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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Was A Male War Bride (1949) is good romantic fun

I Was a Male War Bride
I Was a Male War Bride Pictures
A wonderful mix of romance and comedy make I Was A Male War Bride one of my favorites. French officer Henri Rochard (Cary Grant) and Lt. Catherine Gates (Ann Sheridan) fall in love while on a mission in Germany. It's a courtship involving adventure, romance, accidents, mishaps and finally true love. The two decide to get married and everything is bliss, until Catherine gets orders to ship out ASAP back to America. They subsequently learn that the only way Henri can get a visa to emigrate with her is under the War Bride Act, as a spouse of a member of the expeditionary forces, in military regulations that allow war brides to accompany their husbands. So the roles are reversed and Henri in order to get past unbelieving Navy officers, must dress as a woman.
I Was a Male War Bride
I Was a Male War Bride PicturesThis is a terrific comedy with both stars at their very best. Grant is his typical self, I don't think the man ever gave a bad performance. His Henri is the type of the guy who likes things to go a certain way, and when they don't look out. He will let you know how he feels about it. Sheridan is also very good as Catherine. She has always been one of my favorite actresses and I don't think she was given nearly enough credit for her ability as an actress. She showed a knack for light comedy and I wished she was offered more comedic roles during her career. War Bride is directed by ace veteran Howard Hawks, who also made Bringing Up Baby, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and of course my favorite movie of all time..His Girl Friday.

I Was a Male War Bride
I Was a Male War Bride Pictures
 I Was A Male War Bride is breezy, escapist fun that will appeal to film lovers looking for laughs and romance. It's a great couples movie or even for the whole family to enjoy. And I believe it to be a very underrated film classic. So this is my pick for this wonderful blog called Sweet Romance.

Laura... A (Bitter)Sweet Romance

, directed in 1944 by Otto Preminger, powerfully demonstrated how close love and hate can be. This movie is a flashback starting with a murder. Laura Hunt, or so we are skillfully led to believe, is shot in the face and unrecognizable. Mark McPherson, a New York detective, comes to her apartment to investigate. During his investigation he learns all about this young woman. Her beautiful portrait hangs over the fireplace. He goes through her possessions, reads her letters and sees the warmth of her home which surely reflected the person she was. He sits on her couch trying to reconcile the facts. Laura had 3 suitors. Her fiance, Shelby Carpenter (played by Vincent Price); a columnist Waldo Lydecker; and now, "even in death", the detective (portrayed by the fine actor, Dana Andrews) himself falling under her spell. That haunting portrait staring at him fuels his imagination. The columnist was an older man, portrayed brilliantly by Clifton Webb,  and had helped Laura's career. Despite his misogynism, she loved Waldo Lydecker in the spiritual sense, not romantically. Laura is portrayed exquisitely by the lovely, Gene Tierney.

In flashbacks we learn that Laura thought she loved her fiance but had doubts and so she went off to her country home to re-examine her life. Meanwhile, back at Laura's apartment, a friend fatefully asked to spend the night there. Laura consented and the movie begins with the murder of a girl who resembles Laura. The murderer thought he did his deed but did he?

While the detective was lying back on her couch in the glow of her fireplace, staring at that haunting portrait, to his astonishment the front door is unlocked and the real Laura Hunt enters. The portrait "comes to life" and McPherson, is taken aback until Laura tells him where she was and who the murdered girl was. Laura herself had no idea a crime had taken place. To make this short and sweet, the engagement is broken, the detective is hopelessly taken with Laura, the girl he thought he could never have, and she begins to have feelings for him as the movie plays out.

Waldo Lydecker, who is actually the killer, loved Laura, body and soul. No man could have her if he couldn't. This was his devastating obsession. Waldo became aware that Laura was still alive and that a  romance was budding  between her and the detective. He could not bear the thought of this "low-life" detective putting his hands on her. Unrequited love became hate.

At the climax of this epic, Waldo enters Laura's apartment and tries to kill her again. The detective and Waldo have a shootout and, as Waldo lay dying, he utters his final words to Laura, who is now by his side: "Goodbye Laura, Goodbye my love". The movie ends with the crime solved and the detective and Laura happy in each others arms.

Now, having told you the story and because I am a little "off-center", I actually fell for the killer, Lydecker. I was hoping for a May /Dec romance. The way he loved her was all-consuming. I found that so very attractive. Imagine to be loved beyond all reason. Unfortunately, Lydecker crossed into insanity when he killed that girl whom he thought to be Laura.  But, Waldo Lydecker had another secret. It was more than insinuated that he was a gay man. He himself could not reconcile the overpowering love he held in his heart for her with who he really was.

The theme song "Laura" was just beautiful and perfect. The acting was a little over the top but just the same, this was one great movie -- Fast paced, with intrigue and romance on many levels. I highly recommend it.

Joisey Girl

EASY TO WED (1946)

musical remake of the (1936) comedy classic Libeled Lady. Van Johnson, Esther Williams, Lucille Ball and Keenan Wynn, do a wonderful job taking over the roles first performed by William Powell, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy. I think this is my favorite Lucille Ball performance.

The story begins when Farwood knows that his newspaper (The Morning Star) is in trouble, when they print a libelous story about Connie Allenbury, the daughter of the famous tycoon J. B. Allenbury, stealing another woman's husband. Just as he predicted angry by the newspaper's claims Allenbury threatens to file a $2,000,000 libel suit against his paper. Farwood calls his business manager, Warren Haggerty, for help. Warren, jumps at the chance to call off his wedding to his fiancee Glady Benton, and quickly comes up with a plan to frame Connie for another husband stealing story. Warren hires a reporter at the newspaper, womanizer Bill Chandler, to head off for Mexico City, where the Allenburys have a vacation home.

Warren tricks Glady to pretend to marry Bill, so that she can sue Connie for "alienation of affection" when they have a compromising picture of Bill and Connie.

Bill, and his partner in crime Spike, are off to Mexico, where he takes a crash course in duck hunting.

At the Hotel Del Rey, Bill pretends to protect Connie from the unwanted questions from Spike. Bill introduces himself to Connie and her father as a writer and hunter. Allenbury invites Bill to go duck hunting. After a few days Glady and Warren are starting to wonder what's up with Bill, who has not produced the picture. Connie becomes suspicious of Bill's duck hunting abilities when he shows up with brand new sports equipment. They split up into separate boats. Bill has one hilarious problem after the other trying to shoot down a single duck. After hours of waiting, a flock of ducks flies overhead, Bill accidentally fires a shot into the air, hits a duck which falls right into his lap.

A romance begins to blossom between Bill and Connie, Glady is becoming impatient and is ready to ruin all their plans. He has to quickly come up with another plan to keep her quiet. He tells her that he has a romantic interest in her. Warren becomes jealous and decides it's time to pay a visit to Connie and try to talk her out of going ahead with the law suit. After Connie refuses, Warren makes a telephone call to Glady and tells her that Bill is really in love with Connie.

Will Glady ruin everything?
Fun Fact:
Early in the film, on the lower Left of the screen, Fidel Castro,( without beard), is sitting poolside with a drink in front of him. When Fidel was young he did "extra" work for MGM, while a student at UCLA, before becoming active in politics.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Strawberry Blonde (1941)

I've recently been watching the 1941 James Cagney movie, The Strawberry Blonde and it is a very delightful romantic comedy. As well as James Cagney, it features other famous stars such as Olivia DeHavilland and Rita Hayworth. I really liked how the film had that turn-of-the-century look and how Rita Hayworth plays the love interest. I always knew that she was a sex queen like Marilyn Monroe—but not as iconic—and this must be the role that established that status. Olivia de Havilland returns as Cagney's girlfriend—she previously played a similar role in The Irish in Us (1935)—even though she doesn't start out that way because she is one of those woman suffragists who were common during the turn of the century and Cagney's character has old-fashioned values.
I found it kind of curious that Cagney was starring that takes place around the time during which he was born (he was born in 1899). What I also noticed about him in this film is that his voice is more high-pitched than normal and that he uses his body more (or maybe the speed of the film was faster than normal). When I first saw this film, I didn't really feel sorry for Cagney when he struggles to win Hayworth's love (even though I've had similar experiences, it's still very cruel of me); however, whenever I watch this film now, I feel sympathy for him, especially when he hears that Rita Hayworth eloped with his rival. (In that same scene, I find the giggling girl who's date of one of Cagney's friends very annoying and weird !)

No matter what, I still found James Cagney terrific as Biff Grimes, a New York corresponding dental student who loves Rita Hayworth but finds himself marrying Olivia de Havilland out of spite against his supposed friend, who he feels is walking over him. I also find it very funny that James Cagney takes his revenge on his rival near the end of the film by pulling out his painful tooth without gas! That could be a legitimate reason for being afraid of going to the dentist: You're paranoid that the dentist could take revenge against you—if he has any reason to. It was also in this film that I've realized how short James Cagney actually is; he seems so dimuinitive compared to his co-stars. (Of course, I'm short myself, so it's no big deal for me. James Cagney was actually taller than I am.)

I'm very sorry if this film review isn't as good as the other film reviews, but I don't know enough about this film, except that the screenplay was written by the Epstein brothers, the same guys who wrote the screenplay for Casablanca. As for the recommendations, I would recommend it for James Cagney fans who love to see the guy in romantic comedies and other versatile roles (as well as being a romantic comedy, this film is also a drama). Once again, comments & opinions on this film are encouraged!
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