The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon…

to-catch-a-thief-grace-kelly-and-cary-grant

source: Paramount Pictures

I have a bone to pick with this movie.

Sure, it’s Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in the French Riviera.

Yeah, it’s Alfred Hitchcock in his prime, but, the movie lacks…..something.

Released in 1955, To Catch a Thief stars Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Jessie Royce Landis in what could be the worst of the three films Kelly did with Hitchcock. I don’t mean that in a malicious way; I believe, objectively, that the plot in this film compared to Dial M for Murder and Rear Window is hands down the weakest of the Kelly/Hitchcock films.

My main gripe?

The plot

The Story

Cary Grant plays John “The Cat” Robie, a retired cat burglar who now lives a secluded life on the French Riviera.

tocatchathief

source: Paramount Pictures

After a string robberies that were made to imitate his style, Robie immediately returns to being public enemy number one. The police show up to his seaside villa to arrest him, but Robie manages to escape out the back.

Naturally, running away from police builds up an appetite, so, John visits a restaurant.

He walks into the kitchen and instantly recognizes the staff. The cooks, bus boys, and sous chefs are all old buddies from John’s French Resistance days.

They harbor a bit of resentment towards John because they were granted parole based on how patriotic they were. Because of John’s new ‘adventure,’ they’re all under suspicion of colluding as long as ‘The Cat’ is still active. Things get hostile for a minute, then calm down when the police see Robie and he makes a run for it.

Conveniently enough, the restaurant’s owner’s teenaged daughter named Danielle (played by Brigitte Auber) shuttles him away to safety.

Grace and Cary in TCAT

source: Paramount Pictures

Robie desperately wants to clear his name.

In order to do that, he seeks the help of a man named H.H Hughson (played by John Williams.) Hughson is an insurance man who gives Robie a list of, as he puts it, the “most expensive jewelry owners currently on the Riviera.”

First on that list? A woman named Jessie Stevens (played by Jessie Royce Landis) and her very charming daughter Frances (played by Grace Kelly.)  John, posing as an Oregon lumber magnate, strikes up a conversation with them later that night at dinner.

So the trio and John start a dialogue about a multitude of different subjects. The discussion, embarrassingly, culminates in Jessie Stevens asking John why he hasn’t made a move on her daughter.

Oh, Lord..

Frances, or “Francie” as her mother calls her, originally shows no interest. However, that all changes when John walks her back to her hotel room and Francie proceeds to give him a good night kiss.

To Catch a Thief 2

source: Paramount Pictures

The next morning, Robie receives a note claiming that his life in danger as he’s tanning on the beach with Frances. Danielle walks by with an inquisitive look on her face as she dives into the water. John, not one to miss out, follows her.

Danielle goes on to tell Robie that there are a group of ex-convicts that are out to kill him.

Later that day on a picnic, Frances tells John that she knows he isn’t an American business man. In fact, not only does she know that he’s John Robie “The Cat”, she also begs him to be his accomplice. Robie, bending but not breaking, maintains his innocence and agrees to meet Frances in her hotel room later that night.

If you’ve seen this movie, then you know that this next scene is THE scene.

Robie shows up to Frances’ hotel room and Frances tries to tempt him with the jewels she’s wearing. Jokes on her though, John quickly recognizes that her necklace is fake. As the moment progresses and the fireworks build up behind them, the pair shares a very passionate kiss as the screen fades to black.

TCaT

source: Paramount Pictures

This quiet moment lasted for about 8 hours.

The morning after Frances and John’s rendezvous, she storms his hotel room asking where her mother’s jewels were. Robie admits that he’s “The Cat” but, he didn’t steal the jewelry. Francie doesn’t care, she calls the police anyway. But, before they got there, John has already slipped out of the window.

Sick and tired of being accused of a crime, John decides to surveil the area for that night. In case something goes wrong, Robie calls the police as a preventative measure.

Well, what do you know, something does happen.

John struggles with an attacker and accidentally shoves him off the building.

Oops.

Cary Grant in TCaT

source: Paramount Pictures

The next scene we see is everyone gathered around a casket. The man inside is Danielle’s father, Foussard. While walking out of the cathedral, a policeman tells John that they’ve identified the body and that he’s cleared of all suspicion.

“Oh, no!” says John.

Robie claims it couldn’t have been Foussard because he had a peg leg. Understandably, the police let him go to find the real ‘Cat’ later that night at a masquerade party.

It turns out that at the gathering, everything falls into to place for John.

In the end, John catches the woman *gasp* that was posing as him (it was Danielle), clears his name, and starts a long term relationship with Frances.

How perfect is that?

The Bone I Have To Pick With This Movie

TCAT

source: Paramount Pictures

Where do I begin? I love Cary Grant and Grace Kelly equally. I love their movies. I love them in this movie together, but, this film lacks something.

I know, I know, there are A LOT of folks who adore this movie. I don’t want to take that away from anybody, but, there are some glaring issues in this movie for me.

The plot.

My main issue with it is that it’s non-existent. It’s very compelling for the first 20 or so minutes and then it sort of….drops off. There were a lot of ‘lull’ moments in the film. At times, I didn’t really care about the side stories, I just wanted to know who stole the darn jewels.

Heck, even Hitchcock called this picture a “lightweight” story.

I never felt that anyone was in real danger in this movie. In Dial M, and Rear Window I was genuinely afraid for certain characters. Not once did I believe that Cary Grant was going to get harmed in any way in this film.

The moments between Cary and Grace, however, were excellent and dripping with innuendo, as only Hitchcock can do. But, other than that, it didn’t give that same thrill that I got from other films from Hitch.

Conclusion

In the end, my opinion is just an opinion. I may not enjoy this movie as much as other Hitchcock features, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. The shooting locations are gorgeous and the coincidence of Grace Kelly shooting one of her last movies in Monaco isn’t lost on me.

I do enjoy the film, I truly do. Sometimes, movies you think you were going to like don’t always go the way you plan, and that’s okay.

If you would like to read more entries in this blogathon click: here.

En Pointe: The Ballet Blogathon…..

silk-stockings

source: MGM

Too Bad, We can’t go back to Moscow!

I don’t think there’s a musical that I enjoy watching more than Silk Stockings.

Released in 1957, the movie co-stars Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Janis Page, and Peter Lorre in what could be the best musical adaption of a film that originally wasn’t meant to be one.

The Plot

The film follows Fred Astaire‘s character, an American producer named Steve Canfield, as he travels to Russia to convince musician Peter Illyich Boroff (played by Wim Sonneveld) to compose some music for his new movie that is being shot in Paris. After some coaxing, Boroff agrees and starts working on Canfield’s score. A few weeks and many pieces of paper later, Boroff finishes Canfield’s request. The only problem is, Boroff doesn’t want to return to his homeland.

Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire

source: MGM

This doesn’t go over too well in Russia. To fix this, three incompetent commissars played by Peter Lorre, Jules Munshin, and Joseph Buloff are sent over to Paris bring him back to the motherland. Brankov, Bibinski, and Ivanov, as they’re called, try to do the best they can to return Boroff back to Russia.

Steve Canfield has other ideas.

To prevent his composer from returning to that ice-filled abyss that is Russia, he comes up with a very clever excuse. Steve, ingeniously tells them that his friend Boroff isn’t really who he says he is. According to Steve, he’s found an affidavit that disputes Peter’s Russian heritage and that they need to go to court to resolve the issue.

Being the bumbling numpties that they are, the trio believes the lie and lets Boroff stay.

Steve spends the next couple of weeks exposing the three commissars to Western culture.

Women, nightclubs, French champagne, you name it.

Silk Stocking 2

source: MGM

*MEANWHILE*

Back in Russia, they get word that their commissars are having an extended Parisian ‘holiday.’ Worried and frustrated (as most Soviets were) they send a militant, “homely” looking women named Ninotchka (ha ha!) Yoschenko played by Cyd Charisse to drag all four of the men home.

(I put homely in quotations because it’s Cyd Charisse, there’s absolutely nothing homely about her! But, in this film, she was supposed to be, oh well!)

Ninotchka walks into their hotel’s lobby and, immediately, her Communist sensibilities begin to get assaulted. She shocked at what she sees; servile laborers, a lavish interior, and an advertisement that happens to be selling silk stockings. After recovering from that shock, she finds Boroff’s suite (with Steve inside) she instantly asks him to see the affidavit.

Silk Stockings 4
source: MGM

Steve tries to woo her, hoping to divert her attention away from her investigation with tales of late nights in Paris. Ninotchka refuses his advances, claiming they were part of the West’s “bourgeois propaganda.” The next morning, Steve semi-successfully seduces Ninotchka when she, begrudgingly, agrees to let him take her on a tour of Paris.

He makes sure that the trip is tailored to her interests while also managing to sneak a few beauty store locations in the itinerary with the hope of enticing her.

When the pair returns Steve’s hotel room later that night, Canfield tries to set the mood with romantic music and low lighting.

When that doesn’t work, Steve takes Ninotchka into his arms and starts dancing with her. She struggles against his lead for a few moments then, subsequently, starts moving to the rhythm, eventually succumbing to his advances. Being a dancer, Ninotchka quickly picks up Steve’s steps. Their close proximity culminates in a kiss, and her cold, Communist exterior slowly melts away.

Fearing that she’s getting too emotionally attached to Steve and that she’s neglecting her duties, Ninotchka decides to return to Russia with Boroff and the three commissars.

silkstockings1957

source: MGM

A few months later, Ninotchka receives a letter from Steve. She invites the three commissars and Boroff into her apartment and tries to read it to them, but, so much of it has been redacted that only Steve’s name, greeting, and the ending remains on the sheet of paper. Disappointed, Boroff finds a piano and starts to play the composition he wrote for Steve in Paris.

Overcome with joy, Ninotchka starts leaping through her apartment, showing that she’s been ‘corrupted’ by her stay in that “Western hell-hole” that is France.

Back in Paris, Steve is concocting a plan to get Ninotchka, Boroff and the three commissars back to his hotel room. His scheme involves getting the commissars back to Paris to sell Russian films. He hopes that the three will overstay their welcome again and that Ninotchka will be forced to come back and retrieve them.

Surprisingly, the plan works and the four of them return Paris.

The rest of the movie sees Ninotchka and Steve fall in love and get married, Boroff, ultimately, accepting Western culture, Brankov, Bibinski, and Ivanov standing up to their higher ups and finally, everyone ends up living happily ever after in Paris.

The Wicked Fun Dancing Sequences

Silk Stocking 3

source: MGM

Oh, boy, where do I begin?

This film is astonishingly fun to watch. There are so many entertaining musical numbers in this movie, I don’t think I can count them on one hand.

The one number I keep on coming back to is this scene: here. It’s Cyd Charisse as Ninotchka just kicking back, and letting loose. In the movie, she plays this stuffy character that is no nonsense, the fact that she’s able to have this moment of rapturous joy just by dancing is phenomenal.

Next, of course, is Fred Astaire. We couldn’t possibly talk about this movie without discussing him. There’s this musical number where he dances alongside the lead actress in his movie, Peggy, played by Janis Page that is absolutely a riot (in a good way.) In the scene, they’re explaining that in order to sell movies, you need Technicolor, CinemaScope, and stereophonic sound, not good acting. It sounds absurd but, it couldn’t be more entertaining. If you like, you could watch it: here.

If you want to see more, here’s a list of honorable mentions:

Fred Astaire cutting loose.

Cyd and Fred cutting loose.

And finally, my favorite, not so much of a dance scene, but a song that is a constant earworm for me.

All in all, Silk Stockings is a fabulous film to choose for this blogathon. Yeah, the plot could get confusing at times, but, for what the plot lacks more than makes up for in its musical numbers.

My Obession With…… Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly in Jamaica

“I try to be like Grace Kelly…”

So, I’ve been reading a lot of books about classic Hollywood lately, and my most recent acquisition has been quite interesting. I stumbled upon a Life magazine coffee book that was filled with photos from the photographer Howell Conant.

This isn’t your average book of photos, however. No, this was an entire book dedicated to Conant’s relationship with actress Grace Kelly.

The book starts out with how the two met, interjected with photos of Grace in various locations and eventually ends with a collection of pictures of Ms. Kelly in her later years with Prince Rainier and their three children, Stéphanie, Albert, and Caroline.

I bring this book up because it’s utterly fascinating. These photos, although mundane to some, provide an intriguing look at the woman behind that facade that was Grace Kelly. You know the facade I’m talking about.

The “ice covered volcano” one.

The one her entire cinematic legacy is based on.

The one everyone is obsessed with- including me.

Grace Kelly

“…..but all her looks were too sad.”

Grace Kelly was a lot of things. Although she only made 13 films, her cinematic footprint continues to live on.

Why is that?

How does a woman who was only in Hollywood for a couple years, create such a lasting legacy? Some may say it was because of her beauty, others say it may have been the movies she made. Heck, I don’t even know why she’s so remembered. She was only in Hollywood for about 5 years, until she left and married a Prince that lives in Monaco.

So, what’s all the hubbub?

Let’s find out.


Grace Kelly started her movie career with the film Fourteen Hours. She had a minor role that didn’t garner much attention, so, she went to television and honed her craft by performing in over 60+ live TV appearances. Her hard work and dedication got her noticed by director Fred Zinnemann, who decided to cast her opposite Gary Cooper in the movie, High Noon. The movie received decent reviews, but, Grace didn’t stand out too much. There was, however, another director that had Grace on his radar.

Grace Kelly in black

John Ford saw Grace in Fourteen Hours and cast her in his action-adventure-romance flick, Mogambo. Co-starring alongside Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, Mogambo is a grand ole’ movie, but not for Grace. As I explained in my review, Gardner easily outshined Grace in the film. But, this hiccup didn’t deter other directors from hiring Grace in their pictures.

Her next project would be filming scenes for the Mark Robson directed drama The Bridges at Toko-Ri. Playing the wife of her co-star William Holden, Grace received favorable reviews for her role as the wife of Navy Lieutenant Harry Brubaker played by Holden. After getting significant praise for her role in The Bridges at Toko-Ri, things started looking up for Grace‘s career.

Turning down a part in the movie, On The Water Front, Grace took the opportunity to work with Alfred Hitchcock on the film, Rear Window. About the production of this flick, Grace is reported to have said that during the making of another movie, Dial M for Murder, Hitchcock, “sat and talked to (her) about Rear Window all the time, even before we had discussed my being in it.”

As you guys may know, Rear Window is peak Grace Kelly. It’s the role that, more or less, made her a household name. It’s the part that most people recognize her from and rightfully so. If you’ve seen Rear Window, you know that it’s one of Hitch‘s best films.

grace in Rear Window

Rear Window also happens to be the movie where Grace‘s persona of the “ice queen” really kicks into high gear. You see, Hitchcock had this rather unhealthy obsession with blonde women, and Grace may have been the one actress that sent him over the edge.

Grace Kelly‘s “ice queen” image was supposed to symbolize sex, the “good” kind. She didn’t advertise it like a Marilyn or a Kim Novak would. No, you had to coax her into it, and once you did- oh boy.

Hitchcock was the only director to really play up her image in the 3 movies they did together which, ultimately, peaked in To Catch a Thief from 1955. Luckily for Hitchcock, movie audiences and critics alike both saw what he was trying to achieve with Grace‘s image. Kelly was praised for her performance in Rear Window and eventually, that saw her win the role of Georgie Elgin in the Oscar winning film, The Country Girl.

This was the motion picture where Grace, essentially, “dirtied” herself up to win an Academy Award.

You know what I’m talking about.

It’s when a very attractive woman takes a role in a movie where she’s going to have to make herself look less appealing than she actually is. Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and a number of other actresses have all done this.

Grace was no different.

Some may argue that she didn’t deserve it, and they’re right, to a certain extent.

Grace Kelly Oscar night

There is a large section of classic film fans who firmly believe that Judy Garland should’ve won for her heartbreaking performance in A Star Is Born that year. I could see why they’d be upset. Garland was the favorite that year, and A Star Is Born was her comeback movie. Grace ‘spoiled’ that for her.

As for my opinion, well, it’s a little bit of both. I do believe that Judy should’ve won, but, I also understand why Grace did.

Much like Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Oscar win from a year ago, Grace Kelly won her Oscar based on her body of work. Just a couple of years earlier, Grace was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mogambo. She didn’t win, unfortunately, but she did win a Golden Globe for her performance. Now, this is important because I think this tells us why Judy lost out on the Academy Award.

In 1955, Grace was the ‘It’ girl. She was everywhere. At this point her career she’s worked with Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Fred Zinnemann and many other directors of a high pedigree.

She was a hot commodity.

With every movie Grace did, particularly during 1954 and 1955, her profile grew. Everyone wanted her- including the Academy. Judy didn’t have that. Even though she was the favorite to win it, she was old property (their words not mine.) Grace represented something new, something fresh.

It really comes down to Hollywood wanting to move forward (a.k.a Grace) and not wanting to be stuck in the past (eg: Judy.) It’s sad to think about, but, that’s how Hollywood works.

C’est la vie.

Anyway, after Grace finished a grueling schedule that saw her work on four movies in a span of a few months, she finally got to kick back and relax on a trip to the French Riveria to film Alfred Hitchcock‘s To Catch A Thief.

To catch a thief

Perhaps the ‘weakest’ of the three films she did with Hitch, To Catch A Thief is an okay movie. The plot isn’t very convincing and I found myself bored during certain parts of the film. What the movie does have going, however, is its dialogue and interplay between Grace and her co-star Cary Grant.

The innuendo filled script and the beautiful sights of the Riviera are enough to make this film better than what the plot offers. It’s still a good movie, don’t get me wrong, but I’d most certainly put it as the 3rd movie in my ranking of Hitchcock/Kelly collaborations.

After, completing To Catch a Thief, Grace was invited to head the U.S delegation that was traveling to the Cannes Film Festival. It was at Cannes where she met her future husband Prince Rainier III of Monaco. They initially met when Rainier asked to participate in a photo session with her.

At the time, Grace was dating French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont, and marriage was the last thing on her mind. It wasn’t until Grace returned to America to film The Swan, that she started a correspondence with the Prince.

A few months and many letters later, Rainier visited Philadelphia under the ruse that he was there on “official business.”

Spoiler: He wasn’t.

Grace and Rainier

source: dosesofgrace.tumblr.com

After getting engaged Grace would only film one last movie before shipping out to Monaco.

High Society is a musical remake of the 1940 film, The Philadelphia Story co-starring Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Celeste Holm. This film is easily the best non-Hitchcock film that Grace stars in.

She showed that she had a gift for light comedy and slapstick humor. It makes you rather sad that she permanently retired from acting after this film. You have to wonder what kinds of roles she would’ve gone on to play if she didn’t marry Rainier.

We’ll never know.

Grace finished High Society and went on to marry Prince Rainer on April 19th, 1956 in Saint Nicholas Cathedral, located right beside the shining waters of the Riviera.

Sadly, as I stated earlier, Grace would never make another movie. She did have a chance in 1962, though, when Hitchcock offered her the lead role in his movie, Marnie. But, it was not meant to be. The people of Monaco didn’t want her to play a sex crazed, kleptomaniac, so, she gracefully bowed out of the project.

Grace and Rainier

source: dosesofgrace.tumblr.com

For the rest of her life, Grace would basically do things that a ruler of a small principality like Monaco would do.

She had a multitude of philanthropic projects going, she and Rainier had three children together, and life was basically very relaxed for the new Princess of Monaco.

Sadly, that all ended on September 13, 1982, when Grace was driving down a curving road with her daughter Stéphanie and suffered a stroke that saw her accidentally drive off a small cliff. Paramedics found her alive, but in critical condition. They attempted to resuscitate her, to no avail. Grace Patricia Kelly died on September 14th, 1982 at 10:55 p.m at the age of 52.


Why is Grace Kelly so remembered?

I think the question we need to be asking ourselves is: Why wouldn’t she be?

For a moment in time, Grace Kelly epitomized beauty and glamor. Her persona as an actress fueled into that and her movies with Hitchcock cemented it. Sure, the majority of her films may have been duds, but, the ones that were good, exceeded expectations. I think that’s why we remember Grace Kelly, it’s a combination of those things.

If we take into account everything that happened to Grace, her life is the stuff of mythology.

She was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family, became a world renown actress, and retired at the age of 26 to marry of a Prince. People on both sides of the Atlantic love her and miss her dearly. She’s also a woman who, to this day, gets put on best-dressed lists. She’s inspired many people to not only get into acting but, to be the best person they could be. Based on the way her friends and family reacted when she died, you’d swear she was an angel sent down from heaven.

When you add that all up, what’s not to remember?

Grace Kelly was a legend, and her legacy reflects that.

My Favorite Movie Threesome Blogathon…

wifevssecretary

Source: MGM

Ladies, are you ever worried that your man might have eyes for someone else?

Do you suspect he’s cheating on you with his secretary, despite showering you with love and affection?

If that’s so, then Wife vs Secretary might be the perfect movie to empathize with.

Starring a wicked cast of Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and Clark The King of Hollywood Gable, Wife vs Secretary‘s title is pretty self-explanatory.

Loy and Gable play Mr. and Mrs. Stanhope, a couple who are very much in love. In fact, as the movie begins, we see the two about to celebrate their third wedding anniversary with breakfast.

However, Linda Stanhope (played by Myrna Loy) notices that her publisher husband Van (played by Clark Gable) forgot to give her a gift to celebrate their anniversary. Rather perturbed by the whole ordeal, Linda proceeds to give Van the cold shoulder as they sit down to eat together.

After of few moments of bickering, Linda believes her day is ruined. The problem is only resolved when she takes a knife and fork to her plate, revealing that Van had actually hidden her gift (a bracelet) in the belly of the fish she was about to devour. Surprised, all of the fighting they did a few seconds ago flies out the window.

Ohh, Van, you’re always three steps ahead!

What a great husband!

wife vs secretary

source: MGM

The only person who is actively looking for kinks in this marriage is Van’s mother, Mimi Stanhope (played by May Robson.)

You see, Mimi thinks that her son’s secretary, Helen ‘Whitey’ Wilson (played by Jean Harlow) is too attractive to be working for her son up to no good. She believes that Ms. Wilson is a serious threat to her son’s marriage, despite Helen having absolutely no interest in him. Mimi even tells Linda about the potential incoming danger, but thankfully, she pays no mind to the baseless rumor about her husband.

Unfortunately, the rumors only intensify when Linda’s friends happen to have the same opinion as her mother- in- law.

Faced with a barrage of accusations, Linda stands by her man.

You go, girl!

Even though we’ve seen multiple people confirm that there’s no truth to the rumor – including ‘Whitey’ and Van – there’s always that one person to take it personally; this time, that person is Helen’s fiancé, Joe (played by James Stewart.) Joe doesn’t like how his bride-to-be is spending so much time with a man who isn’t him. This time disparity makes him feel very insecure about his relationship with her.

Clark, Myrna, Jean in Wife vs Secretary

source: MGM

Hoping to, possibly, tie her down for good, Joe proposes marriage. Helen declines, citing her devotion to work with Van on a ‘secret’ plan to buy a rival newspaper. Van fears that the news of the ‘takeover’ might leak to the press, so, he hides it from everybody- except his lovely secretary, ‘Whitey.’

*RED FLAG ALERT*

The secrecy surrounding the project only deepens the divide between Linda and Van. It isn’t until an office get-together celebrating her husband’s business: Stanhope Publishing, that Linda goes off the deep end. At an ice skating party nonetheless, Linda witnesses Helen getting a little too cozy with her husband.

For Linda, this is the last straw.

She asks Van to transfer ‘Whitey’ to another office, which leads to an argument between the two. Fortunately, the Stanhopes make up later that same night.

Fast-forward a few days, and Van books a trip to Havana with the hope that Linda forgives him for not firing ‘Whitey.’ Everything seems to be looking up for the Stanhopes, right?

Haha, no.

Quickly after Van books the flight to Cuba, he finds out that the man who runs the magazine that he’s trying to buy is, coincidentally, also in Havana. Trying to stay ahead of game, Van uninvites his wife and switches ticket name to Helen. For some reason, Linda doesn’t seem to mind, at this point of the film, she accepts the fact that her husband is having an affair. The two travel to Havana and manage to close the deal.

Clark and Jean in Wife vs Secretary

source: MGM

While Linda is back at home, heartbroken, ‘Whitey’ and Van drunkenly celebrate closing the deal in Havana. Obviously, with alcohol comes wandering hands. Van and Helen, for a moment, become strongly attracted to each other.

Checking in on her husband, as a loving wife would do, Linda calls Van’s hotel room from New York. The phone rings and ‘Whitey’ promptly picks up the phone.

Uh, oh.

Linda hears her voice, hangs up the phone, and assumes the worst. A few days later, Van returns to New York and attempts to explain what happened. Linda doesn’t want to hear it and begins filing for divorce. Lonely and devasted, Van decides to go sailing to Bermuda and invites ‘Whitey’ to help ease his loneliness. By this point, Helen has fallen in love with Van, so of course, she isn’t going to say no.

After spending a few moments together, Helen realizes that Van will never love her as much as he loves his wife. Hoping to get the couple back together, Helen visits Linda on a cruise about to set sail for Europe, a few days before she and Van take off for Bermuda.

Figuring out that this is her last chance to convince Linda to go back to Van, Helen pleads to her claiming that, she would be a “fool” to let a man like Van go. After thinking it over, Linda, finally, goes back to Van. Luckily, they both forgive each other. ‘Whitey’ goes back to Joe and Linda and Van make up, for good.

Conclusion

I really wish more people would watch this movie. It really is a sweet film, and the trio of Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, and Jean Harlow work very well. There were many moments in the picture where I genuinely felt terrible for Myrna Loy‘s character. Particularly the scene where she calls her husband and it’s ‘Whitey’ that picks up the phone. I can feel her disappointment and anguish through the screen, it was palpable.

As for Jean Harlow, this was one of the many roles of Jean‘s that I really enjoyed. Her character of Helen played the perfect ‘foil’ to Mr. and Mrs. Stanhope’s relationship. It made it very bittersweet when Van did get back with his wife at the end because she seemed like such a nice girl, but, hey what can you do?

Finally, we can’t talk about this movie without discussing Clark Gable. Clark is everyone’s dream husband in this. He loves Linda with such devotion, it’s hard not to root for the guy. Even though I was somewhat disappointed that he didn’t run away with Helen at the end of the film, I still very much enjoyed the chemistry between himself and Myrna Loy.

All in all, Wife vs Secretary is a fantastic movie, and it most certainly does this blogathon justice. If you haven’t seen it, please do! It really is an incredible movie and you definitely won’t regret it, I certainly didn’t.

 

 

 

Till Death Us Do Part Blogathon…

unfaithfully yours

source: Twentieth Century-Fox

More people should know about Preston Sturges.

He’s the director of many wonderful comedies like Sullivan’s Travel’s, The Lady Eve and The Palm Beach Story, and his 1948 effort Unfaithfully Yours is no different. Starring Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell, Rudy Vallée and Barbara Lawrence, the movie tells the story of British conductor Alfred de Carter (played by Rex Harrison) and his wife Daphne (played by the gorgeous Linda Darnell.) The de Carter’s are your typical, upper middle class couple. He loves her unconditionally, and she loves the attention he gives her (in a good way.)

Here’s the twist, he wants nothing more than to kill her.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. This fine, loving, caring husband wishes to kill his wife in the most gruesome way possible.

How did he reach this breaking point you may ask?

Well, his wife cheated.

Isn’t murder justifiable when your spouse cheats on you? Preston Sturges seems to think so, but, not exactly in the way that you think.

Unfaithfully-Yours-DI

source: Twentieth Century-Fox

You see, instead making Unfaithfully Yours into a thriller/drama in the vain of Dial M for Murder, Sturges decides to take this material and make into a dark comedy.

Genius!

It works perfectly, even though movie go-ers at the time didn’t think so (we’ll discuss this later.)

The film starts off with Mrs. de Carter waiting at an airport with a group of family members/ friends, eagerly anticipating the return of her husband from his native country of England. Alfred steps off the plane, sees his wife, rushes out as quickly as possible and immediately gives her one the biggest embraces I’ve seen on camera.

After that big hubbub at the airport, the group checks into a rather luxurious hotel a few miles away. While freshening up after his cross Atlantic trip from England, Alfred’s brother- in- law August Henschler (played by Rudy Vallée) admits that he misunderstood what he meant when Alfred told him to “watch his wife” while he was out of town.

Oh, dear.

August mistakenly hires a detective named “Sweeney” (played by Edgar Kennedy) that was tasked with following Mrs. de Carter for the duration of her husband’s trip to England. Henschler takes it one step further when he shows his brother-in-law Sweeny’s report about his wife.

Unfaithfully Yours

source: Twentieth Century-Fox

Irate at him for doing such a thing, Alfred quickly tears up the report then storms out the door to start rehearsals for his orchestra.

Upon returning from rehearsal, he gets a visit from the hotel’s resident detective (apparently they have those) who gives him another copy of the ripped up report. Determined to get rid of it once and for all, Alfred pulls out a match, lights it on fire, and promptly throws it into the garbage can. This, consequently, ends up setting the drapes a blaze.

It is here where we get out first slapstick moment of the movie. Mr. de Carter sprints to the nearest fire hose and attempts to put out the fire to no success. A second fellow runs to another hose and tries to put it out, but, he just ends up spraying Mr. de Carter. The whole thing is a mess, it really is an absurd scene in the best way possible.

Anyway.

Alfred’s firefighting makes him late to his dinner with his wife.

Rex Harrison and Linda Darnell

source: Twentieth Century-Fox

At the restaurant, just before meeting up with his wife, Alfred runs into Daphne’s sister Barbara (played by Barbara Lawrence) and her husband August, who’s sitting a few feet away from his reserved table.

She makes an off the cuff remark about Daphne and his secretary Anthony Windborn (played by Kurt Kreuger) looking “too cute” sitting alone together at his table.

He brushes off her comment and joins the pair at the table. But, all the while he’s enjoying their company, he can’t help but think that his wife actually did step out on him. Wanting to quench this urge, he seeks out the detective agency that ‘stalked’ his wife. He finds the office and runs into the man who originally gave the report to his brother-in-law: Sweeney.

Sweeney wants to tell him the things that were on the report, but, he insinuates that the acts on it were too lewd. He explains that one night, Daphne was seen leaving another man’s room after about 38 minutes, only wearing negligee. At first, Alfred was terribly hurt. Then, an avalanche of rage washes over his face.

He bolts back to the hotel, where he discovers that the number of the room his wife walked out of was that of his secretary, Tony.

Unfaithfully Yours table scene

source: Twentieth Century-Fox

He catches up with his wife who’s getting ready to head out for her husband’s performance later that night. Alfred finds her in the middle of putting on her dress and proceeds to give her the cold shoulder.

Daphne, obviously upset about the way her husband is treating her, runs off in resentment to the concert hall.

Arriving at the hall about 30 minutes later, Alfred shows up and takes his conductor’s stand. During his performance, Alfred imagines three scenarios in which he can handle this situation.

The first is a rather gruesome scene. He imagines slashing his wife’s throat and somehow blaming it on her ‘lover’ Tony. The whole plan is rather complex and very precise, it truly is very impressive. The second scenario is him apologizing her and her lover, proclaiming that, “youth needs youth” while simultaneously writing a check out in Daphne’s name for $100,000. In the third and final scenario, Alfred challenges his wife and Tony to a game of wits by forcing them to participate in a game of Russian roulette.

After the third day dream ends, which happens to coincide with his last song, Alfred rushes out of the concert hall and takes a cab back to their apartment where he attempts to set up the scenario from his first day dream.

In classic Sturges style, everything fails hilariously.

Rex Harrsion in Unfaithfully Yours

source:  Twentieth Century-Fox

Every detail Alfred planned beforehand in his head, doesn’t come to fruition.

He’s a bumbling fool and I’m dying of laughter.

He makes a mess of his apartment and realizes that he should quit while he’s ahead, when he cuts himself trying to make a straight blade razor a little bit sharper. His wife Daphne walks in and surveys the mess her husband has made. Insisting that he has a cold, she convinces Alfred to stop whatever he’s doing and get some rest.

Alfred discerns from his wife’s reaction that she truly does love him. He gives up on his giant temper tantrum and, finally, asks his wife why she was in Tony’s room. Daphne explains that she suspected Barbara of having an affair with Tony. So, she went to into his room to see if she was there – she was not.

So, there she is, in another man’s room in a negligee with a detective trailing her every move. She sees the private eye, and swiftly sneaks into an empty room. By the time she gets to this point in her story, Alfred starts to connect the dots: Sweeney was the man who was following her, and that the entire situation was just a big misunderstanding.

The movie ends with Alfred taking his wife in his arms, begging for forgiveness, and quoting a line from a poem that states, “a thousand poets dreamed for a thousand years, then you were born, my love.”

Conclusion

Many movie fans (including myself) may have enjoyed this movie, but at the time of its release, audience members unanimously rejected the film’s ‘dark’ tone. I could understand this sentiment. There are some fairly dark moments in the film, yes, but it is a dark comedy, and I don’t think many people understood that in 1948. I suppose that’s one of the many reasons it didn’t do too well at the box office.

As for my opinion, I believe it’s a fantastic movie.

The acting performances, the directing- all of it! Yes, the subject matter was a little heavy, but the way Preston Sturges directs, makes it little less, ‘shocking.’ Rex Harrison and Linda Darnell worked very well together and that contributed to how well acted this movie is. All in all, Unfaithfully Yours is the perfect movie for this blogathon. It’s funny, well scripted, and most importantly, fits the subject matter perfectly.

 

If would like to see the other entries in this blogathon, click: here

Classic Film Reviews: Mogambo (1953)

mogambopg5

source: MGM

If you ever wanted to roam the savannas of Kenya with two gorgeous women and a very gray Clark Gable, then Mogambo may be the movie for you.

Directed by John Ford and filmed on location in Tanzania and Kenya, Mogambo is no one’s favorite movie, unless you ask me.

Kelly. Gable. Ford. Gardner in Africa

I can’t think of anything better.

The film starts off with Eloise “Honey Bear” Kelly (played by Ava Gardner) taking a shower to cool off from the hot African sun. It appears that Eloise is in Africa hoping to meetup with a rich maharajah who promised her that he take care of her for the rest of her life. True to classic Hollywood form that doesn’t happen, so, Eloise is stuck in the middle of Kenya, with no money and no man.

Right after we get introduced to the raven haired beauty, we meet a very gray-looking Clark Gable who’s playing a big game hunter named Victor Marswell.

Ava and Clark

source: MGM

Victor Marswell is your typical 1950s male. Big, strong, brash, and attracted to women half his age. These characteristics are the most apparent in the scene where Victor stumbles upon Eloise scantily clad in a robe, just inches away from stepping out of the shower. The two trade jabs for a few moments until Eloise tells him why she’s really here.

Amused, but slightly annoyed, Victor, begrudgingly agrees to let Eloise stay on the reservation until the next boat to the airport swings by. During those few days, Victor and Eloise develop feelings for each other.

Here’s where things get a bit tricky.

Off to the horizon, a boat docks. In it brings a lovely pair named the Nordleys – Donald (played by Donald Sinden) and Linda (played by Grace Kelly.) The Nordleys are wealthy English couple who came to this Kenyan reservation with the hope of being able to go into gorilla country.

Victor, being the grumpy old man that he is, flat out refuses to re-adjust his schedule just to play tour guide to a couple of privileged Brits. Meanwhile, when all of this is happening, Eloise returns to the reservation due to a malfunction on the passenger boat that she intended to take out of Africa.

mogambo donald grace ava

source: MGM

The next morning, Eloise and Linda convene for some breakfast. For some reason, Eloise takes the liberty to tell Linda about all of her past sexual escapades. This, understandably, makes Linda uncomfortable, but, this interaction is a good indicator of what their relationship will look like as the film progresses.

Those brief exchange of words prompts Linda to take a stroll around the reservation to get her thoughts in order. While out on this walk, she stumbles upon a black leopard ready to pounce.

Unbeknownst to Linda, Victor was behind her the entire time, making sure that she doesn’t get killed. If it wasn’t for his heroics, Linda would’ve been a dead woman, and we couldn’t have that, can we? On their way back to the base, an unnatural wind-storm stirs up around them, which forces Victor to, literally, sweep Linda off her feet and carry her to safety.

This intense moment, obviously, causes Linda to see Victor in a different light – a romantic light.

Well, “oh, no!” you say, “Linda’s married!”

The conflict arises.

mogambo 1953

source: MGM

Later that night at dinner, Eloise notices that things are a little bit tense between Linda and Victor. She quickly catches the drift and starts subtly teasing the two during the entire meal. In order to ease tensions (or in my opinion, escalate them) Victor announces that he’s had a change of heart and will take the Nordleys to see the gorillas, albeit resentfully.

Eloise, pretty much sick of Africa, tags along on the trek so she could leave the group halfway to catch (another) flight back to the States. So, the group leaves the reservation in search of some gorillas, but, as everyone else is trying enjoy the scenery (mainly Linda’s husband) Eloise, Linda and Victor are stuck in a love triangle.

How about that?

Poor Donald Nordley, all he wanted to see were some gorillas, and all he got was his wife falling in love with a man who looks like Clark Gable.

It’s a pity.

Mogambo

source: MGM

Anyway.

On their way to gorilla country, the group takes a ‘pit stop’ at a mission run by a priest named Father Josef (played by Denis O’Dea) who agrees to lend Victor a few canoes so that he could, safely, cross a rather aggressive river. While Victor is retrieving those canoes, Eloise takes this opportunity to confess to Father Josef about the things that have been weighing heavily on her heart (aka let me tell someone that this lady has been cheating on her husband of 7 years.)

The Father suggests that Eloise should go and attempt to make a friend out of Mrs. Nordley. She takes him up on that offer and apologizes for everything she’s done, while simultaneously extending a hand of friendship. Linda rebuffs her advances, creating an even deeper divide between the two women.

After getting the canoes, the group continues on into the jungles of Kenya. They finally reach a checkpoint where Eloise would be dropped off. 

Upon landing on this territory, they find the station manager badly injured from what appears to be a native uprising the night before. This setback causes Eloise to miss her flight (again) and now, she’s stuck on this tour until they head back to the reservation.

As they’re escorting the man out they get attacked by the same tribe that injured him in the first place. Luckily, they manage to escape unscathed.

Clark and Grace

source: MGM

That night, the group finally reaches gorilla country. After a long day of traveling, everyone comfortably settles down into their campsites. Eloise is busy talking to a tour guide about her late ex-husband, Mr. Nordley is blissfully unaware about what’s happening to his wife, and Victor and Linda are nowhere to be found.

Actually, they’re out taking a moonlight stroll together, but, her husband doesn’t care! He’s out here to see some gorillas.

Tragic.

While out on their midnight walk, Victor and Linda fall into a very passionate embrace. We all knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when, I suppose under the moon in an African jungle sounds like the perfect time to do it.

Realizing what she’s done, Linda sprints back to base camp where she finds her husband fast asleep. He wakes up when she enters their tent and Mr. Nordley proceeds to embrace his wife. Ashamed and on the verge of tears she refuses his affections and promptly goes to bed.

The next morning, Victor takes the Nordleys to see the gorillas.

Clark&Ava Mogambo

source: MGM

The guilt of having kissed another man’s wife is weighing heavily on Victor, and he confronts Linda about it. He tells her that he’s going to tell her husband about their affair. Linda is not to content with this idea, but, Victor is going to do it anyway. While his helping hands are setting up the gorilla traps, Victor steps up to Mr. Nordley’s tent and is about to, basically, ruin the life a very decent man in Donald Nordley.

Donald greets him and begins to gush about how much he loves Linda and how he was pretty disappointed that she forgot their anniversary that happened the night before- the same night Victor and Linda were out frolicking in the African jungle. 

Overcome with guilt and anger, Victor storms back to his tent understanding that he can’t tell Mr. Nordley about his affair with Linda.

That evening, while the group is sitting around a campfire, an aide to Victor makes insinuations about his relationship with Mrs. Nordley. Donald takes offense to those remarks and leaves the outpost in a fit of rage.

Fast forward a couple of hours, Eloise saunters into Victor’s tent and realizes he’s drunk. She assumes that he went to confront Donald Nordley about his “extracurricular activities” with his wife, but ultimately failed.

Clark and Ava in Mogambo

source: MGM

Eloise then sits down on Victor’s lap, throws caution to the wind, and joins him for a night cap. About a few moments after this happens Linda walks into to the tent.

Oh, boy…

Victor, thinks quick, and plays up his ‘drunken’ attitude, seeing it as a way to end his fling with Linda. He drinks, he laughs, he pulls Eloise a little bit closer than he normally would, and all of this makes Linda hysterical to the point where she shoots Victor. Thanks to her horrible aim, she misses his chest and hits him in the arm. Funny enough, just as Linda was doing this, her husband returns to camp just in time to see this trainwreck.

Eloise, being the slick tongued woman that she is, improvises an excuse, claiming that Victor was making a pass at Linda, and she shot him in self defense.

The next morning, the Nordleys depart, leaving behind a flurry of emotions for both Eloise and Victor. The pair are left behind where they, finally, admit their feelings for each other which concludes with Victor proposing to Eloise.

Conclusion and The Crazy ‘Behind the Scenes’ Stories

Behind the Scenes of Mogambo

Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner & Donald Sinden on location while filming Mogambo (1953)

Mogambo is a good movie, not a great one. It has a great plot, an astonishing location shoot in Nairobi, and a great director in John Ford, but sometimes the acting was lackluster. As a matter of fact, even the lovely Grace Kelly is overshadowed by the remarkable acting performance that Ava Gardner puts on in this movie.

While most Kelly fans (including myself) went into this movie, hoping for another Kelly masterclass in acting, we actually got to see the acting talents of Gardner flourish a bit. Apparently, I’m not the only one to believe this. The Academy Awards also thought Ava put in a good performance and eventually awarded her with an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 1954.

Ava may have gotten nominated for an Academy Award, but it was Grace who took home some silverware in 1954, with a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

For whatever the film lacked in acting, certainly made up in the behind the scenes stories.

Grace Ava and Donald

Ava Gardner, Donald Sinden and Grace Kelly on the set of Mogambo (1953)

It all started when John Ford requested that the main cast spend a few weeks in the sun to make sure they got that “African sun tan look.” Well, his plan backfired when the pasty white skins of Gable, Kelly and Gardner got a little too dark, which was later lightened up by the makeup department.

This incident was only a sign of what was yet to come.

The real ‘fun’ started when Ava brought her then husband Frank Sinatra to the set in Kenya. At the time, their marriage was having a bit of trouble. Something, apparently, happened back in LA at house party, which caused Frank to freak out in a fit of anger. We don’t know exactly what happened, but whatever did, seemed to carry over into their flight over to Africa.

According to a letter written by Grace Kelly to a friend back in the States, she proclaims that Frank and Ava were constantly fighting, making up and breaking up, and that it particularly disturbed her because she had a tent right next to them and could hear everything.

The skirmishes only disappeared when Frank was able to rest easy about his faltering career when he landed the coveted part of ‘Maggio’ in the WWII epic From Here to Eternity in 1953.

Ava and Clark in Mogambo

Ava Gardner and Clark Gable during the filming of Mogambo (1953)

Speaking of Grace Kelly, she had her fair share of problems while working on this movie as well; and by problems, I mean Clark Gable. Gable being an ardent outdoorsman, was absolutely ecstatic about living in Africa for a couple of months. Conveniently enough, Grace also happened to be a huge fan of hunting.

Just like their characters on screen, Clark and Grace spent most of their time walking around Africa, just getting to know each other. Eventually, they end up falling into a May-December romance.

Grace would call him, “Ba”, which means father in Swahili, while Clark would be there just enjoying the company of a woman who was young enough to be his daughter.

Even actor Donald Sinden, who played Mr. Nordley,  has claimed to have seen Grace and Clark having an *ahem* “afternoon swim” together, hell she confirmed herself.

Grace and Clark

Grace Kelly and Clark Gable on the set of Mogambo (1953)

Heck! When the on location shoots in Nairobi were over, Kelly and Gable continued their romance in London where Clark rented out a hotel room specifically fitted with an ‘in and out way’ where they could discreetly have access to each other’s rooms without the rest of the cast knowing.

Unfortunately, the affair came to an end when Grace‘s mother, Margaret, came to stay with her 23 year old daughter in London.

Being your typical overbearing mother, Mama Kelly gave her daughter the ‘okay’ to marry Gable. This, naturally, scared off Gable who clearly didn’t want to. Consequently, Gable refused Grace‘s calls, stopped talking to her on re-shoot days, and basically ‘ghosted’ her. This left Grace heartbroken and she inevitably quit trying to reconcile with Gable.

Based on what happened on screen and off screen, Mogambo is certainly worth your time. If it isn’t for the actual movie, then it must definitely be for the crazy behind the scenes stories. It isn’t the best movie, but, it’s sure as heck one of my favorite movies.

My Apologies, Mr. Hitchcock

39steps+logo

source: Gaumont-British Picture Corporation

I feel slightly embarrassed.

When I plan on watching a film, I usually pick an actor (or actress) that I fancy, then scroll through a list their films until there’s movie of theirs that I haven’t yet seen. Naturally, I tend gravitate to the actors and actresses that helped me form my love of classic movies. I’m used to them, and watching their films is the equivalent of eating comfort food for me.

One of the actresses whose films I was enthralled with was Grace Kelly, particularly Rear Window.

As a freshman in Highschool, I took a cinema appreciation class where Rear Window was one of the films being shown. I quickly realized that I could watch more films in that style when my young, feeble, mind discovered the glorious filmography of Alfred Hitchcock.

themanwhoknewtoomuch1934

source: Gaumont-British Picture Corporation

I watched every Hitchcock film that invoked that same feeling I had when watching Rear Window, whether it was Spellbound, North By Northwest, Notorious, Dial M for Murder, Rebecca, Suspicion, you name it. It didn’t matter, I just wanted to experience that ‘Hitchcock touch’ again.

But, there’s a problem.

Notice a patten? Every film that I listed came from Hitchcock‘s career in 1940s and 50s America. Although I absolutely that era of his career, there’s another side of Hitch that I had no clue existed.

If you watch TCM (and let’s be honest, we all do) then you might’ve heard about their Hitchcock 50 celebration.

Not too sure what that is?

Then let me quickly explain.

Basically, TCM and Ball State University teamed up to create a course where us movie fans able to learn and dissect Hitchcock‘s career.

Lead by Dr. Richard L. Edwards (seriously, this guy has a PhD in Critical Studies from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, it’s incredible,) the course has been live for about 3 weeks and I’ve already learned so much more than I thought I would.

This is where my embarrassment kicks in.

theladyvanishes

Enter a caption: Gaumont-British Picture Corporation

I was your ‘basic’ classic movie fan. I only had interest in watching Hitchcock‘s American films, you know exactly the ones I’m talking about. I had absolutely no interest beyond that- until I took TCM’s Hitchcock 50 course.

The course opened my eyes to a different side of Hitch, and I’m ashamed to admit, but it also introduced me to films that I haven’t even heard of. For example: Hitchcock‘s Thriller Sextet.

From 1934 to 1938 Hitchcock made his mark on cinema history by releasing 6 films that would come to shape his entire career. The Man Who Knew Too MuchSabotage, Secret Agent, Young and Innocent, The Lady Vanishes and The 39 Steps are the movies that changed my outlook of Hitch.

I realize that these were the movies where he honed in his skills as a director. This is where he developed that ‘Hitchcock‘ touch that we all know and love. It took TCM, Ball State University, and some common sense to finally appreciate the genius of this man. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know sooner, and for that, I apologies Mr. Hitchcock.

So, if you can, don’t limit your movie watching to one area of Hitchcock‘s career. Look at his earlier movies, I guarantee you won’t regret it!

The Best of M-G-M: Summer Stock (1950)

summer stock

source: MGM

Ahhh, there’s nothing like watching a good ole’ fashioned MGM musical during the summer months. Funny enough, the perfect musical for this season has the word “summer” in its title.

It isn’t necessarily about rainy days or hot summer nights, but when you watch it, you’ll definitely feel compelled to go outside and experience the great outdoors, or in this movie’s case, a farm.

Directed by Charles Walters and co-starring Judy Garland, Gloria DeHaven, Phil Silvers, Marjorie Main and Gene Kelly, Summer Stock is a lovely little film about love, farms, and stage performances.

summer stock judy garland

source: MGM

In the film, Garland plays Jane Falbury, a headstrong Connecticut farmer who has a religious dedication to her craft. Even though she’s worked hard to make sure that her property runs like a well oiled machine, three years of bad crops has seen her farm go to ruin.

Unfortunately, with no crops, comes no revenue.

Despite going bankrupt, Jane still manages to pay for her sister Abigail’s acting lessons in upstate New York. To add to her list of problems, two of Jane’s farm hands quit to take office jobs in Hartford.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, she is forced to beg her boyfriend’s father (played by Ray Collins) for a loan to buy a tractor to kick-start the effort to try to revitalize her farm. Asking for a favor from her future father-in-law knocks her ego down a peg, but, she swallows her pride and gets it done.

When Jane returns to her property, she finds it being overrun by a group of troupe performers. Frustrated and confused about what’s happening, she demands to speak to the person responsible for this.

After a couple minutes of looking around, she runs into her sister, Abigail (played by Gloria DeHaven). Abigail explains that she invited the troupe down to Connecticut so they would be able to have a space to put on their stage play.

summer-stock-kelly-garland

source: MGM

Naturally, Jane doesn’t take the news too well.

She tells Abigail to send these people packing, but before Jane could really get worked up, Abigail’s boyfriend, Joe Ross (played Gene Kelly) steps in to diffuse the situation. His attempts to sweet-talk Jane work, however, there’s a catch. In order for them to stay, they must put in their fair share of farm work; in other words, they must help Jane with her daily farm duties.

The troupe agrees, and Jane proceeds to split them into groups of three, showing each trio how and what needs to be done around the farm.

Later that day, after an exhausting few hours of showing actors how to manage a farm, Jane lends her housekeeper a hand by washing dishes from the previous night’s dinner. In an attempt to lighten the mood, Jane decides to do an impromptu tap dance for her own amusement, but in actuality, it was to poke fun at Abigail’s boyfriend, Joe.

Unbeknownst to Jane, Joe was standing behind her the entire time. Embarrassed, she swiftly apologizes, but he didn’t mind. To her surprise, Joe was impressed that she could even dance in the first place. Fast forward a couple of days and, somehow, word gets out that Jane is hiding an acting troupe in her farm.

summer-stock-kelly-garland-1950

source: MGM

Because of this, she is concerned about what the local townsfolk might think when they encounter a bevy of stage performers in a relatively small, quiet town. Unfortunately, her fears come true when she’s summoned to explain herself in front of the town leaders.

While she’s gone, an actor back at the farm thought it would be a good idea to take Jane’s tractor out for a joy ride.

In true classic Hollywood fashion, something bad has to happen, right? Absolutely! The guy ends up wrecking Jane’s tractor and has no quick way to fix it before she returns home from her meeting. By the time a solution to the problem has been found, Jane has already returned.

She finds out what happened, and angrily tells Joe that his troupe needs to return to where they came from. Panicked, Joe tries to maneuver his way out of another sticky situation.

Before anything gets too out of hand, Joe reveals that he and his troupe members pulled together some cash to buy Jane a new tractor.

summer-stock

source: MGM

Jane reconsiders her decision, and changes her tune. While all of this is happening, however, Abigail disappears from the farm. This is a problem, considering that the play is about open in a few days time. Joe, Jane and the rest of the troupe try to search for her, with no use.

Instead of going to search for Abigail, Joe gets another ‘bright’ idea. He suggests that Jane takes her sister’s place in the show. Well, Jane’s boyfriend overhears this, and staunchly objects. Jane, sick of his act, threatens to call of their engagement. Orville takes offense to her tone, and storms off of Jane’s property.

As the film progresses, we see Jane and Joe rehearsing, laughing, singing, and eventually falling in love.

A couple of days pass, and opening night for the musical finally arrives. Just before Jane and Joe are about to take the stage, Orville returns, this time he has Abigail with him.

summer stock get happy

source: MGM

When Abigail confronts Joe and Jane, she instantly expects her sister to relinquish the role that she had before she went rogue. Obviously, Jane flat out tells her no, and when she sees that her sister and Joe, clearly have feelings for each other, she quits harassing them.

At the end of the film, we see Jane and Joe get on stage to perform together, but before they do, Joe proposes marriage which Jane, happily, accepts.

Conclusion

garland-kelly

source: MGM

Perhaps, Summer Stock is better known for its antics off screen than the acting that you see on screen.

Judy Garland was going through a rough time making this film- and it shows. In certain scenes, you see Garland looking pretty overweight and tired. Now, I don’t have an issue with this, a Judy Garland movie is still a Judy Garland movie to me, but at the time Summer Stock was released, it was very noticeable.

This was the period where Garland‘s drug addiction was spiraling out of control. According to Gene Kelly, he tells film producer Joe Pasternak that he was only doing Summer Stock as a favor to Garland because he, “had every reason to be grateful for all the help she had given me.”

It was a well known secret that Garland had a problem with psychiatric medications, going all the way back to her Wizard of Oz days, and unfortunately, the problem lasted well into her adult years.

Luckily, for Garland who was hoping to get her life back on track, the script for Summer Stock happened to land right onto her lap. Fresh out of rehab, and ready for a new start, MGM offered Garland the lead role with the hopes of getting her to work consistently again.

behindthescenesof Summer Stock

Behind The Scenes of Summer Stock (1950)

During production, however, it proved to be a difficult problem.

There were multiple instances where Garland couldn’t work due to depression. This inevitably caused delays in the movie’s schedule, which frustrated the cast and crew. Emotionally, physically, and mentally Garland was gone.  But somehow, someway director Charles Walters and company got through the difficult shoot, and created a pretty decent movie.

Despite the behind the scenes hubbub that Summer Stock is known for, the movie manages to be incredibly entertaining.

With it’s high flying dance scenes, interesting plot, and a hilarious supporting cast of actors like Phil Silvers, Marjorie Main and Eddie Bracken, Summer Stock is certainly a classic movie musical. Even though the movie had some issues off camera, it never showed. In fact, it added to the movie’s enjoyability.

When watching it, you appreciate Judy Garland even more, just due to the fact that she went through all of that and still managed to put out the performance that she did. If you haven’t seen this movie, I recommend that you do. Not only is it a fantastic musical, it also gives you a chance to appreciate how much of a professional Judy Garland was.

Summer Movie Blogathon… The Parent Trap (1961)

The-Parent-Trap

source: Buena Vista Distribution

I’ve never been to summer camp as a kid.

I have been to a day camp however, but it’s nothing like what the twins in this movie get to experience.

I think that’s why The Parent Trap is the perfect summer film for me. I was never able to have the opportunity to stay up late with my friends, anticipating what we’re going to do the next day or go kayaking through the white river rapids of Colorado, so when I watch this film, I get to vicariously live through the mischievous adventures that these girls go on.

And boy, do they get into a sticky situation.

the parent trap

source: Buena Vista Distribution

Directed by David Swift and starring Hayley Mills, Maureen O’Hara (RIP) and Brian Keith, The Parent Trap is probably one of the most recognizable, unintentionally funny and heartwarming films I’ve ever seen.

If you’ve seen the movie, you probably know what happens in the story. The film follows the lives of twins named Sharon and Susan (both played by Hayley Mills) whose parents divorced when the pair were only a few months old. Naturally, with divorce, comes child custody. Sharon goes to live with her mother Maggie in Boston (played by Maureen O’Hara), while Susan hitched her wagon to her father, Mitch (played by Brian Keith) who lives in California.

14 years after they were separated, the twins ‘accidentally’ get reunited when friends introduce them at a summer getaway named Camp Inch.

At first, their personalities clash, seeing that one is a brash Bostonian while the other is a laid back Californian. But, after a few days of really getting to know each other, they find that they have a lot more in common than they were first lead to believe.

The parent Trap 1961

source: Buena Vista Distribution

During those few weeks of getting acquainted, the twins hatch up a plan to switch places in an attempt to get their parents back together.

So, Susan (the twin with the longer hair) cuts it to make it look like Sharon’s style, and Sharon picks up Susan’s mannerisms. When they finally do get to each other’s houses, Sharon fears that their plan will go to ruin when she finds out that her father is planning on marrying a younger, money hungry, woman named Vicky Robinson (played by Joanna Barnes.)

To stop this from happening, Sharon calls Susan in Boston to tell her the news and to convince her mother to fly over to California to stop the wedding.

Surprisingly, Maggie isn’t too upset at the idea, and promptly takes the cross country trip to The Golden State. Once Maggie and Susan arrive at Mitch’s house, the twins make it their goal to get their parents to experience the spark that initially attracted them to each other.

The-Parent-Trap-David-Swift-1961-3

source: Buena Vista Distribution

In the most heart touching scene in the movie, Susan and Sharon recreate the restaurant where their parents had first met. Slowly but surely, Mitch and Maggie gradually start to forget why they ever got divorced.

But, that all comes crashing down when they start fighting and squabbling over minor things, like Mitch’s fiancée, Vicky.  Understandably upset about the entire ordeal, Maggie buys a flight back to Boston.

The twins being twins, purposely dress up and act like the other so their parents wouldn’t know who is who, essentially delaying their mother’s flight home. To solve the issue, the girls give their parents an ultimatum: they’ll only reveal which twin is who when the four of them go on their annual family camping trip. Vicky finds out about this and tricks Maggie into staying home.

Maureen-OHara-and-Brian-Keith-in-Parent-Trap-movie

source: Buena Vista Distribution

Why?

Because Vicky is a petty gold digger, but that’s besides the point.

Always two steps ahead, the twins strategizes to make Vicky’s time outside a living hell. First they replace her mosquito repellent with sugar water. Then, they smother honey on her feet while she’s sleeping and get a cub to lick her feet to make it seem like a bear attack was imminent.

For Vicky, that was the last straw.

When she wakes up in the morning, she is livid. She makes her rounds around the campsite, destroying everything and anything, which eventually culminates in her slapping (why she does it, is beyond me) one of the girls. Mitch sees this and reassess his attraction to her. Vicky, tired and sticky, flees back to the city.

Exhausted, emotionally and physically, Mitch, Susan and Sharon make their way back to the homestead where Maggie greets them with a feast matching their appetite. They say the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

It’s true.

This leads to Mitch and Maggie to have a heart to heart, where they admit they still do love each other.

At the end of the movie, they choose to get married again and for Susan and Sharon, they couldn’t be happier.

Why I Chose this for the Summer Movie Blogathon..

I really do adore this movie. It’s sweet, charming and absolutely absurd, in a good way. Summer is about kicking back and letting go. It’s a couple months out of the year where you plan something absolutely crazy and get away with it.

That’s the thing about summer. After 9 long months of working and or going to school, summer is where you can come together with friends and relax, or in this movie’s case, plot to do something out of this world. That’s why I chose The Parent Trap for this blogathon, no matter how preposterous something is, during the summer, it’s never off limits.

 

Reel Infatuation: Paul Henreid in Now Voyager (1942)

now-voyager

source: Warner Bros.

The start of my love for classic films goes back to my freshman year of high school. I remember, specifically, it was a Cinema Appreciation class where the first movie my teacher introduced to us was Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

As soon as the screen faded to black, I was hooked.

I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. At the time, I had no clue that those,”black and white” movies could be so enthralling. I was one of those people who wouldn’t touch a classic film with a ten foot pole. As that class continued, my teacher went on to introduce me to more marvelous films like, Rear Window, Lawrence of Arabia, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and Sabrina.

The motion pictures that I was introduced in that class, left a lasting mark on my life.

After the course was over, I sought after as many classic films as I could. In fact, for the next couple of years during my high school career, I made it my duty to watch as many classic movies as I could get my hands on. From film noirs like, To Have and Have Not, to musicals like An American in Paris, and even the occasional romantic comedy such as Pillow Talk.

I was obsessed.

now voyager

source: Warner Bros.

So much much so, I started dressing, talking and moulding myself into what I believed a woman of that era should look like. Not only did I look the part, I felt it. And those feelings trickled down into how I interacted with members of the opposite sex.

Due to my excessive classic movie viewing, I started to get a sense of what true romance really was. The men in those movies seemed, to me, to be so much more gentle and tactful than their modern day counterparts. I started to analyze all the leading men in these movies, and because of this analysis, the way I was attracted to men changed.

One of the movies that had a huge influence on me was Now Voyager, from 1942. Directed by Irving Rapper and co-starring Bette Davis and Paul Henreid, the film is tells the story of Charlotte Vale, a frumpy looking, Boston socialite who has a very nervous disposition. This is mostly brought on by her overbearing mother (played by Gladys Cooper), who causes her to, slowly but surely, go mad.

Bette and Paul 2

source: Warner Bros.

Convinced that there’s something wrong with her, Charlotte’s mother hires a psychiatrist to try to help ease her daughter’s woes. Dr. Jasquith (played by Claude Rains) comes into the Vale family household to tend to Charlotte’s needs. After a few days of back and forth, Charlotte comes out of her shell and, somehow, Jasquith manages convinced her to take a cruise to Rio de Janeiro.

While on the cruise, Charlotte encounters a handsome stranger that goes by the name of Jerry (played by Paul Henreid.)

Considering the fact that she spent the last few weeks working on her self esteem, Charlotte is hesitant that a man this good-looking could be interested in her. But after Jerry, ‘butters’ her up a bit, she eventually lets her guard down.

charlotte-vale-now-voyager

source: Warner Bros.

The pair have an affair in Rio, despite Jerry being married. After a few weeks at sea, their time together runs out, and Charlotte returns to her home back in Boston. When her family first see her step off the boat, they’re very surprised that their frumpy, homely, looking family member could be transform into such a beautiful young woman.

The rest of the movie sees Charlotte’s struggle to adjust to her new climate and a number of other obstacles that sees her faith tested.

At this point, I don’t want to spoil the rest of the film, because it’s such a gorgeous movie to watch for the first time, I don’t want to take away anyone’s chance to experience that.

I do, however, want to talk about why I choose Paul Henreid for this blogathon.

Now Voyager2

22 years after Now Voyager was released, Henreid and Davis would team up again to make 1962’s Dead Ringer. Here is a ‘behind the scenes’ photo of the two recreating that famous double cigarette lighting scene.

Now Voyager is one of the movies that had biggest influence over me. Paul Henreid as Jerry is essentially my dream man.

Jerry should be everyone’s dream man.

Yes, I know he cheats on his wife, and yes, I know that he makes some questionable choices in the movie, but that doesn’t stop me from swooning over the way he’s so loyal to his daughter and to Charlotte. This scene, alone, should be the only reason why you should be attracted to Jerry.

The fact that even when they were miles apart and he still shows his concern for Charlotte and her well-being, tells me that Jerry is a true gentleman. I mean, what more can you ask for? Isn’t that what every girl wants?

I don’t know about you, but, I would love for a man to have that level of concern for me. I suppose that is what makes Jerry so attractive. Not only does he look like this, he also has a heart of gold, and because of that, he’s changed the way I’m attracted to men- forever.

 

 

 

If you would like to read the other entries in this blogathon, click: here!