Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Help (2011)

Aug. 20, 2011

71. The Help (2011)

Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, and Jessica Chastain

Directed by Tate Taylor

Plot: “A look at what happens when a southern town's unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship.” (from IMDb)

Yes, a new movie! The first film I’ve seen in theaters in quite awhile. I was going to wait and read the book before I saw this, but my sister was in town and wanted to go see it, so I did. This wasn't my favorite movie ever, but I definitely enjoyed watching it. I'm not sure what I think of it on a critical level.  You see, I saw on IMDb that a lot of people find this film to be racist. It didn't strike me as that way, but perhaps I just can't relate (?). I don’t think I will read the book, though. If you’ve seen this, what do you think? Is it a racist?


Of course, the '60s wardrobes, houses, cars, etc. are fabulously fun to see but I couldn't really enjoy them a whole lot because this kind of focused on the ugly part of the '60s, with racial prejudice and everything.

One of my favorite characters was Miss Celia (not pictured). I loved how giddy she was and that she really didn't care about skin color. I do think it was kind of mean of her to try to get back at Miss Hilly, though.

As for objectionable content, it is rated PG-13, mostly for language I assume (though there is also some violence, smoking, and—of course—racial prejudice). This bothers me because the swearing is so utterly unnecessary in the film that I have to wonder if they inserted it just for the ratings bump.

I love this picture—the glasses the typewriter, everything!

Viola Davis was just superb.

I really did like Emma Stone in this. I thought she did a great job; I just hope that this is the first in a series of better career choices (Easy A sounded awful).

Final verdict: Aside from the fact of some language issues and possible racism (still a little confused on that), I did enjoy this film! :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Road House (1948)

image Aug. 14, 2011

70. Road House (1948)

Starring Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, Celeste Holm, Richard Widmark
Directed by Jean Negulesco

Plot: “A nightclub owner frames a romantic rival for murder.” (from TCMDb)

I can’t remember where it was that I saw this clip (shout out if it was you and I’ll credit your blog),  but when I first saw it a month or so ago it made me want to check out this film. Luckily, I was able to get it through our state inter-library loan system, and I’m so glad I did! This film did not disappoint.


I didn't think I liked film noir, but this was really excellent. (Though I guess some would say that it's not technically noir because **BIG SPOILER** it has a happy ending.)

Speaking of the end, I kind of wonder what is supposed to have happened after the movie ends. Do they go to Canada? Are they acquitted?


Richard Widmark’s performance is one of the best parts of this film. It’s one I could watch over and over, I think, because he’s just so deliciously villainous in it. He manages to be both amusing and frightening at the same time.


Cornel Wilde’s role isn’t quite a showy as some of the other players in this, but he does a good job as the strong and steady man.


There's something about Ida’s character I didn't like. She's too sassy and sure of herself, and I don’t like how she plays up to Pete. Plus, it is rather hard to believe that their relationship is more than passing infatuation. It was difficult for me to really buy the chemistry between these two. It didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the film, though, because there’s so much more going on than just their relationship. Of course, Ida’s performance is top notch. I did have a hard time believing that her singing really drove that much business to the road house, though!


I love how she totally shuts down Cornel's character when he tries to dump her at the depot. One tough dame.


Celeste Holm is great in this as Susie. Even after the man she is kind of interested in falls in love with someone else, she is not vengeful or full of spite. She just does what is right and tries to help the them. She was also not afraid to face Widmark’s character. I did feel a little sorry for her, though, because I think she deserved to end up with Pete (though I know of course that the movie would not have worked out the same that way).


Ida’s face may not be traditionally beautiful, but it is very captivating. I want to see more of her movies (especially if they are all this good). She's just so unique. I don't really 'love' her yet, but I'm definitely intrigued by her. 


I can’t believe I didn’t get any screencaps with people smoking because there is an insane amount of it in this film. I know most old movies include some cigarette use, but this one seemed like it had an extra lot of it! Ida’s character in particular is rarely seen without a cigarette.


This film has a great dark, atmospheric feel.


Definitely see this. The performances, cinematography, plot, and dialogue are all really great.

Yeah, there are improbabilities and contrivances, but I didn’t really notice any of them during the film. I was too caught up in the plot to care about the details.

Oh, and if you have seen this, please recommend any other similar film noirs that you think I would like. I think I may be slowly changing my mind about this genre!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

With a Song in My Heart (1952)

Aug. 13-14, 2011

69. With a Song in My Heart (1952)

Starring Susan Hayward, Rory Calhoun, David Wayne, Thelma Ritter, Robert Wagner, Helen Westcott, Una Merkel

Directed by Walter Lang

Plot **CONTAINS SPOILERS**: “Jane Froman (Susan Hayward), an aspiring songstress, lands a job in radio with help from pianist Don Ross (David Wayne), whom she later marries. Jane's popularity soars, and she leaves on a European tour... but her plane crashes in Lisbon, and she is partially crippled. Unable to walk without crutches, Jane nevertheless goes on to entertain the Allied troops in World War II.” (from IMDb)

This film definitely has some good things going for it (which I talk more about below) but I thought the story itself was a bit sad—the plane crash, how her marriage fell apart, etc. Nevertheless, it’s still an interesting true story that combines music, patriotism, and drama.


Jane Froman (Hayward) singing radio commercials near the beginning of her career.


David Wayne’s character is kind of annoying and fickle, but I think he’s supposed to be.


According to IMDb, Marilyn Monroe later wore this exact same costume (pictured above) in 1956’s Bus Stop.


Susan Hayward lip-synced to recordings of the real Jane Froman’s singing. That gives the movie an interesting touch because we are listening to the real singer. Speaking of Froman, I'm quite enthralled with her talent. She has such an amazing voice! You can listen to one of her songs—and learn more about her—by going to her website (it'll play automatically if you have your volume turned on). I can’t believe I’d never heard of her before!


Rory Calhoun.


The fateful plane journey.


This movie has a lot of songs in it, but I honestly didn’t notice that it was more than usual because they are so good! The soundtrack on this really could not be better. In fact, Alfred Newman won an Oscar for his musical scoring of the film.


I thought Hayward was great in this film. She really put her whole heart into the role. I’m eager to see more of her movies. For her performance in this film, she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.


If for nothing else, I recommend watching this film for Thelma Ritter. This is one of her best roles, in my opinion. She’s terrific!


The Academy nominated Thelma for Best Supporting actress. The film also garnered Oscar nominations in the areas of costume design and sound recording. 


A very young Robert Wagner appears twice in the film—once as an audience member at one of Jane’s shows (above) and later as a shell-shocked soldier (below).



I definitely recommend watching the extras on this film if you see it on DVD. The movie ends with quite a few things left undecided: what happens to her relationship with Burn, whether she ended up losing her leg, etc. The special features explain the real life story of Jane Froman and how they went about adapting it to screen. It helps to fill in some of the gaps of the film.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

To the Shores of Tripoli (1942)

Aug. 13, 2011

68. To the Shores of Tripoli (1942)

Starring John Payne, Maureen O'Hara, Randolph Scott, Nancy Kelly, Minor Watson

Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone

Plot: “Sergeant Dixie Smith has more raw recruits to turn into Marines, if he can. Among them is cocky casanova Chris Winters, son of an officer, who's just tried to ‘mash’ Mary Carter, a major's niece. Once on base, he finds Mary's a nurse and an off-limits officer. Does this stop him? Of course not. But his attitude problem soon puts him in a position where he must redeem himself, with December 7, 1941 fast approaching.” (from IMDb)

This is more a propaganda film than a war film. It deals with the misadventures of a headstrong Marine recruit (John Payne), and most of it takes place on the base. I’m not a big Randolph Scott fan, but surprisingly I don’t hate him in this (what a uniform will do for a man…just kidding!). Mainly I think that’s because it’s pretty easy to empathize with Scott’s character, as Chris Winters (Payne) really is a—pardon the pun—pain. In other words, he’s a jerk. That’s the key problem with the film: the main character is not likeable! I’m not sure what they were trying to do with this movie, perhaps just show how anyone can rise to the call of duty…er, something?



According to Wikipedia, “The Marines credit the movie as the biggest single recruitment aide in 1942.”


Love the tilt of Payne's hat. And look how ramrod straight Scott is standing. I guess that defines his character.



John Payne and Maureen O’Hara also appeared together in Miracle on 34th Street, Sentimental Journey, and Tripoli (not related to this film).


The Technicolor is gorgeous! It really highlights Maureen’s beauty. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Color Cinematography.


This reminds me of Cherry Ames. (Did anyone else ever read those books? I used to love them!)


I’m honestly not sure what Maureen’s character saw in Winters.


August 17 was Maureen’s 91st birthday. Happy birthday and many more to one of Classic Hollywood’s greatest living legends!

An unfortunate bit of racism. I guess this was supposed to be funny?

The ending was changed because of Pearl Harbor. This film was just over two hours but it felt even longer. Not one I’ll be rushing to see again anytime soon, though I’ve certainly seen worse!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thank you for the awards, everyone!

I know it’s been a while since I last posted. I have not fallen off the face of the earth, I’ve just been having a few technical problems. I actually have four reviews I need to post and I’ll work on getting those up as soon as I can figure out why the photos aren’t publishing.

In the meantime, I have been gifted two very cool awards by a slew of fabulous bloggers. I honestly did not know so many people read and enjoyed my blog. I’m really very grateful! I originally started this space as a way to share my love of classic Hollywood films; I didn’t expect it to account to much. But I have met so many wonderful bloggers throughout the movie-blogging community and have really enjoyed connecting with all of you. So THANK YOU! :)

Even though most of the people I am giving this award to have already received it, I am still listing them to show my appreciation for their great blogs. Obviously, they don’t have to redo the meme, though!

Graphic by Craig at Blame Mame

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award to 12 of your blogging buddies.
4. Notify the recipients.

Meredith, Dawn, Monty, Sophie, auntmera1942 (no link…),  Natalie, Rianna, and Bette nominated me with the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. Needless to say, I feel very flattered!
  1. I am a Catholic and I love God and my faith very much.
  2. I grew up watching old films, but I just started exploring them myself in the spring of 2010.
  3. With few exceptions, I generally prefer happy endings. :)
  4. One of the many reasons I love old movies is because of the great costumes (thus the title of this blog, I guess. Actually I just couldn't think of a better name. But don't tell anyone).
  5. My favorite decade is probably the 1940s, with perhaps the Edwardian period (1910s) or 1950s as a runner up.
  6. I have a major sweet tooth!
  7. [Not really a random fact but I couldn’t think of any more!] I just added an “About” page on my blog and it includes some of these facts (just so you know I’m not being unintentionally repetitive!)
I am giving this award to:
  1. Amanda at A Noodle in a Haystack: Amanda’s a great writer and deep thinker. Plus, she loves Debbie Reynolds and Ginger Rogers!
  2. Katie and Hilary at The Scarlett Olive: This is actually the blog for these two friend’s classic movie podcast. Be sure to listen!
  3. Sally at Flying Down to Hollywood: I love Sally’s quote guessing game, though I have yet to get one right!
  4. Sophie at Waitin’ On a Sunny Day: Sophie is a sweet soul and her reviews are bubbling with fun and personality. She loves Greer Garson, how could you not like her?
  5. Clara at Via Margutta 51:  You can really tell Clara puts a lot of time into her blog. She has a bunch of unique features and informative content that make her blog a fun place to visit.
  6. MC at Happy Thoughts, Darling: MC hasn’t blogged in a while but I loved it when she did!
  7. Laura at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings: A faithful blogger who often highlights obscure titles. Her weekly link round-ups are great, too.
  8. The Life, Times and Thoughts of a Classic Film Fan: Another one that hasn’t posted recently. There is still some great stuff on the blog, though—like the Things to Never Say to a Classic Film Fan posts.
  9. Bette at Bette’s Classic Movie Blog: Bette’s only 13 but knows a ton about classic film, is very smart, plays the ukulele, acts, and who-knows-what-else. She’s one talented girl!
  10. Ginny at Old Movie Nostalgia: I’m fairly new to this blog but I love what I’ve read so far. Ginny has a great writing style and does some fun posts (like highlighting what actors came from a certain state). Recently, she did a great review of Road House which I just watched and loved (and will be posting about soon!).
  11. Jennifer at Comet Over Hollywood: Jennifer is insightful, down-to-earth, and insanely knowledgeable about old movies. Her content is always original and interesting. I also love her classic actress beauty tips!
  12. Lindsay at Lindsay’s Movie Musings: Another one that is new-ish to me. She did a great post reflecting on why the general public doesn’t watch many old movies.
Clara, Amanda, Natalie, Emily, and Sophie, very kindly awarded me the Liebster Blog Award, which honors blogs with less than 300 followers.

I  am passing on this award to:
  1. Monty at All Good Things: I just loved Monty’s recent classic actress and actor tournaments. What a great idea! They were a lot of fun to vote in.
  2. Millie at ClassicForever: Even if you don’t like Alfred Hitchcock or ‘60s surfer movies, you’re sure to be amused by Millie’s wit and unique style.
  3. Casey at Noir Girl: Casey posts about movies, sewing, fashion, books, and old Hollywood. I loved the recent interview she did with Patricia Hammond.
If I didn’t pick you, don’t feel bad. I could’ve a) not known about your blog, or b) just forgot about it while posting this! Feel free to tag the award even if you weren’t mentioned.

Whew! That was kind of exhausting! :)

Thanks again, everybody!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Loving Lucy: Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949)

Aug. 5, 2011

67. Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949)

Starring Lucille Ball, William Holden, Janis Carter, James Gleason, Gloria Henry, Frank McHugh

Directed by Lloyd Bacon

Plot: "A bookie uses a phony real estate business as a front for his betting parlor. To further keep up the sham, he hires dim-witted Ellen Grant as his secretary figuring she won't suspect any criminal goings-on. When Ellen learns of some friends who are about to lose their homes, she unwittingly drafts her boss into developing a new low-cost housing development.” (from IMDb)

Since I haven’t seen many of Lucille Ball’s films, in honor of her 100th birthday blogathon I decided to view one of them. I honestly was not expecting much from this movie and it was about what I thought it would be. Not a bad way to pass the time, but not a profound cinematic achievement either.

charles lane  

Dependable character actor Charles Lane has a small role near the beginning of this movie. I Love Lucy fans will recognize him from several episodes of the show: “Staten Island Ferry” (1956), “The Business Manager” (1954), “Lucy Tells the Truth” (1953), and “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” (1953).

Another actor in this that would later appear in I Love Lucy was Will Wright, who showed up in two episodes: "Tennessee Bound” (1955), and "The Handcuffs” (1952).

Lucy looks gorgeous in this film. Costumes were designed by Jean Louis.


Together with Holden, James Gleason and Frank McHugh make up the trio of bookies.


When this film was made, William Holden had not yet reached the height of his fame, which would be launched by his success the following year in Sunset Blvd. I found his character in this film a bit too cynical to be a sympathetic leading man for this type of light comedy. In fact, I actually thought Ellen’s (Ball’s) boyfriend was a lot nicer than the bookie character played by Holden. He is very handsome, and though comedy may not be Holden’s forte, there are glimmers of the dry wit and unmistakable voice that helped make him a star.

William Holden would later star in a very famous episode of I Love Lucy. Here is a clip from part of that show:

You can also watch Lucy light her nose on fire and throw a pie at Holden.


According to IMDb: “Rita Hayworth was going to star in this movie, but Hayworth requested script revisions, and went on suspension to avoid making it.” I can’t say I really blame her. The material is just not that good.


One of the best parts of the film was near the end when Lucy’s character pretends to be tough-talking gangster. It reminds me of the kind of comedy she would later come to embody as Lucy Ricardo.

Though the film as a whole is rather unremarkable, it is interesting to watch these promising stars at this point in their careers. A solid B picture, it’s not a great movie, but it is worth watching if one is interested in Ball’s career pre-I Love Lucy.

{Here are more photos and some behind-the-scenes pictures from this film.}


i love lucy
This is post is my humble contribution to the Loving Lucy Blogathon, hosted by True Classics.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...