Friday, November 27, 2009

Youth is wasted on the wrong people

First off, I want to thank all of the wonderful people who voted on the poll. It was pretty much a landslide really. Fred of the '30s won hands-down. Thanks again for voting! New poll this weekend is Mr. Errol Flynn. So, go vote on which swashbuckling classic is your favorite!

Well, it's getting close to the holiday season now that we're getting Thanksgiving under our belt. I know Christmas music and holiday films may still be a little premature to some people, but today is for discussing Old Hollywood's influence on New Hollywood and this comparison is related to Christmas (however, if I post it on Christmas there may be some controversy). You ready?

Okay. This may seem like an odd comparison, but here goes. A few weekends ago, I watched 17 Again (2009) and I have to confess that I found some definite echoes of It's A Wonderful Life (1946). Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that 17 Again is like the great Capra classic, I'm simply stating that there are significant echoes. Hear me out:

In 17 Again Mike O'Donnell (Zac Efron) gives up his dream to go to college in order to marry his impregnated girlfriend. Now, an adult (Matthew Perry), he regrets his decision, wishing he could go back to high school and start all over again. He meets a mysteriously omniscient janitor (Brian Doyle-Murray) and, on a drive home, sees the janitor standing on a bridge. He gets out of the car and rushes to save the guy's life, then gets sort of sucked into a vortex and suddenly is back in his 17-year-old body again. Now, he has the chance to regain apprecation for his family and understand what is really important in life.

Most people have seen It's A Wonderful Life, but for the sake of argument, I'll outline the similarities. George Bailey gives up his life-long dreams for the sake of others, then grows up to regret what he has lost. He never does get to travel (a point that I always get frustrated with, every time I see the movie) and he is always stuck in Mandrake Falls with the Building & Loan company that he never really wanted. He gets his second chance by jumping off a bridge to save a suicidal man, who turns out to be his guardian angel (Henry Travers). George Bailey's transformation is drastically different than Mike O'Donnell's; however, he learns to appreciate his family and friends and understands that he is, in fact, much wealthier than he believed.

Do you believe me now? Hopefully. I really liked 17 Again, I thought it was a very cute and very funny movie. Again, I'm running on the assumption that most people have seen It's A Wonderful Life, but if you haven't, I highly recommend it. The last ten minutes make me cry with happiness every time.

If you have any good ideas for comparison/contrast, please let me know!

Also, let me know what you think of this one. Do you agree? Disagree? Are you impressed by my wonderful insight? Or appalled by my audacity to compare a Zac Efron flick to a Capra classic?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why, you speak treason! Fluently.

Despite the fact that it is Thanksgiving week and I'm packing my bags for the long weekend whilst contemplating my three research papers, I'm going to take a small breather in order to post my weekly movie choice. So, continuing with the count-up:

#4 The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Say what you will about men in tights: Errol Flynn pulls them off. I adore Errol Flynn. I think he was a beautiful and wonderful actor. Sadly, my criteria for happy endings drops a considerable amount of his classics out of the spectrum (I've avoided many), so I've really seen few of his films. I think I can just about safely say that his three most classic (and, in my opinion, greatest) films are: Captain Blood (1935), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), and Sea Hawk (1940) - or maybe those just happen to be the three films directed by Michael Curtiz, with scores by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, relatively similar story lines, and good-looking sidekicks (in other words, the ones with all the proper ingredients to make me like them). But, I want to know your opinion. So, my poll this week is: Which of Mr. Flynn's films do you like best? Or did I overlook your favorite?

I'm still debating whether or not I will post on Thursday. I have lately been posting every Tuesday (the 100 movie list) and Thursday (the different segments). I'm wondering if I should wait a day and post on Friday, get a head start and post tomorrow, or just go ahead and post on Thursday as I may actually have time. Anyway, we'll see. In the chance that I decide to wait until Friday, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all enjoy it!

And, for a Thanksgiving present: bloopers from 1938 (including #4 up above), my favorite part starts at 4:10 Enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Interesting? You know sometimes the effect Horace on people surprises me."

This week, I was given the lovely honor of being selected for the Beautiful Blogger Award. I was nominated by one of my favorite bloggers, Emma Wallace. Emma is a wonderful musician and, in her blog, she covers a new song every week (she's done some of my personal favorites like "Let's Misbehave," "Night and Day," and "Blue Skies" all the way to Disney and Sesame Street songs!), and she talks about the happy things in life - a thoroughly encouraging blog to read and my particular favorite! Thank you Emma!!

The rules for the Beautiful Blogger Award are as follows:

1) Thank the person who nominated me for this award.
2) Copy the award & place it on my blog.
3) Link to the person who nominated me for this award.
4) Tell us 7 interesting things about yourself.
5) Nominate 7 bloggers.
6) Post links to the 7 blogs I nominate.

So, now I have to think of some interesting things, which is a surprisingly difficult thing to do! I hope you find them interesting or, at the very least, mildly noteworthy.

1. I corresponded with an author, Mr. Lloyd Alexander (you may recognize him for having written The Black Cauldron, which Disney turned into a movie in 1985), for about 6 or 8 years, starting from elementary school all the way to college. Sadly, he passed away two years ago but he was a really great man, a wonderful author, and a kind pen pal.

2. My dream choice of weapon: bow and arrow. This may seem a little Robin Hood-esque of me, but I really do think that archery is such a neat and underrated sport. We did it for 2 weeks in middle school - it was the only part of gym I liked and I was sick half of the time! (of course, we did soft ball which is the bain of my existence for about a month) I now own 2 bows and some arrows and all I lack is a place to use them.

3. My mom made my dresses for junior and senior prom. Now, this may seem more of an interesting fact on my mother, but still - I got to pick out the patterns and no one at my school had the same dress!

(I'm the one on the right)

4. I'm about to graduate college! I'll graduate in December with a B.A. in English (and yes, I'm familiar with the song from Avenue Q) After graduation, I plan to get an M.F.A. in Children's Literature so that I can write children's books!

5. I love hats. I used to collect them when I was in high school. Since then, I've moved around a lot and hats are incredibly difficult to move with because they're weirdly shaped and often easily ruined. My humble collection consists of about 4 fedoras, 6 newsie caps, 3 berets, and a 20's style hat that I don't know the name of. I'm dying to get my hands on a really good top hat (a bowler hat would be nice too).

6. I love Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. My favorite is The Pirates of Penzance and my sisters and I used to reenact songs from it. (I was always Ruth whenever we sang "O, False One.")

7. I'm working on becoming a ballroom dance teacher. I love dancing. For my certification, I have to know the first 7 steps of Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Cha-Cha, Swing, and Rumba. I'm nearly done, which is incredibly exciting!

The 7 blogs I nominate are:
A Noodle in a Haystack
Fire and Music
Four Story Mistake
Hollywood Dreamland
L.A. La Land
Standard of the Day
Strawberry Koi

Thursday, November 19, 2009

They didn't have be-bop

Okay so for the fashion segment this time, I want to highlight a dress from On The Town (1949). Ann Miller wears it in the "Prehistoric Man" song. I love the sexy, classy style of the dress. It could easily be dressed up and dressed down. I've had my eye on this dress for years and my good friend and fellow blogger Miss Emma showed me this: you can buy it on ebay! I'm glad I got to show this to you because I love this store, so amazing. When I save up enough money, I'm definitely buying this dress.

What do you think? Thoughts? Like the dress or not quite your style? And I realize this is not the song highlighting segment but if I had the chance/guts I would definitely want to do this in a museum, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I hereby declare my independence: Tony Hunter, 1776. Bless you.

So, let's start the ball rolling with my list of top 100 movies:

#3 The Band Wagon (1953)

I've had the good fortune this semester to take an Independent Study on Film History. Because it's an Independent Study, I've picked the movies I wanted to focus on, picked the text book, picked the way I wanted to talk about everything - which is all very liberating but also very intimidating. I do wish I could have talked more about some of my favorite movies. I'm showing Two Girls and a Sailor (1944) and Born Yesterday (1950) tomorrow night in a double feature and talking about how the films reflected their times and everything, which is really cool. It basically came down to Born Yesterday and The Band Wagon. In a way, I wish I'd gone ahead and done The Band Wagon as it is one of my favorite movies and illustrates my point beautifully. However, my professor voted for the non-musical as I was already showing one musical so I complied. As you all know, I like that movie anyway so it was no real heartbreak. Anyway, it's nice to be able to talk a little bit about The Band Wagon now. It's one of my favorite films. Every time I see it I remember how much I love it.

I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone for voting in the poll this week. Right now, the poll stands at 5 votes for The Philadelphia Story and 2 votes for Bringing Up Baby. There are still a few hours left so if you really love Holiday or Bringing Up Baby and want to pull them to the top then please feel free to do so. At this point, however, I think it's safe to say that The Philadelphia Story wins (my personal favorite of the three, as I think you already know). Thanks again for voting! I think I like the idea of having the poll be a reflection of the movie of the week, so I'll continue that theme today:

There is a pretty distinct difference between Fred Astaire of the 1930's musical

and Fred Astaire of the 1950's musical.

Now, one must take into account that 1930s musicals were practically pure escapism, so the plots were fluffier, the drama was lighter, and sets were more dazzling (sorry I can't continue the parallel structure there: dazzlinger?). Whereas the 1950s musicals were an effort to bring back the popularity of films in the face of the rising popularity of televisions. Back to the glory days, as it were. They were often steeped in nostalgia and the plots are a little heavier. Thus, 30s Fred Astaire (to my mind) is lighter, sillier, wackier, while the 50s Fred Astaire has a little more frustration, wisdom, maturity. What do you think? 1930s Fred or 1950s Fred? I'll post the poll tonight.

Oh, and one final note before I head out: Thank you to all of my wonderful, wonderful followers! I now have 10 of you! I had made that my goal, to reach 10 by Thanksgiving and I reached it! Hooray!! So thank you. I truly appreciate it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How could this happen to me, just when I'm beginning to feel like a wolf?

First off, I want to point out my newest addition to my blog: the poll located over here to the left... Please vote! I realize that the success of polls pretty depends on having enough people respond so please respond! If haven't seen all 3 films then vote for the one you have seen. Anyway, moving right along...

Time for the spotlight on a great musical number. Today, I want to talk about the Mexican Hat Dance in Anchors Aweigh (1945) with Gene Kelly and a little girl, Sharon McManus. The song is relatively short (less than four minutes) and has, basically, nothing to do with the rest of the film. Nevertheless, it's one of my favorite moments in the movie and every time I watch it, I get a surge of happiness, excitement, and longing. Honestly, if I had a chance to dance with Gene Kelly, I think I would want to dance like that: with that sort of playful abandon, just for the sheer joy of dancing. Now, I'm not saying I wouldn't want to dance like he does with Cyd Charisse in Singin' in the Rain (1952), but there is something to be said about the warmheartedness of this scene. The part where he picks her up off the fountain and they begin dancing around the courtyard and around the oddly huge candle never fails to cheer me up.

Today, it is uniquely cold here in St. Augustine. While any readers not living in Florida may scoff at my thin skin, I will confess that the drop to the 50s today has really sent me scrambling for my coat, scarf, and hat. I find this scene fitting for a cold day like today. So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, curl up, and enjoy the warmth and adorableness that is this scene:

Again, please vote in the poll. I would greatly appreciate it. Let me know what you think of the scene, of the movie, of Gene Kelly. What scene depicts best how you would dance with Gene Kelly?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm gonna tell him just that!

This past weekend I spent well over an hour perusing classic movie blogs. I've now subscribed to several (I have a list in the side bar) and I love the daily updates from fellow classic film enthusiasts. A few things I've learned in my perusals: bloggers love pictures, an interesting header entices people to continue reading a blog, and polls are fun! So, with that new knowledge I'm going to start playing around more with my site. I want to try and create a new poll every week. I'm really excited about this and it really hope people respond to it, but we'll see. I'll let you know when I've put up the new blog (maybe Thursday?).*** Also, one of these days I'm going to try and fix my header to make it more interesting. I've kind of liked the current look - I think the minimal aspect of my page makes it look sort of classy, but there is something to be said about a really cool picture (this one from Hollywood Dreamland is my particular favorite, so far). As for the pictures, I'm still debating. Old photographs and old movie posters are undeniably fun and classy. I like the way Classic Forever does photos of the day. But sometimes too many pictures gets distracting, in my opinion. I have to admit, I kind of like the way I use just a few photos here and there. But, looking through blogs has renewed an interest in old photos and I love the way some bloggers (like the writer of Some Parade) use photos as illustrations. I'd like to work on using photos in an effective way (without stealing the idea, of course). But we'll see where that goes. I'm not making any promises.

In other news, continuing in my list of Top 100 Movies:

#2 The Philadelphia Story

*** I broke down and posted the poll anyway. I couldn't wait! It's along the theme of my movie choice above. I'll leave the poll up for the week and change it next Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gosh, your lips look delicious!

It's November! November means Fall. Fall means cold weather (except in Florida, apparently, which is where I happen to be. darnit!). And cold weather means it's appropriate to listen to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" as much as is humanly possible. And "Baby, It's Cold Outside" means Ricardo Montalban!

Today's segment: spotlight on a performer. Lately, I've been spotlighting performers celebrating their birthdays. While I love this arrangement, and would like to keep it up, there are so many wonderful performers whose birthdays won't be around for a while!

Today, I'd like to talk about a recent favorite of mine: Ricardo Montalban. I say "recent" because I didn't really discover him until this past year. I listened to my recording of "Baby, It's Cold Outside," completely ignorant of the man singing it. Anyway, when I discovered him, I was in love. A beautiful actor, he sang, he samba'd, and, though I'm not sure whether or not he shouted, "ay, caramba," he did play the piano (be still my heart!). My only complaint with him is that he did not do very many musicals. He had such a talent for them, I think it is a sad loss to what could have been. He and Cyd Charisse made a great pair. They danced together on a number of occasions.

Sadly, my favorite number of is, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," (but you could probably guess that from my introduction) which is not available on YouTube, but I've tried linking a few others in the description above. I hope they will pique your curiosity if you've never seen him before or, if you have, you will enjoy revisiting them. If you have never seen any of his musicals, I thoroughly recommend them, with a warning: the plots are not always stellar and the films are often very light. But if, like me, you enjoy that sort of thing, then don't hesitate to check them out. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The world is full of a number of things. I'm sure we should all be as happy as...

I have a confession to make: I have a dreadful habit when I watch movies: I skim. Actually, I skim in general. I skim movies, I skim books, I even skim music sometimes. This doesn't mean, of course, that I don't like movies. I love them! I think movies are a fantastic art form and that they are a wonderful source for entertainment. However, I uphold a philosophy that if something is supposed to be enjoyable and isn't, then what's the point? That's why I skim. If I'm watching a movie and it gets depressing, disgusting, unpleasantly tense, or creepy, then I skim to a part that seems better.

Because of this, 2 hour movies can be watched in about 30-40 minutes, the way I watch them. My brother once made a joke that I should get through AFI's top 100 movies list and if I did it the way I watch movies, then I'd get through it in less than a month. I actually seriously considered taking up his joke, but I'm unsure. I've looked through the list and some of the movies simply don't seem like my cup of tea. That doesn't mean they're not good movies. I've watched movies that I didn't enjoy and I still call them good movies.

But I decided recently to make my own list of top 100 movies. And I've decided today to post up one movie a week - sort of like another segment but it won't go into the segment schedule. These movies won't be in any particular order. I think I'll have to decide that when I finish the list. Besides, I'm terrible at decisions; I'd probably flip-flop over #1 for ages.

So, in no particular order. I shall begin the list today. And, for the sake of keeping count, let's say this one is number one. I would give a little blurb as to why I've picked it... maybe I will in movies that are less obvious. I'm just afraid I'll end up saying the same things over and over again. These films are my favorites, my top 100. If you disagree, you are more than welcome to say so. Now without further ado....

#1 Singin' in the Rain (1952)