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

 

Are You Ready?

Saturday morning I was happily riding on  our church’s large vehicle, called a “people mover”-bigger than a 15 passenger van but not as big as a bus.  I was  an adult helper, one of several parents accompanying 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from our church  to a ministry event called Superstart, geared for their age group.  Another parent broke me out of my reverie when she asked if I’d heard about the teacher that had been killed last night?

church vehicle

Teacher? Killed? Which teacher? What school?  The parent who asked me had been looking at facebook on her iphone when she had come across the tragic news.   I did know who the teacher was, Carin Allen, the wonderful Latin teacher at Rolla High School, but it was the news that her husband, Phil, had also been killed, in a car accident on Friday night that shocked me.  Phil was a co-worker of my husband’s at Brewer Science, and I had known Phil a bit, through the Robotics Program at Rolla High when our 18 year old son had participated in that program.

I was in shock as the news  seeped  into my mind and I got an awful feeling in my stomach.  The Allen family had been driving to Sedalia, Missouri for the weekend, to visit  Phil’s parents.  Their vehicle was westbound on state highway 50.  Another vehicle traveling eastbound on state highway 50 decided to pass a tractor trailer and hit the Allen’s car head on.  That driver was also killed instantly.  Her passenger died later at an area hospital.   The Allen’s two  children  survived the horrific accident, but not without serious injuries.

I immediately grabbed my cell phone to call my husband.  He had gotten up early that Saturday morning to go into work for a while in order to  get some projects further along in their processes.  I hated to be the bearer of bad news.  My husband was speechless and also in shock.  He asked was I sure of the information?  Was it perhaps a stupid hoax on facebook?  He told me he was going to call his boss to ask if he had heard this news.   After a few minutes, my husband called me back and said that  sadly it was true.  He decided to not stay at work much longer and to go and personally inform another co-worker, a younger engineer who was also a Robotics volunteer, and who Phil was a mentor to at work.  My husband didn’t want this mutual friend to find out the awful news through social media.  My husband’s boss wanted to know if I knew any more information about the children, their conditions, etc.  Fortunately, one of the guidance counselors at Rolla Junior High was driving our church’s vehicle and I was able to glean from him the information that my husband’s boss was wanting to know.

 

superstart

As I watched laughing, clapping, singing kids all around me on Saturday at the Superstart program, I kept thinking  about and praying for the Allen family.  I prayed for  healing  for the children, not just for their physical hurts but for their emotional health too.  Now they would be facing life on this earth without the two most important people in their lives.  No more mom and dad to hang out with, to see them reach milestones such as drivers licenses, graduations, weddings, becoming parents themselves.    I prayed for wisdom for the medical staff, for the  various relatives, some in Missouri and some not, who were going to need strength to help the children get through these tough days, weeks, and months ahead.  I also prayed for wisdom  for them in dealing with legal matters,  a will, property.  I also prayed for Brewer Science; Phil was an integral employee.  Who was going to possibly take on the projects he was working on?  The same prayer went up for Rolla High.  Not many high schools even teach Latin anymore.  Will they be able to find another Latin teacher quickly?

Sunday morning, my husband was informed by Brewer Science that a “Night of Remembrance” was to be held at First Assembly of God where the Allen family  were members.  We attended this special service and  it was a nice program.  Church members were there as well as Brewer Science employees, Rolla High School employees, and the Latin students.  Prayers were said, a few songs were sung, and there was a  slide show with pictures of the Allen family set to the popular Christian song, “I Can Only Imagine“.  The Principal of Rolla High School spoke, as did the Senior Pastor of First Assembly.  Two things  touched me during this service: the Allen’s son had asked from  his hospital room that the service be recorded so he could listen to it and have it to treasure,  and the Pastor shared with us  that the Allen’s son  had told him that he knew his mom and dad were in heaven with Jesus, but what about the two other people in the other car?  He kept praying and wondering about them and their salvation.

As horrible as this news has been to receive, as horrible as it is to realize that two adults well-loved and thought of by their families and their community are suddenly and cruelly gone from this earth in an instant, their son’s faith spoke volumes to us seated in the sanctuary.  He knew his parents were with Jesus, in their new, eternal home, and he knows he’ll see them again one day.

   cemetary

Death is an  inevitable event.  No one can escape it.  Some  believe there is an eternal life beyond death, in heaven with God.  Others don’t believe this and believe that life  on this earth is all that exists  and that once one is dead, that’s it.  I cannot force anyone to believe as I do: Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and He is my Lord and my Savior.  However, I do ask the question, “Are You Ready?”  Are you ready to face the  end of your life?  Whether it be a sudden death or from a long, lingering illness, are you ready?

Looking at death in practical terms, do you have a will made so your loved ones will know what to do with your possessions?  Have you made your wishes known for what kind of memorial service you want to be held for you?  Most importantly,  have you made peace with God?  If you don’t believe God is real, I do challenge you to this thought: if I am wrong in my beliefs, has it hurt me in any way? Sure, some people may have a dimmer view of my intelligence for having a faith in Christ, but has that  really hurt me?  Yet, what if there is an eternity after death and there is a God?  What then, if one has rejected God?  Are you really wanting to take that leap of rejection?  If I am right, and you’re not, then you will be harmed eternally.

Are you ready? Don’t wait until it’s too late to be ready.   From the book of  Luke, Chapter 23, verses 32-43:”Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.  When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on  his left….. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him:”Aren’t you the Messiah?  Save yourself and us!”  But the other criminal rebuked him.  “Don’t you fear God”, he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Are you ready?  Make sure you are! Hug your loved ones especially tight today and tell them that you love them.  Ask others for forgiveness if you’ve wronged them.  Treat others the way you would want to be treated.   Find that peace that passes all understanding, in Philippians 4:7.

My Classic Movie Pick: 49th Parallel for the O Canada Blogathon

When I learned that Speakeasy and Silver Screenings, two classic movie bloggers I enjoy reading, decided to host a blogathon honoring Canada, our kindly neighbor to the North, and its contributions to the film industry,  I jumped at the chance to participate.  Be sure to visit these two bloggers’  sites to read other fantastic pieces  about Canada and her film industry contributions through the years.

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After seeing some films made by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger,  a British director and screenwriter/producer respectively, and being very impressed with their work, I decided to seek out more of their films to view;  their greatest amount of film work was in the 1940s-1950s.  In 1940,  Powell and Pressburger were  asked by the British government to make a propaganda film to help Britain’s war efforts and the suggestion was to make a film about mine sweepers.  Powell said he’d rather make a propaganda film that would wake up America from it’s neutrality.  Pressburger took Powell’s idea and came up with the screenplay;  a propaganda film that would scare the Americans and wake them up to the dangers of Nazi Germany being on their doorstep.  The  film idea was approved by both the British and Canadian governments and the film was shot on location, in Canada.

49th Parallel opening shot

49th Parallel refers first to the boundary that separates Canada and the United States and the film opens with a large map of the North American Continent, zeroing in on this boundary, showing how far to the West and then how far to the  East it stretches, a boundary between two friendly countries.   After the short geography lesson,  the movie jumps right into its plot and the story moves along fast, with lovely views of the Canadian lands in all of their vast differences.

U-boat 37, with it’s German crew, has been successfully sinking  trading ships in Hudson Bay.  After one  encounter with the surviving crew of a recently sunken ship,  the U-boat commander calls up 6 of his crew and tells them that they’ve been selected to be a raiding party, get to the shore, find supplies and information, kill if they have to.  After the 6 have made it to shore, they watch in horror, amid the cheers of the surviving crew in a lifeboat, as  Royal Canadian Air Force planes arrive on the scene, to rescue the crew, and to bomb  U-boat 37.  The 6 men are: Lieutenant Hirth(Eric Portman), Kuhnecke(Raymond Lowell), Vogel(Niall MacGinnis),Krantz(Peter Moore), Lohrman(John Chandos), and Jahner(Basil Appleby).   Their leader, Lieutenant Hirth, decides that they must make their way across Canada, to evade capture, and then make their way into the neutral United States and ask to be taken to the nearest German Embassy.

A lifeboat with surviving crew members of the latest trading ship the U-boat sunk

A lifeboat with surviving crew members of the latest trading ship the U-boat sunk

Eric Portman as Lt. Hirth, leader of the 6 men

Eric Portman as Lt. Hirth, leader of the 6 men

The 6 receiving their orders

The 6 receiving their orders

U-boat 37 is destroyed

U-boat 37 is destroyed

 

The 6  begin their trek and they encounter different groups of Canadians in  different parts of the vast country.  The first group they savagely take advantage of are three men at a fur trading post: Factor(agent for the fur company-Finlay Currie), Nick, the Eskimo cook  and handyman(Ley On), and Johnny, the French Canadian trapper(Laurence Olivier).   Tensions rise as the 6 Germans brusquely demand food, weapons, ammunition, and money.  Nick is cruelly bludgeoned by a rifle butt and is left on the floor to bleed, Factor and Johnny prevented from helping him.   Lt. Hirth states  incredibly racist comments about the Eskimos and American Blacks, which he says he read in Mein Kampf.  At one point, Johnny, exasperated by all of the info from Mein Kampf, pointedly states that though he and his two friends are from different ethnic groups they are all Canadians!  More violence erupts during a radio chess game that occurs nightly between Factor and a friend in Michigan, as Johnny takes a chance and yells for help that the 6 escaped U-boat men are holding them hostage.  Vogel shows a sign of human compassion when he gets Johnny his requested rosary to hold as he lays on a bed suffering from a gunshot wound.  Lt. Hirth had earlier refused to get the rosary and shares his strong atheist view that there is no God.  It is a telling sign that Vogel defies his superior officer by getting that rosary.   More deaths occur in the morning as the 6 Germans hijack a supply plane but as they escape into the air, Jahner is shot in the back by an Eskimo.  After flying for several hours, the plane is out of fuel and crashes into a lake below.  The men make it to shore, but Kuhnecke, who had piloted the plane, dies of a sudden heart attack.  Now the group of 6 has shrunk to 4 men.

"I'm Canadian, he Canadian, and he Canadian!"

“I’m Canadian, he Canadian, and he Canadian!”

Johnyy trying to tell Hirth that the Nazis are wrong

Johnny trying to tell Lt. Hirth that the Nazis are wrong

After trudging along a road heading west, with vast fields of wheat on both sides of them, the 4 Germans presently see a barn in the distance.  Vogel, Krantz, and Lohrman  notice a blonde girl working in the farmyard as they get closer.  Lt. Hirth directs Vogel to talk to the girl, Anna,(a very young Glynis Johns) and he discovers that they are in a commune, a Hutterite Community.  The Hutterites are a religious group that evolved from the same religious reformation that the Ammish and Mennonites came from in the 1500s.  The Hutterites came from Austria, before moving to Russia and then on to Canada and the Northern Great Plains of the United States.  You can read more about them here.    Lt. Hirth finds their communal way of life utterly ridiculous, as well as their religious beliefs but since Hutterites are descended from Germans, and they speak, read, and write German, he decides at an evening meeting to stir these people up and invite them to unite with he and his 4 men, to join the Reich and add to the great Aryan race.   The Hutterite leader, Peter(Anton Walbrook) begins a quiet rebuttal of all things Nazi.  It is a masterful scene of good acting, with a quiet yet strong voice that gets louder and more forceful as he lets Hirth know that there is no way the Hutterites would ever join the madness of the Nazi party.  Anna has developed a bit of a crush on Vogel, and the news that he is a Nazi greatly upsets her.  Vogel, who was a baker  in Germany before the war, critiques the new Hutterite baker’s work and shows him how to make better bread.  Vogel seeks out Peter and tells him that he is tired of the war and wants out.  He tells Peter that he’ll turn himself in to the local law enforcement.  Peter tells him that that will mean time in an internment camp but Vogel is ready to accept that if afterwards he can come back to the Hutterites and join their community.  Lt. Hirth discovers Vogel’s plans and puts a stop to it.  Now the group of U-boaters is only 3.

Peter becoming more forceful with his rebuttal

Peter becoming more forceful with his rebuttal

The begining of Peter's speech to Lt. Hirth

The begining of Peter’s speech to Lt. Hirth

Peter trying to ease Anna's fears about the Nazis in their midst

Peter trying to ease Anna’s fears about the Nazis in their midst

Vogel telling Peter he wants to quit the Nazis and join the Hutterites

Vogel telling Peter he wants to quit the Nazis and join the Hutterites

The 3 Germans keep walking west on long roads and run into a motorist who needs help changing a flat tire.  After knocking the man out and stealing his car, they make their way to Winnipeg and  a train station, and wind up at a major stop with all of the other train riders who get off to  attend a “National Gathering of Tribes”.  The helpful conductor tells Lt. Hirth that it is an interesting event and not one to miss.   Hirth, Lohrman, and Krantz reluctantly get off the train and split up, trying to blend in with the crowd.  Suddenly, a Canadian Mountie makes a special announcement. He tells the crowd(who hush immediately at his request-so polite!) that 3 of the U-boat escapees are thought to be in their area of Canada and could be in the crowd at this moment!  He gives out their descriptions, and mentions that one is holding a package wrapped in oilcloth.  He encourages all in the crowd to look at all of the people standing near them and a man recognizes Lohrman due to that package!  Lohrman tries to run but  is caught and arrested by the Mounties and taken away.  Now there are only 2 U-boaters.

A mountie and the crowd at the National Tribes event

A mountie and the crowd at the National Tribes event.  Lt, Hirth is in the dark hat, looking right at the Mountie!

Vancouver is the destination Hirth wants he and Krantz to head for.  Since they ran when Lohrman was arrested, they are soon lost in the woods near the Canadian Rocky Mountains.  Luckily for them, they meet British author Philip Armstrong Scott, who happens to be camping nearby and has lots of supplies, horses, and several guides with him.  His kindness and love of the arts  is rejected by Lt. Hirth as the signs of a wimpy, weak man.  As Hirth and Krantz destroy Scott’s writings and other belongings, they tie Scott up, gag him, and try to steal the horses. This is a bad idea as the horses and their noises alert the guides to find out what’s happening and they rescue Scott.  Lt. Hirth and Krantz flee and go in different directions.   The guides and Scott march into the woods and soon find Krantz and Scott gets some nice revenge.  Now Hirth is on his own to try and get to Vancouver.

Being rude to Scott

Being rude to Scott

Tying up Scott

Tying up Scott

Lt. Hirth and Krantz lost in the Canadian Rockies

Lt. Hirth and Krantz lost in the Canadian Rockies

Hirth is next shown on a plane, flying east.   We next see him hiding in a boxcar in Ontario, as  Canadian soldier, Andy Brock(Raymond Massey), who is absent without permission,  is being allowed to ride in the box car on his way back to his base.  Hirth is discovered by Andy and as Andy realizes Hirth is one of the U-boat Nazis, a scuffle happens between the two and Hirth knocks Andy out.  When Andy recovers his consciousness, he finds Hirth  wearing his uniform and  holding a gun on him.  The boxcar is soon examined by Canadian Customs Agents before it is sent over the border at Niagara Falls into the US.  Hirth’s gun keeps Brock quiet during the check.   When the box car reaches the US Custom Agents,  Hirth hands his gun over and  demands to be  taken  to the German Embassy.  The Customs Officials are flummoxed as they realize that  Hirth is from that U-boat, but not to fear!  Brock  comes up with a brilliant plan.  He points out that he and Hirth are locked in a freight hold box car and that they aren’t on the manifest.  Therefore, their freight car must be sent back to Canada to get the manifest corrected.  The Customs Officials agree and as Hirth shouts at them to send him to the German Embassy, Andy Brock rolls up his sleeves in order to prepare for his punishment of Hirth.

Lt. Hirth forcing Brock to keep quiet

Lt. Hirth forcing Brock to keep quiet

I like this film for it’s views of Canada.  Skeets Kelly and Henry Henter-Creer shot the film and they made the most of showing the wintry land around Hudson Bay, the vast prairies of Manitoba, and grandeur of the Canadian Rockies, the various lakes, and the nightlife businesses of Winnipeg, circa 1940.

I like this film for the fast-paced storyline. It doesn’t wander much from the goal of Lieutenant Hirth and it was no surprise to me when I found out that future movie director David Lean edited this film.

I also cheered when I watched the credits and saw that the music was conducted by Muir Mathieson and performed by the London Symphony.  Mathieson was a talented musician in his own right and was responsible for the music in many wonderful films.

I liked this film, of course, for the actors and Ms. Johns.  Eric Portman is superb as the icy, chillingly evil Lieutenant Hirth.  He believes in Nazism, in Hitler, hates God and all who believe in Him.  There is a funny scene at Philip Armstrong Scott’s camp where Hirth and Krantz can take a shower.  It’s an outdoor shower, but nicely set up with hot water and cold water, in separate buckets, with pull ropes on each bucket. Krantz wisely pulls on both buckets to get warm water for his rinsing off but Hirth scoffs at him and states he’ll only use cold water and despite his stoic toughness act, he lets out a shriek due to the coldness of the water.

Laurence Olivier, as Johnny the French Canadian trapper, gets top billing in this movie, as evidenced by some of the movie posters I saw when researching the movie. Some critics  made fun of his attempt to sound French Canadian, but I’m not an expert on that accent so I can’t judge if his effort was truly bad or not.  His performance is sincere and  touching.

Niall MacGuinnis  is good as Vogel.  He is physically the largest of the 6 man crew, and at first one assumes he is going to be the somewhat slow, dim, but loyal member of the group.  We start to see his character’s doubts about the war and Nazism when he gets Johnny’s rosary, when he folds his hands in prayer after Kuhnecke’s death by heart attack despite getting a hateful glare from Lt. Hirth, and the full change happens to him at the Hutterite Community.

Anton Walbrook, who was Austrian in real life, fled Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s and headed to England.  His speech against Nazism is really from his heart and it shines through on the film.  By his request to Powell and Pressburger, half of Walbrook’s fee for doing the film was given to the International Red Cross and his costars, Olivier, Leslie Howard, and Raymond Massey all agreed to work for half of what they would normally have been paid since they felt it was an important film to make, to help get America into the war.

Leslie Howard is great as the British writer of books about Native American tribes.  He is so consumed with his work he doesn’t pay much attention to  news or world events and this air of obliviousness causes Hirth and Krantz to underestimate him as a weakling.  It is a tense, yet satisfying scene as author Scott  and his guides track Krantz’s hiding spot in a cave and despite Krantz firing shots at Scott, who is unarmed,  Scott calmly approaches the cave, counts off the shots fired, and despite  getting hit in the leg, manages to grab Krantz and beat the daylights out of him, amazing his guides!

I was able to view 49th Parallel via my Roku box and Amazon Prime.  The film is shown periodically on Turner Classic Movies and it is available through their TCM Shop, a Criterion Collection dvd.  It is also available for sale through Amazon, or view it through their instant rent program.  Also, some kind soul has put the entire film up on Youtube.

Lastly, one of the movie posters used to advertise this movie was somewhat misleading and a bit funny, to me.  One poster showed Oliver, Howard, and Massey looking muscle-bound, walking at an upward, front-facing angle, ready to use their physical might to take on the evildoers.  In real life, muscle-bound isn’t the word or image that comes to my mind when I think of Leslie Howard, Laurence Oliver, or Raymond Massey!  Plus, this poster shows Olivier carrying Glynis Johns in his arms, saving her from something.  In the film, their characters never meet!  The other movie poster used  was a bit more subdued.

Please find 49th Parallel and discover a gem of a film, a love letter to Canada, it’s land and it’s people.

The wacky movie poster!

The wacky movie poster!

The better movie poster

The better movie poster

 

The Hiding Place Banned??

Our local high school sends home a daily email( an email Monday-Friday) which contains the daily announcements from the schools my three teens attend.  Last week, the high school’s library listed  one book each day that had been banned somewhere in the US  to make the students and their families aware of National   Banned Books Week.  One book that the library failed to mention because it just happened, ironically during National Banned Books Week,  was the banning of  The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.

The Hiding Place

If you’re not familiar with The Hiding Place, it’s the true story of the ten Boom family who lived in Haarlem, a city in The Netherlands.  Corrie’s father, Caspar, ran the family’s watch making and repair business and daughter Corrie was also a watch maker and repairer.  Another daughter, Betsie, took care of the house and did the cooking.  When the Nazi’s marched into The Netherlands in 1940, the ten Booms, who were Dutch Reformed Christians, were horrified at the  news they were hearing about the treatment of Jewish people in their country.  The ten Booms decided that they had to help the Jewish people in their country and so created a “hiding place” in their home where Jewish people could hide before trying to leave the country and escape the wrath of the Nazis.  The Nazis did eventually find out what the ten Boom’s had been doing and they were arrested and placed in various concentration camps before finally arriving at Ravensbruck, one of several notorious concentration camps in Germany.

Throughout Corrie and her sister’s ordeal in the camps, they showed love to their fellow prisoners, read to them from their bible that they managed to smuggle into the prisons with them and it miraculously was never discovered by their guards, and through her sister’s example, Corrie eventually learned to forgive her captors when the war was over.   The book was also made into a movie that starred the late actress Julie Harris as Betsie.

The Superintendent of Springs Charter Schools, in Temecula, CA, Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer, insisted that the school district, “does not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves.”    That statement got me to wondering.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a minister and in several of his famous speeches he mentioned God.  Have his speeches been pulled off of the school’s lending shelves yet?  Those speeches that mention God seem pretty sectarian to me.   What about the Declaration of Independence or The US Constitution?  Those documents mention God, are they still on the shelves at the school’s libraries?

images

Corrie ten Boom passed away in 1983.  Before her death, she was honored by the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, as a member of “The Righteous Among Nations”.  At a ceremony to honor Corrie and her family’s efforts in helping the Jewish people in The Netherlands during WWII, she planted a tree in honor of her sister, Betsie, who died at Ravensbruck.  If a Jewish organization like Yad Vashem could honor a christian for doing something so kind, helpful, selfless, and honorable for persecuted Jews during WWII, surely a school district in CA could wake up from it’s political correct slumber and put The Hiding Place back on it’s lending shelves.

Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener, who has read The Hiding Place twice gave his opinion on the book being banned, “…in today’s modern culture, selfishness prevails.  Youth show no respect for the elderly.   The ten Boom’s family’s moral conduct is the antidote to the corrupted people in today’s society.”   I hope the Springs Charter Schools in Temecula, CA will restore the banned books, especially The Hiding Place.

KV quote

Credit for information for this blog: The American Conservative: “Corrie ten Boom Deported Again”,  Rod Dreher, Sept. 25th, 2014.

IJReview: “Nazi Death Camp Survivor Responds To California School’s Ban On Popular Holocaust  Book”, Justen Charters, Sept. 29th, 2014.

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Arabesque

During the month of August, Turner Classic Movies aired their annual “Summer under the Stars” where they air one specific actor or actress’s films for each day of that month.   Sophia Loren, the beautiful actress from Italy, was one of  their featured stars  so  I decided to  tivo one of her films that I had never seen before.   I chose  1966’s spy thriller film,  Arabesque.   Her co-star, was the incomparable Gregory Peck.   When I pulled up  the film this week and started watching it,  child #3, commuter college student, happened to be home and as he saw Peck on the screen, he exclaimed, “It’s Atticus!”  remembering Peck’s Academy Award winning turn as lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.  I laughed and said that Peck was playing a far different character than Atticus in Arabesque.

Arabesque poster 1

Peck plays Professor David Pollack, a visiting American professor teaching at Oxford University, specializing in hieroglyphics.   One of his respected and older colleagues is called away  for an eye check-up and Peck fills in for this Professor, Dr.  Ragheeb.  The eye exam, unknown to Dr. Ragheeb, is  conducted by a Mr. Sloane, who is really an undercover agent.  During the eye exam, Sloane places  dilating drops  into Dr. Ragheeb’s eyes and he suddenly dies in much agony! ( This scene made me think that Arabesque did for eye doctors what the movie Marathon Man did for dentists!! )   Dr. Ragheeb had hidden in his eyeglasses a hieroglyph-coded message and Sloane snatches it.

Sloane, who is working for Arab shipping leader Nejim Beshraavi, contacts Professor Pollack to invite  him to come to Beshraavi’s digs in London and translate the hieroglyph.  Pollack tells Sloane that he’s not interested but when he is contacted by Middle Eastern Prime Minister Hassan Jena to accept Sloane’s invitation, Pollack agrees as he has a high opinion of Prime Minister Jena.  Jena tells Pollack that Beshraavi is up to something and whatever it is it might be a threat to his country’s national security.

Meeting Prime Minister Jena

Meeting Prime Minister Jena

Pollack arrives at Beshraavi’s house and is told that he can’t leave until the translation of the hieroglyph is done.  As Pollack looks around the sumptious library/den where he’s been left to begin working on the translation,  in saunters the beautiful Sophia Loren, playing Yasmin Azir.  It turns out that she owns the house, Beshraavi is her boyfriend, and could Pollack please help her zip up her nighty??  Pollack is immediately attracted to Yasmin but he also learns that Beshraavi is very jealous of any other man who might take Yasmin’s affections away from him so Pollack knows he has to tread carefully where Yasmin is concerned.

Zipping up her nighty!

Zipping up her nighty!

During a dinner at Yasmin’s that night, she is able to slip Pollack a newspaper clipping about Dr. Ragheeb’s death.  Yasmin is able to excuse herself from the dinner stating that she has a splitting headache.  Pollack excuses himself from the dinner stating that he needs to get back to his translating work.  Another dinner guest tells Beshraavi that in 2 days Prime Minister Jena is expected to sign a treaty that will have negative effects on Beshraavi’s shipping business.  Beshraavi doesn’t seem to be too worried about this fact.

Fun begins to ensue as Pollack meets Yasmin in her bedroom to find out what she knows about Dr. Ragheeb’s death.  Yasmin tells Pollack that Beshraavi ordered Ragheeb’s death to get that hieroglyph and that as soon as it’s translated, he’ll order Pollack’s death!  A knock at the door reveals that Beshraavi is there wanting to see Yasmin!  She tells Pollack to hide in her shower.  Then she quickly puts on her robe and tells Beshraavi to come in, that she is about to take a shower.  He tells her to go ahead, he’ll wait there for her to finish this task.  With no choice presented to Yasmin, she takes her shower, much to Pollack’s surprise and amusement.  She keeps her backside to him(we don’t see it but it’s implied) and Pollack stays huddled at the far end of the shower.  It’s an incredibly huge shower-6-7 people could stand in it and have a cocktail party!

That gigantic shower!

That gigantic shower!

With chase scenes that remind one of scenes from North by Northwest, Sabotage, and an assassination plot like the one in The Man Who Knew Too Much ,  Arabesque is a fast, fun,  spy thriller.  Peck, as Pollack,  is great as the somewhat nerdy, cautious professor who gets caught up in this international espionage mess.  Loren, is gorgeous, smart, and a pawn of Beshraavi and of another spy.  She seemingly double-crosses Pollack, but it does get explained as to why she would do such a thing and she and Pollack are cute as they obviously are falling for one another.  The ending scene, in a tiny boat, even seemed to me a bit of a nod to the end of the James Bond movie, Dr. No.   Loren also wears some gorgeous clothes in this film, made by Christian Dior and she got to keep all of them after the film was finished.  What a nice perk!

Near the end of the film, in a tiny boat.

Near the end of the film, in a tiny boat.

A dazzler of a dress that Loren wears in the dining room scene.

A dazzler of a dress that Loren wears in the dining room scene.

A chic white dress and hat ensemble Loren wears for the Ascot scenes.

A chic white dress and hat ensemble Loren wears for the Ascot scenes.

Alan Badel  plays Neshraavi.  I wasn’t familiar with his work at all and he wears dark sunglasses throughout the entire movie; I at first thought he was Peter Sellers!  Badel is good as the main villain of the film, at first charming, then menacing.  A bit of a creepiness in the way he hangs around Yasmin, but wouldn’t we expect that out of the villain?  The rest of the cast gives fine performances too: Kieron Moore as Yussef, John Merivale as Sloane, Duncan Lamont as Webster, Carl Duering as Prime Minister Jena, and George Coulouris as Dr. Ragheeb.

Beshraavi may be a creepy baddie, but he gives out great massages!

Beshraavi may be a creepy baddie, but he gives out great massages!

With opening credits displayed over splashes and wild bending rays of colors, music by Henry Mancini, I knew Arabesque was going to be an enjoyable ride and it was.  Very creative cinematography by Christopher Challis-watch the scene when Sophia descends a staircase and we see her from a sideview, through the myriad of crystals hanging from a chandelier.  Or poor Pollack’s drugged out pov when he’s been forcibly given a truth serum that doesn’t give another set of baddies the answers they want.  Very interesting shots to view and they caused my son to utter, “Atticus!” again!  Produced and directed by Stanley Donen, with screenplay by three writers: Pierre Marton, Julian Mitchell, and Stanley Price.  Based on  the book The Cipher, by Alex Gordon.

Arabesque is available to purchase through Amazon on a regular dvd; not a blu ray issue.   It’s available through Shop TCM in a 5 dvd set of Gregory Peck films, and here’s a trailer that was shown back in 1966 for the film courtesy of Youtube.

For a fast-paced spy thriller with gorgeous Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck in a different role than a fatherly, lawyer type, check out Arabesque!

 

Arabesque poster 2

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: The Devil and Miss Jones

Labor Day  meant my kids were off of school and they had planned on making it a Musicals Monday.  The King  and I was on their playlist and so was Guys and Dolls.  I did a search of  Turner Classic Movies  for a specific romantic-comedy, the perfect film for  Labor Day: 1941’s  The Devil and Miss Jones.

The DEvil and MIss JOnes

The wonderful cast: Charles Coburn-department store tycoon John Merrick, Jean Arthur-store clerk Mary Jones, Robert Cummings-Joe O’Brien, Union organizer, Edmund Gwenn-Hooper, Section Manager, Spring Byington-Elizabeth Ellis, clerk, S.Z. Sakall-George, Mr. Merrick’s butler, William Demarest-First Detective.   Directed by Sam Wood, produced by Frank Ross(Jean Arthur’s husband at the time), Screenplay by Norman Krasna, and released by RKO Studios.

Coburn is John Merrick, the richest man in the world.  One  of his employees at one of his  department stores burned an effigy of him at an union organizing meeting.  Merrick  is determined to find out who did this, why, and what can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.   Merrick is truly mystified as to why any employees would be mad at him, why they would want a union,  and he’s determined to get to the bottom of this offensive act.

Merrick decides that he’ll  go undercover as a new store employee to find out about the union organizing.  He fires  the store detective and  then assumes the man’s name and employee info card.  Disguised  as Mr. Higgins, he  goes to work as a new clerk in the  shoe department, because he was told that it’s the “hotbed of discontentment” among all of the store’s employees.  It is here that Higgins meets Mary Jones(Arthur).  She takes pity on this old man who doesn’t want to eat lunch as he wants to prove to the Section Manager, Hooper(Gwenn), who treated him with great disdain, that he, Mr. Higgins, can sell shoes.  Mary  loans him 50 cents, tells him that he must take a lunch break,  and eventually  introduces him to Elizabeth Ellis(Byington) who nicely shares her lunch with him.  A bit of that scene can be viewed here.

Even though Jean Arthur got top billing in this movie, got the publicity posters to feature her, and her husband produced the movie, this movie is  Charles Coburn’s for the win.   He is absolutely wonderful as a wealthy man who has gotten out of touch with the world of the laborer.  He’s not quite an Ebenezer Scrooge or Mr. Potter type of bad, rich man, but he is cantankerous at first.  We see his character go through changes as he comes to meet and know some of his employees and it helps to make him a warmer, more responsible business owner and man who can use his wealth for good purposes.  We also get to see his character fall in love with Miss Elizabeth.  It is a sweet movie that dares to show two senior citizens falling in love!    Coburn was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 1941 Academy Awards for his efforts as Mr. Merrick/Higgins.

The film is fast-paced, there is mistaken identity aplenty with the Higgins ruse.  Merrick does find out who made the effigy and burned it-Joe O’Brien(Cummings) who is also the love of Mary’s life!  Near the end when all seems lost for Merrick, for the union, for Mary and Joe, happiness will come through and reign supreme.

The Devil and Miss Jones is available to purchase on a blu-ray at Amazon, it’s available to purchase at TCM’s Shop in a regular dvd format or a blu-ray, and here is another  clip from Youtube for the film: the opening credits with Coburn trying to look evil, and with an angelic Jean Arthur opposite him.

For your next Labor Day entertainment, or for a fun look at labor and managment circa 1941, seek out The Devil and Miss Jones.  Here are a few pics from the film:

Mary ordering the new sales clerk to be sure to take that lunch break.

Mary ordering the new sales clerk to be sure to take that lunch break.

Mr. Merrick really likes Miss Elizabeth.

Mr. Merrick really likes Miss Elizabeth.

Merrick, as Higgins, discovers that O'Brien made that effigy!

Merrick, as Higgins, discovers that O’Brien made that effigy!

Mr. Merrick, as Higgin's finds out Mary loves O'Brien, at a Coney Island outing.

Mr. Merrick, as Higgin’s,  finds out Mary loves O’Brien, at a Coney Island outing.

 

 

 

Son’s Introduction to Idiocy 101 at College

Our oldest son decided to serve our country in the Fall of 2009.  After his high school graduation, he was whisked away in early August with other young people who had decided to join the USMC.  After his successful 4 years in the military were finished, he enrolled in college via the Post 911 GI Bill and is now a freshman at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio.

OU

We skype with him pretty much every Sunday afternoon, an NFL game usually playing in the background.  So far, he’s spent most of his time studying, working part-time at the on campus Veteran’s Affairs office, and hanging out with extended relatives from his Dad’s side of the family.  This past Sunday he asked, “Oh!  Have you heard about the latest scandal at OU’s campus?”  We hadn’t heard about the latest scandal.  Suffice it to say, it was a  “Welcome to Idiocy 101″, college-style, for our son.

Two weeks ago, the president of Ohio University, Dr. Roderick McDavis , issued an ALS ice bucket challenge to the  Student Senate President, Megan Marzec.   Ms. Marzec decided to do a bucket challenge but not for ALS.  She had a video made of her pouring a “blood” bucket over herself while declaring that Ohio University should join a “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions” movement against the nation of  Israel.  Ms. Marzec actually used red-food colored water, not real blood.

In her video, she shared “student” concerns about genocide in Gaza and it’s occupation by the Israeli State.  Then she urged Dr. McDavis and Ohio University to “divest  and cut all ties” with Israeli Academic Institutions and businesses.  She said that the bucket of blood represented thousands of murdered and displaced Palestinians.

Ms. Marzec made her video on September 2nd.  The Student Senate, later that same day, sent out a Tweet via Twitter to apologize for Senate President Marzec’s video, and then another tweet  to state that their goal is to represent all students on campus and their views.   The Wednesday after this video was created and aired, 4 Jewish students decided to speak out at a Student Government meeting  and stage a filibuster,  asking  for Marzec’s resignation from the Student President position.   Marzec asked for student Rebecca Sebo, President of Bobcats for Israel(the Bobcat is the mascot of Ohio University) to stop her filibuster so other students at the meeting could speak in an orderly manner.  Sebo refused to stop and three other members of Bobcats for Israel also began to speak and join the filibuster.  Marzec then warned the 4 protesters that if they didn’t stop they’d be arrested for disrupting the meeting.  University Police were called and they gave the 4 protesters a 2 minute warning to stop their filibuster.  The 4 students refused to stop speaking and were arrested, taken to the campus police station and charged with disruption of a lawful meeting.   On September 12, Hillel International, a nationwide Jewish campus organization, has called upon Ohio University to apologize to the 4 students who were arrested: Rebecca Sebo, Max Peltz, Gabriel Sirkin, and Jonah Yulish.

OU Bobcats

My son’s take on all of this hubbub is that the students who were protesting at the Student Senate meeting shouldn’t have been arrested.  Perhaps they should have followed the protocol that is used when one wants to speak at a Student Government meeting, Roberts Rules of Order, etc.  However, stating their desire to have the Student President resign-that’s an offense where they needed to be arrested?

Ms. Marzec made a major error in her video.  She said she was sharing “student” concerns.  No, she was stating her “own” concerns, and perhaps if she’d made the video stating that it was  her own opinion,  and not say that all 17,000 students held her same views on Israel and Gaza and Palestinians, then perhaps her video blood bucket challenge wouldn’t have been so offensive.

In hindsight, if a University President, in a spirit of goodwill and bonhomie, asks one to participate in an ice water challenge to raise funds for a charity, than wouldn’t it be best for all at said University to honor the President’s request?  The consequences of honoring President McDavis’s original challenge would have been nonexistant.  Student President Marzec showed a lack of common sense in answering a simple request/challenge by turning  a fun way to help a charity into an immature rant that was gross and offensive.

How invested is Ohio University in the nation of Israel?  I don’t know and I don’t care!  If the University was misusing students’ dollars to pay for lavish vacations for professors or for President McDavis, or if there was a major cheating scandal happening at the school, or even bullying going on, or lousy cafeteria food-those are the types of items I would anticipate a Student President and Student Senate to be concerned with, not what is going on in a nation very far away from Athens, Ohio.   Idiocy 101; it happens in real life, and unfortunately, on college campuses.

 

Research for this blog provided by:  “Ohio University divided over Student Senate president’s blood bucket challenge”, by Karen Farkas, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sept. 16th, 2014.

“Ohio University Asked To Apologize Following Arrest of Pro-Israel Students”, by Stephen Adkins, University Herald, Sept. 15th, 2014.

 

 

 

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