Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy birthday, Ingrid!

Happy 96th birthday and RIP to my favorite actress of all time, Ingrid Bergman. I would go into a lengthy monologue to talk about how talented she was, how much grace and beauty she possessed and what a wonderful person she was. But, honestly, words are inadequate when discussing my adoration for this woman.

All I can say is: Happy birthday, Ingrid. May you continue to live on in film viewers hearts forever.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Film Noir Contest: Sunset Boulevard (1950)

..My post for Film Classics Film Noir Contest. I know this post is a bit late, as I just found out about it last night.

Two films instantly come to my mind when I hear the words "film noir": Sunset Boulevard and The Maltese Falcon.
Since I just wrote about Falcon a few months ago, I decided to talk about Sunset instead.

Sunset Boulevard is what I consider to be the best film noir to come out  of Hollywood in the nineteen-fifties. It's one of my favorites and is considered one of the greatest films of all time by many critics.

Sometimes, when discussing or reviewing a film, it's said that one certain element completes it- whether it be the acting, the plot, the direction, the score, etc. With Sunset Boulevard, it's all of these elements and more that make it the phenomenal film it is today.

William Holden, Nancy Olson, Erich von Stroheim all deliver wonderful performances (as they all received Oscar nominations), but it's really Gloria Swanson's film. As much as I loved Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday, Swanson should have won the Best Actress Academy Award in 1951, since she gave possibly the greatest screen performance of all time. I always find myself feeling mesmerized during the final scene as she says, "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up", as she descends into madness:

Sunset Blvd wouldn't be the great film it is without Billy Wilder. From his flawless direction, to his infamously quotable script ("I am big. It's the pictures that got small."). He and Swanson both make the film complete. I think Roger Ebert summed it up best when he wrote:

"...who else can field two contenders among the greatest closing lines of all time? From ``Some Like It Hot'' there is ``Nobody's perfect.'' And from ``Sunset Boulevard,'' Norma Desmond's: ``There's nothing else. Just us, and the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark. All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my closeup.'' 

If you haven't seen Sunset Blvd yet, you can do so here. Also, a big thanks to David from Film Classics for hosting this contest!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

IMDb Synopsis: A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer.

I've never reviewed a silent film on my blog before. That's because, up until two months ago, I hated them. (And, honestly, I don't even remember why, except that I didn't like the idea of films without dialogue.) But, recently, I've seen quite a few silents that I really enjoyed (City Lights and The Scarlet Letter, just to name a few).  Earlier this week, I saw Lon Chaney in The Hunch Back of Notre Dame, so I had really high hopes for The Phantom of the Opera. My expectations were by far surpassed.

If not for The Night of the Hunter, I would say Phantom is the scariest film I'd ever seen, mainly because of Chaney's shocking appearance. Naturally, after just seeing him play Quasimodo, I was expecting him to be quite grotesque as Erik, but he was much more horrifying than I expected him to be. Chaney's performance itself is absolutely wonderful and he affected me as much as Robert Mitchum did. Other notable performances are delivered by Mary Philbin and Norman Kerry.

Rupert Julian's directing is absolutely marvelous. Phantom is among some of the best-directed films I've seen, and that includes films like Casablanca, Vertigo, and Sunset Boulevard. I'm quite interested in seeing more of his films now, particularly the silent adaption of Ben Hur (also released in 1925).

Overall, I found The Phantom of the Opera to be a disturbing yet wonderful film. I know what I'm watching on Halloween this year...

If you haven't seen this film yet, you can do so here.   

5/5 stars

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Awards Update: Liebster Award

Just recently after blogging about the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award, I discovered that Craig from Blame Mame and Rianna from Frankly, My Dear both nominated me for the Liebster Award, so a big thanks to both of you!

In German and Spanish, Liebster means "beloved". Apparently this award started in Germany and has become quite popular. The purpose is to spotlight blogs with under 300 followers. As far as rules go, all that's required is to link back to the blog(s) that tagged you, then pass the award on to five other bloggers.

1. Anna from Defiant Success

2. Brian from The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

3. Maria from FILMflare

4. Java from Java's Journey

5. Millie and Emm from The Stupendously Amazing Cool World of Old TV

Please check out all of the amazing blogs listed!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

Thank you so much to FlickChick from A Person In the Dark for passing me The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award!

Here are the rules:

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.

7 Random Facts About Me

1. I have an odd and unhealthy obsession with 80's music (even though I never lived in the 80's) and Bryan Adams is my favorite artist.

2. I really love super-hero movies (Spider-Man, Iron Man, get the idea).

3. My favorite website is most definitely Tumblr.

4. There's no such thing as too much Criminal Minds.

5. My favorite director is Alfred Hitchcock. We actually share a birthday (August 13).

6. I consider Citizen Kane to be the most overrated film ever made.

7. I'm gonna marry Robert Downey Jr...he just has to meet me first.

The 12 blogs I've tagged: 

1. Rianna from Frankly, My Dear

2. Emily from The Silver Screen Affair

3. Sarah from And...scene!

4. Jacqueline from Another Old Movie Blog

5. Jen from Gold Hollywood

6. Meredith from Movie Montage

7. Bette from Bette's Classic Movie Blog

8. Lesya from Eternity of Dream

9. Audrey from Fedoras and High Heels

10. Amanda from A Noodle In a Haystack

11. Angela from The Hollywood Revue

12. Caroline from Garbo Laughs

Make sure you check out all of these wonderful blogs!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

IMDb Synopsis: A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.

I'll admit it- even though I'm a movie lover, I don't like westerns. And for a number of reasons, mainly because few of my favorite actors were in them, and the thought of (usually) just watching people shoot each other and ride around on horses doesn't appeal to me. I watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance because I really like James Stewart, I'm attempting to give John Wayne a chance, and it's considered to be one of those "every classic film fan has to see it" films. I'm still not a fan of westerns in general, but this is definitely the best one I've seen.

I mentioned previously that I was a Jimmy Stewart fan, and his performance did not disappoint- the fact that he wasn't nominated for an Academy Award baffles me. Out of the handful of John Wayne films I've watched, I consider his performance in Liberty Valance to be his finest- and that tops films like Stagecoach, Red River, and They Were Expendable. Other notable performances are delivered by Vera Miles (who is also great in Hitchcock's underrated thriller The Wrong Man) Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance himself, and Edmond O'Brien.

 I can't finish this review without mentioning John Ford. His direction was marvelous, but I wasn't surprised considering this was from the same man who made Young Mr. Lincoln and one of my all-time favorites, The Grapes of Wrath (which I reviewed a few months ago). I think it's safe to say that he's probably the greatest western director of all time.

All in all, I think The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a great film that should be seen by all classic film fans, even the ones like me that don't care for westerns.

4/5 stars

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Old Hollywood Alphabet

A few months ago, I did my Cinematic Alphabet, which was a lot of fun. I've seen a few blogs do the same method, but using actors first names instead of film titles. I needed an idea for a blog post and figured I'd give it a try.

A is for Ann Margret

B is for Burt Lancaster

C is for Charlie Chaplin

D is for Deborah Kerr

E is for Ernest Borgnine

F is for Frank Sinatra

G is for Gregory Peck

H is (obviously) for Humphrey Bogart

I is for Ingrid Bergman

J is for James Dean

K is for Katharine Hepburn

L is Lauren Bacall

M is for Montgomery Clift

N is for Norma Shearer

O is for Olivia deHeavilland

P is for Paul Newman

R is for Rita Hayworth

S is for Sidney Poitier

T is for Tallulah Bankhead

V is for Vivian Vance

W is for William Holden

Z is for Zsa Zsa Gabor

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Loving Lucy: My Favorite I Love Lucy Episodes

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this on my blog before, but I love Lucille Ball. This is no surprise considering I grew up watching I Love Lucy (which I still do everyday), so, naturally, I was so excited when I read about this blogathon on True Classics.

One thing I've realized over the last few days is that I had no idea what to write. So, I just decided to talk about my favorite episode from each of the six seasons (I didn't include episodes from The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, as I haven't seen as many episodes from it). Of course there are dozens that I love, but I've found these six to be the ones I watch/enjoy the most. I wasn't able to find full episodes online (except for the last one), but I did find a few clips on YouTube that I've included and also some trivia from Listed in order by season and air date:

Season 1- Lucy Does a TV Commercial- (Original Airdate May 5, 1952)

I realize this is completely unoriginal, as this is probably the most popular I Love Lucy episode. But, it's popular for a reason- Lucy is absolutely hilarious (as usual), which is why it's my favorite. This also was reportedly Lucy's favorite episode, and it's easy to see why.

Trivia: Vitametavegimin is actually 23% alcohol. However, if you closely examine the labels on the bottles seen behind Lucy when she is rehearsing the commercial, they say Vitametavegamin is 11% alcohol. It was originally 11% in the script, but, changed to 23% on the spot because the higher percentage of alcohol sounded funnier.

When Lucy is showing Ricky that she can do the commercial, Desi Arnaz is clearly trying not to laugh.

Season 2- Job Switching- (Original Airdate September 15, 1952)

My unconditional love for chocolate has caused me to be unoriginal again. I think this was most likely the first episode I ever saw, so it plays a significant role for me in both introducing me to Lucy and making me realize how much I loved classic films and television. A close second from season 2 would be Lucy Goes to the Hospital.

Trivia: The candy dipper, Amanda Milligan originally had lines in her scene with Lucille Ball but these were cut because of Milligan being uncomfortable talking on camera. Amanda Milligan was a real life candy dipper who worked at the Farmer's Market in Hollywood. At the time of this episode, she had never seen an episode of "I Love Lucy" before because she watched wrestling on Monday nights. 

While the conveyor belt is speeding up, Lucy was too soon to eat one of the chocolates. And realizing her mistake, she quickly removed the candy and dropped it on the floor.

Season 3- Ricky Minds the Baby- (Original Airdate January 18, 1954)

The main reason I chose Ricky Minds the Baby is solely for the scene above, although I love the whole episode. I thought it was really sweet to see Ricky bonding with his son, as Little Ricky is such a sweetheart.

Trivia: In the scene where Ricky is telling Little Ricky the bedtime story, the camera cuts to show Little Ricky in his crib. If you look closely, the picture on the bumper in the crib is of a cartoon Lucy & Ricky kissing each other. 

Season 4- L.A. At Last (Original Airdate Febrauary 7, 1955)

My favorite season of I Love Lucy is definitely season 4, because I have a fascination with pointing out my favorite actors in the Hollywood episodes. This episode guest stars the wonderful William Holden in another iconic scene.

Trivia: Contrary to popular rumor Lucy's nose was supposed to catch on fire. There was a tiny candle wick under the clay. What was improvised was how she extinguished the fake nose. In the original script Lucy was supposed to take her fake nose off and dunk it in her cup of coffee, instead she dunks her nose into the coffee cup while it is still attached to her face. 

Season 5- Paris at Last- (Original Airdate February 27, 1956)

I enjoy the Europe episodes as much as I do the Hollywood ones. I was stuck between this episode and two others- Lucy's Italian Movie and Lucy Meets the Queen, but I decided I liked this one most out of the three. My favorite part is the scene included above, but I also like the scene where Lucy attempts to eat snails...

Trivia: Writers Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Pugh are sitting at the cafe. Lucy toasts Carroll with a glass of wine but Pugh was frequently out of the film frame.

Season 6- I Love Lucy Christmas Show (Original Airdate December 24, 1956)

I don't really like the idea of colorizing I Love Lucy episodes (or anything that was formerly black and white), but this clip was the only thing available. I really love this episode for the sole fact that it's about Christmas and I also really enjoy the flashback's included, particularly the ones from Lucy Goes to the Hospital.

Trivia: Also known as 'The Lost Episode' or 'Jingle Bells'. Because this was a "special" and employed so many long flashback sequences, this episode was not included in the eventual syndication package. The last time even a portion of it was telecast was December 1981 on Rona Barrett's short-lived NBC series, "Television: Inside and Out." Today, most fans can find this episode available on video.

That's about all I have to share, except again to say that I truly love Lucy and what she was to the world. I hope we all take some time to remember her on her 100th birthday. Also a big thanks to Brandie, Nikki and Carrie for hosting this blogathon. It was a lot of fun, and I hope we bloggers can do this again in the future.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ida Lupino & Humphrey Bogart- For the Ida Lupino Blogathon

My entry for the Ida Lupino blogathon, hosted by Jen to remember Ida seventeen years after her death on August 3, 1995.

My favorite film of Ida's would have to be High Sierra (1941). The film was directed by Raoul Walsh and co-stars my favorite actor of all time, Humphrey Bogart, in the role that made him a star. I considered just discussing the film itself, but I instead decided to write about a topic that has interested me for some time: the much-speculated relationship between Ida and Bogie. As you may have already noticed, several websites and biographies state that they strongly disliked one another, while a majority of them also say they were good friends throughout filming. 

Bogie first co-starred with Ida in They Drive By Night (1940), also directed by Walsh. (I'll admit that I have yet to watch this film, but I've heard Ida's performance is wonderful.) I wasn't able to find her exact quotes, but I have read statements from Ida that they didn't get to know each other well and she was thrilled when he was cast opposite her in High Sierra, which strongly supports the theory that they got along.

Also supporting this theory is information found on Bogie's Wikipedia page about the filming of High Sierra, saying:

"Bogart worked well with Ida Lupino, and her relationship with him was a close one, provoking jealousy from Bogart's wife Mayo."-

There are quite a few statements/articles however that say the opposite about Bogie and Ida's relationship:

"Never a team player, Lupino had quarrelled with Humphrey Bogart during the production of High Sierra, and vowed after the film’s completion that she would never work with the actor again."

"When Ida Lupino found herself unable to cry during the film's final scene, co-star Humphrey Bogart coaxed her into it by telling her, "Listen, doll, if you can't cry, I'm going to take the picture away from you." Despite this, Lupino disliked Bogart's verbal treatment of her, and refused to accept another co-starring role with him in Out of the Fog." -

From a certain point of view, I suppose it could be seen that Ida and Bogie disliked each other since they never made another film together and she didn't want to co-star with him in Out of the Fog (1941). I would like to point out, though, that they did collaborate again in 1944 to perform High Sierra for the Screen Guild Theater's Live Radio Programme, which is available here.

What do I think about the rumor's surrounding Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart? Well, being a huge fan of both, I like to believe they were friends despite several arguing reports.

Either way, High Sierra is a wonderful film that I feel every classic film fan should see, and it's a great way to remember Ida on the sixteenth anniversary of her death.

I would also like to thank Jen for hosting this great blogathon. It was a lot of fun, and I hope there are more to come!