A Woman of Distinction, for The Rosalind Russell Blogathon

June 4th would have been actress Rosalind Russell’s 112th birthday.  In her honor, classic movie fan and blogger, Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood decided to host a blogathon beginning on June 4th and running through June 6th.  Be sure to visit her blog to read other great pieces about Rosalind Russell and her career.

I’ve seen quite a few of Russell’s films.  She was adept at dramatic roles and excelled in comedic ones and I liked her in comedic roles the best.  For this blogathon, I decided to write about one of her romantic comedy roles, from 1950, A Woman of Distinction.  For this film, Columbia Pictures brought in Rosalind Russell as the female lead and Ray Milland as the male lead.  Good support for the leads came in the form of Edmund Gwenn, Janis Carter, Francis Lederer, Mary Jane Saunders.  Direction was by Edward Buzzell and screenplay was by Charles Hoffman and Frank Tashlin.

 

Russell is Dean Susan Manning Middlecott, of Bennington College, in New England.  She lives with her father, Mark(Edmund Gwenn) and her adopted daughter, Louise(Mary Jane Saunders).  Susan loves her family but she is absolutely devoted to her work for Bennington College and finding a good man to marry has not ever been on her agenda.  Her father would love for her to find a good man to marry, but he keeps that opinion to himself, sometimes.

Enter Dr. Alec Stevenson(Ray Milland),  an Astronomy professor from Great Britain,  who is soon departing for Boston to give a lecture for the Pomeroy Lecture Bureau.  He tells the publicist for the Bureau, Teddy Evans(Janis Carter) about a locket he was given  by a Mr.  Benoit, whom he met in a concentration camp.  Mr. Benoit begged Dr. Stevenson to deliver the locket  to  Dean Susan Middlecott, so Alec intends to do that after he gives his lecture.  Sensing a sensational way to advertise the Bureau and its lecturers’ series, Teddy concocts a story that Alec is delivering the locket to Susan because they are having a secret, passionate romance.  Teddy gives that story to the British and US press.

When the locket/secret romance story spreads fast through the public, Susan is outraged! The board of Trustees of Bennington are not amused and Susan decides to take the train to Boston to confront this Dr. Alec Stevenson and demand a retraction.  Susan doesn’t realize that Alec has just left her campus in an unsuccessful attempt to give her the locket, and he’s back on the same train she is on to Boston.  They both disembark the train at the same time, and when Susan learns who that man next to her is, she is so mad she whacks him with her purse.  Of course, Teddy is nearby and makes sure that moment is caught on film, and gets that picture into the papers with more news of the secret romance and is it on the rocks?

From that moment on this film becomes a screwball comedy of miscommunications, Alec and Susan getting to know one another better at the family cabin through dad Mark’s matchmaking skills, a college dance, an arrest, and that pesky board of Trustees raising up their solemn heads.  Will the two academics find love? Will Susan lose her position at Bennington? Will the locket get delivered?Will the rumors about Alec, Susan, and Susan’s adopted daughter get squelched?  I won’t be revealing the answers as I want you, the reader, to seek out this film and view it for yourself.  From time to time, TCM does air it so you’ll just have to keep checking their monthly schedules;it’s not set for a June showing, that I do know.  I did a search of the film on Amazon and all that came up was a VHS copy so that gave me the feeling that the film hasn’t been issued on a dvd yet?  I’m not sure, but that’s my inkling.  An article at tvguide said it is available for streaming, but which service it didn’t say.

So, good luck in your hunt for this fun rom-com, and watch Russell and Milland and Gwenn at their acting  best.

I’ve included a fun clip via TCM showcasing the humorous meeting of the two leads and what happens after they find out who the other one is.  http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/386438/Woman-Of-Distinction-A-Movie-Clip-Blood-Rare.html

 

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1939’s Lady of the Tropics and Mr. Breen’s Influence

A couple weeks ago I decided to watch a new to me film that I had recorded off of TCM.  The film was MGM’s 1939 production, Lady of the Tropics, featuring two of the most photogenic stars at that time, Hedy Lamarr and Robert Taylor.  I decided to watch this film looking for plot points that a censor probably would voice concerns about in this film.  Mr. Joseph Breen, in 1939, was the main enforcer of the Hays Production Code, which until 1934, the Code was used by movie studios in a haphazard fashion.  When Mr. Breen took over monitoring the Code, Hollywood studios had to adhere to the Code or face large fines.  I was honored to be asked by the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society to write a post about the “Breening” of a film and this is my humble effort.

Lady of the Tropics, screenplay by Ben Hecht, is a romantic drama that loosely follows the plot of a Puccini opera, Manon Lescaut. In the film, Hedy Lamarr is the beautiful and exotic Manon De Vargnes.  Saigon is her home, and she is a half-caste,born to a French father and a Vietnamese mother; both parents deceased.  Manon longs to live in Paris and to travel the world but due to her status in Vietnamese society, she has never been able to obtain a passport.  Two local men want to marry her: a rich Asian nobleman and Pierre Delaroch(Joseph Schildkraut), who is also a half-caste like Manon.  Delaroch is obsessed with Manon and as he has great political power in Saigon, she is wary of him and doesn’t want to anger him, yet she doesn’t love him and is doing her level best to keep him at arms length, never giving him cause to think she would ever agree to marry him.

Bill Casey(Robert Taylor) is a handsome, happy-go-lucky playboy, on his last dime.  He has agreed to travel the tropics with his latest girlfriend, Dolly Harrison(Mary Taylor) and her  wealthy parents on their yacht.  When they arrive in Saigon and Bill meets Manon, all thoughts of Dolly fly out of Bill’s head and it is Manon that he is entranced by, attracted to, and wants to give up bachelorhood for.  He has some work to do in convincing Manon to marry him as she has seen it before all too often: foreign men coming to Saigon, falling in love with local women, marrying the local women and having to travel away to their home countries, and leaving their Vietnamese wives behind forever.

Aw, you just want to root for these two to fall in love and marry!!

Hedy got to wear some gorgeous hats in this movie.

In order to explore how this film was probably “breened”, I will have to reveal spoilers so if you want to see this film without knowing how it ends, stop reading!

When Bill meets Manon, he asks her what does she do for a living. She tells him, with little explanation, that she is a temple dancer.  In doing a bit of research about Vietnam, it is a predominately Buddhist country and it has a lot of Buddhist temples.  Some women would be at the temples offering foods to the monks that lived at the temples, and others would dance at the temples for various religious ceremonies.  We never see Hedy Lamarr dance but we see stock footage of Vietnamese dancers at Buddhist temples, and Hedy in a gorgeous outfit with a very fancy headdress, as she sits at a temple in one scene.  Also tied in with Bill’s question is a hint about prostitution. Manon has a lot of people whispering about her behind her back and this gives her an aura of mystery and it does make the audience wonder how she supports herself.  When Vietnam became a French protectorate, and even before that event happened, it wasn’t uncommon for European men to have been in Vietnam for their businesses(shipping) and to then take on Vietnamese women for wives.  The families of these women encouraged such marriages as the European husbands were usually more financially stable than the Vietnamese families.  The marriages usually only lasted for a few years and then the European husbands would go back to their home countries, marry again, and not look back at their Vietnamese wives and children, if any had been born to the unions. Often, the Vietnamese wives of  European men would move on and marry Vietnamese men.  When Christianity arrived in the country, with active missions’ groups, these marriages were frowned upon and declared not much better than prostitution.  This new view caused conflicts among the Vietnamese as they had previously viewed such marriages from a purely pragmatic point of view.  In the film, it is revealed that Manon had a French father and a Vietnamese mother, but it isn’t dwelt on too much, no implication that her mother was a prostitute or Manon is illegitimite.  More is made of her being a “half-caste”, or an Euro-Asian.  Also with the Delaroch character being half-caste too, it adds to the plot points of him being interested in possessing Manon for himself, and to Manon’s problem of not being able to obtain a passport.  I think that in going over this film, Mr. Breen probably suggested that the plot revolve around the half-caste point and not dwell too much on the dubious marriages between French men and Vietnamese women.

Lamarr in her Buddhist temple garb and headdress.

Bill succeeds in wooing and winning Manon into marrying him.  He vows that he’ll help her obtain a passport and then they will travel to Paris for a honeymoon, and visit some other European cities before settling in the good old USA.  Manon is truly optimistic that this time, she will get a passport and be free of Saigon, and the half-caste issue forever.  What she and Bill don’t count on is Delaroch’s ruthlessness in keeping a passport out of Manon’s hands.  Bill tries and tries for weeks to obtain Manon a passport, and then the problem of having no more money to live on enters the scene.  Without Bill’s knowledge, Manon goes to Delaroch to beg him to let Bill find good work to which Delaroch agrees, arranging for Bill to hire on with a rubber tree plantation that he owns.  He agrees if Manon will become his mistress and desperate to help Bill, Manon agrees to this arrangement.  When Bill returns for a visit from the plantation, he is deliberately set-up to find clues that reveal to him what Manon and Delaroch have been doing while he was away.  Delaroch has finally let Manon gain a passport as a “thank you” for her services.  Angry with Manon, Bill denounces her, threatens to find Delaroch to kill him, and tells Manon to get lost.  He doesn’t care that she has a passport now.  Manon sorrowfully begs Bill’s forgiveness, but he won’t give it to her.  So, Manon gets a gun, finds Delaroch at a dinner party at his fancy house, lures him to the garden, and kills him.  Then she returns to the apartment she and Bill shared, and shoots herself in the stomach.  Bill has time to return to Manon, not knowing she has shot herself, he professes his love for her and forgives her, and urges her to hang on  that they can make it to a ship he has tickets for, and he’ll get her medical care on the ship.  Sadly, Manon won’t be able to make it to the ship, and as she smiles knowing Bill does love her and has forgiven her, she dies in his arms, as the passport slips a bit from her hand.

There is a lot to unravel here: deceit, adultery, anger, bitterness, murder, suicide, confession, forgiveness, and death.  In 1939, characters in films couldn’t get away with murder unless it was self-defense.  Adultery was certainly going to see guilty characters getting a punishment.  Suicide was also not going to be celebrated.  One of the film’s characters, a Catholic priest, Father Antoine(Ernest Cossart) has a line about Manon, that is foreshadowing as to what will happen to her eventually.  Father Antoine utters the line to Bill, as a way of trying to warn him that marrying Manon may bring about troubles.  He tells Bill that Manon may seem beautiful and happy on the outside but deep inside of her is darkness and turmoil.  When Manon is dying of her gunshot wound, Father Antoine arrives to try and give her the last rites, and he tells Bill that now Manon is free from all the turmoil she has known in her life.  Delaroch receives his comeuppance at the end of a gun for pressuring Manon into being his mistress.  Manon dies for her consequences of adultery and murdering Delaroch.  Part of me wanted to see her and Bill manage to get to the ship and a doctor and to sail away happily ever after, but since I knew this film probably had had Mr. Breen go over it with a fine-toothed comb, a happy ending was not to be.  I also thought poor Robert Taylor! Greta Garbo had died in his arms at the end of Camille and now Hedy Lamarr at this film’s end!!

TCM will  air this movie again this summer, on July 19th at 7:30 am Eastern time/6:30 am Central time.  So tune in or record it to see two beautiful people trying to create a marriage in a sea of problems.

 

This was my post as a guest blogger at the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society and their series about films, Mr. Breen, and censorship in the movies.  Be sure to visit their site and read more interesting articles about classic films!

 

 

 

The Jean Harlow Blogathon: 1932’s Pre-Code Three Wise Girls

Tomorrow, March 3rd, is the late actress Jean Harlow’s birthday.  In honor of her short-lived career and stardom(she’s often referred to as Hollywood’s first blonde bombshell) Virginie at The Wonderful World of Cinema and Samantha at Musings of a Classic Film Addict  are hosting a Jean Harlow Blogathon.  Be sure to visit it and read more about Jean Harlow, and her rise to stardom in the 1930s, and about her life.

Jean was born in 1911 in Kansas City, MO to a well-to do family; her dad was a dentist and mom stayed at home to care for Jean.  When Jean was a kid, her family moved to CA, and Jean began to try and make it in the movie industry.  If one peruses IMDB as I did, it’s pretty evident that young Harlow began to be in a lot of silent movies as an extra in 1929, even using her birth name, Harlean Carpenter.  1930 changed her career course for the better when as Jean Harlow, she was cast in Hell’s Angels.  Cast often in roles  to better show off her curves and allure, when 1932 came, Jean asked to be cast in a film as “the good girl”.  She got her wish in the film I viewed recently, Three Wise Girls.

Jean’s co-stars were Mae Clark, Marie Prevost, Walter Byron, Andy Devine, and Jameson Thomas.  Directed by William Beaudine and released by Columbia Pictures, this bit of a frothy film was directly aimed at women with a morality tale, of sorts, thrown in the mix for good measure; Agnes Christine Johnson adapted the story for the screen.

Cassie(Jean Harlow) lives in her hometown, Chillicothe(MO, OH, IL, IA, or TX? I couldn’t find out) and works at the drugstore as a soda jerk.  She lives with her mom, dad is deceased, and there seem to be no other siblings around, as none are mentioned.  Cassie seems to be a popular town cutie and decides to make the move to NYC to get a better paying job so she can buy her deserving mother some luxuries; mom is seen drooling over some lady in town’s brand new car.

Cassie contemplating a move to NYC

Cassie lands in NYC, is sharing an apartment with a friend, Dot(Marie Prevost), who types for a living, working out of the apartment.  Dot just wants to find an honest guy to fall in love with and settle down.  Cassie is still wanting a better paying job as all she’s done in NYC is work as a soda jerk, leaving three such positions fighting off her bosses’ passes.  She decides to look up another Chillicothe girl, Gladys Kane(Mae Clark), who has made good as a model for the fashionable House of Andre.  Gladys is thrilled to see Cassie again, helps her to  get a modeling job at Andre’s, and then introduces Cassie to her married lover, Arthur Phelps(Jameson Thomas).  After meeting Cassie for the first time, and with Gladys in another room getting dressed for dinner, Phelps has the gall to make a pass at Cassie!  Instead of telling Gladys, Cassie just does her best to get out of  a dinner invitation with Gladys and Phelps, and vows to not get involved with married men.

Wowing Andre with a lingerie number!

Phelps sneaking a glance at Cassie while Gladys is oblivious!

 

Cassie does meet a gentleman of means, Jerry Dexter(Walter Byron, who does a great job of hiding his British accent).  When he is recovering from a hangover and wanders into the pharmacy where Cassie is working as a soda jerk, Jerry witnesses her fighting off a crude pass from an oaf of a boss.  As she prepares to stomp out of the shop and is  giving her notice, the boss snidely tells her she won’t be paid for that final week.  Jerry gallantly steps in and makes the boss pay her.  Cassie and Jerry meet again and there is an immediate attraction and love is in the air, until Cassie’s dreams are crushed when she discovers Jerry is also married!!!!!  A side plot involves Dot finding her  man, Jerry’s chauffeur(Andy Devine).

Studio publicity still with Byron and Harlow.

Cassie and Jerry, falling in love!

I won’t give away any more of the  plot as this film is available in its entirety on Youtube and one can view it there.

While not a great film, it does give Mae Clark and Jean Harlow some beautiful costumes to model.  The film is a good example of a pre-code picture as there are several scenes of Harlow undressing or standing around in her undergarments(no nudity) and the discussions of being another man’s mistress aren’t shied away from.  So if you want to view the lovely Jean Harlow in a “good girl” role, view Three Wise Girls.

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1938’s The Lady Vanishes for the Hitchcock Blogathon

My post today is for the Third Annual Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon hosted by Maddy Loves Her Classic Films.  Please visit Maddy’s site and read other great posts written by Hitchcock fans and classic movie fans! I love a mystery movie with a good, suspenseful plot, great acting, and at the end of it all, glad that I spent the time given to watching it.  About 5 years ago while perusing TCM’s monthly schedule, I noticed an Alfred Hitchcock film that I had never heard of before, 1938’s The Lady Vanishes, so I recorded it and viewed it and it fit into my category of movies that I absolutely love.This film was director Alfred Hitchcock’s last film to make in his native England before he sailed across the pond to begin making films in Hollywood.  Set in 1938 Europe, mainly aboard a train, with a bit of some eccentric travelers, the story’s heroine sets out to prove herself right about another passenger who mysteriously vanishes.

Iris Henderson(Margaret Lockwood) has been on a European holiday but has to head back to England via a train, her fiance awaiting her there.  Due to an avalanche covering an area of the train tracks, the passengers have to disembark and spend the night at an Inn.  Among the fellow passengers is an elderly, retired governess, Miss Froy(Dame May Whitty), two rabid cricket enthusiasts Charters(Basil Radford) and Caldicott( Naunton Wayne), a music professor Gilbert Redman(Michael Redgrave), a businessman and his mistress, Mr. Todhunter(Cecil Parker) “Mrs.” Todhunter(Linden Travers), and a gentlemanly Dr. Hartz(Paul Lukas).  At the Inn, Iris befriends Miss Froy, is irritated by the music professor and his loud folk music, and is accidentally hit on the head by a falling flowerpot-ouch! Could that flowerpot have been meant for one of the other travelers?

Margaret Lockwood(Iris) looking over the script with director, Alfred Hitchcock.

Iris having a toast with her friends before her departure for England.

The next day dawns, the tracks are cleared, and it’s all aboard for the trip to England.  The first 30 minutes or so of this movie is more of a comedic tinged portrayal of mostly British travelers just wanting to get back to jolly old England and frustrated by the avalanche, by the Inn, etc.  However, once the journey really begins, so does the mystery and a sinister air.  Iris spends part of the trip having a lovely visit with Miss Froy and they share tea together. After Iris takes a nap, she can’t find Miss Froy and other passengers claim they haven’t seen an elderly lady aboard the train!  Did Iris dream Miss Froy up?  Could this be a reaction from the hard hit on the head?  Iris won’t accept the other passengers words and is determined to find Miss Froy.  She is able to convince the music professor, Gilbert, to help her in her quest and it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty handsome, and that she is pretty beautiful-sorry fiance in England!  I can’t divulge too much more about the plot, but a nun(Catherine Lacey) will be involved, a musical tune, and the cricket obsessed travelers, the adulterous businessman and his mistress-all will join forces for the good with Iris and Gilbert.  Dr. Hartz? Not as gentlemanly as we first assume-watch out for him!

THE LADY VANISHES, Dame May Whitty, Margaret Lockwood, 1938, meeting on a train.

Iris asking other passengers if they have seen Miss Froy.

Gilbert and Iris need to be very wary of Dr. Hartz!

The intrepid British travelers, on the side of good.

Yes, Hitchcock makes his cameo in the film so be on the lookout for him.  The Lady Vanishes was based on the 1936 book The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White, and the screenplay was written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder.  It has been ranked as the 35th best British film by the British Film Institute.  TCM airs it from time to time and it will air on April 19th at 11:15 p.m. eastern time/10:15 p.m. central time.  Be sure to tune in for a great Hitchcock film, before he took his career West!

Made in 1938 Blogathon: The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

As I’ve been wanting to jump back into blogging on a more regular basis, I decided that  signing up to participate in blogathons would be a good way to accomplish this goal of mine in 2019.  Hence, my post for the great blogathon looking at films made in 1938, hosted by Crystal and Robin, at their respective sites: In The Good Old Days of Hollywood and Pop Culture Reverie.  Be sure to visit their sites to read more great posts by other classic movie fans/bloggers!  

Turner Classic Movies often airs The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, and for quite a few years, I’d see it in the schedule and think, “meh”, passing it by and not tuning in to see it, nor recording it.  2018 rolled into view, and when I saw the movie was showing again I decided to finally watch it.  I am very glad that I did as it is a very good film and certainly didn’t deserve my “meh” attitude about it!

What a strong cast this film has! Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor, Humphrey Bogart(before he was a big name), Allen Jenkins, John Litel, Donald Crisp, Henry O’Neill, Gale Page, Maxie Rosenbloom, and a bit part for Ward Bond.  Directed by Anatole Litvak with a script helmed by John Wexley and John Huston(yes, that John Huston).  Warner Brothers crafted a fine film, originally based on a play that was a  hit in London, starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke(before he was a Sir.)

Edward G. is Dr. Clitterhouse, a doctor to the wealthy of NYC.  He has done well for himself financially, has a thriving practice, yet he has a fascination with criminals-what makes them tick? Why do they commit crimes? His fascination with these people is bordering on obsession.  In order to learn more about criminals, he decides to commit crimes himself(not too wise, but then there’d be no play or film if he stayed on the side of right!) specifically  jewelry robberies.  He records how he feels physically after each burglary-blood pressure, heart rate, etc.  but wishes to have a larger pool of criminals to study than just himself.

Through his friend, Inspector Lane(Donald Crisp) he finds out that the biggest dealer of stolen jewelry in NYC is one Joe Keller.  Dr. Clitterhouse make an appointment with Joe, not revealing who he really is at their meeting.  Dr. Clitterhouse is pleasantly surprised when he discovers that Joe is a “Jo”(Claire Trevor) and there is an instant attraction between the two.  The doctor tells Jo that he is a Professor who wants to be in on the gang’s activities, he has ideas how to run the jewel robbing enterprise so Jo agrees to letting him join the gang.  Dr. Clitterhouse tells his nurse(Gale Page) that he is taking a 6 weeks vacation to cover for his real activities with the gang.

Edward G. Robinson (Dr. T.S. Clitterhouse) is fascinated with the working of the criminal mind. He joins a gang of crooks headed by Humphrey Bogart (Rocks Valentine) for whom Clitterhouse masterminds a series of heists. With Maxie Rosenbloom (Butch) and Claire Trevor (Jo Keller).

The leader of the jewel robbers is Rocks Valentine(Humphrey Bogart) and he is immediately suspicious of the Professor, notices how Jo seems enamored with the Professor, which adds jealousy to Rock’s emotional mix, and he becomes resentful how the rest of the gang is ready to adopt the Professor’s new ideas.

Rocks has had it with the Professor!!!

This film has a great love triangle, subterfuge, double-crosses, and the ultimate crime, murder.  I am not going to reveal any more of the plot as I want you, dear reader, to find this film and view it for yourself.  It really is a good  crime tale with a twist ending, too.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, TCM does air this film quite a bit, so keep a check on their schedule and catch it then.  It was on Amazon Prime for instant view but is now only available there to purchase on dvd, and on Youtube there are several trailers for the film, and a recording of the film as a radio show.

 

 

Caption for image 2 of this post is credited to GoneMovie.com

The Versatile Blogger Award!

On November 29th I received a lovely surprise from two fellow classic movie fans and bloggers, the two delightful sisters at the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.  Tiffany and Rebekah Brannon had nominated me and 14 other bloggers whom they enjoy reading, for The Versatile Blogger Award!  I swiftly sent the ladies a thank you, and agreed to be a guest blogger for them in April, writing a post for their site.  I did tell them that since I was in the midst of grading myriads of 7 year olds’ school assignments, making reports for administration, and trying to keep a house picked up and readied for the holiday, that I wouldn’t be able to properly respond to my “award” until Christmas break.  It is now December 26th, so here is my response to this nice award.   

 

When one receives the Versatile Blogger Award, one has a few things to do upon receiving the honor:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) that nominated you.
  2.  Post a link to the nominating blog on your site.
  3. List 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate your 15 Versatile Blogger Award winners.

Seven Things About Me

  1.  Born and raised in Defiance, OH.
  2.  Graduate of Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH.  Elementary Education.
  3.  Married my high school sweetheart and his first engineering job took us to SC and his second one took us to MO where we’ve lived since 1993.
  4. This past June, hubby and I celebrated our 30th Wedding anniversary!
  5.  Mom to seven kids, although majority of them are adults now! Ranging in ages 27 down to 15.
  6. Teaching again after a long hiatus due to being a stay-at-home-mom.
  7. March of this past year I was fortunate to travel to Thailand! A unique country that deserves a blog post about my time there.

 

My Nominees

The following are classic film fans and bloggers who enjoy sharing their observations on classic films they have seen.  Needless to say, I admire their posts, their writing skills, and their opinions on the films they write about. In no particular order, here are my nominees:

  1. Colin at Ride the High Country
  2. Crystal at In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood
  3.  Theresa at Cinemaven’s ESSAYS from the COUCH
  4. Mike at Mike’s Take on the Movies 
  5. MovieMovieBlogBlog
  6. Debbie at Moon in Gemini
  7. Kristina at Speakeasy
  8. Maddy at Maddy Loves Her Classic Films
  9.  Grand Old Movies
  10. Fritzi at Movies Silently
  11. Vienna at Vienna’s Classic Hollywood
  12. John at Twenty Four Frames
  13. Aurora at Once Upon a Screen
  14. Jessica at Comet Over Hollywood
  15. Cameron at The Blonde at the Film

Please take time this holiday break to visit these bloggers’ sites for excellent posts about classic films, plots, actors, actresses, directors, music, costumes, you name it, they write about it!

 

 

 

1997’s Titanic for The Greatest Film I’ve Never Seen Blogathon

I know that 1997’s Titanic was a film that several of my husband’s nieces saw over and over and over again.  I know that the film was directed by James Cameron.  I know that it starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.   I know that Celine Dion sang the hit song for the movie, “My Heart Will Go On“, and that it won an Oscar for Best Song in 1998.  I also know that the elderly lady in the film was played by Gloria Stewart, an actress from the early 1930s, who played The Invisible Man’s fiancee in that 1933 film.   Those facts are about all I know of this film as I’ve never watched it.

Being a fan of classic movies, I admit that I am a bit of a snob if a film was made after 1969.   I also confess that if a film comes out today, I am likely to wait until it is available to rent on dvd or via a streaming service instead of going to the theatre to see it.  So, when Cameron’s monster hit arrived in theatres across the US in 1997, I decided to wait and see it via renting it.  However, at the time of the film arriving on dvd,  I was just too busy raising 3 kids, ages 6, 4, 2 and another one due in February of ’98 so viewing the film was put to the back burner of my life.

I am also not ignorant as to what happened on April 15, 1912.  That is the date that the luxury ocean liner hit an iceberg and sank in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, on it’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City.   Also, having lived in Missouri since 1993, I have heard about Molly Brown, the subject of the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, she being the feisty lady born in Hannibal, MO,  who became rich due to mining and survived the Titanic, doing all she could to help other passengers into the lifeboat that she was on.

Hollywood and Great Britain have actually produced two other movies about the Titanic’s sinking and those I have seen.  1953’s Titanic and 1958’s A Night to Remember.     I do recommend both movies that depict the tragedy in two different ways.

 

 

1953’s Titanic was made by 20th Century Fox.  Jean Negulesco directed and he had an excellent cast to work with: Barbara Stanwyck, Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, Audrey Dalton, Thelma Ritter, Brian Aherne, and Richard Basehart. The plot of this film revolves around an unhappy wife, Julia(Barbara Stanwyck) who secretly buys passage on the Titanic for herself, and her two teenage children.  Julia is tired of living as an expatriate American and wants to move her children to her hometown of Mackinac, MI.  Julia’s husband Richard(Clifton Webb) finds out what she has done, and rushes to the ship, managing to buy a steerage-class ticket and gets on board.  He finds his wife and despite his efforts at reconciliation, the marriage looks to be truly broken.  There is a side plot, where the bitter couple’s teen daughter Annette(Audrey Dalton) falls in love with college student Giff Rogers(Robert Wagner) on board the ship. Thelma Ritter portrays a Molly Brown like matron, Brian Aherne is  the Titanic’s  captain, E.J. Smith, and Richard Basehart portrays a recently defrocked priest, George Healey, alchoholism being the reason he has lost his priestly duties.  Near the finality of the tragic event, forgiveness and love win out, bravery and courage are on full display, and I can sum up that it is a very moving film.

 

1958’s A Night to Remember, was made by The Rank Organization with Paramount Pictures taking on the US distribution of the film.  Directed by Roy Ward Baker, and with a very good cast to work with: Kenneth More, Honor Blackman(Goldfinger, The Avengers) Ronald Allen, Robery Ayres, Anthony Bushell,  John Cairney, and David McCallum(Man From U.N.C.L.E., NCIS), among others.

A Night to Remember was based upon a screenplay that was written by Eric Ambler, based upon the book Titanic by Walter Lord.  The film is very much told in the docudrama format and it follows with excellent detail the actual happenings on board the ship before it finally sank; the details as to what the employees of the ship were doing pertaining to their jobs on that fateful night.  The producers asked and found cooperative survivors of the Titanic disaster who agreed to be consultants on the film.  For some reason, the film didn’t do as well at the box office however, critics praised it.  I watched it and found it compelling and a film where the viewer will be thinking “if only” as there were so many of those during this event.  For example, if only the nearby ship, The Californian‘s radio operator had been on duty to receive the distress call from the Titanic, how many more lives could have been saved?

With a nice Christmas break approaching, I do plan to find Leo and Kate, and watch the film, finally!  If you are interested, Turner Classic Movies will be airing the 1953 Titanic on December 29th.  They have aired A Night to Remember in the past, so you’ll just have to be intrepid and search the monthly schedules to see if they’ll be airing it in 2019.   Be sure to visit Moon in Gemini for other great posts about films not seen before by classic movie bloggers.