Friday, June 24, 2011

12 Reasons I Love The Sound of Music (1965)

June 22-23, 2011

58. The Sound of Music (1965)REWATCH

Starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker
Directed by Robert Wise

Plot: "A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower." (from IMDb)

Of course this is a rewatch—it’s one of my very favorite films! I can’t really add much to what has already been said about this wonderful movie. So here (in no particular order) are just a a dozen of the many reasons I happen to love it…

Note: I’ve been having a lot of trouble with Blogger lately—not being able to post, getting error messages, etc. Well, more specifically, I guess the trouble is with Windows Live Writer (as I find it really impossible to use the Blogger post editing system). Has anyone else been having these problems?  In the case of this post, the only way it would let me publish was without the pictures and graphics. I just wanted to let you know what’s up in case something seems a little wonky on my blog or in my posts delivered via a feed reader. If anyone has any tips, I’d love to hear them! Thanks, as always, for reading. And sorry again about the blah format of this post. ~ UPDATED: Okay, I got the pictures most of the pictures to work! Yay!

1. Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg Von Trapp
Without him, I don’t think the movie would be half as good. I know we’ve all heard how he disliked the role at the time, etc. but I think that makes it all the more admirable that he pulled off such a memorable performance. It’s the little mannerisms and expressions that add so much dimension to his character. Oh, and each time I watch the film I find him more attractive. Am I the only one, or does anyone else find him rather swoon-worthy? **As a side note, I really want to see more Christopher Plummer films. I’ve only seen this one and The Scarlett and the Black (amazing film—his scenes going toe-to-toe with Gregory Peck are especially great. It’s funny to compare his role here—see above flag-ripping—to his role in that film, where he plays a Nazi!). Does anyone have any Plummer films to recommend?

2. The Rogers and Hammerstein score
They were really so talented at creating memorable and beautiful music that managed to seamlessly propel the plot. The songs from this movie are some of my favorites. The melodies have depth and emotion; they aren’t just pretty words strung together to music. The score really helps to convey the mood of the respective scenes in the film.

3. Julie Andrews as Maria
Julie was perfect in this role. Her presence conveys such warmth, genuineness, happiness, and joy. I can’t even describe it. I think she was completely terrific in this film. She had bounds of energy, yet she also carried the slow and romantic parts of the movie beautifully. I also love what she does with some of the lines. Her first meeting with the Captain is my favorite example of this. Just how she interacted here was perfect. Example: “Were you this much trouble at the abbey?” “Oh, much more, sir!”

4. The cinematography
Sweeping camera angles, beautiful colors…what’s not to love? I hope someday I can see this film on the big screen it appreciate it in all its original glory!

5. The sets/scenery
I am rather envious of the Von Trapp’s spacious dwellings. The interior of the home is lovely (I think my favorite is the ballroom!), but I especially love the outside with the well-groomed lawns, terrace, gazebo, shimmering lake, and mountains in the distance. *sigh*

 6. Eleanor Parker as the Baroness
I know some people really dislike her, but I think she adds so much to the movie with her throaty-voiced witticisms and sashaying walk. But despite her urbane, confident exterior, there is a certain endearing air of vulnerability about her. I actually end up feeling quite sorry for the Baroness. I know that her cajoling Maria to leave stems from the fact that she is afraid of losing what little she has in her empty life. Despite her riches, she is leads a rather vapid existence, and longs for security and stability with the Captain. I think it takes a special actress to make the clich├ęd other-woman so interesting—and even slightly sympathetic. Of course, Eleanor pulls it off beautifully. 

7. The dialogue
So many great lines I can’t even count them all. Also, terrifically quotable. I really do quote this movie all the time…

8. The chemistry between the two leads
It really makes the movie. :) I happen to find this movie incredibly romantic.

9. The nuns
These nuns are just awesome. They sing, they get Maria and the Captain back together, and they certainly aren’t about to let any old Nazis intimidate them.

10. Austria
I want to go there!!! I dare you not to feel some love for this country during the final singing of “Edelweiss”.

11. The clothes
Even if some of the fashions are sort of a morphing of 30s and 60s style, I do love a lot of the outfits in this. Some of my favorites are the blue-green dress Maria wears on her return to the Von Trapp's, just about anything the Baroness wears (but especially that pink suit), and Captain Von Trapp’s tall boots that he wears when singing at the music festival. I also find the alpine inspired costumes—lederhosen, tyrolean hats, etc.—to be really charming!

12. The wedding
So beautiful! When I was little, this was my dream wedding (hmm, maybe it still is?). I love how the camera gives us a bird’s eyes view of Maria walking up that long aisle, and then we see the Captain standing there looking oh-so-handsome in his naval uniform, and finally the view sweeps up, up, up to the very top of the bell-tower. It’s just such a cool moment.

There are really so many scenes that I just love in this film. It has it all—suspense, romance, atmosphere, music, a stirring climax… I could go on. There are moments that in turn make my heart soar, bring me to tears, have me on the edge of my seat, make me laugh, want to dance, or  just make me very happy!

Okay, hopefully this post didn’t make me sound like a total gushing fan girl!

So, why do you love The Sound of Music? (or don't you?)

**Please note that the pictures and graphics in this post are NOT MINE. No copyright or creative infringement is intended. If you feel I have used an image contrary to the author's wishes, please let me know and I will promptly remove it.**

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Farmer’s Daughter (1947)

June 20, 2011

57. The Farmer’s Daughter (1947)

Starring Loretta Young, Joseph Cotten, Ethel Barrymore, Charles Bickford
Directed by H.C. Potter

Plot: "Katie Holstrom leaves the farm to become a nurse, but is sidetracked into domestic service, romance, and politics." (from IMDb)

This is a fun and light-hearted film with a simple (and rather unrealistic) plot. Though the material is just okay, I feel that this movie is really saved by the capable actors that play the roles. I especially love Charles Bickford’s performance. It’s also enjoyable to see Joseph Cotten in a slightly comedic role. He was such a talented performer that really seemed to do well in any part (at least of the ones I’ve seen). Despite the fact that I never really thought of him as a romantic lead (you know, Uncle Charlie, Holly Martins, and all that), I think it works and he comes of as quite charming. 


I’m not really sure what I think of Loretta Young here. I like her okay, I just have a hard time believing that this was really worthy of an Oscar. It’s not that I’m mean and don’t want her to be recognized—she had been in Hollywood a long time and perhaps the Academy just felt she was due something—but this performance doesn’t strike me as that challenging. Yes, she had to learn to speak with a Swedish accent (though I don’t know how convincing it is because I’m not familiar with the language), but there is nothing about this role that seems particularly note-worthy. Perhaps it’s just one of those subtle parts that I don’t fully appreciate? What do you think?

I can’t help wondering what this film would’ve been like with an actual Swede in the role—like maybe Ingrid Bergman (who apparently turned it down). I think it would be interesting to view the other 1948 Best Actress contenders and compare them (the only other one I’ve seen is Gentleman’s Agreement and I know I would not give it to Dorothy McGuire).

In case you are interested, there is an interesting article on Loretta Young's official site about the background and making of this film. You can check it out here.

I also came across this review, which I feel aptly summarizes both the strengths and weaknesses of the picture.

This scene is one of the best in the movie. I love how they make fun of political rallies.

The big winners at the 1948 Oscars: Darryl Zanuck (Best Picture, Gentleman’s Agreement), Edmund Gwenn (Best Supporting Actor, Miracle on 34th Street), Loretta Young (Best Actress, The Farmer’s Daughter), Ronald Colman (Best Actor, A Double Life), Celeste Holm (Best Supporting Actress, Gentleman’s Agreement).

Here is a news clip of the 1948 Oscar highlights. It's really fun to watch and there are quite a few famous faces spotted (in addition to the winners, we see Fredric March, Olivia de Havilland, and Anne Baxter presenting). I love how classy the Academy Awards were back then...and can I just say how much I love the women's dresses/gloves/hair? So glamorous!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

June 10, 2011

56. The Mark of Zorro (1940)

Starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard, Eugene Pallette

Directed by Rouben Mamoulian

Plot: “A young aristocrat must masquerade as a fop in order to maintain his secret identity of Zorro as he restores justice to early California.” (from IMDb)

I feel like I need to watch this again because I was kind of distracted/doing other things when it was on. Plus, sometimes I space out a little in the duels and such. But what I did see, I thought was awesome.

Not a big fan of the mustache on Tyrone… (he looks so much better without it)

I love the story of Zorro and the setting of the film, and I thought the two leads--Linda Darnell and Tyrone Power--had terrific chemistry. I especially think Darnell is very underrated (granted, this isn’t her showiest role, but it’s still hard for me to believe that she only 17 when this was released…and probably younger when it was filmed).

There, that’s better. No more mustache now.

Though this is sort of a Spanish-American twist on Robin Hood, it's almost more fun because no one knows who this elusive Zorro is. The secret of his identity adds some delightful suspense, and there is also some humor in what a milquetoast he pretends to be when not in disguise (it's kind of the Clark Kent/Superman thing). Because of the fun of this plot element, I was kind of sad when he his identity was unveiled. It was sort of a let-down.

                         Basil Rathbone is such a great villain.

There are some great supporting players here, too—the always reliably chilly Gale Sondergaard, husky-voiced Eugene Pallette, and devious Basil Rathbone (the fencing between him and Power is fun to see).

Two experts (I’ve heard…I don’t know anything about fencing!) showing how it’s done.

                            Zorro leaves his calling card.

When he’s not ‘Zorro’, Don Diego Vega pretends (hilariously) to be cowardly and delicate.

                                            Loved this scene!

This movie is classic, and it's also just great fun. I do wonder why they didn't film this one in Technicolor, though. Don't get me wrong, I love black and white movies and rarely do I wish they were in color, but I just thought the nature of this film would benefit from some beautiful '40s Technicolor cinematography. What do you think? Would it be better in color or not? I guess the contrast of light and shadow/darkness,etc. does benefit the story some. Maybe I'll have to watch it again and reassess...

The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956)

June 3-4, 2011

55. The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956)

Starring Judy Holliday, Paul Douglas

Directed by Richard Quine

Plot: Laura Partridge, stockholder of a small amount of shares through International Projects, takes on this large corporation and seeks to eliminate corruption.

Remember how I said in my review of It Should Happen to You that I didn't really 'get' Judy Holliday? Well, I watched this and loved her…and the film. I'm so glad I saw this, as it was a lot more fun that I was expecting. Plus, Judy just plays this type of role to perfection. It helps, too, that her character is slightly less ditzy than usual. (I also noticed that--for whatever reason--her characteristic accent is not quite as strong here.)

If you watch a lot of old movies, you will surely spot several familiar character actors—John Williams, Richard Deacon, Ray Collins, and others (including narration by George Burns).

I also really liked Paul Douglas in this. He's not your typical Hollywood leading man and I just love that! Plus, he has a great screen presence. His budding romance with Judy's character is really sweet.

Over all, I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this. It's a very cute movie that is definitely worth checking out. I'm so glad I decided to give Judy another chance! :)


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Famous Fathers

In honor of Father’s Day, here are some images of classic Hollywood dads with their offspring.

Gary Cooper with daughter Maria Cooper Janis.

{Click on image to enlarge and read article}

Buster Keaton with sons Junior and Bob.

William Wyler and wife Judy Tallichet with daughters Catherine and Judy.

Dean Martin takes his brood for a ride.

Bing Crosby and his family do some cycling.

Andrew and Sheila McLaglen join their dad, Victor McLaglen, for a jog.

Director W.S. Van Dyke with his family.

Wallace Beery and his children.

Glenn Ford and son Peter.

Edward G. Robinson Jr. Speaking with his Father
Edward G. Robinson and his son Edward Jr.

David Niven and his children get some sun.

Ray Milland teaches his son Daniel David a few notes.

John Wayne and daughter Aissa on the set of The Alamo.

Conrad Nagel and daughter practice their fencing.

Dana Andrews plays with his kids on the beach.

Fred MacMurray with his twin daughters.

Jack Lemmon with son Chris.

Leslie Howard talks to his daughter.

Richard Burton with daughter Kate.

Frank Sinatra with daughter Nancy and son Frank Jr.

Kirk Douglas and son Eric.

Richard Widmark reads his daughter a story.

Van Johnson and daughter Schuyler

Pat O’Brien and daughter get ready to enjoy some cake.

Robert Young with daughter Carol Ann and wife Elizabeth.

William Holden and son.

Jack Benny shows off his cooking skills to daughter Joan.

Richard Arlen and Junior.

Vincente Minnelli with daughter Liza.

Charlton Heston and daughter Holly Ann.

John Mills with daughter Hayley.

Alan Ladd and son David.

Donald O’Connor and daughter.

Dennis Morgan shoots some pool with son Stanley.

Director Michael Powell shares some tricks-of-the-trade with son Columba.

Joel McCrea and son Jody on set.

Alfred Hitchcock talks with daughter Patricia.

Paul Newman with wife Joanne and daughter Nell.


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