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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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source: MGM

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

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

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

Adam & Milly

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source: MGM

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

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

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

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

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

This is where the movie starts to pick up…

The Brothers

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source: MGM

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

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

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

Cue the women coming into the story arc….

The Girls

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source: MGM

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

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

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source: MGM

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

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

At this point in the film, we see the movie enter the final 30 minutes of its 102-minute runtime and what happens next is indisputably the most exciting and hilarious.

The Whimsical Ending

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source: MGM

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

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

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

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

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

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source: MGM

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

The studio couldn’t have been more wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Classic Film Reviews: Sudden Fear (1952)

sudden fear
source: RKO Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is where the plot thickens.

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

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

Sudden_Fear_1952_8
source: RKO Pictures

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

Cue the next scene.

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

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

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

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

SuddenFear
source: RKO Pictures

The plan sounds diabolical, but it just might work.

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

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

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

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