Goats Cause a Grievance!

I was perusing the news last week and saw a story that I thought was ridiculous!  Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, had a 15 acre area on their campus that was overgrown with weeds, poison ivy, and  brush;  just unsightly vegetation.  The school discovered a solution to clearing out that area of land that was unique: hire a herd of goats!    

Munchers on Hooves, the name of  a goat rental company in Coldwater, Michigan,  arrived and the goats went right to work with a literal relish.  They ate and chomped their way through all of that plant life and cleaned up the area.  The school felt it was an environmentally safe choice as the goats could clear 3-5 lbs. of vegetation a day and leave behind natural fertilizer.   The school was happy that the land was cleaned up. The owners of the herd were happy as they received a payment.  The goats were obviously happy as they had  full tummies!  The school decided to keep Munchers on Hooves around for some more land clean up projects until the start of the new school year.

What should have been a nice story, even an educational story, has now ended in a grievance filed by AFSCME against the school.  American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union’s  local affiliate in Kalamazoo, when they  found out about the herd of goats,  filed a grievance stating that the goats took jobs away from  human workers.  A spokeswoman for Western Michigan’s, who couldn’t speak directly about the goat herd issue did reassure the public by stating that no workers at Western Michigan were laid off while the goats were munching away!  One of the owners of Munchers on Hooves  added that the 15 acres the goats cleared was very thick with vegetation and that the goats can clear up to 5 feet above the ground, so whatever they couldn’t get at, human workers would now be able to go in and clear out the rest with more ease.

An example of the land clearing expertise a herd of goats have.

I began to think more about the goat herd hired to do this job. The goats probably went right to their task at hand.  They didn’t need to stop for cigarette or coffee breaks, they probably kept right on munching rain or shine. The goats did emit methane but no other pollutants as machinery would in clearing vegetation off of a 15 acre area of land.   If one of the goats got injured, it didn’t need to file for any workers comp.  The only down-side to letting a herd of goats clean up this land was perhaps if one of the goats was onery and decided to chase a human who might be walking through their work area.

This lawsuit is silly, in my opinion, and I am hoping that the judge throws it out; he or she should let the goats have  the paper it’s written on!

 

 

Information for this blog post: Kalamazoo Gazette, http://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo July 11, 2017. Devereaux, Brad.

5 Stars Blogathon: Celebrating National Classic Movie Day!

Rick, the wonderful host at Classic Film and TV Cafe, invited me to participate in this year’s Five Stars Blogathon. Classic movie fans who write blogs, were asked to contribute a piece in honor of National Classic Movie Day, which is today.   A difficult task, we bloggers were asked to  list  5 favorite classic film actors and/or actresses.  A difficult task as there are so many classic film stars to choose from.  I thought about my list for several weeks, and decided to foucs on actors/actresses who always gave good performances no matter the plot.  What follows are my fave 5, and the teacher in me put them  in alphabetical order!

Irene Dunne     

I appreciate Dunne’s talents, on the big screen.  She could sing-a lovely soprano voice-and she could play dramatic as well as comedic parts.  With her beautiful face, she could emote with the best of them, bringing  tears to one’s eyes in heart-tugging dramas like Backstreet, Love Affair, Penny Serenade, and I Remember Mama.  She brings the fun, and looked as if she enjoyed herself immensely,  in two delightful romance comedies, My Favorite Wife and The Awful Truth. She was a riot as the ditzy wife in Life With Father.  Dunne was  nominated 5 times for Best Actress Oscars and never won, but  she did receive a Kennedy Centers Honor tribute in 1985.

Sleepless in Seattle, makes references to An Affair to Remember, but Love Affair is the original film that AATR remade. Dunne costars with Charles Boyer.

Drama, romance, tearjerker! Have kleenaxes ready when you watch this one!! Dunne costars with Cary Grant.

Dunne surrounded by the cast of I Remember Mama, based upon a book of the same name, a Norwegian immigrant family’s life in turn of the century San Francisco.

Joel McCrea:    

I remember when I was 12 or 13  my grandma mentioned to me that one of her favorite actors was Joel McCrea.  At that time, I didn’t know who he was.  Jumping to my college days, when I began to watch classic movies in earnest, I did find out who Joel McCrea was and I could see why he was one of my grandma’s favorites.  Tall, handsome, an All-American type, McCrea grew up in Southern CA and his career in films took off in the 1930s and 40s.  McCrea was often cast as the hero, in action films or romance comedies.  In the late 1940s and for the rest of his acting career, McCrea turned to Westerns, where he also excelled.  Some McCrea films to not miss: The Most Dangerous Game, Foreign Correspondent, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The More the Merrier, The Virginian, Colorado Territory, Stars in my Crown, and Ride the High Country, which paired him with another Westerns hero, Randolph Scott, in their senior years.   

Foreign Correspondent, an excellent Alfred Hitchcock film, with McCrea, Lorraine Day, and George Sanders(Sher Khan in Disney’s Jungle Book, that’s how he’s known to my kids.)

Wacky and funny romance comedy from writer/director Preston Sturgis, Playing McCrea’s wife is Claudette Colbert.

 

Ray Milland:    

Born and raised in Wales, Ray Milland came to Hollywood in the late 1920s, and became a leading actor in the mid 1930s onward.  He was cast as the romantic leading man in many romance comedies, and he could also portray a villain very well on the big screen.  He won the Best Actor Oscar in 1945 for his harrowing portrayal of an alcoholic in The Lost Weekend.   Nearing his late 50s, he took a few turns as director, and had some infamous roles in his 60s and 70s.  Tall, dark, handsome, with that lilting accent-which he could hide quite well-he is one classic film actor I never tire watching.  Milland movies to tune in to: Three Smart Girls, Easy Living,  Beau Geste, Irene, The Doctor Takes a Wife, Skylark, Reap the Wild Wind, The Major and the Minor, The Uninvited, Ministry of Fear, The Lost Weekend, So Evil My Love, The Big Clock, Alias Nick Beal, It Happens Every Spring, A Woman of Distinction, Rhubarb, Close to my Heart, Dial M for Murder, Panic in the Year Zero!, The Man with X-Ray Eyes, Daughter of the Mind, Love Story, Frogs, Escape to Witch Mountain.

Wonderful romance comedy, The Major and The Minor, starring Milland and Ginger Rogers, written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, and Wilder also directed.

Milland in his Oscar winning role as alcoholic Don Birnum in The Lost Weekend.

 

Claude Rains:   

Known more for being a character actor and an excellent one at that, Rains began his acting career on the stages of England before crossing the pond to Broadway and then Hollywood.  With a distinctive voice, eyes that could stare down a towering bully, Rains portrayed some memorable characters on film: The Invisible Man, brooding drug addict Jasper in The Mystery of Edwin Drood,  throne usurper Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood, an absent-minded music professor in Four Daughters,  nemesis Senator Paine to political neophyte James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,  literal angelic Mr. Jordan in Here Comes Mr. Jordan, brave  Sir John Talbot in The Wolfman, creepy Dr. Tower in Kings Row, the understanding and helpful psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith in Now, Voyager,  rascally Captain Renault in Casablanca,  long-suffering Job Skeffington in Mr. Skeffington, Caesar in a British film, Caesar and Cleopatra, wimpy Nazi Spy Alexander Sebastian in Notorious.  All of the above roles, Rains excelled in, whether he was playing a good person or an evil person or  sometimes a conflicted person.  He brought sincerity to all of his roles, making his characters come to life.

Rains’s first American movie role, as The Invisible Man, costarring with Gloria Stewart. Directed by James Whale.

Rains, center, fawning over himself as Prince John in Robin Hood, MGM’s technicolor extravaganza and the best film version,  imho, of the legendary hero robbing the rich to give to the poor.  Costars include Errol Flynn, Olivia DeHaviland, Basil Rathbone.

Rains as Captain Renault with Humphrey Bogart  in Casablanca. Considered by some to be the best film ever made.

Jane Wyman:   

An actress who hit her stride in the 1940s and 50s, and starred on CBS’s night time soaper Falcon Crest in the 1980s, Wyman was a lovely actress who could play in dramas and comedies equally well.  She won the Best Actress Oscar in 1949 for the film Johnny Belinda, for her portrayal of a deaf girl, who is raped, impregnated, and keeps the baby.  She was also nominated 3 more times for Best Actress, but didn’t win: 1947″s The Yearling,  1952’s The Blue Veil, a touching film about a nanny, and 1955’s Magnificent Obsession.  Some other films of Wyman’s not to miss: Brother Rat, Larceny, Inc., The Doughgirls, The Lost Weekend, The Yearling, Johnny Belinda, Stage Fright,Here Comes the Groom, The Blue Veil, So Big, Magnificent Obsession, All That Heaven Allows, Miracle in the Rain.

Larceny, Inc.– Hilarious comedy about  ex con Edward G. Robinson, trying to go legitimate with a business, and getting pulled back into crime, not wanting  his niece, Jane Wyman, to know.

Douglas Sirk, German film director, became known for his technicolor melodrama films made in the 1950s.  Magnificent Obsession was one such hit for him and his lead stars, Rock Hudson and Wyman.

 

 

 

There you have it! My Fab 5 of classic film stars.  Turner Classic Movies cable channel often shows many of the films I listed and if you don’t have that channel, you probably can find them via Amazon instant rent, or shop around for the dvds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Villain Blogathon 2017


I succeeded in getting one of my twin daughters to watch a classic film with me, Now Voyager.  I had filled her in as to what some of the plot was about.  I didn’t reveal much of the film’s love story, but I certainly did tell my daughter, “Just wait until you meet the mother in this movie! With a mom like this, who’d need enemies!!!”  My daughter did like the film, and agreed that the mother was awful.  That is why the villainess I am focusing on for The Great Villain Blogathon 2017 is Mrs. Henry Vale, deliciously played by British character actress, Gladys Cooper. 

Cooper, in her  native England, was a child actress on the stage, a model noted for her beauty. As  an adult, she continued as a  stage actress, and eventually made it into the movies, often playing rich women who were extremely cranky about something that their children were doing, or cranky at the adults around her not doing her bidding because, after all, she’s the richest woman in town;that’s her character’s m.o. in another great film, The Bishop’s Wife, but she doesn’t stay villainous in that film.

Gladys Cooper in her modeling days in England.

In Now Voyager, we only know a bit about her character.  She is Helen Vale, 70-something(80, perhaps?) matriarch of the Vales of Boston, living in a fab house on Beacon Hill.  She has 3 adult sons, all married and prosperous in their own careers, and they dote on her.  Then there is a daughter, Charlotte, her youngest child and a “surprise” baby, or as my mom would say, a “change of life” baby.  Charlotte is at least 15 years younger than her brothers and was a baby when her  father died.  This death of her husband has turned Helen bitter.  She is bitter that her husband is gone, and it’s as if she had decided that Charlotte’s only purpose in life was to be her constant companion.  We  see a flashback of a 20-something Charlotte(wonderfully played by Bette Davis) on a cruise ship falling in love with a young officer, who stands up to Helen and declares he is going to marry Charlotte.  We see Helen severly scolding Charlotte for being caught making out with the officer and Charlotte trying to act as if she doesn’t care that she was caught.   The film then jumps to present day, and Charlotte, now in her thirties and still living at home with Helen.  Charlotte is very plain, wears old-fashioned dresses, sensible shoes, glasses, no make-up, and a dull, dowdy hairdo.  Helen approves of Charlotte’s looks.  Charlotte tries to rebel by secretly smoking!

Poor, plain Charlotte!

One of Helen’s daughter in law’s, Lisa,(Ilka Chase) knows that Charlotte could be facing a nervous breakdown and that something must be done to help her.  Lisa has a friend, a psychiatrist, Dr. Jaquith(Wonderful Claude Rains) who agrees to come to the Vale home to meet Charlotte and give her an evaluation, to see if she should come to his sanitarium in Vermont for a rest and for help.  Lisa is honest with Helen, and tells her why Dr. Jaquith has come, and all Helen can care about is the fact that no Vale has EVER needed to seek out mental help! That one should feel shame for seeking out such help!

Fortunately, Charlotte has a nervous breakdown in front of her mother, sister-in-law Lisa, Dr. Jaquith, and her niece, June(Bonita Granville).  It is a fortunate event because it forces Charlotte to admit she needs help, and she goes to Dr. Jaquith’s sanitarium for that help, despite her nasty mother’s unending grumblings!

I won’t give away anymore of the plot, but in her way, Charlotte is able to kick Helen’s will to the curb and develop her own! Yeah, Charlotte!

Gladys Cooper is so good at playing this horrid mother.  She is wrapped up in her own self, her own will as to how her family should function, and anyone who defies her had better be ready to run for the hills!  We don’t learn much about her husband, other than he was from the honorable Bostonian family, the Vales.  He was obviously wise at money-management as Helen and their daughter, Charlotte,  don’t want for anything materially.  Helen’s sons, we only see in the movie once,  are very polite to their mother and seem to fear her.  Lisa seems to be the only in-law who knows how to deal with Helen without a hint of fear; granddaughter June, Lisa’s daughter, also seems to have no fear of her grandmother.  The key to Helen is when she recites to Dr. Jaquith how put upon she has been with Charlotte being born to her later in life, her husband dying when Charlotte was a baby, and one expects her to lash out at the doctor that Charlotte has a life of ease, that it is “Me, me, me!” who should be pitied!  Dr. Jaquith disdainfully lets Helen know that she is entirely at fault for turning her daughter into a scared frump of a woman! Go, Dr. Jaquith, go!!

The imperious Helen Vale, giving an unwanted opinion, no doubt!

To only give a bit of the plot away in order to showcase Helen at her most manipulative, Charlotte has indeed gotten a lot better under Dr. Jaquith’s care and with his help and Lisa’s, Charlotte departs the sanitarium to try her new life via a lovely cruise  vacation.  Charlotte returns  to Boston with a new look: new hairdo, makeup, clothes, gorgeous shoes, jewelry, perfumes….and Helen is not happy!  She is so shocked and horrified by this  new and improved Charlotte that she demands Charlotte put on one of her former dowdy dresses for the family dinner  being held to welcome Charlotte home.  Charlotte starts to quaver, then resolutely tells Helen, “No” and off she goes downstairs in a lovely gown to oversee the dinner preparations. Helen is incensed! She goes to the head of the stairs and throws herself down them in order to give herself an injury to draw the family’s attention to her!!!  Her plan doesn’t work, as she’s put to bed, seen by the doctor, and is sedated by the nurse’s hot toddies with the secret ingredient of rum.  It’s funny seeing Helen ranting about the lack of concern for her as she could hear the family’s laughter from downstairs and then she starts to mumble as the toddies take their affect!  Mary Wickes had a  fun role as the in home nurse the family has hired to care for Helen.

Our first glimpse of the new and improved Charlotte, no more sensible shoes!!!

A transformed Charlotte!

Charlotte politely refusing to change her dress for the family dinner.

For a great study in an evil mom character, check out Gladys Cooper as Mrs. Helen Vale in Now, Voyager, and don’t ever ask her for any fashion advice!!!!   Here is a great clip from the film, courtesy of TCM.  Now, Voyager will also be shown by TCM this weekend, April 28th at 4:15 a.m. Eastern time/3:15 a.m. Central time.

This post has been for The Great Villain Blogathon 2017, hosted by 3 wonderful classic movie bloggers: Kristina at Speakeasy, Karen of Shadows & Satin, and Ruth of Silver Screenings.  Please visit their blogs to read other great posts about movie villains!

 

 

 

3rd Annual Favorite TV Show Episode Blogathon: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Shroud of Thoughts, a great blogger who I enjoy reading, announced weeks ago that he was hosting his annual blogathon, where classic film and tv fans could write about a favorite tv show’s episode.  Please be sure to visit his site to read all of the other great posts this weekend that dedicated and talented bloggers will be posting! Here’s the link, Shroud of Thoughts.

Two years ago  our cable tv provider began airing a new channel, ME-TV.  I love this channel as I can watch episodes of many classic tv shows.  Plus, it’s fun to spot an actor or actress when they were just getting their careers underway!  One of the tv shows I’ve been enjoying appeared on ABC, from 1964-1968, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.   This tv show came from movie and tv show creator Irwin Allen, the “king” of disaster films, which were all the rage when I was a child.  Firstly, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was a popular movie that Allen directed in 1961.   The film did well at the box office and Allen decided to bring a variation of the film to tv.  I wasn’t born until 1965, so much of the tv show was unfamiliar to me until last year, when I noticed it on ME-TV’s schedule, and I began to tivo the series.  It is an enjoyable show, a wild ride at times with zany plots, but the acting pulls the crazy all together for a compelling show.     

For those unfamiliar with VTTBOTS, the action mainly involved the crew of the Seaview, a nuclear submarine, designed and built by Admiral Harriman Nelson. The show is set in the future, the 1970s.  The Seaview’s home port was Santa Barbara, CA.  Admiral Nelson and his crew had two goals:  to explore the oceans and seas of the world, and to keep the world safe.  The show’s first season was in black and white, while seasons 2-4 were in color.  I also noticed that in the first season, the crew dealt with cold war intrigue, spies, evil dictators, etc.  However, by seasons 2 through 4, the intrepid Seaview and her crew were usually battling monsters, aliens, ghosts, and other crazy manifestations.

Admiral Nelson(Basehart), Captain Crane(Hedison), and their main crew around them.

The two main actors on the show, Richard Basehart as Admiral Nelson and David Hedison as Captain Crane, made their characters believable and riveting to watch.  I always catch myself thinking as I tune in to episodes I’ve recorded, “How are they going to get out of this mess?”  Basehart, with his unique, deep voice, brought a gravitas, if you will, to the show.  Hedison, younger and I am sure partly cast for his good looks, brought smarts and athleticism to his role.  The episode I would say is  my favorite is #7, from Season 2, and it’s entitled, “The Phantom Strikes.”

The Seaview crew is in the process of mapping the North Atlantic ocean floor when they  find a sunken German U-Boat, from WWI. The U-Boat mysteriously begins to rise in the water, and then disappears! A bit later, the Seaview finds a man in distress, lying amid the wreckage of some vessel, and they take him aboard.  He says he is Captain Gerhardt Krueger, of the S.S. Edelweiss, out of Hamburg, Germany.  He tells the crew that his ship was sunk by a U-Boat during WWI.  Krueger is definitely odd, mysterious, and imperious.  Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane don’t trust him so Crane orders Krueger be taken to a cabin and orders Kowalski(one of several trusted crewmen featured each week), to guard the cabin.  It turns out Nelson and Crane’s uneasy feelings about Krueger aren’t unwarrented, as Krueger, we soon learn, is a ghost! He is able to disappear from his cabin undetected and turns up in the Seaview’s passages, Nelson’s cabin, and somehow, the Seaview’s course has been changed but not by any crew member.  Captain Crane orders Krueger to be put in the brig, but he still keeps disappearing and once again, he enters Nelson’s cabin, telling Admiral Nelson about his evil plan:Admiral Nelson will kill Captain Crane so Krueger can enter into Crane’s body and live again!!!  If Admiral Nelson won’t do Krueger’s bidding by the time the Seaview reaches the 16th parallel, then Krueger will destroy the Seaview!

Great character actor Alfred Ryder as evil Capt. Krueger

As I said earlier in my post, VTTBOTS had some crazy plots, this being one of them.  However, the acting by Basehart, Hedison, and guest star Alfred Ryder as Krueger, made for one compelling episode.  Also,in this particular episode, director Sutton Roley employed more special effects than normally used which added to the “wow” factor.  This particular episode did so well in the show’s ratings, that ABC asked Irwin Allen for  a sequel episode, bringing back Ryder as Krueger, back with another evil plan to help him live again as a human.

If you don’t have access to ME-TV, the show has been put into a dvd format, and it is available to view at Amazon via their immediate rent program.  You can also visit the show’s imdb site and see how many times it was nominated for Emmy awards and what awards it won.

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon: Best Songs Category

I was curious about the Oscar category, Best Song.  When did it begin? Were all of the winners of this category associated with great winning movies or were some attached to non-winning films? Was there a songwriting team that won this category more than others?  Why was this category begun?

The very first Academy Awards was held on May 16, 1929, and there was no category for Best Song.  Warner Brothers did receive an “honorary award” for making The Jazz Singer, the first motion picture with dialogue spoken by the actors that audiences could hear; silent films would thus be on their way out.

Moving forward in cinematic history the year 1934 brought the Best Song category to the Academy Awards.  The reason this category was added was to emphasize, or rather put a spotlight on, a film’s music. This focus would show the public and the critics the importance music was in the making of a film.   Rules were created for this award: the award was to be presented to the songwriter(s) and not to the song’s performer, unless the performer happened to also be a part of the team of musicians and lyricists that wrote the song.  Nominations had to be made by Academy members who were songwriters and composers.  1934’s first ever Best Song winner was “The Continental” from the film The Gay Divorcee, a wonderful Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film.  Music was by Con Conrad and lyrics by Herb Magidson.  Here is a link to a great clip of Astaire and Rogers dancing to the winning song.   Other notable winners for Best Song in the 1930s: “Thanks for the Memory” from 1938’s The Big Broadcast of  1938  and “Over the Rainbow” from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz.   

ginger-and-fred-dancing-to-the-continental

The 1940s arrived and a bit of Best Song controversy erupted during the 1941 Academy Awards.  American composer Jerome Kern was upset because a song he had written in 1940 with Oscar Hammerstein II,  “The Last Time I Saw Paris” won the award.  Kern was upset because he had written that song and it had been recorded before the film it was put in, Lady Be Good had even been made.  To prevent this from ever happening again, Kern got the Academy to create another rule:  only songs which are original and written specifically for a movie are eligible to win.  Of course, this new rule would now impact whenever any stage musicals were turned into movies.  None of the well-known tunes from a hit musical could be nominated so that’s the reason as to why when a hit stage musical becomes a movie, there is a new song to go with the movie version, in the hopes that the new song will be nominated in the Best Song category.  A lot of popular songs were in the crop of 1940s winners: “When You Wish Upon a Star” -1940, Pinnochio, “White Christmas”-1942 Holiday Inn, “Swinging on a Star”-1944 Going My Way, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, -1949’s Neptune’s Daughter.   Here’s a link to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and the original singers of that hit song, Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban, Red Skelton and Betty Garrett.

Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban singing in Neptune's Daughter

Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban singing in Neptune’s Daughter

pinnochio

The 1950s, no controversies with the Best Song category and here are some of that decades notable winners: “Mona Lisa”-1950 Captain Carey, U.S.A.. “The Ballad of High Noon”-1952 High Noon, “Secret Love”-1953 Calamity Jane, “Three Coins in the Fountain” 1954 Three Coins in the Fountain, “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” -1955 Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, and “Que Sera, Sera(Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”-1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Here is a link of Doris Day singing “Secret Love”.

three-coins-in-the-fountain

Jennifer Jones and William Holden, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing

Jennifer Jones and William Holden, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing

 

Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, High Noon

Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, High Noon

 

 

1960’s -there were two songs that stood out to me in this grouping of winners. First was “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”-1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid because according to my mom, my 5 year-old self loved this song! I really can’t recall saying that, but I guess I must have.  The second song was Andy William’s version of “Born Free”, -1966 Born Free.  I was only a 1 year old when that song came out, but I did see the film when it aired on one of the big networks when I was older and that song stayed with me after I saw the film.  Of course, I can’t ignore “Chim Chim Cher-ee” -1964 Mary Poppins, which was a hit before I was born and was a favorite film of the nieces to view at my in-laws home over family get-togethers.

Born Free, Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers

Born Free, Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers

I won’t continue on with this look at Best Songs because in my opinion, films from the 1970s and forward aren’t exactly classics, in my mind.   If you are curious to discover the Best Song winners from the 1970s onward, then you may do so, on your own!  However, I will answer my last question that I had, and who has won the most Best Song Oscars?  It is a 4-way tie! Sammy Cahn, Alan Menken, Johnny Mercer, and Jimmy Van Heusen.

This post has been for the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by three wonderful classic film fans: Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club, and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen.  Please visit their sites to read all about the Oscars, with great posts written by other classic movie fans!

 

“So I walked into an Aldi….”

Tuesday morning arrived and I told my husband that if a phone call didn’t occur, asking me  to substitute teach, I was going to go to Aldi  and get the groceries purchased for the week.  No phone call came, so off I went to the store, with my list made out and in one hand, and my quarter in the other, so I could retrieve a grocery cart from the outside cart corral.

It was an uneventful trip around the aisles as I made my shopping choices and placed items in the cart.  Mornings are usually a good time to shop at Aldi as it’s not too crowded yet.  If you are unfamiliar with what an Aldi store is, know that they are a wonderful, yet no frills grocery store that saves my family’s budget  a sizable amount of money  each year. ( Here is a fun article to read that explains what an Aldi store is like, how they’re linked  with Trader Joe’s, and why they sell groceries for such a lower price.)

I took my purchases to the check out area and got in line behind an elderly lady who was working fast to put her items on the conveyor belt.  The only other check out lane was occupied by a customer with a cart loaded with a lot of groceries, so folks who didn’t have as much as that customer were lining up behind me.  Suddenly I heard a loud voice bark angrily at the cashier who’s line I was in.  “That is NOT the price on this item! There was a red sign saying that these were on sale!!”  The angry voice belonged to a tall, elderly man.  By his speech pattern I could tell he was an educated person, probably a retired professor, was my immediate thought!  (We have a university in our town.) He was angry that the computer kept ringing up the item at a much higher price.  The cashier, who amazingly remained very calm and patient with this rude customer got on her walkie-talkie and asked for a price check.  A lady from the manager’s office popped her head out and when asked by the cashier about the item’s price, was told that the computer was correct.  Then she went right back into the office.  This only incensed the customer more and he barked an order to the cashier to follow him to the area where he found the item so he could show her the sale price.  At this point the man behind me sighed, and got into a new line that had just opened in a 3rd checking out lane.  Soon the cashier returned and told the man that the item was on sale and she rang up the item according to the new price.  The man didn’t say thank you at all and handed the next item on the conveyor to the cashier.  When she scanned it, you guessed it.  The computer  was not showing the right price and once again the elderly man barked out, “WRONG!”, and told the cashier to follow him to another area of the store to check that item’s price!  As the cashier walked off she made eye contact with me and mouthed out the words, “I am so sorry!” I smiled wanly at her and told her it wasn’t her fault.  Then I joined the man who had been behind me and got into that third line.  That man shook his head at me and said, “Some people!”  I agreed and said   that someone was a grouch today!  I soon realized that the little old lady who had scurried and hurriedly put all of her items on the conveyor belt was the wife of that grouchy old man!  ” That poor lady!”, I thought to myself.    grumpy-old-man-puppet

As I left the store and drove home, I thought about the entire incident.  The cashier should have been commended for remaining so quiet and calm in dealing with such an irate customer.  I was critical of the lady in the store’s office.  I think she should’ve come all the way to that cashier’s station and done the price checks and dealt with this grouchy old man.  Instead of helping his wife put the groceries on the conveyor, he decided to stand there and loudly complain about prices on two products, and then demanded the cashier go with him on his price check journeys.

I wondered if in his past career(s) he was used to being in charge of people? Was he a bigshot at the work site? He certainly carried himself in such a way that it was pretty evident he felt that he was a  very superior person to the cashier.  Was he not feeling well this day? I wondered that too, as sometimes when one is not feeling one’s best, it’s easy to become cranky with the public.

From my observations,  I wondered as to how I treat the people I meet each day? Do I treat them with respect and patience and kindness like the cashier did, even under the stressful environment of shoppers waiting to check out, and a customer angrily barking orders at her?  What if she’d had said no, telling the man that the computer price is right, what would he have done then?  Marched off to the manager’s office himself and banged on the door?  Stated he wouldn’t leave that check-out lane until he was a satisfied customer?

I hope that I can be calm and focused and kind like the cashier, in any and all circumstances.   She really was an inspiration to witness, a true picture of grace under pressure.  I hope that when I shop, or eat in a restaurant, I treat the employees with respect and not condescension.  I did tell my husband today that if I ever turn into a cranky senior citizen when out shopping, he has permission to haul me out of that store and pronto!

 

Article about Aldi, from Slate by Rebecca Schuman.  December 2, 2013.

My Classic Movie Pick: 1948’s The Woman in White

Wilkie Collins, English novelist and some say the creator of the first modern detective novel, wrote an absorbing story, The Woman in White, in 1859.  Warner Brothers decided to made a film version of Collin’s novel in 1948.  Turner Classic Movies aired it this past week, so I tuned in and was not disappointed with this tale of mystery, romance, and murder! Beautiful ladies in distress, a handsome hero trying to unravel the strange goings on, and a trio of baddies.  Let’s dive in to this atmospheric and eerie film!

the-woman-in-white

 

Walter Hartright(Gig Young) has been hired to be the art tutor for heiress Laura Fairlie(Eleanor Parker).  He arrives in the English town of Limmeridge, late at night.  Since it’s a full moon and he learns the walk to the Fairlie estate is only 30 minutes from where the stagecoach has deposited him, he decides to walk to the estate.  On the way, a young woman dressed in a white dress and a white cape, startles him as she emerges from some nearby shrubbery.  She is Ann Catherick(Eleanor Parker, in a dual role) a very pretty woman with her long hair loose around her shoulders, but she also appears to be quite troubled.  Hartright, being a gentleman, asks how he can help her.  Ann replies that he is to tell no one that he saw her, and when a carriage begins to approach, she shudders and runs away.  In the carriage is  Count Fosco(Sydney Greenstreet) and Dr. Nevin(Matthew Boulton) who asks Hartright if he’s seen a young woman roaming about, that she’s escaped from the nearby asylum!!  Hartright remembers Ann’s request and he tells the two men that he hasn’t seen anyone.  Within these first 5 minutes of the movie, we have met the hero, Hartright, one of the ladies in distress, Ann,  and one of the main baddies, Count Fosco.

Ann Catherick, The Woman in White, meeting Hartright,

Ann Catherick, The Woman in White, meeting Hartright,

Hartright makes it to the Fairlie estate, and is greeted by Laura Fairlie’s first cousin, Marian(Alexis Smith) who warmly explains the household to him: various butlers, Laura’s retired nurse Mrs. Vesey(Emma Dunn),and Frederic Fairlie(John Abbott) the incredibly nervous, annoying invalid of an uncle to Marian and Laura.  Uncle Frederic goes on and on about how loud sounds upset his nerves; his lines reminded me of Vincent Price’s lines from Roger Corman’s The Fall of the House of Usher.   The next morning, Hartright sees Ann from the night before but he is greatly mistaken for this young woman is not Ann but is Laura Fairlie, his new student.   Laura has a bit of fun telling all at the breakfast table of Hartright’s encounter with the woman in white.  This immediately causes Count Fosco’s eyebrows to shoot up.  Why does he seem so startled and a bit irritated that Hartright had met this woman in white?  Why does this woman in white, Ann, look so similar to Laura?  We begin to wonder at these events as the movie continues.

Laura, Hartright, and Marian listen to Mrs. Vesey as she recalls Ann Catherick

Laura, Hartright, and Marian listen to Mrs. Vesey as she recalls Ann Catherick

Love begins to bloom and blossom between Laura and Hartright, and we can also tell that Marian is in love with Hartright  but she’s trying to fight that emotion.  One afternoon during an art lesson outdoors, Laura becomes upset with her efforts at painting and runs away from Hartright, crying.  Marian is able to pull Hartright aside and give him the news that Laura hadn’t and should have, that Laura is engaged to marry Sir Percival Glyde(John Emery) and that Sir Glyde is due at the estate that very day!  Hartright decides to do the honorable thing and pack up and leave the estate.  He doesn’t know that  Count Fosco was spying on he and Laura during a passionate kiss.  Hartright also doesn’t know that a letter that gives information about another little girl who used to live at the estate and play with Laura, an Ann Catherick, was stolen by the Count.   Ann, all grown up, who has been forcibly placed in the asylum by Count Fosco, as part of his evil plan to have Sir Glyde marry Laura, then have Laura slowly poisoned, so Glyde will receive the inheritance, and he’ll split it with Count Fosco!  Ann knows of this evil plan, and keeps escaping from the asylum  to try to get to Laura to warn her!

Laura shares her fears about Fosco and Sir Glyde with Marian

Laura shares her fears about Fosco and Sir Glyde with Marian

Evil Count Fosco

Evil Count Fosco

Will Laura marry Sir Glyde? How does Count Fosco have the legal power to force Ann into an asylum?  Will Hartright come back to the estate to stop the wedding?  Will Count Fosco and Sir Glyde’s plan be foiled?  What will happen to Marian and her love for Hartright? It sounds like a crazy plot but by the film’s end, all questions will be answered.   Also,  pay attention to the great Agnes Moorehead as Count Fosco’s long-suffering wife. She enters into the movie at the halfway point, but her character is a key that will unlock the shenanigans that belong to Count Fosco and Sir Glyde.  For an intriguing story acted by a great cast, seek out 1948’s The Woman in White.

Agness Moorhead as Countess Fosco

Agness Moorhead as Countess Fosco

The mystery is starting to be solved

The mystery is starting to be solved