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!!

Intermezzo (1939)

This entry is for Ginnie’s 5th Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon! Make sure to check out the other posts! (This article contains slight spoilers for Intermezzo 1939)

The 1939 American remake of the original 1936 Swedish film, Intermezzo, is significant for a few different reasons. First off, it was the American screen debut of Ingrid Bergman and secondly, it swayed leading man Leslie Howard to take the role of Ashley in Gone with the Wind (David O Selznick promised Howard the title of “Producer” for Intermezzo, for playing Ashley).

Intermezzo Poster

Intermezzo is similar to other stories of infidelity that played out in cinema at the time. Holger (Leslie), a married man with a son and daughter, falls unexpectedly in love with a beautiful woman, Anita (Ingrid). Torn between his wife, Margit (Edna Best), and family and the woman he has a love affair with, complications arise. It gets even more layered when Anita is the piano teacher to Holger’s daughter Ann Marie (Ann Todd), making Anita’s interaction with his family unavoidable.

Intermezzo'' 1939 | Ingrid Bergman, Leslie Howard | FILM~LIEBHABER | Flickr
(flickr) Howard and Bergman- Talent in a photo

Even though the basic plot is as old as storytelling itself, I truly believe it’s the natural connection Leslie and Ingrid have together that makes this film unforgettable. As a viewer, you care about the happiness of Ingrid and Leslie’s characters. You want them to be together no matter the difficulties they encounter. However at the same time, I personally believe because they don’t end up together, that’s what makes this film endure. Their passion leaves you longing for them and wishing this time you watch, they’ll be together!

I find it peculiar, at the time of release, many people thought Ingrid was speaking broken English throughout the movie, unable to understand her. I think that’s absolutely a weird thought, as she’s just speaking the way she speaks. Granted she was learning English, but there’s nothing wrong with her voice, its wonderful, it’s just Ingrid!

Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939) | Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982)… | Flickr
How could they think THIS BEAUTY needed tons of make-up?

Repeating a film role I think might have been tiring for Ingrid, given her quest to be a diverse actress always wanting different parts. Yet, on the flip side, it must have been extremely exciting for her to be making an American film. Even if she wasn’t completely content with repeating the part, she doesn’t give one inkling in her performance that this version was boring for her. Perhaps working in a new country, with new actors and crew members made an old role refreshing and exciting for her. I think that aspect is what really shines through in her acting in this film.

With Leslie Howard in a main role, as a true leading man, when I was younger I didnt see his appeal. I initially believed he was weird looking. Now watching him as I’m older, I get his appeal, as his personality and stage presence makes him a great leading man. I still don’t think he’s the most handsome, but its really the way he connects with his leading ladies and plays all types of scenes with such dignity that makes him truly amazing.  With Intermezzo you really get an understanding of Leslie as a leading man, even better than you do in Gone with the Wind, as here is THE leading man, not a supporting player.

Overall, Intermezzo may be overshadowed in Ingrid’s career due to the films that were to come for her. She went on to make a boatload of iconic films, and I feel sometimes this one gets lost in the shuffle, sadly. We can look at all her performances in Hollywood,  and they are so incredible, but we cant forget where her American career started, and re-watching Intermezzo should be a reminder for us all that she was already so delightful right from the get go. 

Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939) | Starring Leslie Howard & I… | Flickr
Ingrid was experienced but a newbie to Americans! No name above the title for her… YET!

Made for Each Other (1939)

This entry is for Movie Rob’s August Genre Grandeur: Medicine. Be sure to check out the other entries!

Made for Each Other- 1939- Poster.png

Made for Each Other may not have been happily received by audiences in 1939, but it’s one of those films that has aged nicely. Directed By John Cromwell and produced by David O Selznick, this dramedy stars Carole Lombard and James Stewart.

Upon initial release, audiences were probably shocked to find their favorite comedic actress Carole Lombard in a serious melodrama. Furthermore, James Stewart was still a new leading man, with this being one of his first parts with that title.

Made for Each Other
(TCM) Such Cuties!

The flick is similar in spirit to 1941’s Penny Serenade with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Its peculiar, as many will say they love Penny Serenade (myself included) but Made for Each Other is awkward, slow moving, and uncomfortable to watch. I whole hearted-ly disagree, as it contains a sweet sentimentality and it’s a real showcase for Carole to prove herself dramatically. Moreover, it demonstrates Jimmy Stewart has always been capable of being the leading man even in his early career.

Made for Each Other does not start off revolving around medicine, but in the end, the whole film revolves around health and the macguffin of “life saving medicine“.

It all begins very dandy- with Jane (Carole) and John Mason(James Stewart) marrying on a whim. John is a young lawyer with an unsympathetic boss (Charles Coburn), and a domineering mother (Lucile Watson). Jane is very supportive of her husband, even reluctantly giving up her honeymoon cruise due to John having a case. Soon enough the couple has a baby, John Jr, and they move in with John Sr.’s mother.

Made for Each Other (1939) Carole Lombard, James Stewart, Charles ...
Happy Family?

Naturally all sorts of problems ascend: John struggles to move up at the law firm when his co-worker, Carter (Donald Briggs), is promoted instead of him, Jane clashes with her mother-in-law, and financial burden causes stress in the marriage. But the main conflict occurs when Baby John falls ill on New Year’s Eve. To save the baby’s life, it all comes down to the plane delivery of life saving medical serum.

There is no explanation of the serum will do, what it made of or anything of the sort- it just helps to save lives! And it’s a race against the clock, as the doctor says “every hour counts”.

Carole Lombard: Dramatic Actress

The scene in which Jane is at the hospital, and sees the doctors pick up the oxygen tank is both over played and brilliant. Carole is brilliant at being distraught. She emotes such a rawness that can’t be seen in any other picture. On the flip side however, you can tell she’s over acting, and is somewhat uncomfortable with she’s trying to play out. I personally think Carole did her best, considering she wasn’t used to playing serious drama.

As for James Stewart’s performance in this picture, it may sound cliche, but I declare he’s a natural. He plays the drama so well, no over acting and you feel his range of emotion. Sometimes you can’t describe what makes James Stewart so great, you just have to watch him.

Overall, Made for Each Other is a fantastic example of what makes melodrama fun to watch. It’s just wonderful to watch Carole and Jimmy Stewart together, and you can tell they genuinely adore working together. The plot may be a bit far fetched, but what plot in melodrama isn’t? 

Made for Each Other (1939) is in the public domain and is available to watch on YouTube!

My Top 15 Favorite John Wayne Movies

In today’s world the western is pretty much dead, the war movie has become boring, and leading men don’t come around like they used to. Movies to lift people’s spirits have always been a go-to, and John Wayne now more than ever needs a refreshing in people’s minds. So without further ado, I present to you 15 of my favorite John Wayne movies! (Note: I still feel I am missing some of the greats! But I wanted to keep this relatively short and sweet!!)

15 The Green Berets (1968)- This one makes my list because John Wayne wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes in. He supported the troops no matter what and this film is proof of it. Aside from that, this is the granddaddy of all Vietnam war movies.  And Uncle Allen- The helicopter sequence really isn’t that bad! It’s pretty well shot for 1968!!

14 Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) Uncle Allen once said to me, “You’re  my niece so you have to see [this one].” With that I knew I had to watch, and ordered it the next day after seeing him. When I finally did watch it- Uncle Allen was right, this is one of John Wayne’s essential roles. A must see world war II movie.

13 Island in the Sky (1953)- This one I know was one of my Grandfather’s favorite John Wayne movies. Maybe because in it, John Wayne flies a small plane and is a civilian pilot (something which my Grandfather once did!). This is a different kind of film John Wayne did, but it fits his style of storytelling all at the same time.

12 The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)- I know this one has its criticisms, but I truly enjoy the picture. No one should really care if the ages of the 4 Elder boys don’t mathematically make sense. Isn’t it cool that in an alternate world John Wayne and Dean Martian are brothers?

11 Hondo (1953)- Another one of my Grandfather’s favorites, this movie is such a well told story. When I was little I saw a collie dog on the DVD cover and decided it had to be good movie because A- Bop-Bee (the name I called my Grandfather)  liked it and B- There was a dog involved! Years later I watched this fully through and said to myself- I knew as a kid I had a good eye for a good movie!

10 True Grit (1969) Duke won his Oscar- but that’s not the only reason to love this movie. This movie has the best characters who bring out the most in a simple plot. Plus, I believe Duke really got to have fun with this character- being brass and unpolished, yet still being heroic and cool! I saw this on the big screen in May 2019.

9 The Cowboys (1972) I honestly don’t understand some of the negative comments surrounding this movie. This one is one of the most essential John Wayne flicks. The whole point of the film is the teachings of young boys becoming men and who better to do that than John Wayne himself? Personally, I see striking parallels to Red River present in this movie!

8 She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)- This movie has to contain some of the best use of technicolor on film. It’s the first time ever audiences are Monument Valley in color and what a breathtaking sight it is. John Wayne really proves he is an actor here as he plays a role of a much older person than he actually was.

7 Big Jake (1971)- This movie is close to the hearts of both Patrick and Ethan Wayne- and that’s more than enough for me. Anytime Duke used his family on screen- it’s just really fun. How could you not enjoy the interaction of Patrick and Duke’s characters!!! And it’s awesome to see little Ethan Wayne get some action in the final shootout.

6 Rio Grande (1950)- Its hard to believe John Ford didn’t care about making this movie due to the fact this was essentially an insurance policy for the anticipated fail of The Quiet Man. Yet it’s still such a fine film. Honestly, I love the addition of the “Regimental Singers” (the Sons of Pioneers in real life), and get their songs stuck in my head all the time!

5 The Horse Soldiers (1959)- This is probably the curve ball in my list. Its B grade John Ford- but still a solid Ford. It’s a well made movie considering Ford lost 2 of his stuntmen in a river crossing scene (which affected him deeply, causing him to not care about making the movie) Plus, I love Bill Holden, and for me to see two of my favorite actors ever appear side by side on screen is really awesome!

4 The Shootist (1976)- I hope I’m understood when I say I have to prepare myself before I sit down to watch this movie. It’s such a perfect send off to the Duke’s legacy on screen, making it so emotional. I told my Mom the next time it’s on the big screen, we are going to see it. She then said, “Yes we will, but I’m telling you now, I’m gonna cry.”

3 McLintock! (1963)- it has been said this movie showcases John Wayne’s sense of humor. In addition, it’s basically a Wayne family affair- With Patrick co starring, Micheal producing, and Aissa with a bit part. Add Maureen O’Hara and its perfection. The stairs scene gets me every time!!!!!

2 The Searchers (1956)- I feel like I’m cheating by putting this one down, as it may be too easy. In fact I can’t even call this a number 2 when it’s my favorite John Wayne WESTERN, therefore it is number 1. It is my great hope this movie will still be considered timeless as the world moves into the future. I consider myself forever lucky to have watched this film on the big screen, and in the presence of Lana Wood (young Debbie in the film and Natalie’s sister) in September 2016.

1 The Quiet Man (1952)- This would be my favorite non-western John Wayne did. Again it may be too easy. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I think it’s really sweet to see Duke play a romantic-comedy lead, of course with Maureen O’Hara! I saw it on the big screen in March 2019- and it was just utterly fantastic! And even more romantic on the big screen! 

In my world, John Wayne will always be a hero to admire. He was not a perfect human, but who was? As an immigrant and naturalized citizen of The United States, I truly believe John Wayne is an American Icon; one whose image will last forever.

Broadway Blogthon- Rent (2005)

RENT is a rock musical with the lyrics and music written by ...

Thanks to Taking up Room for hosting the Broadway Bound Blogathon and Check out the other posts!

Rent the musical may start off as a bunch of bohemian friends struggling to make ends meet, but beneath it all, it’s truly a human story about love, loss, and life.
Based on a 1896 play called La Boheme, Rent is not only Jonathan Larson’s sole work, but his life’s legacy.
The musical Rent has been around as long as I have, since 1996. However, the musical didn’t come into my life until the film version was made in 2005. The film version has 6 of the 8 principles from Broadway with only the Mimi and Joanne characters being recast.

The film, for the most part, is faithful to the play, with only the removal of one song (Contact), and much of the narration from the script was turned into dialogue. Rent begins on Christmas Eve 1989, with filmmaker Mark (Anthony Rapp) and his best friend, musician Roger (Adam Pascal) struggling to light and heat their apartment. Mark is getting over his ex-girlfriend, Maureen (Idina Menzel) leaving him for a lawyer, Joanne (Tracie Thoms), while Roger is coming off of half a year’s withdrawal. Roger is also struggling with his HIV positive diagnosis, and the death of his girlfriend, April. Meanwhile the guys pal, college teacher, Tom Collins (Jesse L Martin) is back in town and their landlord/ former friend, Benny (Taye Diggs) is about to turn of their power, demanding they pay last year’s rent after letting them slide.

They ARE NOT Gonna pay RENT!

On the way to the apartment, Collins is beat down, only to be helped back on his feet by street drummer and drag queen Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia). Its also on this Christmas Eve, Roger meets his neighbor, exotic dancer Mimi (Rosario Dawson), who like him (and also Angel and Collins) is HIV positive.

From here on out, the narrative follows the group of friends for a year in their life.

Tonight's Movie: Rent | The Love Pirate
The famous La Boheme scene! Note: Poor Mark!


The film itself is very long for a musical movie, over 2 hours, but in reality it goes extremely fast due to its soundtrack. Some songs flow straight into each other, such as One Song Glory going into Light My Candle.

I have fond memories of just listening to the soundtrack in the car over and over again as we drove from my hometown in IL to Hammond, IN where my grandparents lived. My family and I would go over every weekend, and we practiced that routine for two years from 2005-2007. Needless to say I learned the soundtrack really quickly. I sang along in my head to all the tunes- even if maybe the lyrics weren’t suited for a 9-11 year old. My favorite song was most certainly “What You Own”, and Adam Pascal’s heartfelt “One Song Glory”. In fact, all because of Adam Pascal’s voice I developed a crush on him. I didn’t even know what he physically looked like, I just knew I had a crush on him regardless. When I finally saw his picture in a Rent book, I was a bit shocked at his appearance, but I didn’t care, I was just happy to match his voice to his face.

Adam Pascal as Roger in RENT | Rent musical, School of rock ...
Adam as Roger. At age 9, I had a super crush… on his voice!


I find it to be a striking parallel Rent came into my life at a time of personal loss. My Grandma unexpectedly passed away at the end of 2005, and all of a sudden, the constant soundtrack in my life were songs about “measuring life in love” and living life without specific people in it. Looking back I can say the soundtrack was certainly part of the healing process, and perfectly captured what I and my family were feeling.
Today I feel the Rent soundtrack is very much embedded in my soundtrack of life. I think it’s got the catchiest songs and once they enter your life, they don’t leave your life. Rent will forever be a relatable and emphatical story because it’s a human story with universal appeal.
Especially in today’s new world, its crucial to keep in mind the values Rent teaches us: no day but today

ANTHONY AND ADAM: MAGIC!!

KISS Meets the Phantom of The Park (1978)

This entry is for the Pop Stars Blogathon (NOTE: KISS are ROCK stars, but this entry was deemed acceptable for the theme!) hosted by Real Weegie midget.

It’s almost as if I was destined to be a KISS fan, as I was born in 1996, the year KISS reunited with the original four- and officially became a fan in 1998, thanks to my Mom, a fan since the 70’s.

With the band currently on their, “End of the Road Final Tour Ever” (note- my Mom saw them on their 2000 “Farewell” tour… so…), I decided to review the 1978 made for TV movie: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park aka KISS in Attack of the Phantoms in Europe. Their are slight differences to the versions, with the most noticeable difference for the Attack version being the inclusion of the band’s 1978 solo albums as part of the film’s soundtrack.

The plot of the movie is wacky, but it goes as so: Due to the KISS concert at Magic Mountain, engineer Abner Devereaux (Anthony Zerbe) is jealous because the band is stealing attention from his attractions. Once he is wrongly blamed for a ride breakdown, park manager Calvin Richards (Carmine Caridi) fires him. To get back at KISS, Devereaux mind controls park employee Sam (Terry Lester) to steal KISS’s magical talisman that give them superpowers. Meanwhile, Sam’s girlfriend Melissa (Deborah Ryan), is worried and after their show asks KISS for help to find Sam. But when a Gene Simmons clone wreaks havoc on the park, and KISS clones show up for their concert instead, while the real KISS is imprisoned and weakened; it’s up to KISS to escape, regain their powers, take down Devereaux and their clones, save Sam, and do it in time to put on the concert their fans deserve!!!

Many fans incuding myself, believe this to be an ultimate Rock-Star shot of the group

Originally described as A Hard Day’s Night meets Star Wars, there were many factors that initially made this movie seem like it would be the ultimate KISS fan’s dream: it was being filmed on location at Magic Mountain, it was backed by Hanna-Barbera productions, KISS was at the height of their popularity, PLUS a real concert attended by fans was going to be filmed and placed in the movie!!!!

However, behind the scenes, things were seriously going wrong. For one, none of the members of KISS could act, it showed, and the script went through countless rewrites, which, in turn translated to the screen. Secondly, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley were dealing with substance abuse; with Criss getting into a car accident with the band’s tour manager on the final day of filming (and true to his Catman ways, came through with minor injuries).

Then, there’s the obvious stunt doubles and of course, the now urban legend of Peter not showing up for ADR sessions resulting in the voice dubbing with Michael Bell. (I, as well as my Mom, personally believe Peter did some, as his voice can be heard in certain scenes, not counting the Beth scene. Just hear the line: “We’re just ordinary human beings” and THAT’S PETER!!!).

Production issues aside, the magic touch of this film certainly HAS to be the fact this movie is all about KISS. To see the original four playing at the concert is a real thrill and time capsule moment in KISSTORY. The music makes the movie in this case, with many songs from the band’s catalouge being used as well as in the Attack version, multiple songs from each of their individual 1978 solo albums (a highlight: Ace’s New York Groove being played during the second fight sequence: complete with Frehley flips!!!!).

Speaking as a KISS fan and a movie fan, I say this movie is still best (because you wanted the best!!!). So what if Paul Stanley’s “magic eye” laser looks fake- it’s only something he as the Starchild could pull off.  Gene Simmons’s voice was ridiculously altered to play up his Demon persona- but he makes it cool.  And even though Peter’s stunt double is especially noticeable – it’s still awesome to know the Catman has enhanced jumping abilities!!!

And of course I have to mention Ace’s ACK! (sorry Mom!! HAHAHA!) I think it’s hysterical and makes the movie extra legendary and funny! Only Space-Ace can make something so pointless and dumb so likable and iconic! It may have caused problems on set, as Ace was originally only supposed to say Ack! the whole movie- (he threatened to leave if real dialogue wasn’t written for him)- but it’s ironic because that’s what he would say in real life when writers were trying to write material around his personality.  

Image result for kiss talisman
The humming noise you hear is Beethoven’s Fifth

Today, the film is a real fan favorite and a true cult film. It’s just super fun for KISS fans, 1970’s film fans, and music fans alike to just enjoy the film for what it is: a cheesy, funny, entertaining film involving KISS.  I admit I was laughing- but in a lovable manner. Even KISS has gotten over the initial embarrassment (it being known that for years, KISS employees were not allowed to mention the film in any of the band’s members’ presence) with Ace later stating it was “tons of fun” to film. As my mom says, “This movie is so hokey, but I love it!!”

Farewell?! KISS! We’ll always have the Phantom (and your music… and the dvds… and the action figures… and all the other kollectibles! !!)

Key Largo (1948)

Key largo [1948] is best known for being the fourth and final pairing of legendary couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It’s based off the play of the same name, telling a story of a hurricane trapping a dysfunctional group of people in a hotel. It may seem very archetypal by today’s standards, but it’s the group of actors playing the characters that gives way for repeated viewings. Co-starring Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore and Claire Trevor in an Oscar winning role, this film does have something for everyone- and provides a thrilling study in supporting characters.

Image result for key largo 1948

The first time I ever saw Key Largo, I didn’t care for it. I found it to be slightly over rated, and I didn’t particularly care for the characters. The one scene I found to be disjointed was when Edward G. Robinson’s Johnny Rocco kisses Nora Temple (Bacall), and that one specific scene set me on a path of believing this film is not for me.

However, after chatting about this film with a former teacher- turned friend of mine (our families are good friends), I realized this film actually isn’t all that bad- it’s just a very, very Bogart style film. When I say Bogart film, I mean it’s the type of film that you’d expect Bogart to be in. Everything about this film is tailored to being in Bogart’s taste: director John Huston, wife Lauren Bacall, co-star Edward G. Robinson, even the presence of his beloved boat and his love for the sea.

Image result for key largo 1948 cast

And then we have scene stealer Claire Trevor, playing Gaye Dawn, whose performance of Moanin’ Low is in part what makes this film unforgettable. Trevor’s character is the most complex of them all, and I can see how she reminded audiences that she could still be a commanding presence on screen. No longer the leading lady, but 100% capturing your attention: she does exactly that and more in this movie.

You can’t help but cringe a little when you hear Gaye Dawn sing Moanin’ Low, but that’s exactly what you should be doing.  Its one of those so bad it’s good performances, and one you certainly cant look away from. Many believe that it was that scene alone  which secured Trevor’s Oscar win; and while I’m not sure about that, it’s absolutely iconic (and NOT lip synced).

Key Largo is one of of those movies where the supporting characters take over from the two leads. Yes- you know Bogie and Bacall will end up together, you of course root for them two. However, you wonder more about the side characters- What are Johnny Rocco’s real motives, what makes Gaye stay around him even though shes considered his “ex-moll”, and even Nora’s connection with father-in-law James is puzzling.

Overall, I myself am still coming to terms with how I receive Key Largo. It’s still not an all time favorite of mine, but I’m coming around to seeing the brilliance of it: and Claire Trevor is certainly a major part of that!

BE sure to check out other entries for the Claire Trevor Blogathon! Thanks to the lovely Ginnie for hosting!

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Re-Review: Mister Roberts

Hey everyone I am so glad to be doing my first blogathon of the year (and decade) and there is no better way to start a new decade than to re-do a review of one of my favorite films 1955’s Mister Roberts. Be sure to check out the Out to the Sea Blogathon, and thanks to Moon in Gemini for Hosting!

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When I first reviewed Mister Roberts I was so fresh to film blogging and while its, well OK, I wanted to take this opportunity and re-do it.

Mister Roberts is based of the Broadway play of the same name in which the ship Reluctant (or The Bucket) is stuck on the Pacific Ocean during the end of World War II. The members on board are getting bored, but are never out of eye of the tight supervision of the Captain. With its colorful crew of clashing personalities, hilarious hi-jinks inevitably occurs.

Mister Roberts has a fascinating behind the scenes story: 2 (technically 3, with Joshua Logan un-credited) directors, a fallout and end of one of the most successful actor-director collaborations, a film that has viewers wondering who directed what; and yet against all odds- it’s a film that is so well done. And I mean everything from the stage to screen adaption, to the wonderful performances, right down to the humorous tone is just so delightful to watch.

The most defying element about this film is the success it had when John Ford stepped down as director and Mervyn Leroy took over. I declare we will never know the exact reason why Ford was replaced: there are reports of an emergency gallbladder surgery, and the punching Henry Fonda incident (maybe its both). If it were any other film, Ford’s departure would make it a failure, but what saved Mister Robets from failing was A- The source material and B- the cast- which just proved how crucial their casting was.

The cast is perhaps the best thing about this film: Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, William Powell, and James Cagney (not to mention Ford stock regulars Ward Bond and Harey Carey Jr) are all just so electrifyingly perfect. They gel in a way that one might not expect, as all of these men were used to being the leading man in their pictures. Their camaraderie on set as evidenced by this picture really translated to their roles and you really believe these guys are all stuck on a ship together.

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I for one love the scene in which Doc (Powell) helps Pulver (Lemmon) make homemade scotch to impress the nurses- who else would be able to do that other than Mr. Nick Charles himself!!! I smile about it every time I watch it, and it’s a nice little callback to Powell’s most famous role. Moreover, who could forget Patrick Wayne’s small but memorable role of young recruit Booksy- I admit the first time I watched I didn’t realize it was Patrick, he was so young; this was even before The Searchers and I failed recognize him!!!

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Doc “Nick Charles” making Scotch.. What Else!?

And then there is the plant gag: that stupid but beloved plant just gives the movie an unexpected funny edge. Every time that plant gets tossed, I just can’t help but laugh, and watching Cagney’s reaction is equally as amusing. Of course, I can’t forget Mr Henry Fonda: no one but him could have played this role, and I cant believe he almost didn’t reprise this role. I don’t even wanna think about him being replaced with Marlon Brando or William Holden (Still love ya Bill!). Fonda holds the film together with Mister Roberts being the go to guy for all the characters. The ending scene with the crew gathered round to read his letter gets me emotional no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

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The Captain with his Pride and Joy

Moreover, what’s also great about this film is that it’s a ‘war movie’ for people who don’t like war movies. Not one battle scene or dipiction of gruesome imagery exists in this film, and I wish more movies could be done in this manner. It’s all about context and atmosphere of war and not necessarily what you see, but what you feel.

Overall, on a personal level, I cant get enough of this film. I don’t care is it’s not “John Ford” enough for a John Ford film: it’s just a darn good movie that deserves multiple viewings. The cast is perfect and the humor is impeccably on point. There isn’t another film quite like it out there and I am glad that in a sea of movies, it stands out in the crowd.

Book Review: The Girl From Hollywood (1923)

Happy New Year to you all and welcome back to the Roaring Twenties!! While the 2020s will certainly be far different from the 1920s- I for one am gonna do my best to make the 2020s have a touch of 1920s flair and style.

With the generosity of LARB Books, I have the opportunity to do a authentic 1920s book review with The Girl from Hollywood by Edgar Rice Burroughs (best known for his Tarzan works). Written in 1922 in Munsey’s Magazine but published in 1923 in novel form, this story tells the tale of the Penningtons-  a brother and sister, Eva and Custer- who live on a ranch in California. It also involves characters such as  fallen actress Shannon Burke, and the Penningtons neighbors/ friends Grace and Guy Evans- another brother sister duo. Other characters include Wilson Crumb, a Hollywood director-actor and Slick Allen, a ranch hand for the Penningtons.

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The original book cover (Wikipedia)

At first I glance, I was shocked to discover this was never adapted into a movie, then began reading it and knew why: this novel has absolutely no likable character. Even though that description has perfect workings for a noir film, I then realized there would be no way to film the novel under the production code without completely altering the plot. Perhaps now that its nearly 100 years later, Hollywood producers should look at this as a possible adaption- at least it would be something never before seen!

Personally, the more I read this book, the more I disliked this book- and not due to the content (drugs, bootlegging, sexual favors for career advancement) it was just more and more despicable as the narrative went on. It then hit me that not even the plot could carry the novel, as if I don’t care about the characters, how could I care about the plot?

As mentioned, all characters in the novel are completely terrible- they all make bad decisions, and none of them have redeeming qualities. For instance, although Shannon has a “past”, she starts off as being very likable: refusing to sleep with bigwig for better parts. You even feel bad for her after she’s drugged by Wilson Crumb and becomes addicted to cocaine, however, she then loses her appeal when she becomes a drug dealer herself.

Other characters demonstrate the mold for many characters to come in both movies and books: Wilson Crumb is the typical scum in Hollywood, the one who is majorly successful by screwing over everyone else. Guy is the archetype drunk bootlegger character who tries to come out of it, but fails in in the end. Meanwhile, Grace is the young underdog who struggles to get roles, but gets herself tangled in the web. Cuter starts off as the wronged man, only to become what he was accused of. And Eva- while she is a bit of a side character, she sadly gets downgraded to that of plot device.

Overall, this novel really shows the dark side of the era, with taboo subjects and tragic endings. It reminds us that while the 1920s were liberating and free, it wasn’t immune from problems.

I would like to thank Alice from Coriolis and LARB books for sending me an e-copy of this novel. All opinions are my own and if you would like to learn more about LARB Books publication please click here.

The LARB Books edition (LARB Books)

Meet me in Monaco 5th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon

For the Grace Kelly Blogathon this year, I wanted to do something a bit special and review a recently published novel involving her called Meet me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.

Meet Me In Monaco

I was a bit skeptical about reading the book, as I didn’t particularly enjoy Ms. Gaynor’s novel, The Girl from the Savoy but there was something that magnetized me into reading this novel: The presence of Grace Kelly.

Meet me in Monaco is set against the 1950s French Riviera. Our main character Sophie is a perfumer who learned the trade from her beloved, but deceased father, while the leading man is James (Jim) Henderson, a British photographer who is re-adjusting to life after WWII. It’s a chance first meeting for Sophie and James when Grace Kelly hides in Sophie’s shop trying to evade the paparazzi- and it sets off a chain of events that connect these three characters for over 30 years. 

The narrative in the book begins during the 1955 Cannes Film Festival with the main portion taking place during 1956 with Grace’s courtship and wedding to Prince Rainier. Grace fans are in for a real treat as several things are mentioned that her fans will get a kick out of: her dog Oliver (a gift from Mr Cary Grant!), her taste in French perfume, the first meeting of Rainier, and even the voyage to Monaco. However, readers will also come to love the fictional characters in this novel that really drive the romance plot. James to me, in my view of fictional characters, is the dream guy- a British photographer who’s a romantic at heart. He’s a WWII vet and there’s a bit of a backstory with that along with his ex-wife, Marjorie, and his daughter whom he adores (Her name is Emily- so personally, that was awesome). Sophie was also a likable character and someone you can identify with; I just wish she would have been more courageous at making some business decisions. However, what I enjoyed most about her was that she always kept her father’s memory alive- it was sweet that whenever she was down, she always remembered his advice.

What makes this book believable is the focus is not on Grace Kelly. We are not getting the inside details of her voyage to Monaco or her wedding plans, rather we are hearing about it through the perspective of the main characters. This style of writing makes Grace’s presence very real. Because she only pops up in person about 4 times, the reader becomes just as excited to see her as James and Sophie do. Its really fun too because there are some passages that appear in letter or telegram style. There’s even a few magazine and newpaper sections written in the book, and that makes it really authentic.

SLIGHT SPOILER: The one problem I have with the novel is the 26 year time jump. There are so many questions that never get answered because of this, and it makes the ultimate ending feel short changed.

Meet me in Monaco was given a bunch of accolades this year with a reviewer calling it a “French bon-bon of a book”. I can’t say I argue and even if your not into “lite” historical fiction books, you can appreciate the Grace Kelly connection. It’s  a very breezy read and just an overall cute book!

Click here to go to the Author’s website and learn more about the book!

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Be sure to check out my co-hosts pages of Day 2 and Day 3 and check out Day 1 of the Grace Kelly Blogathon! I want to thank Ginnie for hosting and coming up with this marvelous event! I am always happy to be invited to co-host with you! To Samantha- It was so fun joining you this year for this event! I love being part of this with you two fabulous ladies and I say it every year, but I truly believe Grace Kelly would be flattered with all of the love!!

And to all my readers and fellow writers- Thanks again so much for participating. Without the audience there is no reason for me to write- you all keep me going!!!