Test Pilot- Three GREAT Stars IN an OK Film

picmonkey_image (2)

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.

Image result for test pilot 1938

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.

Image result for spencer tracy test pilot

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!!

Advertisements

Robert Redford and Natalie Wood- Double Duos Blogathon

IMG_20170803_104353

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!

Image result for robert redford and natalie wood

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!

                         Image result for robert redford and natalie woodImage result for inside daisy clover boat

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!!

Image result for this property is condemned

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.

Image result for robert redford and natalie wood
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.

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.
Image result for a star is born 1954
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.
Image result for a star is born 1954
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.

“I’m Mad As Hell and Not Gonna Take This Anymore”- Network 1976

network-quote

So a lot of you who do read my blog might know that I love William Holden- but what you may not know is how hesitant I initially was to watch Network. At first I said- “No Way”- I don’t wanna watch a movie where Bill is “Old”; I’m not a big fan of Faye Dunaway, and I’m not really into movies from the 70s because they are so different from the ones I do like from the 30s 40s and 50s.

Image result for network 1976

However- being in the film blogging community and following the TCMParty on twitter, I started to change my tune. I read a wonderful post that my friend Ginnie wrote up on her blog and I just started hearing these wonderful sentiments from, well everyone about the movie itself. So finally I cracked and said, “Well- William Holden is in this movie and it is iconic– I’ll just watch it for credit and the fact of being able to say- ‘Yes, I’ve seen that one.” ”

Getting to the part of me actually viewing the movie- When watching it- I had no idea of how amazing the plot, characters and iconic catchphrase of “I’m as Mad as Hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore” could be- I was so in awe of everything- and now I get it- I get it why Network is just such a fun movie to watch.

To me the only thing that dates Network is the technology  and the physical looks of the actors who are a part of the picture. Everything else is just as accurate today as it was back then. Especially for the “Mad as Hell statement”- I understand why Howard Beale (Peter Finch) isn’t gonna take it anymore- as who should?

Yes- his Mad as Hell spiel starts off as a statement to express why he’s mad at the station and his situation- but that’s not really the focus-  Beale then shifts his statement to why he’s just Mad! Mad as Hell! – and he shouldn’t have to put up with this- and as a matter of fact, either should you!

I think what makes this statement iconic is that no one had ever taken this risk of verbally expressing such strong feelings before in a film. I think maybe films such as Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and The Graduate (1967) were some of the first films to express angst or similar feeling in terms of actions, but it was all very symbolic and reading between the lines- whereas in this film the angst and anger, annoyance even in this statement is Bold and direct in terms of understanding.

Take a look at Howard Beale’s speech below

It just gets more and more accurate every time I watch it. And- the film in general gets funnier every time as well.

In short- I watched for Bill Holden , but I stayed for the funniness, accuracy, and overall just interesting and deeply layered plotline of the film.

 

For my own blogathon, I couldn’t think of any other way to wrap it up on! Be sure to check out other posts as they trickle in- and remember- sometimes It’s OK to be MAD AS HELL!!

THANKS SO MUCH EVERYONE FOR WRITING, READING AND PARTICIPATING!!!! See you round for the next one, soon I hope!!!

 

The Second Annual Classic Quotes Blogathon is Here!

Its arrived- the second annual classic quotes blogathon!

casablanca-quote

Because this blogthon coincides with the TCMFF, I will be accepting posts all though next week, as there is not a silly school-like deadline to meet- this is “fun” learning!

I will be updating posts as they come in- so feel free to come back and look around to read about all the iconic and perfectly delivered quotes from some of your favorite films!

The Entries!

Charlene takes a break from Feuding by telling what Bette Davis actually said in All About Eve!

picture-112

Phyllis knows how  to decipher a Good Witch from a bad one in the Wizard of Oz.

Movies Silently Proves to us that you can quote (or kiss!) someone without saying a word.

Amanda tells us all about how The Man Who Shot liberty Valance properly prints a legend

Realweggiemidget tells us what inspired Jack Nicholson to “be a better man” in As Good as It Gets

Cary Grant Won’t Eat You tells us how being bad is better for Mae West in I’m No Angel. 

Le explains why the Maltese Falcon is “the stuff dreams are made of.”

Simoa calmly tells us why the Brewster family is practically insane in Arsenic and Old Lace. 

fullsizeoutput_1c59

The Midnite drive in tells us how Clint Eastwood makes their day

Catia gives us why Clark Gable had a right not to give a damn in Gone With the Wind. 

Kayla tells us about Claude Rains is shocked in Casablanca. 

Simoa tells us about why the moon is reaching for Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina.

sabrina1

 

And I have my own post up- FINALLY!- But just don’t be “Mad as Hell” for mine being late! 🙂

 

Sidney Poitier: 90th Birthday Blogathon

Niagara (1953)- Oh! Canada Blogathon

O Canada Banner

For the Oh! Canada blogathon (hosted by Speak Easy and Silver Screenings), I decided to write about two “Canadian” related topics. The first is my love for the 1953 color film noir, Niagara and the second will be about my love for Canadian actress Megan Follows (AKA Anne Shirley!, it will be written written within the next few days!!).

But for my first entry, I couldn’t pass up the chance to write about one of my all time favorite film noirs, Niagara (1953) (Yes, you’ve guessed it! It takes place at the famous Canadian landmark! 😉 )starring Joseph Cotten and Marilyn Monroe in her break out role.

For those who may not recall, back in 2015, I wanted to view Niagara so badly, it turned out to be the film that made me get a blu ray player, as the DVD is out of print. I had been wanting to get a Blu-Ray player for some time, and Niagara was the film to push me to do it! It totally paid off too, as Niagara is  lush and just a visually stunning movie- and the beautiful Canadian backdrop is just to die for!

Image result for niagara 1953

Niagara for many is considered to be one of the two great “color noirs”, with Leave Her to Heaven (1945) being the other. In fact, this film was one of the last movies ever to use three strip Technicolor, which as we know, was unusual for film noirs. For many, Niagara is not be a hard boiled “traditional” noir with a PI/DI, a flashback, and the black and white shadowy cinematography, but it still lures you in like one of them. It still has a femme fatale, murder, betrayal, ill fated love, and jealousy – however, its all paced and scripted in a manner that doesn’t make you blurt out, “Film Noir!” I personally find it surprising this movie considered a great “film noir”, but for some reason, it works:

Image result for niagara 1953Marilyn Monroe plays the role of Rose Loomis, and her husband, George, is played by Joseph Cotten. At the start of the film, they are vacationing in Niagara Falls and soon they are joined by another couple, Polly and Ray Cutler (Jean Peters and Max Showalter). As with many noirs, Rose and George’s marriage is in trouble- and Rose has a secret lover. Polly then becomes caught up in the mess when the next day while touring the Falls, she sees Rose and her lover, Patrick- kissing.

Image result for niagara jean peters
Jean Peters

As you can probably infer by now, Rose is planning to murder George and throw his body into the Falls with the song “Kiss” being played on the bells as the secret signal once to the job is done. It all goes wrong, however, when Patrick is the one who turns up dead, and not George. 

Related image

Overall, I think Marilyn is just gorgeous in this film, and it proves her abilities as an actress, as she really isn’t a dumb blonde. She’s alluring and scheming- and yes- her murder plan may have gone wrong- but it takes a cunning individual to craft such a plan in the first place. The supporting roles are also played by a great cast- with Jean Peters being totally under-rated! And of course I can’t forget Mr. Joseph Cotten- as we get to see him in technicolor!!!

 

     

       Mr.  Joseph Cotten- Still handsome- and in COLOR!!! (DVDBEAVER- pic credit)

Overall, Niagara is just one of those great films from the 1950s- It’s dated in just the right places (fashion, in particular!) and like I mentioned earlier, it lures you into watching. I say its one of my favorite Marilyn performances and while it may not be on the “top tens” lists of 50’s films (or film noirs, etc)- its really a hidden gem that more people should watch!

 

 

 

 

 

Agnes Moorehead Blogathon: Magnificent Obsession (1954)

For my contribution for the Agnes Moorehead Blogathon, I signed up to write about one of the best melodramas from the 1950s, Magnificent Obsession.

aggie blog b

Although Agnes Moorehead plays a supporting role in this film as Jane Wyman’s friend/ nurse, Nancy, her role is an important one- for without her, Jane’s character Helen, would be totally lost and left to navigate on her own.

I have never seen a Douglas Sirk film before (or a Jane Wyman one, either) so I was very excited to do this blogathon! Personally, I was extremely keen to view this film in particular, as the creator of the Australian television show A Place To Call Home took heavy inspiration from this movie for the show. Looking back, I feel the creator did a superb job taking both cinematic elements and dramatic elements and incorporating them into his melodramatic 1950s period drama. (Seriously check it out! Its a great TV show! If you love the 1950s and period pieces- go watch it!!! Non spoiler description here)

For those who may be unfamiliar, the 1954 version of Magnificent Obsession is a remake (I myself have yet to see the 1935 original version with Irene Dunne), yet it is has surpassed the original in terms of popularity. Its theme and feel are very similar to that of An Affair to Remember (1957; which itself is a remake of 1939’s Love Affair). With lush technicolor scenes, dramatic plot twists, and plenty of romantic moments, Magnificent Obsession provides exactly what the name suggests.

Image result for magnificent obsession

The story is kind of a crazy one, you see, Rock Hudson’s character, Bob, gets into a speedboat accident- and then has to be resuscitated, but in a turn of events, the Doctor, Dr. Phillips, who saved him- dies. The Doctor’s widow, Helen then is left on her own, while Bob who is hated by everyone for causing Dr. Phillip’s death. In an effort to get to know Helen better, Bob tries to befriend her, but she rejects his advances. But- in another turn of events, by rejecting Bob, Helen then is run over and blinded by a passing car. Bob, then commits his life to medicine to become a doctor and by doing so, falls in love with Helen.

Image result for magnificent obsession agnes moorehead

The lovely Miss Moorehead comes into play as Nancy Ashford, who is Helen’s friend and Nurse. Because Helen is blind, Nancy sort of acts as her eyes, doing simple things for Helen, such as writing letters, keeping her company ,and even being a travel companion.  I just thought Nancy was a wonderful friend- so patient and kind to Helen- the exact caretaker I would want in a bad situation.

The group of Hudson, Wyman, and Moorehead, and director Douglas Sirk was so successful that all of them reunited a year later to make All That Heaven Allows, with Hudson and Wyman again as love interests. (I have not yet seen it, so I’m not sure what role Moorehead plays).

In short, I can’t wait to add this movie to my collection once it becomes available on Blu-Ray (COME ON CRITERION!!!). Its just one of those feel good movies you can watch on a rainy (or snowy!) day. It transports you to another world and now, I wanna go out and buy these sunglasses!

Image result for magnificent obsession
Source- The Criterion Collection

There’s certainly nothing quite like Magnificent Obsession– go out and watch it today!

*Available on DVD from the Criterion Collection

The Dallas Blogathon: Ian McShane

Hi readers! this is my entry for the lovely Realweegiemidget’s first blogathon (congrats on the success!) about her favorite program Dallas (1978)

I have never seen or heard of this program but wanted to participate in the blogathon because its host is quite wonderful!

So I decided to write up about Ian McShane’s (Don Lockwood) role in the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011).

McShane plays the role of Blackbeard a new rival of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Together with Blackbeard’s daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), they embark on finding the Fountain of Youth.

Image result for on stranger tides

I just really love all of the Pirates movies- (CAN’T WAIT FOR #5 – did you hear Orlando Bloom is back as Will Turner?????)  and McShane is great as Blackbeard- even though he probably will not continue the role (spoiler- as his character dies at the end!) I just adored the humor as well as mystique he brought to his portrayal of such a  legendary figure. AND OF COURSE who wouldn’t want to have the cool powers of controlling The Queen Anne’s Revenge with just a swish of your sword- seriously cool!

Take a look at McShane’s super cool entrance!

I am just glad Disney decided to do this movie, as it is a bit of a difference from the other three- but it’s still great, for the performances of the new characters are just splendid. 

I can’t speak for myself, as I have never seen Dallas, but I’m sure seeing Ian McShane as a ruthless pirate must be a very different departure from his character of Don Lockwood. However, I must say he plays an awesome pirate! !!!

Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead men tell no tales will be out May 27 2017 (in the US)