Saturday, February 28, 2015

2014 Film Finds

A little late as we are already a few months into the new year, but what the heck, why not? Here are my favorite film finds from 2014:

1) Sunday in New York (1963) - Without a doubt, this is my top find in 2014. I discovered this film on a lazy summer night while browsing through TCM's online On Demand movies. I hit play, and it was love at first sight. 
The movie is full of funny lines, excellent observations about double standards of the time (which still exist, IMHO), fabulous style from hair to make-up to outfits, and a couple of hotties (*sigh* Rod Taylor--I'm just sad I discovered Taylor the year of his passing, Cliff Robertson...and for the men, Jane Fonda).  I must have watched the film a dozen times since my first viewing in June or July. Every time it was on TCM, I tuned in or DVR-ed it. By December, I decided I couldn't risk the chance of not having access to Sunday in New York (SiNY) if I was in a SiNY mood, so I broke down a purchased the film. 
Click here to see Classic Reel Girl posts which discuss SiNY.

 2) Lydia (1941) - Another total accident film viewing. The movie sounded somewhat interesting, so I DVR-ed it. I wasn't even sure that I would end up watching the movie. I am so glad I did.
What I discovered was a film that possessed more depth than what the description declared. In fact, the film overview on the TCM site is inaccurate. The site states the movie is about "An unmarried woman [who] stages a reunion with former suitors to recapture the romance of her past" when it is actually one of her suitors that stages the reunion in hopes of discovering the man she has truly desired all these years. What unfolds is a journey that teaches us about the danger of devoting oneself to a memory as it is subjective and therefore often inaccurate. What a find! I truly believe that if the description was corrected, this film would find a larger audience.
Click here to read my original post on Lydia.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Frosty Random Harvest

~Part of my 10 for 2015 New Year's Resolution List~

Despite its happy ending, Random Harvest (1942) left me feeling oddly melancholy. The main characters, Charles Rainer aka “Smithy” (Ronald Colman) and Paula Ridgeway (Greer Garson) have undergone a long, emotional journey. When they first meet, Rainer is an amnesic WWI vet who can hardly speak. With Paula by his side, he recuperates. They fall in love, marry, and build a happy life together—complete with a little cottage and baby son. He discovers a passion for writing and is on the verge of translating his talents into a profitable career when an accident changes everything. His memory of life prior to the war returns and the years with Paula are erased. He becomes Charles Rainer, heir of Random Hall and prominent businessman.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Enduring Hollywood Romance

George Burns and Gracie Allen

They may not have the onscreen sizzle of Bogie and Bacall, but for my money George Burns and Gracie Allen take the cake for the most romantic, enduring Hollywood couple. I know, I know. Unusual choice, but bear with me. 

George Burns and Gracie Allen first paired in 1922 when both were in need of a new partner for their vaudevillian act. A mutual colleague suggested the partnership. Match made in heaven? Not at first. They weren't a hit until George decided to switch up the act and let Gracie get the laughs. Although it takes two to make a double act work (the straight man and the goof), George always gave Gracie credit for the success that followed--a testament to how much he loved and admired her. Their pairing didn't exactly yield love at first sight though. Burns had a crush on Allen, but she was in a romantic relationship with another performer. Eventually George convinced Gracie to marry him, and on January 7, 1926 they began their greatest partnership to date. As husband and wife, they conquered radio, movies, and television in addition to vaudeville. 
When Gracie could not conceive, George agreed to adopt two children (see my Adoptive Fathers post for more on that). Their marriage lasted 38 years until her death in 1964. However, that was not the end of their romance. Their love endured beyond the grave. Forget poetry, George wrote a book, Gracie: A Love Story (1988), devoted to the love of his life. George never remarried. He visited Gracie's grave at least once a month to discuss the latest news, tell her a joke, or ask for her advice. When at last it was his time to go, he made arrangements to ensure that her name came first on the crypt--he wanted her to have top billing.  

Burns and Allen--Love doesn't get much better than that!


Cullen, Frank, Florence Hackman, and Donald McNeilly. Vaudeville, Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. Vol. 1. New York: Routledge, 2004. Google Books. Web.   

"George Burns and Gracie Allen Remembered." Larry King Live. CNN. Los Angeles. 4 July 2003. Web. Transcript.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dancing Legs Quiz ~ February Edition

Each of these dance routines first graced theatres in February of their release year.  Guess whose legs these are. Then give yourself a bonus if you can name the movie.