Thursday, December 31, 2009

Give me a P-I-A-N-O Oh! Oh!

First off, Happy New Year's! Okay, it's New Year's Eve. But I won't see you until next year so... Happy New Year's!! Oh, and I have a special new year's treat: a new movie!

Second off, I'd like to thank my wonderful, wonderful followers for following me because on Tuesday I surpassed my goal of 15 followers by New Year's. Hooray!! And a big, warm, grateful thank you to Amanda Cooper at A Noodle in Haystack for mentioning my blog!

I also want to thank everyone who voted in this week's poll. Tom voiced concern about a possible tie and there actually was one: Susan from Miracle on 34th Street and Zuzu from It's A Wonderful Life both received 4 votes! Daphne and Vanderbilt from Holiday Inn earned 2 votes, coming in second. Thank you again to all who voted! And don't forget to vote in this week's poll: do you prefer light films or dark films or do you prefer both in equal proportion?

And I also want to thank everyone who suggested Cagney movies for me. I've added them to my Netflix queue and I can't wait! Thank you so much! I also realized after I wrote the post that I already knew of two light Cagney movies (oops) that I, in fact, own (oops): A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) and Footlight Parade (1933). I plan to rewatch these while I wait for the others to come in the mail. Thank you again everyone who suggested titles to me. I've taken your advice to heart and I will report back when I've seen the movies.

I've decided to do slightly more than just a spotlight on a musical number. Perhaps it's because it's the end of the year and I'd like to have a slam-bang finish or perhaps it's because my growing number of followers has inspired me to new heights... in any case, today I'm discussing "I Love A Piano" from Easter Parade (1948). I decided on this number in part because Andrew at Encore Entertainment asked if Easter Parade is good. The answer? Yes! It's a wonderful movie. The chemistry between Judy Garland and Fred Astaire was so great that the studio made preparations for another Judy and Fred film: The Barkleys of Broadway. Unfortunately, Judy Garland was having difficulties at this time and so a different actress was cast... Anyway, I picked this number (which begins at 3:34) because it is so enjoyable to watch. I love how Hannah's character blossoms as she becomes more like herself. The way she sings, the way they dance - they look like they're having so much fun! I love the way musical numbers develop character (that is, I love when they do). This scene shows Hannah's and Don's relationship perfectly - he grabs her up and swings her around, but is he doing that because he loves her or because it's part of the dance?

As I rewatched the scene in preparation for this post, I realized that there was more to be said about this number: namely, how much fun people seem to have when they're dancing on a piano. Fred and Judy do it here and I've found a few other examples....

Gene Kelly
does it in American in Paris (1951).

Shirley Temple does in Curly Top (1935).

Fred Astaire even does it again in Let's Dance (1950).

Apparently Hannah isn't the only one who loves pianos. If you had the chance, would you dance on one?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stix Nix Hix Pix

The other day I did something that I've wanted to do for quite some time: I revisited Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Which, incidentally, is #9 in my count-up:

It's odd revisiting a film that you haven't seen since childhood - there are scenes you vividly remember and whole sections that you completely forget about.

There are two scenes in particular that I remembered from the film: the one where George brings Mary flowers and chocolates because he's given her song to Fay Templeton and the scene where Josie tells George that she's getting married. For some strange reason, those two scenes stuck out to me and when I watched the film the other day, they were just as I remembered them - except I understood them better. I'm not sure why, but the second, the scene between Josie and George, moves me in some indescribable way. I can't quite put my finger on it. I've rewatched the scene a couple of times after having finished the movie, trying to figure out why I love it so much. I think it's the tenderness in the scene - the way George gently guides Josie to the bench, the way he puts his hand on her cheek, his smile when he looks at her (I also think that I saw the scene a bit differently when I realized that Josie is played by Jeanne Cagney, James Cagney's sister). In any case, there is something in this scene that moves me somehow. I remembered it from when I was a kid and after I finished the movie, I replayed the scene in my mind.

I love watching films as an adult that I watched as a kid because I can appreciate the emotion that goes into a scene more now. And I appreciate the performers a great deal more too. You see, I have a confession to make: I've seen very few James Cagney movies. I prefer light and fluffy movies. Films that have dark and heavy plots really bother me and I rarely revisit them. I may appreciate them, I may admire the artistry, but I rarely enjoy dark films. Thus, I've avoided Cagney films because I imagine them to be filled with violence, angst, and unpleasant tension. The trouble is, I watch something like Yankee Doodle Dandy (which I realize is not exactly fluffy) and I yearn to see more of Cagney's powerful acting.

So, my question to my readers is: what is the solution to my problem? What are your favorite Cagney films? I know there are Cagney fans out there - which movies would you recommend? Or am I going on a wild goose chase, looking for a semi-light Cagney flick?

Any suggestions?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tea? Well, isn't it a small world, sir?

Anna at Much Love posted a few questions on her blog (it's a lovely blog, I highly recommend it!) and I thought I'd answer them quickly. Please feel free to consider yourself tagged in this posting and answer the questions yourself. If you do, please leave a comment so I can go read your answers!

one thing that you loved in 2009? Rudolph Valentino, surprisingly. I discovered him while doing research for my independent study on film history. I watched The Sheik on Instant View on Netflix and I was hooked. To be honest, what I love about him isn't even his movies really; I find the phenomenon of him and his appeal incredibly fascinating. There are so many strange facets connected to his popularity that are truly interesting. I'll write a post on him eventually.

one thing you're loving this very moment? Almond Sunset Tea in my brand new yellow tea pot (thanks to my wonderful sister). I worked outside today and all I could think about for around 5 hours straight was how wonderful a hot cup of tea would be (it didn't disappoint).

one thing that you'd love to do next year? go to Brazil. I've been meaning to go for some time. I took a class on Portuguese my last semester and, although I'm far from mastering the language yet, I'm longing to go to Rio.

P.S. I know Christmas is now past but don't forget to vote for your favorite children in a holiday film!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Come meet the yuletide revelers

Merry Christmas everyone!!

I realize today is a holiday so I'll make this post short. I wanted to post a quick entry about one of my favorite holiday dresses.

Nora's Christmas Eve party cocktail dress in The Thin Man (1934):

It's a lovely dress (if anyone wants to get it for me for Christmas, I'd be ever so happy!)
C.K. Dexter Haven mentioned it in his wonderful write-up of the film. Isn't it a great dress? It's so classy and sexy and festive!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and I hope you get to go to as swinging a party as Nick and Nora's.

P.S. I finally had a chance to watch Christmas in Connecticut (1945) and I loved it! So hilarious!! I was laughing out loud and keeping my fingers crossed for it to end happily. I'm already wanting to rewatch it!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas isn't just a day; it's a frame of mind.

Today's choice was a tough decision. It's the last day to name a Christmas-y movie in time for Christmas and I was down to 2 choices: Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and It's A Wonderful Life (1946). In the end, I picked the former. I love It's A Wonderful Life but I just revisited Miracle on 34th Street this past week and it was such a lovely movie that I decided to go with it instead. I'm pretty sure I'll still have this list going by next Christmas (100 is a lot of movies) so I'm sure I'll get to It's A Wonderful Life by then. In the meantime...

#8 Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

I added this movie to my Netflix queue after Motion Picture Gems did a great write-up on it. Then I watched the trailer (I do love trailers) and there was no more decision left to make: I pushed it to the top of the queue. Speaking of Netflix queues, I have a film coming tomorrow that I'm very excited about (about which I'm excited - for all you grammatical experts out there). Christmas in Connecticut. I've never seen it (can you believe that?) and I can't wait! I've seen so many reviews for it lately and I feel as if I'm missing out on a classic.

The results are in on the White Christmas poll: out of 7 votes, 4 (57%) voted for the Crooner and 3 (42%) voted for the Comic. Thank you so much for voting!

The poll this week is about kids in Christmas movies. Which kid in a Christmas movie is your favorite? Susan from Miracle on 34th Street, Susan from White Christmas, Zuzu from It's A Wonderful Life, Daphne & Vanderbilt in Holiday Inn, or Debby in The Bishop's Wife? Have fun voting!

Oh, and speaking of holiday films, here's a holiday-centric vid to get you in the mood. The performer is Emma Wallace who has a lovely blog of her own and the video was edited by, well, me. Enjoy!

Happy Holidays! Thank you for reading and thank you to my 13th follower for following me!

Friday, December 18, 2009

To flirt with terpsichory!

I would do my segment on a musical number but I wrote a rather long entry on Wednesday and I think that will just about suffice for right now. Today I'm just going to post up the poll results:

To sum up: The Thin Man poll didn't have too many votes but I was still pretty surprised by the outcome. Half of the votes were for the first Thin Man movie, but Another Thin Man and Thin Man Goes Home each got a vote. So thank you to those wonderful few who voted!

The Fred and Ginger dance poll had several more votes which is nice. The results are as follows:
"Pick Yourself Up" won with 5 votes
"Never Gonna Dance" came in second with 4 votes
"Let's Face the Music and Dance" got 3 votes
"Night and Day" and "Cheek to Cheek" both got 2 votes
"The Carioca," "Hard to Handle," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," "Isn't This A Lovely Day," "The Piccolino," "Let Yourself Go," "Waltz in Swing Time," "They All Laughed," "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off," "Shall We Dance," and "Bouncing the Blues" all got 1 vote each.
"I Won't Dance (Reprise)" and "The Continental" didn't get any votes. The latter rather surprises me because it won an Oscar for Best Song. I'm not sure if the lack of votes has to do with the duo getting better in their later movies or the fact that the dance is about 10 minutes long with only 2 or 3 minutes dedicated to Fred & Ginger. Thoughts?

There's another poll up so don't forget to vote: would you pick the Crooner or the Comic in White Christmas?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top 20 Actors (aka Merry Christmas Ladies)

Kate Gabrielle at Silents and Talkies did a post the other day on her top 20 actors. She kindly opened the invitation to anyone who wanted to join in the fun. Well, I definitely want to join in the fun! So here are my top twenty favorite actors. The list is comprised of actors with whom I'm completely in love, the ones who are so great that they can do no wrong and character actors. I have a couple of explanations before I begin: the trend seems to be to list the actors along with your favorite roles they played - I simply couldn't decide with some of the actors and listed two movies (those are usually the ones who can do no wrong). Oh, and I too tag anyone who is interested. From my understanding, this meme has been going on for a while, which may mean I'm late in the game. Just the same, if anyone hasn't done this list yet and would like to then feel free to consider yourself tagged by me!

#1 Cary Grant
Philadelphia Story and Bringing Up Baby

#2 Fred Astaire
The Gay Divorcee and Swing Time

#3 Errol Flynn
The Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood

#4 Gene Kelly
Singin' In the Rain and Summer Stock

#5 Danny Kaye
White Christmas and Court Jester

#6 William Powell
The Thin Man and I Love You Again

#7 Ricardo Montalban
Neptune's Daughter

#8 Rudolph Valentino
The Sheik

#9 Gary Cooper
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town

#10 James Stewart
The Philadelphia Story

#11 William Holden
Born Yesterday

#12 Donald O'Connor
Singin' in the Rain

#13 Frank Sinatra
On the Town

#14 Robert Redford
Barefoot in the Park

#15 Yul Brynner
The King and I

#16 Howard Keel *
Kiss Me Kate

#17 Peter Lawford
Easter Parade

#18 Bobby Darin
That Funny Feeling

#19 Charlie Chaplin
The Kid

(I'm a little obsessed with photos of Charlie Chaplin when he's not The Little Tramp. I think they're fascinating and very hard to find)

#20 Tony Curtis
Paris When It Sizzles

Wow! That was fun! Just out of curiosity, has anyone done a list of top 20 actresses or top 20 dancers?

Oh, and I'm going to take this opportunity for a little shameless self-promotion. Another one of my favorite hobbies is video editing. I actually considered pursuing editing as a career but realized I'd have to watch movies I don't like so I've been sticking to it as a hobby. Anyway, I made a movie a little while ago about who I think are the sexiest actors (most of them are on this list) and I thought I'd share it with you. The music is performed and written by a wonderful musician, Emma Wallace, who has a blog of her own.

I hope you like the video and the list! All comments are welcome! Thanks for reading!

* I originally had Edward Everett Horton because he is my favorite character actor. But then I thought about it and realized that I'd titled my entry "Merry Christmas Ladies" and Mr. Horton, though fantastic, is not exactly dreamy. I had just happened to watch Calamity Jane the other day and remembered how much I love Howard Keel, so I decided to name him instead.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When what's left of you gets around to what's left to be gotten, what's left to be gotten won't be worth getting whatever it is you've got left.

Christmas is coming soon! I still can't believe it. In Florida, the weather is still balmy and it hardly feels Christmas-y. Anyway, in continuing the movie count-down (count-up?), and continuing in the Christmas theme...

#7 White Christmas (1954)

I love this movie! I've actually argued that it's not a Christmas movie, in that it can be enjoyed throughout the year owing to the lack of Christmas in the majority of the film (only the first five and last ten minutes really have anything Christmas-y to them). But nevertheless, I've been watching it lately in the hopes that it will put me in the mood for the holidays.

This movie has so many wonderful quotes, which is your favorite? One of mine is in the title.

There are still a few hours left to vote on the polls! So, go cast your vote before it's too late! I'm posting up my poll for this week under last week's polls.

The poll this week is:

"Oh, that's very funny! Oh ho ho! The crooner is now becoming the comic!"

Who would you pick - the crooner or the comic?

Friday, December 11, 2009

My condition is only so-so

I have a confession to make: (I'm always making confessions, it seems.) Whenever I think of good dancers, I always forget about Rita Hayworth. Isn't that awful?

The fact of the matter is, though, she danced with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. She kept up with both of them and she always looked amazing.

I'm going to keep this post short because I'm in the process of moving out of my dorm. Next time you see me, I'll be a college graduate! Whoopee!!

Just to prove how great Rita Hayworth is, I'll post a couple of really great numbers performed by her. Enjoy! And tell me which one you like better. Of course, this may boil down to a Fred vs. Gene debate but do comment and tell me what you think. And don't forget that you have a few days left to vote on the two polls, so go vote before time runs out!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Okay shoot! I mean... what's on your mind?

It's nearing Christmas and I am going to attempt to make my posts semi-holiday-themed (no promises, though). The next on the list of 100 movies is sort of a Christmas movie, to my mind (However, I tend to categorize strange movies as Christmas movies). Continuing on the list of 100 movies:

#6 The Thin Man (1934)

This movie is absolutely delightful! Hollywood Dreamland did a fantastic series of reviews on the films and it's a great read for those who have seen the movies as well as those who have not.

The Fred and Ginger dances poll is still going on, so please continue voting. And thank you to all who have voted already!

I'd like to add another poll just for fun. There's a good chance that it will be a landslide victory... but I will just accept that this time. If there's variety, that's great because variety is always a wonderful thing. And if everyone votes for the same movie then we can all revel in our flawless taste. (But we can do that no matter what the result is).

Also, for the sake of discussion, which quote from the movie is your favorite? There are so many, I have difficulty choosing one, but the title is one of my favorites. I say it all the time. What's your favorite?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First you put your two knees close up tight...

Generally speaking, I post on Tuesdays and Thursdays but today I decided to make an impromptu posting. I have often wondered what I've done without YouTube for so many years and it's times like these that make wonder...

I found this video the other day that made me completely crazy with joy. It's a video of Gene Kelly doing what is probably the sexiest version of "Ballin' the Jack" and then he and Donald O'Conner do a delightful dance afterward. Enjoy!

A couple other good finds I've found are:
this one with Julie Andrews and Gene Kelly:
and another Gene and Donald one:

I hope you enjoy the clip as much as I do!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Movies are entertaining enough for the masses

I'm afraid I'm a couple of days late on my segment post (spotlight on a scene). This week was my last week of classes as an undergrad and I had a lot going on: 2 induction ceremonies, 3 research papers and a senior seminar presentation (to name a few).

Anyway, on Tuesday, I finally got my roommate to watch Singin' in the Rain (she firmly believed she wouldn't like it). Much to my relief, she loved it, and actually suggested watching it again on Thursday! Every time I watch that movie, I remember how thoroughly I enjoy it. One of my favorite scenes has always been the car scene with Don Lockwood and Kathy Seldon. It's such a funny scene and there are so many great lines. I went to Hollywood about four years ago and got to see Sunset and Camden - when you see this scene, you'll know why I wanted to go.

I want to apologize for having forgotten "I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket" on my poll. It's one of my favorites and I really have no idea how I missed it! I hope you will vote anyway - you can vote for multiple songs.

Thank you again for following! I now have 13 followers - hooray! My goal is 15 by New Year's. Think I can do it?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No cuffs!

Poll results: Yet again, a landslide victory with The Adventures of Robin Hood this week. I'm really bad at this poll thing. I plan to make a better poll this week, I promise.

Now, I have a small announcement to make: today is my birthday! Hooray!! I don't usually write too much about myself on this blog but I think I might post pictures of my gifts later this week. Would that be okay? I got some genuinely awesome things and I want to share my excitement.

So, briefly, before I head out to celebrate, I wanted to name my movie of the week.

#5 Swing Time (1935)

I have to confess, I love this poster. It looks so happy! I'm a huge Fred and Ginger fan and this is definitely one of my favorite films of their collection (and of all time). There are so many great songs and so many great dances... which leads me to this week's poll: which is your favorite Fred and Ginger dance? I have to confess, I don't care for their last three movies quite as much so I only included "Bouncing the Blues." I'm sorry if I left out your favorite. To change things up a bit, I'm allowing everyone to vote for multiple choices so vote for your favorite 3 dances! I'll leave the poll up for 2 weeks this time because I think this is a pretty hefty decision!

And Happy December!!