Audrey, Fred, Fashion: Bonjour Paris!

In the midst of the Corona pandemic, travel is something we all yearn for. We can’t go overseas like we may dream, but there still is one way to travel: through films shot in location.

In Awe of Audrey: Funny Face (1957)

In this month’s GG theme of travel, I took the opportunity to watch Funny Face (1957); I had not seen it fully through and this was perfect to watch, as it was shot in Paris.

Funny Face was almost tailor made for Audrey: Paris, a Cinderella transformation, and a great leading man to play off of, Mr Fred Astaire. It was Audrey’s fourth movie for Paramount, and 1 of 3 Astaire musicals set in Paris filmed in 1950s.
Funny Face is based of two Broadway sources; one: the musical Funny Face in which it takes its name, and two: the musical Wedding Bells, in which it takes the plot. Only 4 songs from the Funny Face musical make an appearance, with the other songs either written specifically for the film, or taken from other musicals. Unlike 1964’s My Fair Lady, Audrey does all of her own singing, as of course does Fred and Kay.

Funny Face sees Audrey as Jo Stockton, a bookshop worker, Fred Astaire as fashion photographer Dick Avery (based on real life photographer Richard Avedon), and Kay Thompson as Maggie Prescott, a fashion magazine editor.  Maggie is looking for the “next big thing” and one day sets out with Dick and her team to use a Greenwich Village bookstore as an inspiration. Its there they cross paths with Jo: who at first isn’t interested in any part of it.

Funny Face 1957 - Making Nice in the Midwest
Smitten or Inspired?


After the photo shoot, Dick stays behind when Maggie and co. leave, and gets to know Jo a bit better. In just the short time of the photos shoot, Dick becomes smitten with Jo, and after Dick leaves, Jo feels the same towards him.

Even though Jo dreams of going to Paris, being a fashion model is not on her radar. It’s only after she is tricked into coming to Maggie’s office on an errand, and accidentally runs into Dick again that she agrees to go.

Soon the trio arrive in Paris and the adventure begins- and so does Jo and Dick’s romance, (with a little help from Maggie)!

Funny Face (1957) | Nostalgia Central

For me, I’m not a super fan of movie musicals, but there’s something about Funny Face that makes it an exception. The fashion and the beauty of Paris almost makes the music take a backseat. Audrey herself isn’t proficient singer, but you don’t care she’s not perfect. Her spirit and dedication to the role makes up for her lack.

Not to mention this musical is a definite precursor to the MOD era of the 60s. There are some scenes with the modeling and visual setups that is very reminiscent of Mad Men and 1960s magazines. After all, France is fashion forward, isn’t it?

Part of the film’s plot has to do with fashion, and with Paris as the backdrop you can’t go wrong. The first scene/ song and dance Bonjour Paris!  takes you around various locations: from Notre Dame, to the Arch de Triumph, to of course the Eiffel Tower! Not to be forgotten is most famous image from this film takes place at the Louvre, with Audrey stepping down the steps, in the red dress with the scarf: its perfection!!!.

TAKE THE PICTURE!

The coolest part of the movie is seeing Audrey enjoy herself. She worked extremely hard on the dance routines, keeping up with Fred Astaire’s every move. Audrey’s son Sean even mentioned in his memoir, Audrey: An Elegant Spirit, he believes this was his mother’s favorite movie she made because she got to dance with her idol, Fred, and utilize her ballet training.

I’m inclined to agree with Sean, as watching the bohemian nightclub self expression dance was super fun to watch! Audrey makes it look so fun and cool, and absolutely effortless! It kind of makes you want to do your own self expression dance!

Overall, I’m kind of mad at myself for not sitting down to fully watch this film and take in its fun and elegance. The songs are not necessarily ones to get stuck in your head, but the images this film projects will be. After all when you have the eternal beauty of Audrey and Paris, you can’t go wrong!

Ethan Edwards: Loner

This entry is for Movie Rob’s March 2021 Genre Grandeur theme of Loners in Film. I chose to focus on Ethan Edwards in the 1956 film The Searchers. Be sure to check out Rob’s other entries!

In the Summer of 2020, John Wayne’s infamous 1971 Playboy interview was brought back into the public eye, and with it came claims that John Wayne should be cancelled. Duke’s Alma Mater, USC, removed his bust from campus, TCM removed him from that year’s Summer Under the Stars and some were calling for his name to be removed from the airport in California.


In the midst of all this, the one thing I was fearing was they were going to cancel his films, namely Stagecoach and The Searchers to be precise. While Stagecoach can somewhat slip the hook for not having certain topics and themes at the center of its narrative, it’s The Searchers that had me concerned it would be the victim of cancel culture, and I will say: I defend The Searchers for being one if the greatest American westerns ever made.

As Ethan Edwards in "The Searchers" | John wayne movies, John wayne,  Western movies


The character (emphasis on CHARACTER) of Ethan Edwards is complex to say the least: he blatantly holds prejudice against Native Americans and his actions towards them are nothing short of despicable. No one would deny this. At the end of the day, however, I venture to say what Ethan is truly: a loner. Perhaps the ultimate loner that film has even seen.

The Searchers (1956)
THIS is Debbie!

Ethan starts off coming through the desert, solo. When he arrives in view of his brother’s homestead, his own nieces and nephew don’t even realize who he is. Shortly after that, Ethan himself doesn’t recognize Debbie, mistaking her for Lucy. It’s basically confirmed in this short sequence that Ethan doesn’t see much of his family. Yes, he fought in the Civil War, and it’s also hinted he fought in the Mexican Revolution, but suffice to say, Ethan goes where he wants, when he wants with no strings attached.

In The Searchers" (1956), there many implications that the kidnapped  "niece" Debbie is actually Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) daughter, from an  affair with Ethan's brother's wife. When Debbie is kidnapped, Ethan's long
Unspoken look of.. Love?

Many viewers have suggested Ethan is a loner because of his racist outlook towards Native Americans. While this is definitely a top theory, it can also be argued Ethan’s loner status comes from a deep feeling of guilt. At the start of the film, it’s been noted Ethan has been way for 8 years, and niece Debbie is 8 years old. Pair that fact with the obvious look of unstated love Ethan gives Martha and it’s a  justifiable claim. Going on this contention, Ethan feels so guilty for cuckolding his brother he feels he needs to distance himself from his family.

The Searchers | The searchers, Jeffrey hunter, Classic hollywood
Not family?

One no doubt feels that distance, emotionally when he is on his quest to find Debbie. He brings along Martin and Brad (well initially Brad, Lucy’s fiancee) but all at the same time, it’s always clear Ethan is out for his own agenda and doesn’t necessarily look out for the interests of others.  He even tells Martin he’s not his family and he has no reason to come with; going as far to ditch him when resuming the search after taking a break.

Going Home

Yet, Ethan is full of contradictions, and although he is distant both physically and emotionally, he does exhibit a sense of loyalty to his family, and this is what makes him stand out against other loners. When Debbie and Lucy are kidnapped, he doesn’t hesitate to set out to find them. When he learns of Lucy’s brutal death, he gets insanely angry. And despite his cruel and unacceptable actions when it comes seeing Debbie for the first time after many years, his number one priority is making sure she gets home.

The Searchers Final Scene GIF | Gfycat

The ending shot just affirms everything, and John Ford was pure a genius.  The famous shot of Ethan standing in the doorway, his mission completed, and now it’s time to leave. It never fails to make one wonder: where and what will Ethan do next? Perhaps it’s stated best in the Sons of Pioneers/Max Steiner song that plays over the ending: “Ride Away.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (film) - Wikipedia

If you’re like me and have a lotta love for Colin Firth, chances are you know his most associated role is that of Darcy. Whether it be Fitzwilliam Darcy in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice or Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones trilogy, it’s no secret Colin was born to play the role. He’s so perfect at being that aloof, at times slightly arrogant, all round English gentleman. With the success of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), it was a no-brainer the cast (which also includes Renee Zellweger as Bridget and Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver) reunited for a sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004). 

The concept: what happens when you’re in an established relationship and on the edge of proposal; not a bad concept, it follows the pattern set by the novels. The execution: really, really terrible that it’s worth a watch to see just how terrible. Although it is awful, and gets more awful the more I watch it, I will admit it is a guilty pleasure. It’s fun to laugh at and there are some legitimately funny scenes. Plus more Colin Firth is never a bad thing.

Image gallery for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - FilmAffinity

First off, this film suffers from terrible pacing and transition. One minute Bridget is at a dinner gala in London, next she’s on the slopes in Austria and before you know it, she’s in jail in Thailand. Add in the fact that her jail sequence is too long and sluggish you’re just waiting for the end, which is a bit abrupt.

Next, this film suffers from a poor script and bad direction. While I do say it was right for another woman to direct, Beeban Kidron didn’t grasp the dynamic of the 3 characters, making character development just non existent. Bridget is even more clumsy, awkward and crass in the second film. It’s as if the portrayal is a spoof of the character when compared to the first film. In the first movie, Bridget is still clumsy, awkward and crass, but she’s got a likable charm that balances these traits. She wants to better herself for the sake of becoming better, while in Reason she’s stalemated to being an unlikable version of herself.
Colin and Hugh on the other hand, have significantly less screen time: with Hugh being almost absent from the first half, and vice-versa for Colin. This gives them virtually no character development. Plus they don’t have any interaction except one scene: fighting in a fountain.

Lastly, there are just random elements that make this film really bad. The opening credits song, for instance, is: Nobody Does It Better; what? Renee’s hair always looks messy and Hugh’s as well, for that matter. Finally, Bridget’s wardrobe is just so awful. Maybe that’s a character trait, but clashing colors and ill fitting pieces, they could have tried to give her a pretty wardrobe; she dressed much better in the first film.

On the positive side, for me, the main reason for watching and the highlight of the whole film for me is Darcy vs Cleaver fighting in a fountain. Not only is it an epic sissy fight set against the awesome rock sound of The Darkness’s  ‘I believe in a thing called Love’, it’s probably the only aspect of the film that’s taken to the next level. Even if you don’t think the movie is worth it this one scene certainly is. I mean, Colin Firth, in a fountain, chasing Hugh Grant is always entertaining no matter the film!


The other aspect that make this film enjoyable are the funny side characters: Bridget’s friends, Mark’s co worker Rebecca Gillies (who can forget Rebecca’s true feelings!), and the women in the Thai jail are amusing. There’s even a scene at the jail when Bridget leads a “Like a Virgin” singalong that has a ton of spirit.

I heart Christmas sweaters - Mark Darcy / Colin Firth in Bridget Jones's  Diary | Bridget jones diary, Colin firth bridget jones, Bridget jones

Overall, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason may be a hot mess, but it’s one you have to watch too believe. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, but most of all: you’ll see Colin Firth play Mark Darcy again.

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This entry is for TAKING UP ROOM’S Third So Bad its Good blogathon! Be sure to check out more bad-goodness!

A Place to Call Home (2013-18)

The Australian tv show, A Place to Call Home, has one of the most fascinating stories of how I personally came to watch it. I came across it in 2015, when looking for more info on Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries season 3. A Place to Call Home pictures kept popping up and I saw an image of a cast with 1950s clothing, so I was curious about it. Upon Googling the show I had learned it ran in Australia for 2 years, got cancelled, but miraculously was uncancelled. I searched around for a trailer and watched the American one made by Acorn TV. It was in that very moment after watching the 1 minute and 50 second trailer, I knew the show was going to be a real winner. I just had an instinctive feeling about it, and bought season 1 DVD as basically a blind buy, taking a nearly $35 gamble on it.

This SOLD ME!

As I waited for the DVD to arrive, I didn’t have any doubts, which is unlike me, rather I was just so excited. I also had the benefit of knowing there wasn’t going to be an unresolved cliffhanger, as the show was locked in until at least season 4. I binged 1 and 2, watching 3 and beyond as it was airing.

The cast of A Place To Call Home prepare to say farewell | OverSixty
This kept popping up!

Created by the man behind Packed to the Rafters, Bevan Lee, the premise of A Place to Call Home starts as follows: In 1953, Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp) returns home to Australia after spending 20 years in Europe. On her journey back to Oz, working as a nurse for ocean liner passage, she meets the wealthy Bligh family, by taking care of the family matriarch, Elizabeth (Noni Hazlehurst) and it’s that encounter that changes everyone’s lives.

The series goes on to explore not only Sarah finding her home in the town of Inverness, but healing from her traumatic past. Other themes throughout the show’s run include Anti- Semitism and religious intolerance, public vs personal image, family disfunction, class divide, 1950s homosexuality, second chances, and above all, love and the meaning of home.

While A Place to Call Home is impacted by 1950s events, the show really is a character driven narrative. I’ve said it on Twitter and I will say it here, Marta’s character Sarah is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever seen on screen (Marta even retweeted me, I was so excited). Sarah Adams is Jewish by faith, (converting to marry her now deceased husband, Dr Rene Nordmann), defended the left in the Spanish Civil War, was a Nazi resistance worker, and is a Holocaust survivor. (Author’s note: I learned more about the Jewish faith and practices from this show than any class ever could offer.)

As for the Bligh family: Widower George Bligh (Brett Climo) is the owner of the estate Ash Park, although his Mother, Elizabeth is the real head of the family. George’s wife, Elaine, was a civilian war victim, passing away while their children, James (David Berry) and Anna (Abby Earl) were very young. In the first episode, James is newly married to his English bride, Olivia (Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood). Anna on the other hand is 20 at the show’s beginning with a long time crush on her childhood friend, Gino (Aldo Mignone), son of Italian immigrants.

Rounding out the cast is essential town busybody Doris Collins (Deborah Kennedy), family friend Dr. Jack Duncan (Craig Hall), family black sheep, sister/ daughter Carolyn Bligh (Sara Wiseman), rugged farmer Roy Briggs (Frankie J Holden), George’s sister-in law Reginia Standish (Jenni Baird) and starting in season 3, Dr. Henry Fox (Tim Draxl).

Overall, if Douglas Sirk created a TV show, and was allowed to outwardly explore the darkness within the glossy 1950s facade, this is the TV show you’d end up; only this show is even better. A Place to Call Home has been compared to Mad Men, Downton Abbey, and even Dynasty, but I think it’s got a style all its own, with a tremendous 6 year run covering the time span of 1953- to New Year’s Day 1960.

Some fans claim the time jump to 1958 in season 5 weakened the show’s narrative, but I personally declare it gives the show more intrigue, of filling in the missing 4 years. Another critcism I have heard was David Berry’s limited availability in seasons 5 and 6, but compared to other shows I’ve seen, the writers handled it tremendously well. I have the upmost respect for David Berry as James still had an impact on the plot, and the fact he appeared on screen proved he didn’t cut and run the minute a fame offering role in Outlander was offered.

The bottom line is if you’ve never seen the show I highly recommend it. It’s one of the best family saga tv shows you’ve never seen, and it reminds us all just who and what the real meaning of home is.

This is an entry for the Home Sweet Home Blogathon hosted by Reelweegiemidget and Taking up Room ! Be sure to check out other entries! !

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Lana Wood: Audio Interview! (2016)

Hey everyone! Happy 2021 and do I have a little treat for you guys! Remember waaay back in 2016 (which seems like a lifetime ago) when I met Lana Wood at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge IL? (if you missed it or need a refresher read about it here!) Well as it turns out, during the interview portion of her visit, I, from the audience, was voice recording her interview on my old, old phone. After transferring to two phones (to keep it with me!), and then to my laptop, I have now converted the audio to be YouTube friendly and uploaded it just last month!

I only managed to get 14.5 minutes of what was nearly 45 minutes, but what I managed to get turned out not only to be clear and listenable, but also interesting and insightful. She begins by talking about John Wayne and talks about her experience on set of The Searchers. I am sorry I didn’t capture more, and it cuts off just before the Q and A. I personally DID ask Ms. Wood a question, but didn’t think about recording myself at the time!

Anyways, now, I am happy to share it with all of you! Happy listening and Happy 2021 everyone!

Blogger Recognition / Sunshine Award

I’d like to give a massive thank-you to Rebecca of Taking Up Room for nominating me for the Sunshine and the Blogger Recognition award. I really don’t like chain awards (or emails), but decided to answer the questions for fun!! I believe she nominated me for both, so I will be answering the questions for both.

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sunshine-blogger-award

The Blogger Recognition Award rules are:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  2.  Post the award banner on your blog.
  3.  Share the reason you started your blog.
  4. Share two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  5. Nominate a maximum of 15 other bloggers.
  6. Tell your nominees about the award post, so they can participate.

While the Sunshine Blogger Rules are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

I wanted to do a film blog so I could immerse myself in the world of film and learn so much from others. It’s a great way to be in the world, even if you don’t formally play a part of it!
Advice- First, blog about what you like and put your own voice in your writing. Also secondly, remember the internet is not your life, don’t be afraid to take a break. The internet will be there when you get back on.
Now the 11 Questions:
1- What’s your hope for 2021? For the world to be more peaceful. To find happiness in the craziness.
2- What helped you stay sane in 2020? Music. It’s the most powerful force in the world!
3- Are there any movies you’re looking forward to this year? No, nothing is catching my interest. In 2021, I declare writers are out of ideas, and its sad! I may, and major emphasis on may, watch The Kingsman as it’s a prequel.
4- You can visit any five celebrity homes from any era. Which ones would you pick? Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, John Wayne, Colin Firth, and William Holden.
5- You’re about to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. What, if anything, would you take that the experts might frown on? I would not go hiking! I don’t hike!
6- Who are your three favorite film critics and why? Robert Osborne: he’s balanced and very personable; I miss him on TCM.  Peter Bogdanovich, he may be slightly weird, but knows a ton about John Ford. Lastly, probably Leonard Maltin, as he just appears everywhere!
7-When you’re watching stuff other than movies, do you prefer YouTube and streaming services or traditional broadcast TV? I will watch YouTube or traditional broadcast TV. Actually I prefer to own TV shows I like, you then never have to hunt down a streaming service . I want to try to cut down on watching new TV shows because it’s time consuming and there isn’t anything that looks worthwhile at the moment.
8- If you could adapt a TV show into a movie, which one would you pick and why? A Place to Call Home– it deserves to be a movie!
9-Which film prop or costume would you most like to own? Dorothy’s ruby slippers!
10- Who is your favorite movie or TV couple? Your least favorite? Favorite is DJ and Steve on Full House: childhood! My least favorite: Mary Queen of Scots and Prince Conde on Reign: It wasn’t even historically accurate and a major factor of why season 2 of the show absolutely sucked.
11-What was the last album you listened to? Kiss: Asylum (1985) 

Thanks for the nomination! And in 2021, I hope to do more blogathons, original posts and more!

Movie Theater Memories

With the recent news that Warner Brothers is sending all releases to streaming on the same day as theaters, many fear this is the death of movie theaters as we know it. One can argue theaters have been dying a slow death for many years, but considering theaters have survived television, VHS/ DVD, and the arrival of streaming, it really got me thinking: what if this turns out to be the final hurdle? Furthermore, got me remembering the movies I saw as a kid, and the movies I went to see with my friends in middle/ high school. I then realized what a build up these outings were. Everything from seeing the trailer on tv, and waiting for it to be on again (the days before YouTube!), to planning which showing and then going.

Imagine having to wait to see this again on TV


It also got me reflecting: I’m part of a generation that got to grow up with going to theaters, and I may be part of the last generation. While I don’t want movie theaters to die, I can say the experience is not what it used to be. I really didn’t start to notice this until maybe high school, as when I was little the only things you had to worry about were talkers, and people kicking your seat. The real turning point came for me in 9th grade (Spring 2011) when a friend and I went to see Soul Surfer; for half the film, she was texting another friend. It wasn’t pleasant sitting next to a glowing phone light

As I write this now, Downton Abbey (2019) is the last NEW film I saw in theaters. I saw it as a pre-release on the same day as the UK release, which was about a week earlier than the American release. Due to the fact the theater was full of hardcore Downton fans, it was the best viewing experience I’ve had in years. We all were “ooohhh”-ing when Mosley served in the dining room, we all laughed at Violet’s quick and witty comebacks, and most of all it was an experience viewing with like minded people. No one was on their phone, talking or being rude, we were all watching.
Overall, the final film I saw in a movie theater was a screening of The Thin Man at the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove IL. And it, like Downton, was an event viewing. I had the privilege of attending the film with family friends of mine- my family and their family went together and it was just a happy event. We all are classic movie fans, and it was just special to view the film with fellow fans.
If The Thin Man turns out to be the final movie I ever see in a theater, then I can say I’m pretty damn proud of that. It doesn’t get much better than Bill Powell and Myrna Loy sleuthing and flirting onscreen with each other.


In all honesty, I’m not saying I will never go back to a theater ever again, but I can say I believe I wont be going as frequently as I did as a kid/ teen. I personally have a list of classic films I hope one day I get to view on the big screen and I hope to get the opportunity to view The Shootist,  Sunset Boulevard, The Awful Truth and so many more. 

Until that happens, for the time being, I decided to reflect on my cinematic experience so far. I present to you some highlights of my life at the theater:

• I saw Monsters Inc 5 times in the theaters as a kid, and Finding Nemo 3 times.
Lilo and Stitch was the first Disney animated movie I saw in theaters.
• The first movie I saw without my parents or any adult, was 17 Again (2009), I went opening weekend on the ultra screen with a friend. I was 12.
• June 2007, I was 10 almost 11, my Mom, sister, and I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (my first Pirates movie on the big screen). I thought I was super cool because the movie was PG-13, and I was 10.
• I saw 3 John Wayne movies (The Searchers, The Quiet Man, True Grit) and 3 Cary Grant movies (The Philadelphia Story, An Affair to Remember, Charade).
• I saw 1 Hitchcock film: Rear Window.
• In late summer 2004, I was just starting 3rd grade and on a school night (major event on a school night!), my sister and I with a group of friends (and our moms) went to see Princess Diaries 2.
• A film I regret seeing on the big screen was a kid’s movie, Over the Hedge, I found it incredibly pointless and stupid, but was forced to see it, as a Girl Scout “outing”.  The troop went out for pizza afterwards, and I pretended I enjoyed the movie so I wouldn’t be called snobbish or boring.
• The only film I saw opening DAY: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017). It was the first as well as the last film I will ever see on opening day.
• I remember The King’s Speech being in theaters in 9th grade, and having a major interest in wanting to see it. Due to the R rating, I couldn’t go see it with friends, and my Mom wasn’t up for going, so I missed out.
• I went to see Lincoln when I was in 11th grade for extra credit in APUSH. Easiest extra credit ever. All we had was to show the ticket stub, we didn’t even need a write up! 

With all my heart I hope I will be able to make new memories at the movie theater. Check out my Instagram post below for some pics!

What I Love About Jean Arthur

Jean Arthur, the Nonconformist | The Current | The Criterion Collection
Blonde or Brunette- it doesn’t matter, she’s fab! (The Talk of the Town)

The first time I ever saw Jean Arthur on screen was with Cary Grant in Only Angels Have Wings (1939). While my eyes were naturally on Cary, my ears turned to Jean.  Automatically, I was drawn in by her voice: I’d never head a voice quite like that. It wasn’t breathy, husky, squeaky, it had a distinct characteristic, that to this day I still can’t point my finger on.

Naturally, with all actors I take a liking to I set out to learn as much as I could about her, but it turns out Jean Arthur was an extremely elusive actress. She was an actress who was so private and guarded, she admitted she’d rather slit her own throat than talk to an interviewer.

With the lack of info about her, the best way to learn about Jean is to watch her films, and amazingly enough Jean had a period of time in her career in which she was so successful, but chose to end it on her own accord. Many of her silent films are unavailable, or difficult to track down, but I’d reckon from about 1936-1943 Jean dominated the silver screen with a great array of films- mainly her screwball comedies. My personal favorite is 1943’s The More the Merrier. Although it was not the first film of her’s I saw, it was the one that made me adore Jean wholly as an performer.

YouTube | Jean arthur, Old hollywood movies, Simple living
I’ve kind of always wanted to do this! (from Easy Living)

On the whole, Jean Arthur is a rare actress in which I see myself reflected. Sure, I adore many actors and actresses from the silver screen, but mainly for the fact they are unlike me, or I wish I could be them, or be around them. However, with Jean its different; perhaps if I were an actress in the golden age, I would have found myself in similar situations as Jean did. Jean didn’t like being bound by a contract and often was put on suspension for refusing parts she knew were unsuitable for her. I could absolutely picture myself doing the same thing; in life I’m an extremely particular person, and I sense that too about Jean.

In any Jean Arthur film you watch you always notice that any romance plot is secondary to film. You get that sense of her characters would be just as happy in life with or without a boyfriend. She’s the tough, yet, smart working woman and you believe it: whether she be a newspaper woman, a secretary, or a teacher she always has that sense of independence with romance always on the back burner in life. Of course, it’s always really sweet when she does end up with the leading man, because you as the viewer just know it’s the perfect ending.

The More the Merrier' review by Kevin Jones • Letterboxd
The sexiest kiss scene ever.. bar none (The More the Merrier)

I’ve read many sources that claim Jean would be so nervous before filming began she would vomit in the dressing room, walk on set, cameras would roll and everything would be fine. Having the right leading man beside her always seemed to help matters, as Jean was particularly fond of Cary Grant (great choice), Gary Cooper (her all time favorite!), and Joel McCrea. I personally think she was brilliant alongside Ray Milland in Easy Living (1937) as well, and if she was nervous it didn’t show. I saw similar results with 1936’s The Ex-Mrs Bradford, with William Powell, and it’s incredible how at ease she could be.

Other leading men were always quick to compliment her; James Stewart said she was the finest actress he ever worked with, praising her humor and timing (evidence points Jean may not have loved working with him, she did turn down Its a Wonderful Life), while Edward G Robinson said Jean had a stage personality without the ego.

Forget you? Not while I live...not if I die | Jean arthur, Gary cooper,  Movie couples
Jean and Mr Gary Cooper- Her leading man of choice (Mr. Deeds goes to Town)

To me personally, one of the most striking elements of Jean Arthur is reading she admitted she never had a best friend (she actually perferred dogs to people.. don’t blame her) and that is something I completely empathize with. Jean went on to say it’s so hard to open your heart when your older (compared to when you’re younger) and I’m sad to say it’s so true. It’s difficult to open up to people as an adult as when we are older, we are more judgmental than when we were kids. Maybe that’s what made her so nervous before she went on, so nervous around the other actors, the crew, believing they didn’t like her. If only Jean knew how admired she was an actress, maybe it would have eased her nerves.

Kitschy Kitschy Coo | 2010 | December | Jean arthur, Classic movies,  Classic movie stars
Jean: she LOVED dogs!

Overall, Jean Arthur is one of the most three dimensional leading ladies the silver screen has ever seen. Despite the fact she rarely let people in, through her screen portrayals somehow it’s enough to say we “know her”. Every time you watch Jean Arthur on screen you can discover a new facet about her and that along with her charm certainly is what keeps me watching her on screen. Jean’s mystique coupled with her unexplainable attractive voice is what will forever make her remembered. 

THIS was written for The Wonderful World of Cinema’s 120 Screwball Years of Jean Arthur Blogathon Check out the other entries for more Jean!

5 Films I don’t care for even though a “favorite” stars in them.

Like many of you who love classic movies, I’m willing to try movies that aren’t as popular on a certain actor or actress’s resume. For instance, I love the movie, A Lady Takes a Chance, (1943) with John Wayne and Jean Arthur; its not one of Duke’s “essentials”, but its a sweet story that makes for a hidden gem of a lesser known film of his. By the same token, there are certain films with my favorite actors/ actress that I cannot watch. Every performer is bound to have a flop (or four!) within their career, and I mean everyone, even Cary Grant, had them! Read on to learn 5 movies I can’t get into despite the fact one of my favorite stars is in the lead role!

Dream Wife - Wikipedia
Let’s dream Cary never made this!

1: Dream Wife (1953, Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr)- I told you Cary Grant has a flop on his filmography! In an extremely poorly aged plot, Dream Wife, co-stars Deborah Kerr as Cary’s diplomat girlfriend Effie who puts work above all, including her romance with Clemson Reade (Cary). Clemson is tired of waiting for an official engagement, so he instead marries a more traditionally minded Middle Eastern Princess. I’m not saying Cary can’t play against type, but this character Clemson Reade is such a jerk, you can’t blame Effie for putting her job over her love life! I watched this with my Mom and we were both embarrassed to see Cary play such a terrible role in a terrible film. Watch An Affair to Remember (1957) if you want something truly heartfelt and romantic!

Force of Arms - Wikipedia
Still love ya, Bill, even though you starred in this flick

2: Force of Arms (1951, William Holden, Nancy Olson)- I love William Holden, I love him so much I call him my “screen boyfriend” (OK, I have a few screen boyfriends, but Bill’s pic is on my wall), but this film is just terrible. It has horrible camera work, a forgettable and badly paced plot, and worst of all, it fails to capture what could have been a great romance for the two leads. Perhaps it was the odd combo of war vs romance, as the battle sequences were not naturally paced against the romance, going on for too long. The flick was later reissued under the title, A Girl for Joe, and it didn’t do anything to help matters!

The Girl He Left Behind
Its OK to leave this film behind!

3: The Girl He Left Behind (1956, Natalie Wood, Tab Hunter)- This movie is very forgettable and you can’t even enjoy Tab Hunter’s character because he has no redeeming qualities. Tab plays a spoiled rich brat who is drafted into the army. The film then follows his struggles of being knocked down a peg while in bootcamp, and his girlfriend, Susan (Natalie) coping with him being away. I’m ok with characters being jerks, however, they must have a likable quality about them, and this script didn’t provide that for Tab’s character. The pacing is also terrible creating a downright boring viewing experience. Natalie Wood, of course, is the main reason any of us attempt to watch this movie, but really, thankfully, we can look elsewhere to see her in a good movie. James Garner also had a small part in this film and later wrote in his memoirs, “the film was awful and I was awful.”

The Fighting Kentuckian - Wikipedia
Duke was in this movie?

4: The Fighting Kentuckian (1949, John Wayne, Vera Raltson) John Wayne plays militiaman John Breen coming home from the War of 1812 and falls in love with a French lady Fleurette De Marchand (Vera Raltson). Conflict arises when a greedy landowner plans to steal Fleurette’s land, leading Breen to ally with the other settlers. This is one of the Duke’s lesser known films, and it is billed that way for a reason. There’s really one one reason this film flopped: his leading lady, Vera Ralston, can’t act. Vera was a pro figure skater and girlfriend of Herbert Yates, chief of Republic Pictures. Wayne later recalled he was forced to use Vera as his leading lady and (rightfully) blamed her for the picture’s failure.

The Girl from Missouri poster.jpg
Classic Harlow look, not so classic Harlow character

5: The Girl from Missouri (1934, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Franchot Tone) Jean Harlow is such a darling and I adore her, but this movie can’t be saved by her presence. In this movie, Jean plays a girl looking for love and marriage rather than just a quick fling. While I think Jean could pull off that character, (as she was capable of playing it, she’s so talented!), it instead just feels boring watching her. I partially believe the film’s poor plot and strange character actions are due to the production code being heavily enforced. Had this film been released just months earlier, it would have been better and considered a fun pre-code. On a personal note, I don’t believe Jean and Franchot Tone had good chemistry, so it makes it hard to root for their romance, but that’s just my opinion!

AND there you have it! There are just a sampling of movies that are not for me, although they do contain actors I’m devoted to! Of course these are just my point of view about these features, and if you personally happen to love them, that’s fine and dandy too! Do you have any films of favorite actors you just can’t watch? Moreover, it makes it more interesting too, when you don’t enjoy a movie a certain actor is noted for. No matter, its all in fair opinion, and what makes talking and blogging about movies all the more amusing!

Footloose (1984)

Footloose (1984) - IMDb

The first time I ever saw Footloose I was 15 years old in the year 2011. I wanted to see the original before the (horrendous and pointless) remake and my mom recorded it on TV. I knew it was from the 80s and after watching for the first time, the only thing I took away from it was the music. I honestly saw everything about it besides the music, as I always have preferred 80s music, as extremely dated.

Fast forward a couple years later and I watched it, it turns out the movie is dated but dated in the most fun ways possible: the fashion is 80s fun, the atmosphere and set design is cheesy, but its 80s cheese, the best cheese, and most of all the film just captures the essence of being a teen in the 1980s. We may not have the REAL MTV anymore, but there will always be Footloose!

Manic Monday - Footloose (1984) Final Dance Scene | Most popular wedding  songs, Popular wedding songs, Popular wedding dance songs

It all starts when Chicago teen Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), moves in with his Aunt and Uncle to Bomont, a small Utah town that bans dancing. The townsfolk see nothing but trouble in him as he is a teen who escapes reality with dancing, music, and gymnastics. He soon meets his match in Ariel Moore (Lori Singer) the rebellious daughter of a town preacher who’s brother’s death set the rules in motion. Ariel is a girl who lives for adventure and won’t be held back by town rules or her father Shaw Moore (John Lithgow). Rounding out the cast is Sarah Jessica Parker as Ariel’s bestie Rusty, Chris Penn as the lovable Willard, and Dianne Wiest as Ariel’s quiet but understanding Mother. It’s full speed ahead when Ren and Ariel challenge the status quo (and her Father!) to bring back dancing proving it’s an essential and natural part of life!

What makes Footloose a stand out is that it’s a musical, but not a musical and that is a key element of what makes this movie so memorable and timeless. You can’t listen to the song “Footloose” without seeing the opening and/or closing scene of the movie in the your head. I hear Moving Pictures “Never” and all I picture is Kevin Bacon dancing in an empty warehouse.

One of my very favorite scenes is Ren teaching Williard to dance with the “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” montage. It’s funny and sweet all at the same time. Ren with the boombox, Willard so desperately trying to be successful, it’s extremely heartfelt! Makes me wanna get up and dance with Willard!

A parallel I really adore between Ren and Ariel proving they are really meant for each other is their sense of danger. Although dared, Ren partakes in a game of tractor chicken in an epic showdown set against Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero”. Contrast that with Ariel riding between windows of moving cars on the freeway while “The Girl Gets Around” jams in the background, and you’ve seriously got one fearless couple!

ARIEL is a daredevil!
BUT.. So is Ren!!!

Overall, “Footloose” is one of those films that is a great escapist film. It’s not fantasy, per-say, yet it allows us to go back, or in my case, get a glimpse of 1980s life. Who doesn’t want to incorporate amusing 80s songs into their everyday life!!! It’s just a feel good film, and there’s nothing wrong with that!!

This entry is for Movie Rob’s September Genre Grandeur of 80s teen films! be sure to check out the rest!!