I was so happy to be contacted by nerdinthebrain.com to be a part of an ongoing series about homeschooling. Here’s my answers to her questions. 🙂
Archive for June, 2014
With the possibility that former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may run for President in 2016, there is a classic movie that will run on June 30th on Turner Classics that already tackled that topic, a woman President for the United States.
In 1964, Kisses for my President, opened at theatres around the country. Made by Warner Brothers and starring Polly Bergen as the President and Fred MacMurray as the First Gentleman. It’ s a fun exercise about the what ifs of a woman sitting in the Oval Office and the perplexities her husband runs into as the first, First Gentleman of the land.
Leslie McCloud(Bergen) has just been sworn in as President and her husband, Thad(MacMurray), and their two children, Gloria(Anna Capri) and Peter(Ronnie Dapo) are being ushered into the First family’s Living Room. There is a humorous moment when the first couple discover that the President has a very masculine decorated bedroom and the First Gentleman has a very feminine bedroom. That scene can be viewed here.
As the plot continues, Leslie is extremely busy dealing with issues and doesn’t have as much time for her husband or her children. There is also a Senator Walsh(Edward Andrews) who covets the White House for himself and he doesn’t like the fact that there is a woman President. He’s out to foil Leslie’s Presidency. There is also a South American dictator( Eli Wallach), Valdez, who arrives in Washington to ask for money. Leslie asks Thad to show the dictator around town which turns into a misunderstood news story about a bored First Gentleman whooping it up with Valdez. Senator Walsh is only too happy to use this event as a way to get at Leslie and chip away at her power. The two children who feel ignored by their parents begin to get into trouble and then there is Doris Reid(Arlene Dahl). Doris is a wealthy businesswoman who lives in Washington and just so happens to be Thad’s first love! She slinks her way into the White House, putting 2 and 2 together: wife is too busy, Thad is lonely and doesn’t know what his role is, so Doris makes a plan to get Thad alone and to try and reignite their past romance, which she reminds Thad that Leslie stole him from her.
Here are two more clips from the film: MacMurray, in his pjs, accidentally gets lost looking for the dining room and he encounters tour groups. Clip One. The second clip is Arlene Dahl starting to zero in on MacMurray. Clip Two.
Kisses for my President is pure comedy. It’s not a serious drama and perhaps audiences in 1964 wouldn’t want to see the topic of a woman president presented in any other way? The film was conceived by Robert G. Kane and he also wrote the screenplay with Claude Binyon. Curtis Bernhardt produced and directed the film. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the film will air June 30th at 9:00 am EST/8:00 am CST, so be sure to set your dvr to record it. It is available to buy from TCM’s Shop, and it is available through Amazon and their instant rent. Youtube has two clips from the film that can be viewed here and here.
When I learned that classic film bloggers Silver Screenings and The Rosebud Cinema declared June 20-22 as 1967 in Film Blogathon, I jumped at the chance to write about a film from that year. Be sure to visit these wonderful blog sites to read about more films that premiered in 1967. I have always enjoyed a spy caper movie. When the first James Bond flick Dr. No hit the movie screens in 1962, it was a huge,smashing success. It only cost $1,000,000 to make the film but it raked in much more in profits. Hollywood took notice and more spy movies went into production to capitalize on this new movie genre. 1966, two screenwriters, Hal Fimberg and Ben Starr, wrote a film plot centering on a new American super spy named Derek Flint. 20th Century Fox loved the idea and asked Daniel Mann to direct. Lee J. Cobb was signed to play the super spy’s boss, Lloyd Cramden and James Coburn was hired to play the super spy, Flint. This first film, Our Man Flint, did great at the box office and that led to 20th Century Fox making a sequel, 1967’s In Like Flint, with the change of Gordon Douglas for director, and only Fimberg wrote this second film’s screenplay.
In the first film, Flint takes some fun jabs at 007 and his gadgets, shows he is cooler than cool, a master of disguise, a karate master, and a charmer of the ladies. He has a trio of scientists to deal with as the main baddies. In 1967’s sequel, the times were changing and this was reflected in the plot, pitting our super spy against a group of feminists who want to take over the running of the world!
These ladies are using their make up corporation Fabulous Face as a front for their plans, and using their spa resort in the Virgin Islands as their secret base. The ladies have successfully kidnapped the US President(Andrew Duggan), replaced him with an actor who has had plastic surgery to make him look like the President, made Flint’s boss Cramden look like a scandal swamped idiot who has to be put on administrative leave, and have sent two Russian lady cosmosnauts into space in order to gain control of a new space platform. Their last goal, to replace male world leaders with strong females, is in the works when Flint has to infiltrate their HQ’s and stop them. It was fun to see Anna Lee, British actress and one who usually played such polite, gentle characters get to play the leader of these feminist baddies!
Lee J. Cobb is good as the spy boss, head of Z.O.W.I.E., which stands for Zonal World Organization Intelligence Espionage. He admires Flint’s skills but also is frustrated with him because Flint often goes it alone on missions, refusing the gadgets offered to him. Flint doesn’t use a gun, he relies on his karate skills, and at times, he reminded me of a proto-type for MacGyver, without all the girls! Flint has a cool jet, a fab apartment with the latest 1967 home furnishings, and 3 ladies who take care of him at home. In the first film, he had 4 ladies caring for him and as Flint meets with Cramden(Cobb) in the second film, Cramden asks about those 4 ladies and is told that they all got married!
Flint’s new ladies, a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead all get tricked into going to the spa run by Fabulous Face in the Virgin Islands. The spokeslady for Fabulous Face, Lisa(Jean Hale) has a plan to brainwash Flint’s 3 ladies into believing that women should run the world, that men are worthless. However, Flint’s 3 gal pals are immune to the brainwashing so into cryogenic shower stalls they go for future efforts.
Meanwhile, Flint is in Moscow trying to find out about the cosmonauts and the new space platform. He gets to be in a Moscow Ballet number with their star ballerina, Natasha(Yvonne Craig-tv’s future Batgirl) and then back at her place, in between kisses, tries to discover what the Russians are up to. He realizes he has to get to the Virgin Islands, to that spa where his 3 ladies are being kept prisoner. Fabulous Face holds the key. The closest a Russian plane can fly to the Virgin Islands, in 1967, was Cuba, so in a jab at communists, he dons a Fidel Castro outfit, with beard and dark sunglasses and boards a plane to Cuba. I caught the jab as all the passengers on the plane looked like Castro, the stewardess was a plain, sturdy woman, and they had to share their seating area with crates of chickens!
Cramden, in Washington D.C., with the help of young Lieutenant Avery(Thomas Hasson), has discovered that the Z.O.W.I.E. office has been bugged, that the President is a fake, that Cramden’s own forced scandal was part of a larger plot, and it all points to Fabulous Face. Cramden declares that Flint’s not the only master of disguise and comes up with one to help him get into the spa. It was interesting to see Cobb play in a film that was a campy take on spy films. Usually Cobb acted in serious, dramatic works. He did fine and I like to think that he enjoyed himself, even when he had to don make up, wig, and heels!
Flint, Cramden, and Avery get to Fabulous Face and so does the double-crosser, General Carter(Steve Ihnat). Carter was working for the US Government as a liason for them and Z.O.W.I.E. He was actually working with Fabulous Face on their plans, but decided to double-cross the ladies and take over the world for himself. This turn of events causes Flint and his side to work with the lovely ladies on an Operation Smooch, to bring down General Carter and his minions.
In Like Flint is a fun, silly romp into the world of super spies, super villains, and 1967. The opening shots of the film are close ups of ladies getting massaged and bathed at that spa, filmed in the color red with gauzy swaths of fabrics obscuring things a bit, an obvious nod of how James Bond movies open. James Coburn is great as Flint. He exudes cool and while he may not have had drop dead handsome looks, his voice is one to reckon with! I could just sit and listen to him read a phone book!
Here is the link from TCM of a trailer for the movie, and it is available to buy through the TCM Shop. In Like Flint is available to buy via Amazon or to watch on their instant rent. Also, a kind soul has put the entire film up on Youtube. So kick back on your groovy couch and plan to watch this coolest of cool spies in action!
Poor Edward G. Robinson. He reached stardom playing evil gangsters, mob bosses, when in reality, he was a good stage actor who could play drama, comedy, and tried at various times in his Hollywood career to break out from the “gangster” label. Fritz Lang, an Austrian-German director who had arrived in Hollywood in the 1930s to get away from the Nazi’s, who had banned one of his films in 1932, gave Robinson a chance to play a role that wasn’t a gangster part. The film was 1944’s The Woman in the Window. Robinson plays middle-aged Professor Richard Wanley, a professor of Psychology. His wife and kids have recently gone on a vacation and he is alone at home. He decides to hang out at his club one evening, spending time with some good friends at their Men’s Club: District Attorney Frank Lalor(Raymond Massey) and Dr. Barkstane(Edmond Breon). As Professor Wanley walks to the club, he notices a painting of a beautiful, young woman in the window of a nearby shop. He stops to admire the painting and when he meets his friends, they spend some time discussing the beautiful woman in the painting. On his way home, Wanley again, stops to admire the painting and the subject of it appears hauntingly, her reflection in the window, catching Wanley off guard.
The beautiful, young woman is Alice Reed(Joan Bennett) and she knows that this middle-aged man is entranced by her beauty. She decides to demurly take adavantage of Professor Wanly. She invites him to have a drink with her at a local bar. Then she invites him to her apartment for more drinks. As Wanley admires more works of art in Alice’s apartment, an angry man bursts in accusing Alice of cheating on him and he tries to attack her. Alice grabs a pair of scissors and tosses them to Wanley, who the angry man has turned his attack on and Wanley stabs the man in the back, killing him! So much for a quiet evening of drinks, art, and talking!
The mild-mannered professor is in a state of shock. What should he do? Here, he thought he’d just enjoy a nice evening with the beautiful woman in the painting and now a murder has happened, a murder he committed in self-defense, but a murder none-the less. Robinson does a wonderful job portraying a middle-aged man, who despite having a wife and two children, a satisfying job, and good friends, is just a tad bit lonely. He feels a tad bit vulnerable due to the fact that he is aging.
Joan Bennett is good as the femme fatale of this piece. She is beautiful, she knows it, and she’s more than ready to make Professor Wanley her fall guy. What her hard-boiled, hidden persona doesn’t expect is to develop true feelings for the professor. I wouldn’t call it love, but she does care about him and starts to feel guilty for how she is manipulating him when the mastermind behind the money-making plot via blackmail, Heidt(Dan Duryea) enters the scene, demanding that they get more money from the professor.
Duryea is so excellent as the real baddie of this film. In real life, Dan Duryea was a very nice guy. A married man with kids, acting was his talent and he supported his family with his skills. For some reason, he made his mark as playing bad guys but instead of not taking those roles, he took them and ran with them.
The Woman in the Window airs from time to time on Turner Classic Movies and I’ve put the movie’s trailer here for viewing. The film is available to buy through Amazon. It was also available at one time on Netflix and may still be available. Lastly, some kind soul has put the entire movie up on Youtube! For a great film noir with a twist of an ending, seek out The Woman in the Window.
My oldest first cousin on my mom’s side of the family, John Seither, has a very talented wife. Marci Seither, besides being a great wife and mom to 6 kids-3 who are grown and 3 still at home-has found for herself quite a niche as a writer. She began writing feature articles, op/ed pieces, and human-interest articles and as her writing career expanded, she entered the realm of book writing. In 2013 and this year, she has written and published 2 books!
The first book, The Adventures of Pearley Monroe, was the book that was inspired on a homeschooling field trip with her kids. Marci is a native Californian and stories about the early pioneer families who came to live in California have always fascinated her. Several years ago while on a field trip with some of her children to Sutter’s Mill, they saw many buildings and one in particular caught Marci’s eye: a simple, white, clapboard building. She asked about it and was told that it belonged to the Monroe family. Peter and Nancy Monroe had been brought to California in 1849, slaves from Missouri. They had been forced to leave their son, Andrew, behind in Missouri. In 1850, California entered the Union as a free state and that released the Monroes from slavery. Nancy then spent 21 years trying to reunite with their son, Andrew, and it finally did happen. Marci was moved by the Monroe family’s story and told one of the docents at Sutter’s Mill that this family’s story needed to be told. The docent agreed and told Marci that since no living descendents existed for the Monroe family that getting their story down would be a wonderful thing to happen. Marci informed the docent that she only wrote feature articles for magazines and newspapers but he told her that if she was serious about writing down the Monroe’s story in a book, he could give her all of the information he had collected and saved for many years and get her access to the archive library for research purposes. With the docent’s plea and challenge, this book was born.
Pearly Monroe is a 12 year old boy growing up in Coloma, California in the 1880s, growing up in Gold Rush country. There are many adventures along his path and they add to his learning that in life, hard choices need to be made and wisdom needs to be sought after.
Recently, Marci got the neat opportunity to visit teacher Michael La Marr’s 4th grade class at Del Paso Manor Elementary School in Sacramento. The class had read Marci’s book and loved it, so their teacher made a plan for Marci to do a surprise author visit with his students and it was captured on local television station KCRA-3.
This is a fun read, aimed at children ages 9-12 but it would also make a great family read aloud book, and it would also be a great supplement to a homeschool unit study on California or the Gold Rush, or both!
Marci’s second book, my husband and I had a bit part to play in it. Empty Nest: Strategies To Help Your Kids Take Flight. With lots of humor, godly wisdom, and common sense advice, Marci writes about her experiences in releasing 3 of her children to the world, ready to live their own lives as adults. There are 13 chapters in the book, dealing with children leaving for college, for the military(that’s the chapter my husband and I gave part of our voices to), helping the siblings stay connected to the one who has left, parenting solo and saying good-bye, what if the child comes back, coping as a couple with no more children to raise, and many more important topics to read about. There is also a reflection section at the end of each chapter, in order to think and ponder on the chapter and good ideas are also listed at each chapter’s end, to help one cope with this new stage in the family dynamic.
For Summer 2014, when life slows down a bit, take some time to look for these books and grab your nearest hammock, shady spot, glass of lemonade in hand, and read!