The Second Annual Doris Day Blogathon…

Midnight Lace

source: Universal Pictures

Doris Day.

Happy Birthday, first of all. Secondly, give yourself a pat on the back.

She really outdid herself this time.

The Doris Day that we like to remember is the girl next door. She’s everyone’s best friend, she’s one who married her child high school sweetheart and bakes cookies for her children’s school bake sale.

Perhaps that facade gets masks the true hidden talent in Day‘s acting arsenal.

In the thriller Midnight Lace, the ‘Hitchcock Day™‘ (something, I dubbed her after watching The Man Who Knew Too Much ) was out in full force.

The film follows newly-wed Kit Preston and her struggles to adjust to life in England. Not only does she have to deal with the melancholic weather and a different culture, she’s also being phone stalked by a man who’s threatening to kill her.

Her husband Anthony ‘Tony’ Preston, played by Rex Harrison, insists that it’s just a practical joke and tries to calm her down with an extended honeymoon to Venice.

Midnight Lace 1960 2

source: Universal Studios

The next day Kit prepares for this trip by buying a variety of clothing. During her shopping spree, she nearly gets hit by a falling girder from a nearby construction site. This is where we get introduced to Brain Younger, played by John Gavin.

He quickly takes an interest in Mrs. Preston, acting as a guardian angel of sorts, whenever she gets in trouble.

The phone calls continue, getting more and more hostile as the days roll on. It gets so bad that Tony takes the initiative and gets Scotland Yard involved. Immediately they bombard Mrs. Preston with a litany questions. Ranging from, ‘do you have any enemies?’ to ‘are you happy in your marriage?’

Naturally Tony takes offense and that leads the head detective, played by John Willams, to question him, insinuating that he may behind this entire ‘stunt.’

As if things can’t get any worse for Kit, Tony cancels their trip to Venice, claiming that work has got him extraordinarily busy.

midnigh lace 1960 3

source: Universal Studios

Luckily, a few days later Kit’s vivacious Aunt Bea, played by Myrna Loy, shows up for an extended stay at her flat.

Things progressively get stranger as the weeks go on. It starts with Kit getting stuck in an elevator and having a panic attack. What she believes is her stalker is actually Brian apologizing for his construction site cutting off the electricity. Next, she gets pushed in front of a moving bus in front of a crowd of strangers The final straw is when the people around start to doubt her, calling her delusional and paranoid.

Tony and Bea take her to a physician where he clears her of all potential ailments.

Seeing as though there’s nothing wrong, Tony decides to re-schedule their trip to Venice, at the insistence of Aunt Bea.

A couple of days pass without calls and the Preston’s deduce that they must’ve stopped. It isn’t until late one night when Tony’s due at a business meeting across town that the calls continue. This time, Tony actually hears the threats. He quickly tells Kit that he’ll cancel his meeting and they’ll devise a plan on how to catch the stranger.

Tony plans to walk out of the building, in plain sight, sneak back in and catch the killer in the middle of his act.

He does just that and this is where the film gets even crazier.

Midnight Lace 1960 4

source: Universal Studios

They wrestle for a while until the “stranger” gets shot with his own weapon. I put “stranger” in quotations because he isn’t a stranger at all but the naval husband of Kit’s supposed best friend and next door neighbor Peggy Thompson, played by Natasha Perry.

This is important because she’s being used as a witness in Tony’s plot to kill Kit while making it look like an accident. You see, Tony recently found that one of his employees’ embezzled one million pounds away from his company. The only way to get that money is to, apparently, kill his wife.

Her husband Roy Ash, played by Anthony Dawson, has been stalking Tony’s movements ever since he returned home from the war. He believed that they were having an affair, and that’s why he’s been so secretive.

Stuck at crossroads, Kit sprints towards her bedroom where she screams out for help. Once again, Brian is there to save the day, conveniently walking out of the pub just in time to help Kit cascade down the scaling safely.

Moments later the police arrive, arresting Tony, Peggy and getting medical help for the wounded ‘intruder’ lying on the ground so desperately needs.

The final shot of the film has Brian and Aunt Bea walking off in the distance comforting Kit with words of encouragement.

Conclusion

midnight-lace-the-end

source: Universal Studios

As I stated earlier, Day‘s dramatic acting skills are very underrated.

During the entire film, I was in shock at how well she carried the heavier, fear-inducing scenes.

I suppose that’s a testament to the director, David Miller.

His use of shadows and darkness to create a frantic mood truly terrified me. As for the acting performances, Rex Harrison was positively unsettling. I always suspected he was up to something, It didn’t surprise me when he revealed himself to be the ‘bad guy’ at the end.

I AM surprised that Doris didn’t receive a nomination for her role as Kit. I thought she did a phenomenal job, acting alongside Myrna Loy certainly isn’t an easy task, but she pulled it off flawlessly.

Speaking of Myrna Loy, I absolutely adored in this movie. Her delivery was quick, witty and at time heartbreak (when we reach the film’s climax, anyway.)

As the film ended, I couldn’t help but think that Day‘s character would bounce back that ordeal.

In my mind, she’d fly back to the States with Aunt Bea for a period of time while they clean out her old apartment, keeping in touch with Brian through a letter correspondence. After a couple of weeks in the US, she’ll return to England where she and Brian will move in together, eventually marrying months later.

One can only hope, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who believes this?

 

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The Clark Gable Blogathon…

MMELODRAMA

source: MGM

A story of principle.

There have been many movies over the years that exemplify this precious sentiment. What there hasn’t been, however, is a film that makes sticking to what you believe in a matter of life or death.

Manhattan Melodrama is a film about convictions, love, and how far one is willing to go to keep them together.

Director W.S Van Dyke tells the story of two boys who grow up together, and how time and different circumstances lead them to live different lives.

Clark Gable and William Powell star as ‘Blackie’ Gallagher and Jim Wade, the two boys whose friendship is thicker than blood. Their friendship goes through countless ups and downs, through several trials and tribulations, but despite those hardships, Wade and ‘Blackie’ were inseparable.


Their misfortunes begin at the beginning of the film when the cruise liner they were traveling on catches fire, leaving everyone to fend for themselves.

This unlucky accident has both of their parents die in the frenzied blaze, leaving both of the boys parentless. As the boys and other survivors swim to safety, they run into a homely man named Poppa Rosen (played by George Sidney.) It’s shown that he also lost a family member, a son, the same age as ‘Blackie’ and Wade.

MMELODRAMA2

source: MGM

As the trio grieve together, Rosen offers to become their guardian. With nowhere else to go, the boys jump at the opportunity.

A couple of years pass by and everything seems to be going well for the boys (well, at least for one of them.) Wade is studying to become a district attorney and ‘Blackie’ is dipping his toes into the grimy world of petty crime.

After living comfortably with Rosen for a few years, he’s accidentally trampled to death by a policeman’s horse at a pro-Communism rally.


The movie skips ahead to the year 1920, where Wade has triumphantly become District Attorney and ‘Blackie’ runs an illegal gambling ‘joint’.

Both boys have found success in very, very different lines of work.

The law is the only thing that keeps them separated.

The two boys – now men – run into each other one night at a boxing match. They laugh, and joke around like old pals, prompting ‘Blackie’ to invite Jim out for drinks. Jim declines citing work as his excuse. That doesn’t deter ‘Blackie’ though. If he couldn’t be there he’ll send the next best thing, Eleanor – his mistress girlfriend (played by Myrna Loy.)

When Eleanor and Jim meet, she’s immediately impressed by the class and charms that oozes out of Wade, the polar opposite of ‘Blackie’s’ brash and coarse demeanor.

Eleanor returns from her impromptu ‘date’ and she realizes that she doesn’t want to live the “gangster” lifestyle anymore and ends her romance with ‘Blackie,’ eventually marrying Jim.

MMELODRAMA3

source: MGM

Her decision proves to be the correct one when a couple of days later a man who owed ‘Blackie’ money is mysteriously shot in his hotel room.

The man behind the crime?

Edward J. ‘Blackie’ Gallagher.

But, Wade doesn’t know that.

Run he starts his campaign for governor later that year, his assistant Richard Snow essentially harasses him into looking deeper into the murder case. If Jim doesn’t comply with his wishes, Snow would expose his close friendship to ‘Blackie’ thus ruining his chances of winning the race.

Coincidentally, Eleanor and ‘Blackie’ reunite at a horse track, where Eleanor explains the predicament that Wade has got himself into.

‘Blackie’ being an all-around “bad guy” tells her that she shouldn’t worry and that he’ll “take care of this, himself.”

We all know what this means.

Lo and behold, ‘Blackie’ shoots Wade’s assistant point blank in a restroom during a hockey game in Madison Square Garden. Because, why not?

MMELODRAMA4

source: MGM

What ‘Blackie’ thought to be a blind man sitting outside the restroom when he committed the crime turned out to be a concerned citizen who quickly reports the crime to the police.

Jim is now forced to choose between two of the things that he loves the most: his career or persecuting ‘Blackie.’ He wins his gubernatorial race, but his mind can’t shake the obvious conflict of interests.

Ultimately, his conscience takes over, as much as it pains him to do so and against the objections of his wife, he prosecutes ‘Blackie’ for both murders sentencing him to death by electric chair.

He almost retracts his sentencing, however, when Jim visits ‘Blackie’ in prison, he reiterates to him that he’s proud that he stuck to his conscience and didn’t relent in his charges. Agreeing, Wade gives up and lets ‘Blackie’ have a peaceful death.

The movie ends with Jim tendering his resignation from his governor seat, stating that a murder influenced the result of his election, therefore, making it invalid.

Conclusion

MMELODRAMA5

source: MGM

When you combine the genius of Joseph L. Mankiewicz and the directorial magic of W.S Van Dyke, you’re bound to get magic on the silver screen.

That’s exactly what makes Manhattan Melodrama a film that deserves more recognition. This movie has it all: excellent writing (absolutely incredible, I can’t stress that enough), outstanding acting, and exceptional directing – the trifecta.

W.S Van Dyke has quickly become one of my favorite directors because of pictures like this. He has the magic touch when it comes to movies where you need to have that delicate balance of drama and comedy (e.g The Thin Man.) Though ‘MMD’ isn’t necessarily a comedy, there were several moments in the film where the witty banter between Powell and Gable flowed organically, like they’ve known each other all their life.

For that, we have Mr. Mankiewicz to thank.


Manhattan Melodrama is a film that will make you reflect on what you truly believe and whether or not you can stand for it when the going gets tough. Not only is the film visually stunning and terrifically written, it also has an underlying message of morality and virtue.

There are not many movies that could do this, but ‘Melodrama’ is one of the few that does it so well.


If you wish to read the rest of the entries in the blogathon, click here.

 

 

Workplace in Film & TV Blogathon…

Libeled Lady

source: MGM

Libel.

It’s a word that gets flung about carelessly, particularly in today’s heated political climate.

But, in this movie’s case, it’s used as a comedic plot device.

Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and Spencer TracyLibeled Lady is a hilarious look at the newspaper industry and how they handle being sued for, you guessed it, libel.

The newspaper that has the unfortunate luck of being in this predicament belongs to a tough-talkin’, quick-witted editor named Warren Haggerty (played by Tracy) whose business is the focal point of the entire film.

Dubbed, “The New York Evening Star” the plot kicks off when a wealthy socialite named Connie Allenbury (played by Myrna Loy) sues the paper for running a story about her being a homewrecker. Asking for $5,000,000 dollars in damages, Mr. Haggerty spends day after day, tirelessly trying to get her to drop the charges.

libeled-lady-1936

source: MGM

Although Warren is exhausted from working his butt off to avoid being swindled for an absurd amount of money, he is more than content to continue to on this path he’s set for himself.

Why?

Well, the more he works, the more time he has to come up with an excuse to why he hasn’t proposed to his girlfriend Gladys Benton (played Jean Harlow.) Luckily for Gladys, Warren is running out of options – fast.

Desperately looking for a way out of this libel suit, he goes for the “nuclear option,” so to speak.

He phones the owner of the ‘Evening Star’ and requests to have him send in disgruntled former employee and ladies man Bill Chandler (played by William Powell) who could help him create a scheme so unbelievable that only a classic Hollywood movie can get away with.

Chandler’s plan is as follows:

  1. Marry someone in name only; Warren volunteers his girlfriend who, begrudgingly accepts, only on the condition that Haggerty marries her after the whole ordeal.
  2. Maneuver a way into Connie arms, where his “wife” would find them in a compromising position.
  3. Lastly, force Connie to drop the suit because, you know, she’s cheating with a married man – that wouldn’t look too good in the papers, now would it?
libeled-lady

source: MGM

After brainstorming for a couple of days, the plan is finally set in motion when Bill arranges to meet Connie and her father on an ocean liner returning to America, where he harasses them until he gets into their good graces, which ultimately sees Connie beginning to fall in love with him.

Taking a liking to this young man, Connie’s father J. B Allenbury (played Walter Connolly) invites Bill on a fishing trip for a little R&R.

“No big deal,” Bill says, “I can get through this.”

Except he doesn’t. His feelings for Connie grow – rapidly.

Oh, boy.

A conflict of interests has become apparent; what is a red-blooded male American supposed to do about this?

Call off the plan, of course!

Myrna-Loy-and-Spencer-Tracy-in-Libeled-Lady-1936

source: MGM

The pair return to New York where their relationship begins to flourish. Connie isn’t the only woman who has been wooed by Bill’s suave nature, however. Gladys takes their fake marriage and decides she wants to turn into a real one. Unfortunately for her, Connie and Bill have gotten married already, and have gone on their honeymoon.

Warren hears about this and is, understandably, livid.

He decides that he wants to end the scheme and painstakingly seeks out the hotel room that Bill and Connie are staying at.

Warren barges into the room, only to find Bill and Connie doing what newlyweds would normally do on their wedding day- talking.

In true comedic fashion, Bill confesses to Warren that he’s told Connie everything, and he means everything. He goes on to explain that Gladys’ divorce from her first husband wasn’t valid, therefore her “marriage” to him wasn’t real. Gladys, on the other hand, won’t take no for an answer.

Nope

Libeled Lady 1936

source: MGM

Gladys rebuts these claims, asserting that she got ANOTHER divorce later on in Reno and is truly married to Bill. Connie interjects herself into this conversation to tell Gladys that she only fell for Bill because he showed her a bit of kindness while her actual boyfriend didn’t.

Her words fall on deaf ears, and a fight breaks out between Bill and Warren.

During this commotion, Gladys realizes that Connie is right and rushes into the arms of Warren where they embrace.

The film ends when Connie’s father, Mr. Allenbury, finds his daughter in the hotel room and demands an explanation of what’s happening, wherein the four of them attempt to explain it to him all at once causing a massive uproar.

Conclusion

libeled-lady-end-title-still

source: MGM

This film is an absolute joy to watch, It plays like a cool sip of water.

The acting is superb, the dialog is phenomenal and the chemistry between the four leads is palpable. Not only that but, to see the inner workings of a daily newspaper was a joy to observe- even if this movie was a comedy.

Libeled Lady is, in a lot of ways, a great film to pick for this blogathon. It’s entertaining, interesting and gives the audience a great glimpse at a professional setting. Yes, it may be a rather light-hearted film, and maybe not as serious as some of the other movies in this blogathon, but, I still believe it gives you the essence of what it’s like to be a newspaperman.

All in all, this film is a really exceptional one to experience. Harlow, Tracy, Powell, and Loy make a hilarious team to watch.  If I have the chance to watch this picture again, I would! And I strongly suggest you do that same, you certainly won’t regret it.

 

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

My Favorite Movie Threesome Blogathon…

wifevssecretary

Source: MGM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a great husband!

wife vs secretary

source: MGM

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

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

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

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

You go, girl!

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

Clark, Myrna, Jean in Wife vs Secretary

source: MGM

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

*RED FLAG ALERT*

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

For Linda, this is the last straw.

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

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

Haha, no.

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

Clark and Jean in Wife vs Secretary

source: MGM

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

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

Uh, oh.

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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