Thursday, March 31, 2011

Detective Story (1951)

Mar. 31, 2011

47. Detective Story (1951)

Starring Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Cathy O'Donnell

Produced & Directed by William Wyler

Plot: "On one day in the 21st Precinct squad room, assorted characters form a backdrop for the troubles of hard-nosed Detective Jim McLeod." (from IMDb)

Anybody want to watch a really depressing movie? Not tender tear-jerker type depressing, but one—to quote the film—that makes you want to just "dry up and die"? Well, then I have the film for you!

Maybe I just feel this way because I was expecting a different type of movie (I thought this would be a mystery!). I do think that it is an intelligent film (based on a stage play) and that there are probably some kernels of truth/things of merit in it, but for some reason it just struck a wrong cord with me.

First off, the acting. Kirk Douglas is just a bit much here. I guess it’s mainly his delivery that I’m not a fan of. I like Eleanor Parker in The Sound of Music, but in the films I have seen of hers in the last few months, she seems to play a very tormented type of woman. The way her face paralyzes into this ‘tormented’ expression is, again, just a bit much. Those were the performances that I disliked—feel free to disagree. I don’t want to insult anyone’s favorites if you happen to love Kirk and Eleanor. Please enlighten me! :)

Thankfully, most of the other performances were really good (if a little stage-y). I especially liked Lee Grant (her exit was hilarious and the best part of the movie, in my opinion) and William Bendix. As a side note, it was also refreshing to see a film of this period that featured an African American (albeit in a small part) who was not portrayed as a racial stereotype.

For some reason, I seem to either love or hate a lot of William Wyler movies. I certainly did not love this one. But if you are a fan of film noir, watching characters’ lives unravel, and unhappy endings, this just might be for you.

Trivia and observations:

  • Cathy O'Donnell, who played Susan Carmichael, was producer-director William Wyler's sister-in-law. Her husband, Robert Wyler, co-wrote the screenplay.
  • I couldn’t help but wonder if Lee Grant’s line "will they shave my head?" was a nod to costar Eleanor Parker’s film Caged (1950), which came out the year before. In that film, Parker’s character gets her head shaved. But maybe I am just reading too much into it?

P.S. Tomorrow is the last day to vote in this month’s poll.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Young Victoria (2009)

Mar. 27, 2011

46. The Young Victoria (2009)

Starring Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Plot: "A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria's rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert." (from IMDb)

This was one of the best films I've seen in a long time. From the outset, the lively pace of the piece enticed me into the story. I found myself quite captivated by the visuals, music, emotions, and storytelling of the film. Often I watch a movie in the background, but this one garnered my full attention and kept me captivated throughout.

First of all, the casting was perfect. Blunt wonderfully conveyed the strong-willed yet vulnerable Victoria, and Friend was ideal as the kind gentleman who wins her heart.

Though some parts of the story seemed rushed, I rather liked the film's jaunty pace. I felt that in this case, as in poetry, superfluous words were unneeded to convey the heart of the story.

As for criticisms, I have few. ***SPOILER ALERT*** I do wonder why they included the false incident of Albert getting wounded, though. One would think such iconic royals had interesting enough lives without the aid of fictional embellishment. I also thought the gliding technique used at Victoria's first dance was a little jarring. But whatever my minor nit-pickings may be, none of these elements did anything to deter my wholehearted enjoyment of this film. It's one that I would love to watch over and over. Needless to say, I am hoping that unconfirmed rumors of a sequel are true!


This film won an Oscar for it’s costumes and its easy to see why—they are beautiful! I found this site that gives screen captures for each outfit. You may wish to check it out if you are an admirer of beautiful period clothes. I also found this other review when I was looking for photos. I thought the author did a great job of summarizing the beauty of this film.


If you can’t tell, I loved this film and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys period dramas…or is just in the mood for a touching love story.

Thank you!

Two more bloggers have given me the Stylish Blogger award. I am very flattered to receive this award again. Thank you both! I have already completed the meme, so I will not do so again, but I just wanted to mention and thank these two very generous bloggers. Be sure to check them out at The Best Picture Project and Forever Classics, respectively.

grace blowing a kiss

Update: Thanks also to Jessica at Comet Over Hollywood for awarding me. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

That Darn Cat (1965)

That Darn Cat!
Mar. 26, 2011

45. That Darn Cat! (1965)

Starring Hayley Mills, Dean Jones, Dorothy Provine, Roddy MacDowell
Directed by Robert Stevenson

Plot: "A woman is kidnapped. While in captivity, she manages to send a message out with a wandering cat. The cat's owner calls the FBI. The FBI tries to follow the cat. Jealous boyfriends and nosy neighbors also get in the act." (from IMDb)

When Clara posted about this movie a month or so ago, I knew that it looked familiar. I remember watching a similar film when I was about eight or nine…but it was in black and white. That’s happened to me a couple of times—I remember a scene or film that I watched when I was younger but am not sure of the title. I may have to do a post on some of the ones I remember that I haven’t been able to pin down. Maybe someone will recognize them by my description. Gosh, I sound like I have dementia or something! Honestly, when I was younger I just never paid that much attention to the titles we rented from our local video store or borrowed from friends. In any case, I knew I wanted to see this one again, so…

This isn't a 'great' film in terms of artistic merit, but in the vein of the other Disney golden-era family flicks it delivers a fun, light-hearted adventure. This was Hayley Mills last film for Disney and--though this isn't my favorite of her movies--she is just as delightful as always. The plot is fairly simple/predictable and some of the physical comedy induced a bit of eye-rolling from me, but I love the sprinkling of familiar character actors, likable leads, and fun '60s fashion***. Then again, I grew up watching this type of movie, so perhaps the genre just holds sentimental value. :) Either way, I thought it was a cute movie.

***I really should’ve taken some screencaps. The images here don’t do it justice. I just love the breezy ‘60s style in this film, though--lots of bright sweaters, swingy skirts, and flowing headscarves for the women (and of course well-tailored suits and thin ties for the men).

Here are some photos of a few of the many familiar faces in the cast (most images taken from here)

Dorothy Provine as Hayley’s sister. I thought she was just a teensy bit annoying. It was amusing how their parents were conveniently touring Europe. :)

Dean Jones as the likable FBI agent.

Roddy McDowall as the suspicious (and hilarious) boyfriend.

Grayson Hall (the Oscar-nominated actress in The Night of the Iguana) as the woman held captive by the crooks.

Elsa Lanchester playing a VERY nosy neighbor.

William Demarest as Lanchester’s curmudgeonly husband (let’s just say they don’t have the greatest of spousal relationships).

Ed Wynn

Iris Adrian plays the suspicious landlady (she was also in The Odd Couple and Love Bug).

Richard Deacon

And as is customary for many ‘60s movies, the film has a title song (sung by Bobby Darin).

For a more in-depth review of this film, I found this. It gives a great write-up of the story, assesses its strengths, and features some more pictures.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rest in Peace, Elizabeth Taylor

I was shocked to hear of Elizabeth’s death a few days ago. She always seemed to me like one of those iconic people that would just be around forever. Since many wonderful posts have already been written celebrating the life, career, and legacy of Dame Taylor, here are some photos.


fuckyesoldhollywood:<br /><br />Elizabeth Taylor<br />

withnailrules:<br /><br />RIP Elizabeth Taylor, 2/27/1932 - 3/23/2011<br />

<br />“My Mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love. Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts.”<br />— Michael Wilding<br />

fuckyesoldhollywood:<br /><br />What an amazing photo.<br />Sleep peacefully, darling.<br /><br />RIP, Elizabeth Taylor :(

Rest in peace, Elizabeth.

‘Stylish Blogger Award’

To my utter surprise and delight, I was recently awarded the “Stylish Blogger Award” by Bette’s Classic Movie Blog, run by the very sweet and very knowledgeable old movie fan named Bette. Thank you so much! I am really honored! :) As part of the award, I am to link back to the person who gave it to me—so please check out Bette’s fabulous blog!

As part of the award I am supposed to share seven random facts about myself, so here goes…

1. Besides just classic films, I also love a lot of old TV shows (from the ‘50s and ‘60s). Perhaps one of these days I will do some posts highlighting my favorites.

2. I spent part of my freshman year at a boarding school. It was both very different and very similar to The Trouble With Angels (love that movie!).

3. I love to read, though I don’t do it as much as I used to. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and my [current] favorite author is Maud Hart Lovelace.

4. I am from a big family, and both my parents grew up in fairly large families. On just my mom’s side I have over 40 first cousins!

5. My favorite movie when I was younger was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Our babysitter brought it once and I just thought it was magical.

6. I am a vegan, for a number of reasons. It took some time to get used to eating this way but now I really love it. It’s opened me up to so many new foods that I never would’ve explored otherwise.

7. I think this last one is supposed to be an embarrassing personal anecdote, so… when I was little, I once got my head stuck in a chair. It was one of those chairs that has the vertical posts on the back and for some reason I decided to see if my head would fit between them! :P

Now I must give this award to seven other bloggers. I know some of them may already have received the award—so they obviously don’t have to redo it—but I just want to commend their awesome blogs anyway. :)

  1. Amanda @ A Noodle in a Haystack—the first classic film blog I started reading. I remember being so excited when I discovered such a thing existed…and that other people my age actually watched old movies!
  2. A blogger that always makes me laugh and smile—the stupendous Millie @ ClassicForever.
  3. I love the daily classic movie-related quotes from Niamhy @ Born in the Wrong Decade.
  4. A blogger who always writes unique, insightful, and entertaining posts, Clara @ Via Margutta 51 is one of my favorites.
  5. MC @ Happy Thoughts, Darling is a great writer and reviewer, and always includes lots of beautiful screencaps.
  6. The classic film-related birthdays and links that KC @ Classic Movies posts are always interesting.
  7. E. @ A Classic Escapist Goes to Law School writes in an easy, conversational style and is really fun to read.

Thanks, everyone! :D

Sorry that I haven’t been posting as much lately. Honestly, I just haven’t been watching many classic films to blog about!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

February Poll Results + March Poll

The results of the February poll comparing the two stages of Cary Grant’s career are in (they’ve been ‘in’ for a while, but don’t tell).

14 voted that they preferred his work in the 1930s - 1940s
2 voted that they preferred his work in the 1950s - 1960s

I think the fact that Grant made so many films during the first half of his career probably made the match such a sweep.

But his next poll I think will be a little harder…


I thought it would be interesting this month to compare the stages of another legend, James Stewart. The two parts of his career are easily divided, as his roles took on more diversity after he returned from his service in World War II. Unlike Cary Grant, who mainly played variations of the same type of character, Stewart got the opportunity to flex his acting muscles in a variety of roles during his career.

This is from Wikipedia (classy source, I know):

Stewart's career defied the boundaries of genre and trend, and he made his mark in screwball comedies, suspense thrillers, westerns, biographies and family films.

I think because his image was that of such an ‘everyman’ he was able to flawlessly transition into many genres.

Just to refresh everyone of what films he made, here is a partial filmography of Stewart’s films:

Pre-War (1935-1941)

Next Time We Love
Wife vs. Secretary
Small Town Girl
The Gorgeous Hussy
Born to Dance
After the Thin Man
Seventh Heaven
Of Human Hearts
Vivacious Lady
The Shopworn Angel
You Can't Take It With You
Made for Each Other
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Destry Rides Again
The Shop Around the Corner

The Mortal Storm
The Philadelphia Story

Ziegfeld Girl

File:Brig. Gen. James M. Stewart.jpg
Post-War (1946 and on)

It's a Wonderful Life
Call Northside 777
The Stratton Story
Winchester '73
Broken Arrow
No Highway in the Sky
The Greatest Show on Earth
The Naked Spur
The Glenn Miller Story

Rear Window
The Man Who Knew Too Much

The Spirit of St. Louis
Bell, Book and Candle

Anatomy of a Murder
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation

How the West Was Won
The Flight of the Phoenix
The Shootist

So which do you prefer? The films Stewart made earlier in his career, or his later work? You can vote in the poll on the sidebar.

Speaking of which, iIt really bothers me that the poll seems to be too short in length and height for the poll widget to fit into (see picture below). I’ve tried widening the sidebar but to no avail. It’s quite annoying. I may switch to a different poll service but I like the Blogger one because it matches the theme.

lkl <---see, you can’t even read the whole thing without scrolling! Gahh! Let me know if you have any advice to make the poll fit right. : )

Happy Birthday, Barbara Feldon!


Happy 78th birthday to Barbara Feldon! I primarily (well, only) know Barbara from her most famous role playing secret agent 99 on the popular spy-spoof comedy show Get Smart! (1965-1970).

I had a bunch of actual screencaps from the show, but apparently those got deleted (?!?!), so I had to hunt down some images on the Interwebs. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll do a post highlighting 99’s swingin’ sixties fashion, but for now, here are some lovely images in honor of Barbara’s birthday.

  Max-and-99-get-smart-original-series-1716122-210-296  barbara feldon 3

BarbaraFeldon (1)  Celebrity-Image-Barbara-Feldon-237717  

barbara feldon

Wishing you many more, Barbara!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

That Funny Feeling (1965)


Mar. 11, 2011

44. That Funny Feeling (1965)

Starring Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin, Donald O'Connor

Directed by Richard Thorpe

Plot: "Joan Howell, a young and pretty maid-for-hire, meets and begins dating wealthy New York City businessman Tom Milford. Embarrassed about bringing him back to her tiny apartment that she shares with her roommate Audrey, Joan brings Tom over to a fancy apartment that she cleans on a daily basis not knowing that it's his place. Tom plays along with the charade despite not knowing who Joan really is, while she tries to tidy up Tom's place not knowing who he really is." (from IMDb. Whew! Long synopsis! )

The premise of this movie is pretty ridiculous, and it relies on the usual comedy shtick of mistakan identity. Yet somehow this film still comes across as amusing and enjoyable. There are a lot of little gags and scenarios that remind me of a Rock/Doris comedy (even more so than If a Man Answers). Bobby Darin's character gets a bigger role in this one, and he even has a Tony Randall-like sidekick (flawlessly and hilariously played by Donald O'Connor). There are also a scattering of many other familiar character actors that kept popping up as cab drivers, policemen, bartenders, roommates, etc. Again, one of the main things that I loved about this film was the stunning Jean Louis wardrobe worn by Sandra Dee. I think I want to own just about every single thing she wore in this movie! Of the two Darin/Dee films I've seen recently, I think I preferred If a Man Answers slightly more than this one. But they are both funny, escapist, feel-good films.

Here are a few screencaps to show off the great clothes I mentioned. As you can see, the DVD transfer was really great and the colors just pop of the screen.










Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Love You Again (1940)

Mar. 9, 2011<br />43. I Love You Again (1940)<br />Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Frank McHugh, Edmund Lowe<br />Directed by W.S. Van Dyke<br />Plot: &#8220;Boring businessman Larry Wilson recovers from amnesia and discovers he&#8217;s really a con man&#8230;and loves his soon-to-be-ex wife.&#8221; (from IMDb)<br />A fairly amusing comedy with a solid cast. The ninth of fourteen films that Myrna Loy and William Powell made together, I didn&#8217;t find this one as sparkling or funny as some of their others. But it&#8217;s not bad, and does have its share of humor and charm. I would say it&#8217;s worth seeking out&#8212;especially if you are a fan of the leads. 

Mar. 9, 2011

43. I Love You Again (1940)

Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Frank McHugh, Edmund Lowe

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke

Plot: “Boring businessman Larry Wilson recovers from amnesia and discovers he’s really a con man…and loves his soon-to-be-ex wife.” (from IMDb)

A fairly amusing comedy with a solid cast. The ninth of fourteen films that Myrna Loy and William Powell made together, I didn’t find this one as sparkling or funny as some of their others. But it’s not bad, and does have its share of humor and charm. I would say it’s worth seeking out—especially if you are a fan of the leads.


George Carey (William Powell): "A thing like a divorce can…break up a marriage!"

George Carey: You be careful, madam, or you'll turn my pretty head with your flattery.
Kay Wilson (Myrna Loy): I often wished I could turn your head - on a spit, over a slow fire.

Herbert (Donald Douglas): "She may be your wife but she's engaged to me!"

Pride and Prejudice (1995) – BBC Miniseries


Mar. 7, 8, 9, 2011 (<—this is 300 minutes, after all!)

42. Pride and Prejudice (1995)—REWATCH

Starring Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Susannah Harker, Julia Sawalha, Alison Steadman, Benjamin Whitrow, Crispin Bonham-Carter

Directed by Simon Langton

Plot: "Jane Austen's classic novel about the prejudice that occurred between the 19th century classes and the pride which would keep lovers apart." (from IMDb, and a rather poor summary, but I assume most know the gist of the plot)


I always have a hard time pinning down my favorite P&P adaption. I like certain elements of all the ones I've seen—the 1940 one with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, this version, and the 2005 film with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFadyen. I like this adaption because of the time the story has to develop and because it is usually regarded as the adaption most faithful to the original novel. But…

I'm glad I decided to rewatch this because I saw some things in a very different perspective. I guess there were mainly three things that jumped out at me. But before delving into those points, I feel like I should give some sort of warning to die-hard Austen fans. I'm afraid I might scandalize or offend you with what I am about to say…

First: I forgot just how stuck-up and sulky Darcy is. I know that he is always regarded as The Ideal Man, but I don't think I would ever want to be married to that type of person. He is certainly an interesting character and I enjoy the story, but I just think the whole Mr. Darcy thing is overrated. I understand that he is shy, awkward, willing to work on his faults, etc. but just imagine him on a bad day! I am happy to hear any arguments supporting the theory that he is Male Perfection Personified, though—so shoot away! (Personally, I can think of Austen men that I find much more agreeable. Just in this, I rather liked Col. Fitzwilliam. He seemed like a nice, handsome, steady, stable guy…without the glowering stares and mood swings.)

Second: I never really felt like Elizabeth loves Darcy (at least in this adaption) for who he is. Her attraction in this seems to begin when she discovers how rich he is, and she even admits this jokingly. Or is she joking?

Jane Bennet: No, seriously, Lizzy. When did you first know you were in love with Mr. Darcy?
Elizabeth Bennet: It came on so slowly I hardly know... but I believe I must date it from the time I first saw his wonderful grounds at Pemberley.

Third: The ending seemed to lack something. Despite the objections I listed above, none of these really hit me until near the end of the film. In fact, I greatly enjoyed most of this adaption. I found myself caught up in the tension between Elizabeth and Darcy, suppressing laughter at the funny parts, and enjoying watching the plot unfold even though I knew it well. But…the end. It felt like SUCH a let down. His second proposal seemed most ‘blah’. Her reaction was so subdued. And then the wedding. It just felt like it really lacked something. I still wasn't buying their attraction. I guess (don't shoot me for this) I like more how the ending was handle in the 2005 film--we can clearly see that they are in love with each other, they acknowledge their short-comings and false presumptions, and they live happily ever after.

Please don’t think I didn’t enjoy this at all, though. As I said, I still thought it was a great miniseries. I just noticed some things that I hadn’t before. But as to what I liked…

I loved how much is conveyed in all the looks.


Such beautiful penmanship! I wish I could write that nicely.


There were some lovely shots of the English countryside. The 2005 adaption also did a beautiful job of this.


This is one of my favorite scenes (how original, I know). I like it because of how awkward and nervous the usually up-tight Darcy is. This is evidenced in the fact that he requests after the well-being of her family twice in a very brief conversation. His character really begins to develop. We see that he is shy and tongue-tied and maybe just not as proud as Elizabeth thinks…


The STARE…there’s a lot of that in this movie.


Also quite a lot of this ^^^ (letter reading)



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