Seance on a Wet Afternoon is wonderful for...well, a wet afternoon. Oops... seems my originality just flew out the window. Really though, this one just feels better when viewed on a rainy day.
It was directed in 1964 by Bryan Forbes, who'd previously worked (twice!) with Richard Attenborough, the guy who produced it and stars as Kim Stanley's husband.
If you've not heard of Bryan Forbes-- check out The L-Shaped Room, with Leslie Caron. He also did The Stepford Wives, which is just dandy. 'Cept for the end, with the creepy bug eyed robot. But I won't get off topic (I'll save it for later)...
Anyhoo, the lead actress in the film is the oh-so-marvelous Kim Stanley. Stanley was primarily a theatre actress, but made several film appearances in her career, the first of which was in 1958, in The Goddess, a story based loosely on the life of Marilyn Monroe.
In 1965, Stanley would star in Seance on a Wet Afternoon and win the NY Drama Critics Circle Award for her performance. She was nominated for an academy award that year, but lost to Mary Pop-- er, Julie Andrews. ;)
When I was watching this one the first time, I recognized Stanley as the mother in Frances. After looking it up, I discovered (haha, I'm making myself sound like Colombus, huh?) that she'd been nominated again for her work-- this time as Best Supporting Actress. A short while later, Stanley retired from acting professionally and taught acting classes in Los Angeles and Santa Fe.
I also read that earlier she'd turned down the role of Lila in Psycho, saying she didn't want to work with Anthony Perkins for "personal reasons." Any guesses why?
Seance is about a medium who kidnaps a gal in order to....oh shucks, I'm no good at this. Like I said earlier, I hate doing plot summaries. And if you really wanted that, you could easily check it out at Wikipedia. Only skip the last paragraph, 'cause they do give the ending away. Don't say I didn't warn ya, kiddos.
Anyway, I'm quite busy with college and stuff, so now is the time to throw bottles and other bits of trash at me for neglecting this blog. Just no tomatoes please.
29 August 2009
Seance on a Wet Afternoon is wonderful for...well, a wet afternoon. Oops... seems my originality just flew out the window. Really though, this one just feels better when viewed on a rainy day.
24 August 2009
I've been in a mystery type mood lately-- blame it on Dame Agatha. Anyway, I thought I'd give a new series a go. The Monday Murder Series. Nothing criminal, mind you, just good old fashioned murder... mysteries. ;)
If nothing else, this'll be an excuse for me to watch some of my favorite movies (and, of course, prattle on about them here). Good, huh?
To start off the series, I chose one of my favorite Ginger Rogers films-- Star of Midnight. Judging by the number of Ginger devotees out there, this one is by no means obscure or unpopular. (Can I get a "wise choice, Juliette"? ;)
Ginger and William Powell with their Star of Midnight director.
Directed by Stephen Roberts, it stars Ginger acting alongside my love William Powell. Most people tend to criticize this one as being a Thin Man rip-off (and I s'pose it is), but I adore it. Possibly more than The Thin Man.*
Because the only thing more tedious than reading a dry plot synopsis is writing a dry plot synopsis, I'll skip it-- for my sake as much as yours. The plot's rather silly anyway, but thatd doesn't make it any less enjoyable.
Some girl performer (the, uh, star of "Midnight") has disappeared and one lad's convinced she was his lover Alice, and another guy gets shot in William Powell's apartment and Eric Blore says "yessir" a lot and Ginger wears a ton of gowns. Yeah, that's it. Ish. There's a complicated climax followed by what the filmmakers would have you believe to be a laughably simple resolution.
However, in the midst of all this silliness and complexity, there is room for great performances and great banter. Makes me wish Ginger and Bill had partnered up quite a bit more, but I suppose that would be too much goodness for the universe to allow.
Anyway, if you've not already done so-- check out Star of Midnight. You'll like it, I promise. :)
*The juries still out on that one.
21 August 2009
18 August 2009
Last night I was watching Marked Woman for the gazillionth time and started to think about my Bette Davis obsession. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, or when....but it's been lovely so far.
I don't know when I first heard the name Bette Davis. Probably in the film book my sister bought for me when I was little. I remember reading from it and calling her "Bette" (Oh drat...that doesn't work here...only in speech, huh?) as in Midler. My mother corrected me and I thought to myself "What a cool spelling." Later I learned she thought so too. :)
The first time I saw Bette Davis was in All About Eve. I was twelve, I think, and was looking for old movies to buy. I'd heard a lot about the script (I still think it's the best), and also about Bette Davis. So I bought it, watched it, and searched for adjectives to describe it. Marvelous, uproarious, grand...it was everything I'd wanted in a movie (Yeah, I know...sounds lame, but that was really how I felt). I knew at once why it was considered a classic.
Anyway, sometime after that I was shopping for movies and saw What Ever Happened to Baby Jane on the shelf. I remember thinking what an awesome cover it had, with that creepy poem and broken doll's head. So I bought it.
Geez...no wonder Kim Carnes sang that song.
At the time, I found it remarkable that the lady from Baby Jane was the same woman who'd been in All About Eve. Which clinched the obsession, I guess. From that point on I've never looked back (well, I mean, except for ...now. ;)
My absolute favorite picture of Bette.
Seriously, this woman could not get any cooler.
Do you have a favorite Bette memory?
15 August 2009
Since it is summer (yes-- really!) and I'd love nothing more than to go for a swim, here are some summer appropriate pictures. Plus, like I said earlier, I'm in Colorado and probably nowhere near a computer. That's right kids-- this is not a live post. Hopefully in time you can forgive me for the deception. ;)
So, here goes...bathing beauties and whatnot.
12 August 2009
Guess who's currently in Colorado? I am, I am!
Anyway, this was supposed to be a scheduled blog, so hopefully that's worked out. If not...well, I suppose it doesn't matter if not, as you won't be reading this. Anyway...
He's the guy W. C. Fields said had the "best mind for comedy in Hollywood."
Ginger Rogers called him "masterful" and Pandro Bergman said he "amazed me."
La Cava with Irene Dunne.
Despite having over 150 directing credits (and a series of hits including My Man Godfrey, 5th Avenue Girl, The Half Naked Truth, Primrose Path, and Unfinished Business), La Cava's name is not as instantly recognizable as one might think.
On the set of Stage Door, with Adolphe Menjou, Ginger, and Kate.
In the 1950s, with the release of Sarris' American Cinema rankings, movies focusing on male-centered worlds (westerns, film noir, and action pictures of Hawks and Ford in particular) gained popularity, with many film critics and theorists revisiting and reanalyzing them. Perhaps one reason La Cava has mainly been ignored by those film historians is the fact that he was primarily a "woman's director," and the majority of his later films portray women as the heart of the film, with men acting more or less as accessories.
Carole Lombard and William Powell in La Cava's My Man Godfrey.
I'd never really heard of him until two or three years ago, when I watched Stage Door. However, I'm finding out he was a lot more influential than his fame (or lack of it, rather) would have one believe.
Beginning in 1916 with animated shorts, La Cava moved on to live action in the early twenties. During the silent era, La Cava worked beside stars such as Bebe Daniels, W.C. Fields, Richard Dix, and Esther Ralston.
In his most productive decade, the thirties, La Cava was employed at some time by nearly all the major studios, directing the likes of Claudette Colbert, Irene Dunne, Joel McCrea, William Powell, and Ginger Rogers (three times, isn't it marvelous?).
Gregory La Cava directing Walter Huston, Franchot Tone, and Karen Morley in Gabriel Over the White House.
Even David O. Selznick, Hollywood's resident humbug, said of La Cava: "Ninety-nine directors out of a hundred are worthless as producers. However, there are exceptions... I believe that La Cava might be an exception."
09 August 2009
Thanks to the increasingly (and deservingly) lionized Matthew Coniam of Movietone News, I've another survey to complete, this time about films of the thirties and forties. Well, mainly.
So here goes. It's terribly hard by the looks of it. Especially that last one-- gulp.
But first, this is the reason I haven't read a lot of your blogs on this topic. Didn't want to subconsciously steal your answers, y'know. ;)
1. Your favorite Humphrey Bogart film in which he doesn't play a gangster or a private eye. (Oh, and not including Casablanca either.)
Marked Woman. No doubt. His performance in that one is my favorite, including his performances as hoods and whatnot.
2. Your favorite appearance by a star in drag (boy-girl or girl-boy).
Well, I suppose the obvious answer for me'd be Katharine in Sylvia Scarlett, but...the one that first came to mind was June Preisser in Sweater Girl. That hat is simply divine.
3. Your favorite Laurel & Hardy film; short or feature, or one of each. (This will sort out the men from the boys - or perhaps the men from the girls.)
You're Darn Tootin'. The first one I ever saw, and still my favorite.
4. Your favorite appearance by one star in a role strongly associated with another star. (E.g.: Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, Grace Kelly as Tracy Lord, Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates...)
Vince Vaughan as Norman Bates. Hah! You wish. Man alive-- I keep forgetting this is 30s and 40s. So I'll say it anyway...Tammy Blanchard as Sybil in...Sybil. But sticking to the rules I'll make it Janet Gaynor as Esther Blodgett. Then again, she and Judy are both pretty famous for it. And this in no way means I prefer Janet to Judy. Just thought I’d clarify, hee hee.
5. The thirties or forties star or stars you most think you'd like, but have yet to really get to know.
Ooh, good 'un. Audrey Totter. And Tallulah Bankhead probably. After all, she was friends with Dorothy Parker. As for the men, Van Johnson seemed like a nice guy. But I’ve only seen him in one or two things. Same for Lew Ayres.
6. Your favorite pre-Petrified Forest Bette Davis film.
Tie between Dangerous and Bordertown. Is that allowed? ;)
7. Your favorite post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford film.
Johnny Guitar. I just adore seeing gals in westerns.
8. Your favorite film that ends with the main character's death.
Well, Dark Victory's definitely up there...that or Waterloo Bridge. Ooh, or DOA. I’m too indecisive for my own good.
9. Your favorite Chaplin talkie.
Monsieur Verdoux, but (shh-- don’t tell) I’ve never seen Limelight. Relax though, I just added it to my Amazon cart.
Robert Donat and Margaret Lockwood, but Phyllis Calvert’s growing on me.
EDIT: Okay, I peeked at someone’s answers. I need to get it into my head that Vivien Leigh is indeed a British actress. Ho hum.
11. Your favorite post-1960 appearance by a 1930's star.
Olivia de Havilland in Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. If she qualifies as a ’30s star. She should, by the way.
Garbo. For now, as I've yet to really watch a lot of Marlene.
13. Karloff or Lugosi?
I fell in love with Lugosi when I first saw a picture of him from The Black Cat. How debonair can you get?
14. Chaplin or Keaton? (I know some of you will want to say both for all of the above. Me too. But you can't.)
Keaton. But you must understand how very hard it was for me to choose. I hope Charlie does.
15. Your favorite star associated predominantly with the 1950's.
Gloria Grahame...Is that okay? Golly I hope so. Because I was gonna say Lucille Ball, but the work I love most isn't associated with the fifties-- she is. Oh drat, I just rambled, didn't I?
16. Your favorite Melvyn Douglas movie.
Too Many Husbands. Only because A Woman’s Face belongs too much to Joan. So there. ;)
17. The box-office failure you most think should have been a success.
Well, I’d love to say The Pirate, but I can understand why it was a failure at the time. Silly audiences. So I’ll go with Sturges’ Unfaithfully Yours. Linda Darnell, Rex Harrison-- brilliant.
18. Your favorite performance by an actor or actress playing drunk.
I know it’s only for a bit, but Una Merkel in Midnight Mary plays drunk to perfection. So that’s it for me.
19. Your favorite last scene of any thirties movie.
Why oh why couldn’t The Lady Eve have been made just two years earlier? Shucks...how about Bringing Up Baby?
20. Your favorite American non-comedy silent movie.
Too difficult, so I’m going to rely on one of my favorite techniques-- cheating. Sadie Thompson or The Eyes of Julia Deep.
21. Your favorite Jean Harlow performance.
The Beast of the City....I like her in comedy, but prefer her in stuff like this.
22. Your favorite remake. (Quizmaster's definition: second or later version of a work written as a movie, not a later adaptation of the same novel or play.)
Good definition. Um...Good News, from ‘47. Though I haven’t seen the original, so I can’t really
23. Your favorite Orson Welles performance in a film he did not direct, not including The Third Man.
Actually, the only movies I’ve seen with Orson (that aren’t off limits, of course) are The Long Hot Summer and Three Cases of Murder, so I’ll go with the latter.
24. Your favorite non-gangster or musical James Cagney film or performance.
Does Hard to Handle count? He’s not really a gangster...more of a general ne’er-do-well.
25. Your favorite Lubitsch movie.
One Hour With You. But Trouble in Paradise is a close second. And I’ve always wanted to see Cluny Brown.
26. Who would win in a fight: Miriam Hopkins or Barbara Stanwyck? (Both in their prime; say in 1934 or so.)
You kidding? Well, Bette shook Miriam around, and Barbara could totally take Bette, so it’s Barbara Stanwyck by a mile-- and she wouldn’t even break a sweat. She wouldn't have to put a doorknob in her glove for it, either...
27. Name the two stars you most regret never having co-starred with each other, and - if you want - choose your dream scenario for them. (Quizmaster's qualification: they have to be sufficiently contemporary to make it possible. So, yes to Cary Grant and Lon Chaney Jr. as two conmen in a Howard Hawks screwball; no to Clara Bow and Kirsten Dunst as twin sisters on the run from prohibition agents in twenties Chicago, much though that may entice.)
Okay. Linda Darnell and Judy Garland, in a sort of film noir spoof. Like Lady on a Train, but this time with two ladies. Hahaha, I’m probably the only person who’d see it, but you did ask. I was gonna say John Wayne and Stanwyck, but then remembered he had part in Baby Face. Thank goodness. Otherwise this would be far too hard.
28. Your favorite Lionel Barrymore performance.
Sue me, but it’s You Can’t Take It With You. If you’d have said favorite Lionel Barrymore film, the answer’d be altogether different. :)
29. Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard or Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour? (See note on question 14.)
Eek-- you’re killing me. Bob and Paulette, but only because of my sworn loyalty to Paulette. Otherwise, I like him best when with Lamour.
30. You won't want to answer this, but: there's been a terrible fire raging in the film libraries of all the major studios. It's far too late to save everything. All you can do is save as much as you can. You've been assigned the thirties. All you'll have time to drag from the obliterating inferno is one 1930's film each from Paramount, MGM, RKO, Columbia, Universal and Warners. Do you stomp around in a film buff's huff saying 'it's too hard, I can't choose just one' and watch them all go up in smoke? Or do you roll your sleeves up and start saving movies?But if the latter: which ones...?
Ahh! This is entirely too cruel. Thirties is the toughest of all (but you knew that, didn’t you?)
Well, I was gonna come up with awesome answers of movies that had tons of stars, or compilation films and such, but then decided to pick my actual favorites. So, here goes...but please, never ever (ever) try to recreate this one in life.
Paramount-- I’m No Angel
MGM--I’m giving two answers. Gone With the Wind and (because MGM didn’t really produce GWTW by itself) Babes in Arms.
Warner Bros.-- Baby Face. (I think I can actually hear Bette screaming)
I think I’d manage to save these and, in the midst of choosing between His Girl Friday and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for Columbia, pass out due to smoke inhalation. I did try though, but just couldn’t save them all. Don’t judge me. ;)
Sigh. Now that’s over, I can read all of your marvelous posts.
07 August 2009
On Thursday, I was delighted to learn on that someone out there likes me. Or, at least, my blog.
The magnificent Matthew Coniam over at...well, Carfax Abbey, Movietone News, The Dennis Wheatley Project, and The Marx Brothers Council of Britain...has declared this blog a great read. (And you all thought it was just okay-- what privileged people you are. ;)
So here we are-- time for me to pass this grand thing on.
I love every blog I follow (obviously, otherwise I wouldn't follow 'em...). Really, though, you're all great reads-- give yourselves pats on the back. Or just one, depending on the time and intensity of the pat. Anyway, I'm fairly certain some of you have gotten this award before and therefore wouldn't want to bore you with another. :)
On that note, I hereby proclaim the following to be great reads...
Or Maybe Eisenstein Should Just Relax, Meredith's fabulous and always entertaining blog.
1) Because she likes Arrested Development.
2) Ditto for The Big Valley.
3) Because her blog always makes me laugh, in the best way.
4) Because I can.
Living on Velvet, Elsie's blog about...oh, just about everything film related until 1950 or so. It's odd-- I don't always agree with Elsie's take on things, but always find her writing and opinions fascinating. Plus, she digs Janet Gaynor. :)
Flickers, an ever-interesting movie blog by Doug. Reading this blog, I'm constantly learning about movies I'd otherwise not have discovered, mostly those from around 1970 to 1995. I tend to be a little backwards when it comes to modern cinema, but Doug's blog reminds me that there is good stuff out there, if one is willing to look.
A Noodle in a Haystack, Amanda Cooper's blog focusing on movies, music, and dancing. When I go to read Amanda Cooper's blog, I know I'll always be amused and interested in her take on everyone from Vera Ellen to Dean Martin. Definitely recommended.
Also, a very happy birthday to Lucille Ball, Ella Raines (August 6), and Billie Burke (August 7) :)
Really, though, I do mean it when I say you all deserve it. I've learned a ton already about film (and other miscellaneous topics) just by reading the blogs out there.
I've re-discovered my love of film noir by reading Ginger Ingenue's blog, kept track of which Ginger movies are still out there through Beth and Lauren (not to mention had grand Ginger discussions with numerous people out there), and developed a wee obsession with Ingrid Bergman and James Dean by way of Millie's marvelous blog (which I'd totally give one of these to, but judging by the awesomeness of it-- she probably has one already, haha).
In addition to that, I've learned what a gal in the navy would do to curl her hair, that Jennifer Jones is much less cool than what she'd have you believe, and that James Cagney's use of a grapefruit in Public Enemy remains unsurpassed.
I've found out about Lona Andre's and Anna May Wong's careers, read about pre-code horror flicks, modern rom-coms, Harold Lloyd, and smoking in the movies, and have seen ingenious Chicago architecture and terrific artwork of Clara Bow. Really, who could ask for anything more? And, haha, did I forget anybody?
I'd give to every one of ya if I could. Group hug? ;)