Category Archives: Classic Film

“I’m not so sure about that Bette Davis..” Three on a Match (1932)

3 on a MatchThat was a quote from the director when speaking to the WB front office about the great turns shown by the young cast members of ‘Three on a match’. Ann Dvorak received high marks for this great showing as a socialite who tires of her lifelong place in the upper crust of virtue and society only to take the most devastating of falls to the bottom. Joan Blondell also received high marks for her role as Dvorak’s childhood friend and social opposite who soon takes her place at home and in high society. Davis, who gave a standard turn for a supporting role, didn’t earn Mr. LeRoy’s kudos… but everyone makes a mistake now and then.

I’ll admit, I didn’t expect too much out of this film and was greatly surprised. The story starts out innocently enough (as many a WB early 30’s crime drama did) and then opened a wound just to pour salt in it with a lemon juice chaser by the very riveting end. Lyle Talbot and Warren William turn in very good supporting turns along with a very early gangster cameo for Humphrey Bogart.
The 3Well paced and to the gritty point, this one is a keeper. Popcorn and absolutely no bathroom breaks.

5 Stars

If great is the norm… Desk Set (1957)

Desk SetTracy and Hepburn certainly hit it again. Not that these two ever made a bad movie together anyway.

Not as involved as ‘Adams Rib’ or ‘Woman of the Year’, it simply plays out, a light hearted yarn where we get to watch them play along with a great turn by Joan Blondell.
Employee partyA great Saturday afternoon comedy.

4 Stars

Simply a great comedic film… My Favorite Wife (1940)

My Favorite WifeThough it takes a bit to get rolling, the film moves along really well from there. A great example of Grant’s comedic skill seen before and well after… his best since the great screwball comedy ‘Bringing Up Baby’.

Like his teamings with Hepburn, Grant always had great showings with Dunne. Also, the film marked Cary’s first teaming with Randolph Scott, his longtime roommate and tabloid rumored ‘boyfriend’ since their split a few years prior.
Disorder in the courtA great film to just not have to pay attention to. Classic.

5 Stars

Kleenex anyone..? Penny Serenade (1941)

Penny SerenadeYou had better bring some… though not the standard light-hearted fare Dunne and Grant had performed in before, this film is a classic example of an American romantic tear jerker. The film winds you though these flashbacks while you wait to fall deeper into their despair, knowing it will happen.

Lesson learned

A great story and dramatic comedy it’s very well acted… films such as ‘Terms of Endearment’ learned their lessons here.

4 Stars

 

Building a long standing foundation… Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

Mr BlandingsThough not seen in too many films prior, you have certainly seen the basic plot themes in too many films since. Not one of Grant’s nor Loy’s best films, they make an outstanding effort together.

The film is light, has some dramatic spotting but keeps the plot moving and gets you to smile the whole way through. A great example of classic American film fare that has stood the test of time.
Hunt for WaterDefinite Saturday afternoon fare, heavy on the popcorn.

3 Stars

Pink Lady Down… Operation Petticoat (1959)

Operation PetticoatThough ‘Gray Lady Down’ is code for a downed sub, the boat itself doesn’t play as big a part in the movie as one fears. The story of a WWII submarine crew looking to survive aboard their oft damaged ship moves briskly, with style and serves as a great war themed picture. Watching the crew work against the enemy, their own and the vessel itself is just some good fun.

Teaming Tony Curtis with his film idol in Grant, the two have great chemistry and play wartime officers quite well, giving this comedy a battlefront appeal.
Three's a crowdSaturday afternoon fare, bring the popcorn but only take the bathroom break in case of emergency.

4 Stars

Bond. James Bond… North by Northwest (1959)

North by NorthwestCary Grant, who had turned down an early opportunity to play Ian Flemming’s suave super spy did in fact play a version of the character here. Cool, calculating and turning back the superior villains at every turn, Roger Thornhill made for a great anti-hero. So well-played in the trademark gray suit, Connery may have almost been playing off this role.

Though shunning the 007 role due to the prospect of having to do sequels, Grant helped to generate the run of Bonds to come without really even trying.

Grant as the Spy

A Hitchcock triumph (MGM rejected his original title.. ‘The Man in Lincoln’s Nose’), bring the popcorn and no bathroom breaks.

4 Stars

Hollywood “Bombshell”: Sophia Loren Turns 80

From Yahoo!:

Sophia 2013“Sex appeal,” legendary actress Sophia Loren is quoted as saying in her sexy Italian accent, “is 50 percent what you’ve got and 50 percent what people think you’ve got.”

The screen siren — often referred to as an “Italian bombshell” in the press — turns 80 on Saturday. Incredibly, Loren is still as much of a bombshell as ever. But what exactly is a bombshell? Through the years, the definition hasn’t changed all that much.

The textbook bombshellHarlow

Long before Loren came along in the ’50s and ’60s, the first women described as Hollywood’s “bombshells” were blonde. Mega-movie star Jean Harlow — whom many consider the original bombshell in pop culture — sashayed onto movie screens in 1933 in the title role of Bombshell, a screwball comedy about a bleach-blond woman men couldn’t resist seeking to be taken seriously. Ever since, women considered to be sex symbols — those that not only had beauty, but often curves and also a certain je ne sais quoi about them — were labeled with the term.

HayworthOf course, there have been times when the typical bombshell, with her voluptuous hips and breasts, wasn’t the ideal female form. In the ’60s, a stick-thin Twiggy-like figure was all the rage; Kate Moss and her almost emaciated appearance referred to as “heroin chic” ruled fashion runways and magazines in the ’90s. However, even during those times when less has been more, bombshells continued to thrive. During the ’40s, Monroewhen America was embroiled in World War II, alluring women such as Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable were referred to as pin-ups. But make no mistake, they were still bombshells… just under a more socially acceptable name. Marilyn Monroe, who became the most famous bombshell of all time, came along in the ’50s, pushing aside all those other curvaceous beauties. And then, there was Loren.

With her exotic looks and graceful walk, the Italian-born-and-bred actress mesmerized and captivated audiences around the world. And it wasn’t just that she was gorgeous — she was good! Loren became the first Oscar winner in a foreign language performance in 1962 when she won best actress for her turn in the Italian film Two Women. The American Film Institute announced Wednesday that it will pay tribute to the star during its annual AFI Fest in Hollywood.

Sophia sexpot

Donelle Dadigan, president and founder of The Hollywood Museum, explained that Loren, with her striking good looks and impressive work, stood out even among other bombshells of her day.

“She was different in that she wasn’t the blonde stereotype,” Dadigan told Yahoo. “She was tall, she was statuesque, and … the world has a love affair with everything Italian. And of course, [there was] her body, but all this time, she oozed this confidence and sensuality. When she was up on the screen, everything else melted away.”

‘The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen’

Another film buff, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, stops short of calling Loren a bombshell, even though he considers the actress “the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

Sophia Loren“The reason why, I guess, I never thought of her [as a bombshell] is because that feels unfair to her, even though she probably meets whatever standard there is, I think of her as too talented,” he told Yahoo. “Even though I know many of the women who are on many bombshell lists are ridiculously talented also. And then I think the phrase ‘Italian bombshell’ minimizes her even more. I think of her as having too much class to be a bombshell. And I say that without any intent to [offend] any bombshells,” he added with a laugh.

“I feel like a bombshell is marketed,” Mankiewicz said of the term that was often used by the movie studios to advertise films. “And I definitely feel like Sophia Loren is not marketed. Sophia Loren is authentic.”

Marketing was likely at play, however, when a famous quote attributed to Loren circulated decades ago. Now, it’s so closely tied to Loren’s bombshell mystique that she was asked about it during a December 2009 interview with CBS Sunday Morning. It goes like this: “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”

“I never said it,” Loren insisted. “I owe everything to the spaghetti? It’s not true. They put it in my mouth and it still goes on. It’s not true… So silly. Can you imagine?”

The reason people latched onto the quote is easy to understand. Audiences love a woman who’s confident enough to talk about her love of food (when she looks like she occasionally eats it) and speak of her body not derisively, but in a way that shows she doesn’t take it too seriously. Confidence and boldness is key for bombshells; the cultural role is about that fearlessness just as much as it is about body type.

Sophia

Modern bombshells

Hollywood beauty expert Kym Douglas described the bombshell phenomenon well: “[It’s] a woman who walks in the room and takes command of the entire party. Her presence says… I have arrived. A true bombshell is a woman who has confidence in who she is and what she does, someone who is totally comfortable in their own skin whatever size she is or isn’t. Having said that, a bombshell is a woman who has lots of sex appeal and shows it but doesn’t give it away.”

Women such as Scarlett Johansson, Christina Hendricks, and Sofia Vergara have helped to keep the bombshell tradition alive today, whether or not that’s how they choose to be described.

Johansson

However, the latest wave of bombshell actresses will never be as famous as their forerunners; there’s too many of them! Now, Mankiewicz noted, movie stars and TV stars are often the same people. Kim Kardashian, who’s considered a bombshell by many, has hardly any experience on the silver screen.

Today’s so-called bombshells also aren’t thought of as being as glam as the stars of the old days. Their images are no longer so tightly controlled by the studio. There’s social media, paparazzi photos, and live interviews. It’s not easy to remain a glamorous bombshell when photographers catch you doing a morning grocery run without hair and makeup! For better or worse, their personality and those unscripted moments are also part of their image.

Upton VF

“What we’re realizing is being a bombshell is about more than just a visual,” Dadigan said. “It also comes from inside.”

To remember the bombshells of yesteryear, including Loren, Mankiewicz noted that audiences can’t go wrong by sitting down to watch any of Loren’s early films, which include El Cid and Marriage Italian Style.

“When she’s young and it’s in black and white, those are all worth seeing,” he said. “If you can stand it, I’d see them in Italian.”

Not that you’ll be able to peel your eyes away from Loren.

Sophia tub

 

Two Crooners and ‘ole Dusty Britches… Rio Bravo (1959)

Rio BravoIf you were to think ‘great western film’, you’d start with Wayne, probably add Ward Bond and maybe even Brennan… but Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson?

Well, a great western you get.
Rio Bravo Promotional Still
Nothing too dramatic, nothing too over the top, just a really well paced and flowing film that keeps you moving start to finish. Sure, Martin also has some meaty acting credits… and Nelson was doing well at the time, but they lend a fine hand to this dusty little Hawks film.

Dickinson Rio Bravo

Excellent popcorn film.

4 Stars

It’s not just one of the Greatest Westerns… The Searchers (1956)

The Searchers Lobby PosterIt’s not just one of the greatest John Wayne films… it’s one of the greatest films of all times. Having inspired directors such as Spielberg and Lucas, ‘The Searchers’ mixed John Ford epic with Saturday afternoon serial western and achieved new heights.
Ethan EdwardsThe story moves along at a good pace, keeping you involved and in the dramatic adventure mix, while the characters stay crisp. As always, Ford’s cinematic rendering of western landscapes is inspired and at times, breathtaking. If you have a chance to see it on the big screen… do so.
John Wayne Jeffrey HunterOtherwise buy it and prepare for an epic.

5 Stars