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, busboys, 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 businessman. 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.

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My Obsession 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.

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 meet up with a rich maharajah who promised her that he takes 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 gets docked. 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 too, 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 to 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 of 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 nightcap. 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 for 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 suntan 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 a house party, which caused Frank to freak out in a fit of anger. We don’t know exactly what happened, but whatever did seem 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 a *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 to 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 pattern? Every film that I listed came from Hitchcock‘s career in the 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 Ph.D. 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 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 apologize 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 have 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 on 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 off 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 on 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 its 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 beside the point.

Always two steps ahead, the twins strategize 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 reassesses 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 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 has 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 transformed 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 the biggest influence on 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!

 

 

Classic Film Reviews: Boys’ Night Out (1962)

boysnightout
source: MGM

When discussing 1960s sex comedies, there is usually a number of different films (usually starring Doris Day) that pop into your head. That Touch of Mink, Send Me No Flowers, and Lover Come Back are just a few of the many memorable films that the decade produced.

However, there’s a lesser known film that I don’t think too many classic film fans are aware of.

Boys’ Night Out is another early 60s sex comedy, but, instead of starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson, we trade them in for Kim Novak and James Garner. Released in 1962, Boys’ Night Out is a charming little movie about human relationships, or in this film’s case, the “adolescent fantasies of the adult suburban male.”

Garner stars as Fred Williams, a good, honest, single, man who is incessantly bogged down by the unpure thoughts of his three married co-workers, George, Doug and Howie played Tony Randall, Howard Duff, and Howard Morris.

One day while the quartet was having their daily post-work stop at the local watering hole, they spot their boss getting a little too cozy with a woman who wasn’t his wife. Shocked and embarrassed Fred hides his face. The other three? Not so much.

boysnightout1961chevroletimpalasportsedan
source: MGM

Instead of turning their heads in distress, these 3 men get an idea- a mischievous one at that. Taking inspiration from their boss, they decide to have Fred find them an apartment in the city where they could fulfill their fantasies of having an extra-marital affair.

Here’s the catch: not only do they want to lease an apartment, they also want a blonde *ahem* ‘companion’ go along with it. Fred relents and attempts to rent an apartment from a landlord named Peter Bowers, played by Jim Backus. Unfortunately, there’s another buyer who is also seeking to own this lovely suite.

Conveniently, this ‘person’ happens to be a 29-year-old, curvy, blonde named Cathy, played by Kim Novak.

She looks exactly like the woman the guys were describing earlier, but, as the movie progresses, you’ll see that appearances aren’t always everything.

boysnightout-kim
source: MGM

Fred tries to explain that the apartment has already been paid for, but he also doesn’t want to lose out on potentially having Cathy stay here as that oh so coveted ‘companion’ that the boys discussed a few days earlier.

Fred brings up this topic with the hope that Cathy would at least consider the offer; to his surprise, she accepts the job, on the condition that she gets to live in the apartment.

The next day at work, Fred tells his friends about last night’s escapade and, naturally, they react like they found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Of course, in order to actually use this new found suite to their advantage, the guys come up with a convenient excuse to tell their wives: once a weeknight classes.

As the men get ready to rendezvous in their new apartment, Cathy, on the other hand, reveals her true intentions.

boys-night-out-1962-kim-novak-oskar-homolka-max
source: MGM

She’s actually an undercover sociology student working on her senior thesis about the “sexual fantasies of the suburban male.” Cathy then invites her professor over to discuss what she’s about to do, but he is hesitant to let her continue with her plan. Eventually, he concedes and lets Cathy do her thing.

She invites each of the men individually on separate days and records their conversations together. To get each man to open up to her, Cathy specifically targets things that their wives neglect them from doing at home. Howie gets fed the food his wife won’t allow him to have, Doug likes to fix things, and George can’t quit talking about himself.

When Fred meets with her, however, he doesn’t buy into her game. He’s pretty attracted to Cathy and is petrified by his friend’s (fake) tales about their nights with her. Disgusted by this, he refuses to spend his allotted night with her.

Ultimately, Howie, Doug and George’s wives find out about their late night get together with Cathy. To confirm this is actually happening, they hire a private with the help of Fred’s mother (played by Jessie Royce Landis).

boys-night-out-1962-howard-morris-kim-novak-max..
source: MGM

After a few days, they finally get all the information they need to confront their husbands. A few scenes later, the wives storm Cathy’s apartment demanding answers.

When they get there, they ask their husbands if all of this is true, but the men maintain their innocence. Seeing that the situation is getting out of hand, Cathy intervenes.

She comes clean about her ‘experiment’ she was doing and apologizes for causing any harm. During that whole commotion, Fred, angered by the whole ordeal, storms out of the room. After calming the storm, Cathy frantically runs downstairs to confess to Fred what actually happened.

Luckily, she catches him right as he was heading into the elevator, but before the audience could see what transpired between the two, the doors shut. The next time we see them, the elevator doors have opened and we see the two in a tremendously tight embrace, where they’ve presumably ‘kissed and made up’.

The movie ends with all the wives and husbands (including newlyweds Fred and Cathy) gathered together at the same bar where this harebrained scheme was initially hatched; except this time, no one plans on buying an apartment.

Conclusion

This film is pretty great! The first time I saw it, I was a little shocked that Kim Novak would take this sort of role. She’s normally the kind of actress to take a more serious role.

But, as I researched further, I found out that her production company KIMCO were the people who financed/produced it. Because of Harry Cohn’s death in 1958, Novak‘s film offers dried up significantly.  According to Rob Nixon at TCM, this movie was supposed to be the one that resurrected Novak‘s career.

Unfortunately for Novak, the movie was a critical and financial bust. On the bright side, for James Garner, it gave him a bit more publicity and subsequently propelled his career even further.

In the end, Boys Night Out is a decent film. It will definitely give you a few laughs, and the story is coherent enough for you to not get bored. Out of all the sex comedies that were released in the 1960s, this one is certain to keep your attention. If you have a few hours to spare on a Saturday night, this movie is for you.

Favorite Director Blogathon….

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

Stanley Donen is a living legend.

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

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

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

charade4
source: Universal Pictures

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

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

Cut to the next scene.

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

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

charade
source: Universal Pictures

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

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

This leaves Reggie in a predicament.

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

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

Now, the next part is a bit tricky.

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

charade2
source: Universal Pictures

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

The plot thickens.

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

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

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

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

charade3big
source: Universal Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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source: Universal Pictures

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

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

Why This Perfectly Captures Stanley Donen’s Career

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source: Universal Pictures

Stanley Donen really outdid himself on this one.

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

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

My Obession With……the films of Audrey Hepburn

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

Roman Holiday (1953)

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source: Paramount Pictures

Roman Holiday is one of my favorite movies.

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

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

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

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

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

Funny Face (1957)

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source: Paramount Pictures

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

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

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

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

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960)

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source: Paramount Pictures

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

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

This is where Audrey Hepburn steps in.

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

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

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

How to Steal a Million (1966)

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source: 20th Century Fox

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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