Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hiatus + New Years Eve Movie Meme

Due to the holidays ending and the fact that I have absolutely nothing to write about, this will be my last post until January 9. That's all I had originally planned to blog about, however when I came online this morning I noticed that several fellow bloggers were doing the New Years Eve Movie Meme created by Rachel at The Girl With the White Parasol, and I decided to do it for my final post in 2011.

1. What is your all-time favorite Grace Kelly costume?

Unoriginal choice, but the black and white dress from Rear Window.

2. What classic film would you nominate for a remake?

There really isn't any film that I feel needs to be remade. However, I have yet to see a decent adaption of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.

3. Name your favorite femme fatale.

Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not.  Also Rita Hayworth in Gilda.

4.  Name the best movie with the word "heaven" in it's title.

Leave Her to Heaven.
5. Describe the worst performance by a child actor that you've ever seen.

I loathe Hayley Mills in Pollyanna (sorry to all the people I just offended).

6. Who gets your vote for most tragic movie monster?

Not the typical "monster", but Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (particularly Lon Cheney's version).

7. What is the one western that you would recommend to anybody?

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. A close second is The Searchers.

8. Who is your ideal movie-viewing partner.

Anyone who doesn't mind me throwing out film trivia every five minutes. Aka no one I've met yet.

9. Has a film ever made you want to change your life? If so, what was the film?

It's a Wonderful Life, To Kill a Mockingbird, Rebel Without a Cause, On the Waterfront, The Defiant Ones, just to name a few. And almost every film on AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers.

10. Think of one performer that you truly love. Now think of one scene/movie/performance of theirs that is too uncomfortable for you to watch.

I love Katharine Hepburn, I do. But I'm never watching The Little Minister again.

10. On the flipside, think of one really good scene/performance/movie from a performer that you truly loathe.

I have a strong dislike for Joan Crawford, but Mildred Pierce is wonderful.

12. And finally, since it will be New Years soon, do you have any movie or blogging-related resolutions for 2012?

Just to update frequently and comment on more blog posts- I've been slacking lately.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year! See you in 2012.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blogathon Wrap Up

First of all, I just want to thank all of you for taking part in the Humphrey Bogart blogathon this weekend- so many great posts were submitted! Second, I just finished updating the contributions page, so please check that out and support all the bloggers that participated.

Again, thank you all for contributing and supporting my first blogathon. Hopefully I can find an excuse to hold another one in 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blogathon Contributions

Here are all the blogathon contributions I've received so far. I'll be updating this post again soon for anyone else who submits their posts over the weekend:

Sofia from FILMflare gives a few guidelines for getting Bogie's look.

Ivan from Thrilling Days of Yesteryear writes a great introductory post to Edward Copeland's post on the 60th anniversary of The African Queen.

Anna from Defiant Success shared several reviews on some of Bogie's best films:

To Have and Have Not
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The Maltese Falcon
In a Lonely Place
The Roaring Twenties
The Big Sleep
The African Queen
The Barefoot Contessa
Knock On Any Door

Bette from Bette's Classic Movie Blog discusses The African Queen and Sabrina.

Brandie from True Classics focuses on John Huston's adaption of The Maltese Falcon.

Leticia from Critical Retro writes a very informative post that shares several facts about Bogie.

Barry from Cinematic Catharsis reviews The Return of Doctor X.

Dorian from Tales of the Easily Distracted writes about The Big Sleep.

Natalie from In the Mood discusses Bogie's relationship with Lauren Bacall.

R.C. from The Shades of Black and White compares Bogie's life to some of his most popular film quotes.

Rianna from Frankly, My Dear interviews her father, a fellow Bogie fan.

Angela from The Hollywood Revue compares Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon to the John Huston adaption.

Lesya from Eternity of a Dream reviewed  Casablanca, To Have and Have Not and Sabrina.

Vinnie from The Forty-Year Old Fanboy reviews We're No Angels.

Steve from Shades of Gray reviewed King of the Underworld.

Erin from Silver Screen Scribblings discusses Bogie's role in Casablanca.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Favorite Films: The African Queen

My third and final My Favorite Films post in honor of the Humphrey Bogart blogathon is going to focus on The African Queen. I've really been looking forward to writing this post because it's my favorite Bogie film tied with Casablanca, and also because it premiered 60 years ago today in Los Angeles.

Released in 1951 and directed by John Huston, the film takes place in Africa during World War I and tells the story of an alcoholic boat owner (Bogie) who is persuaded by a missionary (Katharine Hepburn) to use his boat to sink a German warship.

There are so many reasons why I love The African Queen. It contains just about every element you'd want in a film (comedy, drama, adventure, romance, etc), it pairs Bogie with Katharine Hepburn, the color cinematography is beautiful and the story remains timeless to this day.

I think Bogie's role as Charlie Allnut really shows his diversity as an actor. Yes, his character is the "tough guy" he was most commonly known for playing, but it's different here because he's absolutely hilarious. The scene where he becomes intoxicated from gin and later when he attempts to imitate a hippo nearly made me fall out of my seat laughing the first time I watched it. Forget Marlon Brando, Bogie rightfully deserved the Oscar.

As with Bogie, this is also my favorite film and performance from Katharine Hepburn. Bette Davis was originally considered for Rose (she later dropped out because of pregnancy), but no one could have played her as well as Hepburn did. I do like Vivien Leigh, but I personally feel that the Academy made the wrong decision in the Best Actress category that year.

One of the best aspects of The African Queen is the chemistry between Bogie and Hepburn. It's so interesting to watch their relationship progress throughout the film- they start out as barely tolerating each other then end up in love by the films' ending. This was the only time they worked together, but they remained close friends for the rest of Bogie's life (she and Spencer Tracy were some of the last people to see him the night before he died in January 1957). 


The film was adapted from the C.S. Forester novel of the same name. I haven't read it, and I don't plan to, mainly because of different endings between the film and the book. If you've seen the (and if you read past the spoiler alert, I'm assuming you have), you know it ends as Charlie and Rose are captured by the Germans and married by the captain before execution. The Louisa then crashes into the remains of the African Queen and the torpedoes explode the ship, allowing Charlie and Rose to flee to the Belgian Congo. The book, however, ends as the Louisa is destroyed and Charlie and Rose go to inform the British Army. Honestly, I don't think I would like the film as much as I do if the ending hadn't been changed. I rarely say this, but I think this is one example of the movie being better than the book.

The African Queen was restored in 2009 for it's first release on DVD in 2010. I hadn't seen the film pre-restoration, but the video linked above shows comparisons between the two versions, and it's amazing to see how much the quality has improved. The color cinematography along with John Huston's direction is beautiful.

Overall, The African Queen is one of my favorite films and I hope it will be remembered 60 years from now just as it is today.

It's Blogathon Time!

After 3+ months of planning, the Bogie blogathon begins today! If you all could please leave links to your posts in the comments, I'll make sure to include them all in another post later. I also have my last My Favorite Films post for December going up this evening. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: In This Our Life (1942)

My contribution for the Dueling Divas blogathon at Backlots.

IMDb Synopsis: A young woman dumps her fiancĂ©e and runs off with her sister's husband.

I've been contemplating over the last few weeks about which film I wanted to write about for this blogathon. My original choice was The Dark Mirror in which Olivia de Havilland  plays twins, but I wasn't able to find it online. Instead, I chose John Huston's In This Our Life which pairs de Havilland alongside Bette Davis.

Davis and de Havilland made several films together, and in most of them they play rivals, as they do here. This time, the reason for their strife being that Davis runs off with de Havilland's husband (played by Dennis Morgan, who I consider to be extremely underrated). Other actors worth mentioning are George Brent as Davis' fiancee and Charles Coburn. 

The characters the actresses play in this film are the type of roles they were most commonly known for- Davis is a "bee" with an "itch", and de Havilland is convincing as a kind but strong woman who doesn't let her sister and her husband's actions destroy her life.

Overall, I wouldn't consider In This Our Life to be the greatest of either Davis or de Havilland's work (that's saved for Now, Voyager and The Snake Pit) but they both deliver solid performances and the film is definitely worth watching.

3.5/5 stars

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Favorite Films: To Have and Have Not

In honor of the Bogie blogathon next week (I still can't believe it's only a week- I started planning this four months ago!), I'm writing another My Favorite Films post, this time on To Have and Have Not. 

Released in 1944 and directed by Howard Hawks, To Have and Have Not tells the story of Harry Morgan (Bogie), an American expatriate living on the island of Martinique who is persuaded against his better judgment to help smuggle resistance members onto the island while flirting with a lounge singer (Lauren Bacall, in her film debut).

The film was adapted from the Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name, which is also considered the worst of his books (I haven't read it, so I can't give my opinion). The plot may not be the most unique, but it's the remarkable chemistry between the two stars that makes it so memorable.

This was the first of four films that paired Humphrey Bogart with his future wife Lauren Bacall, and it was a match made in movie heaven. With some actors, it's obvious that the chemistry between them is forced. With Bogie and Bacall, I sometimes forget I'm watching a film. All four of the movies they made together (the others being The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo) are wonderful, but To Have and Have Not stands out the most for me because, if you're familiar with the romance between Bogie and Bacall, it makes you feel as if you're watching two people fall in love (and, in reality, you are).

The best (and most remembered) scene in the film is without a doubt in which Bacall says "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow." Every time I watch this, I'm astonished that she was robbed of an Oscar nomination, not just for this film, but in general. In 1997 she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in The Mirror Has Two Faces and in 2009 received an Honorary Award, but she had so many great performances in the 40's and 50's that sadly weren't recognized by the Academy. 

Overall, I consider To Have and Have Not to be one of Bogie's best films, and I hope those of you that haven't seen it will check it out. It's airing March 5 on Turner Classic Movies for those of you interested. 
Unfortunately, this turned out shorter than I wanted it to be as I'm busy planning next weeks' posts, but I hope you all enjoyed reading it!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: DVDs & Books for Film Lovers

As we're getting close to Christmas, I've seen quite a few fellow bloggers post holiday gift guides for classic film fans, and I've decided to do the same by listing some of my favorite box sets and film-related books. Some of these things I've received as gifts recently, and I think anyone who likes films as much as I do will enjoy them. I've also included links to where you can purchase the items shown, most of them are from Amazon.

DVDs/Box Sets:


That's it for my gift suggestions. I hope I helped some of you out!

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Favorite Films: Casablanca

In case you didn't already know, December is the month of the Bogie blogathon here at Forever Classics. In conjunction, all of the My Favorite Films post are going to be devoted to my top three picks from Bogie's filmography: Casablanca, To Have and Have Not and The African Queen, in that order (I won't be writing on The Maltese Falcon as it was featured as the noir of the month in April). Today's post is focusing on my favorite film of all time- Casablanca.

Released by Warner Brothers in 1942, the film tells the story of American expatriate and cafe owner Rick Blaine (Bogie) living in unoccupied Africa during World War II. Unexpected complications arise when Rick's former lover (Ingrid Bergman) and her Resistance leader husband (Paul Henreid) arrive at Rick's cafe and ask him to help them flee the Nazi's.

Casablanca is considered by many (including myself) to be the greatest film of all time, and it's obvious why: it's a perfect film with a wonderful cast, screenplay, score and director, all of which I will discuss more in depth later on.

"Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."
One of the many things that make Casablanca so wonderful is that it contains some of the greatest performances in cinematic history. This is my favorite Bogie's film, tied with The African Queen. I love that he is able to play the cynical tough guy (which he was frequently type-cast as) but in the end still possess the emotions of a man torn between, in Claude Rain's words, love and virtue. (And, for the record, no one will ever be able to say "We'll always have Paris" the way Bogie did.)

Ingrid Bergman's performance as Ilsa Lund is her most popular role, and I consider it to be her best. Ever since my first viewing of Casablanca, I've always taken note in her facial expressions. In particular, when her character is conflicted, she seems to capture the scene perfectly. This is because she herself was confused during filming: Just like Ilsa was torn between helping her husband or staying with the man she really loved, Bergman was clueless about who she would end up with since the screenwriters did not finish writing the final scene until the day it was filmed. Since this is her most remembered film, it's quite astonishing that her Oscar nomination in 1943 was instead for For Whom the Bell Tolls.

It's amazing to look at the chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. They did so well in their scenes together, which is odd because they rarely spoke outside of filming, on account of Bogie's wife at the time who constantly accused them of having an affair. The American Film Institute ranks it as the most passionate film ever made, as do I. One great example is the scene in which Ilsa comes to Rick's apartment to ask him for the letters of transit and admits she still loves him. (You can watch that scene here.)

Despite the popularity of Casablanca, Paul Henreid was a very underrated actor. While I don't think he was as great as the leading actors, his performance is still memorable since he plays one of the most important characters in the film. I particularly like the scene in the bar when Laszlo tells Rick he knows he's in love with Ilsa and also persuades him to give them the letters of transit. The supporting cast consists of Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall, who all, like Henreid, are extremely underrated. Even in supporting roles, they each add a lot to the film. For example, Peter Lorre has maybe eight minutes of screen time and he's in one of the most vital roles.

"We'll always have Paris." "Here's looking at you, kid." "Round up the usual suspects." "Play it Sam. Play, 'As Time Goes By'." Aside from the cast, the most recognizable thing about Casablanca is the screenplay. Even if someone hasn't seen it, the previous quotes are still vaguely familiar. It's a wonder that the screenplay turned out to be so great, considering the difficult time that brothers Julius and Phillip Epstein had writing it. The script was adapted from the play Everybody Comes to Rick by Joan Alison, but the title was changed to attract more viewers, similar to the film Algiers in 1938.

As I mentioned when discussing Bergman, the ending was rewritten several times to find the scene that best suit the story.Being the romantic that I am, I would have liked Ilsa to stay with Rick, but I strongly agree with what Julius Epstein said in the documentary You Must Remember This: The Making of Casablanca (which is available on the special edition DVD): the film wouldn't have the legacy it has today if it ended the way most people wanted it to. It shows a man giving up the woman for something he knows is more important, which is why it's so remembered today.

"As Time Goes By", originally released in 1931, is now one of the most well-known songs in film, but it was almost removed from Casablanca. After filming was complete, composer Max Steiner wanted to replace it with an original song, but, by this time Bergman had cut her hair for her part in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Scenes could not be re-shot and the song could not be removed since it was such a large part of the film, so "As Time Goes By" (thankfully) stayed.

And of course Google didn't have the picture I wanted.
Lastly, I want to discuss Michael Curtiz' direction. Curtiz made several great films including White Christmas and Mildred Pierce, but Casablanca was his masterpiece. Another thing I mentioned about Ingrid Bergman was the closeup shots. It's a remarkable quality, not just with her, but with the film as a whole. For example, the scene when Ilsa comes to Rick's cafe and asks Sam to play "As Time Goes By". Rick, hearing the song, walks over to Sam and he and Ilsa see each other for the first time since she left him in Paris. The way the camera captures their expressions is just perfect. It's one of my favorite scenes in the film.

Overall, I've seen Casablanca dozens of times and it still continues to amaze me as a film. I'll be re-watching it throughout December and I hope many of you will do the same.