Singin’ in the Rain: Timeless Influence!

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

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

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

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

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

Troy and the Wildcats
Don and his Rain Gang!

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

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

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

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

Island in the Sky (1953)

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

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

(wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Triangle! (credit: Pintrest)

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

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

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

Ng VS Ferris (credit: IMDB)

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

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

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

Day 1 of The 5th William Holden Golden Boy Blogathon

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

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

Need some background music?

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

Today’s Entries!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s A Wonderful Life: Still Important at 75 (and beyond!)

Lately, there is so much turmoil. You see the news and it’s easy to become depressed by recent events: pandemic, politics, sorrowful events. In the midst of all of the sadness and negativity, its easy to lose sight of culture that has sustained the American spirit. One that rises above the rest in terms of relevant films is Frank Capra’s 1946 masterpiece, It’s a Wonderful Life. Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell, and Lionel Barrymore (just to name a few!), the movie was not a major hit when first released, but thanks to TV airings and a re-examination by both critics and the general public, the film has worked its way into the American culture as a Christmas staple.

This year in 2021, the film is celebrating its 75th anniversary and The Classic Movie Muse is hosting the 75th Birthday Blogathon! Be sure to check out the other entries here!

Now more than ever, I feel this film still matters to audiences. It contains timeless characters, universal life lessons, and a raw and real look at a society emerging from the shadows of a World War. All that being said, I present to you without further delay, 5 reasons why, It’s a Wonderful Life, still matters to audiences everywhere:

My Copy!

1- Reminds us to count your blessings! George Bailey is a man with many blessings: A beautiful wife, kids, a place to call home, friends, and a steady job. Even though he loses sight of what he has, he eventually comes around to realize: he has it all and then some. We all at one point or another forget that we are blessed, (myself included), but this film, (with a little help from Clarence!), has the power to make you stand back and be grateful about what you have in life. In particular, when watching this film just earlier this month, I realized I’m blessed with my family, my health, good friends, food on the table, and of course the films and music that enrich my life!

2- Real Life vs Reel Life: Every single character in It’s a Wonderful Life is probably similar to someone you know. We all know someone like George Bailey and unfortunately, we all know someone like Mr. Potter. With such distinction in each of the characters in his films, Mr. Frank Capra himself once stated they represent, “the freedom of each individual and the equal importance of each individual.

3- The Grass is Not Greener: With everything George set out to do, and then ended up not doing, it’s easy to see why he’s a tad jealous of his peer’s accomplishments. Brother Harry fought in WWII and classmate Sam Wainwright went to work in Europe, but George still had big accomplishments of his own: he saved the town during a bank run, set up Bailey Park, and kept the family business going. This film reminds us it’s incredibly easy to be jealous of others due to their flashy resumes, but everyday common actions are also something to be proud of. I certainly count running this little blog as one of my accomplishments!

4– Positive thoughts in negative times: 1946 was a new era for America and the world. The Second World War plays a part in the film’s narrative, and it was one of the first films to explore the emotions of PTSD, despite the main character not experiencing war, (on-screen, as remember Mr. Stewart DID go to war in real life). One of the main themes of the whole film is to never give up hope that things can and will one day be better, and no character embodies this trait more than Mary Bailey. Throughout everything, Mary is the anchor in George’s life and the reminder to the audience to always maintain a positive outlook on life (something we all should remember, especially in our world now!).

Recently got this fun magazine!

5- We all have a place: In the world, we all have a part to play. Even if we don’t recognize it, our life has impacted on others. We may not get the chance from Clarence to realize it like George does, but every now and again when someone says, “If it wasn’t for you”, or ,”Thanks to you”, it shouldn’t be ignored. Sometimes the littlest gestures have the biggest impact!

Overall, I believe It’s a Wonderful Life will remain in the public conscious no matter what. It has out shined its haters, even though there will always be a certain faction who hate it, it always manages to come out on top. It’s been a Christmas constant for 75 years, and I am so excited to see what will happen in the next 75 years of its life! Three cheers and ring the bell, here’s to, It’s a Wonderful Life, the richest film in town! 

21 Reasons "It's A Wonderful Life" Is The Best Christmas Movie Of All Time  | Wonderful life movie, It's a wonderful life, Its a wonderful life

PS: I recently found that magazine at my local Wal-Mart! A fun anniversary magazine filled with great pictures, fun facts and great info all about our favorite Christmas film! Certainly a ,”collector’s item” for many years to come!

The Wings of Eagles (1957)

When a well known movie couple is put together in many films, they usually end up in a biopic together. Take Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, they played Vernon and Irene Castle; Myrna Loy and William Powell played the Florenz Ziegfeld and Billie Burke, and it even happened for John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara who portrayed Frank “Spig” Wead USN Ret. and his wife Min in the 1957 John Ford picture: The Wings of Eagles.

Wings of Eagles 1957.jpg
(wikipedia)

The real Frank Wead was born in Peoria IL in 1895. He was a Navy man who served on both land and sea before serving in World War I. In 1926, Spig was forced to retire early due to an accidental fall at home, as he fell down the stairs running to his daughter after hearing her crying. Spig was temporarily paralyzed and learned how to walk again, before going to Hollywood in the early 1930s, working as a screenwriter.
He worked on films such as Hell Divers, Test Pilot, both with Clark Gable, and They Were Expendable with Ford and Wayne.  The amazing part is after Spig recovered from his injury, he then enlisted in World War II- first in a non active position of planning, but then moved to an active duty at sea. Unfortunately after formally retiring from service his life was cut short at the age of 52 in 1947, due to complications from surgery .

Frank Wead | Military Wiki | Fandom
The real life Frank “Spig” Wead

The Wings of Eagles was Maureen O’Hara’s fifth and final film with Ford, as she would never professionally cross paths with him again (they of course they stayed in each other’s lives until his death, while Duke Wayne would work with him professionally until 1963’s Donovan’s Reef). In Duke’s first post Searchers film, it’s easy to dismiss this film as silly 1950s biopic fluff, but look beneath the surface to realize it’s actually got more credit than what it initially presents.

Although "Wings of... - Maureen O'Hara Magazine Website | Facebook
Tender moment!

According to Ford, everything in this movie is true, including the plane flying in the pool, and the cake fight too (Ford swears he personally dodged the cake!!! The film even gets really meta when Ford veteran Ward Bond plays a spoof of Mr. Ford himself: John Dodge. The scene in which Frank goes into Dodge’s office, if you look closely you can see Ford’s real life Oscars, cane, pipe, and Bond even sports an eye patch in true homage.

Unfortunately for Maureen, her “character” Min received cut screen time. In her autobiography, she talks about more scenes that were shot, but due to the objections of the Wead’s real life daughters, the scenes were cut. Maureen also mentions the daughter’s and the studios efforts to omit from the picture the fact the real life Mrs. Wead was an alcoholic.

The Wings Of Eagles (1957) - The 1950's - John Wayne Message Board (JWMB)
(JWMB) Spig is gonna move that toe!

In my personal view, this film proves John Wayne is an actor. The scenes in which Spig learns to walk again, and the agony over being separated from his wife, it’s all raw and real.I’d like to point out, there’s something natural about the way John Wayne plays this “character”, the tenderness of his scenes with his family and the camaraderie he has with the men in the Navy scenes. It proves you don’t need ‘action scenes’ for a John Wayne picture to be good, because what really counts is the actor himself. 

Overall, to me this film is marvelous, because it brings a real life Naval hero to the attention of the movie public. If you’re a John Wayne fan- which if you’re reading this you probably are-, and if you love Duke with Maureen (which again, you probably do love them together if you are reading this!) you are going to end up watching this movie and learning about a hero whose story is not always told. Not everyone’s story is as big as JFK’s or Abraham Lincoln’s, yet their contributions to society are just as important. Added in the fact its the dream team of Ford, Wayne and O’Hara- you’ve got one solid Hollywood biopic!

this was written for the Sept/Oct 2021 Biopic Blogathon hosted by Hometowns to Hollywood . Make sure to check out other entries!

The Rare Breed

This post is written for The No True Scotsman blogathon hosted by RealweegieMidget Reviews! Check out the other posts!!

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Bonnie Scotland! Portrayed on screen a number of times but almost never in the correct context! There’s a handful of Scottish actors, musicians, TV personalities and royals I have come to really admire from Scotland- Mary, Queen of Scots, Sir Sean Connery, Robert Carlyle OBE, Angus and Malcolm Young, Chef Gordon Ramsay OBE just to name to a few! But the thing that blows my mind every time is just how many people throughout the screen’s history have acted the part of a Scot. And its certainly way more than you even thought!

Rarebreed.jpg
(Credit: Wikipedia)

In 1966, American born actor Brian Keith got his turn at playing a Scot in the western The Rare Breed. Despite mixed reactions to the film, the memorable part, according to co-star Maureen O’Hara was Brian’s ability to be a scene- stealer (although he doesn’t show up until around halfway through the film).

Directed by longtime John Ford/ John Wayne associate Andrew V McLaglen, and also starring James Stewart and Juliet Mills, The Rare Breed is one of those westerns that is cute, sweet, but not exactly top notch, “essential” material. You have to be a fan of the actors to recognize the there’s truly a good story to be told.  I’ve actually heard this movie be called a cross between John Ford (well his stock company, anyways) and Disney- a fair assessment, that in my opinion works.


Irish beauty Maureen O’Hara plays Englishwoman Martha, and her daughter Hilary (played by Juliet) who are on their way to sell their cattle at the fair. But their most prized cattle just isn’t any old cattle, his is name Vindicator, who is a rare breed (and is a very sweet bull, who is trained to follow Hilary when she whistles or sings God Save The Queen!).
When a wealthy rancher purchases Vindicator for his business partner,  wild Scotsman Alexander Bowen (Brian Keith) Martha hires Sam ‘Bulldog’ Burnett (Stewart) to help her transport him. Romance, danger, and comedy soon ensures on their journey!

The Rare Breed (1966)
Hilary and Vindicator! AWW! (credit IMBD)

What I adore about this film is really the cast.  Even though, Maureen O’Hara said in her autobiography she was distracted during the shoot and her heart wasn’t completely in it. Behind the scenes, she was dealing with personal matters of the heart with her then boyfriend Enrique Parra. To see Juliet work with Maureen is just awesome! Hayley Mills already worked with Maureen five years earlier in The Parent Trap– and it’s cool to observe that Maureen has a great rapport with both Mills sisters! Jimmy Stewart as always gives a solid performance, and if you enjoy JS westerns, I really do believe this film should be one worth watching.

The Rare Breed (1966)
(THAT’S BRIAN KEITH??!!! credit: IMBD)

Brian Keith, the first time I saw him, I didn’t recognize him! While his accent is not absolutely perfect, it’s a pretty dang great attempt. Its precisely the manner in which he immerses himself in the role and you can tell he’s having a blast. I’d say in this case its spirit over technicality of the accent. I admit, I wasn’t totally hooked on the character the first time I watched it, but over the course of re-watching, Bowen is just a goofy, fun character you don’t have to take seriously. If he was played by another actor, then you would totally hate the character! ! Brain Keith brings warmth and silly humor to the role, it grows on you, and its glorious! ! I mean he even plays bagpipes in this movie- Yeah!!!!

The Rare Breed - Rotten Tomatoes
Sam “Bulldog” with a baby Bull! (credit: rotten tomatoes)

A few fun things to look out for in this film is brief appearances by Harry Carey Jr, Jimmy O’Hara (also sometimes known as James Lilburn; Maureen’s brother) and Ben Johnson.  And I have to give a mention to Vindicator the bull! Vindicator was such a cute sweet bull, that was just adorable to look at. Whenever Hilary would pet him or whisper the words of God Save The Queen to him, it was just sweet. It’s pretty cool Vindicator has a plot all his own within the film, his breed is sought after and we even see his kin towards the end of the film, it was so cute!!

In the end, The Rare Breed may be digging into the western genre, and not super well known, but I’d beg to say its certainly one worth watching. It’s not a gritty western, but rather a cute one, maybe even a western for people who don’t like westerns! And when all said and done- Its even got a Scottish character performance! Aye!! 

The Rare Breed (1966) is available to own on DVD (from Universal) and Blu-ray (from Kino Lorber) !

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

My first ever encounter with A Streetcar Named Desire came in August of 2012. It was schedule pickup day a few weeks ahead of my first day of Junior year of high school and a chance to pickup class material. Junior year, English class was subtitled as, “American literature“, and along with Streetcar, the other required reading that year was The Crucible. With my specific teacher, I also ended up reading: Catcher in the Rye and Death of a Salesman.

StreetcarNamedDesire.JPG

For those who may be unfamiliar with A Streetcar Named Desire, it tells the tragic tale of Blanche DuBois, a fallen southern woman whose disillusionment over her struggles in life sends her into madness. The 1951 film version stars many of the same actors who appeared in the original Broadway stage version, including Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, Karl Malden as Mitch, and Kim Hunter as Stella. Vivien Leigh as Blanche DoBois is the notable change for the film, as Jessica Tandy played the role on Broadway.  Leigh did, however, play Blanche in the London production.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).jpg

Reading Streetcar in class didn’t come until just before spring break of that year, and my first impressions of the play weren’t very prestigious at all. I recall thinking it was going to be some sort of romance or drama, not expecting a tragedy, with despicable characters. I found Stanley to be a monster and Stella to be a complete pushover. Blanche, however weird of a character she was, did attract my attention because there seemed to be a mystery about who she was.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951 film) - Wikipedia

At this time, I had no idea there was a movie adaptation, and after we finished the book, the teacher announced we would watch it. I was interested because I wanted to see how these characters would visually interact with each other, I thought it would help me better understand the play as a whole. The moment the teacher put on the DVD and it started playing, a majority of my classmates were uninterested because, “it’s an old black and white movie”. I personally didn’t mind if it was black and white, and while I didn’t know much about Vivien Leigh’s work other than Gone with the Wind, I was glued to watch something with her in it.

My personal highlight of the film was the introduction to the marvelous actor that is Karl Malden. There I was, at age 16, watching this movie for the first time ever, and I see Karl Malden come on screen: I was immediately transfixed on his powerful voice, and automatically had high respect for his acting ability. Due to the fact I knew the outcome of his and Blanche’s relationship, I was really upset! I didn’t want to watch Mitch reject Blanche and snub her after learning her story. I really hoped it to turn out better than the play, but overall, I knew the rejection was the right decision. Mitch and Blanche’s dissolution of their friendship and any level of romantic relationship ending is the catalyst for Blanche’s final descent into her downward spiral, and it needs to happen for the story to conclude.

This movie was my real first exposure to Marlon Brando’s acting as well, and I took an instant dislike him. Of course now looking back, what I really meant was I can’t stand the character of Stanley. Stanley is a horrible husband to Stella, and is disgusting to Blanche- plus his famous “Stella” yell can absolutely get on one’s nerves. When looked at from an acting perspective, I admit it was spectacular. Brando could become any character, and you believed he was this nasty person. I’m sure I can’t picture anyone else yelling “Stellaaaaa” on a balcony.

Blanche was perfectly portrayed, and because I wasn’t alive during the original role on Broadway, I can’t see anyone else but Vivien- Sorry Ms. Tandy!! She was so immersed in this role, which certainly shows shades of her real life struggles. I’m sure it was a combination of Vivien’s stage training in the role, her professionalism, and her real life experience with mental health struggles that made her become Blanche. Its an occasion that only comes once in a lifetime- or perhaps in Vivien’s case, twice, where an actress is so perfectly married to the screen role. I think this was the best paring of actor and role since Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story!

Over the years since my junior year of high school, I sort of put this film out of my mind, really dismissing it, until I took a deeper look at it as an adult. I really was able to connect it to its source material, and it’s as faithful to the play as it could be for the screen.

The ending of the film, is what I wished would have happened in the play, upon comparing the two endings for the first time back in high school. Yet today, when watching the film’s ending, it cheapens the play’s ending. By having Stella stay with Stanley it makes it raw and real, and adds to the tragedy of the whole situation. Seeing Stella run off with the baby while leaving the house in the movie, it kind of almost makes you less emotional about what just Blanche minutes earlier. It was all due to the production code- and I’m not sure a better ending could have been conceived, but it makes the film less emotionally reactive.

Overall, its been a long winding road for me to appreciate this film. Seeing it in high school was just that, a high schooler watching, doing as they are asked. I did watch it as an adult for the first time at age 20- and I didn’t care for it, finding it even more bizarre than I did in high school. Finally fast forward now to my current age of 24 where it just clicks- and I defend the Oscars for Vivien Leigh and Karl Malden. I look at the film and I see something so tragic, but deeply layered with psychological depth and connection. I view it, and I really do see a masterpiece!

Be sure to check out other posts for The 4th Broadway Bound Blogathon 2021, HERE!

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Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (film) - Wikipedia

If you’re like me and have a lotta love for Colin Firth, chances are you know his most associated role is that of Darcy. Whether it be Fitzwilliam Darcy in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice or Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones trilogy, it’s no secret Colin was born to play the role. He’s so perfect at being that aloof, at times slightly arrogant, all round English gentleman. With the success of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), it was a no-brainer the cast (which also includes Renee Zellweger as Bridget and Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver) reunited for a sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004). 

The concept: what happens when you’re in an established relationship and on the edge of proposal; not a bad concept, it follows the pattern set by the novels. The execution: really, really terrible that it’s worth a watch to see just how terrible. Although it is awful, and gets more awful the more I watch it, I will admit it is a guilty pleasure. It’s fun to laugh at and there are some legitimately funny scenes. Plus more Colin Firth is never a bad thing.

Image gallery for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - FilmAffinity

First off, this film suffers from terrible pacing and transition. One minute Bridget is at a dinner gala in London, next she’s on the slopes in Austria and before you know it, she’s in jail in Thailand. Add in the fact that her jail sequence is too long and sluggish you’re just waiting for the end, which is a bit abrupt.

Next, this film suffers from a poor script and bad direction. While I do say it was right for another woman to direct, Beeban Kidron didn’t grasp the dynamic of the 3 characters, making character development just non existent. Bridget is even more clumsy, awkward and crass in the second film. It’s as if the portrayal is a spoof of the character when compared to the first film. In the first movie, Bridget is still clumsy, awkward and crass, but she’s got a likable charm that balances these traits. She wants to better herself for the sake of becoming better, while in Reason she’s stalemated to being an unlikable version of herself.
Colin and Hugh on the other hand, have significantly less screen time: with Hugh being almost absent from the first half, and vice-versa for Colin. This gives them virtually no character development. Plus they don’t have any interaction except one scene: fighting in a fountain.

Lastly, there are just random elements that make this film really bad. The opening credits song, for instance, is: Nobody Does It Better; what? Renee’s hair always looks messy and Hugh’s as well, for that matter. Finally, Bridget’s wardrobe is just so awful. Maybe that’s a character trait, but clashing colors and ill fitting pieces, they could have tried to give her a pretty wardrobe; she dressed much better in the first film.

On the positive side, for me, the main reason for watching and the highlight of the whole film for me is Darcy vs Cleaver fighting in a fountain. Not only is it an epic sissy fight set against the awesome rock sound of The Darkness’s  ‘I believe in a thing called Love’, it’s probably the only aspect of the film that’s taken to the next level. Even if you don’t think the movie is worth it this one scene certainly is. I mean, Colin Firth, in a fountain, chasing Hugh Grant is always entertaining no matter the film!


The other aspect that make this film enjoyable are the funny side characters: Bridget’s friends, Mark’s co worker Rebecca Gillies (who can forget Rebecca’s true feelings!), and the women in the Thai jail are amusing. There’s even a scene at the jail when Bridget leads a “Like a Virgin” singalong that has a ton of spirit.

I heart Christmas sweaters - Mark Darcy / Colin Firth in Bridget Jones's  Diary | Bridget jones diary, Colin firth bridget jones, Bridget jones

Overall, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason may be a hot mess, but it’s one you have to watch too believe. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, but most of all: you’ll see Colin Firth play Mark Darcy again.

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This entry is for TAKING UP ROOM’S Third So Bad its Good blogathon! Be sure to check out more bad-goodness!

A Place to Call Home (2013-18)

The Australian tv show, A Place to Call Home, has one of the most fascinating stories of how I personally came to watch it. I came across it in 2015, when looking for more info on Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries season 3. A Place to Call Home pictures kept popping up and I saw an image of a cast with 1950s clothing, so I was curious about it. Upon Googling the show I had learned it ran in Australia for 2 years, got cancelled, but miraculously was uncancelled. I searched around for a trailer and watched the American one made by Acorn TV. It was in that very moment after watching the 1 minute and 50 second trailer, I knew the show was going to be a real winner. I just had an instinctive feeling about it, and bought season 1 DVD as basically a blind buy, taking a nearly $35 gamble on it.

This SOLD ME!

As I waited for the DVD to arrive, I didn’t have any doubts, which is unlike me, rather I was just so excited. I also had the benefit of knowing there wasn’t going to be an unresolved cliffhanger, as the show was locked in until at least season 4. I binged 1 and 2, watching 3 and beyond as it was airing.

The cast of A Place To Call Home prepare to say farewell | OverSixty
This kept popping up!

Created by the man behind Packed to the Rafters, Bevan Lee, the premise of A Place to Call Home starts as follows: In 1953, Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp) returns home to Australia after spending 20 years in Europe. On her journey back to Oz, working as a nurse for ocean liner passage, she meets the wealthy Bligh family, by taking care of the family matriarch, Elizabeth (Noni Hazlehurst) and it’s that encounter that changes everyone’s lives.

The series goes on to explore not only Sarah finding her home in the town of Inverness, but healing from her traumatic past. Other themes throughout the show’s run include Anti- Semitism and religious intolerance, public vs personal image, family disfunction, class divide, 1950s homosexuality, second chances, and above all, love and the meaning of home.

While A Place to Call Home is impacted by 1950s events, the show really is a character driven narrative. I’ve said it on Twitter and I will say it here, Marta’s character Sarah is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever seen on screen (Marta even retweeted me, I was so excited). Sarah Adams is Jewish by faith, (converting to marry her now deceased husband, Dr Rene Nordmann), defended the left in the Spanish Civil War, was a Nazi resistance worker, and is a Holocaust survivor. (Author’s note: I learned more about the Jewish faith and practices from this show than any class ever could offer.)

As for the Bligh family: Widower George Bligh (Brett Climo) is the owner of the estate Ash Park, although his Mother, Elizabeth is the real head of the family. George’s wife, Elaine, was a civilian war victim, passing away while their children, James (David Berry) and Anna (Abby Earl) were very young. In the first episode, James is newly married to his English bride, Olivia (Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood). Anna on the other hand is 20 at the show’s beginning with a long time crush on her childhood friend, Gino (Aldo Mignone), son of Italian immigrants.

Rounding out the cast is essential town busybody Doris Collins (Deborah Kennedy), family friend Dr. Jack Duncan (Craig Hall), family black sheep, sister/ daughter Carolyn Bligh (Sara Wiseman), rugged farmer Roy Briggs (Frankie J Holden), George’s sister-in law Reginia Standish (Jenni Baird) and starting in season 3, Dr. Henry Fox (Tim Draxl).

Overall, if Douglas Sirk created a TV show, and was allowed to outwardly explore the darkness within the glossy 1950s facade, this is the TV show you’d end up; only this show is even better. A Place to Call Home has been compared to Mad Men, Downton Abbey, and even Dynasty, but I think it’s got a style all its own, with a tremendous 6 year run covering the time span of 1953- to New Year’s Day 1960.

Some fans claim the time jump to 1958 in season 5 weakened the show’s narrative, but I personally declare it gives the show more intrigue, of filling in the missing 4 years. Another critcism I have heard was David Berry’s limited availability in seasons 5 and 6, but compared to other shows I’ve seen, the writers handled it tremendously well. I have the upmost respect for David Berry as James still had an impact on the plot, and the fact he appeared on screen proved he didn’t cut and run the minute a fame offering role in Outlander was offered.

The bottom line is if you’ve never seen the show I highly recommend it. It’s one of the best family saga tv shows you’ve never seen, and it reminds us all just who and what the real meaning of home is.

This is an entry for the Home Sweet Home Blogathon hosted by Reelweegiemidget and Taking up Room ! Be sure to check out other entries! !

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