Archive for November, 2013

My Classic Movie Pick: Tell it to the Marines, For The Chaney Blogathon

My movie pick this week is an oldie, a silent film, but definitely a goodie.  1926’s Tell it to the Marines, stars Lon Chaney, in a role where he looks like himself, not playing a role with transforming make-up to hide his real face.    This post is for The Chaney Blogathon, hosted by Movies, Silently, and The Last Drive-In.    Be sure to visit these two blogs  to read other  great posts about actor Lon Chaney and his son, Lon Chaney Jr.  The Chaney Blogathon When our oldest enlisted with the USMC in 2010, I found myself  reading  all about the Marine Corps, any materials  that I could get my hands on.  I even bought a cd of Marine Corps music when I was at the Marine Corps Recruit  Depot in San Diego, when my son graduated from his boot camp.  I also began watching classic movies that featured Marines in the plot.  According to Thomas Rick’s excellent book, Making the Corps, the United States Marine Corps  had an uncanny ability to promote themselves with  the cooperation of Hollywood.  I believe that there are more movies about Marines and the USMC then the other military branches. After devouring Rick’s book, and another great one by Frank Schaeffer, Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story about Love and the United States  Marine Corps, I found that Turner Classic Movies would be airing their silent film, Tell it to the Marines, late on a Sunday night.  I tivoed it, watched it, and thoroughly enjoyed it.    Tell it to the Marines Poster 1

William Haines  plays Skeet Burns, a young man who decides to join the Marines to get a free train trip to San Diego, CA.  When the train arrives in San Diego, Skeet hops off of it and gets on a train bound for Tijuana, Mexico to go and see the horse races.  Sergeant O’Hara(Lon Chaney) arrives at the train station to collect the new recruits and he is irritated that one Skeet Burns isn’t present, as his name is on the list.  Days go by and Skeet arrives back in San Diego, hungry and out of money, so he reluctantly goes to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and is placed in Sergeant O’Hara’s capable hands for boot camp.

Greeting the previously awol Skeet

Greeting the previously awol Skeet

As Skeet learns the ropes of boot camp, we see him flirting with a Navy nurse(Eleanor Boardman) much to the dismay of Sergeant O’Hara.  We learn that he has feelings for Nurse Dale but because he has kept quiet as to how he feels about her, he might lose her to Skeet, an upstart who is full of himself.   Here’s a clip illustrating Skeet visiting Nurse Dale’s examination room claiming that he is sick, his attempts to flirt with her, and the Sergeant coming in to get him out of there.

Sgt. O'Hara talking with Nurse Dale

Sgt. O’Hara talking with Nurse Dale

Nurse Dale

Nurse Dale

As weeks go on, Skeet becomes a passable Marine, and Nurse Dale is smitten with him.  She asks Sergeant O’Hara if Skeet can be included in a Naval Training  exercise and reluctantly O’Hara allows Skeet to be a part of it.  Skeet, goofing off on the ship, angers a sailor and agrees to box with him not knowing that the sailor is the  Navy Heavyweight Champion!

Sgt. O'Hara scolding Skeet

Sgt. O’Hara scolding Skeet

About to say, "Drop and give me 20!"

About to say, “Drop and give me 20!”

Skeet becoming more of a Marine

Skeet becoming more of a Marine

Skeet in the ring

Skeet in the ring

Next up, the Marines are sent to the island of Tondo and a naval installation that is there.   The days are boring but there are island girls, especially one gal called Zaya(Carmel Myers) and she catches Skeet’s eye.  Before he  gets too serious with Zaya, Skeet breaks it off with her, which angers her and causes a fight between the islanders and the military men.   O’Hara has to rescue Skeet.  Rumors about Skeet and  Zaya get back to Nurse Dale and she breaks up with Skeet.

The Asiatic Squadron soon asks for our intrepid Marines, and coincidentally Nurse Dale is there, in China, working with a group of Navy nurses.  Will this being in close proximity of one another cause Skeet and Nurse Dale to patch things up?  Will Sergeant O’Hara make his feelings known to Nurse Dale?  An evil band of thugs is on the prowl and also have their eyes on the American nurses and their outpost.  Will the Marines rescue the nurses and their patients in time?  Will Skeet learn to follow orders and show respect to Sergeant O’Hara?  Will Sergeant O’Hara recognize the strong Marine that Skeet has developed into?

The answers to those questions can only be answered by watching this gem of a silent movie.  The movie has been put on dvd and it is available to purchase through Amazon.com and at  TCM.   The cast does a good job in their specific parts, but Chaney owns this film.  He does a great job portraying a stern, tough as nails, Marine sergeant, who has a secret, soft heart.  There is a touching scene where Sgt. O’Hara is all alone in his tent, looking over memorabilia he has collected through the years of his duty, and we can tell he is torn between telling Nurse Dale how much he loves her, but that would also  mean giving up the main life he knows, that of being a Unites States Marine.  With his well-worn face and expressive eyes, he conveys his emotions perfectly in every scene he is in.

Part of this film was filmed at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and the shots of the place reminded me of my brief time there.  I don’t think the Depot has changed in its appearance that much from 1926!  The USMC were so pleased with Chaney’s performance of a Marine Sergeant that he was made an honorary Marine after the film was released.  It did great at the box office and I am sure that the Marine Corps hoped it would boost their  enlistment numbers.  I’ll close out my post with a few more shots from Tell it to the Marines.

Sgt. O'Hara quietly reflecting on his life in the Corps

Sgt. O’Hara quietly reflecting on his life in the Corps

Chaney singing for the crew during a break in filming

Chaney singing for the crew during a break in filming

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Operation Christmas Child: A Wonderful Way to Welcome in the Christmas Season!

This past Saturday, my three youngest kids and I got to participate in Operation Christmas Child.    We arrived at our church at 10 in the morning, grabbed a shoebox that had been wrapped in colorful Christmas  wrapping  paper, and went from station to station, choosing gifts to put in our shoeboxes.  There were bags of hard candy, school supplies, warm hats, socks, slippers, toothbrushes and toothpastes, combs, brushes, washclothes, bars of soap, stuffed animals and small toys.  We chose our gifts based upon who  our intended recipients were going to be; a boy, or a girl, and their ages; 2-4, 5-9, 10-14.  We carefully put our gift choices into the shoeboxes, added a note about who we were, where we were from, and then  had the shoeboxes sealed.  We also prayed over the shoeboxes and for the items to benefit the child who would receive them.   Then we  took the filled boxes downstairs to our church’s sanctuary where tables had been set up to hold the packed  shoeboxes.  Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child, how did it get started?   It began in 1993, as a  part of the larger international missions outreach, Samaritan’s Purse.  You can click on this link to read more about the specifics of the program.  Nationally, Operation Christmas Child runs November 18th-25th.   In Rolla, as I heard the program discussed  on KTTR radio station, Rolla’s  First Baptist Church has extra boxes individuals can pick up and fill.  There is a pamphlet to review what one can include in the boxes for gifts, and there is a minor fee to cover the postage of shipping the boxes overseas.  The church that I attend in Rolla, Greentree Christian, also had extra boxes on Saturday so one could call the church office to inquire about picking up an extra box there.  If one does stop by either church to get a box for filling with gifts, please be sure to bring your boxes back to either church by November 18th so that they can be shipped out on time in order to make it to  their next pick up stop.  Operation Christmas Child 2

Other towns in South Central Missouri that are participating in Operation Christmas Child that were mentioned this am on KTTR  are: Belle, Camdenton, Cuba, Eldon,Licking, Richland, Salem,  Summersville, Rolla, and Waynesville.  Operation Christmas Child 3

Saturday, spending that time with my kids filling shoeboxes, I also had the opportunity to go through thank you  letters from  children who had  received shoeboxes  from our church kids last year.   I got teary eyed as I read those letters, filled with heartfelt thank yous and God Bless Yous, thanking the givers for the boxes of gifts.  One of the ladies on KTTR shared that she had the opportunity to help deliver boxes last year in an African village and that one of the girls was so happy to find in her shoebox socks.   This girl  had been scolded for not wearing  socks to school, an item she didn’t have.   She shared with the group of Americans that had delivered the shoeboxes to her village  that she was so happy to finally have socks that she could now wear them to school and wouldn’t be scolded anymore!

To truly embrace the Christmas spirit, of giving gifts because of the great gift of love our Saviour gave to us, to let your children and your family participate in a program that provides true help to needy children in another part of the world, Contact Operation Christmas Child soon!

Even Duck Dynasty is getting into Operation Christmas Child this year!

Even Duck Dynasty is getting into Operation Christmas Child this year!

What a Character Blogathon: Eric Blore

Why does a balding, short Englishman always make me chuckle in classic, comedic films?  Eric Blore, an excellent character actor,  usually portrayed kind yet fussy  butlers who  had a way with a smarmy, sarcastic answer that sailed  over the heads of the rude people asking him questions.   The audiences who viewed Blore in the movies were able to  catch his polite barbs, eye rolls,  and the laughs would  ensue.

Eric Blore, in his most common role, as butler.

Eric Blore, in his most common role, as butler.

When I learned of  the What a Character Blogathon being hosted Nov. 9th-11th by three great classic movie bloggers I had to sign up and participate.  Be sure to visit these sites for more great posts about wonderful character actresses and actors: Outspoken and Freckled, Once Upon a Screen,  and Paula’s Cinema Club.  Eric blore What a character

Blore was born in 1887 in England.  At the age of 18, he began a career as an insurance agent, but the acting bug bit when he had the opportunity to tour Australia and joined a theatre troup there.  WWI happened, and Blore enlisted with the Artists Rifles, commissioned to serve with the South Wales Borderers.  After the war was over, he toured England in several shows and musical revues.  In 1923 he sailed for the United States and successfully played character roles on Broadway.  In 1926 he appeared in the silent movie version of The Great Gatsby, which starred Warner Baxter.    His first movie role as the butler was  in the first Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers teaming, 1933’s Flying Down to Rio.   Also in 1933,  Blore was cast as a butler in the Broadway production of The Gay Divorcee and he was asked to reprise that  same role in the movie version, which starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  From that role, Blore went on to appear in over 80 movies.  There were a few dramatic roles, 1937’s The Soldier and The Lady, and 1939’s Island of Lost Men, but on the whole, Blore played his characters in comedic films.  With his expressive face, excellent timing with lines, and his crisp, uppercrust English accent, he was the perfect butler in many comedies.  

Blore getting ready to sneer at some cad or oaf!

Blore getting ready to sneer at some cad or oaf!

After appearing in Flying Down to Rio and The Gay Divorcee, Blore went on to appear in 5 of the 9 Astaire and Rogers movies.  Two of his best apperances were in  Top Hat and Shall We Dance?, sparring verbally and bringing up the laughs with Edward Everett Horton.

Blore in a cast shot from The Gay Divorcee

Blore in a cast shot from The Gay Divorcee

Blore and his foil, Edward Everett Horton

Blore and his foil, Edward Everett Horton

In the 1940s, Blore again appeared as a butler, namely Jamison, the butler for Warren William’s character in the Lone Wolf mystery movies series, which was 11 movies in all.  Famed writer/director Preston Sturges tagged Blore to be in two of his comedic films, Sullivan’s Travels and The Lady Eve, both made in 1941.  In Sullivan’s Travels, Blore is Joel McCrea’s butler, but his role for Sturges’s in The Lady Eve is funny and different.  Blore is a conman, Pearly, working with a father/daughter team of conmen, Charles Coburn and Barbara Stanwyck.  They are teaming to outsmart and get money from Henry Fonda.  Blore pretends to be Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith and he is to try and convince Fonda that Stanwyck is a twin daughter, born from the lady of the manor’s dalliance with a coachman.  It’s a hilarious scene, and Turner Classics will be airing The Lady Eve on November 29th, at 8:00 pm/eastern, 7:00 pm /central.

As McCrea's butler in Sullivan's Travels

As McCrea’s butler in Sullivan’s Travels

With Stanwyck in The Lady Eve

With Stanwyck in The Lady Eve

Nearing his retirement from acting, Blore appeared in the second Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road movie, 1941’s  The Road to Zanzibar.    One more notable stint was in 1949, when Blore did  the voice of Mr. Toad for Walt Disney Studio’s animated classic The Wind in the Willows.  To end my post on Eric Blore, I’ll just share various pictures I found of him on the internet, and please visit his site at IMDB to see his filmography.

Blore near the end of his acting career

Blore near the end of his acting career

Another displeased butler look from Blore

Another displeased butler look from Blore

Blore's alter ego, Mr. Toad

Blore’s alter ego, Mr. Toad

Blore, with hair(!), in a movie scene with Leslie Howard

Blore, with hair(!), in a movie scene with Leslie Howard

Boosting Kids Self-Esteem, Why Has it Grown into Such an Entity?

A couple weeks ago as I was listening to local radio station KTTR,  the top of the hour arrived and that meant a news update from ABC Radio News.  I was surprised at one story, a youth sports league in North Texas,  made an astonishing announcement to its member families…that beginning next season, only teams that win will get trophies.  In other words, no more trophies for all the players on all of the teams, only the winning teams and their members will be awarded trophies.  (  Here is a link about the League’s decision.)  Wow!  I thought to myself.  I wonder how the parents are taking this news?  I also thought, good for the sports league to enact this.  The costs of trophies for one and all must be large, and what meaning does a trophy for participation have compared to a trophy for winning the championship?  Where has American society gone that kids get trophies or certificates for participation?  kids playing football

I decided to try and find out when this great push to boost kids and their self-esteems began.  I googled my question and all I found were unending lists of how to boost  one’s child, teen, or  baby’s self-esteem.  No information appeared that was  critical of the movement, no material  questioning it.  I can only surmise that the rise of parents wanting their kids to have super self-esteems stems from how my generation of parents were raised.  I was born in 1965, grew up in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  My parents were from the baby boomers generation.  This may come off as biased, but I have great parents and they certainly didn’t go out of their way to boost my “self-esteem”.  They taught me right from wrong, raised me to grasp a strong christian faith for my own self, and they taught me how to work, to have a strong work ethic.   I do think some parents the same age as I, and younger parents in today’s America, grew up with parents caught up in pursuing their own happiness at the expense of their families surviving and thriving.  No fault divorce  began in California in 1969 and had skyrocketed by  the 1980s.  Families torn apart by divorce in those decades yielded children that decided that when they were parents, they would  make sure that  their own children would not know such emotional pain,  and hence the almighty efforts in boosting kids’ self-esteems, the mantra of “You can do anything no matter what!”, and possibly the mentality of buying children tons of material goods flowed from this push of boosting self, too.  No Fault Divorce map

Currently, in my 5th grade son’s Language Arts curriculum, he is reading the book,  Farmer Boy.  The book is about the author’s future husband, Almanzo, and a year in his life, from ages 9-10, working with his family on their Mansfield, New York area farm.  In reading this book, my son  has gotten a glimpse of how hard-working this family was.  Sure, there were times for fun such as sledding, going to the town’s 4th of July Celebration and the County Fair, but work and hard work was the order of the day.   From the author’s writing, her future husband’s father was a very successful, and well-to-do farmer.   His wife, the future mother-in-law of the author, was a whirlwind of activity.  There is not much evidence of Almanzo’s parents boosting their 4 kids’ self-esteems, but there is a lot of evidence of these parents teaching their kids  how to work, to do a job right, imparting moral lessons and attending church on a weekly basis,  how to make and preserve foods, how to make cloth and sew  clothes for one’s future family and how to successfully grow crops, harvest them, sell them to buyers from NYC, and how to successfully raise livestock and horses, for sale and for farm work.  Several times in the book, the parents do praise their kids’ hard work, but there isn’t lavish praise.  Gifts aren’t bought unless it’s Christmas or a birthday.  The mantra of children must be seen and not heard was iron-clad, especially at mealtimes or when company was visiting in the parlor. ( America has really dropped that mantra, as evidenced by the behaviors of some  kids in today’s restaurants! )  Farmer Boy

I re-looked at the news article about the Texas Youth Sports League-Keller Youth Association-to read some parents reactions to this decision.  A few parents had the opinion that all still need to be rewarded trophies to keep the kids wanting to come back and play for the next season.  That opinion was the minority view as the majority of the parents were welcoming of this decision.  I too, welcome it.  When kids get out in the “real world” of working, do all employees get pay raises or recognition?  No!  Only the hard-working employees reap the benefits of their labors.  I think the children of today would do better if we, the parents wanting them to never have pain in their lives, to never have to face hardships in their childhoods, would realistically step back from that utopian intent, and go back to the basics of parenting kids.  Yes, provide food, clothing, shelter, love, but also impart to them a strong work ethic, manners, guide them to a faith in God, and hopefully the next generations can be individuals who won’t whine if they don’t have the latest gadget or don’t get that trophy at the company picnic.