Friday, August 21, 2009

foggy days in london town

Dear Readers,

Amongst the packing and panicking I just wanted to let you all know that because I will be studying abroad for the fall semester, my hop across the pond being only a few days away, I will be on hiatus until December. I hope to still pop in from time to time (and potentially post a few things) but my ability to do so will be entirely unreliable as I will want to spend every second I can exploring my new surroundings. Once I return to the states I definitely want to continue blogging, so no I haven't deserted my little internet spec and I hope to find you all here and well when I return. :)

Also: Go participate in Millie's Hitchcock birthday bash! I'm sorry I wasn't able to.

I leave you with pictures of some seriously fierce british people.

Monday, August 17, 2009

dear mr. gable

Aside from a desire to cook and an ever increasing love of all things Meryl Streep, the recently released Julie & Julia,  the true story of the effect Julia Child has on a lowly office worker and writer from Queens, NY who decides to blog about her experiences cooking every recipe in Mastering The Art of French Cooking had a surprise message that I found just as comforting as strawberry shortcake. It is not only the story of Julie and Julia, but a story of anyone who has found inspiration in people that they have never met.

I've often felt a tinge of regret that I was never able to encounter or work with many of the people I most admire. One of the things I find so interesting about the film is the fact that Julie Powell does find out what Julia thinks of her and at first is devastated by the response. Julia Child read Julie's blog and was not impressed. In short, she thought she was disrespectful and not a true cook. This is touched on in the film and you can read Julie's recent response here. More than the story of these two women what I found most inspiring was the conclusion Julie comes to with the help of her husband. It does not matter if Julia Child did or did not understand what she was doing, all that mattered was the Julia Child that Julie had created for herself, and the Julia Child that completely changed her life.

In my heart of hearts I know that much as I wish it even if I were able to invent that blasted time machine I would not be the person I would wish and more than likely would not encounter those I most admire, especially as anything more than a girl in bobby socks behind a barricade. I know that Cary Grant will not have a seat reserved next to him at the bar in heaven between him and Deborah Kerr (and even if he did I would not be able to keep up with the Parkeresque repartee) and Myrna Loy is not observing my movements from some discreet cloud. And yet, in their exquisite shadow play these people have inexplicably altered the course of my life. These people that I never met and can never meet have touched and moulded as Julia Child shaped Julie Powell. And this is what is important.

(And it's probably best that Barbara Stanwyck isn't alive because I'm pretty sure if she knew I called her Babs she would hunt me down and brass knuckle me in the face.)

Cheers to the grand delusion.

Photograph taken by me at the Julia Child exhibit on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

Monday, August 10, 2009

i'm late for a very important (birthday) date!

A Happy Birthday to Nicole at Classic Hollywood Nerd!
I hope you have a simply maahvelous day (said in my best Judy Garland voice. Which...isn't very good a'tall really. I'm not fluent in Bette Davis either so I'd better just give this up).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Some Like It Classic

Questionnaire from the mischievous and quite brilliant mind of Matthew Conian as a substitute or addition to the more modern film questions asked over at the also wonderful Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

1. Your favourite Humphrey Bogart film in which he doesn't play a gangster or a private eye. (Oh, and not including Casablanca either.)
His performance as Dobbs in John Huston's Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Bogie's descent into madness for me rivals Kathleen Bryon's in Black Narcissus.
2. Your favourite appearance by a star in drag (boy-girl or girl-boy).
William Powell in Love Crazy
3. Your favourite Laurel & Hardy film; short or feature, or one of each. (This will sort out the men from the boys - or perhaps the men from the girls.)
The Music Box (1932)

4. Your favourite appearance by one star in a role strongly associated with another star. (Eg: Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, Grace Kelly as Tracy Lord, Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates...)
Irene Dunne as Anna Owens in Anna and the King of Siam (1946) the non-musical precursor to The King and I.
5. The thirties or forties star or stars you most think you'd like, but have yet to really get to know.
Rita Hayworth and James Cagney.
6. Your favourite pre-Petrified Forest Bette Davis film.
I'm going to say Parachute Jumper (1933) simply because her Alabama accent is absolutely adorable.
7. Your favourite post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford film.
I've only seen Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? so...sure.
8. Your favourite film that ends with the main character's death.
The Letter (1940). Also includes one of the greatest opening scenes of a film in film history.
9. Your favourite Chaplin talkie.
The Great Dictator (1940). Chaplin's speech more or less as Chaplin at the end of the film is timeless.
10. Your favourite British actor and actress.
Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr
11. Your favourite post-1960 appearance by a 1930's star.
Barbara Stanwyck as the delightfully evil Mary Carson in the epic television melodrama The Thorn Birds.
12. Dietrich or Garbo? Dietrich
13. Karloff or Lugosi? Lugosi
14. Chaplin or Keaton? (I know some of you will want to say both for all of the above. Me too. But you can't.) Definitely Keaton for me (though of course I love Chaplin as well)
15. Your favourite star associated predominantly with the 1950's.
Deborah Kerr
16. Your favourite Melvyn Douglas movie.
For me it's a tie between Theodora Goes Wild (1936) and Ninotchcka (1939)
17. The box-office failure you most think should have been a success.
Citizen Kane and It's a Wonderful Life
18. Your favourite performance by an actor or actress playing drunk.
Definitely the scene in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington where Jean Arthur gets drunk with Thomas Mitchell and goes to tell off James Stewart and set him straight about what really goes on in Washington. A close second would be Deborah Kerr playing an old, broken down drunk in Edward, My Son. She hardly has anything to do in the film but her final scene is absolutely why she was noticed by the academy that year.
19. Your favourite last scene of any thirties movie.
Remember My Forgotten Man in Gold Diggers of 1933
20. Your favourite American non-comedy silent movie.
The Wind (1928) a masterpiece directed by Victor Sjostrom starring the unsurpassable Lillian Gish.
21. Your favourite Jean Harlow performance.
Red Dust (1932). Love love her and Clark Gable.
22. Your favourite remake. (Quizmaster's definition: second or later version of a work written as a movie, not a later adaptation of the same novel or play.)
The Parent Trap (1998). This movie defined my childhood. Don't be hatin'.
23. Your favourite Orson Welles performance in a film he did not direct, not including The Third Man.
Tomorrow is Forever (1946) starring Orson and Claudette Colbert
24. Your favourite non-gangster or musical James Cagney film or performance.
See Question 5.
25. Your favourite Lubitsch movie.
To Be Or Not To Be (1942) one of my all time favorites.
26. Who would win in a fight: Miriam Hopkins or Barbara Stanwyck? (Both in their prime; say in 1934 or so.)
Barbara Stanwyck hands down. Don't mess with Brooklyn, boys and girls. No one slaps her around unless she wants them to (unlike Hopkins)
27. Name the two stars you most regret never having co-starred with each other, and - if you want - choose your dream scenario for them. (Quizmaster's qualification: they have to be sufficiently contemporary to make it possible. So, yes to Cary Grant and Lon Chaney Jr as two conmen in a Howard Hawks screwball; no to Clara Bow and Kirsten Dunst as twin sisters on the run from prohibition agents in twenties Chicago, much though that may entice.)
Teresa Wright and Eva Marie Saint as gangster's molls in a 50s comedy akin to Some Like It Hot.
28. Your favourite Lionel Barrymore performance.
You Can't Take It With You (1938). Greatest fictional family ever created.
29. Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard or Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour? (See note on question 14.)
J'adore Paulette
30. You won't want to answer this, but: there's been a terrible fire raging in the film libraries of all the major studios. It's far too late to save everything. All you can do is save as much as you can. You've been assigned the thirties. All you'll have time to drag from the obliterating inferno is one 1930's film each from Paramount, MGM, RKO, Columbia, Universal and Warners. Do you stomp around in a film buff's huff saying 'it's too hard, I can't choose just one' and watch them all go up in smoke? Or do you roll your sleeves up and start saving movies?
But if the latter:
which ones...?

Good Grief.

Paramount: Duck Soup MGM: The Wizard of Oz RKO: Top Hat Columbia: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Universal: Frankenstein Warners: Gold Diggers of 1933

If you are up to the challenge be sure to post your responses (or a link) over at Matthew's blog here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Myrna Loy-a definition of a favorite actress

"Why does every black person in the movies have to play a servant? How about a black person walking up the steps of a court house carrying a briefcase?"

Myrna Loy [a-dele will-iams]
  1. Actress
  2. Activist
  3. Arch nemesis of Gracie Allen? 
  1. Being and  becoming
  2. To stare down racist scum and republicans with great contempt
  3. To pass the nuts. I mean, pass the guests the nuts
  1. The eternal good sex woman wife
  2. A lanky brunette with a wicked jaw

1. Witty 2. Arch 3. Defiant 4. Natural 5. Inspirational