Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"I don't need anything in the world, darling, but you... and a toothbrush."

Well, Christmas is behind us and it's time for the New Year! Which means, it's time for a New Year movie. One of my favorite New Year movies (although, frankly, I'm not sure how many New Year movies there are) is After the Thin Man (1936). I recommend first watching The Thin Man (1934) in order to get a better sense of the characters, but it really isn't necessary. Nick Charles (William Powell) is an ex-police detective who gave up professional sleuthing when he married Nora (Myrna Loy). However, he just can't get gumshoeing out of his system because he always ends up with a case! In this movie, the case hits home when it involves Nora's wealthy family. This movie is hilarious as well as intriguing, and it takes place on New Year's Eve! If you like drinking, I'll suggest my brother's idea for a drinking game in which you take a swig every time they do... which is often. However, being drunk is not necessary to enjoy this movie, which has a stellar cast (including James Stewart) as well as a humorously-not-so-stellar cast (Elissa Landi, who plays Selma is ridiculously over-the-top). I highly recommend it - it's thoroughly enjoyable. Just a short trivia note, the bantering relationship of Nick and Nora was not in the original script (or the original book, The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett), but was added in based on William Powell and Myrna Loy's bantering relationship in real life! So, enjoy the humor and quick wit as you watch this delightful mix of martinis, murder, and madness!

Nick: Have you made your New Year's resolution yet?
Nora: No, any complaints or suggestions?
Nick: A few...
Nora: Which?
Nick: Complaints.
Nora: All right, shoot.
Nick: Well, you don't scold, you don't nag, and you look far too pretty in the morning.
Nora: All right, I'll remember: must scold, must nag, mustn't be too pretty in the morning.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just Because It's Christmas (and at Christmas, you tell the truth)

Although I realize this is only my second post, I would like to keep this blog from getting repetitive. So, from time to time I'll change things up: such as today, where I want to list some of my favorite Christmas movies! Few things get me completely into the holidays like good Christmas movies do and yet few holiday things can be enjoyed throughout the year like good Christmas movies can (although you may disagree). So here are some of my favorites, please say something if I miss one. Merry Christmas!

  1. It's A Wonderful Life (1946) - such a classic! although I confess that sometimes I simply skip to the last 10 minutes of the movie.
  2. Love Actually (2003) - I love the way this movie appeals to just about everyone: people who love romantic comedies and people who find romantic comedies sappy, people who think happy endings are overrated and people who are optimistic.
  3. White Christmas (1954) - although Christmas only shows up at the very beginning and the very end of this film, it's such a great movie that I cannot skip it. It's so funny, so quotable, so sing-along-able, and so classic.
  4. Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980) - another Christmas movie where Christmas only shows up at the very end, but when I was little, we used to watch this movie every Christmas. And, like all feel-good movies, it's appropriate for the feel-good season.
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) - I love this movie! It's not strictly a Christmas movie but Santa Claus does make an appearance, there is snow for a good portion of the film, so I think it counts!
  6. Muppet's Christmas Carol (1992) - this movie is so funny and there are some truly great songs in it!
  7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) - I'm so sorry Jim Carrey, but I really prefer the cartoon! I like explanations a great deal, but sometimes they simply are not necessary. And I think, in the case of this story, I don't need to know how the Grinch got to be the Grinch, I don't care why the Whos sing even after their presents are gone - that's part of the magic of it!
  8. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) - while we're on the subject of classic Christmas cartoons, this one is always on the list (at least in my book).
  9. Holiday Inn (1942) - although this movie has some amazing songs (my favorite version of "White Christmas") and one of my favorite actors (Fred Astaire), I'm ever so slightly hesitant to throw it in the list because I really dislike most of the characters in it. Fred Astaire's a jerk, Bing Crosby is okay, and the overall storyline is frustrating. But, it's a classic, and there are some great songs, and, again, the part where Bing Crosby sings "White Christmas" and plays the bells with his pipe is really great.
  10. Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone (2001) and
  11. Peter Pan (2003) - are both simply good family films that, in my opinion, go really well with the holiday season.
  12. Little Women (1994) - I really do not like being sad, which is why this movie is not higher on the list. It is a really good Christmas movie, however, and it ends very well.
  13. Hook (1991) - after going through some obsession phases with Peter Pan (he still is one of my favorite characters), I have a hard time with this movie. But, when I get over it (which I sometimes do) this movie is a very good Christmas film.
  14. The Thin Man (1934) - not much of a Christmas movie really, because it has nothing to do with Christmas. But there's Christmas in it and it's such a good movie that I really cannot resist!
I'll end my list at 14, to give room for any I may have forgotten. Please let me know what movies help usher in the holidays at your house! Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Welcome to my blog! I'm very new at this blogging thing so I tried to think of something I'm passionate about that I would be willing to talk about for a long time. I love movies, old and new, so I decided to write movie reviews! I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your feedback. By the way, the title of my blog, Flying Down to Hollywood, is a reference to the first Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie was Flying Down to Rio (1933). Because of that, I think the first movie I will review will be Flying Down to Rio (warning: there are some spoilers).

First some brief history: Flying Down to Rio was not originally meant to be a Fred and Ginger vehicle. It was RKO's attempt to break away from bankruptcy, so they picked big name actors such as Dolores del Rio to bring in the crowds. Fred and Ginger were actually 4th and 5th billed. However, when they danced the Carioca (seen here), the crowd gave a standing ovation and their appeal was evident.

This is not my favorite Fred and Ginger movie, if only because they are a very small part of the story. I think the Carioca is one of their funnest dance numbers. I love their earlier work because their style was still pretty raw - he was still pretty stiff and she was still pretty loose. The main storyline of the movie is, in my opinion, rather uninteresting. The nice guy (Raul Roulien) does not get the girl (Dolores del Rio), which in the end seems okay since the girl does not really deserve him. She seems much better suited for the smarmy playboy she ends up with (Gene Raymond). The story is pretty tedious and the saving grace of the movie are the few musical numbers within it. Vincent Youmans composed the music, so the music is excellent. However, if you're looking for a fantastic Fred and Ginger film, do not go to this one. Look into Top Hat, Swing Time, or maybe The Gay Divorcee first.