Archive for September, 2014

My Classic Movie Pick: Arabesque

During the month of August, Turner Classic Movies aired their annual “Summer under the Stars” where they air one specific actor or actress’s films for each day of that month.   Sophia Loren, the beautiful actress from Italy, was one of  their featured stars  so  I decided to  tivo one of her films that I had never seen before.   I chose  1966’s spy thriller film,  Arabesque.   Her co-star, was the incomparable Gregory Peck.   When I pulled up  the film this week and started watching it,  child #3, commuter college student, happened to be home and as he saw Peck on the screen, he exclaimed, “It’s Atticus!”  remembering Peck’s Academy Award winning turn as lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.  I laughed and said that Peck was playing a far different character than Atticus in Arabesque.

Arabesque poster 1

Peck plays Professor David Pollack, a visiting American professor teaching at Oxford University, specializing in hieroglyphics.   One of his respected and older colleagues is called away  for an eye check-up and Peck fills in for this Professor, Dr.  Ragheeb.  The eye exam, unknown to Dr. Ragheeb, is  conducted by a Mr. Sloane, who is really an undercover agent.  During the eye exam, Sloane places  dilating drops  into Dr. Ragheeb’s eyes and he suddenly dies in much agony! ( This scene made me think that Arabesque did for eye doctors what the movie Marathon Man did for dentists!! )   Dr. Ragheeb had hidden in his eyeglasses a hieroglyph-coded message and Sloane snatches it.

Sloane, who is working for Arab shipping leader Nejim Beshraavi, contacts Professor Pollack to invite  him to come to Beshraavi’s digs in London and translate the hieroglyph.  Pollack tells Sloane that he’s not interested but when he is contacted by Middle Eastern Prime Minister Hassan Jena to accept Sloane’s invitation, Pollack agrees as he has a high opinion of Prime Minister Jena.  Jena tells Pollack that Beshraavi is up to something and whatever it is it might be a threat to his country’s national security.

Meeting Prime Minister Jena

Meeting Prime Minister Jena

Pollack arrives at Beshraavi’s house and is told that he can’t leave until the translation of the hieroglyph is done.  As Pollack looks around the sumptious library/den where he’s been left to begin working on the translation,  in saunters the beautiful Sophia Loren, playing Yasmin Azir.  It turns out that she owns the house, Beshraavi is her boyfriend, and could Pollack please help her zip up her nighty??  Pollack is immediately attracted to Yasmin but he also learns that Beshraavi is very jealous of any other man who might take Yasmin’s affections away from him so Pollack knows he has to tread carefully where Yasmin is concerned.

Zipping up her nighty!

Zipping up her nighty!

During a dinner at Yasmin’s that night, she is able to slip Pollack a newspaper clipping about Dr. Ragheeb’s death.  Yasmin is able to excuse herself from the dinner stating that she has a splitting headache.  Pollack excuses himself from the dinner stating that he needs to get back to his translating work.  Another dinner guest tells Beshraavi that in 2 days Prime Minister Jena is expected to sign a treaty that will have negative effects on Beshraavi’s shipping business.  Beshraavi doesn’t seem to be too worried about this fact.

Fun begins to ensue as Pollack meets Yasmin in her bedroom to find out what she knows about Dr. Ragheeb’s death.  Yasmin tells Pollack that Beshraavi ordered Ragheeb’s death to get that hieroglyph and that as soon as it’s translated, he’ll order Pollack’s death!  A knock at the door reveals that Beshraavi is there wanting to see Yasmin!  She tells Pollack to hide in her shower.  Then she quickly puts on her robe and tells Beshraavi to come in, that she is about to take a shower.  He tells her to go ahead, he’ll wait there for her to finish this task.  With no choice presented to Yasmin, she takes her shower, much to Pollack’s surprise and amusement.  She keeps her backside to him(we don’t see it but it’s implied) and Pollack stays huddled at the far end of the shower.  It’s an incredibly huge shower-6-7 people could stand in it and have a cocktail party!

That gigantic shower!

That gigantic shower!

With chase scenes that remind one of scenes from North by Northwest, Sabotage, and an assassination plot like the one in The Man Who Knew Too Much ,  Arabesque is a fast, fun,  spy thriller.  Peck, as Pollack,  is great as the somewhat nerdy, cautious professor who gets caught up in this international espionage mess.  Loren, is gorgeous, smart, and a pawn of Beshraavi and of another spy.  She seemingly double-crosses Pollack, but it does get explained as to why she would do such a thing and she and Pollack are cute as they obviously are falling for one another.  The ending scene, in a tiny boat, even seemed to me a bit of a nod to the end of the James Bond movie, Dr. No.   Loren also wears some gorgeous clothes in this film, made by Christian Dior and she got to keep all of them after the film was finished.  What a nice perk!

Near the end of the film, in a tiny boat.

Near the end of the film, in a tiny boat.

A dazzler of a dress that Loren wears in the dining room scene.

A dazzler of a dress that Loren wears in the dining room scene.

A chic white dress and hat ensemble Loren wears for the Ascot scenes.

A chic white dress and hat ensemble Loren wears for the Ascot scenes.

Alan Badel  plays Neshraavi.  I wasn’t familiar with his work at all and he wears dark sunglasses throughout the entire movie; I at first thought he was Peter Sellers!  Badel is good as the main villain of the film, at first charming, then menacing.  A bit of a creepiness in the way he hangs around Yasmin, but wouldn’t we expect that out of the villain?  The rest of the cast gives fine performances too: Kieron Moore as Yussef, John Merivale as Sloane, Duncan Lamont as Webster, Carl Duering as Prime Minister Jena, and George Coulouris as Dr. Ragheeb.

Beshraavi may be a creepy baddie, but he gives out great massages!

Beshraavi may be a creepy baddie, but he gives out great massages!

With opening credits displayed over splashes and wild bending rays of colors, music by Henry Mancini, I knew Arabesque was going to be an enjoyable ride and it was.  Very creative cinematography by Christopher Challis-watch the scene when Sophia descends a staircase and we see her from a sideview, through the myriad of crystals hanging from a chandelier.  Or poor Pollack’s drugged out pov when he’s been forcibly given a truth serum that doesn’t give another set of baddies the answers they want.  Very interesting shots to view and they caused my son to utter, “Atticus!” again!  Produced and directed by Stanley Donen, with screenplay by three writers: Pierre Marton, Julian Mitchell, and Stanley Price.  Based on  the book The Cipher, by Alex Gordon.

Arabesque is available to purchase through Amazon on a regular dvd; not a blu ray issue.   It’s available through Shop TCM in a 5 dvd set of Gregory Peck films, and here’s a trailer that was shown back in 1966 for the film courtesy of Youtube.

For a fast-paced spy thriller with gorgeous Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck in a different role than a fatherly, lawyer type, check out Arabesque!


Arabesque poster 2




My Classic Movie Pick: The Devil and Miss Jones

Labor Day  meant my kids were off of school and they had planned on making it a Musicals Monday.  The King  and I was on their playlist and so was Guys and Dolls.  I did a search of  Turner Classic Movies  for a specific romantic-comedy, the perfect film for  Labor Day: 1941’s  The Devil and Miss Jones.

The DEvil and MIss JOnes

The wonderful cast: Charles Coburn-department store tycoon John Merrick, Jean Arthur-store clerk Mary Jones, Robert Cummings-Joe O’Brien, Union organizer, Edmund Gwenn-Hooper, Section Manager, Spring Byington-Elizabeth Ellis, clerk, S.Z. Sakall-George, Mr. Merrick’s butler, William Demarest-First Detective.   Directed by Sam Wood, produced by Frank Ross(Jean Arthur’s husband at the time), Screenplay by Norman Krasna, and released by RKO Studios.

Coburn is John Merrick, the richest man in the world.  One  of his employees at one of his  department stores burned an effigy of him at an union organizing meeting.  Merrick  is determined to find out who did this, why, and what can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.   Merrick is truly mystified as to why any employees would be mad at him, why they would want a union,  and he’s determined to get to the bottom of this offensive act.

Merrick decides that he’ll  go undercover as a new store employee to find out about the union organizing.  He fires  the store detective and  then assumes the man’s name and employee info card.  Disguised  as Mr. Higgins, he  goes to work as a new clerk in the  shoe department, because he was told that it’s the “hotbed of discontentment” among all of the store’s employees.  It is here that Higgins meets Mary Jones(Arthur).  She takes pity on this old man who doesn’t want to eat lunch as he wants to prove to the Section Manager, Hooper(Gwenn), who treated him with great disdain, that he, Mr. Higgins, can sell shoes.  Mary  loans him 50 cents, tells him that he must take a lunch break,  and eventually  introduces him to Elizabeth Ellis(Byington) who nicely shares her lunch with him.  A bit of that scene can be viewed here.

Even though Jean Arthur got top billing in this movie, got the publicity posters to feature her, and her husband produced the movie, this movie is  Charles Coburn’s for the win.   He is absolutely wonderful as a wealthy man who has gotten out of touch with the world of the laborer.  He’s not quite an Ebenezer Scrooge or Mr. Potter type of bad, rich man, but he is cantankerous at first.  We see his character go through changes as he comes to meet and know some of his employees and it helps to make him a warmer, more responsible business owner and man who can use his wealth for good purposes.  We also get to see his character fall in love with Miss Elizabeth.  It is a sweet movie that dares to show two senior citizens falling in love!    Coburn was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 1941 Academy Awards for his efforts as Mr. Merrick/Higgins.

The film is fast-paced, there is mistaken identity aplenty with the Higgins ruse.  Merrick does find out who made the effigy and burned it-Joe O’Brien(Cummings) who is also the love of Mary’s life!  Near the end when all seems lost for Merrick, for the union, for Mary and Joe, happiness will come through and reign supreme.

The Devil and Miss Jones is available to purchase on a blu-ray at Amazon, it’s available to purchase at TCM’s Shop in a regular dvd format or a blu-ray, and here is another  clip from Youtube for the film: the opening credits with Coburn trying to look evil, and with an angelic Jean Arthur opposite him.

For your next Labor Day entertainment, or for a fun look at labor and managment circa 1941, seek out The Devil and Miss Jones.  Here are a few pics from the film:

Mary ordering the new sales clerk to be sure to take that lunch break.

Mary ordering the new sales clerk to be sure to take that lunch break.

Mr. Merrick really likes Miss Elizabeth.

Mr. Merrick really likes Miss Elizabeth.

Merrick, as Higgins, discovers that O'Brien made that effigy!

Merrick, as Higgins, discovers that O’Brien made that effigy!

Mr. Merrick, as Higgin's finds out Mary loves O'Brien, at a Coney Island outing.

Mr. Merrick, as Higgin’s,  finds out Mary loves O’Brien, at a Coney Island outing.




Son’s Introduction to Idiocy 101 at College

Our oldest son decided to serve our country in the Fall of 2009.  After his high school graduation, he was whisked away in early August with other young people who had decided to join the USMC.  After his successful 4 years in the military were finished, he enrolled in college via the Post 911 GI Bill and is now a freshman at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio.


We skype with him pretty much every Sunday afternoon, an NFL game usually playing in the background.  So far, he’s spent most of his time studying, working part-time at the on campus Veteran’s Affairs office, and hanging out with extended relatives from his Dad’s side of the family.  This past Sunday he asked, “Oh!  Have you heard about the latest scandal at OU’s campus?”  We hadn’t heard about the latest scandal.  Suffice it to say, it was a  “Welcome to Idiocy 101”, college-style, for our son.

Two weeks ago, the president of Ohio University, Dr. Roderick McDavis , issued an ALS ice bucket challenge to the  Student Senate President, Megan Marzec.   Ms. Marzec decided to do a bucket challenge but not for ALS.  She had a video made of her pouring a “blood” bucket over herself while declaring that Ohio University should join a “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions” movement against the nation of  Israel.  Ms. Marzec actually used red-food colored water, not real blood.

In her video, she shared “student” concerns about genocide in Gaza and it’s occupation by the Israeli State.  Then she urged Dr. McDavis and Ohio University to “divest  and cut all ties” with Israeli Academic Institutions and businesses.  She said that the bucket of blood represented thousands of murdered and displaced Palestinians.

Ms. Marzec made her video on September 2nd.  The Student Senate, later that same day, sent out a Tweet via Twitter to apologize for Senate President Marzec’s video, and then another tweet  to state that their goal is to represent all students on campus and their views.   The Wednesday after this video was created and aired, 4 Jewish students decided to speak out at a Student Government meeting  and stage a filibuster,  asking  for Marzec’s resignation from the Student President position.   Marzec asked for student Rebecca Sebo, President of Bobcats for Israel(the Bobcat is the mascot of Ohio University) to stop her filibuster so other students at the meeting could speak in an orderly manner.  Sebo refused to stop and three other members of Bobcats for Israel also began to speak and join the filibuster.  Marzec then warned the 4 protesters that if they didn’t stop they’d be arrested for disrupting the meeting.  University Police were called and they gave the 4 protesters a 2 minute warning to stop their filibuster.  The 4 students refused to stop speaking and were arrested, taken to the campus police station and charged with disruption of a lawful meeting.   On September 12, Hillel International, a nationwide Jewish campus organization, has called upon Ohio University to apologize to the 4 students who were arrested: Rebecca Sebo, Max Peltz, Gabriel Sirkin, and Jonah Yulish.

OU Bobcats

My son’s take on all of this hubbub is that the students who were protesting at the Student Senate meeting shouldn’t have been arrested.  Perhaps they should have followed the protocol that is used when one wants to speak at a Student Government meeting, Roberts Rules of Order, etc.  However, stating their desire to have the Student President resign-that’s an offense where they needed to be arrested?

Ms. Marzec made a major error in her video.  She said she was sharing “student” concerns.  No, she was stating her “own” concerns, and perhaps if she’d made the video stating that it was  her own opinion,  and not say that all 17,000 students held her same views on Israel and Gaza and Palestinians, then perhaps her video blood bucket challenge wouldn’t have been so offensive.

In hindsight, if a University President, in a spirit of goodwill and bonhomie, asks one to participate in an ice water challenge to raise funds for a charity, than wouldn’t it be best for all at said University to honor the President’s request?  The consequences of honoring President McDavis’s original challenge would have been nonexistant.  Student President Marzec showed a lack of common sense in answering a simple request/challenge by turning  a fun way to help a charity into an immature rant that was gross and offensive.

How invested is Ohio University in the nation of Israel?  I don’t know and I don’t care!  If the University was misusing students’ dollars to pay for lavish vacations for professors or for President McDavis, or if there was a major cheating scandal happening at the school, or even bullying going on, or lousy cafeteria food-those are the types of items I would anticipate a Student President and Student Senate to be concerned with, not what is going on in a nation very far away from Athens, Ohio.   Idiocy 101; it happens in real life, and unfortunately, on college campuses.


Research for this blog provided by:  “Ohio University divided over Student Senate president’s blood bucket challenge”, by Karen Farkas, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sept. 16th, 2014.

“Ohio University Asked To Apologize Following Arrest of Pro-Israel Students”, by Stephen Adkins, University Herald, Sept. 15th, 2014.




My Movie Shelf Tag

I was honored this week to have been “tagged” by blogger Christina Wehner.   I enjoy reading Christina’s blogs  because  she writes interesting pieces  about classic movies, musicals, old books, and the great American Songbook; all topics that I enjoy learning more about!

How does a Movie Shelf Tag work exactly?  Here are the rules:  Answer each question and then tag 5 other people to participate in the Movie  Shelf Tag.  Previous blogs have mentioned that it is a good idea to tell the person who tagged you when you put up your post so they can find it and read  your answers.  If you want to turn it back into a Book Shelf Tag, feel free to do so.  Just substitute the words book for movie and watch or see  for read.

1.  Is there a movie that you really want to see but haven’t because you know it will make you cry?   The Joy Luck Club.  I’m a mom of twin daughters and any movie that has a flashback of a mother having to abandon her twin baby daughters in order to flee the invading Japanese in Kweilin-Oh I’m just tearing up writing this answer!!!!!!!!

Heart-breaking scene from The Joy Luck Club

Heart-breaking scene from The Joy Luck Club

2. Pick one movie that helped introduce you to a new genre.    Film Noir was a term created by the French to describe stylish films coming out of Hollywood that were about the criminal underworld.   Stylishly filmed stories, with anti-heroes and femme fatales(dangerous women), and many started being produced during and especially after World War II.   Murder, My Sweet is the film that introduced me to this genre.   A Raymond Chandler novel,  this excellent  movie was made in 1944 starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, and Anne Shirley.  Excellent direction by Edward Dmytryk.  Powell was wanting to shed his clean, All-American boy image and this role did the trick.  Clair Trevor is great as the sizzling femme fatale and Anne Shirley is the cynical, yet more wholesome of the two women in this movie.   The plot is simple, then gets twisted up: Private detective Philip Marlowe(Powell) has been hired to find ex-con Moose Malloy’s missing girlfriend, Velma.

Murder, My Sweet

3.  A movie that you want to re-watch.  Since I love classic movies and like to convince my kids  to watch them with me, one is currently waiting on our dvr: D.O.A.  Made in 1950, starring Edmund O’Brien.  He’s Frank Bigelow, an insurance agent.  He’s been mysteriously poisoned, only has 3 days to live, and is determined to find out who’s poisoned him and why!!!  It’s a tense film,well-acted, well-paced.  If you’ve only seen the remake from 1988 that starred Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, you really should see the 1950 original.    DOA

4.  Is there a movie series(or tv series) that you saw and now wish you hadn’t?  When our oldest(who will be 23 soon!!) was a newborn baby and needed those 2 am feedings, TVLand became my friend.  I liked watching Dobie Gillis, but there was another sitcom that was aired that I suffered through, The Patty Duke Show.  Identical cousins???? Really?????????? American and British????????  Ridiculous fluff and how could ABC have foisted that on the American public????  My apologies to Ms. Duke(an otherwise fine actress.)

Avoid this one!

Avoid this one!

5.  If your house were on fire and all of your family and pets were outside and safe, which movie would you run back into the house and save?     The Searchers-John Wayne gives one of his best performances in this film.  His character is a tormented man.   Tormented by the unspoken love he has for his sister-in-law.  Tormented by the anger and revenge seething inside of him towards the Comanches who have  killed this sister-in-law and the rest of her family and kidnapped her two daughters, later killing the older one and keeping the younger one.  Tormented by the search he has undertaken  to find that child.   Tormented by  racism.  If he finds the child, should he let her live? She’ll have been fully assimilated into the Commanches by now, or is there  a small chance that she can revert back to civilized life?  A very nuanced performance by Wayne, and great support from Ward Bond, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood, and many others who usually acted in director John Ford’s movies.  Bonus: the  beautiful outdoor scenes of the West, their vistas  shot in glorious technicolor.

The Searchers

6.  Is there one movie on your movie  shelf that brings back fond memories?  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  A fun musical romp that our  entire family loves.  My 3 daughters have watched it and rewatched it and each has their “favorite” brother.  My sons have all enjoyed Russ Tamblyn’s scene as baby brother Gideon, meowing like a cat in order to lure his girl out of her family home but only succeeding in luring out her town boyfriend!  It’s fun to hear my kids rewatch it and share which song is their favorite and they’ve now learned about and watched  other films that Tamblyn, Howard Keel, Jane Powell, Jacques d’Amboise, and Jeff Richards have been in.  In fact, when they watched West Side Story for the first time, they kept calling Russ Tamblyn, “Gideon” instead of “Riff”!

Seven Brides for SEven Brothers

7.  Find a movie that has inspired you the most.  I was a teacher before I started my stay at home mom career with my 7 kids.  So, it’s not surprising to say that teacher films inspire me.  It’s hard to pick just one, so here’s a list of some I enjoy: Good-Bye, Mr. Chips, To Sir, with Love, The Blackboard Jungle, Up the Down Staircase, Stand and Deliver.






TBBJUp the Down Staircase

Stand and Deliver

8.  Do you have any autographed movies?  No.

9.  Find the movie you have owned the longest.  A VHS of Aladdin.  My husband and I saw it when our oldest was a mere baby.  I bought it for his future viewings.  Now it seems especially poignant as it contains the wonderful voicework of the late Robin Williams as the Genie of the lamp.    Aladdin

10.  Is there a movie with an actor( or by a director) that you never imagined you would watch or enjoy?  Our oldest is a Will Ferrell fan and he kept telling his Dad and I to watch the comedy film, Stepbrothers.  Hubby and I kept putting it off and finally, when our oldest was home on leave from the Marines, we gave in and watched Stepbrothers.  I had to overlook the foul language and some other antics, but did find it funny.  My two favorite scenes: when the two adult stepbrothers are whining about missing shark week because  Dad has taken away the tv as a punishment, and when Dad, finally exasperated with these two grown men’s lack of maturity, spanks them!       Stepbrothers

Here is my list of blogs that I have tagged for either the Movie Shelf or Book Shelf  Tag.

Nerd in the Brain-excellent blog written by an extraordinary homeschooling mom who’s philosophy is that Life is about Learning.

Classic Movie Night-a nice blog that gives great information daily about classic movies not to miss and lists of entertainment industry folks who would be or are, celebrating a birthday; great pictures with this blog, too.

TitusLive-Titus Benton is a really cool guy.  A former youth minister to our oldest when we lived in Florissant, MO.  When we moved to Rolla, he also moved to a new ministering job near Houston, TX.  An excellent writer (he’s published 2 books!), a great speaker, and a heart to helping Missions overseas and in this country reach their goals, check out a great blog where you’ll be inspired and challenged how to give back to your world, your community, and often get great tips on raising teens.

Vienna’s Classic Hollywood-a sweet blog about classic movies that I enjoy.

Lancelot Schaubert-a gifted young man, married to a sweetheart of a girl, who’s family we’ve known since she was a mere 7 year old!  Recently transplanted to Brooklyn from Joplin, MO.  A servant’s heart with a flair for writing, editing, and a ton of other literary doings.  Author of an innovative photonovel, Cold Brewed, a film noirish story, shot in and around the Joplin, MO area.




Ray Rice, the NFL, and My Opinion

My neighbor co-hosts a sports talk show on ESPN”s Mid-Missouri 107.3 FM on Mondays, from 5:00-7:00 pm, Central time.  He and his co-host began their time discussing the latest fracas to come out of the Ray Rice issue and the NFL.  My neighbor was asking for women fans of football to call in and give their opinions.  I was too busy at that moment slaving away in the kitchen making my family’s supper but decided for today’s blog, I would chime in with my two cents about this whole issue.           espn

If you recall or even if you don’t, here’s a recap of all the furor that has erupted.  February 2014, a video was released by celebrity news website TMZ, and  then the national news media, that showed Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, dragging his unconscious fiancee out of a casino’s elevator.  That video released a deluge of uproar.   Rice was suspended from playing for 2 games by  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  Rice, and the former fiancee Janay Palmer, now his wife, entered into counseling, and Rice did court-ordered Community Service projects for the city of Baltimore.  All was quiet, Rice apologized for what he did, the team was behind him, the coach was behind him, and even at some of this summer’s public practices, many fans attended who were behind Rice and his return to the Ravens.

Janay and Ray Rice at a Press Conference following the release of the first video.

Janay and Ray Rice at a Press Conference following the release of the first video.

Baltimore Ravens

This past weekend, TMZ released a video that showed Rice punching his fiancee inside of that casino’s elevator, her being knocked off of her feet, hitting the back of her head on a handrail, and hitting the floor, unconscious.  With that now out in the public to view, the NFL Commissioner announced that Ray Rice would be on an indefinite suspension and the Baltimore Ravens cut him from the team.

I don’t support domestic violence, whether it be physical and/or  mental cruelty; men beating their wives or wives beating their husbands. (Hey-that does happen unfortunately.  Check out the 1993 made for tv movie if you don’t believe me!)  My brother was raised that you don’t hit girls.  My husband was raised with that standard, too, and we’ve raised our own 4 sons with that rule.

What Ray Rice did was wrong.  He knows that and so does his wife.  They’ve gone through counseling, and I pray that their marriage can heal despite this incident receiving new attention thanks to TMZ and their need to drag an offense out into the public spotlight.

The NFL, in the past, would issue 1 or 2 game suspensions for players who were proved to have committed domestic violence acts upon their spouses.  If the charges were reduced or dropped, then penalties were reduced or dropped, accordingly.  In August, a new policy was announced by Commissioner Goodell: a 6 game ban, unpaid, for first time offenders.  For second-time offenders, possibly a life-time ban from the NFL.

The NFL saw that first video clip.  What did they think happened in the elevator to result in an unconscious woman being dragged out of it?  One of my son’s, when we discussed it, did say that maybe she had been drunk and passed out and maybe that’s why the NFL gave only a 2 game suspension to Rice.  If she had passed out due to over drinking, surmise it to say that perhaps the video would have shown Rice tenderly carrying his fiancee out of that elevator instead of the dragging method that he used.

I think that the indefinite suspension of Rice is harsh.  If the NFL has this new 6 game ban for first time offenders, than that is the punishment that should have been meted out to Rice.  With what has been now issued to him not only punishes him for perpetuity, it also punishes his family.  Hasn’t his wife been punished enough?  Now the income for her family has been dropped to nil.

People make mistakes and Ray Rice crossed a behavioral line that was a huge mistake.  He committed a crime against a woman that   promised to join him in marriage, and has since married.  He lives with that regret daily, especially with this new video release.  I think Commissioner Goodell should announce the indefinite suspension be for 6 games, and that any team in the NFL who is struggling this early in the season should hire Rice.  Janay Palmer Rice has publicly stated that she has forgiven her husband.  Why can’t the NFL?

Research acknowledgement for today’s blog: Michael Martinez and Priscilla Riojas, CNN, Wed., 9/10/14

My Classic Movie Pick: A Farewell to Arms

My movie pick for today is part of  the World War I  in Classic Film  Blogathon.  Please visit Movies Silently  and silent ology to read all of the fantastic bloggers and their posts about  films that have WWI as a major backdrop.

WWI Blogathon

A Farewell to Arms is a very famous novel written by Ernest Hemingway.  Chances are you read it in high school or college, or just read it on your own since Hemingway was and still is considered to be one of modern America’s best writers.   I have read For Whom the Bell Tolls but Farewell hasn’t made it to my reading roster yet; I need to remedy that!

A Farewell to Arms, poster 1

The plot of this 1932  film  is pretty straightforward.  Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy loses girl, boy finds girl, and I won’t add anymore but suffice it to say that it’s a Hemingway novel and there won’t be a rainbows and pots of gold type of ending.

When I watched A Farewell to Arms a couple weeks ago I was impressed by the acting, the direction,and the cinematography.  The cast of this movie, at the top of their game, : Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes as the ambulance driver and nurse who fall deeply in love, Adolphe Menjou as an Italian doctor, a rival for the love of the nurse, Jack LaRue as a gentle priest, Mary Philips as another nurse who distrusts all men.

I like Gary Cooper’s roles in films but I usually would just associate him with playing the “Aw, schucks, Ma’am” kind of guy, who is a good man with a calm, laid-back manner in dealing with  others.  He played such men in Sergeant York(another WWI movie!), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Ball of Fire, and Meet John Doe.   In A Farewell to Arms, his  characterization was a revelation to me about  his acting abilities.  His Lt. Frederic Henry is an American who is tired of his life in the states,  he wants some adventure before settling down, so as WWI begins, he decides to serve as an ambulance driver for the Italian Army.  Frederic does his job well, works hard, and wants to play hard.  He finds a compatriot in searching out bars and women with a doctor, Major Rinaldi(Adolphe Menjou).  There is a fine scene illustrating this when the two men are seated at a table in a bar, examining a young lady’s leg  with no objections from her.

Rinaldi and Frederic checking out those legs!

Rinaldi and Frederic checking out those legs!

Cooper’s Frederic changes emotionally  when he meets Catherine Barkley(Helen Hayes).  He falls in love, and when they are separated he is desperate to find her, to be with her for the rest of his life.  He even deserts the army to find her, despite the consequence that could cost him if he’s found.  At the film’s end, when at last he’s reunited with Catherine, the tears flow and it is a bittersweet reunion that alternates between hope for the world and the new life Frederic must now live.

Frederic and Catherine know they love one another

Frederic and Catherine know they love one another

Getting back to Catherine's side

Getting back to Catherine’s side

Helen Haye’s, a petite woman when contrasted with Cooper’s height, seems very fragile.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons she was cast in the film.  She gives Catherine a heart of compassion which we see when she comforts  another nurse who has been  dismissed by the stern head nurse for becoming pregnant.  We see Catherine’s steely resolve to do her duty and to not get involved with another soldier after her fiance has been killed in another battle.  We then see that resolve melt away to nothing when she spends an evening with Frederic and love has claimed her heart once again.  We ache for her when she has left the nursing post, has moved to Switzerland to await the birth of her baby, and all of the letters she has written to Frederic have been returned, due to Major Rinaldi’s jealous meddling; she collapses under the stress and heartbreak at the town’s post office when she is handed back all of those letters.

All alone in Switzerland, writing all of those letters to Frederic!

All alone in Switzerland, writing all of those letters to Frederic!

Adolphe Menjou, is fine as the doctor turned Major.  He is an affable guy, but one we can boo and hiss at when due to his jealousy over Frederic and Catherine’s relationship, he arranges for all of the letters from Catherine to Frederic to be sent back and not forwarded.  Later, with remorse, his Major Rinaldi tries to convince the awol Frederic to come back into the army, and when the Major realizes that Frederic is desperate to find Catherine, Rinaldi reveals that she is in Switzerland.

Trying to convince Frederic to re-enlist before revealing where Catherine is.

Trying to convince Frederic to re-enlist before revealing where Catherine is.

Rinaldi is getting jealous!

Rinaldi is getting jealous!

Jack La Rue, who I had only previously seen play a mafia-type leader in the British film No Orchids for Miss Blandish, was a surprise to me, too.  He is a priest who recognizes the love that Frederic and Catherine have for one another.  Instead of trying to counsel them to just be friends and wait until the war is over to pursue a deeper commitment to one another, he movingly and sweetly performs a wedding for them in Frederic’s hospital room.  It’s a tender and moving scene, with the Priest intoning the Latin words of the Wedding Mass.

The Priest announces he'll marry them.

The Priest announces he’ll marry them.

Mary Philips plays Helen Ferguson in only a few scenes, but a key one is when Frederic confronts her as to why Catherine quit the nursing post and where is she?  Helen is strong in her resolve, keeps her dislike for Frederic alive, by refusing to tell him where Catherine is but gleefully adding to his worries by admitting that Catherine left due to her pregnancy with his child.

Frederic, Catherine, and Helen, who still hates men!

Frederic, Catherine, and Helen, who still hates men!

Director Frank Borzage, who I  assumed was from another country-wrong!   He was a former silent movie actor turned director, born in the USA!  His directing skill is evident in the way he got his actors to give such outstanding performances and his scenes of the war were appropriately chilling and unusual.  I found some scenes unusual in that the way they were framed and shot, at odd angles; one scene showing a soldier outstretching his arms as if copying the same position of Jesus’s arms outstretched  on the cross.  From my research, I discovered that after Borzage gave up acting to focus on directing, one of the directors he studied and did some work with was F.W. Murnau, famed German director who specialized in the Expressionist Movement in German Films, and then carried that with him to Hollywood.  That influence had to have given Borzage the ideas for these scenes.  Another interesting scene, Borzage aided greatly by his cinematographer, Charles Lang, is a point of view series of what Frederic is seeing as he is flat on his back, being wheeled into a hospital in Milan.  Charles Lang did win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for this film.

A Farewell to Arms is available to see via streaming on Amazon, either through their instant rent program or through your Roku Box(that’s how I was able to call it up and watch it for free!)  One could buy it through Amazon or TCM’s Shop.  Netflix has A Farewell to Arms, but it is the 1957 version that starred Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones.  As much as I like Hudson and Jones’s bodies of work throughout their acting careers, I find the version they starred in  a bit draggy at times.  The 1932 version with Cooper and Hayes flowed much faster.

For a look at love during the midst of a horrific war, have your kleenaxes handy, get yourself a dvd of A Farewell to Arms!!

AFTA ending poster