The Wings of Eagles (1957)

When a well known movie couple is put together in many films, they usually end up in a biopic together. Take Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, they played Vernon and Irene Castle; Myrna Loy and William Powell played the Florenz Ziegfeld and Billie Burke, and it even happened for John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara who portrayed Frank “Spig” Wead USN Ret. and his wife Min in the 1957 John Ford picture: The Wings of Eagles.

Wings of Eagles 1957.jpg
(wikipedia)

The real Frank Wead was born in Peoria IL in 1895. He was a Navy man who served on both land and sea before serving in World War I. In 1926, Spig was forced to retire early due to an accidental fall at home, as he fell down the stairs running to his daughter after hearing her crying. Spig was temporarily paralyzed and learned how to walk again, before going to Hollywood in the early 1930s, working as a screenwriter.
He worked on films such as Hell Divers, Test Pilot, both with Clark Gable, and They Were Expendable with Ford and Wayne.  The amazing part is after Spig recovered from his injury, he then enlisted in World War II- first in a non active position of planning, but then moved to an active duty at sea. Unfortunately after formally retiring from service his life was cut short at the age of 52 in 1947, due to complications from surgery .

Frank Wead | Military Wiki | Fandom
The real life Frank “Spig” Wead

The Wings of Eagles was Maureen O’Hara’s fifth and final film with Ford, as she would never professionally cross paths with him again (they of course they stayed in each other’s lives until his death, while Duke Wayne would work with him professionally until 1963’s Donovan’s Reef). In Duke’s first post Searchers film, it’s easy to dismiss this film as silly 1950s biopic fluff, but look beneath the surface to realize it’s actually got more credit than what it initially presents.

Although "Wings of... - Maureen O'Hara Magazine Website | Facebook
Tender moment!

According to Ford, everything in this movie is true, including the plane flying in the pool, and the cake fight too (Ford swears he personally dodged the cake!!! The film even gets really meta when Ford veteran Ward Bond plays a spoof of Mr. Ford himself: John Dodge. The scene in which Frank goes into Dodge’s office, if you look closely you can see Ford’s real life Oscars, cane, pipe, and Bond even sports an eye patch in true homage.

Unfortunately for Maureen, her “character” Min received cut screen time. In her autobiography, she talks about more scenes that were shot, but due to the objections of the Wead’s real life daughters, the scenes were cut. Maureen also mentions the daughter’s and the studios efforts to omit from the picture the fact the real life Mrs. Wead was an alcoholic.

The Wings Of Eagles (1957) - The 1950's - John Wayne Message Board (JWMB)
(JWMB) Spig is gonna move that toe!

In my personal view, this film proves John Wayne is an actor. The scenes in which Spig learns to walk again, and the agony over being separated from his wife, it’s all raw and real.I’d like to point out, there’s something natural about the way John Wayne plays this “character”, the tenderness of his scenes with his family and the camaraderie he has with the men in the Navy scenes. It proves you don’t need ‘action scenes’ for a John Wayne picture to be good, because what really counts is the actor himself. 

Overall, to me this film is marvelous, because it brings a real life Naval hero to the attention of the movie public. If you’re a John Wayne fan- which if you’re reading this you probably are-, and if you love Duke with Maureen (which again, you probably do love them together if you are reading this!) you are going to end up watching this movie and learning about a hero whose story is not always told. Not everyone’s story is as big as JFK’s or Abraham Lincoln’s, yet their contributions to society are just as important. Added in the fact its the dream team of Ford, Wayne and O’Hara- you’ve got one solid Hollywood biopic!

this was written for the Sept/Oct 2021 Biopic Blogathon hosted by Hometowns to Hollywood . Make sure to check out other entries!

Sunday in New York (1963)

When it comes to 60’s comedies, it’s either really hard or really easy to love them. You view one comedy from 1960 and its 100% different than comedy in 1969; partly due to the demolition of the production code. One 60’s comedy that for me personally (emphasis on personally) is a ‘hit” is 1963’s Sunday in New York, starring Jane Fonda, Rod Taylor and Cliff Robertson and directed by Peter Tewksbury.

Sunday in New York (1963) - IMDb
(imdb)

The film is based on the play by Norman Krasna (Bachelor Mother, White Christmas) with Jane playing Eileen Tyler, a 22 year old music critic who, even though she has a long term boyfriend Russ Wilson (Robert Culp), is a, “beginner” in relationships. Needing a break from Russ, she goes to New York to stay with her brother, Adam, (Cliff) and she confides her status to him. He swears on his sacred honor he also is a, “beginner“.

Eileen Tyler: “Beginner”

Due to Adam being a pilot with flight call- she has to track him down when he leaves with his girlfriend Mona (Jo Morrow) for ‘ice skating‘ (nice cover, Adam! NOT!). Getting on a bus, she literally gets stuck on Mike Mitchell (Rod) with her pin on his suit. From there the pair eventually hit it off- and Eileen has a potential idea of going to the next level with Mike. But when Mike doesn’t want to be with a beginner, Russ shows up unexpected wanting to win back Eileen, and Adam finds out about Mike’s almost actions, things get thrown into a tizzy!

Now some people will read over this and think, “That’s absolutely hokey!”

But is it really? I declare this film still resonates with people because the whole story does not focus on society expectations, it focuses on personal development. Mike and Eileen have choices to make; and it’s always centered on them, not society, not tradition, not a new normal but their choices.

I also want to point out this film has the right amount of comedy gags reminiscent of the 50’s – like the pin stuck on the suit- but it also leans towards the more 60’s expression of love and relationships- such as Adam and Mona having a no strings attached relationship. It’s a careful balance of these two worlds that come together for the right amount of laughs, edginess, cuteness, and romance.

If this film was made maybe three years later, I don’t believe the film could be as nuanced as it is, nor would it have as much Kennedy era style. The apartment itself is to die for: the loft, the decor; plus the ensembles Jane gets to wear! Not to forget Rod Taylor’s suit: very Mad Men-esque, so stylish! Top it all off with Peter Nero’s swanky jazz score and it all just fits together so pleasantly.

Overall, Sunday in New York is breezy, fun, and just a darn cute movie. It may have its harsh critics  (everything from Jane and Cliff seem too incestuous, Rod is mis-cast,  and also: there’s too much talking not enough action!!) which includes Ms. Fonda herself, saying in 2018 she doesn’t understand why people love this movie, but I think the charm is possesses is extremely overlooked. A product of a bygone era, it reminds us today, the flip side of society that still was occurring at that time. It’s a fun watch, and even if you don’t end up digging it, its worth a look for its social themes and style. 

This article was written for Movie Rob’s September 2021 Genre Grandeur: 1960s comedy theme!

The Rare Breed

This post is written for The No True Scotsman blogathon hosted by RealweegieMidget Reviews! Check out the other posts!!

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Bonnie Scotland! Portrayed on screen a number of times but almost never in the correct context! There’s a handful of Scottish actors, musicians, TV personalities and royals I have come to really admire from Scotland- Mary, Queen of Scots, Sir Sean Connery, Robert Carlyle OBE, Angus and Malcolm Young, Chef Gordon Ramsay OBE just to name to a few! But the thing that blows my mind every time is just how many people throughout the screen’s history have acted the part of a Scot. And its certainly way more than you even thought!

Rarebreed.jpg
(Credit: Wikipedia)

In 1966, American born actor Brian Keith got his turn at playing a Scot in the western The Rare Breed. Despite mixed reactions to the film, the memorable part, according to co-star Maureen O’Hara was Brian’s ability to be a scene- stealer (although he doesn’t show up until around halfway through the film).

Directed by longtime John Ford/ John Wayne associate Andrew V McLaglen, and also starring James Stewart and Juliet Mills, The Rare Breed is one of those westerns that is cute, sweet, but not exactly top notch, “essential” material. You have to be a fan of the actors to recognize the there’s truly a good story to be told.  I’ve actually heard this movie be called a cross between John Ford (well his stock company, anyways) and Disney- a fair assessment, that in my opinion works.


Irish beauty Maureen O’Hara plays Englishwoman Martha, and her daughter Hilary (played by Juliet) who are on their way to sell their cattle at the fair. But their most prized cattle just isn’t any old cattle, his is name Vindicator, who is a rare breed (and is a very sweet bull, who is trained to follow Hilary when she whistles or sings God Save The Queen!).
When a wealthy rancher purchases Vindicator for his business partner,  wild Scotsman Alexander Bowen (Brian Keith) Martha hires Sam ‘Bulldog’ Burnett (Stewart) to help her transport him. Romance, danger, and comedy soon ensures on their journey!

The Rare Breed (1966)
Hilary and Vindicator! AWW! (credit IMBD)

What I adore about this film is really the cast.  Even though, Maureen O’Hara said in her autobiography she was distracted during the shoot and her heart wasn’t completely in it. Behind the scenes, she was dealing with personal matters of the heart with her then boyfriend Enrique Parra. To see Juliet work with Maureen is just awesome! Hayley Mills already worked with Maureen five years earlier in The Parent Trap– and it’s cool to observe that Maureen has a great rapport with both Mills sisters! Jimmy Stewart as always gives a solid performance, and if you enjoy JS westerns, I really do believe this film should be one worth watching.

The Rare Breed (1966)
(THAT’S BRIAN KEITH??!!! credit: IMBD)

Brian Keith, the first time I saw him, I didn’t recognize him! While his accent is not absolutely perfect, it’s a pretty dang great attempt. Its precisely the manner in which he immerses himself in the role and you can tell he’s having a blast. I’d say in this case its spirit over technicality of the accent. I admit, I wasn’t totally hooked on the character the first time I watched it, but over the course of re-watching, Bowen is just a goofy, fun character you don’t have to take seriously. If he was played by another actor, then you would totally hate the character! ! Brain Keith brings warmth and silly humor to the role, it grows on you, and its glorious! ! I mean he even plays bagpipes in this movie- Yeah!!!!

The Rare Breed - Rotten Tomatoes
Sam “Bulldog” with a baby Bull! (credit: rotten tomatoes)

A few fun things to look out for in this film is brief appearances by Harry Carey Jr, Jimmy O’Hara (also sometimes known as James Lilburn; Maureen’s brother) and Ben Johnson.  And I have to give a mention to Vindicator the bull! Vindicator was such a cute sweet bull, that was just adorable to look at. Whenever Hilary would pet him or whisper the words of God Save The Queen to him, it was just sweet. It’s pretty cool Vindicator has a plot all his own within the film, his breed is sought after and we even see his kin towards the end of the film, it was so cute!!

In the end, The Rare Breed may be digging into the western genre, and not super well known, but I’d beg to say its certainly one worth watching. It’s not a gritty western, but rather a cute one, maybe even a western for people who don’t like westerns! And when all said and done- Its even got a Scottish character performance! Aye!! 

The Rare Breed (1966) is available to own on DVD (from Universal) and Blu-ray (from Kino Lorber) !

10 Favorite Childhood Movies

Hi all and happy August 2021. I admit, August is always a fun and fast month for the year, its my birthday month after all! This year I turned 25 and I thought I could do some fun birthday celebrations on my blog! Even though on the 28, my birthday has already passed, I believe there’s no better way to keep the party going than by doing some fun posts about some of my favorite movies!

Beginning the fun series of 25th birthday posts, is a video I did on YouTube: A vlog of 10 of my favorite childhood movies… that I still love as an adult! I recently got on YouTube during the pandemic as a way to connect with fellow music fans (after all music and film are what makes life fun and exiting, right!?) but then I also started doing film videos! The curve ball to the video is, I had to choose 10 favorite childhood movies that I still adore as an adult. There are many movies I watched as a kid/ teen that today you could not pay me to watch again! (Quick brainstorm idea: perhaps in a future video- or blog post, I will share some of those titles! 🙂 )

Hope ya enjoy! Here’s, “Cheers” to our enduring childhood faves!

River of No Return (1954)

The great outdoors are really personally not for me. I’ve always been an, “indoors girl”, as I semi-quote Jack Dawson in Titanic (1997). That’s why I love movies- they can bring the tough outdoors to the comfort of the indoors! So of course I had to do Movie Rob‘s Genre Grandeur of The Great Outdoors! A great outdoors movie with breathtaking landscapes and scenery is 1954’s River of no Return.

River of No Return - Wikipedia
Poor Poster Promotion! (Wikipedia)

Directed by Otto Preminger, starring Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe at first glance you’d think, well that doesn’t work. Even Marilyn didn’t believe in it, but I say she was too harsh on herself as she got to play a different type of role. Robert Mitchum plays Matt, a father with a young son Mark, and with Marilyn as his love interest, dance hall singer Kay, it gives her a chance to play a mother-figure.

The film starts off when Mark is abandoned by his caretaker and Kay looks after him until he reunites with his father. Mark and Matt are strangers, as Matt was in jail for killing a man in self defense. Kay reunites Mark with Matt and they part ways until Kay runs into them again while traveling on the river with her fiance, Harry. Kay and Harry’s raft gets ruined, and Harry steals Matt’s horse and rifle to continue on to the City Council to retrieve a deed on a gold mine. Kay is left behind with Matt and Mark in the wilderness.

River of No Return (1954) - Rotten Tomatoes
Mitchum and Marilyn! (Rotten Tomatoes)

The trio then embark down what the Indians call ‘the river of no return‘. Battling the elements and Indians, Matt and Kay bond with each other. Mark learns about his dad’s prison stay but starts to see him differently when he protects/ cares for both himself and Kay.

Its sort odd, I never seek out Robert Mitchum films, they come to me; by interest of either another actor, director or premise- but watching this film made me see him in a different light. I’d previously seen Out of the Past (1947) and El Dorado (1967), but this was my first Mitchum film in which I saw him play a true romantic lead, and it was cool!  

Going deeper with the romance,  I really liked that element between Marilyn and Robert Mitchum. They just click with each other. Marilyn got to be serious, and not just the blonde, while Mitch got to be the romantic tough guy. He still has to have that element about him, as he plays an outdoors man, but he has his tender moments.

Marilyn: Behind the Icon – River of No Return | Classic Movie Hub Blog
Real Scenery! (Classic Movie Hub)

The cinematography is what always keeps me coming back to this film. Its gorgeous and not a studio back lot, instead being filmed on location in Calgary and in Idaho for the use of the Salmon River for the long shots. Production on location was not without its faults, however, as Marilyn almost drowned with Mr. Mitchum diving into save her. On another occasion, when insisting they both do their own stunts, Bob and Marilyn’s raft flipped over, and Marilyn twisted her ankle! She was on crutches for the rest of the shoot, but nonetheless, it didn’t slow down shooting!

Of course, I must mention the spectacular songs Marilyn gets to sing, including a version of the title song! She worked very hard to get her finger positions correct to play the guitar, and even though its NOT her doing the playing, she certainly put in her best effort!

Overall, River of No Return is a fun and quick film to watch. Sometimes you need to see actors in different types of settings and this is a perfect example for both of the leads. Bringing the wilderness indoors, it makes for a great viewing experience from the coziness of your great indoors!

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

My first ever encounter with A Streetcar Named Desire came in August of 2012. It was schedule pickup day a few weeks ahead of my first day of Junior year of high school and a chance to pickup class material. Junior year, English class was subtitled as, “American literature“, and along with Streetcar, the other required reading that year was The Crucible. With my specific teacher, I also ended up reading: Catcher in the Rye and Death of a Salesman.

StreetcarNamedDesire.JPG

For those who may be unfamiliar with A Streetcar Named Desire, it tells the tragic tale of Blanche DuBois, a fallen southern woman whose disillusionment over her struggles in life sends her into madness. The 1951 film version stars many of the same actors who appeared in the original Broadway stage version, including Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, Karl Malden as Mitch, and Kim Hunter as Stella. Vivien Leigh as Blanche DoBois is the notable change for the film, as Jessica Tandy played the role on Broadway.  Leigh did, however, play Blanche in the London production.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).jpg

Reading Streetcar in class didn’t come until just before spring break of that year, and my first impressions of the play weren’t very prestigious at all. I recall thinking it was going to be some sort of romance or drama, not expecting a tragedy, with despicable characters. I found Stanley to be a monster and Stella to be a complete pushover. Blanche, however weird of a character she was, did attract my attention because there seemed to be a mystery about who she was.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951 film) - Wikipedia

At this time, I had no idea there was a movie adaptation, and after we finished the book, the teacher announced we would watch it. I was interested because I wanted to see how these characters would visually interact with each other, I thought it would help me better understand the play as a whole. The moment the teacher put on the DVD and it started playing, a majority of my classmates were uninterested because, “it’s an old black and white movie”. I personally didn’t mind if it was black and white, and while I didn’t know much about Vivien Leigh’s work other than Gone with the Wind, I was glued to watch something with her in it.

My personal highlight of the film was the introduction to the marvelous actor that is Karl Malden. There I was, at age 16, watching this movie for the first time ever, and I see Karl Malden come on screen: I was immediately transfixed on his powerful voice, and automatically had high respect for his acting ability. Due to the fact I knew the outcome of his and Blanche’s relationship, I was really upset! I didn’t want to watch Mitch reject Blanche and snub her after learning her story. I really hoped it to turn out better than the play, but overall, I knew the rejection was the right decision. Mitch and Blanche’s dissolution of their friendship and any level of romantic relationship ending is the catalyst for Blanche’s final descent into her downward spiral, and it needs to happen for the story to conclude.

This movie was my real first exposure to Marlon Brando’s acting as well, and I took an instant dislike him. Of course now looking back, what I really meant was I can’t stand the character of Stanley. Stanley is a horrible husband to Stella, and is disgusting to Blanche- plus his famous “Stella” yell can absolutely get on one’s nerves. When looked at from an acting perspective, I admit it was spectacular. Brando could become any character, and you believed he was this nasty person. I’m sure I can’t picture anyone else yelling “Stellaaaaa” on a balcony.

Blanche was perfectly portrayed, and because I wasn’t alive during the original role on Broadway, I can’t see anyone else but Vivien- Sorry Ms. Tandy!! She was so immersed in this role, which certainly shows shades of her real life struggles. I’m sure it was a combination of Vivien’s stage training in the role, her professionalism, and her real life experience with mental health struggles that made her become Blanche. Its an occasion that only comes once in a lifetime- or perhaps in Vivien’s case, twice, where an actress is so perfectly married to the screen role. I think this was the best paring of actor and role since Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story!

Over the years since my junior year of high school, I sort of put this film out of my mind, really dismissing it, until I took a deeper look at it as an adult. I really was able to connect it to its source material, and it’s as faithful to the play as it could be for the screen.

The ending of the film, is what I wished would have happened in the play, upon comparing the two endings for the first time back in high school. Yet today, when watching the film’s ending, it cheapens the play’s ending. By having Stella stay with Stanley it makes it raw and real, and adds to the tragedy of the whole situation. Seeing Stella run off with the baby while leaving the house in the movie, it kind of almost makes you less emotional about what just Blanche minutes earlier. It was all due to the production code- and I’m not sure a better ending could have been conceived, but it makes the film less emotionally reactive.

Overall, its been a long winding road for me to appreciate this film. Seeing it in high school was just that, a high schooler watching, doing as they are asked. I did watch it as an adult for the first time at age 20- and I didn’t care for it, finding it even more bizarre than I did in high school. Finally fast forward now to my current age of 24 where it just clicks- and I defend the Oscars for Vivien Leigh and Karl Malden. I look at the film and I see something so tragic, but deeply layered with psychological depth and connection. I view it, and I really do see a masterpiece!

Be sure to check out other posts for The 4th Broadway Bound Blogathon 2021, HERE!

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The Queen (2006)

I took this month’s Genre Grandeur of Biographies , hosted by Movie Rob, to tap into my Royal Family Obsession!
In a time before Peter Morgan was the writer, showrunner and ‘creator’ of the Netflix drama, The Crown, he was the ‘creator’ and writer of another Queen Elizabeth II centric screen presentation. My Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen, I present to you: The Queen (2006). My Aunt was the person who initially told me about this movie when it first came out. I remember being very interested in the content, as I learned about the Royal Family from reading magazines at the dentist office. Hey, I didn’t have any royal family books back then, and I certainly was not using the internet for anything else other than school, so People magazine was the best source I had! I always, however, had a big fan of Princess Diana, and I was hoping she “appeared” in the movie.

The Queen (2006) - IMDb

The Queen is a prestigious biopic covering the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and the aftermath that occurred both in the Royal Family’s public and private life. While a blonde actress is used for a stand in for Diana getting into a car outside the Ritz, Princess Diana is not a physical character in this narrative. She is, however, the film’s driving force, and the source behind every decision made by the characters in the film (really, I feel disdainful referring to actors as ‘characters’, as they are depictions of real people, but there’s really no other term to use!).

Portraying The Queen is Helen Mirren, with James Cromwell as Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, and Alex Jennings as The Prince of Wales (This time he’s playing Charles, not ‘David’ or should I say Edward, who abdicated, as he played on The Crown).  Also featured in a prominent role is Michael Sheen as the then newly elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Due to the PG-13 rating, I wasn’t allowed to see the film in 2006 (I was 10), and then it just kind of took a backseat in my mind until 2015, at which I was 18 or 19. Honestly, the delay was in part due to the lack of accessibility. My family and I don’t get the extra movie channels on the satellite package, but during those free channel promotions I had the opportunity to watch. Even though looking back at the content, I possibly could have watched this film when I was 10, but I honestly think I would have found it boring back then. I believe I would have been waiting for Princess Diana to show up in a flashback, or William and Harry to come on screen. I would not have believed in the actors playing their parts, rather waiting for the real people to appear. I certianly wouldn’t have grasped the biopic concept, instead thinking it was a documentary. In that regard, I’m very glad I watched the film when I did, as I could take it in and really absorb it.

Helen Mirren gives quite possibly the best performance of her entire career. She even impressed Her Majesty herself and was invited to Buckingham Palace for a private dinner. Ms. Mirren had to decline, due to work conflicts, but she was extremely honored nonetheless.  I remember hearing news Helen Mirren got the Oscar when it first happened, and I was happy, but reflecting on it now in 2021, I’m super obsessed with the fact she won! Very rarely do you get a performer in a role they completely embody and Helen did that for the Queen.

I even wanted her in the early stages of The Crown to play the elderly Queen Elizabeth down the line in the later seasons. I know this won’t be the case but I, in my dream world of a mind, was really pulling for it to happen. I will however, bring up in a totally nerd way, the connection between these two productions: the stag scene. In the film, one of the most powerful scenes is the stag scene in which Queen Elizabeth realizes the pain and loss caused by Diana’s death. It’s artistic licence but done brilliantly well and everything about it is perfection. In The Crown’s season 4 episode “The Balmoral Test” a subplot involves Diana and Philip hunting a stag, with many references pointing out the comparisons of Diana and said stag they are hunting. It’s just one of those details one may not think about on the onset, but then you go back and realize, “Wow! That’s a powerful connection!”.

The magical thing about Peter Morgan and his writing is he knows how to fill in the gaps between reality and fiction. A perfect example is the Queen’s weekly meetings with the Prime Minister. We know these meetings are happening, but no one but those two actually know what is being discussed. It’s amazing how the scenes are written to be fictional, yet the results from those meetings turn out to be the reality of actual events.

(credit: filmcomment.com)

In this particular production, more so than The Crown, real life footage is used. We see real life footage of the outside of Buckingham Palace in 1997, with the mountains of flowers; we see Princess Dina herself in archival footage before the car crash is depicted; and even real scenes from the funeral are used. It’s really cool and it almost blurs the lines between biopic and documentary. 

Overall, I give all the credit to The Queen because it was the first major production in which Queen Elizabeth II was portrayed as a character in a narrative. It set the tone for The Crown, and I think in the film world (so not including television) it is still the cream of the crop for how the Royal Family should look, and for how they should be portrayed. I don’t believe any film has come even close to the look and feel of The Queen, and future film makers have a very tall order if they want to create a similar result.

In short, even if you are not a fan of the Royal Family, I recommend the film to anyone looking for a biography done right. It’s not a documentary but it’s as close as it can be for being a drama.  Plus you get to see real life Hollywood Queen play the real Queen, and it really doesn’t get cooler than that! 

Queen meets Movie Queen! (credit: thecheatsheet.com)

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!