Happy New Year out there to all of my readers and fellow classic Film fans. I’m not sure about you- but I can’t think of a better way to start the year than by reading and writing about Bill and Myrna!
AND I’m not as Cool as Bill Powell as Nick Charles, but “Happy New Year, Sugar!” and here’s to another great year of TCMParties, watching new to you films, watching old favorites, and of course all of the classic movies that we all know and love.
A few months ago I hosted my Duo Double Feature Blogthon and I chose Robert Redford and Natalie Wood. However, I had only watched one (Inside Daisy Clover 1965) of their two films together, promising I’d write about their other (This Property is Condemned) when I saw it. Well this may be a month late from when I saw it, but here it is- This Property is Condemned (1966)
Honestly this is not a movie you watch for plot, per-say but one you watch for performances and good chemistry; kind of like Paris when it Sizzles (1964).
With that being said- Yes, I agree when Robert Wagner cites this film as one of his favorite Natalie performances and I will say it does seem this is the better of the two Wood/Redford films. WARNING- This post contains spoilers- this is the type of movie that cannot be talked/ written about without spoiling certain scenes/plot points
Based on the one act play by Tennessee Williams, the story and plot is as follows: Told in a frame narrative by the character of Willie Starr (Mary Badham- Yes! that’s Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird) the movie is about Alva Starr (Natalie) – Mississippi small town girl longing for a big town life- she’s got a sister Willie and an embarrassing single Mother (Kate Reid) , who runs a boarding house. Redford plays Owen Legate- a drifter sort who works for the railroad- he and Alva meet when he comes to stay at the boarding house.
Naturally the two fall for each other and there is everything working against them. What follows after they meet is a bit of randomness not really super relevant to plot- but again- it’s Natalie and Redford being super adorable with each other so- who cares what is happening, really.
The major thing worth mentioning in terms of the story is JJ- Mrs Starr’s boyfriend- a creep – and Mr Johnson a old, rich railroad worker who clearly wants to go out with Alva (Mrs Starr approves- as she claims he will ‘look out’ and ‘take care’ of Alva and the family)
The plot gets going when Mr Johnson wants to take the family to Memphis with Alva protesting, as she would rather join Owen in New Orleans.
LITE Spoilers- Quite possibly the weirdest part of this movie is when after Alva is denied going with Owen, and after going out to the bar with her family, JJ and Mr Johnson- she marries JJ. I think you, as the viewer, can guess after she marries, she runs away from JJ and joins Owen in NOLA.
MAJOR SPOILERS- AS IN THE ENDING OF THE MOVIE SPOILERSBut it’s the ending that is the most crazy- Within the last ten-ish minutes of the movie, it is pure Natalie and Robert bliss- they are so happy and cute, they are in New Orleans- they are so wonderful- it’s everything you want between two characters who you are rooting to be together for- Owen even proposes marriage to Alva and offers they can send for Willie once they are settled in Chicago- H o w e v e r- in the classic twist, the bliss does not last, as Alva’s mother shows up, having tracked her down, and spills that Alva is married to JJ.
Now this is where the twist gets turned on its ear- The scene continues with Redford’s character doing the whole- “Alva, she’s lying; tell me she’s lying!” bit- and Alva does run off, into the rain crying- but we never see the aftermath of the fallout– it ends with Alva running off and Bam!!! cut straight back to Willie where the movie began- and we hear – not see the fate of Alva – that she caught tuberculosis and died.
Abrupt- yes- shocking- yes BUT in a weird sort of way- it’s oddly satisfying because you don’t have to deal with the angst of Alva and Owen’s breakup and probably eventual reconciliation, what you remember is the happiness they had- (yes she runs out on him but it’s so fast paced you don’t have time to think about it before the film ends)
Overall, my personal feeling is this film is not that bad; I thought it would be way worse- it’s watchable and given Natalie’s overall filmography- this one is one of her better films. If this movie was with other leads and a subpar director- I think it would have failed miserably- but with names like Wood, Redford and Pollack attached- it’s automatically better than average. My advice is to go in with an open mind, as I hesitated to believe people when they said this movie was actually good.
In terms of watching the performances (as I mentioned above) I simply adore Nat with Bob Redford and again I’ll say- I wish they made another movie together! Mr. Redford is soo handsome in this role and Natalie does a great job playing a southern bell (an unlikely role- given her Eastern European background).
I’m not sure when it will be on TCM next, or even when it will be out on DVD/ Blu-Ray- but if you can give this a chance- Especially if you like Natalie!
So- I was gonna call it a year on blogging with completing the Grace Kelly Blogathon this year- then Phyllis Loves Classic Movies talked me into being a co host to the Myrna Loy and William Powell New Years Blogathon.
It will take place Jan 1-3 2018- the only rules are that there will be 1- No duplicates and 2- Free martinis for all! You can write about any topic you want relating to Bill, Myrna and/ or the films they made! (remember they made 14 together!)
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.
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.
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.
Spencer 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!!
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!
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!
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!
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!!
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.
No matter what though- the bulk of Natalie and Bob’s friendship happened offscreen- 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.
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
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
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-
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
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)
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!
As far as envy goes, I think it’s safe to admit that people have always admired the interior of fancy hollywood homes; fancy pools, luscious living spaces, ridiculous decor, crazy things that only ‘Hollywood people’ can have all make up the spectacle, but almost never do ordinary people actually get an intimate glimpse on the inside.
However with the 1950 film noir Sunset Blvd, we do! Yes- we get to see the inside of one of the most insane mansions in Tinsel town- and it belongs to Miss Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) (yes- she was a star, remember, in all of the Max Von Mayerling directed silents?) To tell us about the house, I have a first hand account of the memories of Joe Gillis’ (William Holden), a screenwriter who saw all the details of Miss Desmond’s now famous residence.Miss Desmond’s residence is located on Sunset Blvd, and according to Mr Joe Gillis he describes her home as ‘a great big white elephant of a place.‘
Mr Gillis spend a lot of time in the company of Norma’s house- much more than he ever imagined- and admits that while Miss Desmond’s place may be one that”crazy movie people built in the crazy 20s” on the outside, on the inside it’s “run down and deserted” going as far to say the house was ‘neglected’ with an ‘unhappy look’ with the place “crumbling apart in slow motion” .
On the onset, yes- Norma has it all, complete with a projector and home theater, a tennis court with “faded markings and a sagging net”, and ‘of course a pool- as who doesn’t!
Inside, Miss Desmond is quite the decorator- making sure you would never forget its *her* house
It’s complete with insane things- like her bed!
And of course what tour of Desmond’s house would be complete without the legendary staircase, with Norma’s infamous announcement that “she’s ready for her close-up.”
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!!!
It’s that time of year again- time to celebrate the Golden Boy of Hollywood’s birthday!- and there’s no better way to do so that with a post for my good friend Ginnie’s Golden Boy Blogathon. (BTW- My Mr. Golden Holden would have been 99 this year- BEST. LOOKING. 99 YEAR-OLD-EVER.)
My entry this year is for one of Bill Holden’s lesser known but still really awesome film, Apartment for Peggy (directed by George Seaton, who also directed Bill in The Country Girl) from 1948. Yes- a pre-Sunset Blvd. Bill, and in color too!
I’ve got to say, I must give my mother credit for getting me to watch this film, because I had no idea this was even part of Bill’s filmography. It was my mom who saw it on the TCM line up and insisted we watch it together- and yes- she was correct as it turned out to be a wonderful film!
In Apartment for Peggy Bill plays Jason, a young GI studying chemistry in college. He is married to Peggy, played by the under-rated Jeanne Crain. Co-starring in the movie is Edmund Gwenn, who plays a professor who loans out his attic turned “apartment for Peggy”. It’s almost fate of how Jason and Peggy meet the Professor and how much they need each other, Jason and Peggy need a place to stay, and the Professor in his old age is lonely and need of company. It’s a perfect match when Peggy arranges for her and Jason to stay in the attic of the Professor’s house. And of course along the way the three of them form an adorable friendship!!!
If you’ve ever wanted to make the most of small space you’ve got- just watch the scene of when Jason and Peggy present their apartment to the professor- it’s impressive!! There’s enough room for the two of them, company and even a cute little dog!!!! 🙂
What I love most about this film, is that while it may be not as well known, it still tells a great story of how young Americans lived after World War 2. It gives a great look at how the GI bill helped returning soldiers academically, but how they still struggled financially. The film still holds truth of how hard it is to get going as a young adult, and I think some people forget that. It’s no easier to get started today than it was in 1948.
Personally, I love the color element of the film, as it’s a rare for a movie of this type to be in color- it’s not a musical or epic- it’s just a little post war melodrama
As for Mr. Holden, yes, it’s true that he plays second fiddle to Jeanne Crain, but the scenes that he is a part of, he certainly is the scene stealer!!! Hes charming, sweet and just so good to look at- ahh young Bill!
Let’s take a glance, shall we??
MR HOLDEN SO YOUNG and adorable!! (hugs him through the screen!)
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’.