CMBA Spring Blogathon…

When talking about the quintessential classic Hollywood femme fatale, I’d be remiss not to mention what is arguably the most recognizable character of the genre.

Released in 1946 and directed by Charles Vidor, Gilda is with out a doubt, considered one of the best film noirs of all time.

With its shiny glamour shots and acting that would rival even the most dedicated method actors, Gilda will always have a place among the film noir greats. What makes this movie so memorable, is the dress wearing, hair flipping charm of Rita Hayworth‘s title character, Gilda.

source: Columbia Pictures

Sultry, sexy, and dangerous are just a couple words to describe Rita in this role. A shy women in real life, according to Rita herself, her performance as Gilda is one of the greatest of all time (don’t fight me on this, haha.)

In the film, Gilda is quite cunning, she has most men wrapped around her finger, there’s also a level of manipulation on her part as well. Her leading man in the film, played excellently by Glenn Ford, has this love hate relationship with her.

As the movie continues, we see that Johnny and Gilda had a history together and there are times where we see it get pretty volatile. Gilda openly flirts with men to get Johnny riled up, but on the inside she always loved him.

But, even at the end of the film, Johnny grows power hungry and uses his new found wealth and influence to hurt Gilda for everything she’s put him through.

source: Columbia Pictures

Fortunately at the end, the pair reconcile, but Gilda essentially drives Johnny to go crazy – emotionally, physically and mentally. That’s the great thing about this movie. Not only does it look stunning, it also has some of the best acting of Hayworth’s career.

Gilda knew what she was doing, maybe to a fault, and perhaps that hurt her in the end.

If that isn’t a femme fatale, then I don’t know what is.

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The Third Doris Day blogathon…

Doris always had a lovely singing voice…

Legendary actress Doris Day just recently celebrated her 97th birthday.

It’s an achievement for anybody to reach old age, it’s especially impressive when they’re 97 years young. To celebrate this, I’m going to discuss another side of Doris that, arguably, doesn’t get talked about enough.


As we all know, Ms. Day started out as a singer, eventually transitioning into acting later in her life. If you read up on the early days of Doris, it’s very apparent that her voice was quite the show stopper.

Doris began singing at an early age.

While recovering from an auto accident at a young age, Day began to sing with the radio, listening and humming along to the likes of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller. Doris quickly discovered her hidden talent and eventually it grew into something more.

Doris‘ mother, Alma, put her in singing lessons where her talent proceeded to grow. Day‘s first true singing gig was with band leader Barney Rapp, then she moved on to work with the likes of Jimmy James, Bob Crosby, and Les Brown.

When working with Brown, Day managed to score her first hit with “Sentimental Journey,” and from that point on, her singing career took off.

FILE – In this Jan. 28, 1989 file photo, actress and animal rights activist Doris Day poses for photos after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award she was presented with at the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Calif. Day is celebrating a landmark birthday with an auction to benefit her favorite cause: animals. A spokesman for Day said Tuesday, March 11, 2014, the nonprofit Doris Day Animal Foundation will mark her 90th birthday in April with a bash in Carmel, Calif. (AP Photo, file)

During the 1940s, Day would go on to have six other top ten hits on the Billboard chart with songs like, “My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time,” “Tain’t Me,” and “The Whole World is Singing My Song.”

Day always had a lovely singing voice, and its no wonder that even today her songs resonate well with listeners. From the classic like “Que Sera Sera” and “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” to her acting career, Ms. Day has always been a quintessential classic Hollywood figure.

I only hope that her next birthdays are as wonderful as this one was.

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

My Obsession with…Linda Darnell

Linda Darnell 1
source: Life Magazine

I was recently listening to a You Must Remember This episode on Linda Darnell and I felt compelled to write something about it.

Linda Darnell was, perhaps, one of the most underrated actresses of her time. With her acting ability often downplayed, she managed to prove her doubters wrong, staring in films like Unfaithfully Yours, Anna and the King of Siam, and most famously, A Letter to Three Wives.

Unfortunately, her career would be plagued with personal conflicts, bad management, and poorly time marriages, eventually culminating with her tragic death on April 10 of 1965.

So, let’s take a trip back to the early 1950s and revisit the woefully overlooked career of, Linda Darnell.


Born Monetta Eloyse Darnell in Dallas, Texas on October, 16th 1923, ‘Linda’ as she would later be called by her Hollywood cohorts, she was pushed into show business at a young age.

Being thrust into the limelight by her mother, Pearl, Linda has more or less been groomed for stardom, becoming a model at 11 and a full-fledged actress at 13.

By 1937, Linda was scouted by a talent agent from 20th Century Fox. She and her family went to Hollywood to do some screen tests, but eventually, Mr. Zanuck caught wind of Darnell‘s actual age and sent her back to Texas.

Heartbroken yet determined, Linda honed her craft and continued acting locally, inevitably returning to Hollywood with a new attitude.

She appeared in several smaller films before landing her big break with 1940’s Brigham Young, co-starring alongside her frequent leading man, Tyrone Power. In the summer of that same year, Darnell worked on The Mark of Zorro where, once again, she worked with Power.

The film managed to be successful and further plunged Darnell into the spotlight. But, unfortunately after that ‘Zorro‘, the studio system didn’t allow her to go after the roles she craved, so, she was relegated to B films that typecasted her.

Luckily, she would bounce back with the wonderful Blood and Sand also starring alongside Power. According to Darnell herself, however, her career would take a sharp downturn after this.

“People got tired of seeing the sweet young things I was playing and I landed at the bottom of the roller coaster. The change and realization were very subtle. I’d had the fame and money every girl dreams about‚ÄĒand the romance. I’d crammed thirty years into ten, and while it was exciting and I would do it over again, I still know I missed out on my girlhood, the fun, little things that now seem important.”


Davis, Ronald L., Hollywood Beauty: Linda Darnell and the American Dream.

Several years, and subpar movies later, Darnell’s career would stall because she refused Daryl Zanuck‘s advances. Pulling herself up by her chinstraps and not letting this get to her, she focused on the war effort, raising money, and performing regularly at the Hollywood Canteen.

After that, Zanuck often overlooked her for many film roles, and her star started declining. Instead, she was cast in roles that didn’t fit her and slowly resented show business.

For the rest of her career, she starred in B-movies, forgettable blockbuster and the occasional hit, like A Letter to Three Wives and Unfaithfully Yours.


The unfortunate thing about Linda Darnell is that she never really had the chance to let her career flourish. Between her rushed childhood and her underwhelming adult career, Darnell never got the chance to settle into her acting.

It’s tragic, really.

Darnell wasn’t only absolutely gorgeous and wickedly talented, she also was quite the lady. Raised with southern charms and a witty personality, Linda Darnell will, hopefully, be remembered alongside other Hollywood greats of the era.

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.

Thank You for 100 Followers, from AGAM!

tumblr_p2r46qhcdg1qk2y5po6_500

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 Hawks,¬†Monkey 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.