Ahhh, the summer. There’s nothing better than kicking back, planning vacations and seeing them come to fruition.
This past summer I was fortunate enough to take a trip to D.C and tour through the National Mall. Between feasting on artisan burgers and sipping on bubble tea, I squeezed a trip to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
Initially I was a bit hesitant to visit this particular museum; seeing as though I’m a bit of a history nerd I wanted to see actual artifacts not necessarily art work.
I was hilariously wrong.
When I walked inside I was taken back at how many brilliant paintings and sculptures I saw. From Presidential portraits to Barbie figurines, the National Portrait Gallery is arguably the most underrated museum there is in the National Mall.
The thing that shocked me the most during my visit was Katharine Hepburn‘s Oscar collection.
After my squealing calmed down after 3 minutes I was able to bask in the history of these four statues.
OnGolden Pond, The Lion in Winter, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Morning Glory are all represented here through Katharine‘s four Academy Awards.
We all know that Katharine Hepburn was one of a kind and it was pretty moving to see her awards in the flesh.
All four of the films that she won her Oscars for are absolutely brilliant, with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner be a favorite of mine.
If you get a chance to visit America’s Nation’s capital I highly recommend stopping by the National Portrait Gallery, you never know what other classic Hollywood memorabilia you’ll find.
To read more entries into this blogathon, click: here.
If you know anything about classic Hollywood, then you know that on set romances are as common as chain smoking.
People made up, broke up and repeated the process all over again.
In the case of Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, they did all of things – and then some.
Perhaps the most infamous couple is Hollywood history (besides Brad and Angelina) Joan and Clark had a long history of lust filled glances, late night phone conversations, and on set dalliances.
It first started all the way back in 1931 with Dance, Fools, Dance. Crawford‘s star was quickly rising in Hollywood and Gable was struggling to find his footing on the silver screen. It wasn’t until Crawford specifically chose Gable to star alongside her that his career really started to kick into gear.
“it was like an electric current went through my body…my knees buckled…if he hadn’t held me by the shoulders, I’d have dropped.”
– Crawford on meeting Gable for the first time
The production of this movie went pretty swiftly, and after filming ended, Crawford wanted to work with Gable again.
The next project they worked on was 1931’s Laughing Sinners. It wasn’t a memorable film, but Gable and Crawford continued to get to know one another. I will say that it is an enjoyable film and I hope I get to watch it again someday.
For all the flirtatious looks they had on set with this movie, it doesn’t compare to the blazing fire that they sent into overdrive on their next movie, Possessed.
This is where Hollywood lore was made.
By this point, Gable‘s star was rising and he was a hot commodity. Crawford was a bonafide star, at this point she was dubbed the ‘Queen of Hollywood.’
So, what happens when you combine a handsome young actor with one of Hollywood’s biggest stars?
Well…, let’s just say that many things were exchanged between the two, in more ways than one.
Here’s a quote from Crawford on how she felt about Gable during this time:
“In the picture, we were madly in love. When the scenes ended, the emotion didn’t–we were each playing characters very close to our own.”
– Joan Crawford, from Clark Gable by Chrystopher J. Spicer
While filming Possessed their affair become public knowledge, and naturally the MGM studio higher ups weren’t too pleased with this. Gable and Joan‘s affair nearly turned Hollywood on its head
It got to the point where Louis B Mayer requested that the two stop their romance. Of course, they didn’t comply and Mayer then threatened to destroy their careers.
Eventually they did separate after enough pressing from studio heads, but they didn’t quit seeing each other.
According to some sources, they continued to fool around even while they were married to other people.
Not my cup of tea, but I digress.
In the end, the couple never stopped loving each other, and it shows when Joan talked about him after Gable‘s death.
“Lovemaking never felt with anyone like what it did with Clark.”
– Joan Crawford, from Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography by Lawrence J. Quirk & William Schoell
When discussing classic Hollywood cinema, there are usually several different actors and actresses that come to mind as you murmur the words, “golden age.”
Greta Garbo, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, James Dean, and Audrey Hepburn, are just a couple of many names on the endless list of legendary classic movie performers.
A woman that doesn’t nearly get enough recognition on these lists is Ireland’s very own ‘Queen of Technicolor’, Maureen O’Hara.
Born on August 17th, 1920 in Ranelagh, Ireland, O’Hara‘s career lasted 61 years, triumphantly ending in 1991 with the romantic-comedy Only the Lonelystarring alongside John Candy. During those six decades, she co-starred with some of the most admired actors in film history.
From Tyrone Power to John Wayne and even Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara’s film roles were just an extension of who she was as a woman.
Whether it be sword fighting with Errol Flynn, planning a summer vacation with Jimmy Stewart, or falling madly in love with John Wayne on the mountainous terrain of rural Ireland, Maureen O’Hara’s filmography is perhaps one of the most underappreciated in classic Hollywood history.
Strikingly beautiful and blessed with an aura that the camera naturally gravitated too, O’Hara was raised in the sleepy Dublin neighborhood of Ranelagh.
Born to Charlie and Marguerite (née Lilburn) FitzSimons, Maureen has said that her adolescence was “the most remarkable and eccentric that she could’ve hoped for.”
Being the second oldest of six children (and the only red-head), O’Hara lived a relatively happy and carefree childhood. She would often describe her mother in a kind light, saying that she,”inherited [her] singing voice from [her] and that when her mother would leave the house, men would “leave their houses just to catch a glimpse of her on the street.”
O’Hara has also asserted in interviews that she was a rather “blunt child”, saying that she “didn’t take discipline very well.”
As an infant, she was given the nickname, “Baby Elephant” for having a stout physique. Her tomboyish nature had her take part in a number of physically strenuous activities like fishing, riding horses, judo and even Gaelic Football.
At the age of 5, she began dancing. O’Hara didn’t take the hobby seriously until a gypsy spotted her and prophesied that she would one day become well-known for her acting skills.
She initially scoffed at the idea, but her parents coaxed her into the thought. Her hunger quickly for fame quickly grew and by age 10 she was working for the Rathmines Theater Company, where she honed her skills in amateur theater productions.
It wasn’t until the age of 17 when O’Hara grew into her stunning looks that casting agents started giving her attention.
By 1937, O’Hara was a full-time actress, working at the Abbey Theatre where she swiftly caught the attention of singer/actor Harry Richman. Richman insisted that O’Hara should travel to London to have a screen test done.
She agreed, and when Maureen and her parents landed on the island she was immediately thrust into the limelight, making her screen debut in the 1938 film Kicking the Moon Around.
Although O’Hara didn’t consider Kicking the Moon Around her screen debut, it’s still counted as the first film she’s starred in. However, the movie that she truly believed to be her screen debut was the Hitchcock thriller Jamaica Inn.
Co-starring alongside Charles Laughton, Jamaica Inn is a Hitchcock film through and through. Although it isn’t as recognizable as some of his later drama/thrillers, it holds it’s own as a standalone film.
O’Hara‘s performance received raved reviews, quickly cementing her place amongst Hollywood elite. She was then offered a seven-year contract off the back of her stand out performance.
At first, she and her family declined, citing that O’Hara was far too young to make such a momentous jump in her career. But, after a few drinks and coddling, they caved and Maureen signed a seven-year contract to Mayflower Pictures.
After that she was cast in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1939. Boarding the ship liner from England to New York, then taking a train from NYC to Los Angeles, O’Hara‘s Hollywood journey truly began.
Because of her role in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, O’Hara‘s star in Hollywood continued to rise, starring in a number of films like How Green Was My Valley, Miracle on 34th Street and of course The Quiet Man.
She followed those up by starring in a series of John Ford films that, just maybe, cemented her legacy as “Hollywood’s toughest broad.
As O’Hara got older, she continued to act and hold her own against some of the best in the business, even acting up until the early 1990s. Stand outs from that era include, The Parent Trap, Spencer’s Mountain, and the very funny Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.
Unfortunately, after a very long life, Maureen O’ Hara would pass away on October 24th, 2015, leaving behind not only a fantastic filmography, but also and incredible legacy as a human being.
In 2018, there has been a lot of hubbub surrounding the role of women in the world, especially the entertainment industry.
Films like Ocean’s 8,Girl’s Trip and many other female-centric movies have flooded the market over the past two years or so, but, the concept of women-focused movies isn’t new, however.
Back in 1939, the brilliant cinematic mind of George Cukor coupled with the manpower of Metro Goldwyn Mayer produced one of the greatest female-centered films of all time.
The Women, starring an all-star cast that included Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, and Norma Shearer is perhaps the most wildly entertaining film of 1939, and it still holds up 79 years later. It may have not passed the Bechdel Test, but the film is unique in that there isn’t a single man in sight.
Norma Shearer plays Mary Haines, a rather homely woman with a heart of gold. She and her daughter “Little Mary,” live a nice life riding horses, loving life, and just general happiness shared between the two.
In comes Mary’s husband, Mr. Haines.
The cool thing about this film is, there isn’t a single man that’s present during the duration of the movie. This means that the object of Mary’s affections, and the main subject of the picture, does not show up at all throughout the film’s runtime. Due to this, we get 133 minutes of pure ‘unfiltered’ womanhood.
On to the movie’s (unseen) subject, Mr. Haines.
In typical classic Hollywood fashion, Mr. Haines appears to be cheating on Mary, much to the surprise of no one considering the fact that all of her friends and “close acquaintances” including Sylvia Fowler (played by Rosalind Russell,) knew about it before she did.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
The woman in Mr. Haines’ life isn’t his wife at all, it’s actually a 5’5 brunette by the name of Crystal Allen (played by Joan Crawford,) and when, eventually, Mary and Crystal meet, let’s say that….it doesn’t go over too well.
The scene in question is quite a doozy.
Crystal and Mary finally meet at Crystal’s job in the dressing rooms, surrounded by their closest friends, and foes.
Mary ends up confronting Crystal at Sylvia’s insistence and what we have is possibly the wittiest scene in classic movie history.
The two tussle back and forth, spewing all the things that they’ve always wanted to say to each other: Crystal tells Mary to get a divorce and Mary tells Crystal that she’s a hussy (in 1939 terms.)
It really is quite an intense scene. When I initially viewed this I was shocked at the pettiness that stemmed from the two ladies. To be quite frank, I’m not sure why it surprised me, I was just startled at how well the scene was acted.
I suppose that’s why this film is so great. Not only is it unique for its time period, but it also gave the chance for women to flourish on the silver screen during a time where opportunities were few and far between. Knowing that it makes my enjoyment of the film 10 times greater.
Directed by Archie Mayo and co-starring a talented cast of Bette Davis,Leslie Howard, and Dick Foran, The Petrified Forest tells the story of a man, a wanderer, to say the least, the goes by the name of Alan Squier.
He’s a failed writer, a poet – a broken man. Couple that with his Great Depression woes, and that makes a perfect recipe for someone, specifically Alan, to go and bother a homely barkeep and his daughter.
After getting fed and clothed, Gabrielle (Bette Davis) and Alan start to get on swimmingly.
It’s quite cute, actually. This homely, rather socially awkward (this hits too close to home,) young lady being absolutely enthralled with this mystery man’s presence is, frankly, one of the more underrated parts of this film.
So, the two of them get along very well, and everything appears to be going splendidly for them.
In walks Bogart and company.
Duke Mantee, a gangster, a cheat, an all-around bad guy walks into their bar with a gun in one hand and a point to prove.
After holding hostage a wealthy couple in order to evade police, Duke strolls into this bar looking his girlfriend that he was supposed to rendezvous with.
Duke is a pretty intimidating guy and is precisely the reason why he was picked for this blogathon.
When you initially view this film, especially when you’re used to the “cleaned up” Bogart, his appearance comes as a shock.
Dirtied, 5 O’Clock shadow, and stained clothes galore, this is Duke Mantee in his entire glory.
What makes him so scary is his lack of control.
Duke has a very quick temper and any little thing (or person) that he perceives to mess up his plans will more or less be caught in his line of fire.
This kept me on edge throughout the entire film.
When he’s holding everyone captive inside that bar, you could feel the tension. One false move and, potentially, your life could be over. Just thinking about it again makes my skin crawl. What a wonderful performance that Bogart put on, absolutely outstanding.
Classic movie buffs could argue that this is the film that put Bogart on the map, and they’d be right.
This was Bogart‘s first major screen role, it essentially put Humphrey‘s acting abilities on the map, not only for the public eye but also in the offices of every major movie studio during that era.
If you haven’t had the chance to see this film, I strongly suggest you do so. You’ll not only enjoy performances from Bette Davis and Leslie Howard, but you will also be able to see Bogart at his career inception and, arguably, in his very best role.
If you’d like to read more entries in this blogathon, click: here
About a year ago, I started this blog. I wasn’t really expecting much to be honest with you. AGAM was more of a place to vent some inner thoughts I had about most of the classic films I’ve seen. Never have I imagined that it would grow to be this big. Even though 100 followers doesn’t seem like much, I very much appreciate the time all of you take to read through my writing.
So, I’m thanking you for all of this. The ups and the downs, and everything in between.
The U.S is a great country, I don’t care what anyone says.
No country is a large and diverse as these 50 different states in the union.
From the golden coasts of California to the Rocky Mountains of the Appalachians, the United States is truly a sight to behold – especially when you have time to burn during the summer.
It’s only fitting that movies and traveling fit together. Turner Classic Movies, better known as ‘TCM’ has begun this fantastic new film spotlight that focuses on ’50 Movies from 50 different states.
Starting in New England, then making its way down to New York City, then with a quick stop down South, then onward toward Florida, going back up to the midwest, then down the Missippi River, all the way out to the Wild West, then eventually ending on the sun-kissed coasts of California.
Every Monday and Tuesday this July, you will be able to enjoy your favorite classic movies while exploring the great open roads of the United States.
When I first got into classic films 5 years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Naturally, like any bratty, snotty-nosed teenager, I turned my nose up at those “black and white snoozefests.” It wasn’t until I took a mandatory ‘Cinema Appreciation’ class that I started to *ahem* ‘appreciate’ classic films.
A couple weeks, I began to watch to The Asphalt Jungle. About halfway through, I got unbearably tired and I just had to go to bed.
The next morning I check the TCM on demand (the app is truly God-sent, I highly recommend you download it) to see if the film was still there, lo and behold, it had an expiration date.
I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed, but then I realized the movie served its purpose.
At the time, circumstances in my life were pretty overwhelming. My college courses weren’t going to plan, the weather down here was dire, and I was struggling with life in general.
That hour of The Asphalt Jungle immediately put me in a better mood. I may not have finished it, but the film took my mind off of my current problems.
This show the power of classic films, I may not have finished it, but it gave me pleasure in another way – emotionally.
There have been many movies over the years that exemplify this precious sentiment. What there hasn’t been, however, is a film that makes sticking to what you believe in a matter of life or death.
Manhattan Melodrama is a film about convictions, love, and how far one is willing to go to keep them together.
Director W.S Van Dyke tells the story of two boys who grow up together, and how time and different circumstances lead them to live different lives.
Clark Gable and William Powell star as ‘Blackie’ Gallagher and Jim Wade, the two boys whose friendship is thicker than blood. Their friendship goes through countless ups and downs, through several trials and tribulations, but despite those hardships, Wade and ‘Blackie’ were inseparable.
Their misfortunes begin at the beginning of the film when the cruise liner they were traveling on catches fire, leaving everyone to fend for themselves.
This unlucky accident has both of their parents die in the frenzied blaze, leaving both of the boys parentless. As the boys and other survivors swim to safety, they run into a homely man named Poppa Rosen (played by George Sidney.) It’s shown that he also lost a family member, a son, the same age as ‘Blackie’ and Wade.
As the trio grieve together, Rosen offers to become their guardian. With nowhere else to go, the boys jump at the opportunity.
A couple of years pass by and everything seems to be going well for the boys (well, at least for one of them.) Wade is studying to become a district attorney and ‘Blackie’ is dipping his toes into the grimy world of petty crime.
After living comfortably with Rosen for a few years, he’s accidentally trampled to death by a policeman’s horse at a pro-Communism rally.
The movie skips ahead to the year 1920, where Wade has triumphantly become District Attorney and ‘Blackie’ runs an illegal gambling ‘joint’.
Both boys have found success in very, very different lines of work.
The law is the only thing that keeps them separated.
The two boys – now men – run into each other one night at a boxing match. They laugh, and joke around like old pals, prompting ‘Blackie’ to invite Jim out for drinks. Jim declines citing work as his excuse. That doesn’t deter ‘Blackie’ though. If he couldn’t be there he’ll send the next best thing, Eleanor – his mistress girlfriend (played by Myrna Loy.)
When Eleanor and Jim meet, she’s immediately impressed by the class and charms that oozes out of Wade, the polar opposite of ‘Blackie’s’ brash and coarse demeanor.
Eleanor returns from her impromptu ‘date’ and she realizes that she doesn’t want to live the “gangster” lifestyle anymore and ends her romance with ‘Blackie,’ eventually marrying Jim.
Her decision proves to be the correct one when a couple of days later a man who owed ‘Blackie’ money is mysteriously shot in his hotel room.
The man behind the crime?
Edward J. ‘Blackie’ Gallagher.
But, Wade doesn’t know that.
Run he starts his campaign for governor later that year, his assistant Richard Snow essentially harasses him into looking deeper into the murder case. If Jim doesn’t comply with his wishes, Snow would expose his close friendship to ‘Blackie’ thus ruining his chances of winning the race.
Coincidentally, Eleanor and ‘Blackie’ reunite at a horse track, where Eleanor explains the predicament that Wade has got himself into.
‘Blackie’ being an all-around “bad guy” tells her that she shouldn’t worry and that he’ll “take care of this, himself.”
We all know what this means.
Lo and behold, ‘Blackie’ shoots Wade’s assistant point blank in a restroom during a hockey game in Madison Square Garden. Because, why not?
What ‘Blackie’ thought to be a blind man sitting outside the restroom when he committed the crime turned out to be a concerned citizen who quickly reports the crime to the police.
Jim is now forced to choose between two of the things that he loves the most: his career or persecuting ‘Blackie.’ He wins his gubernatorial race, but his mind can’t shake the obvious conflict of interests.
Ultimately, his conscience takes over, as much as it pains him to do so and against the objections of his wife, he prosecutes ‘Blackie’ for both murders sentencing him to death by electric chair.
He almost retracts his sentencing, however, when Jim visits ‘Blackie’ in prison, he reiterates to him that he’s proud that he stuck to his conscience and didn’t relent in his charges. Agreeing, Wade gives up and lets ‘Blackie’ have a peaceful death.
The movie ends with Jim tendering his resignation from his governor seat, stating that a murder influenced the result of his election, therefore, making it invalid.
When you combine the genius of Joseph L. Mankiewicz and the directorial magic of W.S Van Dyke, you’re bound to get magic on the silver screen.
That’s exactly what makes Manhattan Melodrama a film that deserves more recognition. This movie has it all: excellent writing (absolutely incredible, I can’t stress that enough), outstanding acting, and exceptional directing – the trifecta.
W.S Van Dyke has quickly become one of my favorite directors because of pictures like this. He has the magic touch when it comes to movies where you need to have that delicate balance of drama and comedy (e.g The Thin Man.) Though ‘MMD’ isn’t necessarily a comedy, there were several moments in the film where the witty banter between Powell and Gable flowed organically, like they’ve known each other all their life.
For that, we have Mr. Mankiewicz to thank.
Manhattan Melodrama is a film that will make you reflect on what you truly believe and whether or not you can stand for it when the going gets tough. Not only is the film visually stunning and terrifically written, it also has an underlying message of morality and virtue.
There are not many movies that could do this, but ‘Melodrama’ is one of the few that does it so well.
If you wish to read the rest of the entries in the blogathon, click here.
Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It’s too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way.
-Leslie Caron as Lise and Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan in An American In Paris (1951)
Since it’s industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, the self-proclaimed,”City of Lights” has grown to represent a number of different things in the human psyche.
Whether it be the sound of the cobblestone streets beneath your feet as you walk beside the Seine River, the monotone “bonjour” as you stride into your favorite Boulangerie or the thousands of tourists who are jostling with each other in a race to see who can snap the most cliché selfie, Paris has been tourism hot-spot for decades.
In the eyes of the classic film fan, however, Paris holds a special connotation in our hearts.
Arguably starting with Humphrey Bogart‘slegendary quote during the climax of Casablanca, the City of Paris has been a staple in pop culture since the advent of the movie camera. It’s no wonder that many classic film directors have chosen “The City of Love” as the backdrop to several of their movies.
So, what makes Paris so special?
In the classic film sense, it encapsulates everything that’s so extraordinary about that specific era in movie history.
There are several movies that embody this feeling.
An American in Paris, Funny Face, and Moulin Rouge! are some of the better examples of this phenomenon. Other films in this category include The Last Time I Saw Paris,Les Girls, and 1958’s Academy Award Winning film Gigi. Even the plot of light-hearted romantic comedies like Stanley Donen‘s Charade has a feeling of improbability and absurdity that could only to recreated in a city like Paris.
In summation, Paris’ importance to classic Hollywood has been immense. Filmmakers, actors, actresses, producers, and screenwriters have all come together to help create a lore to this city that’s been so prevalent in our movie history.
The next time you happen to view a film that takes place in the ‘City of Love’, be sure to take a good look at its surroundings, you never know what magic Paris will conjure up this time.