Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

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.

 

 

 

My Movie Shelf Tag

I was honored this week to have been “tagged” by blogger Christina Wehner.   I enjoy reading Christina’s blogs  because  she writes interesting pieces  about classic movies, musicals, old books, and the great American Songbook; all topics that I enjoy learning more about!

How does a Movie Shelf Tag work exactly?  Here are the rules:  Answer each question and then tag 5 other people to participate in the Movie  Shelf Tag.  Previous blogs have mentioned that it is a good idea to tell the person who tagged you when you put up your post so they can find it and read  your answers.  If you want to turn it back into a Book Shelf Tag, feel free to do so.  Just substitute the words book for movie and watch or see  for read.

1.  Is there a movie that you really want to see but haven’t because you know it will make you cry?   The Joy Luck Club.  I’m a mom of twin daughters and any movie that has a flashback of a mother having to abandon her twin baby daughters in order to flee the invading Japanese in Kweilin-Oh I’m just tearing up writing this answer!!!!!!!!

Heart-breaking scene from The Joy Luck Club

Heart-breaking scene from The Joy Luck Club

2. Pick one movie that helped introduce you to a new genre.    Film Noir was a term created by the French to describe stylish films coming out of Hollywood that were about the criminal underworld.   Stylishly filmed stories, with anti-heroes and femme fatales(dangerous women), and many started being produced during and especially after World War II.   Murder, My Sweet is the film that introduced me to this genre.   A Raymond Chandler novel,  this excellent  movie was made in 1944 starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, and Anne Shirley.  Excellent direction by Edward Dmytryk.  Powell was wanting to shed his clean, All-American boy image and this role did the trick.  Clair Trevor is great as the sizzling femme fatale and Anne Shirley is the cynical, yet more wholesome of the two women in this movie.   The plot is simple, then gets twisted up: Private detective Philip Marlowe(Powell) has been hired to find ex-con Moose Malloy’s missing girlfriend, Velma.

Murder, My Sweet

3.  A movie that you want to re-watch.  Since I love classic movies and like to convince my kids  to watch them with me, one is currently waiting on our dvr: D.O.A.  Made in 1950, starring Edmund O’Brien.  He’s Frank Bigelow, an insurance agent.  He’s been mysteriously poisoned, only has 3 days to live, and is determined to find out who’s poisoned him and why!!!  It’s a tense film,well-acted, well-paced.  If you’ve only seen the remake from 1988 that starred Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, you really should see the 1950 original.    DOA

4.  Is there a movie series(or tv series) that you saw and now wish you hadn’t?  When our oldest(who will be 23 soon!!) was a newborn baby and needed those 2 am feedings, TVLand became my friend.  I liked watching Dobie Gillis, but there was another sitcom that was aired that I suffered through, The Patty Duke Show.  Identical cousins???? Really?????????? American and British????????  Ridiculous fluff and how could ABC have foisted that on the American public????  My apologies to Ms. Duke(an otherwise fine actress.)

Avoid this one!

Avoid this one!

5.  If your house were on fire and all of your family and pets were outside and safe, which movie would you run back into the house and save?     The Searchers-John Wayne gives one of his best performances in this film.  His character is a tormented man.   Tormented by the unspoken love he has for his sister-in-law.  Tormented by the anger and revenge seething inside of him towards the Comanches who have  killed this sister-in-law and the rest of her family and kidnapped her two daughters, later killing the older one and keeping the younger one.  Tormented by the search he has undertaken  to find that child.   Tormented by  racism.  If he finds the child, should he let her live? She’ll have been fully assimilated into the Commanches by now, or is there  a small chance that she can revert back to civilized life?  A very nuanced performance by Wayne, and great support from Ward Bond, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood, and many others who usually acted in director John Ford’s movies.  Bonus: the  beautiful outdoor scenes of the West, their vistas  shot in glorious technicolor.

The Searchers

6.  Is there one movie on your movie  shelf that brings back fond memories?  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  A fun musical romp that our  entire family loves.  My 3 daughters have watched it and rewatched it and each has their “favorite” brother.  My sons have all enjoyed Russ Tamblyn’s scene as baby brother Gideon, meowing like a cat in order to lure his girl out of her family home but only succeeding in luring out her town boyfriend!  It’s fun to hear my kids rewatch it and share which song is their favorite and they’ve now learned about and watched  other films that Tamblyn, Howard Keel, Jane Powell, Jacques d’Amboise, and Jeff Richards have been in.  In fact, when they watched West Side Story for the first time, they kept calling Russ Tamblyn, “Gideon” instead of “Riff”!

Seven Brides for SEven Brothers

7.  Find a movie that has inspired you the most.  I was a teacher before I started my stay at home mom career with my 7 kids.  So, it’s not surprising to say that teacher films inspire me.  It’s hard to pick just one, so here’s a list of some I enjoy: Good-Bye, Mr. Chips, To Sir, with Love, The Blackboard Jungle, Up the Down Staircase, Stand and Deliver.

 

GBMC

 

TSWL

 

TBBJUp the Down Staircase

Stand and Deliver

8.  Do you have any autographed movies?  No.

9.  Find the movie you have owned the longest.  A VHS of Aladdin.  My husband and I saw it when our oldest was a mere baby.  I bought it for his future viewings.  Now it seems especially poignant as it contains the wonderful voicework of the late Robin Williams as the Genie of the lamp.    Aladdin

10.  Is there a movie with an actor( or by a director) that you never imagined you would watch or enjoy?  Our oldest is a Will Ferrell fan and he kept telling his Dad and I to watch the comedy film, Stepbrothers.  Hubby and I kept putting it off and finally, when our oldest was home on leave from the Marines, we gave in and watched Stepbrothers.  I had to overlook the foul language and some other antics, but did find it funny.  My two favorite scenes: when the two adult stepbrothers are whining about missing shark week because  Dad has taken away the tv as a punishment, and when Dad, finally exasperated with these two grown men’s lack of maturity, spanks them!       Stepbrothers

Here is my list of blogs that I have tagged for either the Movie Shelf or Book Shelf  Tag.

Nerd in the Brain-excellent blog written by an extraordinary homeschooling mom who’s philosophy is that Life is about Learning.

Classic Movie Night-a nice blog that gives great information daily about classic movies not to miss and lists of entertainment industry folks who would be or are, celebrating a birthday; great pictures with this blog, too.

TitusLive-Titus Benton is a really cool guy.  A former youth minister to our oldest when we lived in Florissant, MO.  When we moved to Rolla, he also moved to a new ministering job near Houston, TX.  An excellent writer (he’s published 2 books!), a great speaker, and a heart to helping Missions overseas and in this country reach their goals, check out a great blog where you’ll be inspired and challenged how to give back to your world, your community, and often get great tips on raising teens.

Vienna’s Classic Hollywood-a sweet blog about classic movies that I enjoy.

Lancelot Schaubert-a gifted young man, married to a sweetheart of a girl, who’s family we’ve known since she was a mere 7 year old!  Recently transplanted to Brooklyn from Joplin, MO.  A servant’s heart with a flair for writing, editing, and a ton of other literary doings.  Author of an innovative photonovel, Cold Brewed, a film noirish story, shot in and around the Joplin, MO area.

 

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: A Farewell to Arms

My movie pick for today is part of  the World War I  in Classic Film  Blogathon.  Please visit Movies Silently  and silent ology to read all of the fantastic bloggers and their posts about  films that have WWI as a major backdrop.

WWI Blogathon

A Farewell to Arms is a very famous novel written by Ernest Hemingway.  Chances are you read it in high school or college, or just read it on your own since Hemingway was and still is considered to be one of modern America’s best writers.   I have read For Whom the Bell Tolls but Farewell hasn’t made it to my reading roster yet; I need to remedy that!

A Farewell to Arms, poster 1

The plot of this 1932  film  is pretty straightforward.  Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy loses girl, boy finds girl, and I won’t add anymore but suffice it to say that it’s a Hemingway novel and there won’t be a rainbows and pots of gold type of ending.

When I watched A Farewell to Arms a couple weeks ago I was impressed by the acting, the direction,and the cinematography.  The cast of this movie, at the top of their game, : Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes as the ambulance driver and nurse who fall deeply in love, Adolphe Menjou as an Italian doctor, a rival for the love of the nurse, Jack LaRue as a gentle priest, Mary Philips as another nurse who distrusts all men.

I like Gary Cooper’s roles in films but I usually would just associate him with playing the “Aw, schucks, Ma’am” kind of guy, who is a good man with a calm, laid-back manner in dealing with  others.  He played such men in Sergeant York(another WWI movie!), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Ball of Fire, and Meet John Doe.   In A Farewell to Arms, his  characterization was a revelation to me about  his acting abilities.  His Lt. Frederic Henry is an American who is tired of his life in the states,  he wants some adventure before settling down, so as WWI begins, he decides to serve as an ambulance driver for the Italian Army.  Frederic does his job well, works hard, and wants to play hard.  He finds a compatriot in searching out bars and women with a doctor, Major Rinaldi(Adolphe Menjou).  There is a fine scene illustrating this when the two men are seated at a table in a bar, examining a young lady’s leg  with no objections from her.

Rinaldi and Frederic checking out those legs!

Rinaldi and Frederic checking out those legs!

Cooper’s Frederic changes emotionally  when he meets Catherine Barkley(Helen Hayes).  He falls in love, and when they are separated he is desperate to find her, to be with her for the rest of his life.  He even deserts the army to find her, despite the consequence that could cost him if he’s found.  At the film’s end, when at last he’s reunited with Catherine, the tears flow and it is a bittersweet reunion that alternates between hope for the world and the new life Frederic must now live.

Frederic and Catherine know they love one another

Frederic and Catherine know they love one another

Getting back to Catherine's side

Getting back to Catherine’s side

Helen Haye’s, a petite woman when contrasted with Cooper’s height, seems very fragile.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons she was cast in the film.  She gives Catherine a heart of compassion which we see when she comforts  another nurse who has been  dismissed by the stern head nurse for becoming pregnant.  We see Catherine’s steely resolve to do her duty and to not get involved with another soldier after her fiance has been killed in another battle.  We then see that resolve melt away to nothing when she spends an evening with Frederic and love has claimed her heart once again.  We ache for her when she has left the nursing post, has moved to Switzerland to await the birth of her baby, and all of the letters she has written to Frederic have been returned, due to Major Rinaldi’s jealous meddling; she collapses under the stress and heartbreak at the town’s post office when she is handed back all of those letters.

All alone in Switzerland, writing all of those letters to Frederic!

All alone in Switzerland, writing all of those letters to Frederic!

Adolphe Menjou, is fine as the doctor turned Major.  He is an affable guy, but one we can boo and hiss at when due to his jealousy over Frederic and Catherine’s relationship, he arranges for all of the letters from Catherine to Frederic to be sent back and not forwarded.  Later, with remorse, his Major Rinaldi tries to convince the awol Frederic to come back into the army, and when the Major realizes that Frederic is desperate to find Catherine, Rinaldi reveals that she is in Switzerland.

Trying to convince Frederic to re-enlist before revealing where Catherine is.

Trying to convince Frederic to re-enlist before revealing where Catherine is.

Rinaldi is getting jealous!

Rinaldi is getting jealous!

Jack La Rue, who I had only previously seen play a mafia-type leader in the British film No Orchids for Miss Blandish, was a surprise to me, too.  He is a priest who recognizes the love that Frederic and Catherine have for one another.  Instead of trying to counsel them to just be friends and wait until the war is over to pursue a deeper commitment to one another, he movingly and sweetly performs a wedding for them in Frederic’s hospital room.  It’s a tender and moving scene, with the Priest intoning the Latin words of the Wedding Mass.

The Priest announces he'll marry them.

The Priest announces he’ll marry them.

Mary Philips plays Helen Ferguson in only a few scenes, but a key one is when Frederic confronts her as to why Catherine quit the nursing post and where is she?  Helen is strong in her resolve, keeps her dislike for Frederic alive, by refusing to tell him where Catherine is but gleefully adding to his worries by admitting that Catherine left due to her pregnancy with his child.

Frederic, Catherine, and Helen, who still hates men!

Frederic, Catherine, and Helen, who still hates men!

Director Frank Borzage, who I  assumed was from another country-wrong!   He was a former silent movie actor turned director, born in the USA!  His directing skill is evident in the way he got his actors to give such outstanding performances and his scenes of the war were appropriately chilling and unusual.  I found some scenes unusual in that the way they were framed and shot, at odd angles; one scene showing a soldier outstretching his arms as if copying the same position of Jesus’s arms outstretched  on the cross.  From my research, I discovered that after Borzage gave up acting to focus on directing, one of the directors he studied and did some work with was F.W. Murnau, famed German director who specialized in the Expressionist Movement in German Films, and then carried that with him to Hollywood.  That influence had to have given Borzage the ideas for these scenes.  Another interesting scene, Borzage aided greatly by his cinematographer, Charles Lang, is a point of view series of what Frederic is seeing as he is flat on his back, being wheeled into a hospital in Milan.  Charles Lang did win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for this film.

A Farewell to Arms is available to see via streaming on Amazon, either through their instant rent program or through your Roku Box(that’s how I was able to call it up and watch it for free!)  One could buy it through Amazon or TCM’s Shop.  Netflix has A Farewell to Arms, but it is the 1957 version that starred Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones.  As much as I like Hudson and Jones’s bodies of work throughout their acting careers, I find the version they starred in  a bit draggy at times.  The 1932 version with Cooper and Hayes flowed much faster.

For a look at love during the midst of a horrific war, have your kleenaxes handy, get yourself a dvd of A Farewell to Arms!!

AFTA ending poster

 

 

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.

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 75 other followers