Barefoot in the Park (1967)

This was written for Movie Rob’s September 2022 Genre Grandeur of New York movies set before 9/11. be sure to check out other entries!

When it comes to the classic film world, 1960’s films are somewhat of a hit or miss for me. First off, I’m more inclined to watch a 60’s flick if I admire the actors and actresses; I’m not as adept to just jumping into a movie from this time period if I can’t latch onto someone I adore, unlike the 1930s-50s era where a plot can entice me into it.

Gene Saks Barefoot in the Park (1967) at first was a certain NO from me because my mindset was: “Well Natalie Wood was supposed to be in the role and Jane Fonda was cast instead.

But then my mind thought about the fact Robert Redford is in it and as one of my friends puts it, “Redford is cool as hell!”

Then another friend (Phyllis Loves Classic Movies) said SHE LOVES Barefoot in the Park, reminding me Mildred Natwick of The Quiet Man (1952) was in it! With all those words of encouragement, I then told myself, “Well I gotta see this one now!”

(IMDB)

Set in the time period in which it was made; Barefoot in the Park is based off the Neil Simon play about two newlyweds who start off their life in their apartment in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Paul (Redford) and Corie Bratter are complete opposites: Paul is a stuff shirt lawyer and Corie a free spirit who embraces the mood of the 60s (she is played by Jane Fonda after all!).

Despite the fact they have to climb up to the fifth floor, (with the stairs becoming a running gag throughout the movie), the pair settles into their new life. They have eccentric neighbors, a hole in the skylight, and a small bedroom with only room for a large single mattress, but those seem to be the least of their problems when Corie and Paul start to have issues in their life philosophies. Corie wants Paul to walk, “barefoot in the park”, with her and have some fun, while Paul insists it’s not only too cold but that he has to get up early for work.  

Marital Woes. (Pintrest)

With Paul at work, Corie strikes up a friendship with upstairs neighbor Victor (Charles Boyer) who she thinks would be a good match for her mother Ethel (Natwick). Possibly the funniest scene of the whole movie, the foursome has dinner at an Albanian restaurant with Corie joining in during the folk song Shama-Shama.  Personally, I love this scene!

The movie keeps going with Paul and Corie’s disagreements, but its only after Paul is kicked out he decides to let loose.  Corie then has to make a decision of what the marriage means to her and who her husband is versus how she wants him to be… with a little help from Ethel of course!

Barefoot in the Park for being a late 60s movie is pretty tame considering what else was being made during that time, and even for the actors who were in it. Jane and Bob are both known for their progressiveness, but then you think about the fact this movie was made towards the beginning of their careers. Me- I am not one for any type of political extremeness, but even if you’re not a super-fan of one or either of these actors, this movie is really enjoyable and cute. In my real life, would like to be fun and free spirited like Corie, but actually am more like Paul- though Rock’ N’ Roll can loosen me up a little! (KISS IS MY BAND!!)

It’s almost like this movie is one of the last relics of the classic screwball comedies that were revived in the mid late 50s (think Pillow Talk 1959) and it’s a splendid viewing. If screwball was disappearing, this movie was a sweet way to go out and it’s a blending of old and the “new” Hollywood; you’ve got two soon to be major superstars and then veteran character actors, added with a familiar story structure of classic Hollywood .

I learned something with Barefoot in the Park:  a time period in which a film was made does not always dictate it follows the trends of what was popular. Sometimes you get these really cool movies that do feel modern, but also have this touch of throwback that gives it a timelessness. When you combine all that, you can’t really ask for anything more!

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962)

This post is For MovieRob’s August 2022 Genre Grandeur theme of Family Vacation movies.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a 1962 family comedy from 20th Century Fox Studios. Directed by Henry Koster and starring Maureen O’Hara and James Stewart in the leads as Roger and Peggy Hobbs, it tells the story of the Hobbs family who rent a beach house for the summer. Although none of the kids want to go, and the beach house is dilapidated, what matters is the family finds time to sort out the problems and just bond together. Comedy ensures with wacky situations and the ensemble cast. 

On paper it sounds like Mr. Hobbs would be an all time family classic, however, I personally believe this movie suffers from poorly placed jokes, lengthy unfunny gimmicks, and a really terrible script. On top of that, there are also unfunny/ borderline annoying characters, slow pacing, and its rounded out by a terribly long drawn out sequence of Jimmy Stewart on a bird watching trip. 

(IMDB) They are sweet!

I can’t say that I love this movie, although I do love both Maureen O’Hara and Jimmy Stewart, both of whom made other wonderful family comedies throughout their careers; for instance, Maureen did The Parent Trap (1961) and Jimmy did Shenandoah (1965).  According to Maureen O’Hara in her 2004 memoir Tis’ Herself she didn’t exactly enjoy working with Mr. Stewart: they got along personally- just not professionally.

The main reason I can’t get into this movie is there are way too many gags and gimmicks. The TV breaks down, the plumbing needs fixing, there are bratty kids and grandkids, bad parenting/ lack of parenting- and it’s just really irritating to watch.  I found myself fast forwarding through the plumbing gag, and found it unfunny whenever the grandkids would have a scene. There is no charm to balance out the problems and it gets really old really fast 

Secondly, you don’t believe these actors are a family. Sure, I believe Jimmy and Maureen are married, but I don’t believe any of these kids (including Lili Gentle and Natalie Trundy) have natural screen chemistry with them. It’s not like Yours, Mine, and Ours (1968) where you believe these kids know each other as brothers and sisters. I’m not blaming the kid actors, most of which didn’t stay in acting, more so the script writers for failing to give then some likability as characters and familiarity as siblings. 

But on the flip side, there are a few appealing aspects to this movie- Maureen and Jimmy for one, like I mentioned. There is also a really cute scene in which youngest daughter Katey (Lauri Peters) gets to sing with Joe (Fabian) at the teen dance. It’s a sweet scene in which she smiles despite newly having braces, and it’s cute to watch. There is also a fun scene with Mr. Hobbs and his son, Danny (Michael Burns) sailing after the tv breaks. It’s a pure example of how awesome Jimmy Stewart is at playing father roles, even if you don’t believe the actor could really be his son; Jimmy was just great with kids in general and its touching. 

Overall, Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a product of its era. If you really dig 1960’s sitcoms then you’ll enjoy this movie thoroughly. It’s two leads are the main reason to take a watch, its full of early 60’s style- and Fabian singing never hurts anyone!

Once Upon a Time (2011-2018)

Warning: Minor plot point spoilers from the show are contained in this review. This entry is for the July 2022 Fantasy Genre Grandeur hosted by Movie Rob.

Once Upon a Time is what ABC initially called fairy tales for the modern age (modern being 2011-2018, the time of which the show aired). They took the idea of a, “happily ever after“, and turned it upside down, asking deeper questions such as, What does the Evil Queen’s happiness look like?  Did Snow White and her Prince have kids? Do the heroes in the story ever do anything wrong or immoral?? Do the villains of the story ever feel guilt, or were they always just evil? It was an ingenious formula that for a few years worked insanely well. They were able to bring the viewer all of their favorite characters, offering new spins on their backstories, while crafting their futures, all while maintaining those standard elements of why we love them in the first place. 

OUAT Cast

The main story line centered around Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), the daughter of Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin). When Emma was born The Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parillia) enacted her revenge against Snow and Charming by casting a curse, given to her by Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle OBE) that would transport them to the real world and live a life without magic or happy endings. Emma, who was born and sent away from the Enchanted Forest realm before the curse affected her, was then the only hope of breaking the curse, and restoring peace to the Kingdom. However, the catch comes when the curse can only be broken after her 28th birthday, and until that time, everyone, except for Regina, will live out a life in which they have no idea who they are or who they love in the town of Storybrooke. 

Although Emma is unaffected by the curse, she lives with the fact she doesn’t know her true background and grows up believing she was orphaned/ abandoned by her parents. She eventually has a son, Henry (Jared Gilmore) at the age of 18, and places him up for adoption, not ready to be a mother. Henry is then adopted by… you guessed it Regina, The Evil Queen.  It is then on Emma’s 28th birthday Henry shows up at her door, wanting to A: reunite with his birth mother and B: convince her to believe in magic and break the curse. Thus begins the OUAT saga! 

The show used a parallel narrative structure that showed the characters in the real world, and their life back in the Enchanted Forest before the curse took place. Often of times their two story lines would be paralleled featuring the same lesson, or a different perspective of a similar problem showing how their life has changed. 

Colin O’Donoghue as Captain Killian “Hook” Jones: Leather. Irish Brogue. Piercing Eyes. Guyliner: Who can resist? Certainly not me!

For me personally, Once is not a show that I watched when it first aired in 2011. I got on board with the show in 2014 just before the 4th season premiere, binge watching all of 1-3. I was drawn to the show because honestly the Frozen story line was coming up, and I thought it would be so cool to see a live action interpretation of those characters.  I then stuck with the show because the Emma-Captain Hook romance was also heating up and when I was 18, I thought the most appealing aspect of the show was one man: Colin O’Donoguhue, who played Captain Killian “Hook” Jones (the character was based on Disney’s version of Captain Hook from Peter Pan 1953). In fact, I believed this so much I initially called the first season, “the most boring“, because Hook wasn’t a character until season 2.

One of my favorite Captain Hook Scenes: S2 E9 Queen of Hearts
Captain Swan in my favorite episode: There’s No Place like Home S3 E22

My favorite plotline on the show came in the first 2 seasons: Emma putting the pieces together, getting the backstories of all these characters and then in season 2 seeing how they would figure out the after math of the curse and what they would do next.  My favorite episodes were, however, in season 3 with the 2-part finale when Emma and Hook have their mini Back to the Future story when they accidentally time travel though an open portal and interrupt Snow and Charming’s first meeting. With a little help from Rumpelstiltskin, they have to get the meeting back on track or risk erasing Emma from the timeline. It’s super cute as Emma realizes how much she loves her parents, and also starts to loosen up around Hook- being more flirty around him and learning they do make a super great team! 

Now being 25, I look back at this show a little differently. Some of the plot lines were pathetic, pointless, and downright unacceptable even for the time span of 2011-2018. For instance, the season 5 Zelena- Robin Hood baby plot point was always disgusting. I hated the plot then and hate it now. Who in their sane mind thought that was an acceptable plot fans would be OK with? Also I thought The Dark Swan/ Dark One Emma plot line was done terribly. Making Hook also The Dark One was pathetic, and defeated the purpose of Hook trying to stay, “good“, while Emma was newly, “evil“. 

I also look back with the viewpoint of while Hook was a fun character in seasons 2-4, by season 5 there was a shift; either A: Colin stopped trying or B: the writing had deteriorated so badly, he wasn’t given anything to work with; therefore, he was going to give a phoned in performance no matter what. 

MY Favorite BTS picture of Mr Robert Carlyle OBE as Mr. Gold.

I’ve also seen the light on who carried the show: Mr. Robert Carlyle OBE. Mr. Carlyle was always the most interesting part of OUAT, and even though I considered Hook to be my favorite character, Mr. Gold/ Rumpelstiltskin always had my attention on what he would do next. My only complaint was Carlyle had to neuter his voice down to something an American audience can understand (anyone here know Hamish Macbeth (1995-1997)- Now there’s a great show where he got to speak in his real voice!). It was strikingly obvious he was having a blast in seasons 1-3, and you can tell his enthusiasm for the part came out in the performance. However after Rumple’s arc of redemption was considered to be complete by many fans by season 3, by season 4 something changed. What what I gather, Carlyle was trying to work with the writers/ co creators to craft a better story line plot-wise and because of that attempted collaboration, unacceptable on the writers behalf, they punished his character, giving Rumple bizarre, recycled, and often pointless story lines. Still, he carried the show when the plot went down the toilet, and for that, he has my total respect.

One of the rare times Carlyle’s natural Scottish-Glaswegian accent slipped though- I LOVE THAT. S2 E11 The Outsider

While I would not wanna sit through this whole show again, I would re-watch certain episodes, and there are specific badass character moments I love (most of them involving Rumple and Hook). I do dismiss all of season 7, I did not watch it, but would read weekly recaps. I thought the new ‘wish realm” plot basis to be pointless, yet I will admit the finale episode ever was a payoff especially if you watched the whole show. 

Overall, my most important takeaway was the show put Robert Carlyle into my life. As an actor (and as a person) I’ll never move on from him, never be “over him“. I also believe this show had one of the best casts on TV, you can really tell they all adored each other. It’s a show that I am glad to have seen, for in the end, Once Upon a Time to me summed up is: a fun fantasy show with the characters you know and actors you come to love.

Singin’ in the Rain: Timeless Influence!

This post is for the Singin’ in the Rain Blogathon hosted by The Classic Movie Muse! Be sure to check out the other entries!!

Singin’ in the Rain was technically not a new concept when it was first released in 1952. It’s a movie about the movies, and a backstage musical, both of which were done before. Yet, the manner in which the story plays out, as well as the visual choreography was ground breaking and its formula has been used ever since.

Perhaps the best known influence on Singin’ in the Rain was on another MGM musical made just a year later: The Band Wagon.  Like Singin’, The Band Wagon is both a backstage and  jukebox musical. Plus, it even has Cyd Charisse! Wagon’s leading man is the other famous dancer Fred Astaire and instead of a movie, the plot centers around a stage show. A main parallel this movie has with its predecessor is perhaps the sequence of final dance numbers with the “Girl Hunt” being similar in tone and style to the “Gotta Dance” number.

Cyd Charisse: A dangerous dame of a dancing partner in both movies!

If you’re from my generation and grew up with the High School Musical (2006-2008) movies, Singin’ in the Rain served as major inspiration for director-choreographer Kenny Ortega and choreographer Charles Kaplow. In the first movie, the Getcha’ Head in the Game performance visually and stylistically pays tribute to Gene’s style of dancing. In addition, the use of basketballs as props is very Gene Kelly-esque, as Gene was famous for integrating props into his dances.

Troy and the Wildcats
Don and his Rain Gang!

In 2012, Rock of Ages was adapted for the big screen, being a jukebox musical. It used some of the most well known rock songs from the 1980s as its soundtrack. Some of my favorite songs used in the flick, like “Pour some Sugar on Me”, “Every Rose has its Thorn”, and “Wanted Dead or Alive'”. I honestly can admit, while I don’t exactly love this movie, it has a seriously perfect 80’s vibe to it, and it’s fun to catch on TV every now and again.

The latest movie to utilize the influence is Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022). Without giving too much away, part of the plot involves a silent movie being filmed at Downton. The starring actress in the fictional movie, The Gambler, Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock), is a silent screen queen- but much like Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) is beyond all help when the movie must be turned into a talkie.  I thought it was super amusing Downton honored Singin‘ because both of these entities as so iconic, and to have them tied together by this plot point certainly a chef’s kiss!

Miss Lina Lamont: Struggles with the Sound!
Miss Myrna Dagleish: Silent Star

As time rolls on, I have no doubt that actors, directors, dancers, choreographers and entertainers will be be looking to Singin’ in the Rain for inspiration and influence. When something is so well loved and timeless, it’s going to be referred to. The minuscule list I compiled is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of times the movie has been seen and felt in other works, I can’t wait to see what will pop up in the future!

Island in the Sky (1953)

This post is written for the Avaition in Film blogathon hosted by Taking up Room, be sure to read the other fun entries!!

Growing up, I had always been curious about, Island in the Sky (1953), because my grandfather, “Bop-Bee“, was very much a fan of the movie. Bop-Bee was a major fan of John Wayne, and always used to say, “John Wayne reminds me of me.”

(wikipedia)

While Bop Bee was halfway joking, I think there were similar qualities in the two: both were pro-armed forces (I’m not going to say pro-war, no one technically wants to go to war, but they supported those who honor the call; Bop-Bee fought in WWII), had high moral codes, were great card players, and both of them had a “coolness” about them that can’t be explained verbally, it had to be seen visually, in person.

Yet ,there was one more similar thing Bop-Bee had in common with John Wayne, but this time it was with one of his characters: flying a plane.

Bop-Bee in a Piper Cub Plane circa 1946-1949

I didn’t find out until my late teens, but Bop-Bee used to fly Piper Cub planes (1 passenger max plus the pilot) which is why I think he was drawn to the movie Island in the Sky, as he resonated with the Dooley character of flying such an intimate plane.  I always gravitate to compare Bop-Bee’s plane with the one in Island in the Sky rather than The High and Mighty (1954) or The Flying Tigers (1942), because Bop-Bee did not go see Flying Tigers in theaters (he was at war, and probably did not see the movie until years later on TV) and in H&M its the commercial airline sort of plane, something Bop-Bee never flew.

Both the Douglas C-47 used in the movie and the Piper Cubs were extensively used during WWII. Bop-Bee did not pilot planes in WWII, as he was an army infantryman, but he did fly after the war for a little while when he returned to Indiana. I bet in 1953 when going to see Island in the Sky in theaters, Bop-Bee was thrilled to see John Wayne flying a plane, probably excited to see him “do” something he did!!!

Oddly, I didn’t watch Island in the Sky for the first time until I was in my 20s, and viewed it a few years ago.  

Bop-Bee’s favorite star: Duke as Dooley and the Douglas C-47 Plane

Directed by William Wellman, Island in the Sky is the survivor movie in the Duke’s resume.  Usually I don’t enjoy survivor and rescue movies, but its John Wayne not only in the picture, but also behind the picture as this was one of his and Robert Fellows collaborations (a precursor to Batjac). The story is loosely based on the real life event of Ernest K Gann’s memoir Fate is the Hunter who also was involved with the writing of The High and Mighty.

Duke stars as Dooley, a former airlines pilot who flew supplies over the Atlantic during WWII. During a flight along with 4 crewmen: co-pilot Lovatt (Sean McClory), radio man D’Annunzia (Wally Cassell), navigator Murray (James Lydon), and engineer Stankowski (Hal Baylor) they are forced to make an emergency landing on a frigid lake on the border of two Canadian provinces: Quebec and Labrador. With limited supplies, limited communication devices, and the weather getting worse, its up to Dooley to keep his crew not only alive, but get them to work as a team so they all can be rescued.

When headquarters hears word, “Dooley is Down“, there is no shortage of searchers on the rescue team. To only name a few: Col. Fuller (Walter Abel) and his sergeant (Regis Toomey); as well as fellow pilots: Stuz (Lloyd Nolan), McMullen (James Arness), Moon (Andy Devine), Handy (Allyn Joslyn) and Fitch (Louis Jean Heydt) are all in on the search.

The movie has a great pace and it covers all the elements of a survival movie without tiring you out. You have the weather element, the guys arguing about whose ideas are better, the moments of hope and despair all equally and emotionally well played.

And not to mention the supporting cast is stellar. Aside from those I mentioned you also had: Harry Carey Jr, Paul Fix, Andy Devine, Bob Steele, Darryl Hickman, Gordon Jones, Carl “Alflafa” Switzer, Fess Parker, Mike “Touch” Connors and George Chandler. Add that on with John Wayne producing, its difficult to dislike the movie.

Surprisingly, Island in the Sky was out of circulation on home video and TV for nearly 2 decades until the officially licensed and restored DVD was released in 2005. It’s still pretty unknown by movie fans and even sometimes John Wayne fans, and I think its under-rated. It has Duke in a different but not so different role and its refreshing and fascinating to see his acting.

I can understand why Bop-Bee considered it to be one of his favorite non western JW movies, and I have to agree with him, as there is so much to adore about the movie. My biggest regret is not sitting down to watch this movie from start to finish with Bop-Bee when I was a child, but I think me watching the movie now and understanding it as an adult is more than satisfying. It still connects me to him even after he passed away- and that’s the most important thing of all.

The 7th Dawn (1964)(5th Golden Boy Blogathon)

(credit: Wikipedia)

SLIGHT Warning: Minor- non explicit spoilers in this write-up

The 7th Dawn (1964) was a bit of a surprise watch for me. Political intrigue is never something that draws me in, but what makes this one different is there is a slight war angle, as it’s set in Post WWII Malaya.  There’s also the element of the characters all being really fascinating and very three dimensional, all with their own motives. But really being real here, the main draw for me was Mr. William Holden, for if he wasn’t in it, I’m not sure I would have been interested.

Bill plays the role of Major Ferris-and yes, that’s his only name! After the war, still being stationed in Malaya, Ferris inherits a rubber plantation, while his lover Dhana (Capucine) becomes the head teacher of a school. Meanwhile old war chum, guerrilla fighter Ng (Tetsuro Tamba) heads to Moscow to get an “education”, and returns with an agenda: reform the country under an “independent” communist regime.

Although Ferris remains neutral with Ng as a former alley,  complications arise when Dhana is arrested and charged with treason for carrying explosives for insurgents. Ferris gets caught up in a love triangle with Dhana and Candace (Sussannah York), daughter of a British resident. It gets even twistier when Candace gets caught up with Ng and offers herself as a hostage. Ferris then has to make difficult decisions as he is given seven days to turn in Ng, in exchange for Dhana’s life.

Overall, I feel the characters as so closely intertwined it makes for compelling viewing, it just moves at a somewhat slow pace. There will be these really slow sequences of dialogue, bizarre establishing shots, and then fast paced action scenes. It’s a bit unbalanced, but what keeps you glued to the story is the characters.

Ferris is Bill Holden being Bill Holden: the all American man standing for truth, honor and integrity. He wants to do right by his values, but also is a loyal friend not wanting to hurt anyone, and that includes Ng. So many times I would think, here comes an all out fallout, when in reality you have to wait until the end to see the tension culminate between the two, leading to a payoff climax.

Love Triangle! (credit: Pintrest)

It’s also really delicious to see Bill play a love triangle with him being in the middle of it. I truly believed the triangle could have gone either way, and that was entirely refreshing. I think it’s safe to say Bill has some of the best romance scenes within this movie- and he’s had a bunch of them throughout his career!

Capucine really wowed me in this movie. So many times she plays the, “pretty”, girl but here she plays a serious role. I thought she played her part wonderfully, and I personally wanted her and Ferris together, as she was more mature than the young Candace. Speaking of Candace, I don’t want to rule out Susannah York’s part, as although she was the naive character, she really stepped up towards the latter half of the film, especially when Dhana is stuck in prison. York’s Candace really has the most growth and it’s cool to see.

Perhaps the coolest part of this movie is the production company of, “Holdean”, was Bill’s own. Combine that with the remarkable on location scenery, I will say this movie certainly warrants a watch. I personally have it in my collection and can admit, I’d be willing to revisit it maybe once a year. What could have been done better, however, was the run time, as you do feel all of the 123 minutes. It’s a long movie both by runtime standards and fatigue standards, but has a real payoff in the end; patience is key with this Lewis Gilbert directed flick.

Ng VS Ferris (credit: IMDB)

In the end, The 7th Dawn may be a long journey to take but its one you wanna take especially if you can have patience and genuinely care about the characters. Bill gets to play a really cool role and even travel on location- combining in this period of his life, two of his great passions: acting and traveling. Add on you’ve got romance, war/ battle scenes, drama, and even a dash of suspense, PLUS a sensational score by Riz Ortolani, you’ve got something for everyone; certainly a watchable, enjoyable movie.

Not the official trailer, but still good enough to get the idea!

This post was written for the 5th William Holden Golden Boy Blogathon April 15-17 2022, hosted by Ginnie of the Wonderful World of Cinema, Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood and me, Emily, of The Flapper Dame!

Day 1 of The 5th William Holden Golden Boy Blogathon

Day 1 of The 5th William Holden Golden Boy Blogathon has arrived!!! I’m gonna be your host all day today!! Please keep in mind tomorrow the 16th Ginnie at The Wonderful World of Cinema will be taking over, with Michaela at Love Letters to Old Hollywood taking the reins on the 17th and final day, Bill’s 104th birthday!!! 

Referencing one of my favorite Golden Holden movies Paris when it Sizzles (1964), “I love that face“.

Need some background music?

Personally I can’t wait to read all of your wonderful entries about this brilliant actor, human, conservationist and Golden Boy!!! To honor Bill is a joy and a privilege and I’m thrilled to have been able to join these two wonderful ladies in celebrating him!!!

Today’s Entries!

Realweegiemidget kicks things off with explaining her thoughts on Mr. Holden in 1978’s Fedora.

Silver Screenings chats about Bill’s sweet performance in a sour film, Our Town (1940).

The Stop Button takes an in depth look at Apartment for Peggy (1948).

MovieRob looks to the TV side of things by telling us his take on the 1973 mini series The Blue Knight.

Satin and Shadows shows up to discuss Bill in Sunset Boulevard (1950) and why she fell for him!

Pop Culture Reverie stops by to remind us of another of Bill’s TV ventures with 21 Hours at Munich (1976).

Be sure to check out the entries of Day 2 and also Day 3!!!

Stagecoach 1939: Forever the Original

This is written for the March 2022 Genre Grandeur hosted by Movie Rob with this month’s theme being Oscar winners and nominees.

(Filmzie)

Before beginning the article, with the 94th Oscars airing soon why not take this opportunity to check out Filmzie, a free streaming service available online and on the app, that currently is offering hidden Oscar winners and nominations. They are currently hosting semi forgotten short titles such as 1941’s Churchill’s Island , 1956’s A Chairy Tale, 1957’s City of Gold and many more!

Warning: Minor spoilers to follow!

When I first learned of the John Ford and John Wayne collaboration team when I was younger, there always seemed to be this age old debate when trying to figure out the best movie the pair did together: The Searchers or Stagecoach. Oddly, although I didn’t see these movies fully at that young age, I was more interested in saying, “Well what about She wore a Yellow Ribbon” because the VHS cover looked interesting or, “What about The Quiet Man” because I had heard it was a, “romance”, movie. I was less interested in two hardcore westerns, even though that’s exactly what the duo was legendary for.

Now that I’m older, and have seen these films many times each, I think I’m more inclined to say the best movie the pair made together is more so a 4-way battle of Stagecoach vs Searchers vs The Quiet Man vs The Man who Shot Liberty Valence. Yet, even with me making my claim for all these legendary movies, Stagecoach is where it all started, and without it, there is no Searchers, Quiet Man, or Liberty Valence.

Stagecoach (1939) is the ultimate example of perfect timing and careful planning to create a rousing success. It was the return to the western for John Ford, if you can believe it, as he hadn’t directed a western since a silent picture from 1926 called 3 Bad Men. While John Wayne had never really been away from the western, it was his return to John Ford, after nearly a decade away from each other professionally with their previous pairing being 1930’s Men Without Women (The Duke was only in a bit part!).

On top of those reunions, Stagecoach was also to be the reunion picture for the western genre and the audience, as the genre had fallen to B-movie filler and radio serial status. Despite the fact the simple story of Stagecoach would introduce nothing “new” to the western overall: 9 strangers gather together in a stagecoach, and it takes them on a journey that will change them by the end of it; what Ford did instead was elevate characters and stunt work to surprise the audience.

For instance, by then cliché characters like the drunk (Thomas Mitchell), the outlaw (John Wayne) and the prostitute (Claire Trevor) were all given layered backstories and behaviors: Doc the drunk ends up sobering up to deliver an officer’s wife’s (Louise Platt) baby, outlaw Ringo only killed to defend his family, and prostitute Dallas ends up being a great caretaker to the newborn baby when the mother falls ill. Other western staples like a carriage attack scene, chase on horseback sequence, and shootout scene were raised to new status when Ford employed the stunt coordination of actor Yakima Canutt (who also would also be a bit player within the film).

Take a look at the intricate carriage chase/ attack sequence, and the careful use of the cameras, actor placement, and rigging in order to pull of the very dangerous scene. There is no CGI, protective gear, or safety equipment; just perfect timing, knowing your marks, and a stuntman dedicated to the craft.

By the time the Oscars came around, Stagecoach would rack up 7 nominations winning two: Best Supporting Actor for Thomas Mitchell, and Best Music (scoring) for Richard Hageman, W. Franke Harling, John Leipold, and Leo Shuken. Most notable nominations include Best Director for Ford and Best Picture- both of which lost to Gone with the Wind.

Perhaps the biggest remembrance of Stagecoach was John Wayne becoming a mega star (despite not scoring an Oscar nom.) after working in movies for 13 years. Ford was very willing on reuniting with Duke, as the financial backer/ producer Walter Wanger wanted better-knowns Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper in the roles of Dallas and Ringo. To see his vision become reality, Ford sacrificed half the budget and did not give John Wayne top billing- small prices in my opinion!

The most under-rated John Wayne Leading Lady: Claire Trevor

In the end, I believe Stagecoach has lasted the test of time (although not without criticism of animal cruelty and treatment of Native Americans) and it will always be the touchstone for the western genre. A story of its journey has and will be told many times over, but not to the high caliber that Ford created.

Stagecoach was remade 27 years later in 1966, directed by Gordon Douglas with a star studded cast (Ann Margaret, Bing Crosby, Red Buttons, Stefanie Powers to name a few) and while I personally can’t speak for everyone, I have no desire to watch it and enjoy it. Out of shear curiosity if I ever do decide to watch it, I could only imagine myself hate watching it and longing to watch the original. I always have a stance that when you’re watching or listening to a remake movie or cover version song and you want the original, then the remake is no good to begin with.

What Ford crafted together was utter magic in 1939 and it’s still magic today 9 decades later in 2022. It will live forever in a moment in time in which people could believe in heroes again, and that will never go out style!  

5 Royal Biopics I can’t stand: Pick my Movie Tag 2


I was tagged by Reelweeggie Reviews with the “Pick My Movie Tag” to write about 5 Royal Biopics I can’t stand. The rules for this tag are as follows:

  • Nominate one or more people to review the film or films of your choice. Or you can request they review something from a certain year, genre, or star. Everyone can review the same thing, or you can request each person cover something different. As long as it’s something they haven’t written about yet, you’re good.
  • Nominees are allowed to request a different pick for whatever reason no more than five times. Stuff happens. We all know it.
  • Nominees must thank the person who nominated them and provide a link their blog.
  • Nominees may nominate others to keep the tag going. Picking the person who nominated them is allowed, or they can nominate someone else. Maybe both.
  • All participants need to include these rules in their post, whether they’re nominees or picking nominees.
  • All participants should use the “Pick My Movie” banner or something similar in their posts.
  • Have fun!

Before I name and pan the 5 biopics, I’d like to link some fun Oscar nominated shorts offered by Filmzie and their service. Filmzie is a free streaming service and it has recently launched in the US on Roku. It is available across the globe on a range of connected TVs, via its app, and though your web browser. They are currently offering the following Oscar nominated shorts for free with the links below:

Very Very Nice (1960) , Paddle to the Sea (1965), Pas de deux (1967), and Copy (1967)

Personally, embracing my inner Anglophile, I also see they are offering a range of Gordon Ramsay’s (my favorite chef!!) cooking shows including the UK versions of The F word, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape!

Changing the guard, I now present 5 royal biopics I can’t stand:

1- LifeTime TV’s William and Kate 2011. Starring Camilla Luddington (she’s from Berkshire like Kate!) and  Nico Evers-Swindell. LifeTime TV is always below par, but this is just plain embarrassing. Sure they shot on location, but they shot at Oxford University, not St. Andrews. Cheesy made up scenes like Kate and Will going out for a run with Will’s bodyguards having to keep up or Kate looking at cribs through a shop window leading to a rift and their breakup. The funny stand out scene is when Will jumps in the lake so he can swim out to Kate to, ‘win her back’, as she’s training for the 2007 charity Dragon Rowing Race. The proposal scene set in Africa was clearly green screen, making the backdrop super fake!


2: Hallmark’s William and Catherine: A Royal Romance 2011: (Starring Alice St. Clair, and Dan Amboyer as William and Catherine, Victor Garber as Prince Charles and Jane Alexander as Queen Elizabeth II). This aired on my 15th birthday (Aug 27)! I was really interested to watch at the time and while this one is better than LifeTime’s its still BAD. Kate meets William outside her dorm and drops her laundry- and gets embarrassed when he picks up her bra by accident – cringe! Also some blatant inaccuracies: Prince Harry at the Don’t Walk Fashion Show is a major one that comes to mind. Plus, a running theme of them calling each other Will and Kate at college, then when getting serious calling themselves William and Catherine. The other cringe-y running gag is the pair playing, “never have I ever“, a bit irritating after the first couple times they played it. One thing I will say that may date this production in an awful way, is there is a framing story arc of Diana’s 1995 Panorama interview being the, “advice“, for William as he’s preparing to propose to Kate.

3: Mary Queen of Scots 2018: Starring Margot Robie as Elizabeth I and Saoirse Ronan as Mary Queen of Scots . (I think I accidentally put 2013 on Twitter, but meant to put 2018). This movie was pretty lack luster, (and no, it didn’t bother me they had a fictional face to face meeting, as the 1971 film also had this occur), it didn’t have soul. While the costumes were great, the narrative was just plain boring. I saw it in theaters and I kept waiting for tension to come up between the two historical legends, and it never happened. While I don’t think we need to choose a, “side“, or a team, what does need to be recognized is there was legit ill-will between these two women. They were not trying to be friends or even family (as they are cousins: Mary Queen of Scots is a great granddaughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth is Henry VII’s granddaughter). I know it’s not common to have women be screen enemies these days, but when telling a historical story, the truth needs to be apparent. Thankfully for that reason, there are plenty of other options when it comes to these Queens!


4: Diana 2013: Starring Naomi Watts as Diana and Naveen Andrews as Hasnat Khan. I was a skeptic about this one to begin with, but it again had no feeling, no soul. The positive element were the costumes with Naomi looking physically spectacular, yet the script was garbage. If felt as if Naomi was doing an impression of Diana rather than an interpretation (Helen Mirren took the interpretation approach for her title role in The Queen). The romance with Khan was the center of this narrative, and we really don’t feel any other element that is Diana. We see her going to a charity ball, or going to the landmines, but she’s just there, present with no emotion attached.  Add on the bizarre pacing, editing, and bad music choices, this one was tough to sit through. It could be used as docu-drama with the visuals, but as a biopic, it was plain awful.


5: Spencer (2021): I admit I haven’t seen this one, but clips and trailers I have seen turn me off immediately, I wouldn’t mind catching it on tv or streaming (where I could fast forward), but instinctively know I would cringe. Kirsten Stewart as Diana is the first mistake. Of all the young women out there, she gets chosen to portray The Princess of Wales? I’ve never been a fan of Twilight (seriously, ask my Mom or Sister and they would tell you, “Emily wasn’t into it at all, even if her friends were, she never was“). The one alluring element is the fact Stella Gonet of House of Eliott fame is in this movie and she’s a very seasoned actress; it would be cool to see her play Queen Elizabeth II. Still, it just feels like it would be a terrible movie. (P.S. Does anyone else notice Diana’s hair is more bob like, rather than pixie like? IT BOTHERS ME!)

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, 5 royal biopics that I personally think are the worst of them out there. I think the key part to any biopic is respect to the real person/ people you are centering the narrative around and when you drop the ball on that, then the whole project falls apart.
Good or bad in execution, I will say royal biopics are always something to look forward to because it allows you to geek out over who- and what- looks right and what doesn’t, and that’s the super fun part!

Many thanks to ReelweegieMidget Reviews for nominating me! And also Thanks so much to Filmzie for providing the Oscar nom. shorts!!! Be sure to check them out!

Lastly, I’d like to pass the tag by nominating Phyllis Loves Classic Movies to write about 5 of her least favorite Hitchcock movies!

Announcing: The 5th Golden Boy Blogathon

It’s that time of the blogathon calendar to announce the 5th William Holden Golden Boy Blogathon!
2022 is the opportune time to bring back the Golden Boy we all know and love and I’m pleased to say that Ginnie (The Wonderful World of Cinema) has asked myself and Michaela (Love Letters to Old Hollywood) to again be her co-hosts!
The Blogathon will take place on April 15-17 2022, ending on Bill’s actual Birthday (can you believe he would be 104 this year!).

In case you need a refresher or forgot the guidelines they are as follows:

1- Choose a topic related to the Golden Boy! It can be anything about him as long as it is done with RESPECT

• Duplicates are allowed, but limit of two entries per blogger.
• Please submit your topic in the comments. and also provide the name of your blog and its URL. You can comment here on my blog or on Ginnie’s blog or Michaela’s blog.

2- Once you’re approved, feel free to promote the event by including one of the banners Ginnie so awesomely created on your blog / social media!

3- The blogathon will start  April 15, 2022, and end on April 17, 2022. You can submit your entrie(s) on any one of these dates! (late entries also accepted!)

4- We each are hosting a day. I am in charge of April 15; Ginnie is taking control on April 16, and Michaela will conclude the event on April 17 (aka Bill’s Birthday!)

Finally, please remember we will only be accepting new, unpublished material for this blogathon!

BANNERS

If you have any question, just ask!!!

Subjects already claimed twice:

The Roster of Who is Writing What!

The Flapper Dame – The 7th Dawn (1964)
The Wonderful World of Cinema – TBA
Love Letters to Old Hollywood – TBA

Realweegiemidget ReviewsFedora (1978)

The Stop Button – Apartment for Peggy (1948)

Shadows and Satin – Sunset Boulevard (1950)

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – Hollywood at Last (I Love Lucy episode)

Rick’s Real/Reel Life | William Holden’s Golden Year: 1950

DubsismThe Devil’s Brigade (1968)

Critica RetroThe Turning Point (1952)

Silver ScreeningsOur Town (1940)

Whimsically Classic – Force of Arms (1951)

Taking Up Room – The Horse Soldiers (1959)

The Classic Movie Muse – Born Yesterday (1950)

Movie Mom- Dear Ruth (1947)

Can’t wait to see the entries this year and all the love we have for the Golden Boy!!!!