This entry is written for the December 2022 Genre Grandeur of Santa Claus in movies hosted by MovieRob.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) for me is probably my all time favorite Christmas special (different from movies, right?!). I can’t tell you exactly the first time I ever saw it, all I know is I can’t ever remember a Christmas in which I didn’t watch it. Every year no matter what I have to make sure I watch it, along with A Christmas Story (1983) (which is on my top Chirstmas movies of all time list).
Rudolph is the first Christmas feature from the Rankin/Bass studio (which was known as Videocraft International Ltd. at the time of release), and it set the precedent for the specials that would follow including 1969’s Frosty the Snowman and 1970’s Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.
For me and for a majority of the people watching, the “animagic” style is probably what caught our eye as kids. The unique movements of the puppets (who are actually made out of wood, not clay) was just so magical to watch, and its not something that ever wears off. Secondly, the characters whom of which we think we know, but not really know, because they are all given depth to their cliche Christmas personalities.
Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives) moving through the snow at the beginning of the special immediately captivates you, and you just find him to be a cool character. Santa cutting a skinny figure at the start was a bizarre image, yet you wanted to find out more about how he gets to be the fat man we all know. Hermey, an eccentric but lovable elf does not enjoy making toys, and you want to discover what he actually does want to do (by the way, any Beach Boys fans out there thinking Al Jardine was an inspiration for Hermey?). And of course our hero Rudolph, who shows us being a misfit isn’t a negative, rather it makes you stand out in a positive way.
For my Mom personally, her all time favorite moment that will bring her to tears every single time she sees it is the moment Santa asks Rudolph to guide his sleigh. Christmas season 2022, I watched with her, and when the scene played I looked over and saw her tearing up, but it’s always in the most sentimental and sweetest way. She says it just brings her back to being a kid, and that magic of Christmas- I can’t disagree with her!
A number of years back, Build-a-Bear toys had the Rudolph and Clarisse plushes for sale along with extras, they sold: Hermy, Ykon, the spotted elephant, Charlie in the box, the Dolly for Sue. For Christmas my dad, sister, and I picked them all up for my Mom and she puts them out every year. A couple years later, Build- a-Bear released the Bumble plush and we also picked that up for my Mother because, simply she needed the whole collection!
As I type this review, Christmas has passed, but the next Christmastime is always around the corner, and Christmas in July is even sooner than we think! No matter though, I can guarantee you Rudolph will be on my Christmas watch list.
Hi all! It’s been a while since I’ve done ANY post not related to a Blogathon, or a Genre Grandeur. Sometimes the world of being creative puts you in a funk, and you do other things. I started talking about Classic Rock (I’m talking KISS, AC/DC, Def Leppard, etc) on YouTube and its really fun! But Classic Film Blogging has always been my real first love in terms of creatively. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon!! (In fact I think doing music reviews has helped me in terms of doing movie reviews)
So for my first original post in a great while, because I’ve just lately been re-watching a lot of their movies, I’ve decided to do MY ranking of all 10 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. Honestly I’m not a big fan of movie musicals, but something about Fred and Ginger’s just make me enjoy them. For one, its not so much of a spectacle, its more about the intimacy of the two dancing, which you don’t get in something like Singin’ in the Rain (1952).
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made 10 movies in their film careers together. To summarize: Fred was born in 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska, and Ginger was born in 1911 in Independence, Missouri. Fred grew up performing in vaudeville with his sister Adele and they eventually went professional on Broadway, while Ginger at age 14 won a Texas state Charleston competition that won her a spot on the vaudeville circuit. She too eventually went to Broadway. Fred and Ginger first met in 1930 in New York for Girl Crazy: Ginger was the lead, Fred was brought in to help out with the choreography. It was confirmed by Ginger in her 1991 memoir the two dated for a brief spell in New York.
Eventually both of them went to Hollywood and the rest is history. The pair made 9 films in the 1930s at RKO Studios and then made one more movie in 1949 for MGM studios. While critics and fans have their mixed opinions on what is best and what’s not best, I will admit myself I don’t always agree, and want to voice my own opinion in such rankings.
Without further ado, I present to you, my Emily aka The Flapper Dame’s rankings of all 10 Astaire-Rogers Movies (warning minor spoilers ahead) :
10 Roberta (1935): The third pairing for the two, and they are supporting characters in the narrative! This movie is difficult to watch because its so boring. Fred and Ginger dancing saves it (Lovely to Look At is very romantic, plus Ginger’s black dress is amazing!)- as does the presence of Irene Dunne but other than that- it has so many songs. Irene Dunne sings some operatic style numbers and it kills the pacing. I do LOVE Irene Dunne- but more so the comedic side of her acting. Plus if you’re looking for Fred and Ginger doing what they do best, this whole movie has too many supporting characters. Worth a look but don’t be alarmed if you find yourself looking at your phone or using the remote to either mute the opera singing and/ or fast forwarding the movie.
9: Flying Down To Rio (1933): Their first movie ever they made together, so its famous for that, but for my personal taste it has too much Busby Berkeley influence, and is not really done to the Astaire-Rogers style. That being said, if you enjoy Busby Berkeley’s work, then this movie may work for you. Fred and Ginger play supporting characters to Delores del Rio and Gene Raymond, and have one magical dance number that changed everything: The Carioca. If not for that dance, Astaire and Rogers would not have been together, so that’s simply why I can’t rank this movie as dead last. Overall, an interesting look at pre-code Fred, Ginger, Delores del Rio, and Gene Raymond as performers. Ginger also sings Music Makes Me– and she was super sweet while doing it, so points for that as well!
8: Follow the Fleet (1936). The fifth movie made in the series, Follow the Fleet has 3 things going for it: the music, the costumes, and the dancing. That’s it. Its slow in terms of storytelling and has Harriet Hillard playing the forgettable part of Ginger’s sister, Connie. While the duel romance plot with Bake and Sherry (Fred and Ginger) and Connie and Bilge (Hillard and Randolph Scott) was supposed to be fun, its boring and you don’t spend enough time with either couple long enough for it to be super cute. Still, Follow the Fleet has the standards Let Yourself Go and Let’s Face the Music and Dance. Its worth a watch for sure, but keep the remote nearby to fast forward.
7 The Gay Divorcee (1934): Although their second movie, its their first real starring movie based on the Broadway play The Gay Divorce (which Fred starred in). In all honesty, I have to be really in the mood to watch this movie all because of the over stretched 17 minute number called The Continental. While I do say Fred and Ginger are super charming while dancing the number and they do sell the romance in their gestures towards each other, all of the in-betweens and cuts to excess dancers is over long and does drag out. With all that being said: Fred is too too cute for words in his pursuit of Ginger all throughout this movie. He is relentless in his flirting, his willingness to protect her from the co-respondent, his constant asking of her to dance with him. I don’t think he is more adorable in any other movie as he is here. And don’t forget the Night and Day number which is Fred and Ginger’s first real romantic dance!
6: Top Hat (1935): Top Hat, number five, has the famous Cheek to Cheek number in it. The art-deco Venice set is also spectacular that it basically transforms you to a magical place. While the plot is a bit like The Gay Divorcee with its mistaken identity element, Top Hat I think is better because of the time devoted to developing Jerry and Dale’s (Fred and Ginger) relationship. They have more dances together than just the big number, as they have dances that explore their budding relationship like Isn’t this a Lovely Day.
5: The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939): Their final movie of the 1930s, and ninth overall, I enjoy this movie because of the emotional depth Fred and Ginger bring to the portrayals of Vernon and Irene Castle. If you don’t like musicals, I would say this may be the place to start with Astaire-Rogers. There is dancing, but there are no “musical song and dance” numbers per say, as the dances are all recreations of Edwardian dances the Castles invented. It’s also cute to finally see Ginger be more flirty with Fred’s character in the courtship scenes, as she’s always a tad harsh towards him in other movies. To see Fred and Ginger play two people in love the whole movie through is a fresh change of pace, and I think the fact they did a serious drama legitimizes their acting skills as a duo.
4: Carefree (1938): Number 8 gets ranked as my number 4. This one gets a bad rep for being not a real musical, but that element does not bother me, as this one offers the most comedy in any of the Astaire-Rogers movies. Its basically screwball with 4 musical numbers thrown in- and they are not even all that over the top, rather they are cute little numbers. The Change Partners dance is really the highlight here, although I Used to be Color Blind was billed as the bigger number. Change Partners to me, is one of the most romantic numbers they did, as I think it has more longing within it. I also do not discount The Yam, as I find Ginger to be really upbeat while singing it. All in all, this movie showcases more so the acting side of both Ginger and Fred. Those who say Fred was a weak actor who relied on dancing to carry his movies, are proven wrong with this movie. Furthermore, as Ralph Bellamy plays Ginger’s boyfriend/ fiance, its always fun to see him loose the girl, isn’t it?
3: The Barkleys of Broadway (1949): It’s the final movie Fred and Ginger made together, but I put in near the top of my list. I adore in this one, the two are finally playing husband and wife. The plot so closely mirrors their real life working relationship when Dinah Barkley is offered a chance to star in a dramatic play, but that means breaking up her musical and dance partnership with her husband, Josh. It’s a bit predictable in terms of plot, however, because its Fred and Ginger, it’s absolutely fun to watch. It’s also sweet they get to kiss more in the this movie than any other one they did before. The highlight for me however is seeing the pair finally dance to They Can’t Take that Away from Me, and it’s totally perfect!
2: Shall We Dance (1937): Number 7 in the series, I don’t understand the critics’ critique of this one at all. One thing I find enchanting is the misunderstanding plot works in favor of the romance in this movie, instead of against it. Fred and Ginger play Peter “Petrov”, a ballet dancer and Linda, a tap dancer. When Peter is seen spending time with Linda on an ocean liner sailing back to New York, the press believe they look so in love together, a rumor starts they are secretly married. Famous numbers include the roller skating Let’s call the whole thing off, They all Laughed, and Slap that Bass, as well as the first use of Fred singing They Can’t Take that Away from Me.
1: Swing Time (1936): The sixth movie in the partnership, Swing Time has everything: Art-deco sets, beautiful costumes, musical standards, amazing dancing, and George Stevens directing. Personally for me, Swing Time holds the distinction of being the first ever Astaire-Rogers movie I ever knew existed. It was Spring 2006, I was in 4th grade and saw a picture of the Pick Yourself Up number in the Welcome to Kit’s World American Girl book. I never saw any couple look so glamorous, and I instantly loved Ginger’s dress! It wasn’t until I was 17, however, that I finally got to watch Swing Time for the first time. What captivated me upon first watch was the A Fine Romance number, it was Fred/ Lucky flirting without flirting, Ginger/Penny being disappointed without being disappointed, it was marvelous! And the door-kiss between them, in the dressing room, with Fred (Lucky) jumping over his chair like a school boy is so, so adorable!! Not to mention the costumes: Ginger’s white dress and the cape from Never Gonna Dance is a dress I’d like to be married in one day if I get married! Despite all the glamour and glitz, I can’t say this movie is perfect, as the blackface number (Astaire’s only blackface number of his career) Bojangles of Harlem should have been reworked or removed. There was no reason for the number to have blackface and the dance could have occurred without it.
As always, as I say with my rock reviews, its just my opinion and you should like what you like without my influence. Its just fun to see the fans opinions rather than legit critics, as fans are the ones who keep these movies relevant. (Thanks for reading!)
This was written for Movie Rob’s November 2022 Genre Grandeur of Doctors!
I think I would be able to say that as an American, I’ve seen more Australian TV than the average citizen. Starting from the time H2O Just Add Water came to America in 2008, I kind of started down a rabbit hole of finding these really fun Aussie TV shows. I saw Dance Academy (which I wrote about), Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, A Place to Call Home(I also wrote about it) Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries. Then there is another Aussie show called Doctor Blake Mysteries, which aired from 2013-2017. I started watching in 2015, catching up with the first two seasons and then watching 3 on-wards as it was airing. I credit my good friend Marie who sent me links on YouTube so I watched before America got them.
Now, I admit, because I had this huge void left after watching Miss Fisher, I then got hooked on two shows: Dr. Blake and also the Canadian TV show Murdoch Mysteries (which in my personal opinion has gone on for far too long, and should have ended on a high note, rather than dragging it out for, as it currently stands, 16 years in counting).
Ever since Dr. Blake ended on an extremely sour and somewhat premature note, I’m not sure I can exactly say I love the show as much, (although the show is good), Craig McLachlan’s (the title character!) accusations are pretty serious. He somewhat ruins the show for me. Personally, I always want to find out as many details of situations before deciding for myself if I stop watching shows/ movies with certain people, but there are some pretty explicit pictures on the internet that back up the claims that were made. With all of that being said I will say this show introduced me to the fabulous Joel Tobeck (Chief Superintendent Matthew Lawson) and Nadine Garner (Jean Beazley, Blake’s housekeeper/ receptionist).
Dr. Blake is a show that relies heavily on a backstory, which is as follows: Dr. Lucien Blake left his native Ballarat as a young man to study medicine in Scotland. When World War II broke out he served in the British Army medical core, and after being posted to the Pacific theater, met and fell in love with a Chinese woman. They eventually married and had a daughter, but when Singapore fell, he lost all contact of them. Blake himself was then a POW in Thailand, and after 33 years abroad, in 1958 decides to return home to Australia to take over his father’s medical practice.
Season 1 deals with Blake coming home and re-adjusting to Australia, all while clashing with Lawson on different approaches to solving murder. Blake and Lawson work together very frequently, as Blake also takes on the role of police surgeon. Police constable Danny Parks (Rick Donald), who is Jean’s nephew) works closer with Blake than he does with his own boss on the cases, and rounding out the cast is Dr. Blake’s lodger Mattie (Cate Wolfe), who is a nurse and taking classes to further her medical education. Overall, its a solid season and it naturally leaves the door open for season 2. What no one on production expected was the revolving door cast that would effect the rest of the show.
Season 2, Danny is posted to Melbourne, and Charlie Davis (Charles Cousins) steps in as the constable (for the rest of the show), and towards the end of the season, Lawson must face up to his superiors and leaves his position in Ballarat. Season 3 sees a new police superintendent William Munro (Craig Hall- love him as an actor!) who has it out for Dr Blake. Season 4 is probably the weakest season of the show as Mattie departs for a new position abroad in London and yet another superintendent comes in Frank Carlyle (Rodger Corser), whom of which Blake gets along with. Lawson makes occasional appearances in seasons 3 and 4, but for the main part is not in the show, as Joel Tobeck took on other projects, but within the show, in season 4, his niece Rose (Anna McGahan) comes in as a new journalist in town.
All throughout the show, one of the driving elements of the narrative is the romantic relationship (or lack of romantic relationship?) between Blake and Jean. Craig and Nadine have amazing chemistry as they met when they were 15 and 20 when doing Aussie soap operas. The fact they know each other as actors and friends really translates through and you believe in their chemistry and budding romance throughout the show. (Note: some may not see it this way anymore after knowing of McLachlan’s accusations)
The terrible element of the show that is now apparent throughout, is the undertones of the accusations of Craig McLachlan. He was accused of some pretty nasty and inappropriate acts while on Dr. Blake and a 2014 Aussie production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and due to some pictures of some past productions that surfaced on line, its easy to believe they all are true. McLachlan left a 2018 production of Rocky Horror, and really hasn’t worked since as Dr. Blake was cancelled and the short lived one off spin off that centered around Jean carried on without him. For me, its a creepy when his character is consoling various young women, when you know that behind the scenes different events played out.
Overall, If you’re willing to look past Craig McLachlan’s accusations and personal debacles, Doctor Blake Mysteries is a show that has great acting, interesting plot lines, and a great cast of supporting characters, all set against the late 1950s. But, if you cannot get past Craig McLachlan- then the show is certainly something you shouldn’t watch. I watched it through once completely through before the accusations, but now have struggled a bit to re-watch the show, often fast forwarding the Dr.’s solo scenes. To each their own.
If you were (or knew) a tween girl in the mid 2000s, like me, then you probably are aware of my favorite Australian kid’s show called H2O: Just Add Water. However, if you kept digging around for more Aussie TV shows, then naturally you would stumble upon a show called Dance Academy, which ran from 2010-2013, and even turned into a movie in 2017. The two TV shows are somewhat related, as Samantha Strauss was a writer on a few episodes of season 1 of H2O, and then she created Dance Academy.H2O star Cariba Heine had a recurring role on DA season 1 and 3 as Isabel, and her H2O on screen boyfriend Burgess Abernethy appeared in season 1 of DA.
Dance Academy follows the life of 15-year-old Tara Webster, a naive country girl, who gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she is accepted to the prestigious (fictional) National Academy of Dance in Sydney. Entering what Tara refers to be the, “minefield“, once she’s arrived, Tara and her new friends navigate rigorous dance training on top of your typical teenage problems (crushes, friendships, academics, family dynamics, peer pressure, self pressure, body image, mental and physical health, sexuality, etc). For me personally, this was a teen show that came out when I was a teen (I was 14, just the right age to watch it).
Upon arriving at Dance Academy, it isn’t long until Tara (and the viewers) meet the classmates: Christian Reed: a street boy who has a troubled past, but a heart of gold. Tara and Christian meet in the boy’s changing rooms (anyone who’s seen the show’s first episode knows this iconic moment). Kat Karamakov: a free spirited ballet girl who hates being a ballet girl, but is naturally talented as her Mum is a professional ballerina. Abigail Armstrong: The not so typical mean girl. Abigail sacrifices a great deal in order to be a strong dancer. She’s not a natural dancer (in her own view she doesn’t have the body), but makes up for it with her determination and love for dance. She and Kat knew each other since they were little. Sammy Lieberman: the guy everyone wants to be friends with, and at the start, the weakest dancer on a technical level. He, Kat, and Tara all become close within their first weeks at the academy. Sammy also struggles with the fact his Dad does not support his dancing dreams, wants him to follow in the family footsteps and become a doctor. Lastly, there is Ethan Karamakov- Kat’s older half brother who is a senior at the academy with ambitions on becoming a choreographer like his Father. Ethan is a bit cocky, but looks out for his little sister. Tara develops an instant crush on him, which causes friction between her and her new best friend, Kat. Finally, there is the dancing teacher Miss Raine (Tara Maurice). Miss Raine is extremely tough, but underneath very caring for her students. All she wants for any of them is to succeed, but she’s not afraid to straight out embarrass them if they step out of line.
What makes this show work, is a combo of great elements: you have the cast, who genuinely care for each other, the dancing routines, the gorgeous on location scenery (filmed in Sydney), and most of all, flawed characters who are written like teens, and not like 20 year olds. The characters all make wrong decisions, they embarrass themselves, they don’t have extravagant clothing (compared to US teen tv shows) and there is a restriction on what they can do and where they can go because they are, well, teens! Star Xenia Goodwin (Tara) was actually 15 playing 15, but her co-stars were not. All of the following were also playing 15 year olds: Alicia Banit (Kat) was 19, Jordan Rodrigues (Christian): 17, Tom Green (Sammy) 18, Dena Kaplan (Abigail) 20. Tim Pocock (Ethan) was 25 playing 18.
My favorite episode of season 1 (my favorite season) is probably episode 11: One Perfect Day, because for the first time Tara gains confidence in her dancing and even has a mini romantic moment with her first ever crush, Ethan. Its sweet and embarrassing at the same time. Plus it has this insanely amazing dance in it:
With that being said, I really also enjoy the final arc of season 1 which focuses on a Nutcracker Christmas pageant.
Season 2 was not afraid to up the stakes, as it killed off one of the main characters (I literally can’t spoil who 😦 ). Teen death isn’t a typical element on a teen show, as usually it’s an adult who dies on such shows. Three new students were also added: Ben Tickle (Thomas Lacey, 19 playing 16) : a childhood cancer survivor who got double promoted to second year from first year. Grace Whitney (Isabel Durant, 21 playing 17) : Miss Raine’s goddaughter from London. And Ollie Lloyd (Keiynan Lonsdale, 21 playing 18): a student who did not pass last year and must repeat the grade. Ollie is also openly gay (which for the time, in 2012, was major for teen TV).
Season 2’s main plot revolves around a prestigious dance competition “The Prix de Fonteyn” being held in Australia for the first time in 25 years. The characters all go through a process to see which dancers from the Academy will represent Australia all while completing their second year at the academy. (Note: I think looking back this season bugged me the most, there’s a lot of filler, and is a bit disjointed at first)
The third and final season deals with the characters still picking up the pieces of their friend’s death all while contemplating their futures, as its graduation year. Who will or will not get a contract with the company is never far from any of their minds and the possibility of not getting a contract (only 1 male and 1 female will) drives them to seek out alternative opportunities in dance. It’s a shorter season but very impactful and has a satisfying ending.
Overall, Dance Academy does have its flaws, the acting may bug some people, the story-lines in season 2 become a bit too drawn out, and lastly: the friend group continuously dates the friend group (this one bothers me the most as an adult), but it has a ton of heart. The dancing does take center stage and when there is a number, it tends to stay with you for a long long time. Certain dances from this show have been imprinted on my mind- as they are all so unique and in my opinion have more effort and emotion than anything any High School Musical ever did.
All in all, Dance Academy has a special place in my heart as one of 2 teen TV shows that will remain with me, as the other is H2O. Australian teen TV did something really magical, and it’s really cool I was the right age at when Dance Academy came out. I now leave you with some of my favorite dances from the show!
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!”
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!