31 Days of Oscar Blogathon: Best Songs Category

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

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

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


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

Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban singing in Neptune's Daughter

Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban singing in Neptune’s Daughter


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


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

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


Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, High Noon

Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, High Noon



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

Born Free, Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers

Born Free, Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers

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

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



“So I walked into an Aldi….”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

Ann Catherick, The Woman in White, meeting Hartright,

Ann Catherick, The Woman in White, meeting Hartright,

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

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

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

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

Laura shares her fears about Fosco and Sir Glyde with Marian

Laura shares her fears about Fosco and Sir Glyde with Marian

Evil Count Fosco

Evil Count Fosco

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

Agness Moorhead as Countess Fosco

Agness Moorhead as Countess Fosco

The mystery is starting to be solved

The mystery is starting to be solved

Book Review : Discussing Mere Christianity

2017 rolled around and prior to it’s arrival, our church listed on its Facebook page the new Adult Sunday School topics/classes coming in the new year. My  husband and I had attended Sunday School classes at our church, when we first arrived in Rolla in 2011, but had slacked off from attending such classes over the past two years.  We still are regular attendees at the church services, but we had allowed going to  Sunday School  classes to fall by the wayside.  So when I saw that one of the classes being offered was a study of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, I told my husband about it and we both went to the class this morning.

Specifically, the book we are using in class, Discussing Mere Christianityby Devin Brown and Eric Metaxes, has a dvd that accompanies it.  Today’s dvd gave fascinating background about London of 1941 which is when C.S. Lewis, an English professor at Oxford, received a request to broadcast on the BBC radio and give 15 minute discourses on christianity, once a week.  Lewis’s discourses on christianity were so popular with the listening audience in England, especially during a dark time historically with World War II raging, London being mercilessly bombed, that these broadcasts were typed up and became Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity.  I had not known that information at all prior to today’s class.

C.S. Lewis was born in 1898, in Ireland.  His parents were avid readers, and he and his younger brother Warren were taken regularly to a Protestant church.  Lewis and his brother didn’t enjoy the church services and found them very dull; the rote of the weekly services intended to show how different this church was in comparison to Roman Catholic masses.  In 1908, Lewis’s mother died, which understandably upset her sons’ world as well as their father’s.  Within a month of their mother’s death, both boys were packed off to a boarding school.  After attending a couple more boarding schools, Lewis decided God didn’t exist and became an atheist.  When he was eventually hired to teach at Oxford University, he befriended J.R.R. Tolkien, Hugo Dyson, and T. D. Weldon, all professing christians.  Through many discussions with Lewis, and debates, Lewis’s atheism gave way to theism(the belief that there is a god) to a conversion that happened in two parts: one from an all night walk and talk with Tolkien and Dyson, and then a trip to a zoo with his brother, who interestingly was also about to abandon his grasp of atheism for christianity.  In between these two events, Lewis decided to actually read the 4 gospels found in the New Testament and was struck with how they sounded more like actual reports than made up stories.

The appeal of Lewis’s radio broadcasts for the BBC was that he didn’t want to embroil the listeners in doctrinal issues that existed then and still do, among the various christian churches.  He wanted to appeal to the listeners with logic and plain speaking in order for them to realize that christianity is real, that God is real.  He sent his notes for the broadcasts to area ministers and priests for their opinions to make sure what he was going to say would meet all of their approvals at getting to the heart of christianity.

As I stated, my husband and I have only begun this study of looking at Lewis’s book, but we found the topic interesting and very relevant for today’s christians to read and ponder as they grow in their faith.

If one wants to read more about C.S. Lewis and his writings, which The Chronicles of Narnia being his most famous body of work, go to this link.  With this first post for 2017, I do wish all of my readers a blessed 2017.


I Haven’t Fallen Off the Blogging World, But It Seems Like I Have!

First of all, I acknowledge feeling quite honored and humbled to find out from WordPress that there are 166 people whom I have never met, who actually follow my blog.  These  people  read what I have written and like it enough to tell WordPress that whenever I write a new blog, to send them a notification.  That fact is cool, to me, and it also boggles my mind, a bit.

Secondly, there are some fabulous Classic Movie bloggers who announced they were going to host  interesting and fun blogathons this Fall and I signed up to participate. I let them down by not writing a piece for each that I signed up for.  I apologize to those bloggers: The Midnite Drive-In, In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood, Pop Culture Reverie, and Realweegiemidget.  Be sure to visit these great blogger’s sites and enjoy their offerings  for you to read, revolving around classic movies and tv shows.

Thirdly, what has caused me to ignore my blogging hobby for almost 2 & 1/2 months?  Going back to work full-time, that’s what has gotten in the way of my hobby.  From 1983-1987, I was in college learning how to be an elementary school teacher.  After graduation, I taught for one year in my hometown, teaching kindergartners and planning my wedding.  In June of 1988, my new husband whisked me off to South Carolina, where I was soon hired to teach 7th graders their math lessons and this I did, for 3 years.  Motherhood then came calling and I willingly put my  teaching career  on the back burner to await a time when I could go back to it.

Fast forward to 2015, and my husband kindly notices that with 3 of our 7 kids pretty much out of the nest, and the 4th one leaving for college in August of 2016, perhaps, he said gently, it’s time for you to go back to teaching?  It took some investigating on my part, several phone calls to Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education(MO DESE) to get the correct answers as to what I needed to do to obtain a MO teaching certificate, and then I worked on getting certified.  I was granted a two year provisional certificate and as soon as I take an economics class and let DESE know this, then I’ll receive a 4 year certificate.  Evidently, in OH, where I went to college, elementary education majors didn’t need to take an economics class, but in MO, they have to.

In the meantime, I began working full-time for our local school district as a substitute teacher and for this semester, I was asked to consider being a sub for a teacher’s aide for fall semester, working with special education students.  I am enjoying being back in a classroom tremendously but as I said, the time management issues are my puzzlement now.

When I was a stay at home mom for all of those years, I was very used to setting the family’s schedule for the day, calling the shots on the homefront, so to speak.  I had more time in which to clean the house, do the laundry, grocery shopping, etc.  than I do now.  Getting back into a M-F, 7 hour workday has been an adjustment and I’m still tweaking that new schedule, the time when I’m not at work, to see what I really can accomplish in my off hours and what activities might just be unrealistic overcomittments.

I really do enjoy blogging, but a twice a week effort won’t be happening.  It’s too much for me to do, so for now, I’m going to scale back my blogging efforts to once a week, and hopefully that will be doable.  Some blogs will be about local or state or national topics, parenting topics, observations on my part, and some will be all about a classic movie as I am a huge fan of classic films.  Speaking of which, I am delighted that my twin daughters had to recently read the play, A Streetcar Named Desire, for their English class and they searched Turner Classic Movies channel on their own and found that Streetcar was going to air on October 5th, they set it up to record and we’ll be watching it tomorrow night!!  I love it when I can introduce a classic film to my kids!  It lets me have a win-win moment and it’s even better when they tell me that it was a good film, even if it wasn’t in color!

Since I wrote this post a couple days ago, we all watched Streetcar and my daughters liked it, and said the film followed the play very well.  Good to know that Elia Kazan and company knew what they were doing in taking the stage play to a film format.


Meet Me at the Muny!

I mentioned a couple weeks ago on Facebook how much my kids and I enjoyed a trip to St. Louis, to attend  The Muny’s production of  The Music Man.  Last Saturday, we went again and I have to say, watched the best stage version I had ever seen of Fiddler on the Roof.  A Rolla friend asked me about The Muny, as they’d never gone there before, but had heard of it through the years.  So, for Rolla-ites, this post is all about The Muny in St. Louis’s Forest Park.

The Muny-St. Louis's Outdoor Theatre, in Forest Park

The Muny-St. Louis’s Outdoor Theatre, in Forest Park

The Muny, which is the nickname for The Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis, is an outdoor theatre in Forest Park, in St. Louis, MO.  The theatre began in 1919, though an earlier production of a Shakespearean play in 1916 could be the real beginning of it all, from what I read.  That first effort ran into the red, so Mayor Kiel got involved in a door-to-door campaign to St. Louis merchants, selling blocks of tickets for future shows, and The Muny was saved financially.  For more about The Muny’s history and ticket information, show information, etc. click on this link.

The Muny, looking from stage up to the free seats section

The Muny, looking from stage up to the free seats section

The Muny brings to St. Louisians  Broadway musicals with professional actors and actresses in the lead and secondary roles.  St. Louis area thespians and kids who have experience in plays, with singing and dancing, are often cast for the crowd scene parts.  The Muny typically announces the Summer Season’s Schedule in March or April.  This years shows and their weeks of performances were/are: June 13-22 The Wizard of Oz, June 24-30 42nd Street, July 5-11 The Music Man, July 13-19, Young Frankenstein, July 21-28 Mamma Mia!  July 30-Aug. 5 Fiddler on the Roof, Aug. 8-14  Aida(Elton John’s version, not the opera by Verdi.)

Our family enjoyed The Muny's presentation of The Music Man in early July

Our family enjoyed The Muny’s presentation of The Music Man in early July

My Rolla friend asked how does one get tickets, get to The Muny, and what  can one expect?  I told her I ordered my tickets for The Music Man from The Muny’s online site, and they use Ticketmaster as the online outlet for ordering  tickets for the show(s) you want to see.  There are three areas of seats that require a paid ticket.  The priciest seats are the closest to the stage.  The middle section is not quite as pricey.  The last section is the lowest priced tickets, and Ticketmaster does charge a $3  service fee per ticket.  One could also drive to The Muny box office and buy the tickets in person, but I don’t know many Rolla-ites willing to do that unless they travel to St. Louis alot each week.  I opted to print off my tickets at home, and when we got to The Muny, an usher scanned our tickets near our seating area, and then we claimed our seats.  Now, if you don’t want to pay for a seat, there is a section at The Muny known as the Free Seats.  Farthest from the stage, you need to grab your picnic supper, water bottles, and get in line around 5:30 pm.  At 7:00, the Free Seats are opened up to first come, first serve.  Muny shows don’t begin until 8:00 pm.  There is a 15 min. intermission, so most Muny shows don’t end until 10:45-11:00 pm, which means a late night drive back to Rolla.  Unless, you have good friends who won’t mind housing you overnight.

To get to The Muny, from Rolla, take I-44 east, exit at Hampton, and follow the signs that say to The Zoo, To Forest Park.  When you enter Forest Park, you’ll immediately enter on a roundabout, take it to the right, and get on Wells Drive.  Follow Wells and you’ll come to another roundabout, and follow it and the signs that point you to The Muny.  There is a large parking lot, free parking, for The Muny, that leads you to the Free Seats section.  We usually park in this lot.  When you leave after the show is over, be very patient, as it takes a lot of time for hundreds of cars to exit this lot, which will add to the late time you return to Rolla, unfortunately.

One can bring soft-sided coolers into The Muny, and especially those sitting in the Free Seats, many bring their evening meals in with them.  Purses will be opened and scanned, too.  There are giant fans on tall, metal poles, that whirr but sometimes your comfort is just a matter of luck.  When we saw The Music Man and recently Fiddler on the Roof, both evenings were cooler, with good breezes blowing.  Each show begins with a welcoming announcement, a reminder to turn off your cell phones, and then the National Anthem is played and the US flag is spotlighted.  Then the show begins.

Just caught this production on Sat. and it was amazing!! Still on at The Muny, until

Just caught this production on Sat. and it was amazing!! Still on at The Muny, until Aug. 5th

“Meet Me at The Muny, The Muny in Forest Park!”, is the summertime jingle our family heard a lot when we lived in Florissant.  It would play on the radio and on local tv stations.  I miss hearing that jingle, as I don’t hear it as much in Rolla, but if you are a Rolla-ite, and have never been to a Muny performance, consider it for next summer.  It’s always a wonderful experience, and one way our family celebrates Summer in Missouri.

This is the last show for this summer's Muny season

This is the last show for this summer’s Muny season,  Aug. 8-14

Above Suspicion-For the Joan Crawford Blogathon

Above Suspicion, the 1943 film, was a nice surprise to me when I watched it a couple years ago.  I saw it on my TCM schedule, saw that the cast wasn’t shabby: Fred MacMurray, Joan Crawford, Conrad Veidt, Basil Rathbone, Reginald Owen, Felix Bressart.  Musing over it, I set the dvr to record it and I was glad that I did.   Poster - Above Suspicion (1943)_01

MacMurray and Crawford are newlyweds Richard and Frances Myles.  Richard is an American, a professor at Oxford University in England, and Frances is also an American.  As they are about to embark on their honeymoon to southern Germany-the movie is set before WWII has erupted-an old friend of Richard’s finds them at an English country inn where they are staying.  Peter, the old friend,  works for the Foreign Office, and the British Government has sent him to ask a huge favor of the Myles’s: find a missing scientist who is “friends” with the Foreign Office and has information about how to disable a magnetic ocean mine that the Germans have developed.  Peter points out that since the Myles’s are Americans, they’ll be assumed to be regular tourists and hence, “Above Suspicion”.

Annex - MacMurray, Fred (Above Suspicion)_01

Arriving first in Paris, Frances is given a hat with a red rose on it and this hat is the signal to their first contact in trying to locate the scientist.  From Paris, the newlyweds will also travel to Salzburg, Pertisau,Innsbruck, and finally, Italy.  They travel at such a fast-pace to these spots that I don’t think PBS’s travel guru Rick Steves could keep up!

What I noticed in this movie was that MacMurray and Crawford had great chemistry together.  Their characters are comfortable and cosy with one another, showing one another mutual respect and genuine care.  Joan doesn’t act the diva, Fred treats her as an equal, and both are very calm under pressure  on this spy adventure.


The supporting cast is wonderful! There’s Basil Rathbone( Count Sig von Aschenhausen, a Gestapo Chief), an old friend of Richard’s from their undergrad days at Oxford.  He is kind and helpful to the couple, but can they trust him?  Then there is Conrad Veidt(Count Hassel Seidel, museum curator) also helpful and kind, can they trust him?Thornley, another English tourist(Bruce Lester) gets involved in the mix, and Reginald Owen(Dr. Mespelbrunn), could he be the scientist they are seeking?  Can he be trusted??

Can the Myles's trust Basil??

Can the Myles’s trust Basil??

Can the Myles's trust Conrad??

Can the Myles’s trust Conrad??

Besides the red rose on the hat, there’s the song, “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose”, chess pieces, Franz Liszt music and a concert, a travel book with markings in it-all combined to help this couple on their secret mission as they try to stay several steps ahead of the Nazis.   I also found it interesting to note that this film was based upon the book Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnis, which was based upon experiences of MacInnis and her husband, Gilbert Highet.  I now want to find that book!

One can find Above Suspicion at TCM as they air it from time to time and it’s available to buy at TCM’s shop.   It’s available to buy or watch on instant rent via Amazon.

Above Suspicion

For a chance to see Joan shine in a picture where she’s using her brains, is a loving wife, and she’s outwitting the Nazis, give Above Suspicion a look-see!   This post is my contribution to the Joan Crawford Blogathon, hosted by the wonderful Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.  Be sure to visit her site to read more great blogs’ articles about Joan Crawford.