Monday, January 30, 2012

I'd rather have a paper doll to call my own

I know I already posted a video from Two Girls and a Sailor, but I'm going to go ahead and post a second one. This one is a song performed by the great Lena Horne, called "Paper Doll."

I've always liked this song. It took me years to really understand the song and realize she was singing a song from a guy's perspective and didn't really want a paper doll. To me, as a kid, a song about having paper dolls seemed really neat, I guess. Anyway...

I also love her dress. I love dresses with cutouts, especially when the cutouts are both classy and sexy, like this one. So cool! I love the lacey look.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It will hit the spot

And of course, just because...

Every time I see this picture, I'm amazed by the physics of it. How on earth is he holding her by her fingers like that? Incredible!

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Fooling around will be unconstitutional."

Last week's quote: "Baby, leave us not forget that I'm a heel" was from Royal Wedding. It was sung in a song with the longest title ever: "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life?" which was written by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner.

This week's quote is: "Fooling around will be unconstitutional."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I must be quite a guy

Note: You may recognize this post from a few weeks ago. That was the same time that I was doing a whole bunch of housecleaning and posting up a whole bunch of old posts that never got published and were just collecting dust in my list of posts. I was rather excited about this particular post so I rescheduled it on a less crowded day.

Today I'm going to highlight 3 videos. Woohoo! The theme is: roller skates! I feel as if everyone knows about Gene Kelly's fantastic dance scene on roller skates in It's Always Fair Weather. The dance is truly marvelous, but I always get a little irritated because Fred and Ginger did it first in Shall We Dance.

Of course, that's not to say that Gene wasn't absolutely brilliant when he did it several years later. And, I will admit, he carried the whole idea further, I think.

Then, I discovered yet another dancer doing this just the other day. One of my favorites, Donald O'Connor, dances in skates as well! So, here is Donald in I Love Melvin. The dancing portion begins around the 2 minute mark:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Baby, give me my baby and a band.

Do you remember that series I started way, way back about fun times and how it ended after about two posts? Well, I had this series I was going to start about watching people have fun in movies. I'm not about to start it up again, really, but I just wanted to mention how these 'spontaneous' scenes in movies really make me happy. I wish life really were full of these random, spontaneous dance scenes - choreographed by Bob Fosse, of course. This particular one is from the 1955 remake My Sister Eileen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I've kicked Longchamps out

Yet another gem from the TCM archives. This one is from the set of The Adventures of Robin Hood. I love his expression in this photo and I really love the "No Smoking" sign in the background. Classic.

found here

Seriously, if you haven't had a chance to waste several hours looking at the TCM archives, you should go now. You won't regret it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Baby, leave us not forget that I'm a heel."

Last week's quote: "How many Frenchmen can't be wrong?" was from Monkey Business and was said by Groucho Marx.

This week's quote is: "Baby, leave us not forget that I'm a heel."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

You are as bold as you are brave.

My brother, I have discovered in recent years, has an impressive ability to find really obscure movies that I like. I don't really know how he does it - especially considering the fact that he finds me hard to buy for and doesn't like buying me movies (to be fair, I am picky) and we don't really see each other anymore. Last year (as in 2010), he bought me Give a Girl a Break and Holiday in Mexico, both of which were fun and fluffy musicals - right up my alley. This past year, he bought me a French '50s film called Fanfan la Tulipe. I'll be honest, I don't usually brave foreign film territory. Not because I don't like them or don't trust their quality, but because I don't know anything about them. I know a lot about American films; I'll stick to what I know for now.

However, this movie makes me feel like I'm probably missing out. Because it is fantastic!

found here

In fact, I'm going to add it to my much-neglected 100 movies list:

#39: Fanfan la Tulipe (1952)

found here

Imagine an Errol Flynn movie. Got it? Now, make it a little bit sillier, make it French and add some low-cut costumes and a lot of innuendo. Imagining it? That's Fanfan la Tulipe. It's a fun, swashbuckling film about a good-hearted, good-looking, impudent, and brave rogue-ish fellow named Fanfan (Gerard Philipe). After he receives a fortune from a bogus fortune-teller (Gina Lollobrigida), saying that he will marry the king's daughter, Fanfan goes in search of his destiny - even when he learns that the fortune was made up.

found here

It's a lot of fun, full of great sword-fighting scenes, romance, and excitement - I was at the edge of my seat! I really liked the main character and I really liked the girl and I really liked the sidekick. I figure that's pretty good if the three main characters are likable. There were a number of villains in this film. I didn't care for all of them as villains because one of them was just annoying but one of them (I'm trying to avoid spoilers) was a very good villain. I do recommend it if you have the chance. Netflix offers it. By the bye, the title of this post is part of the translated subtitles. I don't speak French so it's a little hard for me to quote it!

found here

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No blog post today. Protesting SOPA. Please ask your representatives to stop this bill.

Monday, January 16, 2012

But her talk made no impression, no, not even a dent.

One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite movies growing up: "My Mother Told Me" sung by Gloria de Haven in Two Girls and a Sailor. I know I say this a lot, but Gloria de Haven is so gorgeous. It's kind of unbelievable to me! And I love her singing voice.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The sun's in my heart

Love, love, love this promotional shot of Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly. Is it just me, or is it hard to find good photos of Gene Kelly just dancing? I have the toughest time! Anyway, I found this one in the TCM photo archives and got really excited. I have to say, I'm pretty obsessed with the TCM archives. Be prepared to encounter lots of photos from them. I do have to be careful though because some of them have big disclaimers saying that they're the property of the company and blahblahblah. This one doesn't though. So I'm using it.

found here

My friend lent me her two-disc copy of Singin' in the Rain. I bought the movie before they came out with the special edition and now I really want to buy it! I have a hard time buying movies that I already own though. So, in the meantime, I'm watching hers. I was able to watch a documentary I've wanted to see for a while: Musicals Great Musicals which is a bonus feature in the edition. I'm pretty excited about watching the movie with audio commentary!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

"How many Frenchmen can't be wrong?"

Last week's quote: "I'm not used to behaving horribly; it's been a great strain!" was from The Band Wagon and was said by Cyd Charisse to Fred Astaire. Good job to Amanda Cooper for guessing correctly!! Yay!!

This year, I'd like to tweak the quotes portion of my blog. As it is now, when someone comments with the right answer, the whole game pretty much ends. The whole idea behind the series was to revel in how much we know old movies. So, I'd like to add new rules: when you correctly guess the movie, you can comment by identifying the movie, the characters, the writers, the director, the preceding line/s or following line/s. That way, there's no ending to the game, really. And the conversation can keep going.

Now, for this week's quote: "How many Frenchmen can't be wrong?"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'd take... the gown. Less upkeep.

I love dresses. I can spend far too many hours just looking at dresses on Modcloth, Shabby Apple, or Shop Ruche. I know I'm not alone in this. I have a hard time buying dresses, though, because a) they're expensive and b) I find them hard to wear. To me, dresses mean dressing up. I've only lately been able to get into the habit of wearing skirts in a casual setting. I actually prefer skirts now. I used to hate skirts. Now, dresses is my new difficulty. How to dress them down? If I come out of my room wearing a dress, my roommates look at me and say, "ooh! Where are you going?" No where. I know it's better to be over dressed than under dressed. But still.

So, I've been trying to get inspiration on how to wear dresses well. I look at lookbooks and blog posts. Kate Gabrielle's series of un, deux, trois is particularly helpful in this regard. She has so many dresses and she wears them all the time! How does she do that? She just wrote a fantastic post on wearing dresses for every day occasions. Check it out. I can't even imagine having a dress to wear for eating ice cream. It's brilliant! I want to be that classy! But, I really hate spending money on dresses when I know I'll only wear them for the occasional and very rare instance when I'll somewhere fancy schmancy.

For instance, I bought this cute dress from Shabby Apple:

I wore it to my cousin's wedding and now I don't know how to wear it. Should I cut off a tier to make it shorter? Should I put a belt on it? Wear a top over it? I originally bought the dress because it seemed so flexible in casual/dressy terms. But now I don't know how to dress it down. Any suggestions?

And then there's this dress that I'm dying to buy from Shop Ruche. I really don't need a dress. And I probably will continue to talk myself out of it until it's no longer available but look how cute!

I know I'd buy it and then it would sit in my closet until my birthday or a wedding or a party. What a waste.

And here's what makes it worse. I try to wear outfits that are vintage-inspired and when I look at the outfits in old movies, practically all the girls wear are dresses! This, of course, makes my fashion inspiration posts very difficult to do because the outfits are one piece: a dress. Done.

There are plenty of dresses in old musicals that are evening gowns and dinner dresses. But these are just every day type dresses: visiting someone, going to work, walking through Rome, picking apple type dresses. I think of the dress Ann Miller wears to the museum in On the Town, the one Marilyn Monroe wears to work in Monkey Business, Nora Charles' outfits in The Thin Man movies. I see photos from blogs like Kate Gabrielle's and think, if I wore that, people would look at me funny. But girls did it all the time back in the day and brave and classy girls do it now! I need to step it up a bit. And I need to learn how to dress down a dress. Any suggestions? Please let me know!

Monday, January 9, 2012

But the tune is so infectious!

More cleaning house! Yay! Sorry for filling up my blog with these. It feels so good to get rid of that awful draft next to posts, doesn't it?

So, I'm going to go a bit off-topic today. This past week I found myself discussing Broadway shows with some of my coworkers. We ran into the topic when The Sound of Music came on and some of my coworkers said that they really hated that movie and then they went on about how their favorite musicals were Les Miserables and other equally depressing choices. I was really involved in theater when I went to high school and I fell in love with Broadway musicals. I've recently fallen out of love with them, mostly because I've discovered that a large number of Broadway shows are very angsty. There's so much trauma, drama, and hardship all of the time. As soon as I discovered this, I pretty much stopped listening to Broadway soundtracks.

That is, except one. Quite possibly my all-time favorite Broadway show: The Drowsy Chaperone. Now, I say 'quite possibly' because I do really like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Pirates of Penzance, and other such musicals that have flourished on the Broadway stage. But as far as the more recent, more contemporary shows, Drowsy Chaperone takes the cake (for me, at least).

The reason? No angst. Okay, so there's a little bit. But it's complete tongue-in-cheek and it's absolutely ridiculous. The basic premise of the musical is this: a man (Man in Chair) is sitting at home, feeling a little blue, so he decides to listen to his records. He pulls out his favorite, "The Drowsy Chaperone" and as he listens, the musical springs to life for the audience. Man in Chair is constantly pausing and interrupting the show in order to tell the audience little bits of "trivia" about the various actors. It's fun because you think, "wow! I'm learning a lot about these people" but you know that it's all made up and that there never were such people. It's so much fun!

Another reason that I love this show is that it sort of pays homage to old Hollywood and old Broadway. There's a producer in the show named Mr. Feldzieg (get it? Ziegfeld? It actually took me an embarrassingly long time to notice that), there are gangsters who tap dance, a groom uses dance to solve his problems, love at first sight, and spontaneous bursting into song. It's a great deal of fun. If you happen to like Broadway shows but haven't checked this one out, I highly recommend it. It's fantastic!

You're the top, you're a Berlin ballad

More house cleaning: another post I wrote a good while back - I don't even remember when. I was going to just delete it, but there were some useful links and I didn't want to lose them. Besides, I like being able to give publicity for other websites and blogs. So, here it is: a random post about favorite songwriters. Perhaps, some day, I'll do a series on them. Goodness knows they deserve it.

So, I was going to make a list of my favorite songs from Busby Berkeley musicals. I had watched a documentary on the musicals and discovered that most of the songs were written by writing team Al Dubin and Harry Warren. Well, I looked the two up and discovered that Harry Warren wrote a lot of really fantastic songs. So, then I decided to make a songwriters series and list my favorite songs from my favorite songwriters. But first, before I do that - here is a list of (some of) my favorite songwriters (in no particular order) :

Did I miss anyone?

Who are your favorite songwriters? I am thinking in terms of film, mostly.

P.S. I found this great site the other day that offers song catalogs that you can peruse. This is how I discovered how very much Harry Warren had written. Quite impressive, really.
P.P.S. If you love these masters, I think you should definitely trot on over to Brian Solomon's blog, Standard of the Day
P.P.P.S I discovered a very useful site years and years ago that provides a whole flock of lyrics for such songs as these.
P.P.P.P.S And then, of course, you should definitely check out Emma's blog because she often does standards and some of my favorite renditions are by her.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

This time is my time

I think you all know by now how much I adore Vic Damone. I mean, look at him! He's so cute!!

I recently finished his autobiography, courtesy of my sister (who discovered it at the library and checked it out for me!). It was probably one of the best autobiographies I've read yet. Myrna Loy is still the best, in my opinion, but Vic Damone's is really up there. I mean, he has so many crazy stories to tell. They're all fascinating. Some of them are sad, but most of his book is pretty upbeat. And a great deal of it is just plain hilarious. I think everyone in my break room thinks I'm crazy by now (if they didn't think so already) because I kept bursting into random laughter and "what?" and "woah! that's crazy." Yeah. I'm a loud reader. Anyway, if you're looking for a good nonfiction book that's upbeat and gives some insight into days past, I recommend Vic's Singing Was the Easy Part.

Also, can we talk for a second about everyone (and I do mean everyone) called Jane Powell, "Janie." I think that says something about her personality if everybody connected with her called her by a nickname like that. Just saying. It's yet another reason to love her (as if I needed one). In his autobiography, Vic Damone talks about his first experience working with her in Rich, Young and Pretty. It was his first film and he was pretty inexperienced. At one point, he started drifting out of viewshot of the camera (he and Powell were supposed to be walking down the street together), and she took his arm, very naturally, and guided him back to where he was supposed to be. How nice is that! She didn't take the opportunity to steal the scene or anything. She was so professional and so nice! I love it!

Friday, January 6, 2012

"I'm not used to behaving horribly; it's been a great strain!"

Last week's quote, "The next person that says, 'Merry Christmas' to me, I'll kill 'em," was from The Thin Man.

This week's quote, which happens to be one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies: "I'm not used to behaving horribly; it's been a great strain!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I hope I'm not obscure.

Okay. So, fun fact: I'm cleaning house on my list of blog posts and deleting all of the drafts I've written and half-written. This is a post I wrote way back in April. I couldn't believe I'd never actually published it! As a person who enjoys reading books on old Hollywood, I appreciate getting book reviews every now and again. So, here's a very late book review on Robert Matzen's Errol & Olivia: Ego and Obsession in Golden Era Hollywood.

So, I finished Robert Matzen's Errol & Olivia: Ego and Obsession in Golden Era Hollywood. First of all, it was a very good book, full of great information. I didn't care for Matzen's tone, really. He liked to talk as if he knew what was going inside the actors' heads, as if they were characters in his novel. This approach irked me a good deal because they weren't characters; they were real people. But, I suppose that's biography. To be honest, I haven't read many biographies so I wouldn't know. I also have this thing, an issue when reading books about classic films - I hate it when they critique it. Okay, so occasionally I agree with them, but most of the time I don't. I don't like to read that this author thinks that Errol Flynn wasn't a very good actor, that Captain Blood was not a very good film, that Ginger Rogers was past her prime in The Barkleys of Broadway. If I didn't love the films, if I didn't adore the actors, then I wouldn't read books about them. So stop insulting them. Thank you.

Sorry. Whew! That was a bit of a tangent. Ahem. Again, the book had some great facts. The guy has an amazing ability for research. He cites all sorts of memos and interviews. I have no idea how he managed to track them all down! The photographs inside are lovely.

Unfortunately, after finishing the book, I felt a deep and unbelievable amount of melancholy. I felt sick at the thought of *spoiler alert* Olivia failing to recognize Errol years after their last film together. The man was already going through so much torment, and then to have that piled on. Ugh. It makes me sick thinking of it now. *end of spoiler*. The day after I'd finished the book, and after I'd eased my mood a bit by beginning a new, happier book (The Films of Gene Kelly), I decided to watch my favorite scene from The Adventures of Robin Hood. And do you know something? Nothing changed really. Other than a new knowledge of the technical aspect of the film and the backstage drama, I still see the movie in pretty much the same light. Errol Flynn walked into the great hall, with that deer slung over his shoulders and I was just as happy and excited for that moment as I've always been.

I think that's what bothers me so much about people like Matzen criticizing Errol Flynn's acting skills. To me, (and, granted, I'm no acting critic) Flynn was a tremendous actor. He enters the scene and he is Robin Hood. He's attractive, not only because of his good looks but because of his magnetism, his intensity, his humor, his impudence, his passion. I'm very sad to read that Errol Flynn seemed to be a tortured soul all his life because I think he missed out on how great he was. It's kind of amazing to think that Errol Flynn was rife with insecurities. It makes me sort of second-guess my own.

Okay, so this post was all over the place. Do forgive me for that!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, everybody!

Hooray for 1927!! Or 2012 or whatever it is.