Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

My Classic Movie Pick: Marty

Ernest Borgnine, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 95, had a long and successful acting career.  I first saw him when I was a kid watching  reruns of  the situation comedy McHale’s Navy.  My own kids knew him as the voice of Mermaid Man on the silly kids cartoon show, Sponge Bob Square Pants.    Borgnine could play dramatic roles well, often playing a tough guy or bully.  In Marty, my classic movie pick for today, Borgnine got to play a sweetheart of a guy and I think it was closer to his real life persona.  It was a great part for Borgnine and it also won him the 1955 Academy Award for Best Actor.

Marty poster 2

 

Marty Piletti is a 34 year old butcher who lives in the Bronx area of New York City.  He is a hard-worker, who has been saving up his pennies and is thinking about buying the butcher shop from his boss who wants to retire.  Marty wants to  expand the shop into a small supermarket like he’s been reading about.   Marty lives at home with his mom, Teresa, as his other siblings are all married and have families and homes of their own.  He has a group of pals, Angie (nickname for Angelo) being his best buddy.  They often go out as a group to a bar, or to the fights or a wrestling match.  The one thing they have in common is that none of them are married; not one of them has a girlfriend.

Marty and his mom, Teresa

Marty and his mom, Teresa

Marty and Angie, hanging out after work

Marty and Angie, hanging out after work

Marty at work

Marty at work

One day at the butcher shop, some of the female customers tease Marty about getting married. Later at home, during dinner, Marty’s mom begins to pester him about getting married.  She urges him to go to the Stardust Ballroom for the evening because she overheard Marty’s cousin, Tommy, say that the Stardust is full of “tomatoes”!  She keeps on with her badgering, telling Marty that if he doesn’t get married he’ll die without a son!   At that, Marty erupts at his mom, and tells her that he’s a fat, ugly  man and has nothing that women want!   As the evening goes on, Marty decides to go to the Stardust and gets Angie to go with him.

Trying to explain why he's not married yet

Trying to explain why he’s not married yet

At the  Stardust, a man approaches Marty.  He offers to give Marty $5 if he’ll take his blind date off  his hands.  The man smilingly explains that he  has run into a girl he likes much better and that the  blind date is a plain, boring girl.   Marty chastises this man for wanting to dump his date in such a fashion and walks away.  He then learns that the man has  found another to take the $5 and Marty follows this fellow out to the balcony where the blind date  is waiting.  Marty steps in and rescues the girl from the embarrassment of being dumped by her date.  The girl cries on Marty’s shoulder and he shares with her his own experiences of being “dumped” by dates.  The girl agrees to dance with Marty and tells him that her name is Clara Snyder, a 29 year old chemistry teacher from Brooklyn, who still lives at home with her parents.   Pretty soon, Marty and Clara are having a nice time, dancing with one another, and then they leave the Stardust for a bite of food and some coffee at a local diner and continue to talk and get to know one another.   Marty even brings her by his home to meet his mom!  After that meeting, Marty escorts Clara to her house and they both agree that they like one another, that the date turned out great, and that they both want to see each other the next night, perhaps they’ll go to a movie.  Marty promises to call Clara on Sunday.

Dancing with Clara

Dancing with Clara

Consoling Clara about being dumped

Consoling Clara about being dumped

Walking and talking the night away

Walking and talking the night away

Clara meeting Mom

Clara meeting Mom

Two more sub-plots give Marty more stress in his life.  One, his Aunt Catherine lives with her son, Tommy and his family.  Tommy’s wife, Virginia, and his mother, Aunt Catherine, dislike each other and that makes for a lousy home to live in.  Tommy pleads with Marty and Aunt Teresa to invite Aunt Catherine to live with them.  After Aunt Catherine moves in, she tells her sister, Teresa, that if Marty ever marries, what will happen to her?  Will she, Teresa, be kicked out of her home by Marty and his new wife?  This negative thought creates in Teresa a skepticism and coldness when she meets Clara for the first time.  Second, Angie feels threatened by the fact that Marty could have found love and if he marries, it will break up their brotherhood, break up their friendship.  Angie cruelly tells their pals that Marty wants to date a real “dog”.

Cousin Tommy and his wife, Virginia

Cousin Tommy and his wife, Virginia

With these two added stressers in his life, Marty hesitates to call Clara back and she, in turn, grows despondent as she watches Sunday night television with her parents, assuming she’s been dumped again by a man.

Clara convinced that Marty won't call her back

Clara convinced that Marty won’t call her back

Will Marty call Clara?  Will Marty be able to get mom to accept Clara?  Will Tommy, Virginia, and Aunt Catherine have a better relationship?  Will Angie learn to like Clara?  To find out the answers to these questions, you have to seek out Marty and view it for yourself!

Marty is available to purchase or instant rent via Amazon.   Marty is also available to buy via Turner Classic Movies shop.  Several clips from Marty have also been put up on Youtube.   For a sweet, lovely film that isn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve and shows a realistic look at searching for love, check out Marty, soon!

Borgnine with is Best Actor Oscar, and Grace Kelly

Borgnine with his Best Actor Oscar, and Grace Kelly

Directed by Delbert Mann, Produced by Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster, Screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky, United Artists, 89 minutes.

Cast: Marty-Ernest Borgnine, Clara-Betsy Blair, Mom(Teresa)-Esther Minciotti, Angie-Joe Mantell, Aunt Catherine-Augusta Ciolli,Tommy-Jerry Paris, Virginia-Karen Steele.  Marty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Come Live With Me

Hedy Lamarr has a problem and  it has to do with immigration!!  It’s 1941, the Nazis are invading Europe and Hedy(Johnny Jones(why Johnny is her name is never explained…nickname for Johanna???), has managed to flee Austria  to live in  the United States.  Johnny is settled in NYC in a gorgeous apartment as she is the new  love interest of a married publisher, Mr. Bart Kendricks(Ian Hunter), who is in what is termed an “Open Marriage”.    His wife, Diana(Verree Teasdale) has dinner and dancing evenings planned out almost every night with some new guy in her life, so why shouldn’t  Bart pursue the beautiful Viennese refugee and pay for her gorgeous apartment?  Johnny’s problem arises  one evening when the Immigration Office sends an investigator(Barton MacLane), over who tells Johnny that her temporary 3 month visa has expired.  She’ll have to be deported.  Johnny, with tear-filled eyes, pleads with the investigator  and at the sight of such a beautiful damsel in distress, the investigator has a change of heart.  He tells Johnny that  if she can get married in one week to an American guy, then she can remain.

Johnny with Bart at her apartment.

Johnny with Bart at her apartment.

 

CLWM poster 1

James Stewart has a problem too.  He’s Bill Smith, a guy from a rural hamlet in New York state, trying to make it as a great writer in NYC.  He’s had rejection slip after slip after slip in his mailbox and he’s sitting in a park commiserating with the delightful Donald Meek(playing a bum who may not really be a bum!), as to how life as a bum is really not too bad.

Stewart, aka Bill, discussing the bum life with Donald Meek.

Stewart, aka Bill, discussing the bum life with Donald Meek.

A sudden thunderstorm drives Bill to the nearest diner where he just happens to meet Johnny Jones.  The wheels of an idea begin to turn in Johnny’s lovely head and pretty soon she is in Bill’s hovel of an apartment, asking him to marry her, so that she can stay in America.  Bill is stunned, but decides to agree since Johnny says she will pay him a weekly stipend as a way to thank him for marrying  her.  Bill has her add us his budgeted purchases for a week and the weekly check she gives him will be for $17.80.

Hey!  He just might marry me!!

Hey! He just might marry me!!

Telling Bill her plan for a marriage of convenience.

Telling Bill her plan for a marriage of convenience.

Bill hits upon a new writing idea, he’ll write about this marriage of convenience and it proves a popular book idea, especially to Diana Kendricks. who helps husband Bart run Kendricks Publishing.  She contacts Bill and invites him to their headquarters.   She informs Bart about this new book, about  the new writer, and Bart deduces  that Bill has married Johnny!  He is worried that Bill might steal her away from him, so after Bill receives a $500 check from the publishers, Bart decides to find out where Bill will be going that day.

 The book deal from the Kendricks's.


The book deal from the Kendricks’s.

Bill decides to buy a new car, pick up Johnny, and off they’ll go to visit his grandmother.  Johnny had asked Bill for a divorce so she could then be free to marry Bart, but Bill, who has fallen in love with Johnny, tells her that first she must go on a trip with him for the weekend, so they can get to know one another, and then, if she still wants the divorce, he’ll give her one.

Driving to Grandmother's

Driving to Grandmother’s

At grandma's garden, in the moonlight.

At grandma’s garden, in the moonlight.

This movie is a light-hearted, fun way to while away 85 minutes.  James Stewart is very believable as the bewildered and then lovestruck Bill.  Hedy Lamarr is great as the take charge kind of gal that has to decide which man she will be with.  The supporting cast is good and they give strong performances.  Verree Teasdale gives her character a sophisticated wisdom and a hint of  a forgiving spirit as she may take Bart back and quit her boyfriend of the week club.   Ian Hunter, who I had only seen before in the Shirley Temple film The Little Princess, as Sarah Crewe’s father, has a way with comedic scenes that was very good to view.  Adeline de Walt Reynolds is cute as Grandmother, who doesn’t know the full story about Johnny and Bill;she thinks they are just dating, but she gives Johnny good advice when Bart decides to crash the weekend plans.  There is also a cute anecdote about lightening bugs and how and why the males and females flash those lighted ends of their bodies.

Directed and produced by Clarence Brown, distributed by MGM, screenplay by Patterson McNutt from a story by Virginia Van Upp. try to find this little gem of a romance comedy.  Come Live With Me is available at TCM’s Shop, it’s available to purchase through Amazon, and it is shown from time to time on Turner Classic Movies(TCM).  So keep your eyes on their schedule!

I’ll end this post with a few more publicity shots for the film.

Another example of the paper cut outs for the opening credits.

An example of the paper cut outs for the opening credits.

Hedy and Jimmy breaking the 4th wall!

Hedy and Jimmy breaking the 4th wall!

nteresting overhead shot of the two bedrooms Bill and Johnny use at Grandma's house.  There is a space over the shared wall so they can whisper to each other.

An overhead shot of the two bedrooms Bill and Johnny use at Grandma’s house. There is a space over the shared wall so they can whisper to each other.

MGM publicity shot

MGM publicity shot

Paper cut-outs used to make the movie's opening credits.

Paper cut-outs used to make the movie’s opening credits.

My Classic Movie Pick: Kes

This post is for The British Invaders Blogathon, a weekend look at classic British films that have had a lasting impact on popular culture here and across the pond.   Hosted by blogger Shroud of Thoughts, be sure to check his site to find the links to the various movies and bloggers who have written about them. The British Invaders Blogathon banner In America, there are three movies about a  boy and an animal that influences his life and forces him to face changes that are not wanted or expected.  The Yearling, Old Yeller, and Free Willy are the three films I can instantly recall that follow that storyline.  It would be pretty arrogant to think that only we Americans could make such  films.   In 1969, the British film industry released  such a film: Kes.   Kes movie poster In 1968,  teacher Barry Hines wrote a novel, A Kestral for a Knave.  The book impressed director Ken Loach and with his producer Tony Garnett, and Woodfall Film Productions, Hines’s novel was turned into the film, Kes. The protagonist of Kes is 15 year old Billy Casper.  He is a slight, thin boy.  With pale skin, blue eyes, and brown hair.  He hardly ever smiles and no wonder!  Dad has left the family.  Mum works long hours at her job and is trying to find a new man.  Older half-brother, Judd, is employed at the local “pit” or coal mine, and he is a brute to Billy.  Billy often sits silently in the home as Mum and Judd yell at one another.  School is just a place Billy has to go to and at least he gets to see his mates(friends) there.  Many of the teachers are grumpy and seeing how some of them treat Billy and his classmates it made me wonder if those educators were the inspiration for British rock band Pink Floyd‘s We Don’t Need No Education!  Life is dreary, and Billy just ambles along, trying to get along, and the only thing he knows for sure is that he doesn’t want to end up in the pit like so many of the men in his Yorkshire community.

Row houses in Billy's Yorkshire town.

Row houses in Billy’s Yorkshire town.

The Pit, or coal mine, where Billy doesn't want to ever work.

The Pit, or coal mine, where Billy doesn’t want to ever work.

One afternoon, Billy takes a walk through a local woods, throws pieces of wood into a pool of water, and enters a farmer’s pasture.  On the farmer’s land are the remnants of an old stone building-I immediately wondered if it was from a former castle or abbey.  Billy  observes kestrals(birds in the Falcon family) flying back and forth in the sky.  Billy sees that they have a nest high up in the stone wall.  As he walks to the old wall, the farmer with his little girl in tow, sees Billy and orders him off of his land.  Billy tells him about the kestrals nesting there and  the farmer is intrigued.  He warns Billy that the wall is very old and that he won’t let his daughter play near it.  He bemuses aloud to Billy that if one were able to get a kestral one could train it and pursue falconry.   After the farmer and his daughter leave, Billy climbs up the wall, puts his hand into the nesting area, and catches himself a kestral.

Billy and the farmer examining the stone wall and the kestrals.

Billy and the farmer examining the stone wall and the kestrals.

With lovely music created by John Cameron-often simple flutes that made me think of medieval court music, and cinematography by Chris Menges, we observe Billy in the Yorkshire countryside, training his bird, which he names Kes.  We also see Billy showing Kes to interested townspeople as he takes her into a crowded business area to get her used to staying on his gloved hand and not to fly off in fear.     Kes training 3Kes training 2 Billy begins training Kes. We do get to see a  bully-ish PE teacher that is too caught up in the football(soccer)game he is trying to teach the boys. Billy earns this teacher’s wrath due to  not having the PE clothing kit  as Billy’s mom can’t afford it’s cost.  Billy has to make do with extra PE clothes that are much too big for him, he fails in being the goalie, he gets bored during the game and decides to climb on the goal posts like they’re monkey bars, and for all of that business,  the teacher forces Billy to take a cold shower.  However, the English teacher, Mr. Farthing, is a caring teacher and takes an interest in Billy.  He encourages Billy, in a class discussion about Fact or Fiction, to create a factual story for the class and Billy opens up and shares about his kestral and all of the training he has done with the bird in the art of falconry.  Later, it is this same teacher, with Billy’s permission, who comes out to the pasture to watch Billy work with  Kes.

The mean PE teacher who deserves Worst Teacher in the World Award!!

The mean PE teacher who deserves Worst Teacher in the World Award!!

 Billy telling his class about Kes.

Billy telling his class about Kes.

Billy telling Mr. Farthing what he's learned about falconry and kestrals.

Billy telling Mr. Farthing what he’s learned about falconry and kestrals.

Kes Mr, Farthing The main antaganist of the film is Judd, Billy’s older half-brother.  He thinks himself a ladies man, but doesn’t seem to have had much luck in finding a girlfriend.  He works in the pit  and  spends his earnings on cigarettes, booze, and betting on the horses.  He is critical of his mother and lets her know his opinions as to how she is ruining her life and his life.  He doesn’t have enough money saved up to move out on  his own, so he ‘s stuck in the family home where he clearly doesn’t want to be.  One afternoon, he leaves a note and some money for Billy.  The note tells Billy to go to the local bookmaker’s and to  put the money down on two horses for a race that will happen that day.  Billy does as the note directs him to do, but the bookkeeper tells Billy that  the two horses Judd wants to bet on are worthless.   Billy leaves the bookkeeper’s and spends the money on fish and chips for himself, and some meat for Kes.   Judd finds out later in the day that one of the two horses actually won a race and  that Billy didn’t put any of the money down on that bet.  Judd is very angry and goes to the school looking for Billy, telling Billy’s friends that when he finds him, he’ll kill him.  Billy manages to hide in the janitor’s workroom.  When he does reach home, there is a yelling match between Billy, Judd, and their Mum because of a tragic and evil deed that has been done.

Judd-the worst big brother ever!!

Judd-the worst big brother ever!!

 Judd and Mum

Judd and Mum

When Kes first hit screens in Great Britain, it didn’t become an overnight sensation but through word of mouth, it’s audiences grew and now it is ranked #7 in the British Film Institutes Top Ten British Films list.

It didn’t fare well at all on it’s release to American audiences and that was due to the heavy Yorkshire accents.  I watched the film on Youtube, and I wish there had been subtitles!  Yes, these people are speaking English, but the accent is so heavy that the only people in the movie I could understand without straining my ears were the teachers.

One other small caveat, if  you are thinking about showing this film to your kids, I would recommend waiting until your kids have turned 13, at least.  There is nudity in the boys locker room after the boys are cleaning up from the PE class-not a ton-but it is there.

The Criterion Collection has it on a blu-ray dvd that came out in 2011, Amazon is also selling the Criterion dvd or you can view it on their instant rent.

Director Ken Loach wanted to use locals from the Barnsley area of Northern England, and he also wanted actors who could easily speak in the Yorkshire dialect.  He found them: David Bradley as Billy, Lynne Perrie as Mum, Freddie Fletcher as Judd, Brian Glover as the mean PE teacher, and Colin Welland as Mr. Farthing.  Incidentally, Welland won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Chariots of Fire!

I can’t say enough wonderful things about young David Bradley who plays Billy.  It was his first acting role in a movie and he really had to learn to train a kestral for hunting.  He conveys the sadness Billy feels, but is also able  to convey to the audience  a boy who has tenacity, who will keep on going in life no matter how bleak it might be.   So, if you want to see a British film that is highly thought of in Great Britain, seek out Kes.

Here is an original trailer for Kes, and I think the narraration was supplied by late actor, Richard Burton.

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Support Your Local Sheriff

With actor James Garner passing away recently I knew I had to write my blog for Friday about one of his movies.  Garner was good at dramas, but I especially liked his performances in comedies and thus my choice, Support Your Local Sheriff.

Support Your Local Sheriff

The film begins with the good people of Calendar, Colorado attending a funeral.  As the mourners gather around the grave, Prudence Perkins( the lovely Joan Hackett), known as Prudy, sees gold sparkling in the grave and she jumps in to stake a claim for the gold!  Townsfolk run to find their shovels and picks and  begin digging.   More gold is found  and soon there’s a gold rush on in the formerly tiny, quiet town.

Prudy’s dad, Olly(Harry Morgan), is  the mayor and he has two major problems: 1.  The richest  family in the area, the Danby’s, control the road that people have to take to leave Calendar.  The Danby’s have decided to demand an  exorbitant amount of gold from the citizens and visitors in order to let them use that road.  2.  The sheriff is gunned down by the Danby’s and so are the other 2 replacements.  Calendar is now a rowdy, lawless place, and Mayor Perkins’s at a loss about solving these problems until a stranger arrives in town.

Walter Brennan, leader of the baddies, is Pa Danby

Walter Brennan, leader of the baddies, is Pa Danby

Prudy and her dad, Mayor Perkins

Prudy and her dad, Mayor Perkins

Jason McCullough is just passing through on his way to the coast and a boat to Australia.  While at the saloon, he realizes he needs to get a job to earn some money in order to pay the road toll and he sees Joe Danby(Bruce Dern) shoot  a man for no reason.  Jason is able to impress the Mayor and other civic leaders with his gun skills and he accepts the job of sheriff.  His first task is to arrest Joe Danby, who isn’t too smart, and puts him in jail.  Unfortunately, the jail is newly built and the bars haven’t been installed yet so Jason draws a chalk line and red paint and psychological mind games in order to keep Joe in the jail!  Jason also hires the town drunk, Jake( the always great Jack Elam), to be his deputy.

Jason likes Prudy so why not start to court her?

Jason likes Prudy so why not start to court her?

Bruce Dern as dimwitted Joe Danby

Bruce Dern as dimwitted Joe Danby

 

Calendar settles down, the townspeople like the new sheriff and so does Prudy.    However, Pa Danby(Walter Brennan), the patriarch of the Danby  clan, hates the new sheriff and vows to have him killed and get Joe out of  jail.  Danby gathers  hired guns to take out Jason, whom the civic leaders and Mayor have informed  that he is on his own when he takes on the Danbys.     Prudy and Jake valiantly decide to help Jason against the baddies coming to town.  All ends well and Jason and Prudy ride off into the sunset with a Happily Ever After ending.

They all lived Happily Ever After

They all lived Happily Ever After

Jason uses a cannon to outwit the hired guns

Jason uses a cannon to outwit the hired guns

Support Your Local Sheriff was made in 1969 and it was a meant to be a  comedy/western.  Directed by Burt Kennedy and produced by William Bowers, who also wrote the screenplay.   James Garner was also the executive producer on the film.

For a fun look at the traditional western with a professional  and spunky cast,  seek out this film!  One can’t help but imagine that the cast and crew probably had a blast making this entertaining film.   It is available to rent or purchase through Amazon, it is on a 3-dvd set available to buy from TCM Shop, and here is a trailer for the movie that audiences would have seen in 1969.

My Classic Movie Pick: Sergeant Rutledge

Today’s post is for the  John Ford Blogathon.  If you aren’t too familiar with John Ford, he was a film director and considered one of the best in his field.  This blogathon is being hosted by Krell Laboratories  and Bemused and Nonplussed.  Be sure to visit those two blogs to read more great posts about director John Ford and about his movies.

 

JF Blogathon

Ford directed many movies and he began his career during the silent movie era and continued to direct until 1976.  I’ve included his info from IMDB if you want to read more about his rich movie-making  career.

In 1960 he directed a simple film, simple that it wasn’t one of his storied long films.  Simple in that the plot was very straightforward.  Simple in that the lead actors weren’t his usual well-knowns, such as John Wayne, Henry Fonda, or Maureen O’Hara.  The film I chose to write about is Sergeant Rutledge.  Its main stars were Woody Strode, Jeffrey Hunter, and Constance Towers.  Sgt. Rutledge poster 1

Sergeant Rutledge is set in the west of the 1880s and it  tells its tale mostly through a series of flashbacks.  Sergeant Braxton  Rutledge( Woody Strode)  is a member of the 9th Calvary, which was also nicknamed the Buffalo soldiers; made up entirely of black men serving their country.   The movie opens  in a courtroom because Sergeant Rutledge is on trial.  The trial is a court-martial for  Sergeant Rutledge and he   has been accused of two horrific crimes: the murder of his Commanding Officer, Major Dabney, and  the rape and murder of Dabney’s teen daughter.

There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to link Sergeant Rutledge to the crimes but as we see through the flashbacks, he is an upright and innocent man.  Lieutenant Tom Cantrell(Jeffrey Hunter) is the officer in charge of the 9th Calvary and it is his duty to arrest Sergeant Rutledge and take him to the fort’s prison to await the trial.  As members of the 9th Calvary and Lt. Cantrell are about to take in Sergeant Rutledge, he is able to escape on his horse   which forces  the 9th Calvary to go after him.

Sergeant Rutledge finds a train depot to hide out at;it’s in the middle of a dry, nowhere place.  Here he meets by accident a lady traveler, Mary Beecher(Constance Towers).  She has arrived at the depot to await her father but when she finds the station agent, she is horrified to discover that he’s dead!   Wandering outside the station, it’s now  nighttime, wondering what she should do,  she is grabbed by the Sergeant in order to keep her quiet-she doesn’t realize that the depot is surrounded by Apaches and that she and the Sergeant will have to use their wits in order to get away from the depot without being killed.  Part of that scene is available to watch here.

Sergeant Rutledge  and Mary are able to get away safely and meet up with Lt. Cantrell and the rest of the 9th Calvary.  The sergeant is able to warn them about a possible Apache attack  and towards the end of that scene, as a fellow calvary comrade, Moffat, lies dying from his wound in Sergeant Rutledge’s arms, is a moving discussion between the two men as to why they should keep on fighting for the US Calvary.  That scene is here.

As the trial begins, we see that Lt. Cantrell will be Sergeant Rutledge’s defense attorney.  Despite Mary Beecher’s testimony in favor of the Sergeant’s character, and the same from Sergeant Skidmore, Rutledge’s worst fears are realized by the work of  a hostile prosecutor and from  the community that lives in the town closest to the fort; already stirred up and convinced of the black sergeant’s guilt.  Despite these serious issues, the trial doesn’t turn out as Sergeant Rutledge thinks it will.

Woody Strode was a native of Los Angeles and a star football player on 1939’s UCLA team.   He was also one of two black men to first ever play in the NFL, joining the Los Angleles Rams in 1946.   Acting came easily to him and with his commanding presence and athletic build, he was a natural for the camera’s eye.  He is strong, stoic, courageous, and cautious as Sergeant Rutledge.  It was his first role to be the lead and he handled it excellently.

Jeffrey Hunter, who had appeared in John Ford’s more famous film, The Searchers, is good as Lt. Cantrell.  He is sincere in his beliefs that his 9th Calvary men are just as equal to serve in the US Calvary as white men are.   He is sure that Sergeant Rutledge is innocent of the horrific crimes he is accused of and is determined to defend him to the best of his abilities.  Lt. Cantrell also can’t help falling in love with Mary Beecher, so there is a touch of romance in the film, too.

Constance Towers is beautiful and gives  a terrific performance as Mary Beecher.  She conveys so much with her eyes.  She is the main female in this world inhabited mostly by men and she is strong, not willing to hide behind her femininity or to use it for her own betterment, disregarding the other people in this world she didn’t purposely enter.

Look for wonderful supporting actors Juano Hernandez as Sergeant Skidmore and a scene-stealing Billie Burke(Glenda the Good Witch herself!) as Cordelia Fosgate.

Sergeant Rutledge is available through Turner Classic Movies Shop in a 5 dvd set of some of John Ford’s films.   It is also available to purchase through Amazon or to watch it through their instant rent program.   The OV Guide also has the film available to watch online, for free.

Filmed in the spare yet beautiul Monument Valley area of Utah, see Sergeant Rutledge for a John Ford film that doesn’t get as much attention as it should.  I’ll close this blog out with some more photos from the film.

Woody Strode as Sergeant Braxton Rutledge

Woody Strode as Sergeant Braxton Rutledge

Jeffrey Hunter, on the left, as Lt. Cantrell

Jeffrey Hunter, on the left, as Lt. Cantrell

 

Constance Towers as Mary Beecher

Constance Towers as Mary Beecher

 

 

 

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Kisses for my President

With the possibility that former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may run for President in 2016, there is a classic movie that will run on June 30th on Turner Classics that already tackled that topic, a woman President for the United States.

In 1964, Kisses for my President, opened at theatres around the country.  Made by Warner Brothers and starring Polly Bergen as the President and  Fred MacMurray as the First Gentleman.  It’ s a fun exercise about the what ifs of a woman sitting in the Oval Office and the perplexities her husband runs into as the first, First Gentleman of the land.

kisses for my president poster

Leslie McCloud(Bergen) has just been sworn in as President and her husband, Thad(MacMurray), and their two children, Gloria(Anna Capri) and Peter(Ronnie Dapo) are being ushered  into the First family’s  Living Room.  There is a humorous moment when the first couple discover that the President has a very masculine decorated bedroom and the First Gentleman has a very feminine bedroom.    That scene can be viewed here.

As the plot continues, Leslie is extremely busy dealing with issues and doesn’t have as much time for her husband or her children.  There is also a Senator Walsh(Edward Andrews) who covets the White House for himself and  he doesn’t like the fact that there is a woman President.  He’s out to foil Leslie’s Presidency.  There is also a South American dictator( Eli Wallach), Valdez, who arrives in Washington to ask for money.  Leslie asks Thad to show the dictator around town which turns into a misunderstood news story about a bored First Gentleman whooping it up with Valdez.  Senator Walsh is only too happy to use this event as a way to get at Leslie and chip away at her power.  The two children who feel ignored by their parents  begin to get into trouble and then there is Doris Reid(Arlene Dahl).  Doris is a wealthy businesswoman who lives in Washington and just so happens to be Thad’s first love!  She slinks her way into the White House, putting 2 and 2 together: wife is too busy, Thad is lonely and doesn’t know what his role is, so Doris makes a plan to get Thad alone and to try and reignite their past romance, which she reminds Thad  that Leslie stole him from her.

Here are two more clips from the film: MacMurray, in his pjs,  accidentally gets lost looking for the dining room and he encounters tour groups.  Clip One.      The second clip is Arlene Dahl starting to zero in on MacMurray.  Clip Two.

Kisses for my President is pure comedy.  It’s not a serious drama and perhaps audiences in 1964 wouldn’t want to see the topic of a woman president presented in any other way?  The film was conceived by Robert G. Kane and he also wrote the screenplay with Claude Binyon.  Curtis Bernhardt produced and directed the film.    As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the film will air June 30th at 9:00 am EST/8:00 am CST, so be sure to set your dvr to record it.  It is available to buy from TCM’s Shop, and  it is available through Amazon and their instant rent.  Youtube has two clips from the film that can be viewed here and here.

kfmp poster 2

My Classic Movie Pick: In Like Flint, for the 1967 Movies Blogathon

When I learned  that classic film bloggers Silver Screenings and The Rosebud Cinema  declared June 20-22 as 1967 in Film Blogathon, I jumped at the chance to write about a film from that year.    Be sure to visit these wonderful blog sites to read about more films that premiered in 1967.   1967 in Film Blogathon I have always enjoyed a spy caper movie.  When the first James Bond flick  Dr. No hit the movie screens in 1962, it was a huge,smashing success.  It only cost $1,000,000 to make the film but it raked in much more in profits.  Hollywood took notice and more spy movies went into production to capitalize on this new movie genre. 1966, two screenwriters, Hal Fimberg and Ben Starr, wrote a film plot centering on a new American  super spy named Derek Flint.   20th Century Fox loved the idea and asked Daniel Mann to direct.  Lee J. Cobb was signed to play the super spy’s boss, Lloyd Cramden and James Coburn was hired to play the super spy, Flint.   This first film, Our Man Flint, did great at the box office and that led to 20th Century Fox making a sequel, 1967’s In Like Flint, with the change of Gordon Douglas for director, and only Fimberg wrote this second film’s screenplay.

1565in_like_flint In the first film, Flint takes some fun jabs at 007 and  his gadgets,  shows he is cooler than cool, a master of disguise, a karate master, and a charmer of the ladies.  He has a trio of scientists to deal with as the main baddies.  In 1967’s sequel, the times were changing and this was reflected in the plot, pitting our super spy against a group of feminists who want to take over the running of the world!

These ladies are using their make up corporation Fabulous Face as a front for their plans, and using their spa resort in the Virgin Islands as their secret base.   The ladies have successfully kidnapped the US President(Andrew Duggan), replaced him with an actor who has had  plastic surgery to make him look like the President, made Flint’s boss Cramden look like a scandal swamped idiot who has to be put on administrative leave, and have sent two Russian lady cosmosnauts into space in order to gain control of a new space platform.   Their last goal, to replace male world leaders with strong females, is in the works when Flint has to infiltrate their HQ’s and stop them.    It was fun to see Anna Lee, British actress and one who usually played such polite, gentle characters get to play the leader of these feminist baddies!

Lee J. Cobb is good as the spy boss, head of Z.O.W.I.E., which stands for Zonal World Organization Intelligence Espionage.  He admires Flint’s skills but also is frustrated with him because Flint often goes it alone on missions, refusing the gadgets offered to him.  Flint doesn’t use a gun, he relies on his karate skills, and at times, he reminded me of a proto-type for MacGyver, without all the girls! Flint has a cool jet, a fab apartment with the latest 1967 home furnishings, and 3 ladies who take care of him at home.  In the first film, he had 4 ladies caring for him and as Flint meets with Cramden(Cobb) in the second film, Cramden asks about those 4 ladies and is told that they all got married!

Flint’s new ladies, a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead all get tricked into going to the spa run by Fabulous Face in the Virgin Islands.  The spokeslady for Fabulous Face, Lisa(Jean Hale) has a plan to brainwash Flint’s 3 ladies into believing that women should run the world, that men are worthless.  However, Flint’s 3 gal pals are immune to the brainwashing so into cryogenic shower stalls  they go for future efforts.

Flint's gal pals under the brainwashing hairdryers.

Flint’s gal pals under the brainwashing hairdryers.

Meanwhile, Flint is in Moscow trying to find out about the cosmonauts and the new space platform.  He gets to be in a Moscow Ballet number with their star ballerina, Natasha(Yvonne Craig-tv’s future Batgirl) and then back at her place, in between kisses, tries to discover what the Russians are up to.  He realizes he has to get to the Virgin Islands, to that spa where his 3 ladies are being kept prisoner.  Fabulous Face holds the key.  The closest a Russian plane can fly to the Virgin Islands, in 1967, was Cuba, so in a jab at communists, he dons a Fidel Castro outfit, with beard and dark sunglasses and boards a plane to Cuba.  I caught the jab as all the passengers on the plane looked like Castro,  the stewardess was a plain, sturdy woman, and they had to share their seating area with crates of chickens!

Flint's time with Natasha is interrupted by the KGB.

Flint’s time with Natasha is interrupted by the KGB.

Cramden, in Washington D.C., with the help of  young  Lieutenant Avery(Thomas Hasson), has discovered that the Z.O.W.I.E. office has been bugged, that the President is a fake, that Cramden’s own forced scandal was part of a larger plot, and it all points to Fabulous Face.  Cramden declares that Flint’s not the only master of disguise and comes up with one to help him get into the spa.  It was interesting to see Cobb play in a film that was a campy take on spy films.  Usually Cobb acted in serious, dramatic works.  He did fine and I like to think that he enjoyed himself, even when he had to don make up, wig, and heels!

Flint learning about the Feminists plans of taking over the world.

Flint learning about the Feminists plans of taking over the world.

Flint, Cramden, and Avery get to Fabulous Face and so does the double-crosser, General Carter(Steve Ihnat).  Carter was working for the US Government as a liason for them and Z.O.W.I.E.  He was actually working with Fabulous Face on their plans, but decided to double-cross the ladies and take over the world for himself.  This turn of events causes Flint and his side to work with the lovely ladies on an Operation Smooch, to bring down General Carter and his minions.

Coming up with a plan to stop General Carter

Coming up with a plan to stop General Carter

Operation Smooch!

Operation Smooch!

In Like Flint is a fun, silly romp into the world of super spies, super villains, and 1967.  The opening shots of the film are close ups of ladies getting massaged and bathed at that spa, filmed in  the color red with  gauzy swaths of fabrics obscuring things a bit, an obvious nod of how James Bond movies open.   James Coburn is great as Flint.  He exudes cool and while he may not have had drop dead handsome looks, his voice is one to reckon with!  I could just sit and listen to him read a phone book!

Here is the link from TCM of a trailer for the movie, and it is available to buy through the TCM Shop.   In Like Flint is available to buy via Amazon or to watch on their instant rent.  Also, a kind soul has put the entire film up on Youtube.   So kick back on your groovy couch and plan to watch this coolest of cool spies in action!

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