Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Holiday (2006)

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Well done romantic comedy/drama that features all four leads in great form. Let me start out by saying that Kate Winslet is my favorite modern era actress. She is awesome. For me it's Kate and then everyone else in today's cinema. Well maybe her and Sandra Bullock. I've loved ever since Heavenly Creatures (1994). Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz are women who are having men trouble and decide to switch homes over the Christmas holiday. Each will stay at each other houses to get away from their normal routine and away from their significant opposites. Kate comes to LA while Cameron goes to England. Jack Black and Jude Law play the new men who come into their lives. A very pleasing film with solid performances by all, especially Kate Winslet. Kate is one of the best actress in today's cinema. Cameron is funny as usual and gorgeous. Jack Black gives a surprising engaging performance as the guy who falls for Winslet. And Jude Law who in past movies can be very annoying is actually pretty good here. And veteran Eli Wallach almost steals the movie as a writer from Hollywood's golden age who becomes friends with Winslet. You will laugh and cry and enjoy this wonderful movie. The Holiday is one of me and wife's favorite movies.

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Graham: "Long distance relationships can work, you know."
Amanda: "Really? I can't make one work when I live in the same house with someone"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Ball of Fire (1941). Comedy. Cast: Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. Supporting cast: Oskar Homolka, Henry Travers, Richard Haydn, Dana Andrews, Dan Duryea and Elisha Cook J. The story was turned into a musical film, A Song Is Born(1948). Cast: Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. Director: Howard Hawks.

I finally had the opportunity to see the film BALL OF FIRE. I thought the story of Bertram Potts, a linguistics professor and his group of quirky colleagues writing a encyclopedia, was Hilarious. Loved watching the faces of the people that Bertram was eavesdropping on. My favorite scene is when Sugarpuss is teaching the conga to the other professors. I also loved when the story takes a wild turn and the professor and his colleagues take on Sugarpuss's mobster boyfriend and his henchmen. Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck make a wonderful on screen couple in this comedy.


The roles of the seven professors (besides Gary Cooper) were inspired by Disney's Seven Dwarfs. There is even a photograph showing the actors sitting in front of a Disney poster: S.Z. Sakall - Dopey; Leonid Kinskey - Sneezy; 'Richard Haydn' - Bashful; Henry Travers - Sleepy; Aubrey Mather - Happy; Tully Marshall - Grumpy, and Oskar Homolka - Doc.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The only couple I ever rooted for

Here, I pay homage to Harold and Maude, starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort, and featuring the tiniest little cameo by Cyril Cusack, and a hilarious performance by Vivian Pickles. I must start off by saying I am rather an unromantic sort... so the only romantic pairing I've ever been totally smitten with is that of Harold and Maude. It's an unconventional couple. Here you have a young man, obsessed with death, who falls for this exceedingly vivacious, mischievous, elderly woman, obsessed with life. It's just the most delightful film to watch, and the only movie I like from the 1970s that isn't an animated Disney film. I'd classify it as a dark romantic comedy. It is sweet, without being sappy. It is quirky as anything, but that's just one of the charms of the film. It opens with this rather extraordinarily long continuous shot, which has always fascinated me. The relationship between Harold and Maude is a wonderful one... that of someone with many years of extraordinary experiences under her belt, imparting her wisdom to a young, inexperienced man. She opens his eyes to how wonderful life is, and how to live it to its fullest.
And who wouldn't be captivated by a cougar like Maude! lol... nothing says May-December romance quite like a 60-year age difference! :D This movie is a wonderful little look at love and life, and what it all can be. Uplifting, darkly comedic, at times a little sad, and even romantic, Harold and Maude seems to have it all. Additionally, it's all set to the backdrop of a Cat Stevens soundtrack... I don't think it gets better than that! :D So, if you're a cynic like myself, and romance turns your stomach a little, perhaps give Harold and Maude a try... it's refreshing.


The African Queen (1951) drama based on (1935) novel by C. S. Forester. The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel and John Woolf. Music score by Allan Gray. Cast: Humphrey Bogart (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor - his only Oscar), and Katharine Hepburn with Robert Morley Peter Bull, Walter Gotell, Richard Marner and Theodore Bikel. The African Queen has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

In a German East African village of Kungdu, British Reverend Samuel Sayer and his spinster sister Rose are in the middle of their church services, when the African Queen, arrives with supplies. Charlie is invited to have lunch with the Sayers, who politely are trying to ignore his grumbling stomach. During lunch he informs them about the war in Europe. The Sayers do not want to leave the small village. Unfortunately, the German troops have arrived to the village of Kungdu, and are capturing the natives and burning down their huts. Samuel collapses under the strain. The next day Charlie returns to the village, where he finds Samuel dead, and helps Rose bury him. Charlie can not leave her behind and offers to get her out of harms way. Once they are on the river, Charlie tells her the Germans have blocked Lake Tanganyika. Rose wants to attack the Germans by making torpedoes out of explosives and an oxygen tank, attaching them to the African Queen and ramming into their steamer. At first, Charlie is not keen on the idea, because of the dangerous rapids ahead and tries desperately to talk Rose out of her idea. But Rose is determined to go through with her plans. That night, a huge rain storm forces Charlie under Rose's shelter, at first throwing him out, Rose changes her mind and allows him to sleep near her. They reach the first set of rapids the next afternoon, and Charlie's is surprised to hear Rose say "it the most stimulating physical experience I ever had."Later that night, Charlie getting drunk on Gin goes into a rant, saying that he will not sail any farther, calling Rose a "skinny old maid." (this is my favorite scene)The next morning he finds her pouring his gin bottles into the river. Hours later, he begs her to speak to him, and she tells him that he hurt her feelings by his refusal to sail with her. At first Charlie is mad but, quickly backs down, said he was just worried that he did not think they could make it. They come upon their first obstacle. The German fort, where the soldiers shoot at the African Queen. The engine is hit, Charlie is able to repair it and they quickly sail on. Soon, they reach another rapid. Rose struggles to steer while Charlie races to keep the engine going, and although they are shook up, they reach calm waters. relieved and happy, Charlie and Rose fall into each others arms. Which quickly becomes romantic.

What will become of this mismatched couple and the African Queen?
Will they escape with their lives?

The African Queen is one of my favorite movies. I loved the chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. I could not imagine any one else in the roles of Charlie and Rose.

Fun Fact : The African Queen was played by the LS Livingston, which had been a working steamboat for 40 years. It is now docked next to the Holiday Inn in Key Largo, Florida.

Good Morning with Singin in the Rain

Just wanted to start everyone off with a good morning as sung by Gene, Debbie, and Donald from Singin in the Rain. Enjoy and have a great Valentine's Day weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

TCM's Valentine's Day Programming List: The Directors' Cut!

Apropos of recent discussions that Monty and I have had about favorite directors, I couldn’t resist adding the directors to his post of TCM’s Valentine’s Day programming list:

Notorious (1946)…Alfred Hitchcock

High Society (1956)...William Beaudine

A Foreign Affair (1948)...Billy Wilder

The More the Merrier (1943)...George Stevens

The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)...Sam Wood

The Lady Eve (1941)...Preston Sturges

Casablanca (1942)...Michael Curtiz

The African Queen (1951)...John Huston

Little Women (1949)...Mervyn LeRoy

Ball Of Fire (1941)...Howard Hawks

I’m not much of a comedy person, but the Valentine’s Day list includes four that I think are near to perfection: The More The Merrier, The Devil and Miss Jones, The Lady Eve, and Ball of Fire.

I’ve never seen A Foreign Affair, so I’m looking forward to seeing the movie that became the impetus for Billy Wilder’s direction of Witness for the Prosecution; according to Robert Osborne, Marlene Dietrich agreed to play Christine in Witness only if Billy Wilder would direct, and this proviso was based on her positive experience working with him on A Foreign Affair. Also, I’m a huge Jean Arthur fan, so I am excited about seeing her in role that is new to me.

I would love to hear what my fellow philes are looking forward to watching!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day Movie Schedule on TCM

I just saw TCM's schedule for Valentine's Day and it is very impressive. So maybe everyone can catch at least one of these great films with their loved ones and family or friends. Here is the list of movies to be shown on Sunday, February 14th. Check local listings for times.

Notorious (1946) Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman
High Society (1956) Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra
A Foreign Affair (1948) Marlene Dietrich, Jean Arthur
The More The Merrier (1943) Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Charles Coburn
The Devil And Miss Jones (1941) Jean Arthur, Charles Coburn.....three of Ms. Arthur's very best
The Lady Eve (1941) Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda....YES! I will be definitely watching this one.
Casablanca (1942) Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
The African Queen (1951) Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn
Little Women (1949) June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Lawford
Ball Of Fire (1941) Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper

What a list of films right? You can't ask for anything more. Would love to hear what films everyone else would like to see or plan on seeing. We will definitely watch The Lady Eve and maybe one of Jean Arthur's films. What a great way to spend time with family and friends while watching some of these classic films.
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