Brothers

7bf7b

source: MGM

The brothers introduce themselves, and explain that their parents named them alphabetically with names from the Bible, starting with Adam, then it goes as follows: Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank (short for frankincense), and Gideon. All of these brothers are big, strapping, young gentlemen (well, all except for the youngest Gideon), and Milly wonders why she has to be the sole woman in the household taking care of their messses.

So, she concocts a plan to marry the 6 brothers off.

In an attempt to socialize the boys to the outside world, Milly takes a few of the brothers to the market place where they run into a couple of local girls. Milly encourages the brothers to introduce themselves to the young ladies, but alas, their backwoodsman ways take over, and they end up scaring the girls away.

Cue the women coming into the story arc….

The Girls

thebrides

source: MGM

After teaching the brothers how to properly court a woman, the boys try out their new skills at a local barn raising contest. This where we meet the 6 women that will eventually be paired off with the boys: Dorcas (played by Julie Newmar), Ruth (played by Ruta Lee), Martha (played by Norma Doggett), Liza (played by Virginia Gibson), Sarah (played by Betty Carr), and Alice (played by Nancy Kilgas.)

Once the brothers get to the barn raising, their new style and ‘swagger’, if you will, immediately attracts attention from the girls they originally scared off. The only probelm is, these girls already have suitors that were courting these girls waaaaay before the Pontipee Brothers showed up. Thrilled and overjoyed at this new found attention, yet also seething with jealously, the 6 brothers (at the insistence of the eldest brother Adam) enroll themselves in a barn raising contest.

465ed62c9c3ebc88f334a41880569d89

source: MGM

They begin the contest. and the other group of suitors (who look like an 1800s version of a street gang in West Side Story) start taunting the brothers- and by taunting, I mean getting pretty violent. This violence inevitably escalates until the whole event and barn come tumbling down.

The next scene we see the brothers beatened and bruised after their huge brawl. They also happen to be very lovesick and yearning for their girls. To counteract this Milly asks Adam to give his brothers a little pep talk.

At this point in the film, we see the movie enter the final 30 mintues of it’s 102 minute runtime and what happens next is indisputably the most exciting and hilarious.

The Whimsical Ending

sevenbrides

source: MGM

After giving his brothers a rousing pep talk (in which we get a musical number about kidnapping women), the brothers go out into the harsh winter snow to do just that- steal their women back. Unbeknownst to Milly, the brothers bring the girls back to the Pontipee homestead, only to be repremanded by her and forced to sleep outside for the remainder of the season, while the girls cozy up inside without them- ouch!

Irate at what Milly is doing, Adam flees, setting up house at another cabin a few milles away. Soon after her husband leaves, Milly finds out she’s preganant- the plot thickens.

The winter ultimately passes, and the girls get restless. So, they start playing pranks (ex: throwing rock filled snowballs, and dumping their dirty bath water) on the brothers outside as they’re doing their chores.

The funny part is, these girls experience a bit of Stockholm Syndrome and end up forgiving their captors by the time spring rolls around. Now that everyone happy and in love, there’s only one more problem to solve- Milly’s baby and it’s absentee father.

Everyone’s there at the birth of Milly’s daughter, except Adam Pontipee. Perturbed at this fact, the youngest brother Gideon hops on a horse and makes the dangerous trek up to Adam’s mancave cabin. He confronts Adam and tells him, in layman’s terms, that he’s a horrible person. Adam, understandably, takes offense to this and refuses to come back. He tells Gideon that he’ll only return when the rest of the snow melts down.

SBFB-Spring

source: MGM

 

After Gideon leaves, Adam contemplates what his brother just said, and decides to return to the cabin earlier than expected. When Adam arrives at the Pontipee household, he promptly reconciles with his wife, and has a ‘come to Jesus moment’ as a new father. He recognizes that they need to return the girls to their kinfolk or else the rest of his brothers won’t be able to marry.

For some INEXPLICABLE REASON, the other 6 brothers think that keeping the girls away from their familes is a good idea and the crazy thing is, THE GIRLS ARGEE WITH THE BROTHERS. Anyway, Milly convinces the brothers to go round up the girls- and they do.

The girl’s familes show up to the cabin, and they are very very angry, in fact they threaten to lynch the boys for kidnapping their daugthers. When they walk in and confront the Pontipee brothers. Alice’s father, who’s conveniently a preacher, hears a baby crying, and believes it’s her’s. In fact all the men in their think that baby is their daugthers. In order to settled this, they ask who’s the child’s mother.

In true, MGM muscial fashion, all of the girls simultaneouly claim that baby belongs to them, thus forcing all 6 of the brothers and girls into a shotgun wedding- literally.

Conclusion

According to Jane Powell, she says that, at the time, MGM was more interested in promoting and investing money into the 1954 film Brigadoon starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse than ‘Seven Brides.’ MGM considered Brigadoon an ‘A’ picture, and they didn’t want to waste time funneling funds into a ‘B’ picture which would be ‘Seven Brides.’

The studio couldn’t have been more wrong.

No offence to Brigadoon lovers, it’s a good fillm, but not nearly as fun (or as memorable) as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

The performances given by Jeff Richards, Matt Mattox, Marc Platt, Jacques d’Amboise, Tommy Rall and Russ Tamblyn as the other 6 brothers to Howard Keel‘s Adam, definitely elevate this movie. My favorite number in particular is the barn raising scene, which you can watch: here. I just marvel at the athleticism and dancing skill that these men had.

Oh! How could I forget about the girls! Even though their parts weren’t as hefty as the brothers, the ‘June Bride‘ sequence is absoulutely lovely. These ladies conveyed what it’s like to be stuck in a backwoods cabin, longing for a touch from her lover.

As for Jane Powell and Howard Keel, they did a fantasic job, but for the bulk of the movie, I must commend the supporting cast because without them, I’m not sure what this movie would be.

In the end, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a delightfully whimsical film about love and heartbreak, if you ever have the chance to watch this musical on TCM or on DVD, in the words of Shia LaBeouf: JUST DO IT!

 

Classic Film Reviews: Sudden Fear (1952)

sudden fear

source: RKO Pictures

Poor Joan Crawford, she can never seem to catch a break.

She meets a handsome younger man and they get married. All is going well until he plots to murder you and then run away with your fortune with his younger, more daring blonde girlfriend. This ‘younger man’ troupe was the common theme in most of Crawford‘s films when she made the move from MGM to Warner Brothers in 1943. In no other movie is this more prevalent then the thriller/film-noir Sudden Fear.

Released in 1952, Sudden Fear stars Joan Crawford (at her most fabulous), Jack Palence, and Gloria Grahame. Joan plays Myra Hudson, a succesful Broadway playwright who runs her productions like a well oiled machine. Looking for a new male lead for her next play, she hosts audtions, hoping to find that one lucky man. That one lucky man does show up as Lester Blaine, played by Jack Palence. Lester gets the part, but come rehearsals Myra fires him, rather harshly, due to lack of romantic chemistry with his leading lady.

A few days later, the play has it’s premier. Myra, happy and estatic that she’s getting rave reviews for her newest masterpiece, boards a train home to San Francisco. Coincidentally, Lester Blaine happens to be on the same train ride; Myra, understandably, feels put off by this.

gloria and jack

Gloria Grahame and Jack Palence in a publicity still for Sudden Fear (1952) source: RKO Pictures

But, after a few hours of laughing, throwing back drinks, and sharing a couple of stories, Lester sucessfully ‘woos’ her. They fall in love and Myra is absolutely smitten with her new man.  One night, Lester was due at Myra’s home for a get-together she was throwing for a successful play opening. After a few hours of being ghosted, Myra decides to seek out her beau, jilting a crowd of people who were now stranded at a house party without a hostess.

This is where the plot thickens.

She rushes over to his hotel, only to find him halfway down the steps getting ready to board the next train to New York. He claims that he has “no place in her life’ and that he doesn’t “belong to her world.” Despite that, the two reconcile and eventually get married. The newly hitched couple go on a mini staycation at Myra’s beachside home.

While walking down the steep steps of the beach house, Lester warns Myra that the way down has no guard rail. Why would he point this out? Why would a newly married man be worried about his wife suddenly dying? Anyway. The next day, Myra throws ANOTHER party, this time Lester actually shows up. However, what happens next changes the entire arc of the movie.

Sudden_Fear_1952_8

source: RKO Pictures

During the soiree, a myserious blonde makes her way into the mansion. This throws Lester off guard as he drifts in and out of conversation. The blonde introduces herself as Irene Neves, played by the amazingly talented Gloria Grahame. The pair seem to be a little bit too friendly with each other, but, Myra pays no mind.

Cue the next scene.

Irene is kissing her date goodbye and runs up to her apartment. Suddenly a man comes up behind her and stops her from putting her key in the door. Surprise, surprise, the man is actually Lester. By this point in the film, expectations have been subverted so many times that, I’ve given up on guessing what happens. The two have a very heated (and very sensual) argument about why she’s here in the first place. Irene’s feminine wiles convince Lester to leave his wife, unbeknownst to Myra.

The next few days Irene and Lester develop a plan to run away together- but first Myra needs to disppear.

They spend a couple of weeks plotting, scheming and conniving ways to possibly remove Myra from the equation. During these weeks, Lester behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre. Myra, finally, becomes suspicious to her husband’s odd behaviour. But, here’s the kicker, Myra ultimately finds out about this whole plot to have her killed by unintentionally listening to a recording, from her dictation machine, of Irene and Lester discussing ways to have her murder look like an accident.

Frightened and heartbroken, Myra falls into a deep depression- refusing to leave her room for days out of fear of being killed. During this time, she plans her way to preemptively stop this by killing Lester and placing the blame on Irene.

SuddenFear

source: RKO Pictures

The plan sounds diabolical, but it just might work.

The next few scenes in the movie has Myra sneaking into Irene’s apartment with a duplicate key she had made a few days earlier. When she’s in the apartment, she hides in the closet until Irene comes home with a date. Irene’s date is very persistent on staying longer than he’s welcomed, but she eventually manages to get rid of him. She then leaves to meet Lester at a parking garage, leaving Myra in the closet.

Myra envisioned what it may be like to kill Lester, but when faced with the thought, she throws the gun away. Hysterical and disgusted with the prospect of killing her husband, she doesn’t go through her plan. As soon as she was about to leave the apartment Lester walks in. The phone rings, and Lester picks it up. It was Irene’s date. Lester starts to get an uneasy feeling.

He walks around the apartment and he stumbles upon Myra’s gun wraped in a hankerchief. Convinced Myra set him up, he rushes out of the apartment to his car and is hell-bent on finding her. Myra, stupidly, chases after him on foot. Lester spots her (or what looks to be her) out of the corner of his eye and then proceeds to hunt her down with his car. Lester slams on the brakes believing he was killing Myra, but it turns out to be Irene, who was wearing the same white scarf Myra was. Lester ends up killing himself and Irene while Myra in disbelief, walks of dazed and without a scratch.

 

Conclusion

I adore everything about this movie, the way it’s shot, the shadows, the acting performances- everything! Joan Crawford really gave it her all in this role. You felt the pain, and panic on her face when she found out that her husband was conspiring to kill her with a younger woman, and then that pain turned into concern for him when he ends up involuntarily killing himself at the end. Ms. Crawford unquestionably deserved that Oscar nomination she recieved in 1952,  and in my opinion, she should’ve won.

I also have to give it up to the two other actors who were starring opposite Joan in the movie: Jack Palence and Gloria Grahame. Their chemistry when they shared scenes together were dripping with innuendo. At times, I rooted for them to get away with it. You know, the Bonnie and Clyde effect, but alas, never count out Joan Crawford.

Overall, I would give this film a 9/10. It’s a film noir that you must put on your watchlist. The cinematography will have you thinking about it hours after you’ve finished, and the acting performances will make it a movie to remember.

The Mesmerizing Colour Palettes of Oceans 11 (1960)

oceans11

source: Warner Bros

I’ve always had a fascination with Las Vegas – vintage Las Vegas in particular. Vegas always had this aura of mystery and secrecy to me. Despite it being a popular tourist destination, I have always felt that ‘Sin City’ was reserved for gangsters, ruffians and showgirls that were desperately looking to con you out of your money. That’s the thing about Vegas, because it has this shiny facade of colours and wealth, we don’t see that seedy underbelly underneath all of the glitz and glamour.

Come to think of it, that’s the perfect way to summerize the 1960 heist film Ocean’s 11. Starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Angie Dickinson otherwise known as ‘The Rat Pack’, Ocean’s 11 is basically a 2 hour self-congratulatory movie made to showcase how awesome it is to robe few casino with 10 of your closests friends.

It’s a very enjoyable flick, don’t get me wrong. It’s so enjoyable that I even have this poster of the movie on my bedroom wall. The problem with Ocean’s is that it isn’t the best plot wise. There tends to be a ton of moments in the film where there’s a lot of standing and talking, talking and standing. That would be great if it were a courtoom drama, but for an action-adventure picture, it gets tired very quickly.

That’s where the cinematography comes in.

What’s so great about Ocean’s 11 is the way it looks. The movie’s cinematographer William H. Daniels did such a fantastic on job this movie that the cinematography makes up for what the plot lacks. The vivid colours contrasted with the black backgrounds is something I would frame and put in my livingroom.

oceans11-4

source: Warner Bros

oceans11-5

source: Warner Bros

oceans11-3

source: Warner Bros

oceans11-9

source: Warner Bros

oceans11-10

source: Warner Bros

oceans11-8

source: Warner Bros

As you can see above, there are dozens of instances in the film where the contrasts of colour are breathtaking. Even though I don’t necessarily enjoy certain aspects of the movie, the cinematography more than makes up for what the script is lacking. That’s what so great about this movie. It’s fun, slow-paced and doesn’t take it self too seriously. If you have the chance to watch it on TCM or buy it on DVD, it’s undoubtably a great movie to cozy up with on a Saturday evening, paired with your your favorite beverage and a nice bowl of popcorn.

Anybody Got A Match?

to-have-and-have-not

You may be wondering why the title of this blog is grammatically incorrect. I probably would be asking myself the same question if I wasn’t a classic movie fan. For all you die hards out there you know exactly where this quote came from. And if you’re a classic Hollywood newbie, allow me to introduce you to this fantastic scene in Howard Hawks’ 1944 adventure-romance film, To Have and Have Not. The scene is so great, I decided to name this blog after it. Hope you enjoy!