The Best of M-G-M: The Women (1939)

The Women 1939

source: MGM

In 2018, there has been a lot of hubbub surrounding the role of women in the world, especially the entertainment industry.

Films like Ocean’s 8, Girl’s Trip and many other female-centric movies have flooded the market over the past two years or so, but, the concept of women-focused movies isn’t new, however.

Back in 1939, the brilliant cinematic mind of George Cukor coupled with the manpower of Metro Goldwyn Mayer produced one of the greatest female-centered films of all time.


The Women, starring an all-star cast that included Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, and Norma Shearer is perhaps the most wildly entertaining film of 1939, and it still holds up 79 years later. It may have not passed the Bechdel Test, but the film is unique in that there isn’t a single man in sight.

The-Women-1939 2

source: MGM

Norma Shearer plays Mary Haines, a rather homely woman with a heart of gold. She and her daughter “Little Mary,” live a nice life riding horses, loving life, and just general happiness shared between the two.

In comes Mary’s husband, Mr. Haines.

The cool thing about this film is, there isn’t a single man that’s present during the duration of the movie. This means that the object of Mary’s affections, and the main subject of the picture, does not show up at all throughout the film’s runtime. Due to this, we get 133 minutes of pure ‘unfiltered’ womanhood.

On to the movie’s (unseen) subject, Mr. Haines.


In typical classic Hollywood fashion, Mr. Haines appears to be cheating on Mary, much to the surprise of no one considering the fact that all of her friends and “close acquaintances” including Sylvia Fowler (played by Rosalind Russell,) knew about it before she did.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

The woman in Mr. Haines’ life isn’t his wife at all, it’s actually a 5’5 brunette by the name of Crystal Allen (played by Joan Crawford,) and when, eventually, Mary and Crystal meet, let’s say that….it doesn’t go over too well.

the women 2

source: MGM

The scene in question is quite a doozy.

Crystal and Mary finally meet at Crystal’s job in the dressing rooms, surrounded by their closest friends, and foes.

Mary ends up confronting Crystal at Sylvia’s insistence and what we have is possibly the wittiest scene in classic movie history.

The two tussle back and forth, spewing all the things that they’ve always wanted to say to each other: Crystal tells Mary to get a divorce and Mary tells Crystal that she’s a hussy (in 1939 terms.)

It really is quite an intense scene. When I initially viewed this I was shocked at the pettiness that stemmed from the two ladies. To be quite frank, I’m not sure why it surprised me, I was just startled at how well the scene was acted.

I suppose that’s why this film is so great. Not only is it unique for its time period, but it also gave the chance for women to flourish on the silver screen during a time where opportunities were few and far between. Knowing that it makes my enjoyment of the film 10 times greater.

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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!

The Deborah Kerr Blogathon…

hucksters1947

source: MGM

Released in 1947, MGM’s The Hucksters is a rather unique film.

Starring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, and our blogathon’s star, Deborah Kerr, the movie is particularly unique because it was the American silver screen debut for the Scottish actress.

Directed by Jack Conway, MGM specifically imported Kerr to play the role of Kay Dorrance, which I believe was a brilliant move.

Kerr‘s performance in this movie was a solid one, one that most classic film viewers would very much enjoy.

Like most British actresses, Kerr made the rounds in British films before Mayer decided she should be plucked from obscurity and plastered on every movie screen in the United States.

To get acquainted with her coworkers, Kerr’s husband, a former airman, greeted Clark Gable with great gusto. Seeing as the both of them met during the war, it took no time for not only the Kerr‘s but also Gable to become very comfortable around the both of them.

This pre-production meeting set the tone for the rest of the film, with Kerr and Gable both being standouts.


As for the movie itself, Kerr was absolutely magnificent in the role. The movie was a joy to watch. I don’t want to play spoiler so I won’t describe in detail for you.  But it’s safe to say that the director and the cast did not disappoint.

From Gardner to Gable, and Kerr to Greenstreet, The Hucksters is not only a solid Clark Gable flick but also a perfect way for Kerr to start out her American film journey.

 

If you would to read more entries in this blogathon… click: here.

The Second Lauren Bacall Blogathon…

Lauren Bacall Applause

source: Lauren Bacall performing in Applause (1970)

Lauren Bacall.

A classic Hollywood legend, an icon, a woman of character, and one of the greatest actresses to ever live. Most people know her as Humphrey Bogart‘s wife, the “Slim” to his “Bogie,” but classic film fans know that Bacall had a rich, and wonderful career, even without the Bogart connection.

This is especially true, even after Bogart‘s death in 1957.


When Bogart and Bacall met, it was the stuff of legends. She was young, he was a mentor who turned into something more. Fast forward a couple of months and they start dating, fast forward even further and they’re getting married – much to the chagrin of Bogart‘s ex-wife, Mayo Methot.

A couple of years and two children later, the Bogart‘s relationship was progressing quite nicely.

The same can’t be same for Lauren‘s career, however.

Designing Woman 1

source: MGM

When Bogart died in 1957, it was as Bacall describes it, “the worst night of her life.”

Left alone with two kids and a dwindling (more or less) acting career, what was Lauren supposed to do? Well, throw herself into work, of course.

The first film Bacall did after the death of her husband was 1957’s Designing Woman, a nice romantic comedy co-starring Gregory Peck. Not to be confused with the tv series, Designing Women, the movie about two newlyweds from polar opposite worlds and their attempt to conform to each other’s quirks.

It’s a cute film, I recommend you check it out, actually. It gives you a look at post-Bogart Bacall in all of her glorious form.

The thing about Lauren was that her voice was so deep and velvety smooth that you worried about the number of cigarettes she smoked per day. Some may say she had a voice for the theatre…

Lauren Bacall Applause 3

Lauren in Applause (1970)

After a myriad of films that include The Gift of Love in 1958, North West Frontier in 1959, Bacall moved to the theatre in the 1960s and 70s.

Starting on Broadway with 1959’s Goodbye, Charlie and starring in plays like in Cactus Flower and, of course, Applause, Lauren slowly made the transition from screen to the stage.

Naturally, she would dabble in a few films as well with the highlight being Murder on the Orient Express, but the majority of her work was set on the stage.


In the end, Bacall would enjoy a successful career after her husband’s death.

I see too many people writing her off after his death and I think it’s fair, Bacall had such a solid career in the late 50s through the 70s. Even though we tend to equate Bacall with Bogart, Lauren had a brilliant career all on her own.

 

 

 

To read more entries, click here.

Salvador Dali Questions Our Sanity in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945)

Dali Hitch

source: United Artists

When we think of Alfred Hitchcock, there are certain qualities and buzzwords that are synonymous with his name: brilliant, genius, crazy and a multitude of others.

What happens when you pair a crazy, pedantic genius, with a hairbrained painter with a mustache? A wildly fascinating dream sequence in 1945’s Spellbound.


In 1945, the acting talents of Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck joined forces with director Alfred Hitchcock to create a rather underrated movie in Hitchcock‘s filmography.

Spellbound is a peach of a movie, combining romance and psychology with the intrigue of forgotten memory.

Bergman and Peck play psychoanalysts Constance Peterson and Anthony Edwardes, respectively.

In classic Hollywood fashion, the pair ends up breaking every professional rule in the book and inevitably have an affair.

Naturally, when you fall in bed love with someone, especially as quickly and passionately as having an affair, you enter a “honeymoon phase” where you notice every single tiny detail of your object of affection.

spellbound 2

source: United Artists

This is where Constance picks up on Anthony’s strange habits. She finds out that not only does he have a fear of parallel lines on white backgrounds, he’s also not who he claims he is. Constance deduces that he might be an imposter, based on a number of things that Anthony has told her.

From killing the real Dr. Edwardes, having bouts of amnesia, to having a guilt complex, Constance overlooks these GLARING issue to get this poor man (one she doesn’t know very well, mind you) the help he needs.

When Edwardes sneaks away from Constance’s grasp, due to fear of, well, everything – she tracks him down and attempts to use her psychoanalytic techniques on him. These methods prove to be unsuccessful, and eventually, she takes him to upstate New York, where they meet two doctors who proceed to psychoanalyze his many stray thoughts.

DALI-SPELLBOUND2

source: United Artists

In steps Salvador Dali.

In 1945, Dail moved specifically to Hollywood to work on this film. Hitchcock wanted a scene that portrays the surrealness of Edwardes’ dreams and Dali was the only artist to bring Hitch‘s madcap imagination to life.

In order to capture this, accurately and as demented as possible, Hitchcock gave Dali free reign to shape, and mold this world to his liking. This is how we get a rather, disturbing, and incredibly unsettling dream scene smack dab in the middle of the film.

Dali and Hitchcock wanted us to feel that way, they wanted us to squirm in our seats and crane our necks away from the television (or movie screen in this case.) This 3-minute sequence, unfortunately, is probably the most memorable part of the film, however, it’s almost certainly the most important scene as well.

This dream sequence sets the tone for the rest of the movie. As an audience member, we get a feel for how “Edwardes” thinks, feels and acts. Thanks to the creativity and forward thinking of Hitchcock, and the expansive mind of Dali, we were blessed with perhaps the greatest dream sequence ever to be put on the silver screen.

Hidden Gems: Yesterday, Today, and Tommorrow (1963)

YTT 1963

source: Embassy Pictures

When first getting into classic films, particularly as an American, you tend to stick with what you know: romantic comedies, slapsticks, westerns and those glorious MGM musicals etc.

Every once and a while you’ll stumble upon a film that features a “foreigner” for lack of a better word. From Brigitte Bardot to Gina Lollobrigida and even Yves Montand, we’ve all seen them costar alongside our favorite American stars, but there’s most certainly one actress that stands out from the rest.

Standing at 5’9″, blessed with sunkissed skin and with a personality as charming as a coffee date at 6 PM on a rainy day, Sophia Loren (whether you like it or not) is everyone’s classic Hollywood crush.

In no other movie is this best exemplified than in 1963’s Leri Oggi Domani, otherwise known in English as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

YTT 1963 2

source: Embassy Pictures

A rather experimental three-part comedy, directed by none other than Vittorio de Sica, himself, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is a hidden classic film that most people aren’t too aware of.

Staring the Italian duo of Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren, the movie tells three stories of various couples in several situations.

Starting with ‘Adelina of Naples’ progressing into ‘Anna of Milan’, then finally ending with ‘Mara of Rome’, as the movie continues you get a different feel for each couple and how the city they’re located in effects their relationship.

In Naples, we have Adelina.

Set against the backdrop of cobbled streets, beautiful architecture and relative poverty, Adelina helps out her struggling family and husband by selling black market cigarettes.

The entire sequence is quite hilarious, honestly. At one point she keeps forcing Mastroianni‘s character (her husband) to get her pregnant so she doesn’t have to go to jail for transgressions. Poor guy gets so exhausted he has to quit his job, it’s a very funny situation and a fantastic start to the picture.

yesterday_today_tomorrow photo 3

source: Embassy Pictures

The second story is fairly interesting, it tells the tale about a wealthy Milanista and her lover Renzo. They take a drive out into the countryside where they discuss a myriad of things, including their relationship, her marriage, and the Rolls- Royce they traveled in.

The woman, Anna, gets tired of Renzo not succumbing to every one of her whims, so he tells her off, which, understandably, upsets her a great deal.

She has two options in front of her: continue her wealthy lifestyle with her husband, or proceed with the affair she’s been having with Renzo.

The rest of the story sees he contemplate these choices as Renzo also reassess his life choices.

The third and final story is, perhaps, the one that most classic film lovers are familiar with.

YTT 1963 photo 4

source: Embassy Pictures

Mara is a prostitute who lives in a tiny one bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Rome. She has a proclivity to sleep with high profile clients, that’s how she met Augusto, a son of a wealthy Bologna industrialist.

To be quite honest with you, this is probably my favorite story out of all three of them, and I don’t want to particularly spoil it. That being said, the rest of it plays out very unexpectedly and if you ever get the chance to watch this, I can guarantee you’ll be just as shocked as I was.

In the end, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is a film ahead of its time. With de Sica‘s gorgeous shots of Italy, incredible acting by Mastroianni and Loren, and a coherent plot to keep the audience involved for hours, ‘YTandT‘ is a picture that deserves more praise that it has received.

 

 

The Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Blogathon…

Monkey Business 1952

source: 20th Century Fox

I know this is the Ginger Rogers/ Fred Astaire blogathon, but I feel very compelled to write about this film.

Monkey Business is truly a peculiar picture.

It’s almost a knockoff of most comedies from the mid-30s, but it has its own unique flavor and flair. Thanks to the performances of Rogers and Grant, the movie takes on a different dimension

Directed by the legendary Howard Hawks, Monkey Business is a witty, charming, slapstick-filled comedy about a husband and wife duo who are just crazy for each other.

Dr. Barnaby Fulton (played by Grant) is a chemist who is a bit dowdy. His wife, Edwina (played by Rogers), a dutiful woman who cares for Barnaby, is doing her best to get by. One day, being the mad scientist that he is, Mr. Fulton decides to concoct a “youth exilier” that – you guessed it, keeps you young.

In typical classic Hollywood fashion, it all goes horribly, horribly, wrong.

Monkey Busniess 1952 2

source: 20th Century Fox 

When testing his new potion on his lab monkeys (horrible, I know) one them escapes and ends up knocking over several vials thus mixing concoctions that shouldn’t go together. Somehow this gets poured into the office’s water cooler, and all hell breaks loose.

Barnaby, wanting to see if his mix actually worked, he takes a few swigs of the water hoping to see the effects.

Lucky for him, it does. He spends the rest of the day roaming around downtown with his secretary Lois (played by Monroe), acting like a stuck-up, 20-year-old young man.

He changes his hair, his attitude and his clothes – even his wife doesn’t recognize him.

Edwina sees this behavior and drinks some of this elixir to spite her husband. With both husband and wife affected by this brew, the rest of the film sees the Fultons go through a number of different situations.

From befriending some school children to getting into fights with the locals and even having their in-laws worrying about the state of their marriage.

The movie ends, funnily enough with a quote that says, “you’re only old when you’re young,” perfectly summarizing the entire ordeal in six words.

Monkey Business 1952 3

source: 20th Century Fox

Lead by the direction of Howard HawksMonkey Business is your standard slapstick comedy, it isn’t the best and it certainly isn’t the worst.

It certainly is a funny movie.

It was one of the first pictures that I saw when I first got into classic films, I loved it, but now, looking back at it, it doesn’t have that same flair that it once did. Maybe my tastes have changed, I’m not sure, but I will say that this is a very solid picture.

If you haven’t seen it I suggest you do, if you haven’t and are dying to see it, please do. It isn’t the best comedy I’ve seen, but if you have a few hours to kill, I definitely suggest it. It’s funny, witty and a ton of fun, you definitely won’t regret it.

 

 

 

To read more pieces in this blogathon…click: here.

TCM’s ’50 States in 50 Movies’ Spotlight

MAP

……this is such a brilliant idea

The U.S is a great country, I don’t care what anyone says.

No country is a large and diverse as these 50 different states in the union.

From the golden coasts of California to the Rocky Mountains of the Appalachians, the United States is truly a sight to behold – especially when you have time to burn during the summer.

It’s only fitting that movies and traveling fit together. Turner Classic Movies, better known as ‘TCM’ has begun this fantastic new film spotlight that focuses on ’50 Movies from 50 different states.

Starting in New England, then making its way down to New York City, then with a quick stop down South, then onward toward Florida, going back up to the midwest, then down the Missippi River, all the way out to the Wild West, then eventually ending on the sun-kissed coasts of California.

Every Monday and Tuesday this July, you will be able to enjoy your favorite classic movies while exploring the great open roads of the United States.

monument-valley TCM

source: Lonely Planet

With films like Key Largo, The Philadelphia Story, and High Society to thrillers and dramas like Anatomy of a Murder and A Summer Place to westerns like the iconic Giant, this TCM spotlight has something for everyone.

If you’d like to clear the cobwebs when it comes to catching up on your favorite movies, there’s literally no better time to do this.

So, sit back grab a drink, pop some popcorn, put on your fuzzy slippers and take a tour around the United States – TCM style.

If you’d like to read more about the lineup, click: here

 

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 4th Annual SEX! Blogathon…

Gilda 1

source: Columbia Pictures

You can’t discuss great classic Hollywood movies without talking about the actors that made them.

There have been plenty of leading pairs throughout the years that have been seared into the movie-going public’s mind; Day and Hudson, Bacall and Bogart, Rogers and Astaire – the list goes on.  One couple that doesn’t nearly get enough attention is the superb twosome of Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth.

Starring in 5 films together during the course of their careers, Hayworth and Ford, in the eyes of the average classic film fan, looked like they were great friends. They were, to a certain extent, but, there’s a reason why I chose them for this blogathon.

In 1946, Gilda was released to moviegoers around the globe to critical acclaim. The sleek production, the angsty storyline and the underlying hate/sexual tension between the two leads made for a thrilling film experience.

GILDA 2

source: Columbia Pictures

I suppose that’s what made Gilda so successful.

Not only is Gilda and Johnny’s relationship one of the main driving point of the picture, it also helps when Hayworth and Ford made the romance seem so unforced.

Scrolling around the internet for hidden classic Hollywood tidbits, I stumbled upon this interesting article about some letters of correspondence between Rita and Glenn.

According to ‘Stars and Letters‘, the pair kept in touch with each other for many years, even inviting one another to each other’s houses for drinks and general fraternizing.

What may look like an innocent conversation to you, may look awfully suspicious to folks with a more keen eye towards covert romance.

Here comes the fun part!

Glenn Ford‘s son, Peter Ford, recently (and by recently, I mean 7 years ago) released a biography that insinuated that his father and Rita had an affair that lasted years. 

gilda 3

source: Columbia Pictures

The funny thing about this is, Peter alleges that Rita even got knocked up with Glenn‘s love child and was more or less pressured to get it aborted for the sake of their careers.

Now, let’s put two and two together.

If the younger Ford alleges that his dad had an affair with Hayworth, then it’s pretty obvious during the production Gilda, clearly – something – was going on between the two.

That explains why their relationship in the movie worked so well. It was built on top of something that was already real and very passionate.

The looks they shared, the way they interacted with each other, and the tender emotional moments all give the movie an extra added layer of sensuality and lust that we see in modern movies like Unfaithful and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.


Gilda will forever be one of the greatest movies of all time but discovering that the two leads were involved make the love scenes even more enthralling.

 

To read more posts in this blogathon, click here.