Test Pilot- Three GREAT Stars IN an OK Film

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For this here Blogathon (hosted by My Good Friend In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood) celebrating the perfect reel-real couple of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, I chose to write about one of Spencer Tracy’s films from 1938 Test Pilot.

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This choice for me is a bit of a different one. Usually I write about how much I adore a film- and everything about it- but I want to expand my reflections of film- even writing about ones I find OK or average. Even my choice of focusing on a Spencer Tracy performance is atypical for me- as he’s not a “favorite” of mine- but at the same time- I admire him and his craft.

Honestly- Its been a while since I’ve seen Test Pilot– and even more honest- it’s an OK film that I don’t even want to own for my personal collection- but it’s worth watching anyway because of the cast- no other film has had such a great trio of great actors- Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy??? It’s just what MGM wanted you to bank on back in 1938-but unlike most films that can rely on star power AND a great script- this film sadly relies more on star power—and its all thanks to the  1938 poll in which Clark was crowned King and Myrna named the Queen of the Screen.

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Now- I’m not criticizing the performances- Myrna is great, Gable is great, and Spencer- although playing usual second fiddle to Gable (in their second of three films together)- is great, the script and plot is just terrible- its slow and at times a bit random.

However, the actors playing off each other- that is genuine and it translates to the audience- you care about what’s going to happen because its Myrna, because it’s Clark and because it’s Spence. All three actors had a marvelous time behind the scenes- and it’s been reported that it was a favorite of both Clark’s and Myrna’s. If this film were cast with subpar actors- it would have been another forgotten B-list film that you would catch on TCM and just decide to give a shot because well, why not.

Image result for spencer tracy test pilotSpencer Tracy in this film I feel is very believable in his role of Gunner- you can relate to and believe in his friendship with Clark’s character- but at the same time- you can see the slight jealously there is between them – and that’s just what happened off screen. Luckily for us, (and both Clark and Spencer), today we can look back and appreciate the friendship that did develop between the two- it’s unlikely a friendship but a really cool one too! I confess to not seeing too many of Spencer movies outside of his Katharine co-starring films, but I do say it is one of his best non Katharine Hepburn performances (along with Boys Town, of course)

I will also say the flying sequences for the time were quite impressive. The producers even secured the backing of the US Air Corps and had real life- but uncredited- Test Pilot Sammy Wroath do the sequences. Talk about authenticity!

 

IN the end, Test Pilot film may not be “AMAZING” but its an important piece of Hollywood history. Fans of all three actors should watch- as it’s a great excuse to watch them in their prime- and together on screen!!

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Duo Double Feature Wrap Up and Thanks!

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So Everyone- The Duo Double Feature blogathon is wrapping up! But I’m still accepting posts- No rush- this isn’t school!!

I would like to say a massive Thank you to all of you who embraced this idea for a blogathon and graciously thank Phyllis Loves Classic movies for Co Hosting- after all- Even Blogathon hosts need a fabulous co host! (especially in this case! Two Stars Two Movies- Needs Two Hosts!!) 🙂

Feel free to check out all three other days if you missed and or are just interested in seeing the posts!

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

WRAP UP ENTERIES

Jean Harlow and Bill Powell- Of Screen Magic

 

 

Again- I will keep accepting, And I will see you all soon

THANK YOU ALL SO SO MUCH! Emily- The Flapper Dame

 

 

Robert Redford and Natalie Wood- Double Duos Blogathon

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For my own co-hosted blogathon- I decided to go with a paring I recently discovered – Natalie Wood and Robert Redford- while I have always admired Natalie- Never really have I delved into her films- until now that is!

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I decided to do this pairing after seeing Redford’s beautiful tribute video he narrated for TCM- I hadn’t known they met in high school or that they even made movies together- but the way Bob spoke of Natalie made me immediately want to watch Inside Daisy Clover– which aired on TCM a few days after the tribute video.

Inside Daisy Clover (1965) tells the story of Daisy Clover and her journey into 1930s Hollywood. Natalie plays Daisy- and Mr. Redford plays her leading man/fellow movie star- the “Prince Of Darkness” Wade Lewis. It should be noted this film was the start of Redford’s movie career, as according to him although he had broadway success, ‘Natalie selected an unknown to be her leading man”.

For Natalie and Bob- this film really gave them the chance to become real friends- as when they met in high school, it wasn’t a happy first meeting. As Redford recalled- he was on duty as school assembly guard when a girl, (Natalie) came running to to his door, late for the assembly, begging him to let her in. Redford, wanting to be ‘cool’ said she wasn’t allowed to go through his door and she would have to go around to the door that accommodated her last name. Natalie, ever so clever, then called him an ‘asshole’ and gracefully went around to her proper door.

It’s amazing that 10 years later they played opposite each other- and also became the best of friends. If you want real proof of it, while on set Natalie and Bob planned a surprise birthday for reserved and shy producer Alan Pakula- complete with a stripper!

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Despite the fact Daisy Clover isn’t the best in terms of plot (yes- it’s got a good setup and a cast of Roddy McDowell, Christopher Plummer, and Ruth Gordon- but sadly in my eyes, it falls somewhat flat)- I like it-It’s worth watching just to see Wood and Redford together- their characters go through a rocky relationship but the camaraderie and closeness of them is always present. On screen Natalie and Bob have this unspoken bond that can’t be faked- it takes real friendship to create their characters’ feelings- it’s just wonderful.

I personally adore the scene of them on the boat together- Daisy is new to Hollywood and trying to cope emotionally with the stress but all it takes is Wade to come walking in for her to feel calm again. Wade’s carefree attitude is the perfect match for Daisy’s high strung personality!!

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The Wood-Redford reunion film- This Property is Condemned was released in 1966 (honestly I haven’t seen it yet- But it’s airing on TCM Nov 10 2017- and as a consolation- I will be writing a companion post to this post on on my thoughts of it). I can tell you this about it- It co-stars Mary Badham (Scout- in To Kill a Mockingbird) and is based off the one act play by Tennessee Williams; it also was the first time Redford worked with director Sydney Pollack.

From what I have read from other people, it seems to me that this film is the stronger of the two they did together- Natalie’s husband Robert Wagner has even said this was his favorite performance of hers.

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On the set of Downhill Racer

No matter what though- the bulk of Natalie and Bob’s friendship happened off screen- In 1969- Natalie married Richard Gregson (who was both her and Redford’s agent)- with Bob as best man. She then took a short break from filming movies- but that didn’t stop her from working behind the camera- as she did on the Redford film Downhill Racer (1969)– she typed scripts, was a costume consultant, and even appeared incognito as a crowd extra in certain scenes.

Natalie even made a small cameo as herself in 1972’s The Candidate– as a favor to Redford.

In the end- according to Redford- Natalie and he sadly lost touch- but he never forgot the boost she gave his career and the fond friendship they had. For Mr. Redford, Natalie taught him how to handle the emotion of being a star- and he never has forgotten it.

Take a look at the TCM tribute video to get a glimpse at this wonderful and enduring friendship

And then watch this clip of Redford reminiscing about Downhill Racer– he talks about Natalie and her encouragement when it opened to bad reviews.

Personally – I think all people should have a friendship in their life similar to Natalie and Robert’s- a mutual respect and having great care for one another is a beautiful thing.

Its interesting to think about what could have been with these two- they almost made Barefoot in the Park (1967) together; Redford was an early contender to appear in Bob&Carol&Ted&Alice (1969); and Natalie was almost cast in Mary Tyler Moore’s role in Ordinary People (1980).  On my view, would have loved to see them in more pictures- and certainly in stronger movies with better scripts.

Alas, even if the films aren’t the best- I think the bigger lesson can be seen in the friendship they shared.

Day 2 of the Duo Double Feature Blogathon

It’s day two of the double duos blogathon! Get ready for more fabulous pairings who made two films!

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Post ’em right here!

 Quiggy talks about Peter Weller and Nancy Allen

The Metzinger Sisters write about James McArthur and Janet Munro

Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are the pick for The Story Enthusiast

Old Hollywood Films explains how Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins feuded and filmed together!

Critica Retro covers two brilliant actresses, best friends Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy

Love letters to Old hollywood tells us about Vera Ellen, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire!!

 

Announcing: The Duo Double Feature Blogathon

Hello all! I know I’ve been a tad AWOL lately, but like most of you, I’ve been doing the TCM Hitchcock class, and devoted time to viewing his films I’ve never seen before. Its sad it’s nearing the end- but never fear, as both Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and I are excited to announce a new Blogathon, The Duo Double Feature Blogathon.
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We’ve all at some point in our movie watching sessions have come across two actors who are just magical together- whether it be a romantic couple or a buddy- buddy/best friends pairing- there’s so many great ones- Doris & Rock, Olivia & Errol, Bill & Myrna- but then you have the lesser known but equally fabulous pairings- Doris & James Garner, Grace Kelly & Bing Crosby- and they again- just have that magic- then somewhere along the line you look up the two stars and say to yourself, MAN only TWO movies together??? Why? They should’ve made 10 more together- and that’s just what this blogathon is about- Two stars who only made Two movies together, no more no less- just 2 (note-we are not counting the brief cameos in films such as Thank Your Lucky Stars or Variety Girl- we are talking actual characters/ roles in a film) . It will run from September 22-24.

The rules are simple- Just choose a screen pairing that only made two movies together. Rather than giving a super in depth summary of both films (as this would be super long!) maybe do a quick summary of each and spend more time talking about the magical chemistry between the two- maybe mention a funny story or some favorite scenes/ moments from real life and/or the films they made.  Remember- these are two people we wish did way more films- what makes them so amazing together? (No repeats please- plenty of dous to write about!)

Need to double check about a duo? Here is a simple list to get you started- (You may sign up with me, at Laura’s blog, or message either of us on twitter!)
-Robert Redford and Natalie Wood- TAKEN BY THE FLAPPER DAME
-William Holden and Grace Kelly
-William Holden and Audrey Hepburn- Maddy Loves Her Classic Films
-Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly
-Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable
-James Garner and Doris Day
-Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio (yes- in the future we want this to change)
-Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman- Little Bits of Classics
-Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball
-James Stewart and John Wayne
-Robert Redford and Paul Newman- Thoughts All Sorts
-Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan
-James Stewart and Kim Novak- Moon in Gemini
-James Stewart and Myrna Loy
-Jean Harlow and William Powell-Random Pictures
-Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy- Critica Retro
-William Powell and Rosalind Russell
-Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant
-Cary Grant and Sophia Loren- Anyone Got a Match?
-James Stewart and Jean Arthur
-James Stewart and Maureen Ohara
-Henry Fonda and Maureen Ohara
-John Wayne and Donna Reed
-Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood
-Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth
-Barbara Stanwyck William Holden
-Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake
-Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon
-Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman

  • Errol Flynn and Bette Davis
  • Errol Flynn and Eleanor Parker
  • Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon- Charlene’s Mostly Classic Movie Reviews
  • Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson
  • Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins
  • James Cagney and Bette Davis
  • Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy- Movies Meet their Match
  • Lauren Bacall  and John Wayne- In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood
  • William Powell and Ronald Colman- That William Powell Site
  • Susan Hayward and Tyrone Power- Caftan Woman
  • Brenda Marshall and Errol Flynn- Phyllis Loves Classic Movies
  • Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci- The Story Enthusiast 
  • Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton- Realweegiemidget Reviews
  • John Wayne and General Sterling Price- Midnite Drive in
  • Julia Roberts and Richard Gere- dbMoviesblog
  • Vera Ellen and Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly – Love Letters to Old Hollywood
  • Joseph Cotten and Ethel Barrymore- In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood
  • Cary Grant and Jean Arthur-Sat in your Lap
  • Margaret Lockwood and Stewart Granger- The Wonderful World of Cinema
  • Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins- Old Hollywood Films
  • Words Seem Out of Place: Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino
    Taking Up Room: Betty Grable and Don Ameche

If you want to do a duo not on this list- that’s fine! Just make sure they only made two movies together! (seriously- we have just scratched the surface in terms of this list!!)

Feel free to grab one of the FABULOUS banners made by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies- aka my fabulously awesome  co-host and close friend! (note- you can also use the one at the top of this page- the one with Jean and Myrna)

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Hope to see you there!!!!!

 

Reel Infatuation Blogathon- Paul Verrall in Born Yesterday 1950

A Star is Born 1954- Judy Garland Blogathon

judy blogathon banner 1Hello everyone and may I say it’s delightful to be back for the Judy Garland blogathon.

When I heard this was happening I jumped at the chance to watch A Star is Born (1954) which of course  most of us know is one of Judy’s greatest performances.

For me, watching this movie has been a long time coming, as Judy has always been a favorite of mine; she’s my childhood idol. The only thing I regret is I didn’t start watching more of her movies until recently, as an adult- never when I was younger; but it’s better late than never!

A Star is Born is of course a remake of the 1937 Mitzi Gaynor/ Fredric March film. I have not seen the original yet- but I plan to watch it, as well as the 1976 version too (my Mom has seen the latter one). This 1954 version is the same story as all of the versions but what makes it unique is that this is a musical- which of course works so well to showcase Judy’s talents.
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The story is a typical Hollywood story- while Judy’s character, Esther Blodgett “Vicki Lester” rises and shines, her fellow actor and love interest (later husband) Norman Maine (James Mason) downward spirals and falls hard.

Overall, the film is a bit of a sad story, but a very real and human story, that holds its value in today’s world. It may be being remade again for the fourth time- but I believe that this particular version will forever be the most remembered and celebrated version. When viewing the film, I quickly learned part of its footage is missing due to the fact its original length was trimmed down in previews. Today- its been restored to the best of its abilities. In certain instances there are still images, accompanied with the audio track to fill in where the footage was deleted- its interesting to see what was cut- as the cut footage was somewhat important to understanding the story- its sad no one will ever see the original footage, as it would have been cool to see it all in full.
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In my view, Judy shines in her role and its as if she was born for the part- she plays it so believably- whether she’s singing and performing, or happily in love, or crying- shes always authentic; never ever fake. When watching it, my mom brought up the fact she’s just such a real actor and when she cries (or has an emotional moment) – you feel for her.
Image result for judy garland and james masonBut what makes this particular role so believable is that many experiences that happen to Ester also happened to Judy- the name change, working the bit parts, the hard efforts of landing a big break, the emotional struggles of being a star- and sometimes, it hits all too hard knowing that Norman Maine’s struggles were basically her struggles in real life.

But all emotional and real life parallels aside, this film gave Judy two of her most wonderful performances- the opening Gotta Have Me Go With You” number and of course my personal (and probably yours too) favorite The Man That Got Away. There’s of course a few other numbers- but these two stand out to me on a major level.

Related image“Gotta Have Me Go With You” is standard Garland- its showy without being over the top- it’s very catchy and easy to sing along with- its a wonderful way to start of this movie and it has become on of my favorite musical numbers of hers.

“The Man That Got Away”, on the other hand is top tier, brilliance- its powerful; emotional; and so amazing that you want to go back and re-watch it due to its strong presence- I had seen the clip before I watched this film, but watching it in context within the film makes it all that much more moving. I really cant describe it any other way- other than its just sheer perfection.

In the end, I’m very glad I watched this film- I felt it got a bit slow at times- but its just so memorable of a story that I’ll certainly be watching it again the future, it must have been so fascinating to have seen in back in 1954~ with the big build up of Judy’s return to the screen- she really gave it her all. While Judy’s star story may not have ended on the best note- its certain today- her star shines brighter than ever- and it will forever remain that way.

National Classic Movie Day 2017: 5 Stars Blogathon

HAPPY NATIONAL CLASSIC MOVIE DAY EVERYONE! First off let me say, running my own blog and sharing new films and learning about films and actors from hollywood’s golden era is one of the great joys in my life- and I’m very happy to do it alongside all of you who watch, read, and write with me! (click here for the blogathon list to read other bloggers favorite stars!)

And again I’d like to say THANKS A MILLION to all of you who do read and I DO READ EVERY SINGLE COMMENT and APPRECIATE THEM ALL!!!!

This post is probably one of the most difficult ones to write as I’m only limited to 5 stars!!?? Hard, but, do-able and all of you have done it to so, so can I!!

In NO order whatsoever, I present five favorite stars!

1- Grace Kelly

Image result for grace kelly Yes I know some may not consider her the “best” actress or even consider her to be “important” in Hollywood- But she is one of my favorites!! Rear Window (1954) and to Catch a Thief (1955) are some of my favorite movies! She was serene even before she bore the title of HSH  (Her Serene Highness) and she’s completely the ultimate Hitchcock Blonde.

2- Carole Lombard

Image result for carole lombard I wish I could be more like her in terms of being free spirited!! She’s a patriot and I feel her career was just getting started- she would have been amazing in so many roles if not for her untimely death- but nothing can diminish the fact she is and always will be fascinating and amazing! My favorite movie of hers My Man Godfrey (1936) with the runner up being No Man of Her Own (1932)  !

3- Cary Grant-

Image result for Cary grant notorious WHO DOESN’T ADORE HIM! To me he’s the ultimate leading man! Today, I just got his daughter’s Memoir and I’m excited to read it! There’s so many great films with him but the ones that stand out to me are The Awful Truth (1937), Notorious (1946), Penny Serenade (1941) , Charade (1963) and To Catch a Thief (1955).

 

4- William Powell

Image result for william powell thin man He’s the definition of dapper and the consummate 1930s example of style. Mr Powell is one of the stars that I came to adore after watching many of his movies- once you watch one you can’t stop- and I didn’t know about him right away- he’s a hidden gem that once you know about him- he’s forever a part of your life! Favorite movies of his- Mister Roberts (1955), All of The Thin Man Films, of course My Man Godfrey, and a hidden gem of a flick The Ex-Mrs Bradford (1936).

..And number 5- I have to say John Wayne- he was the first leading man I knew about in the “Old Movies” due to my Grandfather’s admiration of him. Its sad that I didn’t become a real fan of his until my later teen years- but now that I have seen some of his movies (and plan on viewing more!) I can say that Yes I am a real fan of his based my own opinions. I know why my Grandfather liked him so much now that I have viewed some of his movies and I always think of him whenever I watch one. My favorite movies of the Duke’s so far are- The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956) ,Big Jake (1971) and The Shootist (1976)

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So there’s my five!!! But I can’t leave this post without mentioning “Five Runners up”- Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, and Gene Tierney.

Happy National Classic Movie Day, again to everyone and I hope you got to watch either an old favorite or a new to you movie! and Remember- Stay Classic!

Norma Demond’s Mansion in Sunset Blvd (1950)

Unfortunately, Mr Gillis is no longer here with us to tell us more about the house, but that can’t stop you from forming your own opinions! Make sure to (re-) watch Sunset Blvd and pay extra attention to Miss Desmond’s crazy mansion!!!

Golden Boy Blogaton- Apartment For Peggy

Chemistry never looked more interesting!

WIth Ms Crain; they are so fabulous together!!!

This film is a rarity, but to me its a hidden gem- it’s so cute! and rarely on TV- so the next time it’s on TCM WATCH IT!!!!!!!!!!  Please!!!!!

As for you Mr Holden, as this, today , the date of this post, would have been your 99th birthday, I have this to say: You’re one of my favorite actors, and while not everyone may know who you are, to me you’ll always have a place in my heart, and in my life. Your movies are timeless, and I understand why the late Mr Robert Osborne considered you his favorite- like he said you spoke “always an honest word” when you were on screen. Happy Birthday, and as always, I bet you’re still good lookin’.