My Hometown Blogathon : Defiance, Ohio

Let’s Go to the Movies decided to host her very first blogathon and the rules weren’t too difficult to follow:  one could write about films set in one’s hometown, films made in one’s hometown, famous people in film who were born in your hometown, famous people in film who grew up in your hometown, and famous film folks who now live in your hometown.  My hometown has actually been featured in two films and a popular television show, so let’s delve into my hometown, Defiance, Ohio and find out what it’s connections to the entertainment industry are.

 

My Hometown Blogathon

In 1996 a family comedy film came to theatres, House Arrest, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Pollack.   It was written by Michael Hitchcock, who was  born in Defiance, Ohio but then moved to Western Springs, Illinois as a child.  He wrote House Arrest, setting the story in Defiance and named the characters after families he had known in Defiance.  I haven’t seen House Arrest but I recognized the surname Beindorf, which is the one of the families in the film’s last name.  Beindorf was the last name of the principal at Defiance Junior High School when I was a student there, 1977-1980. (At that time, our Junior High consisted of grades 7-9.)  Instead of  filming the scenes in Defiance, another Ohio city, Chagrin Falls, in the NE part of the state, was used as a stand-in.

Kids vs the Parents

Kids vs the Parents

Notice on Kevin Pollack's t shirt it says, "Defiance"! There is a college in the town so perhaps it was one of their t-shirts?

Notice on Kevin Pollack’s t shirt it says, “Defiance”! There is a college in my hometown,  so perhaps it was one of their t-shirts.

House Arrest is a cute movie, the premise is that four families are suddenly facing the fact that all of  their  marriages are on the rocks and  may end in divorce so the kids of these families somehow get their parents into the basement of the Beindorf family’s home, and lock them in there and tell their parents that they won’t be released until they agree to stop the various divorce proceedings.

Defiance, Ohio’s next brush with Hollywood came in of  April of 2001.   A book came out, The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio.  It was written by Terry Ryan, and it was the true story of how her mother entered many contests sponsored by advertisers in the 1950s and 1960s and won many of those contests.  She entered these contests  in order to find a way to keep an income coming into the home as she and her husband had 10 children to support and raise, and despite her husband, Kelly’s job, he often drank away much of his paychecks.    Many of these contests were jingle writing ones,  sponsored by advertisers of popular radio and television shows.   Mrs. Ryan, Evelyn,  used  her brains and  her strong writing skills,  and often won either money  or actual prizes  that she could sell for money to keep her family above water.  One contest was held by the local grocery store, Chief, and Evelyn  had to run through the store in a set amount of time  and load up her cart with free groceries-wish grocery stores had contests like that one today!   Terry had no idea how her book would be accepted by the readers of America but it did quite well, well enough for  screenwriter and director, Jane Anderson, to show interest in turning Terry’s book into a movie.

One of the movie's advertising posters

One of the movie’s advertising posters

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio with a picture of the Ryan Family on the cover

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio with a picture of the Ryan Family on the cover

My mom went to St. Mary’s Catholic School with Terry.  She said the Ryan kids were all really good kids, and yes, the town knew their dad had a drinking problem.  Their mother, Evelyn, was a nice lady.  Needless to say, when Terry’s book came out lots of folks in Defiance bought copies of it to read. When word got out that it was going to be made into a movie, lots of people were hoping it would actually be filmed in Defiance.  However, the favorable factor that filming in Canada would be cheaper to the studio won out and the movie was shot in various places in the province of Ontario!  Oh how disappointed the citizens of Defiance were, hoping for a movie to be filmed in their beloved town!  The stars of The Prizewinner of  Defiance, Ohio  are Julianne Moore, as Evelyn Ryan, Woody Harrelson as Kelly Ryan, and Laura Dern as Dortha Schaefer, a friend of Evelyn’s.  Terry Ryan and one of her sisters, , Betsy, make cameo appearances in the film.  Terry got to see the finished film but sadly passed away in 2007 from cancer.

My hometown, Defiance, Ohio has also appeared on the hit ABC television show, Scandal.   My dad is a huge fan of the show and during season 2’s run, he’d tell me how the  Defiance, Ohio voters were using illegally rigged touchscreen machines, and the unknowing citizens’ votes  gave the election to  President Fitgerald  Grant!  I had to laugh and laugh and laugh about this plot!  Out of curiosity, and thanks to our Roku box and Netflix, I began to watch Scandal, season 1 and then the infamous season 2 with it’s Defiance, Ohio storyline.  I laughed when I saw the high school(that’s  not what our high school looks like!), and the fact that the voting machines were stored in some utility building near a baseball field!   I still tease my Dad a bit about this “voting” scandal that highlighted my  hometown for a couple of months, on a fictional television show.

 

Scandal

My last bit of Hollywood fame for my hometown was that Bob Hope’s son  married a local girl there, at the church I grew up attending, to boot!   A young woman from Defiance, OH, Judith Richards, went to Wellesley College and after graduation, went to Harvard Law School and earned her law degree.  Sometime in the pursuit of her degrees, she met and fell in love with Bob Hope’s son, Anthony.  The Hope’s were Catholic and the wedding was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in December of 1967.   Defiance was all agog as celebrities descended to attend the wedding ceremony: Bing Crosby and his wife, Katherine, Liza Minelli, Toots Shor, and Phyllis Diller, to name a few.  Mrs. Crosby even went to one of the downtown’s local drugstores to purchase something and had no cash on her so she wrote a check, which the store proudly displayed for several years!

Settled in the flatlands of NW Ohio, a small city of 16,000 with tinier towns nestled around it, fields of corn or soybeans dotting the area during the Spring and Summer, a General Motors foundry town, Defiance, Ohio has done remarkably well in being tapped for Hollywood mediums of entertainment.

What A Character Blogathon: Edna May Oliver

Last year I participated in an excellent blogathon, featuring  character actresses and actors  who had shined so brightly in classic movies.  I enjoyed writing my piece on Eric Blore, and decided that this time around, I would focus on a female character actress and my pick is Edna May Oliver.  Be sure to visit these awesome classic movie loving gals and their blog sites to read about more wonderful character actors and actresses: Paula’s Cinema Club, Outspoken and Freckled, and Once Upon a Screen.

what-a-character-2014-02

Edna May Oliver was born on November 9, 1883 in Malden, Massachusetts.  She could also claim being a descendent of 6th President of the United States, John Quincy Adams.  The acting bug bit Edna May, but as to exactly when or how, I couldn’t find that information.  However, her parents let her quit school at the age of 14 to pursue her interest.  She must have taken piano lessons as a child because one of her earliest professional gigs was the piano player for an all women band that traveled the country in 1900.

Edna May Oliver

Edna May Oliver

The stage was her first area of acting work and in 1917, she achieved acclaim for her part of playing  comic, spinster Aunt Penelope in the Jerome Kern musical hit, Oh Boy!  Jumping ahead to 1927, Edna May starred in the original cast of another Kern musical,  Show Boat, playing Parthy, the wife of Captain Andy Hawks.  In between these stage roles, movies did beckon Edna May and her first film role was in a silent flick, 1923’s Wife in Name Only.  Her last film role was in 1941’s romance drama, Lydia.

With her height of 5’7″, a long face, and a voice that could speak in low tones, Edna May often found herself cast as the grumpy or comical aunty, depending on a movie’s tone.  She found a lot of fame in the 1930’s playing such a character, often speaking very witty lines and knowing how to do the perfect eye-roll at another character, and sometimes breaking that fourth wall and giving that look at the audience.  Hollywood in the 1930s went on a  bit of a Literature roll, making movies from famous books,  and Edna May was cast in several of those films, giving superb performances, often stealing every scene she was in!

Edna May sadly died at the age of 59 in 1942, on her birthday.  It’s a shame that she exited this world when she probably still had a lot of talent to put forth into future movie and stage roles.  What follows is my list of her roles that I have seen; the roles are in chronological order:

Headshot of Edna May for Ladies of the Jury

Headshot of Edna May for Ladies of the Jury, doing that eye-roll!

 

1932-Ladies of the Jury-Edna May plays rich socialite Mrs. Livingston Baldwin Crane, who lands on a jury of a murder trial.  A comic take on a more famous, and made much later movie, 12 Angry Men.  Mrs. Crane seems a bit of an airhead at first, but she is allowed to  ask questions of those testifying on the witness stand from the jury box,  and her questions are quite good.  She is able to convince her fellow jurors that this case isn’t as open and shut as they think it is, and it’s a fast-moving little film, with the good receiving exoneration and the bad receiving their just punishments.

Edna May and her co-star, James Gleason

Edna May and her co-star, James Gleason

Edna May as Hildegard Withers in the Penguin Pool Murder

Edna May as Hildegard Withers in the Penguin Pool Murder

1932-Penguin Pool Murder-RKO bought the rights to a popular crime/mystery book written by Stuart Palmer.  The plot was about a spinster schoolteacher, Miss Hildegarde Withers, at the NYC Aquarium with her elementary school students when a murder happens and the body is found at the Penguin Pool.  James Gleason(another great character actor in his own right) plays Police Inspector Oliver Piper, who is assigned to solve the murder and he reluctantly accepts the insights and help of Miss Withers.  Edna May and Gleason had a great chemistry with each other and this movie was a box office success.  Edna May and Gleason teamed together, reprising their roles in two more murder mystery films: 1934’s Murder on the Blackboard, and 1935’s Murder on a Honeymoon.

Edna May as Aunt March, doling out some advice to Jo, played by Katherine Hepburn

Edna May as Aunt March, doling out some advice to Jo, played by Katherine Hepburn

1933-Little Women, playing Aunt March.  Hollywood gives Louisa May Alcott’s classic book the film treatment.  Oliver is wealthy, grumpy, highly-opinionated Aunt March.  She holds her own quite well in her scenes with Katherine Hepburn, the film’s lead, playing Jo March.  If you have only seen the 1949 version or the 1994 version, you owe it to yourself to see this earlier depiction.

Edna May in her Red Queen costume

Edna May in her Red Queen costume

1933-Alice in Wonderland, playing the Red Queen.  Paramount Studios decided to make a film of the classic children’s book Alice in Wonderland, and make it a show case with an all-star cast.  Oliver is delightfully dippy as the Red Queen.  While I wouldn’t call this a stellar presentation of Carroll’s tale, it is fun for classic film fans to view in order to pick out the all-stars in their crazy costumes and make up!

Playing Aunt Betsey and providing a safe haven for young David

Playing Aunt Betsey and providing a safe haven for young David

1935-David Copperfield, playing Aunt Betsey.  Charles Dickens’s famous novel is turned into a very good film and Oliver is superb as Aunt Betsey, who provides a haven for young David as he runs away from his evil stepfather, Murdstone, played in an effectively creepy way by Basil Rathbone.  Here’s a clip of the scene where Oliver delivers a scathing tongue lashing to Murdstone as he has dared to come to her home and try to take David away from her.

1935-A Tale of Two Cities, playing Miss Pross.   Hollywood’s version of another classic work of Dickens’s.  Set against the back-drop of the French Revolution, it is a film full of different characters. Oliver is Miss Pross, the devoted maid ot Dr. Manette and his daughter, Lucie.    One character, Madame DeFarge, is chillingly evil, sitting on the sidelines knitting while watching enemies of the Republic die on the guillotine.   She is also an informant, telling those high up in the Revolution where enemies may be hiding, awaiting their chance to escape from France.   In a crucial scene, it is up to Miss Pross to deal with Madame DeFarge in order to keep Pross’s beloved Manette family protected.  While the clip I found is in dubbed Italian, it is still a fun example to show that Oliver wasn’t afraid of a physically demanding scene!

As nurse to Shearer's Juliet

As nurse to Shearer’s Juliet

1936-Romeo and Juliet, playing Juliet’s nurse.  It’s Shakespeare’s turn for one of his famous plays to get the Hollywood treatment.  While I think Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer were a bit old to play the star-crossed teenaged lovers, they did a commendable job.  Oliver is a great nurse, having fun in some early comedic scenes and then appropriately somber in the later parts of the film as the tragedy draws closer.

Playing Mrs. McKlennar in Drums Along the Mohawk

Playing Mrs. McKlennar in Drums Along the Mohawk

1939-Drums Along the Mohawk, playing Mrs. McKlennar.  John Ford directed this look at life in Colonial America pre-American Revolution, when the colonists had to deal with attacks on their new settlements from the Native Americans.  Oliver plays Mrs. McKlennar, a feisty farm woman who is helpful to newlyweds Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert.  For this role, she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar at the 1940 Academy Awards.

As Lady Catherine de Bourgh, giving Elizabeth Bennett a piece of her mind!

As Lady Catherine de Bourgh, giving Elizabeth Bennet a piece of her mind!

1940-Pride and Prejudice, playing Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  Jane Austen’s turn for one of her classic novels to get a movie depiction.  Oliver is a wonderful Lady Catherine, imperious and very opinionated who doesn’t want her nephew D’Arcy(Laurence Olivier) to marry anyone but her sickly daughter.  When Lady Catherine finds out D’Arcy is in love with one Elizabeth Bennet(Greer Garson), Lady Catherine storms her way to the Bennet’s home to confront Elizabeth to dissuade her from accepting any marriage proposals her nephew might make to her.  This is a fast moving look at Austen’s famous book, and while not as faithful an adaptation as the 1995 version that stars Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, or the 2005 version starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, I like what the screen writer, Aldous Huxley of this 1940 version,  did near the end with Lady Catherine’s character.  It lessened the dragon lady image of her character in a satisfying way.

I will end my look at Edna May Oliver, extraordinary character actress with a tribute video that was made for Turner Classic Movies a couple years ago and still airs from time to time.  Enjoy!

 

Did the President Really Disrespect Stay-At-Home-Moms?

On October 31, 2014, President Obama spoke at Rhode Island College, in Providence, RI.  He was speaking on the topic of Women and the US Economy.  As I was perusing facebook later that same day, several well-meaning friends had put up links from news outlets about the President’s speech.  Most of the news outlets were all touting the same comment, that the President had shown disrespect to stay-at-home moms(sahms).  I was taken aback by this bit of news.  I am and have been a sahm for 23 years now.  I was taken aback because I thought to myself, would the President really say something so disrespectful to a group of women, that has grown to 29% of all women with children 18 and under(Pew Report)?

President Obama speaking at Rhode Island College, Providence, RI on October 31, 2014.

President Obama speaking at Rhode Island College, Providence, RI on October 31, 2014.

I am a conservative voter, thinker, and I follow politics.  I read various news sources each day, watch the news, and while not agreeing with much of President Obama’s political ideologies and policies, I had my doubts that he had really disrespected sahms.   I decided to do a bit of investigative research on what he actually said in his speech on October 31st.

What I found out was that the President was talking about the fact that Rhode Island has a paid family leave as a state law and he wished more states had such a law; 2 other states besides RI have such a law on their books.  The President cited examples of women who can’t take much time off from their jobs for a proper maternity leave, or take time off if they need to care for a seriously ill loved one.  He cited examples of women who do take that  time away to provide care for loved ones, and when they take that leave, they  risk losing their pay or their positions  in their careers.  He went on to state that sometimes families can’t find affordable and/or quality childcare or preschools, so a parent gives up their career to be with the kids when they’re small, and that that can negatively affect a family’s economic level.  He didn’t slam sahms from what I deciphered from his speech.   Here are the remarks he made if you want to read it for yourself.

As to his view of having paid leave for all who need to take leave from a career or job for personal reasons, I have to ask, who will pay for this leave in dollars and cents?  Where will the company find the money to do this?  If a state makes it mandatory, does this apply to all places of employment or just to large companies with deep pockets?  Will this apply to those working minimum wage jobs?  I can’t foresee that many businesses who have minimum wage employees can afford to provide  a paid leave for those employees.  Also, what is an affordable daycare?  What comprises a good daycare and who monitors that?  Let’s mandate  free, quality  Preschools?  To get the free preschools,  that would force the local public schools to add them to their school districts, but then again, that will cost rises in school tax levies which would then be  put onto the school districts’  taxpayers, so saying it’s free isn’t really the truth.  The President may wish the federal government can step in and create full-paid leave for those who have to leave a job for a while and/or fabulous daycares and preschools that are economically priced and convenient to where a family lives, but there is a whole host of unintended consequences that would result from such sweeping legislation.

When my husband and I began our family 23 years ago, we knew that I wanted to stop my teaching career to be a sahm.  I have never regretted my decision to put my career on hold.  As our youngest will turn 12 in 2015, I am gearing up for a return to teaching, whether as a full time teacher in the classroom or as a full-time sub, I have some flexibility in what I choose to do.

Life is hard and it’s not fair.  Life doesn’t always flow like a Happily-Ever-After fairytale ending.  Loved ones get terribly sick and need care.   Babies are born and need care.   Sometimes those life events throw huge monkey wrenches into our lives and the routine of living has to be put on hold for a while or for an entire season of life and those events have to be dealt with, they have to be endured.  When the event is over or has moved to a new stage, then that career and the old ways of living may be returned to.

I suggest, Mr. President, that you leave it up to the individuals and their families how best to deal with those monkey wrenches.

I would suggest different speeches, instead of focusing on women and the economy, how about ways to make the economy better for all working Americans?  Since this speech was made in late October, my cynical self thinks  it was scheduled  to aim a speech at women, in a hope to boost the vote for Democrats in the mid-term elections that were approaching, since the Republicans are supposedly “at war” with women.  Rhode Island, situated on the East coast, isn’t a hotbed of conservative voters, either, so that was  a safer  place to make a speech to appeal to liberal sensibilities.

If you want to help the economy for women, Mr. President,  lower the tax rates, change the way that the federal tax code  penalizes married women vs women co-habitating with a man.  How about  finding  ways to have  colleges  stop hiking up their tuition rates that force some college students to head into onerous debt just in order  to earn their degrees?

No, I don’t see the President’s speech as a disrespectful rant at stay-at-home-moms.  I see the speech bringing up some valid concerns that all Americans will eventually face, from time to time and I see it as difficulties Americans can deal with on their own without more intrusive laws from a federal government that just wants to “help” people.  I’ll end with a famous quote and warning from the late economist Milton Friedman: “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”  Also, this quote by Mr. Friedman, which I think proponents of government intervention for every problem under the sun should memorize: ” One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

Ever After : For the Fairy Tale Blogathon

My Friday blogs are usually about a classic (old) movie that I enjoyed and want others to know about and try to see.  Today’s blog is also about a movie, but  a newer one, 1998’s Ever After, a refreshing new look at Cinderella, starring Drew Barrymore as the main character.  Today’s blog is also my contribution for  The Fairy Tale Blogathon, hosted by Movies Silently.  Be sure to visit that site to read other great pieces written by other bloggers,  for a look at fairy tales in the movies.

Fairy tale blogathon

Ever After opens  with two gentlemen leaving a carriage to enter a beautiful chateau.  They are none other than the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm(Joerg Stadler, Andy Henderson).  They have arrived at this chateau to interview Grande Dame Marie Therese(Jeanne Moreau) to compare their story of Cinderella with what she knows about the true story of Cinderella.  The Grande Dame is descended from the real Cinderella, whose real  name was Danielle de Barbarac.  Out of a treasure box, the Grande Dame takes out the glass slipper(designed for the film by Salvatore Ferragamo) and from that point forward the real story of Cinderella is told via flashback.

Ever After poster 1

Famous French actress Jeanne Moreau is Grande Dame Marie Therese

Famous French actress Jeanne Moreau is Grande Dame Marie Therese

The beautiful glass slipper

The beautiful glass slipper

 

Drew Barrymore is Danielle.  She plays the part with sincerity, courage, bravado, a lot of  smarts, and some necessary sass.  This isn’t a retelling of the Disney animated version so there are no songs, no pumpkin is magically changed into a carriage, no mice become horses, no fairy godmother.  This version is told as  historical fiction; a story that  the Brothers Grimm researched and then  changed into a  fairy tale.

Danielle and her beloved Papa

Danielle and her beloved Papa

We first meet Danielle when she is 8 years old.  She is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her beloved Papa(Jeroen Krabbe) and his new wife and her two little daughters.  Danielle is a smart girl, a tomboy, and she gets into a mud battle with her neighboring playmate, Gustave, which  doesn’t make  a good impression on her new stepmother, Rodmilla de Ghent(Anjelica Huston) or her two daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline.  Papa gives Danielle a book as a gift: Sir Thomas More’s Utopia.  He also tells her he has to go away for a week on another business trip but to use that time to get to know her stepmother and stepsisters better.  Danielle promises to try and on the morning of her papa’s departure, he falls from his horse as he nears the main gate to his property, and dies of a heart attack.  Amid Danielle’s broken-hearted sobs, stepmother Rodmilla is crying, but crying out for Auguste to  not die and leave her in this new place alone.  We begin to see the true nature of Rodmilla in this scene.  She notices as Auguste lays dying that he strokes Danielle’s face and tells her he loves her, but he doesn’t tell Rodmilla anything so dear.  That will lead to her jealousy of Danielle, and we see how much Rodmilla dislikes the new home and community that she has moved to.

Anjelica Huston has a field day playing the evil stepmother, Rodmilla

Anjelica Huston has a field day playing the evil stepmother, Rodmilla

Marguerite, the mean stepsister(Megan Dodds) and Jacqueline, the nice stepsister(Melanie Lynskey)

Marguerite, the mean stepsister(Megan Dodds) and Jacqueline, the nice stepsister(Melanie Lynskey)

The film then jumps ahead 10 years and now Danielle is 18, working as a hired hand at her own home, and she has to bravely fight off a man who is trying to steal one of her late papa’s horses.  She succeeds to knock the thief from the horse with some well aimed apples and the thief reveals himself to be Prince Henry(Dougray Scott) who is on the run.  His father, King Francis,(Timothy West) has arranged Henry’s marriage to a Spanish princess and Henry wants no part of it.  Running away is Henry’s solution and he needs a fresh horse.  Danielle immediately apologizes for her behavior to the prince and he forgives her, and hands her a bag of gold coins to cover the cost of  the horse.  Danielle rejoices at receiving the coins and shows them to the two older ladies in her house’s kitchen.  A husband of one of the ladies  had been recently sold as a slave to cover some of Rodmilla’s debts, and Danielle puts on her finest dress and goes to the King’s castle herself, with the coins, to buy back her servant before he is shipped away to America.  In arguing for her servant to be freed, Prince Henry arrives back at the castle after being caught by his father’s men, and Henry decides to debate this new maiden about poverty, about those who turn to a life of crime, and a rich man’s responsibilities to his fellow “rustics” as he calls them.  Henry doesn’t recognize Danielle in her finery and he is intrigued by this “mystery” girl.  He tries to find out her name and Danielle lies, telling the Prince that she is Comtesse Nicole de Lancret, her mother’s maiden name.    As he is about  to make a date to visit this girl, his mother, Queen Marie(Judy Parfitt-now playing the addle-headed nun on Call the Midwives!) arrives to greet him and Danielle successfully uses this moment to slip away from Henry and his prying questions, and escape a date with him.

The Royal Family: King Francis(Timothy West), Prince Henry(Dougray Scott), and Queen Marie(Judy Parfitt)

The Royal Family: King Francis(Timothy West), Prince Henry(Dougray Scott), and Queen Marie(Judy Parfitt)

Danielle apologizing for knocking Prince Henry off the horse

Danielle apologizing for knocking Prince Henry off the horse

Danielle debating Prince Henry after rescuing her servant

Danielle debating Prince Henry after rescuing her servant

Danielle has 3 servants loyal to her: Maurice, Paulette, and Louise.  They aid her a lot, especially when she is freed from a pantry/dungeon by none other than Leonardo DaVinci(yes, that DaVinci!) and her childhood pal, Gustave. Danielle-pretending to be Comtesse Nicole, does have several dates with Prince Henry which cause them to fall in love with one another and they also get to battle a band of Gypsies!  There is also a  villain in this film, Pierre Le Pieu(Richard O’Brien), and he is  creepy and evil.   He wants Danielle to be his wife due to the land and house that she owns that can be added to his coffers.    Danielle is, of course, able to outwit this baddie.  He comes into the film in the last half hour and he’s so crude as he tries to seduce Danielle that  for this reason, I cannot recommend Ever After for the entire family to see.  I would say teens and adults can, but not the kiddies!  Perhaps fast-forward thru the scenes with the icky Pierre if kids are watching this film with you.

Pierre Le Pieu- Ever After's evil baddie

Pierre Le Pieu- Ever After’s evil baddie

Danielle's new friend, Leonardo DaVinci, with the painting she inspired him to create

Danielle’s new friend, Leonardo DaVinci, with the painting she inspired him to create

Danielle's pal, Gustave

Danielle’s pal, Gustave

Danielle's loyal servants greeting the rescued Maurice

Danielle’s loyal servants greeting the rescued Maurice

Other than Pierre, I really enjoyed this movie.  It was filmed on location in France, with many scenes shot in the outdoors with natural lighting that shows the sparkling sun, scarlet and golden leaves falling from the trees, the french countryside.  It’s a very pretty film to view.  The costumes and sets are period perfect and Huston gets to wear some  sky-high headdresses!

As I said, Barrymore is spot on with a Cinderella that is refreshing and not the singing girl who is demure and can get mice to sew her a dress.  The rest of the cast are also excellent in their roles.  Anjelica Huston is the evil stepmother,at first  displaying her evil nature in sneaky, quiet ways, but growing more physical in her meanness as the story advances.    Megan Dodds plays Marguerite as a mean, snot of a girl.  Melanie Lynskey plays Jacqueline as a nicer stepsister who knows her mom and sister are bad, but is clueless as to how she can stop their wrong ways.    Dougray Scott is rugged and dashing as Prince Henry, but he is also  a conflicted young man.  He wants to live his life on his own terms, find his own wife,  but also wants to show respect to his parents.  He loves Comtesse Nicole(Danielle) and at the same time  is exasperated  and challenged by her intellect  and the debates they always seem to fall into.  I think it was  a coup for the casting agents to get the superb French actress Jeanne Moreau to play the Grande Dame, who opens the film and brings it to a satisfying close.   Yes, this film does have the ultimate Happily Ever After ending, but there are a few detours that pop up before that ending arrives.  The screenplay was written by Susannah Grant, Rick Parks, and Andy Tennant, who also directed the film.  It was a Mireille Soria production and released to theatres by 2oth Century Fox.   I have to also recognize the music for this film, by George Fenton.  It was beautiful, medieval sounding at times, and exciting during various chase scenes.  It just enhanced the flow of the film so well.

I was able to view Ever After through the magic of my Roku box and Amazon Prime streaming. It is probably available at your local movie dvd renting store, it’s at Amazon.com for purchase and a kind soul has put the movie up on Youtube in 10 minute installments.

I’ll close with some more scenes from this delightful look at a classic fairy tale.

Danielle pretending to be the Comtesse on a date with Prince Henry

Danielle pretending to be the Comtesse on a date with Prince Henry

Danielle finally arrives at the Ball

Danielle finally arrives at the Ball

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health Insurance: Past and Present Day

I like to watch an old television show, The Fugitive, via Youtube.   The television show ran on ABC from 1963-1967.  The show’s  plot was really a borrowing  from the  classic novel, Les Miserables, by French writer Victor Hugo.  The plot:  a man convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, having escaped from a trip to the death house, trying to find the man he suspects really murdered his wife, all the while dodging in and out of the shadows to avoid the relentless police lieutenant pursuing him to bring him back to face his punishment.   I’ve been enjoying the well-written show, with interesting storylines, plus seeing the work of some  famous actors and actresses of today who guest starred, when they were young, starving artists, so to speak.

The Fugitive

A recent episode  got me to pondering about health care and health insurance in the US.    The show’s protagonist, Dr. Richard Kimble(David Janssen) was  working for a wealthy family, under an alias; as their estate’s new gardener/caretaker.  The family’s son, age 9, was walking on top of a high garden wall, despite being told not to walk on it, and he fell to the sidewalk, hurting his arm.  Kimble  knew  the boy needed medical help.  He convinced the boy’s mother, and they  drove  the boy  to the family’s doctor.  I sat incredulously watching as Kimble carried  the boy with  the boy’s mother right behind him into the clinic.  They  walked  to the  receptionist’s desk and told her  that the child had injured his arm and  needed an x-ray.  Then they   just kept on walking  back to the examining rooms where the doctor was!  Not one peep from the receptionist about insurance, no forms to fill out, nothing!  The added kicker, for me, was  when the doctor announced that after the x-rays were negative for a broken bone, he felt the child needed some extra care at the hospital for the injured arm and he said he’d drive the child there himself!!!  No ambulance called for transport, the doctor did the driving!

When did housecalls go the way of the dinosaur and why?

When did housecalls go the way of the dinosaur and why?

When was the last time your doctor offered to drive you to the hospital?  When have you ever been able to walk right in to the doctor’s office, be seen immediately, and not have to produce insurance information, pay a co-pay upfront, and not have forms to fill out or update?   This depiction of healthcare in the U.S. from The Fugitive, circa 1963, led me to wonder when did health insurance arrive in the US, and what has it’s impact been on those who provide health care services?

From what I’ve read, health insurance as we know it, didn’t really exist in the same format when it began in 1850.  Prior to 1850, people who needed a doctor’s services paid the costs out of their own pockets.  In Massachussetts, the Franklin Health Assurance Company, which began operating  in 1850, offered  Accident insurance to employees who worked for the railroads and steamboats.  The idea caught on and by 1866, there were 60 different organizations offering Accident insurance in the US.   Jumping forward to 1911, the first employer-sponsored disability policy was issued, but only for covering lost wages due to sickness causing an employee being unable to work.  This plan didn’t cover medical costs.

In the 1920s, some hospitals began to offer pre-paid  services to their patients.  That led to the creation of the Blue Cross companies in the 1930s.    Teachers in Dallas, TX successfully created the first employer-sponsored health care plan which only covered the member teachers’ medical expenses and only at one specific hospital.

medical prac. cartoon

Jumping to the 1940s and WWII, the government had put into place price and wage controls: workers were fewer, demand for products was high, and this caused a very tight labor market.  To appease the workers with no wage increases happening, many manufacturers began offering benefits-health care, especially, since the War Labor Board had decided that benefits to employees wouldn’t contribute to a wage increase.   President Truman wanted to pass public health insurance, a program that would be open to all who wanted to participate in it, but participation would be optional, not mandated or forced.  His plan was shot down by the Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association.  Labor Unions had liked Truman’s plan but decided to put all of their might behind employer-offered health insurance and by 1958, 75% of Americans had some form of health insurance.

In 1965, President Johnson signed into law Medicare and Medicaid, government run health insurance for the elderly and the poor and in 2010 the Affordable Care Act(Obamacare) was signed into law.

2010-President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act bill into law.

2010-President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act bill into law.

1965-President Johnson signing the Medicare bill into law as President Truman looks on.

1965-President Johnson signing the Medicare bill into law as President Truman looks on.

So that’s the history of health insurance in the US, but has it always been a boon for the health care providers?   I was at a Candidate’s Forum Monday night, in Rolla, to listen to the various Judges present themselves to we, the voters, for the upcoming election.  I also heard the two candidates speak, who are running for the Clerk of Courts office.  One of those candidates is a doctor and something she said I thought was very true, and very telling. She said that as much as she has loved being a doctor, she went into medicine to serve others, to help others, and increasingly in the medical profession, she has seen that old saying come true, He who pays the Piper calls the tune.  In her meaning, since the Federal Government is increasingly paying the doctors, the hospitals, and in turn through the hospitals, the nurses and other employees, the Federal Government can increasingly dictate to all in the medical field how everything should be run, and should be done.

Health care in the US still is fraught with problems and perhaps, sometime in the future, common sense methods can be used to take away or create better solutions to  some of those problems.  Gone are the days of health care as it was   depicted in that 1963 The Fugitive episode, but ease in obtaining affordable health  insurance,  ease in seeing a doctor that one has  chosen, is that too  much to ask for  and hope for?

Information for this blog was found through  the following:

“How did America end up with this health care system?”, Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 27, 2014.

Wikipedia

 

What the Referee’s Wife Saw and Heard

My husband is a high school  football referee.  The  high school football season in Missouri  is winding down and play-off games begin in earnest this coming Friday, which will ultimately lead to the  teams that  will play in the state championships held in the Edward Jones Dome in  St. Louis in late November.   referee whistle

Usually, I attend the home football games for Rolla High’s Bulldogs  as child #4 marches in the band(they’re an awesome band, by the way) and child #5 sings in the choir which traditionally sings the National Anthem before the home football games begin.  Husband   travels on his Fridays, in the  late afternoons,  to towns I’ve never heard of in order to referee  high school football games.   He does get paid for performing  referee duties, which is a nice perk of the hobby.  He is also evaluated during a game by an assessor who will meet with him after a game to point out what he did well and what areas he needs to work on.  Did you know that, about referee assessors?  Now you do!

Referees standing at attention during the National Anthem.

Referees standing at attention during the National Anthem.

This past Friday, Rolla’s game was out of town so I decided to go with my husband to Hermann, Missouri to watch him in action.  He was to referee the game between the Hermann Bearcats(what is a bearcat anyhow?  I don’t think one really exists in Nature!) and the Union Wildcats.    Hermann is a quaint town, sitting high up on the banks of the Missouri River.  It was founded in the 1830s  by the Deutsch Ansiedlungs-Gesellschaft zu Pennsylvania (that mouthful translates to German Settlement Society of Pennsylvania!) Germans coming to Hermann had a goal to build a German community with agriculture, industry, and commerce being the three economic areas to keep the new community thriving.  On a mini-tour of Hermann a couple years ago with my parents and oldest daughter, we learned that the German immigrants took note of the hills and the  rocky soils and found it similar to the soils in Germany where vineyards thrive and so, with ingenuity and hard work, the new immigrants planted vineyards for their own families and the Missouri wine industry’s seeds were born.  For more about Hermann and visiting this unique town, click on this link.

Hermann, MO nestled by the MIssouri River

Hermann, MO nestled by the MIssouri River

Vineyards in Hermann, MO

Vineyards in Hermann, MO

Hermann MO

.Hermann’s high school is much smaller than Rolla’s. I didn’t realize that until the announcer asked the Senior football players, cheerleaders, band, cross country team members, and softball players to come to the field, and their parents were asked to go to the track.  There were probably 25 Seniors to be honored-a much smaller amount than Rolla had on their Seniors Recognition Night.  Despite being a smaller high school, they had the requisite artificial turf field that seems all the “rage” in high school football, a nice seating area for home and away fans, and a nice concessions kitchen and restrooms facility.  The scoreboard was more high tech than Rolla’s; it was digital and it  put the players’  faces, uniform numbers and  playing  positions up on the screen  when they made a play.   When Hermann scored or got an advantage in the game, their was a “bearcat roar” emanating from that scoreboard!  I think it’d be cool if Rolla got a digital scoreboard, with a bulldog roar in it’s sound system.  I don’t know what a digital  scoreboard costs, but alert the Booster Club!  If the Hermann Bearcats can have one, why not the Rolla Bulldogs??

Hermann Bearcats

As I watched the Seniors step out, one by one to be honored, I noticed that one of the senior cheerleaders walked stiffly to her parents, her arms held bent at a crooked angle, but a broad smile on her face.  Her proud parents hugged her tightly as she reached their arms, and she gladly presented her mom with a small bouquet of roses.  I knew from the girl’s stiff bodily movements that she had Cerebral Palsy.  After the Seniors were honored and the cheerleaders gathered, I noticed that another one of the cheerleaders had Down Syndrome.  I paid attention to this cheerleading squad and those two girls, despite their  disabilities, did well.  They kept up with their squad doing the cheers, they fully participated in all the cheers, even the fancier ones performed at the half-time show.  They were both  lifted up high by their fellow cheerleaders, when the squad formed two towers, lifting each girl up to the top, supporting them with their arms as each girl stood up, smiled, and waved their arms high.  That formation  brought much applause from the audience.  Kudos to the Hermann Cheerleading Squad and its advisor(s) for letting these two young ladies be a part of the squad.  In a society that fixates on the physically beautiful, or handsome, or athletic prowess, it was refreshing and joyful to see these two girls give their all to cheerleading and to be allowed that chance to be a part of a group.  Later on in the game, a group of students in the bleachers decided to do a large group selfie picture and they made sure that those  two girls were in the picture with them.

It's Good!

It’s Good!

Hermann played a valiant game but lost to Union by a close score, 35-32.  As I sat on the Hermann side in my non-Hermann colors(I wore a dark green jacket, which didn’t blend in with Hermann’s royal blue and white  clad fans)I got to hear some annoying shout outs to the referees.  “Put your glasses on!”  “Are you blind?”  There were numerous outcries about supposed facemasks, blocking in the back, passes that were really caught and not dropped.   Those plays happened on the opposite side of the field from the side that the Hermann fans were sitting on, but of course, the very vocal fans saw it all clearly and were convinced that  the refs were blind!  One gentleman, in particular, kept yelling and yelling and yelling his advice.  He’d yell it to the coach, to the refs, and to one player in particular, Cody.  I didn’t know who Cody was.  Maybe the yeller’s son or nephew or stepson or neighbor or godson?   I do know, after telling my husband about the yelled comments during the game, not one of those utterances were heard.  Not by the referees, not by the coaches, and not by the players.  For all you parents out there, sitting in the bleachers watching your kids play football,  your screams and yells aren’t heard!!!  Your yells and screams will not miraculously make a team gel and win the game!  Yell out the chants with the cheerleaders and with the band as they play the school’s fight song, but for those of us sitting in front of you, and for the good of the team you are cheering, stop yelling!  They can’t hear you!!!  Rest your vocal cords, please!

Referees writing in their record notebooks

Referees writing in their record notebooks

Lastly, for those who enjoy bashing the referees at a sporting event, would you be willing to train, take tests, and travel around your state to officiate at sporting events?  Would you be willing to spend money on uniforms and whistles, shoes, hats, and the extra gas for your car?  Would you be willing to walk a mile in a referee’s shoes?  If not, then be glad that their are individuals willing to officiate, willing to work not only high school sporting events but the youth sporting events, too.  Willing to give up time with their families to ensure that a fair as possible sporting event will be held at an area high school or youth sporting field.   If you aren’t willing to be a referee, then keep your criticisms to yourself.  Thank you!

My Classic Movie Pick: Life With Father

I must have been 11 0r 12 years old the first time I saw the 1947 film Life With Father.   I remember enjoying this old movie that I stumbled upon one afternoon.  The movie was funny, it was shot in gorgeous technicolor and  the side-plot of whether or not Father would ever get baptized was amusing to me.

Life With Father

 

When I next rewatched the movie, as a college student, I realized that a young Elizabeth Taylor was in this film and a very young Martin Milner, pre- Route 66 and Adam-12 days.  I knew by this point that the parents were played by William Powell, who was pitch perfect as the bombastic father, Clarence Day Sr. and the lovely Irene Dunne was  excellent as the  loving, but fiscally- challenged  wife, Vinnie.  I also learned  that Life With Father actually had its beginning as a book, written by Clarence Day Jr.  From this book came a Broadway play and then the hit film.  When I learned that blogs The Rosebud Cinema and Rachel’s Theatre Reviews were hosting a blogathon devoted to stage plays that were turned into films, I decided to participate with Life With Father.  Be sure to visit the two sites in order to read about more movies that began life on the stage!

 

Stage to screen blogathon

Owning my late grandmother’s encyclopedia set from 1957 I was able to find a bit more info on  the real Clarence Day Jr.  Born in 1874, he grew up in  New York City, his father, Clarence Day Sr., nicknamed Clare, was a stockbroker.  Day’s grandfather, Benjamin H. Day founded the New York Sun newspaper.  Clarence Jr. grew up in an upper middle class family, graduated from Yale, and went into the same brokerage firm where his father worked.  Clarence Jr. joined the US Navy to fight in the Spanish-American War, but afterwards he became afflicted with crippling arthritis and had to live the rest of his life as a semi-invalid.  During this time, Clarence Jr. began writing and his first major literary success was a book, God and My Father.  Next came the book, Life With Father, a humorous look at life in 1890s New York City with his domineering, loud, but lovable father and the rest of the Day family.    Clarence Jr. died in 1935, and several more of his books were published posthumously.  The 1937 book, Life With Mother, was also successful and in 1939, Howard Lindsey and Russel Crouse wrote a play based upon God and My Father, Life With Father, and Life With Mother.  What was astounding is that this new play, Life With Father, was such a hit with audiences that it ran for over seven years to become the longest-running non-musical play on Broadway.

Warner Brothers brought the rights to the play in order to turn it into a film and Donald Ogden Stewart wrote the screenplay.  Michael Curtiz directed, and in addition to William Powell and Irene Dunne, as Clarence Sr. and Vinnie, they were joined by: Jimmy Lydon as Clarence Jr., Martin Milner as John, Johnny Calkins as Whitney, and Derek Scott as the youngest son, Harlan.  Zasu Pitts portrays Vinnie’s cousin, Cora, visiting from Ohio, and Elizabeth Taylor plays Mary Skinner, a  traveling companion of cousin Cora’s.  Edmund Gwenn is Reverend Dr. Lloyd, who has to carefully deal with an unbaptized Clarence Sr., and maids for the family are played by Emma Dunn, Heather Wilde, Mary Field, Queenie Leonard, and Nancy Evans.

The Day Family. front row: Whitney, Father, Harlan.  Back row: John, Clarence Jr., Mother.

The Day Family. front row: Whitney, Father, Harlan. Back row: John, Clarence Jr., Mother.

The film is fast-moving, with various plots woven throughout it, all leading to the climax: will father get baptized or not?  While this might not seem funny, and may seem downright boring, it is told with humor and wit.  William Powell’s performance is the glue that holds this story together and he was so good in the part that he was a Best Actor nominee at the Academy Awards in 1948.

Powell getting some direction advice from Curtiz.

Powell getting some direction advice from Curtiz.

Powell’s Clarence Day Sr. is in his late 40s, and he works at an efficient office.  He believes that his home should also be run in an efficient manner, and when it isn’t-which is quite often-he feels compelled to honestly let all in the house know how displeased he is with this inefficiency.  He is loud, curt, and a bit oblivious to the fact that his wife, Vinnie, is really running things at home the way she wants them run.  Powell’s Clarence adores his wife and even though she can frustrate him, especially when she doesn’t understand purchasing items on credit and keeping to the budget he has set up, he still worships the ground she walks on.  A running gag in the film is the Day family’s inability to keep housemaids.  The maids are all afraid of Mr. Day, especially when he makes a loud outburst about something that has displeased him.  One maid, a new Irish immigrant, takes it as a bad sign that the Day’s are all redheads and when Mr. Day let’s loose with a loud complaint, this new maid quits.  Vinnie scolds Clarence Sr. for scaring off yet another maid so she says he has to hire the next one.  When Clarence Sr. gets to the employment agency to hire a new maid, the employment agency representative tells him, “Sir, before I can let any girl go from this establishment, I must know the character of the home in which she will be employed.” To which Mr. Day replies, “Madam,  I am the character of my home!”

Whitney saying his catechism

Whitney saying his catechism

Cousin Cora’s visit, which Vinnie knew about but forgot to tell Clarence Sr., is an irritant to him.  He doesn’t like the fact that they are putting Cousin Cora up at their house for a week and he rails against it, as he isn’t running a hotel.  He isn’t also happy that Vinnie has told Cora that they are taking her and Mary, her traveling companion, to Delmonico’s for dinner, a meal that Clarence Sr. doesn’t want to have to pay for as he believes the restaurant is too expensive.

Tolerating Cousin Cora's visit

Tolerating Cousin Cora’s visit

Father with his sons

Father with his sons

The sons, especially the oldest two, Clarence Jr. and John, add to the swirling plots of the film.  Clarence Jr. hates wearing his father’s old suits and wants a new suit of his very own.  He is hit with the love bug when he meets Mary Skinner and feels awkward around her if he’s wearing one of father’s suits.  He gets the urge to act like father would act and this upsets poor Mary!  John, always looking for a way to earn money, hires Clarence Jr. to help him sell a new medicine door to door.  Then Clarence Jr. will earn enough money to buy himself a new suit.  Unfortunately, John decides to give his mother some of the medicine and it doesn’t help Vinnie at all, in fact she becomes very sick and the doctor has to be called.

The lovely Mary Skinner, no wonder Clarence Jr. gets a crush on her!

The lovely Mary Skinner, no wonder Clarence Jr. gets a crush on her!

"Get off my lap!"

“Get off my lap!”

Telling Father he needs a new suit

Telling Father he needs a new suit

Mother understands why he wants a suit of his own

Mother understands why he wants a suit of his own

Whitney, the third son, is practicing his catechism in order to be confirmed in the Episcopal church the family attends.  During one of his practice sessions, Clarence Sr. admits that he’s never been baptized.  This news horrifies Vinnie and she asks him to get baptized or they won’t be reunited in Heaven.  Clarence Sr. scoffs at this notion, stating that God wouldn’t be able to keep him out of Heaven!  This dilemma even leads Vinnie to wonder if their marriage is legal!

Since this film, though autobiographical in nature, is mainly a comedy, you can  rest assured, there are happy endings for all of the characters.

"This film is a delight!"

“This film is a delight!”

Life With Father is available to purchase or even watch on instant rent at Amazon.  It’s also available through TCM’s Shop and through Netflix.   Also, the entire film is available to see on Youtube!  For a funny, endearing movie the whole family can watch, and with one of William Powell’s best performances, seek out Life With Father!

LWF poster 2

 

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