Tuesday, March 30, 2010

He can quote the first line of Gunga Din!

Okay, so last Wednesday, I rushed (safely!) home from work, skipped the grocery store trip I had planned to make, quickly whipped up some dinner, and then sat down to watch Vivacious Lady. There were several movies last Wednesday night that I was dying to see. First, I have to say that I really liked Vivacious Lady. I have to make that disclaimer because this post is not about it. But I did really like it and I really want to own it! No, this post is about the next movie on my count-up:

#22 Bachelor Mother (1939)

First, let's start with the plot: Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers) has just been fired from her job as store clerk at Merlin & Son's Department Store. On her way home, she passes by the Foundling Home and witnesses a lady dropping a baby on the doorstep. As the baby starts to cry, Polly picks the baby up to comfort it, just in time for the door of the Foundling Home to open. The people in the home don't believe Polly isn't the mother, no matter how insistent she is, and they go directly to her boss, David Merlin (David Niven) to ask him to rehire her so that she can care for the child. Now, she's stuck with a strange baby but when David threatens to take her job away if she doesn't care for the child, Polly finds herself a mother. This is a romantic comedy, so the complications add up when she and David fall in love. (I am refraining from adding "Further complications arise when..." because I don't want to spoil it!)

I didn't watch this movie for the longest time, in fact, I sort of avoided it, for the silly and simple reason that I thought it was a drama. I read the title and decided I didn't want to watch Ginger Rogers struggling through motherhood. Well, I finally read some summaries of the film, realized it wasn't a drama, and decided to watch it. And am I glad I did! I laughed for the majority of the film! I was doubled over with laughter - it was that funny!! Now, I really, really want to own this film so that I can show it around to everyone. I'm a little nervous, though, because I know I'm going to build it up to be this amazingly fantastic comedy (which it is) and then my friends and family will watch it and say, "It was cute." In any case, I will have to get my hands on it so that I can watch it again, if nothing else! What can I say? A new favorite!

Monday, March 29, 2010

I think you show real tendency to terpsichorean excellence

First off, I'd like to give away the answer to the quote of the week. Sadly, nobody guessed it. The answer was Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel. I highly recommend this movie. It's really funny. Leslie Howard is hilarious in it and has Percy's character down to a T (to a tee?). Delightful!

As promised, here is my complete list of favorite male dancers. I'm linking to the posts so if you click on their names, you can read more about them and watch videos - in case you haven't done that yet and would like to. Thank you everyone for reading this list! I'd love to hear about your favorite dancers. I know I left a few out and I'd be curious to see what order you'd put each one in. But at any rate, here's mine:

1. Fred Astaire
Favorite solos: "Let's Say It With Firecrackers," from Holiday Inn "Don't Let It Bother You," from The Gay Divorcee and "The Hat Rack Dance" from Royal Wedding.
Favorite ever dance: "Pick Yourself Up" from Swing Time.

2. Gene Kelly
Favorite solos: "Singin' in the Rain," from Singin' in the Rain, "You Wonderful You" from Summer Stock and "Tra-La-La" from An American in Paris.
Favorite ever dance: The "Broadway Melody" jazz ballet from Singin' in the Rain

3. Bob Fosse
Favorite dances: "From This Moment On" from Kiss Me Kate, "Who's Got the Pain" from Damn Yankees, and his duet with Tommy Rall in My Sister Eileen.

4. Danny Kaye
Favorite dance: "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing from White Christmas

5. Tommy Rall
Favorite dance: "Bless Yore Beautiful Hide" (barn dance) in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

6. Ricardo Montalban
Favorite dance: "Dark Duet" from On An Island With You

7. Donald O'Connor
Favorite dance: "Make 'Em Laugh" from Singin' in the Rain

8. Bobby Van
Favorite dance: "Take Me To Broadway" from Small Town Girl

9. John Brascia
Favorite dance: "Frankie and Johnny" from Meet Me In Las Vegas

10. Dick van Dyke
Favorite dance: "Jolly Holiday" (the penguin dance) from Mary Poppins

11. George Murphy
Favorite dance: "We Should Be Together" from Little Miss Broadway

12. Russ Tamblyn
Favorite dance: "Dance at the Gym" from West Side Story

13. Buddy Ebsen
Favorite dance: "The Codfish Ball" from Captain January

14. Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
Favorite dance: the stair dance from The Little Colonel

15. Bert May
Favorite dance: "Get Happy" from Summer Stock

So, what did you think? Was this list entertaining? How did the daily posting thing work for you? You can be honest. I mean, please don't tell me it was the most boring thing you've ever read and you were sick and tired of hearing from me. But, if you liked it, please let me know. I think I gauge the success by the amount of positive responses I get. Basically, I'm wondering if I should do it again. I was planning on doing a list of top female dancers. Would you like to have another series of posts or do you prefer a tidy, short-and-sweet read? Let me know! And thank you!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Every once in a while I suddenly find myself dancing.

Well, by now it's no secret, I suppose.

1. Fred Astaire

Favorite solo: "Let's Say It With Firecrackers" in Holiday Inn. [Embedding disabled. Gosh darn it!]

"Don't Let It Bother You" in The Gay Divorcee follows a close second.

Oh, and the hat rack dance is way up there too.

Favorite ever dance: "Pick Yourself Up" in Swing Time (again, this changes all the time)

So, the question remains. Why is Fred Astaire my very favorite male dancer? I'm really quite partial to the top hat and tails man. I love the class. I love his style. What does his photo say in Follow the Fleet? "Genteel dancing and high class patter?" I think. That's what I love. In my opinion, Fred Astaire was pretty sexy in his dancing. But not in the athletic, passionate way. He was quietly intense, gentlemanly, subtle. I love his romantic side, as in "Night and Day" and "Never Gonna Dance." And I love his fun side as in "Drum Crazy" and "Shine On Your Shoes." He had the grace for ballet and the rhythm for tap down to a science. I like the way he curled his fingers in because he thought his hands were too big. I like how, even in a jazz ballet, he retains his class and stature.

He didn't wander too much into the everyday-type character. Follow the Fleet was a rare exception and he manages to find himself in fancy clothes even as a sailor. But even when he's chewing gum, ordering beer, playing the piano with rolled up sleeves and a cigarette dangling out of his mouth, there was something classy about him. I love that!

He wasn't one for grit, but then neither am I. Which is why I think he's my favorite. I love the athleticism and sex appeal of Gene Kelly and Bob Fosse, but Mr. Top Hat and Tails will always have my heart.

So, there you have it. My #1 top favorite male dancer of all time. I hope you've enjoyed this list! I'll post the list in its entirety tomorrow.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gotta dance!

Okay, now for #2. This post will, of course, reveal my preference between Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. I will explain my reasoning for my number 1 favorite in my next post. But, in the meantime, here is the very, very, very close second:

2. Gene Kelly

Favorite solo: "Singin' in the Rain" from, well, Singin' in the Rain. (Embedding was disabled)
But "You Wonderful You" from Summer Stock and "Tra-La-La" from An American in Paris are up there too. Sadly, "Tra-La-La" is no longer available on YouTube, much to my dismay. But here is "You Wonderful You" for your enjoyment. This song is a masterpiece, in my opinion. It's funny, clever, and tons of fun.

Favorite ever dance: I'll go with the "Broadway Melody" jazz duet with Cyd Charisse from Singin' in the Rain. Of course, this is subject to change. It often does. But I never can get enough of this dance. Unfortunately, the embedding is disabled on this one too.

Gene Kelly was brilliant. He danced, he choreographed, he directed. He was sexy and he knew how to show it (just watch the Talouse Lautrec portion of the "American in Paris Ballet"). His dancing had a sense of humor and a sense of fun. He could tap so lightly, one would think he was lighter than a feather - but then, when you see those muscular arms, you can imagine he wasn't quite feather-weight. His dancing was athletic and energetic. I've heard him referred to as a blue-collar type dancer, which makes sense. He plays sailors, soldiers, ordinary Joes more often than high class dappers. He was a dancer people could relate to, rather than dream of becoming. When he grabs Cyd Charisse in "Broadway Melody" and holds her in his arms, you can tell he's more than the glasses-donning hoofer at the beginning of the number. He has passion and intensity. I truly, truly love Gene Kelly. His numbers always make me smile. I would love to dance with him but I think I would be way too intimidated to move.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Can't rise above anything more than three syllables, m'dear, never could."

I resisted the urge to use an Errol Flynn quote for the quote of the week. You should all be proud of me. So, this week's quote of the week is:

"Can't rise above anything more than three syllables, m'dear. Never could."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And what about our young Saxon cockerel here?

Today's segment: spotlight on a scene.
Note: the photos are not necessarily from the scene.

I can't help it. I'm going to write about Errol Flynn.

I'm recently in the midst of a crazy Errol Flynn obsession that is only quieted by my long work hours and long to-do list. If I were in the midst of a summer break, you wouldn't be able to drag me away from that tv! Anyway, the spotlight today will feature one of my favorite scenes (possibly my very favorite) in The Adventures of Robin Hood:

The scene where Robin enters the Baron's Feast at Nottingham. To give you a bit of context, in case you haven't seen the movie (you should!), the various Norman nobles in the shire of Nottingham (how's that for inadvertent alliteration?) have gathered together to gloat about their power over the helpless Saxons and to plan how much more they're going to squeeze out of the Saxons. The conversation turns to a particular Saxon who, according to Sir Guy of Gisbourne, dearly deserves the hangman's rope but has thus evaded it: Sir Robin of Locksley. Prince John has just declared that he won't tolerate this Saxon noble's impudence and he wants these men to see to it that he's taken and hanged... when who should enter but Sir Robin of Locksley! I love this scene! I love the way he enters, with that deer slung over his shoulders; I love all of the dialogue, all of the action. I love it! Several particular things I've enjoyed from this scene:
  • Robin Hood's laugh - really, he has the best laugh ever. He actually doesn't laugh much in this scene (I realized upon rewatching) but he laughs a little bit mid-line and you get a small dose of it.
  • his vulgarity. I'm pretty sure it's used to contrast him with the Norman nobles and I think it works to great effect. I'm not usually one for vulgarity, but the part where he throws the deer on the table, the part where he jumps over the table to get to his seat, and the part where he spits out the meat are all great moments in the scene, I think.
  • the looks. There are several looks that I really enjoy in this scene. I love the reactions to Prince John's statement, "From now on, I am the regent of England." So great! Even his most trusted followers don't trust him. The variety of their reactions is fascinating to me because you get an idea of their characters, just in that short space of time. And speaking of looks, the part where Robin sees them closing the doors and then keeps on eating - that kills me every time! He's so darn cool! Oh, and one final look I have to bring up. When Prince John says, "Here's poor Gisbourne so in love with Marian, he daren't say, 'boo,' to her," Robin looks from Marian, to Prince John, to Gisbourne in a very calculating way and I love it!
  • Prince John's oiliness. I always think of Prince John when I see Claude Rains. He's so perfect in this role, so incredibly villainous. For some reason, I enjoy it when villains are courteous or feign politeness; it just makes them even more villainous, somehow. When Prince John says, "Robin, I like you," he just ups his villain-factor, in my mind. I can't explain it. I just love it.
  • Robin's arrows. The man never runs out of them! Sadly, you don't get the action part in the clip below, but his seemingly bottomless quiver is pretty awesome.

There are a few things I don't like in this scene. They're pretty minor but I have watched this scene a millions times (approximately) and so these minor things really begin to grate. For instance: Prince John's line, "I've kicked Longchamps out!" Really? Prince John would say that sort of thing? That line has always bothered me. Also, when Prince John declares himself the new regent, everyone looks at him in surprise and horror... and the Archbishop looks in the wrong direction. Now, I'm pretty sure he's supposed to be looking around to see everyone else's reaction, but it's always throws me off. One final thing: Gisbourne jumps out of his seat and one point and says, "Let me ram those words down his throat!" Which makes sense, because Robin is pretty insolent. What doesn't make sense is that he says this after Robin states a fact that everyone is pretty much aware of; he's not stating an opinion. He does call them all "cutthroats," but I imagine they knew themselves to be cutthroats. I don't know. It just doesn't make sense to me. Honestly, these things are pretty minor but I thought I'd mention them.

But I really, truly do love this scene. It's a turning point in the movie even though the movie's only just started. It's the introduction of several important characters. It's the first action scene. It's the first time we get to see Robin Hood prove himself to be "the deadliest archerer in England."

Okay, okay. I'll stop! Sorry. I get a tad bit carried away when it comes to my favorites. Now, here is the scene in all of its glory and you can tell me what you think.

I can't help it. I'm going to gush a bit more. Here are some of my favorite lines and bits of dialogue:

Robin: You know, you should really teach Gisbourne hospitality. I no sooner enter his castle doors there with a piece of meat, and his starving servants try to snatch it from me. You should feed them, Gisbourne, they'll work better!

Prince John: By my faith, but you're a bold rascal. Robin, I like you.
Robin: I'm gratified, your highness. I don't think Gisbourne shares that sentiment, however. Mm, he does look sour! What's the matter, Gisbourne, run out of hangings?

Robin: Be seated, gentleman. No need to stand on ceremony on my account.

Marian: Why you speak treason!
Robin: Fluently.

Thank you ever so much for bearing with me while I gush! If you love the movie, and this scene, as much as I do, please feel free to gush too in the comments!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Okay, coming down to my favorite 3 male dancers. As I said before, I've written my favorite solos and then my favorite dances. However, I'm making an exception to this with #3 as I really don't know of many of his solos. So, here we go:

3. Bob Fosse

My favorite ever of his dances is the solo in "From This Moment On" in Kiss Me Kate. (Sexiest entrance into a dance ever!!)

Close seconds are: "Who's Got the Pain" in Damn Yankees

this number is so much fun! My roommate and I used to watch it all the time. She'd randomly send me a text message that said "erp!" Yeah, we're ridiculous, but it was fun.

and his duet with Tommy Rall in My Sister Eileen (every time they break out into the tap dancing part, I get all excited! I'm not sure why...)

I think Bob Fosse is exceptional because he created a dancing style all his own. I've been in show choirs and dance routines and I can't tell you how many times directors have said "make it more Fosse." I mean, the guy's become an adjective! He was so sexy and loose. He made dancing look easy and wacky and fun but you can tell it's difficult if you try it (which I've done when no one's looking). I've heard that he was self-conscious because he was balding, which is sad. But I think it's pretty incredible that he made a pretty major name for himself even though he was in very few movies. So, there you are. Number three.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I know about everything every way

Continuing in the list of 100 movies, I'm going to list one of my favorite movies featuring TCM's star of the month:

#21 Roberta (1935)

This is one of the first Fred and Ginger movies I remember watching. Now, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, and Swing Time are kind of lumped into my memory of first Fred and Ginger movies. We used to check Top Hat out of the library and we had taped the other two onto VHS from the tv. But Roberta was the first Fred and Ginger movie we owned in its actual little video casette box. Even though Fred and Ginger are minor roles in it, it's one of my favorites. They're so incredibly funny and I kind of enjoy it when they're not fighting all the time. It's cute to see them together and having fun.

Anyway, basic plot: When football coach, John Kent (Randolph Scott) accompanies his friend Huck Hanes (Fred Astaire) and Hanes's band, the Wabash Indianians, to Paris, he doesn't expect to inherit his Aunt Mimi's popular dress shop, Roberta's. And he definitely doesn't expect to fall in love with his Aunt Mimi's asssistant, Stephanie (Irene Dunne) who agrees to run the shop as his partner. But when John's exgirlfriend, Sophie Teale (Claire Dodd) suddenly shows up, things get a little tricky. And when John and Stephanie fight over a revealing evening gown, Roberta's is left in the unable hands of Huck. Laughter, singing, and dancing ensue.

Okay, we've already established how terrible I am at nutshelling. I was going to stop after the first sentence, but that didn't seem like enough information! I should never get a job writing taglines.

I tried to look up some nifty trivia on this film but found surprisingly little. I did find out why Ginger Rogers has that wacky accent the whole time (I've often wondered why she had to be Polish). She put it on in honor of Lyda Roberti, who originated the Scharwenka role on Broadway and who was Polish. This next one, I can't paraphrase so I'll just quote directly from IMDb: "The original lyrics to 'Let's Begin' include the lines 'We have necked / Till we're wrecked', but the censors demanded that this be changed." Isn't that great? Oh, censorship. Also, Lucille Ball, who is one of the models (she's super cute as an uncredited model), bought RKO years later and renamed it Desilu Studios. Interesting, huh?

Like I said, I love Fred and Ginger when they're not fighting. There's so much fun banter at work. Here's an example:

Huck: Bonjour, Monsieur Fullback. I wish to place an order. Would you mind handstitching two dozen touch-downs for me?
Tanka: Could you run up two field goals with the score tied in the back?
Huck: A sort of a half back.

That's one of my favorite scenes. So funny!

Question for those who have seen the movie: why on earth do the Wabash Indianians decide to play the Organ Number for what is basically an audition? Do they really think that will get them the job? Is it because all of their instruments are packed up and it would be too much trouble to unpack them in the middle of a station? Or is it just so that the audience can watch a totally wacky musical number? Just curious.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Maybe it isn't only the music

We're getting close to the end of my list here. So, ever onward...

4. Danny Kaye
Favorite dance: "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" from White Christmas

Danny Kaye may be a strange choice for #4 in that I've seen him dance very little. I decided to put him so far up, however, because The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing is one of my favorite dance numbers of all time. Why do we like watching male dancers so much? I think it's because we (and I'm speaking of female audience members, chiefly) wish we were dancing with them. When I watch Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, particularly in duet performances, I sigh and wish I could be the girl. It always looks so romantic and so classy. Well, Danny Kaye makes dancing look fun as well as romantic and classy. Amanda Cooper wrote a wonderful post on the matter in her blog a good while ago. You can read it here.

I've also heard somewhere that, in a duet, the guy's job is to make the girl look good. Basically, he has to be the support so that she can do all of her fun, frilly, fancy stuff. I think Danny does a wonderful job of this, allowing Vera-Ellen to show off her dancing prowess, and I think he partners well with her in general. He seems to be mostly considered a comedian, but I believe he had a lot of talent on the dance floor. And here is the dance:

Now, all that are left are my top three favorite male dancers. For those ones, I'm changing up the format just a touch. I'm going to include my favorite solo dances as well as my favorite overall dances. Although, I should warn you that I actually break this format with #3 because I don't really know any of his solo dances.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ma named him Frankincense, cause he smelled so sweet.

First, I'd like to give a big congratulations to Wendymoon for getting the quote of the week correct! She even filled in the blank correctly!! Hooray!

I also want to thank everyone who voted in the Pontipee brothers poll. I was rather surprised by the outcome: Benjamin won by a pretty significant amount - 4 votes (44%). Frank and Gideon were neck-and-neck with 2 votes each (22%) and Ephraim had 1 vote (11%). Considering the fact that three of the brothers didn't get any votes, I think Ephraim's popularity is pretty impressive. Thanks again to all who voted!

Now, to continue with my dancing men list which, as it happens, segues beautifully from the poll...

5. Tommy Rall
Favorite dance: "Bless Yore Beautiful Hide" (barn dance) in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

There are appallingly few pictures of Tommy Rall on the internet. But, I did find this one which is pretty good. (He's the one on the left)

The video that I've linked to doesn't actually work anymore, sadly. I found this one, which is pretty good. And it has my favorite part in there (the part where Frank dances with Millie) right at the end. But I'm not sure why the video just stops at that point. But here it is because it's better than nothing and it does have my favorite part, so:

I think Tommy Rall is a rather impressive figure in musical history. I don't know how many people recognize him by name but many people recognize him as Frank from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I think it's a testiment to his talent that he's so memorable as a minor character, don't you agree?

I'm going to make this post semi-short today. I want to apologize for being so behind in blog reading/commenting. I've had a pretty odd schedule lately. Hopefully it will be ironed out soon and I'll be back to normal. My Google Reader currently has 100+ unread blog posts, which is incredibly intimidating. I'm hoping to knock those out in the next few days. So please bear with me and please don't hate me if you get five comments from me in a short time frame - I'm playing catch up! Thanks!!

P.S. The header is new. Do you like it? I'm actually really digging it. I found the photo and I just love the moment it captures. I love how cool and laid back she looks whilst doing an incredibly high kick. And then Russ Tamblyn is just plain cool. It was a close tie between that one and the one below. But, as cool as that one is, I think I made the right choice, don't you?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You bring me madness, madness, beautiful madness

Exciting news!! I got the Esther Williams Vol. 1 boxed set in the mail yesterday! Now, many people might think, "Oh, good, now I get to watch Esther Williams," or "Hooray! Water ballets galore!" or even "I can't wait to see all those vintage bathing suits." But me? I think, "Ricardo Montalban!!!" This set is the best way that I know of to attain his films. Truly. But this segues beautifully into my list of top male dancers because he's next! (Wasn't that timing perfect? And, by the way, if any of you are interested in the boxed set, it's currently on sale at Amazon for $25.)

6. Ricardo Montalban
Favorite dance: "Dark Duet" from On An Island With You

This dance pretty much cemented my love for this man. The athleticism, the grace, the beauty... I could go on and on. But first, you should see for yourself. He enters the dance at 1:05.

Right before this scene, the director says to Ricardo Montalban's character, "Now, remember, you're a bum." I think things would be very different if bums looked like that on a regular basis. One thing I enjoy watching for when I watch couples dance in musicals, is watching the man lead. I've been studying ballroom dancing for a few years now and it's fascinating to me to see the leading techiniques in action. This scene, ironically, is a bad example for it, because it's mostly ballet. In this scene, I simply marvel at the way he picks up Cyd Charisse as if she was nothing and then spins or kneels or whatnot. You can probably tell I'm pretty much in love with the man... hehe. Okay, so enough of this mushy-gushy stuff. I'll just post one more photo from the scene and then wait to hear your thoughts.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"I'm sick of her superior smirk. I'm sick of her. I'm sick of ___. I'm sick of this show!"

Quote of the week! And two bonus possibilities: fill in the blank and continue with the next line. This happens to be one of my favorite quotes from this movie. So, here is the quote again, complete with the blank for you to fill:

"I'm sick of her superior smirk. I'm sick of her. I'm sick of ____. I'm sick of this show!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The die is cast. I'm a lilly.

Today, for my Old Hollywood/New Hollywood segment, I'm going to discuss a recent event: the Academy Awards. Now, I do have to preface this with the disclaimer that I did not watch the ceremony at all but, instead, watched the clips of old ceremonies that many of my fellow film-blogger friends posted. I also want to post a disclaimer that I'm not intending to argue with any comments posted about the awards; I just want to add a different way of looking at it, if I may. In posting videos of ceremonies past, many bloggers wrote that they believe we have lowered our standards over the years. As we all prefer old movies to new movies, I imagine we think this every day, and not just during the Oscars. And while, on the one hand, I will agree that, generally speaking, old movies seem more carefully crafted, more wittily scripted, and more artfully directed than many contemporary films, I'm not sure I agree that the Academy has lowered its standards. I think the issue is more of a shift in perspective.

I'll explain. Nowadays, when I look at the lists of nominees, I think, "Well, I know who I'd like to win." When I look at all of the names and titles, I've usually seen one, maybe two, possibly three of the films. Most of the time, the movies that I've seen don't even make it to the list, or if they have, they've snuck into the special effects category or sound category or something. You all know by now how much I prefer light and fluffy movies to dark and heavy ones. The movies I tend to watch are comedies, musicals, romances, and family films. Nowadays, these genres rarely seem to win best picture.

Let's look at the last five years of Best Pictures, shall we?

2009 - The Hurt Locker
2008 - Slumdog Millionaire
2007 - No Country For Old Men
2006 - The Departed
2005 - Crash

Now, again, I haven't seen any of these films. Maybe Slumdog Millionaire is a comedy? I'm not sure. But, let's face it. The romantic comedies, the family films, the musicals (with the exception of Chicago) don't really get much attention any more. There was actually a pretty funny skit performed at the Oscars a few years ago that discusses this. I don't really care for any of these comedians or their movies, but they do bring up an interesting point about what movies tend to get noticed.

The dark, gritty, heavy movies win most of the time. Even the most recent musical win, Chicago, was a gritty look at female killers in the 1920's. Now, going backwards and checking out some past Best Picture winners, let's see what turns up...

1934 - It Happened One Night
1938 - You Can't Take It With You
1951 - An American In Paris
1964 - My Fair Lady
1965 - Sound of Music

Of course, you do get the dramas, war movies, and heavy pictures that win too. But the light films seemed to be given the same amount of consideration. Was it because they were all just simply made better? Are the fluffy movies of today simply fluff? I remember reading a comment on how many nominees there were for Best Picture this year (10) and how it seemed as if the Academy was just nominating everyone. But then I looked at past years, like 1935, which had 12 nominees (two of which are personal favorites, Captain Blood and Top Hat). Were the movies of 1935 better quality? Some might say yes and I won't disagree with them because, frankly, I'm not a brilliant critic and I really watch movies because they're fun and historical, not to mention the fact that I am an old film blogger and I do prefer old films to new ones.

But I do think it's worth noting that a romantic comedy about a runaway heiress and a reporter who fall in love on the road, a touching but funny film about a family whose love and friendships make them richer than the town's richest man, a musical about a flower girl who learns to speak properly, a musical about a governess and the musical family she falls in love with, and a musical about a painter who falls in love with a young girl, could all be considered the Best Pictures of the year in their day. And nowadays, they would quite possibly be considered fluff. I'm just speculating, of course. But, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you think that film audiences and the Academy have lowered their standards? Do you think it's a shift in perspective? Is it both?

Again, I'd like to state that I am not trying to argue or strongly disagree with any of my friends who have written on this matter. This is just something I've thought about and I wanted to share my thoughts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What kind of an Irish lad is it who can sit here...

...while the fiddlers are fiddlin', the pipers are pipin', and the cottagers smilin' as if it were their weddin' night!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! Order of business for today: I'm going to discuss one of my favorite dancers (#7!) and then list some of my favorite Irish-inspired songs in movie history.

7. Donald O'Connor
Favorite dance: "Make 'Em Laugh" from Singin' in the Rain

I was very happy to see that Mr. O'Connor was up next on the list, just in time for St. Patrick's Day - how perfect is that? I love Donald O'Connor. He had a genius blend of class and humor to his dancing. I could go on and on about Donald O'Connor, but I already have relatively recently. You can read the post here. I'll also link to my favorite of his dances (I tried to embed it but was unable to). Most of you have seen it already but it's always worth a rewatch. You can view it here.

To make up for not being able to embed Mr. O'Connor's video, I'll post another cool photo of him.

Unfortunately, I'm working most of the day and I'm going to have to work hard to fit some green into my outfit so as to avoid being pinched. To make up for it, I'm going to celebrate the holiday with wonderful scenes that will, hopefully, put us all in a fine, Irish mood!

"The Hat My Father Wore"

this song makes me feel happy and emotional (and Irish!) all at the same time!

"Fortuosity" (I get this song stuck in my head all the time!)

"Fortuitious little happy happenstances" - only the Sherman brothers! I love them!

and I would be horribly remiss to not include a couple of Quiet Man scenes, but they won't let me embed, so here they are:
Cottage kiss
Maureen O'Hara speaking in Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You are out of your continental mind!

Last night, I made brilliant plans to get started on my new project. I pulled my Busby Berkeley collection off of my shelves, settled down in front of the tv... and got completely distracted by Errol Flynn in The Prince and the Pauper, which happened to be airing on TCM. Oh, Errol!

He really is not in the movie very much, which is kind of sad because he is (in my opinion) the best part of it. It turned out to be a good thing for me, though, because I was able to get through the special features on The Gold Diggers of 1933. The documentary on 42nd Street: From Book to Screen to Stage was particularly interesting. I highly recommend it. I'd already watched the FDR documentary for class. Anyway, this is hardly fascinating so I will skip ahead to my movies count-up:

#20 The Awful Truth (1937)

The basic plot is as follows: when Jerry Warriner (Cary Grant) suspects his wife, Lucy (Irene Dunne) has had an affair, the couple decides to get a divorce. Only two problems remain: who gets the dog, Mr. Smith? and are they really still in love with each other? When Lucy gets custody of the dog and her aunt (Cecil Cunningham) pushes Lucy into the arms of Texan Dan Leeson (Ralph Bellamy), both problems seem inclined to be solved. However, Jerry is determined to prove to Lucy that Dan isn't right for her and when Jerry gets himself engaged to a wealthy heiress (Molly Lamont), Lucy is determined to return the favor.

I'm really quite terrible at nutshelling. I always want to include all the details because they're all important! For those of you who have not seen the movie, I highly recommend it. Grant and Dunne have delightful chemistry and they are hilarious to watch together. I think Irene Dunne is completely adorable in this movie. For years, I didn't consider her a comedic actress because I associated her with Penny Serenade, I Remember Mama, and what I used to consider the more serious parts of Roberta (although I've lately realized that there really are no serious parts to Roberta). But she has a wonderful talent for comedy. And Cary Grant, well, he's one of my favorite actors of all time. Even when he's being frustrating, he's still loveable ("Hello, Twinkletoes").

Here are a couple of my favorite scenes from the film that I found on YouTube. There are sadly few clips from the film online but I chose these two because you get to see Jerry messing up Lucy's romance and Lucy messing up Jerry's. Here's the first one and then here's the second.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Take me to Broadway!

I made a decision today at work. Last week, I put my Netflix account on hold because I just can't quite squeeze it in budget-wise right now. I figured I'd rather wait a few months and then pull it back up again. Today, I realized that what I should do in the meantime (to keep from getting withdrawals) is thoroughly watch my current dvd collection. I have around 200 movies (give or take). There are some that I've only seen once or twice, some that I haven't seen at all, some with which I've only seen the movie or part of the movie. I intend to remedy that in the coming months. My goal is to have seen my entire dvd collection, from top to bottom. Now, that's not saying I'm going to rewatch everything because that would take forever. But I want to make sure I've seen all of the special features. For example, there's a documentary on George Cukor in my Philadelphia Story dvd that I haven't seen yet. And there are several vintage cartoons on my Disney dvds. I have a habit of taking on a few too many projects (my current ones: writing a book, learning Portuguese, writing a blog) but I'm going to give this one a try just the same. I'll keep you posted if I come across anything stellar.

On with the list!
8. Bobby Van
Favorite dance: "Take Me To Broadway" from Small Town Girl

This number has long been a favorite of mine. It's such a happy song to watch! I would dare you to watch it and not be happy at the end of it, but it seems simpler to just say, "Watch it! It's such a happy number!" instead. The movie it comes from is very cute, although I haven't seen it in years. I'm trying to add it to my collection, but it's hard to come by. There's a version for sale on Amazon for $33! whoo. I think I'll wait a little while on that one. They feature the number in one of the That's Entertainment! (#2, I believe) You can hear Gene Kelly introducing the number in this video. This number really is impressive, the way he jumps the entire time. It's a single take, so you can tell he's jumping for over three minutes straight. It tires me out just to watch it!

I think Bobby Van is so cute! When I was younger, my sisters and I picked out our favorite suitors in Kiss Me Kate. Mine was Bobby Van for a long time. Recently, I've shifted focus, and changed my mind on that, but he still remains close to my heart! And though I'm trying not to do this because the multiple favorites goes only in the top three of my list, I'm going to throw in a runner-up Bobby Van number, just because. I discovered this number when my mom sent me the links to a couple other The Affairs of Dobie Gillis songs. I think this one is so cute and is probably the happiest rendition of "I'm Through with Love." You can view it here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What a drag...

I realized this morning that I didn't post yesterday. I hope you don't mind if I post-published yesterday's post. I already had it written up, I just had to get it out there. Anyway, #10 is listed, he's just behind. You can find out who #10 on my list is by going here. Thanks!

And a big thank you to all of those who guessed on the quote of the week! Everyone who guessed, got it right! The quote was from The Sound of Music. I love that part of the movie. Sadly, I really don't care for the second half of the film (too serious!) but I do love that scene. Okay, there are a few scenes in the second half that I like. But, after Maria and the Captain get married, I generally skip ahead to the concert. Anyway, now for #9...

9. John Brascia
Favorite dance: "Frankie and Johnny" from Meet Me in Las Vegas (was actually going to choose "Abraham" from White Christmas but couldn't find a good quality video of it. This one, however, is an extremely close second and I'm happy for the opportunity to talk about it!)

Sadly, I don't have a picture of Mr. John Brascia because he was another of those background-type dancers. Now, he had several amazing solos. The one I've embedded, for instance, as well as three numbers in White Christmas. Many of you will probably recognize him as Vera-Ellen's sexy dance partner. I first discovered the "Frankie and Johnny" number through one of Emma's posts. The number is so sexy and fun. I think this song is, traditionally speaking, a little depressing. But this rendition of it is so great! I really think Brascia and Charisse are a great pairing (although, he and Vera-Ellen make a great pairing too). They're both so athletic but graceful, sexy but controlled... it's amazing. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Then there's the kind what can't make up their mind...

I realize this post was technically published a day late - I truly apologize for my tardiness! Continuing on the list of dancers...
10. Dick van Dyke
Favorite dance: "Jolly Holiday" (the penguin dance) from Mary Poppins

I love Dick van Dyke. Really, I do. So funny, charming, and wacky. I started watching his tv show a few years ago. My friends would tell me that they could hear me laughing out loud as they walked down the hallway. Anyway, I love him in Mary Poppins. I've heard people make fun of his Cockney accent, but seriously, does the film really ask for realism? That's my argument, anyway.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"They were strawberries! It's been so cold lately, they just turned blue..."

Quote of the week! Name the movie and, if possible, the character. Have fun!

"They were strawberries! It's been so cold lately, they just turned blue..."

*By the way, I had a post all written up and ready to go for Thursday but had to save it as a draft when Blogger kept wanting to publish it early. Then, I forgot to post it up yesterday and I only just realized all this today. So, if you have a chance, go check out yesterday's fashion post. The subject? TCM's star of the month! Thanks!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How do you like my dress?

In honor of Ginger Rogers being TCM's star of the month (which makes me realize that perhaps I should have done female dancers first?), today's fashion spotlight will showcase one of the lovely lady's costumes. Just as I have many favorite Fred and Ginger movies, I also have many favorite Ginger costumes. But, for now, I'll just talk about one of my all-time favorites:

the dress Ginger wears in Swing Time for the "Never Gonna Dance" number. I love this song, this dance, and the dress is simply exquisite. I found a whole bunch of really great photos and I just couldn't narrow it down to two or three so I decided to put them all up here. this way you can see the front, the back, and how the dress falls when she dances (which is really cool!), oh! and there's also a really neat promo shot with the dress, featuring the cape!

The name of that last photo was "Ginger Rogers Majestic." I thought all you Ginger fans out there would enjoy knowing that! I hope these photos have whetted your appetite to see this dress in the film. The photo of the back of the dress makes me want to stop writing and go watch the dance right now! (maybe I will....) Unfortunately, the dance isn't on YouTube but here's the really cute scene where Lucky (Astaire) compliments Penny's (Rogers) dress. And if you haven't already, you really should go watch the movie in its entirety. It's really cute. Unfortunately this post will have just missed TCM's Ginger night, but it's worth renting or getting from the library.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Like tap and toe...

I posted the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers poll. I'm very excited to find out who wins!

Continuing in the dancers list:

11. George Murphy
Favorite dance: "We Should Be Together" from Little Miss Broadway

I love this dance. It's so cute and fun. I love the song too; it's one of my favorite Shirley Temple tunes.

Sadly, I haven't seen much of Mr. Murphy to be honest. I kind of fell in love with him in Little Miss Broadway. This might be a product of my love for Shirley Temple and her costars but we'll let that slide. The only other movies I've seen him in are Broadway Melody of 1940 and Step Lively. And, if I remember correctly, his characters weren't too loveable in those ones (although I could be misremembering). I love his classy dancing style not to mention the fact that he is (in my opinion) quite a looker! Any recommendations on further films of his? I'd love to hear any suggestions! Thank you!

P.S. I came across this photo when looking up George Murphy photos and couldn't resist sharing it:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Seems they cried and kissed and kissed and cried all over that Roman countryside

I'm so glad to be getting such positive responses on my daily posts!! I'm taking a brief break from the list of dancers, however, with a continuation of my 100 movies.

#19 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

I thought this choice was appropriate as I'm theming this month, more or less, on wonderful male dancers. What movie could showcase that better than a musical about 7 strapping, singing and dancing backwoodsmen? I love this movie! I don't think I've ever heard of anyone who didn't like this movie (except people who don't like musicals, which is a different matter).

The basic plot is as follows: When Millie (Jane Powell) agrees to marry Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel), she thinks she'll finally have a peaceful and quiet life after years of working in town. What she doesn't know is that Adam has six brothers back home. And when the brothers, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank, and Gideon decide they want wives of their own, Millie takes them under her sisterly wing to show them how it's done. The craziness begins, however, when Adam advises his brothers to just kidnap the girls of their choice and be done with it.

Doesn't that sound like fun? If you haven't seen it, you really should. It's fun from start to finish. There's some great dancing, great singing, and great dialogue. I'm really loving the month-long poll I have up. Keep the votes coming! I'm going to add another poll, though, for this movie and it will last a week (maybe two, depending on how many votes I'm getting). The question is, which brother is your favorite?

Monday, March 8, 2010

When you're a Jet, you're the swingin'-est thing.

12. Russ Tamblyn
Favorite dance: "Dance at the Gym" from West Side Story

I like him best in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers ("I stand by Adam!") but my favorite dance of his is the mambo dance in West Side Story. And I absolutely love the part from 3:51-4:06. If I could be that girl when he slides her across the floor... looks like so much fun!! I actually asked my Swing dance teacher in high school if I could learn to do that and she said it takes a lot of upper body strength on the part of the girl (basically suggesting that it would be impractical for me to attempt). Ah well. One can dream..

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lobsters dancing in a row shuffle off to Buffalo

First off, the answer to the quote of the week is Top Hat. Well done, Maggie for guessing right!!

13. Buddy Ebsen

Favorite dance: "The Codfish Ball" from Captain January
I love the part where he goes all the way down to dance with her. The moment only lasts a few seconds but it shows what an amazing dancer he is. I love his loose style. He was the model for one of Walt Disney's Audio-Animatronics (I believe it was his first), one of a dancing vaudeville performer. I've heard that Disney had some difficulty when Ebsen changed the dancing up every time. With his style, though, it's easy to imagine. He looks like he's just goofing off and having fun all the time!

He was slated to play the Tin Woodman in The Wizard of Oz and I kind of wish he'd stayed in the cast. The trouble was, the original mixture for the makeup consisted of aluminum powder. It's a pretty awful story so I'll save you the details but suffice it to say that he was rushed to the hospital and, while he was gone, they replaced him with Jack Haley - and replaced the aluminum powder with aluminum paste. It's rather sad because it seems like that could have really launched him into the public eye. I realize that terms like "overlooked" and "neglected" can be overused by us filmbloggers, but I really do think Buddy Ebsen deserves more credit than he gets. Most people know him today for his role in The Beverly Hillbillies tv show than his dancing talents. So, for your enjoyment, I'm going to post my favorite of his dances. This is another one with Shirley Temple (there are three on this list). I really admire the actors and actresses who worked with Shirley Temple. It just seems neat that they could gracefully costar with a little girl. I don't know. Anyway, the song is "The Codfish Ball." Enjoy!

P.S. Like Fred Astaire, Buddy Ebsen sometimes shared the spotlight with his sister. He appeared in Broadway Melody of 1936 with her (and Eleanor Powell). Below is a picture I stumbled upon when digging up pictures for this post. They were both pretty average-looking people and I love how elegant they look in this photo.