Archive for April, 2014

My Classic Movie Pick: A Woman’s Face, with Villainous Conrad Veidt

My post today is for the Great Villain Blogathon and it is hosted by 3 wonderful bloggers who also love, love, love classic movies: Ruth of Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin, and Kristina of Speakeasy.  Be sure to visit these blog sites to read about all of the great movie villains written about by other movie loving bloggers.

Great Villain Blogathon

A Woman’s Face, made by MGM in 1941, was not MGM head honcho Louis B. Mayer’s cup of tea.  Joan Crawford had learned of the Swedish movie version of the stage play.  The play had been written by Francis de Croisset and a screenplay for MGM’s version was to be written by Donald Ogden Stewart.  Ingrid Bergman had starred in the 1938  Swedish film and now Crawford wanted to star in an  American version.  Mayer didn’t like the fact that one of his beautiful stars would have to be “uglied” up for the role since the movie’s plot is about a disfigured woman who turns to a life of  crime since society has  rejected her because of  her deformity.   A Woman's Face movie poster 2 Anna Holm(Crawford) was burned on one side of her face when she was a child.  Her widowed, drunken father accidentally set the house on fire while Anna was asleep.  She was rescued but her father died in the flames.  Throughout her growing up years she felt rejected by society as people would stare at her face or try to avoid her altogether.  Upon reaching adulthood, Anna decides to make money off of the weak and foolish of the world so  she becomes a very good blackmailer. Simultaneously owning a tavern/restaurant in a secluded, wooded area outside of Stockholm proper, she draws in a rich clientele who like to meet at her business for rendezvous away from prying eyes.  It is to this clientele that she finds customers to blackmail.   She is aided by 3 con artists who are under her employ: Bernard Dalvik(Reginald Owen), his wife Christina Dalvik(Connie Gilchrist), and Herman Rundvik(Donald Meek).

Gilchrist as Mrs. Dalvik

Gilchrist as Mrs. Dalvik

Owens as

Owens as Dalvik

Donald Meek as Rundvik

Donald Meek as Rundvik

One evening as a loud party of 10 people are preparing to leave, the host of the party wants to put the bill on his tab.  He is told that he’ll have to discuss that with the proprietess.  When this fellow saunters into Anna’s office, he is polite, charming, and very suave.  It is this man, Torsten Barring(Conrad Veidt) who is the main villain of A Woman’s Face and his character will soon have the vulnerable Anna under his spell!  Through my reading about this movie, I came across a snippet that when Veidt was asked to describe his character, Torsten Barring, Veidt smiled and replied that he was  playing  Satan in a tuxedo!

Conrad Veidt as Torsten Barring

Conrad Veidt as Torsten Barring

In Torsten’s party is Vera Segert(Osa Massen), the  young and beautiful wife of Dr. Segert(Melvyn Douglas).  Dr. Segert wasn’t at Torsten’s party which is how Vera wanted it.  She used the party to flirt with another man the entire evening, and it is soon noticed by Torsten that Vera and this other man have a thing going on.  All of this potential for blackmail is on Torsten’s mind when he meets Anna in her office.  He surprises her as he doesn’t flinch in horror when he sees her face but treats her gallantly, kisses her hand, and her reaction is one of utter shock, that a man would treat her so kindly.

Anna soon agrees to work with Torsten and his schemes because she loves him

Anna soon agrees to work with Torsten and his schemes because she loves him

Seeing Anna's deformity and not shunning her.

Seeing Anna’s deformity and not shunning her.

Torsten soon has Anna working for him in the blackmailing game.  She goes to his lavish apartment at first just for business and assignments but soon Torsten pours on more charm and Anna finds herself falling in love with him.  Veidt, in real life, had piercing blue eyes and he used them to great effect in his acting.  Crawford was so impressed by his skills that she said in her later years that she had rarely met another actor who had shown such dramatic skills and depth as Veidt.     Torsten next tells Anna that a big prize awaits them.  He has the love letters that Vera Segert had foolishly sent to the man at the party Torsten hosted.  Torsten arranges for Vera Segert to go to Anna’s 3 con artist employees to beg for the letters and to get an idea of how much money it will cost her to get them back.  Anna then goes to Vera’s home at an agreed to time that evening with the letters.  Anna demands more money from Vera for the letters.  Vera hotly refuses and then cruelly shines a light on Anna’s face, exposing her deformity.  Anna then unloads a slapfest on Vera’s face and unexpectedly, Dr. Segert arrives home.   He thinks Anna is an intruder, intent on swiping his wife’s jewels and Vera begs him to just let Anna go.  He notices Anna’s scars and tells her that he is a skilled plastic surgeon and he thinks he could take her scars away.  He shows her books of successfully treated patients and Anna does agree to and does have the surgery.  It is a long, two year process but Anna and Dr. Segert persevere and develop an admiration for one another.  He for her survival skills in a cruel world and she for his compassion for his fellow man.

Dr. Segert and Vera with Anna pre-surgery.

Dr. Segert and Vera with Anna pre-surgery.

Anna delights in showing Torsten her new face.  She feels like a brand new woman as she is now beautiful.  Torsten seems happy for her but then he tells her about his extended family.   His aged Uncle Magnus Barring(Albert Bassermann) is very wealthy and has sadly decided to leave all of his fortune to a 4 year old grandson, Lars-Erik(Richard Nichols).  It is at this point in the film where Veidt’s Torsten becomes truly mad, in a stealthily,  quiet  way.  No screaming or tantrums are thrown.  He just sidles up to Anna and quietly explains to her his plan.  He tells Anna that he will recommend her to his Uncle Magnus for a governess job for little Lars-Erik.  Then, after a time, Anna will kill Lars-Erik and he, Torsten, will be the only one to inherit his uncle’s fortune.  Anna is in shock over this information, but doesn’t react hastily.  She seems to know that her love for this man is now over, but that if she lets on that it is, he’ll probably try to kill her. too.  So, reluctantly, Anna agrees to being a new governess for Lars-Erik.

Torsten intoning to Anna  his evil plot to inherit the money.

Torsten intoning to Anna his evil plot to inherit the money.

After several months have gone by working in Uncle Magnus’s household, Anna has grown to be quite fond of the old man and her charge, Lars-Erik.  A birthday celebration has been planned for Uncle Magnus, a weekend-long event and to Anna’s dread, Torsten arrives at the party in time to scoop her into his arms on the dance floor, to kindly snarl in her ear his questions as to why Lars-Erik is still alive?  To add to the stress Anna is now under, Dr. Segert also arrives for the party.  He is delighted to see Anna again and they share a dance or two.  She discovers that he is in the process of divorcing his unfaithful wife, Vera.  Anna and the doctor have a growing attraction to one another which adds to the noirish aspects of this drama: does Anna tell the man she is falling in love with about her life as a blackmailer, about her relationship with Torsten, and also reveal the evil plan to kill a child in order to inherit a fortune?  Would that new man even want to be around her if he knew about anything from her past?  Will Torsten keep reminding Anna to kill the child and if she doesn’t, will he take the matter into his own hands?

I won’t reveal the answers to these questions as I want you, the readers of this blog, to seek this film out!  It has aired from time to time on TCM so keep your eyes alert to their monthly schedules to see if it will be airing sometime this year.  A Woman’s Face is availabe to buy at Amazon, but it is in a Joan Crawford 5-dvd set and it’s pricey.  It is available in a European dvd that is lower-priced and in VHS format, which is even lower in cost, but VHS?  I want to add that in the cast is the always awesome Marjorie Main as a grumpy housekeeper, so watch for her when you do see the movie.

The villain of the film, Conrad Veidt, had a successful and interesting acting career.  He died too young, at the age of 50, suffering a heart attack on a golf course in Los Angeles in 1943.  Born and raised in Germany, he served in the German Army in WWI, rising to the rank of NCO.  Becoming very ill during the war, he was sent to a war hospital on the Baltic coast and received a letter from a girlfriend, Lucie Mannheim.  She had just been hired to work with an acting company based in Libau, Latvia.  Intrigued, he put in for a transfer to Libau and the Army agreed, stipulating that he work to entertain the troops.  When the war ended, Veidt moved to Berlin to study acting in earnest.  His skills paid off as he became a popular and busy actor in the German silent movie industry.  Probably his most famous role at that time was as the sleepwalking Cesare in 1920’s  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  With his success in Germany, it was time to make a try in Hollywood, and he did, famously appearing in 1928’s The Man Who Laughs.  Some even believe that Veidt’s “look” for this film inspired the look for one of Batman’s villains, The Joker.

Veidt, possibly the face that inspired The Joker?

Veidt, possibly the face that inspired The Joker?

As talking movies came into the forefront and silents went away, Veidt had trouble learning to speak English and his accent was deemed too heavy so it was time to return to Germany.  Veidt’s career continued there until he and his second wife, Illona Prager, a Jewish woman, moved to England to avoid the grasp of the rising Nazis.   In England, Veidt continued his acting career and improved his ability to speak the  English language.  I have seen some of the films he made in England and he got to play the heroes, which was a refreshing view of Veidt.  He played a Jewish man in 1934’s Power, playing Josef Oppenheimer,  who in 1730’s Germany,  helped a  duke rise in power, and in the process made a way for himself to leave the Jewish ghetto behind.  Then, when the duke tries to harm a member of Oppenheimer’s family, it’s revenge time.   In 1935 he starred in Passing of the Third Floor Back, which some kind soul has put on Youtube!  Veidt plays a mysterious and yet kind man, almost a messianic figure, who only wants to help the fellow boarders at a rooming  house he has moved to.  In 1939, he was the lead in The Spy in Black.  It was called U-Boat 29 for U.S. audiences.  Veidt plays U-Boat Captain Hardt , WWI is the time frame.  He is to meet a spy on the Orkney Islands, who turns out not to be what she seems.  Veidt is a conflicted man in this piece, not an out and out villain, falling in love with the spy who isn’t who she is pretending to be.  Valerie Hobson plays the spy and this was an early Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger creation.  It was back to playing a villain in 1940’s The Thief of Bagdad.  A technicolor masterpiece from the Korda brothers.   Veidt plays the evil Jafar and I really think the Disney animators used his image in creating the Jafar for their version of the story.  Veidt was very tall and slendor which seems to be the inspiration for the animated  Jafar.

Veidt as Jafar, probably casting a spell on someone!

Veidt as Jafar, probably casting a spell on someone!

After this film, Veidt tried Hollywood again.  With WWII raging, he stipulated that if he played Nazis, that he play baddies, no conflicted Nazis with a hint of goodness.  His most  famous Hollywood film is 1942’s Casablanca, where he plays with great relish the villainous Major Strasser, out to catch any freedom fighters trying to leave Casablanca.

Veidt, as Major Strasser, messing with Victor Laszlo, aka Paul Henreid.

Veidt, as Major Strasser, messing with Victor Laszlo, aka Paul Henreid.

It has been quite fun for me to read about Conrad Veidt for this blogathon.  He was a very skilled actor who could play the villain with the best of them, using his piercing gaze and his voice to smoothly convey his manipulative form of evil that his characters just seemed to wear like an aura around them.  In closing, I’ll post this neat video tribute to Veidt as Torsten Barring in A Woman’s Face, found on Youtube.   In fact, there are a ton of clips of Veidt’s work over the years, both silent movie scenes as well as talkies, so plan on putting your feet up and getting comfortable if you decided to view all that Youtube has for viewing Veidt’s scenes.

Studio publicity shot for A Woman's Face

Studio publicity shot for A Woman’s Face

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I Was Nominated for a Liebster Award!

In the world of blogging, bloggers read one another’s posts and often leave comments in order to  chime in about a post, if they liked it, or had some more opinions to share.   Since I began blogging in earnest 3 years ago, it’s been an interesting hobby for me and it has given me the opportunity to read other great bloggers out there in the “blogosphere”.   A nice thing bloggers do for newby bloggers is to send them a Liebster Award.  A Liebster is a nice pat on the back, a way to recognize new blogs that a more experienced  blogger thinks are swell and a way to  help introduce them to other bloggers so they’ll gain new  followers.  Since part of my blogs are dedicated to classic movies,  Speakeasy, hosted by a great gal, Kristina, another blogger dedicated to classic movies that I like to read,  awarded me a Liebster Award over the weekend!    Liebster Award

Part of the fun of receiving a Liebster is to answer a set of questions given by the nominating blogger.  Speakeasy sent me a list of 11 questions that I will now answer.

1. Favorite band or music artist for the past week?   I’ve been on a classical music kick of late and have been listening to 2 cds I own: 25 Romantic Classics and Clair de Lune and other Moonlit Melodies.

2. Name a movie you’d never want to watch.  Ever.  Un Chien Andalou. made in 1928 by Luis Bunuel.  Bunuel was a movie director from Spain  and for political reasons had to leave Spain and lived the rest of his life in Mexico.  A gifted director, his Robinson Crusoe(1952) is one of his films that I do like.  But, Un Chien Andalou, an arty film, that among other things shows an eye being cut into???  I’ll pass!

3.  Name a movie you’re ashamed you haven’t seen yet.  An entire Marx Brothers movie.  I’ve seen snippets through the years, but have not actually sat down and watched one.

4. Name a movie you wish you could have been on the set while it was filming.  1938’s Michael Curtiz directed The Adventures of Robin Hood.  It is such a fun film to watch that I imagine it was a  fun set to be on.  Dashing Errol Flynn, graceful Olivia de Haviland, one of the best swordfights in moviedom between Flynn and Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains stealing every scene he’s in as the scheming Prince John.

5.  Who is your movie celebrity crush?  You have to answer for both guys and girls.  Since I usually just focus on classic movies, my crushes are long since deceased but their films I love to watch: Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers.

6.  Favorite vacation spot?  Ocean-side or lake-side.

7.  Favorite Super Hero?  I’ve always liked Aquaman.  Alas, my kids tell me he’s lame and that there will never be an Aquaman movie.  Oh well.

8.  Favorite book.  This is hard as I love to read!  I prefer nonfiction and one of the best that I read was John Adams by David McCullough.   HBO must have agreed as their mini-series about John Adams was based on McCullough’s book.

9.  Favorite tv show.  Hmmmmm.  Modern: Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Turn, & NCIS.   Classic: Rawhide(thanks AMC!),  Lost in Space, Star Trek, original Hawaii 5-0, and Gilligan’s Island.

10.  Favorite Beatle’s Song? Hey Jude.

11. The classic movie that started your love of classic movies?  Citizen Kane.  Stumbled on it one Saturday afternoon in my teen years.  It held me mesmerized throughout it’s 2 hour running time.

 

Winning a Liebster Award also means nominating 11 blogs that you enjoy reading, trying to choose blogs that have less than 200 followers.  The bloggers I nominate must link back to me, and they must answer the 11 questions that I answered.  Then, they must pass on this award to 11 bloggers that they like to read, who have  less than 200 followers.  The bloggers I choose can’t re-nominate my blog.  Here are my picks for the Liebster Award:

The Overflow

Movies, Silently

littleolivetreeblog

Girls Do Film

Pastries and Shenanigans

A Cuban-American in Paris

Vienna’s Classic Hollywood

How Sweet it Was

Family Friendly Reviews

classicmovienight

MacGuffin Movies

 

I encourage you to click on my 11 nominees for the Liebster Award and read their blogs.

 

My Classic Movie Pick: The Shootist

Today’s post is for the great James Stewart Blogathon.  Hosted by an excellent  blog that I enjoy reading, Classic Film and TV Cafe.  Be sure to click on the provided link to read other bloggers’ posts about Jimmy Stewart and his various  acting  roles.   T J Stewart Blogathon     When I saw that Classic Film and TV Cafe was going to host this blogathon, I thought for a while as to which  role of Stewart’s to write about.  I decided on  The Shootist, a  movie that came in the latter days of Stewart’s movie acting.   The Shootist, movie poster The Shootist, originally a novel written by Glendon Swarthout  and published in 1975, was sought out by Paramount Pictures and Dino De Laurentiis Company to be made into a movie.  The author’s son, Miles, and Scott Hale wrote the screenplay.  Don Siegel was tapped to direct.   The movie’s plot is about an aging gunfighter, John Bernard, J.B. Books, who learns he has  cancer.  He also learns that despite liking this new town of Carson City, Nevada to live in, he only has 2 months at the most before the cancer will kill him.  Word gets out that the famous Shootist, Books, is in Carson City and old foes and friends appear, all wanting to cash in on the fame that surrounds this dying gunman or to just get final revenge.  It is Books’ dilemma, how to die with dignity amidst the turmoil that is happening around him due to these malcontents and fortune-seekers who are looking for him in Carson City.

Who better to portray the aging gunslinger than John Wayne, the most famous of Western heroes in film?  In 1964, Wayne had surgery to remove a cancerous lung.  Now, in 1976, when The Shootist was made, it would become  an ironic fact that Wayne would act the part of the dying gunslinger,  and he himself  would also die of cancer in 1979. Wayne had to lobby for the role of J.B. Books since the producers originally wanted George C. Scott!  Wayne did get the part and then proceeded to request that former cast members of other films he had made be cast in this film.  He specifically requested James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Richard Boone, and John Carradine.

James Stewart, by the 1960’s, was taking on more paternalistic roles.  He had played opposite Wayne  in another great Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, released in 1962.  Although the two actors didn’t run around in the same circle of friends, they both admired each other’s abilities in conveying characters on screen and had a great respect for one another. Stewart, in The Shootist, plays Dr. Hostetler who J. B. Books makes an appointment with in order to get a second opinion about his back pains.  The clip of that scene can be viewed here.  It is a warm and friendly scene of two old aquaintances re-meeting one another again.  Then the cold, factual Medical Man emerges as Dr. Hostetler gives Books the bad news: the back pains are a symptom of cancer.  Then there is more bad news, that Books only has 2 more months to live.  The doctor tells Books that when it’s time, medicines can be given to him to help ease the pain.

Stewart’s voice is still strong in this film, not quavery as one might expect with an aged actor.  The hair is white, the movements of his body as he walks across a room or sits in a chair are slower than that of a younger man, but it doesn’t distract one iota from his role as Dr. Hostetler.

The Shootist is a great ensemble piece.  All of the cast brought their A-Game to this movie.  Lauren Bacall is Mrs. Bond Rogers, the widowed landlady who rents a room to Books.  She tells him that she doesn’t abide with guns, and yet there is a growing fondness between her and Books.   Ron Howard(former child actor, teen actor, and now movie director) plays Gillom Rogers, son of the landlady.  He looks up to Books because he is a famous gunslinger and Books becomes a mentor/father figure for Gillom.     Richard Boone is Mike Sweeney, out to kill Books in order to get revenge for a brother’s death.  Hugh O’Brien is Jack Pulford,  a gambler and keen shot who wouldn’t mind taking Books down in order to promote himself.   Sheree North is an old flame, Serepta, who shows up hoping to get Books to marry her so  later she can have a book written by a ghost writer about her life with Books and make money off of his notoriety and death.  John Carradine is Carson City’s undertaker Hezekiah Beckem and he pesters Books about having a headstone made.  Scatman Crothers is Moses Brown,  the livery worker who cares for Books’s horse.  Richard Lenz is Dan Dobkins the local newspaper reporter, wanting to write sensationalized versions of Books’s killings.  Harry Morgan is Marshall Thibido, who is anxious to have Books leave Carson City.

The Shootist is available via Amazon to either buy or view through Instant Rent.  It is also available through TCM’s Shop.  To close out my post, here are a few more shots of John Wayne and James Stewart, from The Shootist.

Giving Books the diagnosis.

Giving Books the diagnosis.

TS, arguing with Wayne

 

 

The Shootist, Wayne and Stewart

 

 

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Mickey Rooney Films I Greatly Enjoyed

Mickey Rooney, who had a 9 decades long career in the Entertainment Industry, passed away April 6th.   In honor of him, Turner Classic Movies is going to present on Sunday, April 13th, 13 films that Rooney starred in.  Among this list are 3 of Rooney’s films that I have already seen and instead of one post about one movie, I thought I’d write short synopses about  3 of those films that I really enjoyed.

A Family Affair, 1937 from MGM studios.  Stars Lionel Barrymore(Great-Uncle of Drew Barrymore) as Judge Hardy, running for re-election to keep his judgeship and encountering opposition from some of the citizens of the small-town where he resides.   Spring Byington plays his wife Emily, Cecilia Parker is his daughter, Marion, and Mickey Rooney is his son, Andy.  A Family Affair was shot in 15 days!  It was considered a “B” movie by the studio and Lionel Barrymore didn’t want to be in it.  Another teen actor was set to play the part of Andy, but by the time filming was to begin, he had grown too tall so the part went to Rooney.  In his autobiography, Life is too Short, Rooney wrote that he knew the movie was a “B” movie but that fact didn’t keep him from putting his all into the role.  Surprising to MGM is that when the film opened at theatres, it became a huge hit and so profitable that MGM ended up making 16 Andy Hardy films.  The Hardy Family films usually center around Andy and the amusing difficulties he gets himself into and how he finally handles the difficulties with some advice from his wise father.  Movie Poster for AFA

Judge Hardy talking with his two teenagers.

Judge Hardy talking with his two teenagers.

Boys Town, 1938, also from MGM.  Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and won the Academy Awards for Best Original Story and Best Actor, Spencer Tracy.  Tracy plays Father Edward Flanagan who is called to the prison to hear the last confession of a prisoner scheduled to die in the electric chair.  The condemned man tells Father Flanagan that if only he had had good friends at the age of 12 instead of the delinquents he ran with, he’d probably not ended up in prison.   Father Flanagan takes the man’s words to heart, and with the attitude that their is no such thing as a bad boy, he opens up a home for boys in trouble outside of Omaha, Nebraska and calls the place Boys Town.   Mickey Rooney plays Whitey Marsh, a tough young hoodlum who’s older brother, serving time in prison, asks for Father Flanagan to take in his younger brother and try to turn his life around.  Tracy is great as the priest who is kind but very firm when he has to be.  Rooney is great as the snotty, brash, juvenile delinquint with a heart of gold.   Here’s a clip from the film Boys Town.  The film proved to be such a great box office success that in 1941 a sequel was made, Men of Boys Town and Tracy and Rooney reprised their roles.

Father Flanagan having a meeting with Whitey.

Father Flanagan having a meeting with Whitey.

Boys Town

National Velvet, 1945, from MGM.  Stars  12 year old Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown, an English  girl who loves horses.  She enters the town lottery as the prize is a neighboring farmer’s unruly and spirited horse.  The winner of the first number called doesn’t appear so  another  number is  called and Velvet wins.  With the help of Mi Taylor( Mickey Rooney), a young drifter who has a lot of knowledge about horses and racing them, Velvet decides to train the Pi(her name for her horse) for the Grand National Race.  This is a charming movie, espousing hard work, reaching for one’s dreams, and filmed in gorgeous technicolor.  Look for Angela Lansbury playing Velvet’s older sister, Edwina.  Here’s a training sequence from National Velvet, featuring Taylor and Rooney.

Rooney and Taylor

Rooney and Taylor

National Velvet

Here is also the schedule that TCM has posted for Rooney’s films on Sunday.  TCM has also made a lovely tribute video of Rooney’s career and it can be viewed here.  Be sure to tune in and/or set your dvr machine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: The Thrill of it All

Doris Day celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday.   Day could sing, dance, and was a good actress and pretty  much our whole household has enjoyed her work.  So,  in honor of  her reaching that milestone of 90 years,  I thought I’d focus on one of her romance/comedies,  The Thrill of it All, made in 1963, directed by Norm Jewison  and distributed by Universal Pictures.

 

Doris Day 90th Doris portrays Mrs. Beverly Boyer, a happily married wife and  mother of two children(Kym Karath and Brian Nash).  Her husband is Dr. Gerald Boyer, an ob-gyn portrayed by James Garner.  The family also has a live-in housekeeper, Olivia, played by comic actress, Zasu Pitts.

The Thrill of it All poster 1 One of Gerald’s patients is Mrs. Fraleigh(Arlene Francis) an older woman who has had problems in attaining a pregnancy.   She is so delighted to finally be expecting a baby that  she invites Dr. Boyer and his wife to her home for dinner.  Mrs. Fraleigh lives in a mansion and it turns out that she is the daughter-in-law of Mr. Tom Freleigh(Reginald Owen) the creator of the very successful Happy Soap company.  At the dinner, Mrs. Freleigh requests the television to be rolled into the dining room so her husband Gardner(Edward Andrews) the CEO of Happy Soap, Old Mr. Tom, and Mike Palmer(Elliot Reid) Advertising Executive, can watch the latest commercial for Happy Soap.  Gerald and Beverly think this is very odd, but sit politely and watch the commerical.  The commerical stars a sexy blonde woman in her fancy swimming pool of a bathtub, full of Happy Soap bubbles.   The blonde  purrs how the soap makes her smell like the stars of Hollywood!  With 2 daring shots of the blonde’s lower, bare back, Gardner and Mike concur that it was a fine commercial; Gerald doesn’t object to it either.   Beverly remarks  that Happy Soap had saved her life that day when she had to clean her 2 muddy children.  Old Mr. Tom demands to hear her story and he is delighted with Beverly’s tale.   He hires her to be the new commercial spokesperson  for Happy Soap!

The fun of this movie is the battle between Beverly and Gerald.  Beverly  films  her first  commercial and says the entire experience  was awful and that she won’t  do any more.  Gerald is pleased because he wasn’t in favor of his wife working outside of the home.  Mike Palmer appears the next day to offer Beverly $80, 000 for a 1 year contract to film the commericals.  That amount of money causes Beverly to change her mind fast…she will be the new star of Happy Soap commericals.  Gerald grudgingly gives his approval, but warns her that she can’t let this new venture  get in the way of being there for him and the children.  Beverly assures Gerald that it won’t but shooting the commercials soon get in the way as Gerald feared they would.

Beverly doing a magazine ad

Beverly doing a magazine ad

The first commercial

The first commercial

The story for this movie was developed by Carl Reiner and Larry Gelbart, with Reiner writing the screenplay.  He has several amusing cameos as the hero/villain of the Happy Soap Playhouse, his live scenes happening immediately as Beverly is done with a live commercial spot.

Day and Garner with Carl Reiner

Day and Garner with Carl Reiner

There’s miscommunication between the spouses, missed messages, an indignant Olivia who quits, a new German housekeeper who has a very thick accent, a gift of a swimming pool that unfortunately ruins Gerald’s convertible, giant soap suds invading the backyard,  and Gerald’s plan to make Beverly so jealous that she’ll quit her commercials to be with him. The Thrill of it All is a fun movie to view, with a happy ending, and the undeniable charm and chemistry that Day and Garner exude in their scenes together.  This movie is on blu-ray dvd and can be found via Amazon.com and TCM Shop.  To end this post, here are a few more scenes from the movie.

Fighting about the unexpected pool!

Fighting about the unexpected pool!

Autograph hounds ruining a romantic dinner.

Autograph hounds ruining a romantic dinner.

Getting a ticket for stopping traffic in order to see his wife on a billboard!

Getting a ticket for stopping traffic in order to see his wife on a billboard!

The children waiting up to see mommy in her commercial.

The children waiting up to see mommy in her commercial.

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame…”

After a harsher winter than I have experienced in quite a while, signs of Spring are finally in evidence.  The  buds have been  appearing on our Bradford Pear tree, tulips have pushed up through the dirt to warm in the sun, crocuses are blooming, robins are hopping about  the yard looking for worms, and at the  creeks  I can hear the peepers-chorus frogs-chirping their presence in loud unison.  One final sign that “Spring has Sprung”, for me,  is Opening Day of Major League Baseball and that day was yesterday, March 31, 2014.

STL CArdinals

My favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals, began the season in Cincinnati, OH by taking on the Cincinnati Reds and winning, 1-0 during 9 innings of play.  As I watched the game on tv  the camera would periodically scan the audience and there in the stands sat Pete Rose, former great baseball player for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s.  He was wearing a big, red ball cap with the words “Big Red Machine” emblazoned on it.   The Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s were the best team in baseball and that was when I began to pay attention to the sport.  I was 9 or 10 and my favorite player was Johnny Bench, the Reds’ catcher.  I also had a Hank Aaron baseball card and I don’t know what happened to it…wish I still had it!   Cincy Reds

In my hometown of Defiance, OH, being that it is in the northwest part of the state, there were three baseball teams the citizens followed in the 1970s, and still  follow today: Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, and the aforementioned Reds.  My mom told me that when she was a child in the 1950s, the Indians were really good and that was the team my grandpa paid attention to.  My husband’s late father grew up in Detroit, so my husband grew up in a Detroit Tiger household.  When husband and I were dating, it was a common thing to hear the radio playing at his house on a sunny afternoon, set to WJR-The Great  Voice of the Great Lakes- and Ernie Harwell’s voice could be heard broadcasting a Tiger’s game.  It was also fun to attend a couple games at Tiger’s Stadium.   We were so happy when they won the World Series in 1984.   My brother’s 2 sons are Tigers’ fans and when the St. Louis Cardinals beat them for the World Series title in 2006, we treaded lightly and didn’t mention the win as we didn’t want to add to their sadness.  One of my nephews sweetly told me at a later family gathering  that his second favorite team is the Cardinals-awwww!

D Tigers

I have also been to some minor league baseball games.  When we lived near Augusta, GA, circa 1988,  husband and I went to an Augusta Pirates game(farm team for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but now a farm team for the San Francisco Giants) and we watched future major leaguer Moises Alou shine in a game with his athletic skills.   Now that we live in Rolla, MO the minor league team of choice is the Springfield Cardinals, in Springfield, MO.  Attending their games is a lot of fun.  They ballpark management has a variety of amusing games with audience participation planned for every break at the end of an inning, and some games appear on the video screens, too.

Springfield CardinalsAugusta Pirates

Some historians would say that baseball was derived from the British game of Rounders.   Some have given credit through the years  to one man, Abner Doubleday, a career U. S. Army officer who supposedly invented the game in Cooperstown, NY, in 1839.  Whichever way the sport was begun, to me it is an enjoyable way to while away a summer afternoon, with the radio on and while puttering about the house, I can listen and imagine the plays in my mind.  The battle of one batter against one pitcher, to see who will be the winner of each at bat, to see if one player can get to base, advance, and try to get that run to count.  To know if a double-play or even a triple play will happen.   At an actual ballpark, it’s always fun to people watch, eat a hotdog in the park, explain aspects of the game to one of my kids when it’s been their first time to be at a major or minor league game.  To laugh at the antics of Fredbird, the Cardinal’s crazy mascot.   Before I sign off of this week’s post, I’ll include a funny meme I saw last week.  There are three Major League Baseball Teams named after birds: Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, and my St. Louis Cardinals.  Of those three teams, the Cardinals have had the most successful seasons of play through the years and the meme depicts two birds comparing their teams’ records; obviously the cardinal has the last word!

Cardinal putting an Oriole and Blue Jay in their places.

Cardinal putting an Oriole and Blue Jay in their places.