Posts Tagged ‘Debbie Reynolds’

For the Sinatra Centennial Blogaton: 1955’s The Tender Trap

Frank Sinatra, if he were still on earth today, would be celebrating his 100th birthday.  With that in mind, classic film fans and fellow bloggers Judy, at Movie classics, and Emily at The Vintage Cameo decided to host a blogathon celebrating Sinatra’s work in films.  My film choice is 1955’s rom/com The Tender Trap.  Be sure to visit Movie classics and The Vintage Cameo to read about more films Sinatra starred in.  He was really a lot more talented than just his singing voice!

Do you recall Aesop’s Fable about The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse?  The mouse who lives in the slower paced life in the country visits his cousin who lives in the fast paced big city?  Playwrights Max Shulman and Robert Paul Smith took Aesop’s story and made some changes: the mice become men, in the city there are fabulous looking gals all over the place, and two strong females with definite ideas as to what they want out of life.  It was a year-long hit on Broadway in 1954 and in 1955, MGM decided to take the hit play, turn it into a film and have it star Frank Sinatra.

The Tender Trap poster 2

Frank Sinatra plays  Charlie Reader, a New York theatrical agent.  One evening, unannounced, his best buddy since kindergarten, Joe McCall(David Wayne) appears at Charlie’s apartment door, suitcases in hand.  Joe, a pharmacist from Indianapolis, has decided his life-white picket fence, house, wife, 3 kids, a dog-is dullsville.  He’s decided a new life in NYC is just the ticket.  Charlie tells Joe he’s nuts!  He tells Joe he’d love that kind of life, as 3 different lovely gals enter and leave Charlie’s apartment in a span of 30 minutes, which leads Joe to start calling Charlie, “Sultan”!

Charlie and Joe, drinking to dames and friendship

Charlie and Joe, drinking to dames and friendship

Charlie is a bachelor and he thinks he’s a happy one.  He has the gorgeous Poppy(Lola Albright) kissing him on his couch right before Joe’s arrival, telling Charlie about the dinner she’s going to cook for them the next night.  After Poppy leaves, in sashays Southern honey Jessica(Jarma Lewis) who announces what a mess the apartment is in and proceeds to clean it up, slowly swaying her hips in the process.  Joe has to grab a drink of whiskey at this point!  After Jessica leaves, it’s Helen’s turn to shine.  A very strident Carolyn Jones as Helen, marches in to walk Charlie’s dog.  She faithfully walks him several times a day, able to ignore Charlie’s small talk.  Joe is agog at the end of meeting these 3 ladies and tells Charlie he’s never going back home!  One last female in Charlies’s life is about to appear via the tv, it’s Sylvia(Celeste Holme), a concert violinist who’s appearance is on the tv that evening with the NY Symphony.

Charlie and Poppy

Charlie and Poppy

Charlie and Southern honey Jessica

Charlie and Southern honey Jessica

"Ahem! I've come to walk your dog!"

“Ahem! I’ve come to walk your dog!”

Charlie and Sylvia

Charlie and Sylvia

Soon, Charlie meets his match in Broadway newcomer, Julie(Debbie Reynolds).  She can sing, dance, is so sweet and really wants to be a wife and mother.  She also manages to catch Charlie’s heart, but does he realize this?

Charlie intrigued by Julie and her audition

Charlie intrigued by Julie and her audition

As I sat watching this film, our 19 year old son-a commuter college student-was doing some homework and ended up watching the movie with me.  He laughed at all of the jokes, especially when Julie invites Charlie to her parents’ apartment for the evening;parents are in NJ for the weekend.  Charlie has kissing and other activities on  his mind, but Julie is trying to keep him at arm’s length.  Her idea to turn on the tv doesn’t help at all as all of the channels she changes the dial to are showing couples kissing!

What Frank Sinatra movie wouldn’t be quite complete with Frank singing?  Well, maybe not in a serious drama he probably didn’t sing much, but in this rom/com there is one song, (Love is) The Tender Trap and it was nominated for best song at 1955’s Academy Awards but lost to Love is a Many Splendored Thing. The song was written by Sammy Cahn and composed by Jimmy Van Heusen.  The Tender Trap opens with Sinatra far away from the audience, singing the first verses of the song and the chorus.  As he sings, he just slowly keeps walking forward, hands in his pockets, ever so cool and casual.  At the film’s end, the 4 main leads: Sinatra, Reynolds, Holme, and Wayne(he has a good voice!) all take a new verse of the song and sing it well, hands linked with one another.  A nice way to showcase the leads and end the film.  Kudos must also go to The Tender Trap’s director, Charles Walters.  There was a lot of talent in this cast, probably a lot of egos too, but he kept the film fast-paced, the comedic timing is perfect, and not a wrong note from anyone in this film.

The 4 leads, singing that song at film's end

The 4 leads, singing that song at film’s end

Seek out this romance-comedy where Sinatra shines with his comedic timing and singing and wooing of the ladies, Wayne is great as the somewhat sadsack buddy, Holme is good as the sadder but wiser gal who gets her happy ever after but in a surprise to her character, and Reynolds shines too, as the adorable and wise Julie.

The Tender Trap poster 1

The Tender Trap isn’t out on dvd at all!!!  That’s an outrage!!  However, on Christmas Eve Eve(that’s what my kids call December 23rd) Turner Classics will be airing this gem, at 3:15 am EST/2:15 am CST-set your dvrs!!!!

My Classic Movie Pick: The Catered Affair

If you are planning a wedding this year, you might want to watch this movie or you might want to watch it after the big event has happened.  If you are married, this movie will remind you of the planning that went into your own trip down the matrimonial aisle.  It is a movie with charm, grit, and truth permeating through out it.  The Catered Affair was originally a teleplay, written by Paddy Chayefsky, and also known as Wedding Party.  In 1956, it was turned into a movie by MGM with screenplay by Gore Vidal and directed by Richard Brooks.  The talented cast featured Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds, Barry Fitzgerald, and Rod Taylor.  This was Taylor’s first film after being signed by MGM and if you listen closely, his Australian accent escapes now and then, which I found fun to hear.  The Catered Affair

The movie opens with Tom Hurley( Ernest Borgnine) driving his taxi cab back to the garage after a night shift of work.  He is approached by his good friend and fellow cabbie, Sam(Jay Adler), that another cabbie is going to retire and he wants to sell Sam and Tom his cab along with the desired NYC Taxi Medallion, for the price of $8000.  Tom and Sam, it is revealed, have been saving their money for years to make such a deal and both have $4000 in the bank.  It is agreed that on Sunday, they’ll meet with the seller and make the deal.  Tom heads for home and prepares to go to bed as his wife and two kids are getting ready for their day.

Tom and Sam discuss buying the cab and gaining the medallion.

Tom and Sam discuss buying the cab and gaining the medallion.

Aggie(Bette Davis) is a hard-working housewife.  Jane(Debbie Reynolds) is the Hurley’s daughter, I would guess she’s in her early 20s, and Eddie(Ray Stricklyn) is their 18 year old son.  As the family goes through their morning routines and Tom grabs a plate of eggs before heading off to bed, Jane announces that she and her boyfriend of 3 years, Ralph Halloran(Rod Taylor), have decided to get married.  Ralph is a school teacher and he has a winter break coming up.  The young couple have decided that they’ll have a simple wedding, just  the parents and siblings present, and they’ve already talked to the Hurley’s family priest who has agreed to start posting the banns.  Ralph also has a friend selling a car to someone in California, but the friend can’t drive the car out there because his wife is expecting a baby soon, so Ralph and Jane will drive the car to California, and that will be their honeymoon.

At first, Aggie and Tom take the news well.  Tom  congratulates Jane on her sensible thinking.  He shares what another family spent on a daughter’s wedding and how outrageous it is  to spend that much money on a wedding!  With his proclamation made, Tom goes off to bed.  Aggie realizes that if only immediate family are to be at the wedding, than she’ll have to break the news to her brother Jack(Barry Fitzgerald), that he won’t be able to attend the ceremony despite him living with the Hurley’s.  Uncle Jack doesn’t take the news well, and this starts the wheels in motion for Aggie to become obsessed with giving Jane a big wedding and reception.

Aggie wanting Jane to have a huge wedding and reception,

Aggie wanting Jane to have a huge wedding and reception,

 Jane announcing her marriage and wanting a small wedding.

Jane announcing her marriage and wanting a small wedding.

We see Aggie convincing Jane to have a big wedding day for future memories to have to hold on to.  We see Aggie going through the $4000 that Tom has saved as if money just grows on trees.  No amount of concern from Tom or Jane is slowing Aggie down from her quest to give her daughter a big wedding and reception.  Will this happening happen?  Will Jane and Ralph just elope?  Will Tom stop Aggie from spending all of his savings which he intended for a new taxi and medallion and business with Sam?  You, the potential viewer, will have to seek this movie out to find the answers!

Arguing about reception costs.

Arguing about reception costs.

Jane and Ralph

Jane and Ralph

The Catered Affair is available on Amazon and may appear again soon on Turner Classic Movies.  A tense movie at times, it is also heart-warming with fun moments too.  The Catered Affair poster 2

Finding that perfect wedding dress!

Finding that perfect wedding dress!

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