Thank You for 100 Followers, from AGAM!

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gif source: Doses of Grace Tumblr

Well, well, well….how time flies.

About a year ago, I started this blog. I wasn’t really expecting much to be honest with you. AGAM was more of a place to vent some inner thoughts I had about most of the classic films I’ve seen. Never have I imagined that it would grow to be this big. Even though 100 followers doesn’t seem like much, I very much appreciate the time all of you take to read through my writing.

So, I’m thanking you for all of this. The ups and the downs, and everything in between.

Here’s to 100 more!

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Thank You, TCM

TCM logo1

source: Turner Broadcasting Company

It’s been awhile.

Life continues on, whether you like it or not. Despite that, I want to take the time out to write about something that’s changed my life – for the better.

In 2013, I was fairly young, high school aged to be exact. I had no clue what I wanted to do with myself.

I didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer like my fellow classmates, I just wanted to coast through and enjoy life. I had no plans, I liked living, I liked watching soccer and generally being a nuisance.

This all changed when I was required to take a high school elective on cinema appreciation


It was in this class that I was exposed to numerous films that would influence me for the foreseeable future:

and yes…

LoA

source: Columbia Pictures

There were others, of course, but these were the ones that stood out in my mind the most. They formed me, they helped me understand that there’s more depth to movies that I had originally expected.

So, I started digging.

Thanks to TCM, I found a treasure trove of classic pictures that shaped who I am. From Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant to James Cagney and Ginger Rogers, I was absolutely enthralled with what I was seeing.

I discovered the magic of classic films, I immersed myself in this world. I loved them, breathed them, and dreamt of them.

Because of this, I started to carry myself with a lot more confidence, I dug into the past of these actors and actresses. I learned about the backgrounds of these people and I lived through them. It affected the way I looked at life.

I thought to myself, “if the glitz and glamour of Hollywood could cover up some of the trials and tribulations that these actors and actresses were going through why can’t I keep my chin up during hard times?”

In summation, my love for history and classic films had a direct correlation to how I saw myself.

Isn’t that what movies are about?

Whisking you away for a couple of hours to forget about life?

Thank you, TCM, I really mean it.

 

 

The Second Annual Judy Garland Blogathon…

A-Star-Is-Born-1

source: Warner Bros.

A lot has been written about Judy Garland.

Whether it be about her life, death or anything in between, you can’t deny that Garland‘s career has left a lasting mark on Hollywood.

There was a period of time where Garland was treated as a laughing stock. Ridiculed and mocked for her many problems, she was all but finished by the time the 1950s rolled around. Luckily, that all changed with one script, a world-class director, and dream that wouldn’t die.


In 1954, Garland had the best year of her life. Coming back from being banished by the film industry, she had a triumphant return to form with her starring role in A Star is Born.

Critically and commercially acclaimed, Garland was thrust back into the limelight with her heartbreaking performance as aspiring singer Vicki Lester.

This was it, with that role, Garland’s comeback would cement her legacy as one of the greatest of all time.

But, before that could happen in walks in a 25-year-old Grace Kelly.

grace Kelly 1

source: Paramount Pictures

As a wrote before, Grace Kelly was quite the peculiar figure. Dubbed an ‘Ice Queen’ by many, in reality, Grace just wanted to be taken seriously as an actress and a performer.

Fortunately for the Philadelphia native, she had her feelings confirmed by the academy when she was nominated and won her Oscar for The Country Girl.

What about Mrs. Garland, you ask?

Well, that’s where the fun really begins.

As you may know, Garland was the favorite for the Oscar that year. Everyone and their mother believed that she would take it home- and rightfully so.

Grace won it based on two things: her popular and the sheer amount of films she made that year.

In 1954, Kelly starred in 5 films, some of them include, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, and Green Fire. MGM worked the poor girl to death, and perhaps the Academy felt the need to repay her.

Kelly‘s body of work that year may have outshone Garland‘s powerful performance, and eventually cost Judy the Oscar.

That’s not to say that Grace‘s role in The Country Girl wasn’t great, it was more than great, it was wonderful, but Judy‘s was out of this world.

starisborn 2

source: Warner Bros.

I think it’s fair to say the reason why Grace received the Oscar that year was the same reason why Leonard DiCaprio won his award a few years ago, same could be said with Julianne Moore – a great body of work, above average role.

In the eyes of the Academy, your body of work is more influential than whoever had the best performance that year. Unfortunately, for Judy, her ‘snub’ was the first in long line of Academy Award blunders.

 

 

 

If you wish to read more entries in this blogathon, click: here.

Late Nights, Early Flights, Green Tea, and Lisa Carol Fremont

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esource: Paramount Pictures

I adore TCM.

Thanks to Ted Turner‘s genius, thousands of tasty morsels from the wonderful world of classic cinema are merely a couple of remote clicks away. Despite the abundance of good that TCM provides to the starving film fan, there is a downside to having only a handful of movies stored in their archive. Usually, this means that the network has the tendency to replay a lot of movies.

This would irritate me, normally, but there’s always an actor (or director in this case) that’s an exception to this phenomenon.

In this case, it’s Alfred Hitchcock.


A couple of months ago, I was on my way to visit some family members in the northern part of the United States.

I’m an anxious flyer so, naturally, to calm my pre-flight jitters, I turned on TCM just a few hours before my flight left the following morning. Fortunately, all throughout that month, the network decided to sporadically play Hitchcock‘s voyeuristic masterpiece Rear Window in celebration of what would have been Grace Kelly‘s 88th birthday.

Grace's Window

sources: Paramount Pictures

I’ve seen Rear Window about a dozen times on several different occasions (I even own it on Blu-ray) but, for some reason, this viewing felt very unusual.

Instead of enjoying the cheeky humor, incredible sets, and the brilliant screenwriting, I took an active effort at trying to understand the intricate fusion between the character of Lisa Carol Fremont and Grace Kelly – the actress.

As you may know, it has often been said that Grace Kelly had a ‘dual persona.’

This is in reference to the “ice queen” image that plagued her throughout her career. There’s no denying that Kelly was a pretty reserved person in her personal life – depending on which biography you read, but what about her movies?

This is where my re-viewing of Rear Window helped me to understand that this dichotomy that followed her career (and to a lesser extent her private life) wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.


Lisa Carol Fremont as a character was at times rather selfish, stubborn, and oftentimes just plain rude. That’s understandable, of course, when you realize she’s dealing with a man with a proclivity for adventure and a fear of commitment (played to perfection by James Stewart), yet as I was re-watching Grace as Lisa with a different set of eyes, I quickly recognized, “well, of course, she would act this way.”

Alfred Hitchcock specifically picked Grace for this role due to this persona. Lisa was a fashionista, she loves clothing and even would forgo going on a trip with her boyfriend because she didn’t have the “proper attire” for the environment she’d be traveling in.

Who in their right mind would do something like that?

Right! An “ice queen” who gives off an air of entitlement and impenetrability.

Late Night Grace

source: Paramount Pictures

There are some moments in the film where Lisa could be extraordinarily cold and distant, but it only ever happened when she was in crisis or when Jeff wasn’t conforming to her standards of what their relationship should look like.

Grace’s “ice queen persona” helps a lot in this aspect; she was the only actress that could’ve taken this role. Hitchcock deliberately crafted the role of Lisa Carol Fremont for Grace, he knew that if any other woman stepped into that role, the entire tone of the film could have been something that he didn’t intend to mean.

Hitch’ has always carefully crafted his pictures this way, it doesn’t surprise me that he chose Grace for this role. This same sentiment could be applied to her role in 1955’s To Catch a Thief as well.

If it wasn’t for Hitchcock‘s cinema IQ and Grace’s typecast, I don’t believe Rear Window would’ve been as good as it is.

It’s funny, all it took for me to understand this was my fear of flying and my love for overanalyzing movies.

Go figure.

The Third Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon…

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Doses of Grace Tumblr

Grace Kelly‘s name is forever woven into the fabric of classic Hollywood. Despite only starring in 11 films, her cinematic footprint will live on for eternity.

Unfortunately for the classic movie connoisseur, 11 movies aren’t nearly enough to satisfy our natural inclination. Some wonder what Grace‘s career would’ve looked like had she not relocated to Monaco and married Prince Rainier.

Would there be more Hitchcock in her future?

Would she win manage to win another Academy Award?

Who knows? I’d like to think she’d go in a different direction.


In 1956, Grace Patricia Kelly wed Prince Rainier of Monaco in a wedding ceremony that would rival anything you’d see in Game of Thrones. Flowers, champagne, the sound of 1,000 trumpets – ‘the whole shebang’; it was truly a remarkable sight to behold. Coincidentally, just a couple months earlier, Grace was in Hollywood filming what would be the last movie she’d ever perform in.

high-society

source: MGM

High Society is a musical comedy romp that stars a marvelous cast of actors and actresses that include Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra Celeste Holm, and John Lund.

Directed by Charles Walters the film tells the story of wealthy socialite Tracy “Samantha” Lord and her journey to self-discovery as she falls in love with three men: C.K Dexter Haven (her ex), George Kittredge (her very dull and insipid fiancé) and Mike Connor (the magazine photographer sent to her residence to catalog her upcoming wedding.)

Throughout the movie, we see Sam and her many suitors go through a number of different situations like, getting drunk and going for a “romantic swim” (aka skinny dipping in classic Hollywood terms) in the family pool, speeding around the various mansions of Newport, Rhode Island and revisiting old memories with her estranged ex-husband.

Watching Grace Kelly as Samantha Lord juggle these three men so effortlessly was a joy to watch.

High Society 1956 2

source: MGM

Her comedic timing was impeccable; her delivery was impressive for an actress who was primarily known for her dramatic roles.

I suppose that’s why it’s so unfortunate that Grace quit Hollywood when she did. High Society seemed like the type of movie Grace could’ve continued to make had she not married royalty. Don’t get me wrong, I adore her love story with Rainier, but, it would’ve been interesting to see what direction her career would’ve taken if she stayed in Hollywood’s ‘dream factory.’

I envision her career going the way of a Rosalind Russell or even Katharine Hepburn; actresses who’ve starred in dramatic pictures but, are also very well known for their work in comedy.

In the end, all this speculation is in vain. Although it would have been wonderful if Grace continued with her movie career, I can’t help but think that she found her natural calling of being a princess.

How could you go wrong with that?

 

To read more entries in this blogathon, click: here.

5 Great Books That Every Classic Film Fan Should Read

Rita Hayworth

“Whenever somebody says black and white movies are boring…”

When I’m not watching classic films or laughing hysterically at What’s My Line? clips on YouTube, I spend my spare time reading.

Back in the day, I wasn’t a huge fan of reading; I would’ve much rather been working with my hands in some, unique, creative way, whether that may have been cooking, writing or playing an annoying soccer simulator on my phone that refused to let me win for some, frustrating, reason.

This toxic mindset of mine did a complete 180° when I discovered the love I have for classic movies my freshman year of high school. As I explained in a previous post, I was introduced to a number of classics through a very informative (and transformative) Film Appreciation class. It taught me that there’s more to movies than explosions, random sex scenes and lazy directing that were so prevalent in modern films.

From that point on, I found a new hobby – collecting, and reading, books about classic movies.

The more I watched these pictures, the more information I wanted to know about them. This lead me to seek out every and any book printed about that specific moment in time. I combed over a multitude of books that would help me get a better understanding of an era of movie history that I held so dearly.

The following are a list of books that I’ve read over the years. If you’re so inclined, I strongly suggest you pick up a couple. You’ll have a better understanding of the world of classic cinema and will certainly deepen your love and admiration for them.

5. By Myself and Then Some by Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall, somewhere in Key Largo, I presume…

Written without the help of a ghostwriter, By Myself and Then Some is Lauren Bacall – unfiltered.

Ms. Bacall goes through each portion of her life with extraordinary detail.

It starts off with her birth in The Bronx, talking about her absentee father and being raised by her mother, then takes you through how she got her first job working as a theatre usher and how that lead her to be discovered by Howard Hawks‘ wife Silm thanks to a Harper’s Bazaar cover. Eventually, she takes us through the courtship, marriage and eventual death of Bogart, heartbreakingly describing the terrible night he passed away in 1957.

This sounds somber, yes, but there are quite a few upbeat moments as well. There several behind the scenes stories of rowdy on-set antics of some of Bacall‘s favorite films. The African Queen, How to Marry a Millionaire and To Have and Have Not are some of the many films that Bacall writes about in this book.

Since she wrote this herself, the book does run a little long, 500+ pages to be exact. But, it does provide a fascinating insight into what it must’ve been like living during the Golden age of Hollywood.


ISBN 10: 0061127914

ISBN 13: 978-0061127915


4. Grace by Robert Lacey

Grace by Robert Lacey

“I tried to be like Grace Kelly..”

Much has been written about Grace Kelly, so much, in fact, that it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.

Thank the Lord for Robert Lacey.

For a long time, I was trying to find a definitive Grace Kelly biography. I would search Amazon Books, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads to no avail.

Until I stumbled upon Grace by Robert Lacey.

Perhaps, the most lengthy biography of her, Grace covers every single aspect of Kelly‘s life. Now, the reason why I said I was searching so heavily for something like this is that there have been various, let’s just say – rumors, about Grace that no one would confirm or deny. I wanted a book that would clear up some of the stories that I’ve so often heard surrounding the Grace Kelly “legend.”

Lacey goes in-depth into Grace‘s life, from the highs (winning an Academy Award) to the lows (her overbearing parents rejecting every man she brought home to marry) and everything in between. If you always wanted to see the other side to Grace Kelly, this book is for you.


ISBN 10: 0399138722

ISBN 13: 978-0399138720


3. Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations by Peter Evans

Ava Gardner

The Ava Gardner Museum is absolutely fantastic.

I always wondered what it would be like to have a drink with Ava Gardner, luckily this book gave me the chance.

Written by Peter Evans, The Secret Conversations is a wild ride. Devilishly candid and wildly witty Ava Gardner sounds off on her life, loves and career in this recently released ‘memoir.’

The book is a hilarious look at Ava Gardner‘s stream of consciousness. With Peter Evans visiting her during her wine-fueled late night rants, this book is filled to the brim with juicy tidbits about Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney, Howard Hughes, and quite frankly, any person Ava came in contact with during her days in Hollywood.

It makes you feel like you’re eavesdropping into to a conversation between two friends, I think that’s what makes this book feel so…intimate. It feels real and down to earth, just like Ava.

I have to warn you, however, the book does get fairly explicit, and you may be shocked at some of the stuff you read, but, if you read it through the lens of modern-day Hollywood, I promise you, it’s less ‘pearl-clutching’ than you think.


ISBN 10: 145162770X

ISBN 13: 978-1451627701


2. Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Dawn of the Modern Woman.

Audrey Hepburn BAT

source: Paramount Pictures

Everyone loves Audrey Hepburn.

Everyone loves Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Why not combine the two?

That’s exactly what Sam Wasson does in Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman. My favorite piece of in-flight reading material, 5 A.M, reads like a warm cup of tea.

In the book, Wasson tells the behind the scenes history of the production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s against the backdrop of the personal lives of everyone involved. Truman Capote, Blake Edwards, and Audrey Hepburn all had a hand in making ‘BaT’ the cultural icon as we know it today. Sam Wasson compartmentalizes their lives in a fun read that every fan of this 1961 classic should have on their nightstand.


ISBN 13: 9780061774164


1. Conversations With Joan Crawford by Roy Newquist

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford and husband, Alfred Steele in Italy, 1957.

The first and final book on this list is one that I enjoyed the most.

Joanie, Joanie, Joanie, what have you done?

Maybe the funniest and most enlightening on this list, Conversations with Joan Crawford left me in tears – the good kind.

I absolutely adored this book.

It made me see a side of Joan Crawford that I never knew she had. Printed in 1979, it took me a while to find a copy of this book in circulation, but when I did, I never looked back.

‘Conversations’ is basically 179 pages of a collection of interviews Joan has done talking about her career, lovers, children and anything else that may have been bothering her at the time. Boozier than a bar the night prohibition was implemented, Joan confesses to a lot of things that normal Crawford biographies wouldn’t touch.

Raucously funny, and at times very emotional, Conversations with Joan Crawford is an intriguing look at the last days of a Hollywood legend, and a fitting end to this list of books that would fill any classic movie fan with glee.


ISBN 10: 0425050467

ISBN 13: 9780061774164


 

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.

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.