Sunday, January 31, 2010

You're the nose on the great Durante!

In the past couple of months, I have been honored with several awards from several wonderful bloggers and I am embarrassingly tardy in posting them. I think to avoid a very long post full of facts and lists about me, I will break up the post into two segments and discuss two blogs for each post. So, here we go, awards post #1:

Award #1 was kindly bestowed upon me by Meredith at L.A. La Land. The rules for this award are to link back to the person who tagged me, answer the following questions with one word only (I'm assuming hyphenated words count as one), and then link to a few other blogs that I think are also Over the Top.

1. Where is your phone? purse
2. Your hair? blondish
3. Your Mother? wonderful
4. Your Father? priest
5. Your favorite food? popcorn
6. Your dream last night? odd
7. Your favorite drink? mudslide
8. Your dream/goal? best-seller
9. What room are you in? bedroom
10. Your hobby? movie-watching
11. Your fear? drowning
(12. is missing)
13. Where were you last night? bed
14. Something that you’re not? allergic
15. Muffins? chocolate-chip
16. Wish list item? iPhone!
17. Where did you grow up? Titusville
18. Last thing you did? drive
19. What are you wearing? clothing
20. Your TV? laptop
21. Your pets? kitty
22. Friends? far
23. Your life? good
24. Your mood? happy
25. Missing someone? friends
26. Vehicle? red
27. Something you’re not wearing? boots
28. Your favorite store? Amazon
29. Your Favorite color? green?
30. When was the last time you laughed? morning
31. The last time you cried? embarrassing
32. Your best friend? wonderful
33. One place that I go to over and over? Disney!
34. Facebook? yep
35. Favorite place to eat? Chipotle

Now, for other people whose blogs, I think are Over the Top, I tag:
Fire and Music
The Drifter and the Gypsy

Okay, now for Award #2!
Which I was kindly awarded by Wendymoon at Movie Viewing Girl.
The rules for this one are: link back, write 5 random things, tag 5 fabulous people.
So, 5 random things:
1. I've recently gotten really into listening to Annette Funicello. I bought this Sherman Brothers' cd, which had several of her songs on it - I got hooked.
2. Whenever I get out of my car, I sing whatever song I was listening to when I turned the car of - the neighbors must think I'm crazy.
3. I'm addicted to popcorn. I could probably eat it every day, or maybe every other day.
4. I fall madly in love with book characters. One of my many unrequited literary loves is Sir Percy Blakeney in Baroness Orczy's Scarlet Pimpernel series.
5. I love to cook but I get very easily discouraged when my cooking endeavors go awry (as they often seem to do).

The 5 fabulous blogs? I tag:
Emma's Music
Pixie Drive-In
Much Love
Matou en Peluche

Phew! Thank you again to Wendymoon and Meredith for tagging me! I will post up more awards next Sunday.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Those who sign without delay will get a free tattoo

Poll results! Out of 13 votes, 7 people said that they imagined dresses to be different colors while 6 imagined the dresses in shades of black, white, and gray. Thank you so much to all who voted!

Second order of business, the movie review chain. Thank you for all the lovely comments so far! For those of you who have added the movie to your to-watch list, I hope you enjoy it! I just want to note that nobody has made a bid for the next link in the chain. You don't have to be an expert on films to write a review, you just have to love movies! So, if there's a movie you love with a member from the cast or crew of Monkey Business or a similar theme, then feel free to snatch up the next link!

There are some fantastic giveaways right now! And they're all so exciting. There are two that I am particularly excited about because they're from two of my very favorite blogs:
Emma is letting her readers pick a song sketch for her to cover - which is so neat!
And Spiffy has a Forever 21 gift card - which would be so nice to have!
Hooray for giveaways!

Now, for my Old Hollywood/New Hollywood segment! One of my favorite Disney films (and I confess, I have several) is Peter Pan (1953). I was talking to my sister today and we were discussing how wonderful Peter Pan (2003) is when the conversation started to take a dangerous turn towards possible heated debate. You see, she doesn't like Wendy in the Disney version, whereas I think she's adorable. I love Peter Pan. I love the character, the book, the movies, the world, the storyline. A few years ago (I think when the Disney version was released on DVD), I went into a complete Peter Pan phase and I'd make a near-daily double-feature of the cartoon film and then the live-action. It's actually a fascinating way to watch the films and I do recommend it. All this to say, I love both movies - for different reasons. (Please forgive me if this post is a little disjointed. I discovered as I started writing that I'm tackling a pretty hefty subject. I could honestly write a paper on this topic!) Here we go!

Peter Pan (1953)
In the book, Peter likes Wendy but he also seems to like many different girls (Tink, the mermaids, Tiger Lily) and he seems rather oblivious to the fact that all of the girls like him and are jealous of each other for his sake. The Disney version emphasizes this aspect of Peter's character - which explains Wendy's character in this version a bit more as well, as she's always competing with different girls for Peter's attention. The fact that the movie is animated is a significant factor. When the characters fly, they really seem weightless and carefree. I love the way Peter sits on the back of the chair, or steps across thin air. He does more than just fly. It's wonderful! Hook's villainy has a different dimension in the film as well. Hook's unfulfilled ambition is to kill a young boy, which, I think, makes him a tricky character for a kid's story. He also nonchalantly kills his own men - making his villainy both humorous and chilling. The cartoon version makes Hook pretty silly and his cold-blooded killing is relatively light ("Shooting a man in the middle of his cadenza?"). Now, the fact that the movie was made in the fifties is pretty evident with such things as the unfortunately catchy tune, "What Makes The Red Man Red?" and Wendy being commanded to "get 'em firewood." Overall, the movie is light. There is very little sadness or darkness in the whole film - which is sometimes exactly what you need! For example, Peter's battle with Hook is humorous and the only moment of tension, when Peter promises not to fly, passes relatively quickly.

Peter Pan (2003)
This version taps into different aspects of Peter's personality. His character is more sympathetic as he finds himself torn between his longing for eternal youth and his love for Wendy. On the other hand, some of his more frustrating traits in the book are pulled into the movie - such as his dismissal of John and Michael. In the book, Peter's youth does entail some immaturity. He's forgetful of other people, slightly dictatorial, and makes light of the Darlings' fears. Wendy's character changes a good deal in this movie. A more modern heroine, she weilds a sword, challenges Peter, and even considers piracy. I think that this change in Wendy's character is due to her contemporaryism (is that a word?). After all, I imagine many girls have read the book and thought, "I could fight with the Lost Boys" or "I would rather be a pirate." Hook's character is a bit darker in this version than in the cartoon version. He kills his men a little more ruthlessly, we see his wrist sans hook, and he has an unusual fascination with Wendy. Now, I kind of like the changes in Hook's character. It's interesting to see Hook have a Happy Thought and the changes also allow us to see what an incredible actor Jason Isaacs is. This film is more of an emotional rollercoaster than the Disney version - which is sometimes a good thing. I love the depth brought into the movie with the darker elements. The cinematography and music are beautiful and add to the emotional effect. On the other hand, the more emotionally charged elements cause the movie to end on a relatively sad note. This is more in line with the book, but it makes for a bit of a downer on an otherwise feel-good film. (I'm including a picture of a battle between Peter and Hook. You can definitely see the difference, in the photos alone, in the emotional energy of the two movies and their overall feel)

Phew! What do you think? I'm going to post a poll about this: which version do you prefer? I'll add a C All of the above type answer as well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Can't scalp anybody unless you do a wardance first.

Today, I'm continuing the wonderful movie review chain started by Wendy of Movie Viewing Girl.

Here is the chain thus far:
Link #1: The Women (1939) by Wendymoon.
Link #2: Private Lives (1931) by Kate Gabrielle.
Link #3: Letty Lynton (1944) by KC.
Link #4: Madame Curie (1944) by Amanda Cooper.
and now, Link #5: Monkey Business (1952) by me!

As you'll see in the rules below, the chain must continue with some sort of link, be it actor, actress, director, theme, etc. I chose theme because I thought that would be fun and decided to find another film about scientists. My choice?

#13 in my count-up: Monkey Business (1952)

This movie is totally wacky and incredibly fun. The basic plot is as follows: Dr. Barnaby Fulton (Cary Grant) is working on a formula that will make people young. One night, one of the chimps in the lab mixes Fulton's chemicals together (accidentally creating an effective formula), dumps the mixture in the water fountain... and no one is the wiser. So, when Fulton decides to test the formula on himself, he unwittingly takes the chimp's formula as well - with hilarious results! Things get even crazier when Fulton's wife (Ginger Rogers) plays guinea pig for the experiment.

I will admit that the movie is not perfect, but it's a riot and there are parts in it that never cease to amuse me. Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers are hilarious and Marilyn Monroe is absolutely adorable. You can actually find the whole thing on YouTube. So, if you have the time, I highly recommend it. I tried finding some bits of trivia regarding the film and here's what I discovered: The address that Edwina gives when she calls the police was Ginger Rogers real-life address: 1605 Gilcrest. And the exterior shots of the Oxley Chemical Co. office building where Barnaby works was actually the Executive Building on the 20th Century Fox studio lot. Neat, huh?

If you want to add a link to the chain, here are the rules:

1. Call dibs on doing the next review in the comments. First one to speak up gets it, others will have to wait to join up to the next link in the chain! (Chains usually only link one at a time, after all. It's not a movie review tree.)

2. Write your own review of another movie (it should be one not yet used in the chain) and post it on your blog. Make sure the link to the previous review is made clear and that you link back to the original post where the chain began (so we can keep track of how the chain grows). The link can be an actor or actress, director, or something more creative (like a theme).

3. Include the rules of how to continue the chain, and let someone else continue it!

P.S. I have a new photo in my banner. Check it out! Kate Gabrielle posted about the photo on Spiffy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It seems to me

First order of business: poll results! Bob Fosse won the poll for favorite suitor in Kiss Me Kate. It was a pretty sweeping victory. There were 6 votes, of which he got 4. (Tommy Rall and Bobby Van received one each) I think his sexy, jazzy choreography may have had something to do with it... what do you think?

Now, for my post this week, I'm going to do something daring and different: I'm going to combine two segments together!! Okay, so that's not too drastic, especially considering the fact that I've done it in a lesser degree before. But just the same. I want to highlight a dance that I love and also discuss the dress, posting a poll about the dress afterwards.

The dance is the "Dig It" number in Second Chorus (1940), performed by Fred Astaire and Paulette Goddard. I love this song. The tempo is so catchy and it looks like so much fun! This is one of the many, many numbers for which I'd love to learn the choreography.

As for the dress: I love it. I love the contrast. I love the white underneath. I love the way it moves. Which brings me to a topic that I find endlessly interesting. When you watch black and white films, what color do you think the dresses are? For years, I assumed that the dresses were all various shades of white, gray, and black. I realized, years later, that this was rather improbable. Some of the dresses I would prefer as white, gray, or black, but some might look nice with color. For example, Paulette Goddard's dress: white and black? Or perhaps white and navy blue? White and maroon? There are many possibilities and it's the case with any dress in black and white films. So, that's my poll for the week: when you watch black and white films, do you assume the dress is a shade of black, white, or gray? Or do you mentally paint it with the color you think would be best?

And for the discussion's sake, feel free to describe a dress that you love, explaining what color you think it might be. For example, I would love to see this outfit in a palette of browns and tans. How lovely!

P.S. I now have 35 followers! Hooray! I've decided that when I get to 50, I'm going to do a giveaway. Exciting, no?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I advise you to stick to two subjects, the weather and your health.

#12 in my count-up, My Fair Lady (1964)

(This is one of my favorite movie posters of all time. Just look at the details! So beautiful!)

I was honored with the opportunity to be a guest blogger on one of my favorite blogs, Emma's music blog. (Thank you, Emma!) In the post, I discuss Audrey Hepburn and My Fair Lady. I do not currently have a poll idea. I'll have to think about it for a little bit. If you have any suggestions for a poll that have to do with #12, do let me know!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I have something to tell you which will both interest and amuse you

I have a few announcements to make! I have a few Sunday posts up my sleeve but there's so much going on right now that I think this will just be a simple post of announcements.

First: Happy Birthday to Harley at Dreaming in Black and White!! I hope your birthday is full of fun and frivolity!

Second: Emma Wallace at Emma's Music has just done a simply gorgeous rendition of "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" from My Fair Lady (1964). It's one of my favorite song sketches of hers yet and I can't wait to have it on my iPod!

Third: Kate Gabrielle at Flapperdoodle is having a tremendous sale at her etsy shop. See her blog for details. If you have not seen her art yet, I highly recommend checking it out. Her flappers are so cute and fun and full of personality!

Fourth: I've been reading Spiffy lately and I can't tell you how glad I am that I have. The ladies on that site share the most delightful finds. This morning, Kate Gabrielle posted about a flickr photostream that I predict will eat up a healthy amount of my free time.

Fifth: Don't forget to vote for your favorite man from Kiss Me Kate (1953)! You don't even have to have seen the film to vote - check my post for a photo of them and the link to a video that may help you make your choice.

Sixth: Have a great holiday for those of you who get tomorrow off!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

S is for sincerity... which she's got none of.

Poll results!

For the first poll, regarding the favorite of Clark Gable's leading ladies, the winner is...Vivien Leigh!
Out of 16 votes, she won 5 (31%). Myrna Loy followed with a close second with 4 votes (25%). Claudette Colbert had 3 (18%). And Jean Harlow and Joan Crawford tied with 2 votes each (12%).

The next poll between imitation and modernization was pretty close as well. Out of 9 votes total, 5 voted for modernization (55%) while 4 voted for imitation (44%).

Oh, and don't forget to vote for your favorite Kiss Me Kate fella in this week's poll!

Now for my spotlight on a performer. I want to talk about Kathryn Grayson today. Emma noted in her comment that Kathryn Grayson is very versatile. It's a trait that I've admired in the actress as well and I think it's worth discussing. She was in surprisingly few movies but she played completely different characters in each of them. In Kiss Me Kate (1953), she plays a tempermental ex-wife who throws pots with ease and punches Howard Keel repeatedly. In Anchors Aweigh (1945), she plays a sweet-tempered aunt whose only fervent wish is to work under Jose Iturbi. In Thousands Cheer (1943), she's a spunky young girl with a plan to make her parents make up and has a remarkable sense of humor. I've seen It Happened In Brooklyn (1947) and Show Boat (1951) once each so I cannot give much of a description of her character but I do remember that she's pretty different than the other characters I've just described. I feel Kathryn Grayson is pretty overlooked as an actress. She's memorable in all of her roles and all of her roles are different. (Not to mention, she's so stinking cute with her little nose that goes up like this and her huge dark eyes. Not only was she beautiful, she was adorable!) What do you think? Do you agree? What is your favorite Kathryn Grayson role/movie?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What's his crest? A hamburger smothered with onions?

Now, for the next movie in my countup:

#11: Kiss Me Kate (1953)

This movie was one of the first films I owned (on VHS, that is). My grandparents bought it for me without watching it first (and a good thing they didn't, because they disapproved of it when I later showed it to them). I love everyone in it. Howard Keel and Kathyrn Grayson are both on top 20 lists and Ann Miller, Bobby Van, Bob Fosse, and Tommy Rall are all on future lists! This movie has so much great dialogue ("All right. I give up. What is it? The headlight of a locomotive?") and so many wonderful songs by the great Cole Porter (it took me years to realize that it's not actually Cole Porter playing a cameo), and some lovely dresses. Not to mention that the dancing is terrific! The movie shows that you get magic when you put 6 incredible dancers together (you'll find the link to the dance later in the post) and that Kathryn Grayson looks good as a blonde and a redhead!

Now, usually at this time of the week, I give you the poll results. But the polls are still going, so I'll wait until Thursday. Despite the fact that I already have 2 polls up, I'm going to add a third (wow! 3 polls! that's intense!) as I usually do with my Tuesday posts. Which of Bianca's suitors is your favorite? In the original Shakespeare play, it's pretty clear which suitor the audience should be rooting for. But in the musical, they complicate things by making them dancers - and dancers with different styles at that. So, which do you like best? Gremio (Bobby Van), Hortensio (Bob Fosse), or Lucentio (Tommy Rall)? You can choose them based on wooing style:

Gremio: "to give a social lift to thy position"
Hortensio: "if thou wouldst attain the upper brackets"
Lucentio: "if on love unending thou art pining"

...or dancing style or on simple good looks:

(from top to bottom: Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van)

It doesn't matter how or why you make your decision, I'm just curious to know which is the favorite of the suitors. I have two sisters and, growing up, we all favored a different one, so I want to know what you think. Have fun voting!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A pretty girl is like a melody

When I wrote my list of favorite 20 actors, I had so much fun that I couldn't wait to make a list of 20 favorite actresses. And then I realized that I should stretch out the fun and let it last all year long! So, the new plan is: every month I'll feature a new list. If you like the list, then please feel free to consider yourself tagged and make your own. So below is a list of my favorite 20 actresses and my favorite of their roles. Enjoy!

Oh, and a brief disclaimer: This aren't really in any particular order. Basically, the top ones are my favorites and the bottom ones are slightly less favorite. The top 5 or 6 are my tip-top favorites (I'm numbering them so that I can keep track of how many I have).

(Also, a second brief disclaimer: Grace Kelly is not on my list, despite the photograph of her here for the simple and shameful reason that I've only seen her in 1.5 movies, same goes for Barbara Stanwyck, who I've only seen in 1 movie. I plan to remedy the situation in each, I promise!)

1. Audrey Hepburn
Funny Face and My Fair Lady

2. Ginger Rogers
Roberta and Monkey Business

3. Myrna Loy
The Thin Man and Libeled Lady

4. Claudette Colbert
Midnight and It Happened One Night

5. Cyd Charisse
The Band Wagon and Silk Stockings

6. Olivia de Havilland
The Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood

7. Kathryn Grayson
Thousands Cheer and Kiss Me Kate

8. Judy Holliday
Born Yesterday and It Should Happen to You

9. Marilyn Monroe
The Seven Year Itch

10. Julie Andrews
Mary Poppins

11. Irene Dunne
The Awful Truth

13. Donna Reed
It's A Wonderful Life

14. Sandra Dee
That Funny Feeling

15. June Allyson
Two Girls and a Sailor

16. Katharine Hepburn
Bringing Up Baby

17. Shirley Temple (okay, I know she's little, but I love her!)
Little Miss Broadway

18. Ava Gardner
One Touch of Venus

19. Natalie Wood
The Great Race
20. Ruby Keeler
Footlight Parade

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies.

Today for my post on Old Hollywood and New Hollywood I want to talk about influences. Namely, which is better: replicating an old classic or modernizing one? I'll add a poll about it.

There are arguments to be made for each. To make immediate examples: Usher performed a tribute to Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain." Now, on the one hand, it's pretty incredible that Usher learned all of the choreography and did the exact same blocking and everything. However, one could argue (and I've heard one do it), what's the point of replicating something that's already amazing? On the other side, inspiration can be a tricky line to toe as in Katie Holmes's rendition of Judy Garland's "Get Happy." On the one hand, Katie Holmes modernizes an old number and lends it her own spice of individuality and personality; on the other, she changed a classic!

Now, to take this debate to films, I'm going to discuss one of my favorite contemporary films: You've Got Mail (1998) which is a film based on The Shop Around the Corner (1940). (Warning, I have a few spoilers in here.) The modern version covers the same story: two penpals who despise each other even though they have unknowingly fallen in love through correspondence. You've Got Mail changes the story, however, when the guy and girl are not coworkers but competitive bookstore owners. The shift from written mail to email is an easy transition with the growth of technology, but I find that the change in relationship makes a significant difference to the storyline. Their animosity is a good deal more understandable: he's putting her out of business - of course she hates him! And she says nasty things about him in public - of course he hates her! Joe Fox's later wooing of Kathleen Kelly is a little more gently done, as well, as he doesn't manipulate her as much as Kralik manipulates Klara. He suggests that her penpal is fat, married, and many other things but it's mostly done as a joking matter - she never feels crushed by the loss of an ideal. Now, don't get me wrong: I just rewatched The Shop Around the Corner and I love it! I think James Stewart is incredible in it and Margaret Sullavan is adorable. But I found myself feeling sorry for Kralik (and also getting incredibly mad at him at the end) and sort of disliking Klara, whose meanness isn't explained until the final scene of the film. In You've Got Mail, I like both of the characters and I understand each's frustration. Joe Fox does not elicit the same kind of sympathy that Kralik does, but then the characters are completely different. Kralik is a clerk who loses his job just as he is about to propose, and we see his vulnerability peek out as he reads his recommendation letter. Joe Fox, on the other hand, is a multimillionaire who loses very little throughout the film. The basic plot is the same and there are many entertainingly replicated bits of dialogue, but I find that the overall feeling of the film, the characters and their relationship are very different. It seems as if the writers of You've Got Mail loved The Shop Around the Corner and wanted to pay tribute, and improve upon it at the same time. Which brings up some controversy.

Now, looking at the other form of flattery, you have the musical rendition, In The Good Old Summertime (1949), which is essentially The Shop Around the Corner with musical numbers thrown in. What's the difference? Do we watch the musical because we like Judy Garland and Van Johnson more than James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan - or vice versa? Do we watch one or the other because we prefer musicals or straight comedies? Or do we watch both because we love the story and the dialogue and the characters so much that we can't get enough of them? This is something I've wondered with a lot of the musical remakes - High Society (1956), Easy to Wed (1946), Silk Stockings (1957), to name just a few. There are so many of them and I can't decide how I feel about them. In some cases, it's nice to see a change in casting and if the music is great then, hey! Why not? But sometimes I wonder why they couldn't leave well enough alone and let some of those good non-musical films stand on their own feet. It's a tough call to make.

What do you think about the issue? Should we replicate the things that we love or change them to fit the changing times? Or should we just leave movies that we love alone and leave it at that?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

And he always had a nose like yours.

A small bit of news to share: I've changed the layout on my blog. I really like the old one but I thought it might be nice to change it up a bit. I'd love to hear what you think. Do you like the new layout? Prefer the old one? I've also changed the picture. I'm going to try and change things up a bit every now and again, especially since I have so many great pictures - it'd be nice to use as many as possible. Oh, and I've also cut out the "tonks" in my username. This isn't a huge change really, but I thought it might be important to note.

Now for #10 in the count-up: Midnight (1939)

I discovered this movie through Netflix recommendations and was so impressed by it that I wrote a post about it and then bought it. I love Claudette Colbert as a comedienne and I didn't even discover her until about a year ago.

Poll results for last week's poll. Out of 16 votes, 9 voted for an equal proportion of light and dark films, 6 preferred light films, and 1 preferred dark films. Thank you so much for voting!

Now, for this week's poll, I'm going to preface the question with an explanation (and a confession). I've only seen 3 Clark Gable films: Gone with the Wind, Dancing Lady, and It Happened One Night. Nothing against Mr. Gable, of course, just what I've happened to see. My poll for this week actually pertains to his leading ladies. That is, which of them do you prefer? They are each very unique and wonderful in their own way: Vivien Leigh, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Claudette Colbert, and Myrna Loy. I know there are more than the ones I've listed, but I'm listing the ladies of the films I've watched or hope to watch soon (Wife Versus Secretary is on my queue, thus Myrna Loy, and after reading my TCM book on the leading couples of the Hollywood era, I thought it appropriate to add Jean Harlow). If I have not listed your favorite, please do comment with your choice.