Tag Archives: Films

A DFJ Bonanza

dfj_4

Well, if you are a DFJ fan like me, rejoice! We have hit quite the little motherlode of films starting tonight on TCM. TCM rarely plays a DFJ film, let alone this many at once. Four of his early 30s films are being shown this month. What a splendid way to begin the new year!

January 3 @ 3.45am – Show of Shows (1929)

January 3 @ 6am – Loose Ankles (1930)

January 3 @ 7.15am – I Like Your Nerve (1931)

January 11 @ 6am – Love is a Racket (1932)

The only one I have not seen is Show of Shows and it looks like DFJ only has a passing acquaintance with that film. It has been some years since I saw the others though, so I am relishing the chance to see them with fresh eyes. Have a watch and come back to let me know which was your favorite!

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You’re a better man than I am…

Hello my dears! I’m thrilled to be continuing the film review chain started by Wendymoon of Movie Viewing Girl today (and Cary, Victor & Doug are just as thrilled as I am!).

Look at our chain so far:

Link #1: The Women (1939) by Wendymoon.
Link #2: Private Lives (1931) by Kate Gabrielle.
Link #3: Letty Lynton (1944) by KC.
Link #4: Madame Curie (1944) by Amanda Cooper.
Link #5: Monkey Business (1952) by Sally

and Link #6: Gunga Din (1939) by Casey – me!

The rules of the chain state that each film must be linked to the previous one by actor, actress, director, theme, or some other factor. My link to Monkey Business is Cary Grant and he brings us to Gunga Din.

The story opens with our trio battling and flattening a rival regiment in a bar fight. Soldiers are thrown from windows, rolled down stairs and have bottles cracked over their noggins. It’s a whirlwind scene that sets the lightening pace for the film which never stops straight to the end. The overall themes are friendship, duty and love with duty and love clashing as DFJ tries to mix the two. The plot seems predictable enough as the film begins, but I think you’ll be surprised by the twists and turns and where the boys finally end up. Remember Cary Grant’s slightly unscrupulous sidekick in His Girl Friday? He makes an appearance in this film, but not at all how you would expect!

One of the reasons I chose Gunga Din is of course because it stars my eternal crush Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. I was *shocked, shocked* (in my best Claude Rains voice) to find that my dear honorary niece Millie has not seen it yet! Even though she has promised faithfully to watch it soon, I thought I’d give her some encouragement. So in true Millie-esque fashion, my alternate title for this post is:

Why Millie Should Watch Gunga Din, NOW!

Reason #1: the cast.

Starring DFJ, Cary Grant and Victor McLaglen, Gunga Din is the ultimate adventure spectacle with enough action and exotic scenery to satisfy even a hardcore Black Swan fan like Miss Millie. And besides, this is my beloved Douglas Fairbanks, Jr at the height of his handsomeness. Honestly. Judge for yourself. I think there are few men who could don a form-fitting white uniform and lend it as much grandeur as DFJ does:

Cary Grant speaks throughout the film with a cockney accent, a stark contrast to the suave, sophisticated accent we know him for now. Other stellar attractions in the cast are Sam Jaffe, Joan Fontaine (more on her in a moment…) and Cecil Kellaway in a bit role.

I think Sam Jaffe ought to have the nickname of “The Chameleon”. He was one of the most versatile actors in classic Hollywood, bringing life to the insane Grand Duke Peter in The Scarlet Empress, the humble Indian water boy in our film and the hardened master criminal in The Asphalt Jungle. It took me several years and many viewings of Gunga Din and The Asphalt Jungle to finally realize Sam Jaffe was the same man in both. Oh and interesting fun fact: Sam Jaffe was 47 years old when he played the role of Din.

Reason #2: Cary Grant’s jail scene (pictured above)

No matter how many times I’ve treated myself to a viewing of Gunga Din, I never tire of watching Cary Grant connive his way out of Military Prison with the help of Gunga Din. I’m not giving away anything else, but I guarantee you won’t be able to keep a straight face when you watch it.

Reason #3: The Ball (pictured above)

While unsuspecting ladies waltz gracefully with our boys, Cary & Victor are plotting mayhem and hilarity ensues! Poor DFJ is the object of the mission, but he gets a few digs back at them before all is said and done.

Reason #4: Opinion of Emmy (as played by Joan Fontaine)

All right, allow me to begin this reason with a disclaimer: I adore Joan Fontaine. I think she is extremely lovely, her accent is to die for and she always comes off as terribly sweet in her roles. But, I simply can’t bear her in Gunga Din.

You see, a significant part of the plot revolves around her romance with DFJ. She’s a clingy, annoying fiancee who is standing between DFJ and the career he has always wanted. She wants him to marry her, settle down and become a coffee farmer. A coffee farmer! No, it’s just not DFJ.

Well, being that I am a zealous DFJ fan, I wonder if these feelings are merely me being “peanut butter and jealous” (one of Sarah’s phrases as quoted to me by Millie) or if others feel this way too. I’d be most grateful to anyone who’d like to chime in with their thoughts on Emmy.

-**-**-**-**-

April 17, 2010 UPDATE: Millie succumbed to Gunga Din fever last night and is now a DFJ convert! :D

-*-*-

And now, we need another link! If you want to add the next link in the chain, here are the rules, as laid out by Wendymoon:

1. Call dibs on doing the next review in the comments. First one to speak up gets it, others will have to wait to join up to the next link in the chain! (Chains usually only link one at a time, after all. It’s not a movie review tree.)

2. Write your own review of another movie (it should be one not yet used in the chain) and post it on your blog. Make sure the link to the previous review is made clear and that you link back to the original post where the chain began (so we can keep track of how the chain grows). The link can be an actor or actress, director, or something more creative (like a theme).

3. Include the rules of how to continue the chain, and let someone else continue it!

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Movie Review: 2,000 Women

Before I go on and on about what an amazingly brilliant film 2,000 Women (1944) is (and I am going to do that, I promise), let me start by celebrating its availability on DVD.  You really can buy it both in the US and UK!  I’ll provide the links for you at the bottom of this post.  I feel like such a creep when I recommend a film and get everyone all excited about seeing it, only to break the bad news that it’s not on DVD.  Although, I don’t want to stop reviewing films that are not on DVD, since the interest we create in them with our blogs could very possibly push them down the DVD road.  Anyway, on to the review!

2000 women2,000 Women is a British made film starring Phyllis Calvert, Flora Robson and Patricia Roc, to name a few.  It tells the story of 2,000 British women who were interned in a French hotel by the Nazis during World War II.  The film focuses on a small tight knit group of women who are friends because they each have a highly determined personality.  Patricia Roc (sitting on the desk above, with the wireless transmitter to her ear) is the main character: a quiet, soft spoken girl named Rosemary Brown.  Phyllis Calvert (far left, sitting on the bed with a white shirt) is Freda Thompson, a strong, smart sophisticated woman.  Flora Robson (on the floor, listening to the wireless with her back to the camera) is Muriel Manningford, an old style English society woman who takes no guff off the Nazis.  There are many, many more women in the film but it would take ages to list them all and do them justice.

Rosemary and Freda become fast friends in the beginning of the film and end up sharing a room.  The film follows them as they get settled in, learn the ways of the hotel and meet the other inmates.  Amazingly, all the women in the film have incredible hair throughout it, which is a little hard to comprehend, since they had no access to a beauty salon.  The clothes are superb, too.  Lots of slim slacks and collared shirts.  And, in the final scene, all the gals have amazing evening dresses (particularly Phyllis Calvert).

The drama of this film is brought in by a group of RAF fliers who bail out of their plane in the vicinity of the hotel.  The men find their way to the hotel, barging in on several of the women in the middle of the night.  Our lady patriots band together to protect the fliers and try to help them escape.  It’s not an easy task, being that no one knows who to trust and the Nazis lurk around every corner.  There are several surprising plot twists when the ladies find out who their friends really are.  The pilot of the doomed plane, Jimmy Moore, splendidly played by James McKechnie, is the love interest of Patricia Roc’s character Rosemary.  I’m an awful sucker for love stories, and this one is touching, believable and a joy to watch.

You  may be wondering how I managed to see this lovely film.  It played on TCM on September 15, last year in the middle of the night…  Yeah, I just resurrected it.  It sat in my homemade VHS collection for that long.  It’s shameful, I know.

Okay, if you’d like to see this British gem for yourself, you’ve got two options:

Movies Unlimited

Movies Unlimited

The Movies Unlimited version is now on sale for 9 bucks! (House of 1000 Women is the US title)

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.co.uk (Region 2)

The Amazon.co.uk version can be bought new or used. I did check Netflix, and can’t find it listed there.  Although, you Netflix gurus may be able to find it.  I hope so!

I came across some terrific links while looking for photos for this post, so I’ll share them with you:

– A wonderful Patricia Roc fan site, complete with loads of lovely photos.

– The Britmovie page for 2,000 Women.

(There’s an Alastair Sim poll on the main page, for all his fans out there.  Kate – this means you. :) )

I highly recommend this film.  It’s fun, interesting, romantic, suspenseful and just plain enjoyable.  As my old pal Bobby Osborne said, it’s patriotic propaganda.  The patriotic propaganda films of the 40’s are some of the best films of that era.  2,000 Women is no exception.

**1/9/13 Edit – 2000 Women is now available on Netflix streaming! Thanks so much Ivan for pointing it out.**

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Ronnie Heaven

I’m just reeling from the idea of Ronald Reagan being TCM’s Star of the Month.  Ronnie is one of my top favorite actors of the 1940’s. (see my top 10 list here) So, when I received my copy of Now Playing a couple of weeks ago and saw Ronnie’s handsome face gracing the cover, I nearly swooned!

Oh, Ronnie – how I adore you.

Well, on to more serious issues.  His films – winners one and all, I’d say.  And that’s not just my Ronnie bias speaking either.  I remember hearing Robert Osborne decry the misconception of Ronnie’s films, too.  If you have been avoiding Ronnie’s films because of the prevailing idea of their awfulness, please reconsider.

I’ve got some top picks for you, if you’re game:

Desperate Journey (1942) – A terrific war thriller starring Errol Flynn, Ronnie, Arthur Kennedy and Alan Hale.  The guys are American airmen who get stranded in Germany and have to fight their way out.  There’s several truly hilarious moments of comedy with Alan Hale. (TCM – March 25 @ 12.45am eastern, not available on DVD)

The Voice of the Turtle aka One for the Book (1948) – A truly tender love story with Ronnie and Eleanor Parker.  Ronnie can’t get a hotel room for his leave, so he stays with Eleanor.  Other cast attractions include the multi-talented Eve Arden and Wayne Morris.  (TCM – March 19 @ 4 am eastern, not available on DVD either!)

The Hasty Heart (1950) – This is an amazingly good film in it’s own right and with the stellar cast, it’s nearly perfect.  Ronnie, Richard Todd and many others are recooperating soldiers in a hospital in Burma.  Patricia Neal is their nurse.  Richard Todd is a Scotsman who is determined not to get involved with the other men.  The story revolves around the group trying to break him down and make him see how beautiful life can be.  It’s quite moving. (Sadly, TCM hasn’t scheduled this one.  I’m calling Bobby Osborne to find out why! ;) But, it is available on DVD in The Ronald Reagan Signature Collection)

Have a look at dear Ronnie’s films, if you get the chance.  I think you’ll find they aren’t half as bad as people say they are.  I’m off to spend some more time in Ronnie Heaven! :)

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Movie Review: Divorce, American Style

Im seeing conflicting reports on DVD availibility.  Amazon sells it used, but TCM says its not on DVD.  Hmmm.
Availability: Amazon has is on Instant Watch and sells it used. Netflix has it on DVD only.

Divorce, American Style (1967) is way out of my normal viewing range, but I watched it for several reasons.  First, Raquelle over at Out of the Past did a series of posts a couple of weeks ago about films from the 60’s, encouraging her readers to give them a chance.  She was terribly optimistic, so I decided that my close-mindedness about 60’s films needed to end.  I had to swallow my preconceived notions and watch one with a new outlook.  My other reasons for viewing Divorce, American Style were the stars: Debbie ReynoldsDick Van Dyke, Van Johnson, Jean Simmons and Jason Robards, Jr.  It’s a first class cast if there ever was one.  So, long story short – I’m very glad Raquelle pushed me on my 60’s dislike, because I found Divorce, American Style to be funny, smart, entertaining and earnestly sweet.

Debbie & Dick are Barbara and Richard Harmon, a married couple that continually quarrel.  With the help of a dubious marriage counselor and their friends, they decide that they would be so much better off divorced.  (This aspect struck me as being similar to The Women (1939), btw.)  The  film deals with the logistics of their divorce and the treacheries of dating.  A lot of the humor is derived from the divorce laws of the time, which strongly favored women and made it highly undesirable for men to get divorced, since they pretty much got shafted.

Richard meets up with Nelson Downes (Jason Robards, Jr.) while having visitation with his sons.  Nelson is divorced from his wife, Nancy (Jean Simmons) and is living in poverty because of the settlement.  Nelson wants to remarry his now-pregnant girlfriend, Eunice (Eileen Brennan) but can’t until Nancy gets remarried and disqualifies herself for alimony.  Nelson plays matchmaker for his wife, bringing home possible beaus for her to choose from.  (I found that aspect of the story to be rather disturbing and kind of bizarre.) Nancy and Nelson seem to have a mutual fondness for one another, but are bound and determined to be married to other people.  Anyway – Richard becomes Nancy’s love interest, but there’s a problem .  Richard can’t marry Nancy until Barbara remarries (that pesky alimony!).  So, Nancy and Nelson set out to find a new hubby for Barbara.  This is where Van Johnson comes in. Van adds a lighthearted touch to the whole mix as “Big” Al Yearling, a lovable, mama’s boy car salesman.  If this sounds ridiculously complex, it is.  I think it’s a purposeful complexity to make the 60’s divorce craze look silly and pointless.

I really liked Van in this film.  He is a joy to watch.  He’s not supposed to be likable, but he is sweet and honest.  Jason Robards was rather creepy, I thought.  He has an almost evil quality that shines through a couple times and it’s undesirable.  Debbie and Dick are a very believable married couple.  It always annoys me when the couple in a film don’t seem to truly be in love.  You can always tell when actors and actresses don’t like each other and it makes the film less enjoyable.  Jean Simmons is amazingly lovely.  I would venture to say that she looks better in this film than in her earlier films (if that’s possible – maybe age was becoming to her?).

My most favorite scene of the whole film is the nightclub scene with Pat Collins, the hypnotist.  Barbara & Al, Richard & Nancy, Nelson & Eunice all go on the town together to celebrate Barbara & Richard’s divorce being final. (Like I said, it’s got it’s bizarre aspects.) They end up in a nightclub where Pat Collins is performing and Barbara & Al get up on the stage to be hypnotized.  I tried to find a clip of it, but it doesn’t seem like there is one (at least not on YouTube or TCM’s Media Room).  Pat Collins totally steals the show in her lovely 60’s gown, big hair and enormous sunglasses.  According to this article in the New York Times, Pat had a successful nightclub in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip.  She used her hypnosis techniques to help people quit smoking and overcome fears.

There is an episode of The Lucy Show that Pat appeared on.  I’ve got it linked below.  It’s in several parts, and it’s not the best quality, but you can get to see Pat Collins at work.  If you’d like to see the rest of the act, click on the video, they should be in the sidebar.

Enjoy.  :)

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Movie Review: The Young In Heart

Oh, The Young In Heart (1938)…  I’ve watched it twice already since it showed on TCM as part of Architecture Class on February 3 and I’ll be watching it again.

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Janet Gaynor, Billie Burke and Roland Young are a family (The Carltons) of high class con-artists who travel to the most posh spots to fleece the very rich.  Doug and Janet are brother and sister, Billie and Roland are husband and wife.  Billie and Roland are called “Marmy” (as in Little Women) and “Sahib” by their children.  Some reviewers called this aspect “cutesy” but I think that all four of them have a great rapport in the film and the family bond truly works.

When we meet them, they have just been kicked out of Monte Carlo (or someplace similar) because the law caught up with them.  Their hopes of Richard (Doug) making a advantagous marriage to a southern belle heiress are dashed.  George-Ann’s hope of marrying her penniless beau (the film debut of Richard Carlson – doing a mighty convincing Scottish accent, btw) goes by the wayside, too.  On the train ride back, George-Ann meets up with a lonely but rich old lady who George-Ann decides to stick for a meal.  The old lady (Miss Fortune) is played by Minnie Dupree.  Minnie Dupree was mostly a stage actress and only made four films, which is sad because she’s wonderful as Miss Fortune.

Well, as you’ve probably guessed, the Carltons take full advantage of their new trusted position with Miss Fortune and hatch a plot to get her to will them her estate.  It proceeds from there to a sweet, poignant story of the four Carltons fighting their own cynicism and worldliness while becoming more and more enchanted with Miss Fortune.  I won’t spoil the ending for you, if you haven’t seen it.

There are many reasons why I am passionately fond of this film, starting with the utterly adorable Doug Jr.  The accent, the smile, the incredible personal style, the dignity, the class – all just make him so thrilling.  This revelation will be no surprise to you though, if you looked at my 20 Actors meme.  I know that for some reason, Doug Jr. is just not as famous or beloved as Clark Gable or Spencer Tracy, but in my estimation, he tops both.

Next reason for passionate fondness:  Jane the dog.  The photo above is of a scene where Doug and Paulette Goddard (his love interest) visit a dog farm and look for a special puppy for an old lady.  That special puppy is Jane (that’s not her in the photo), a darling little white dog with a “large black eyebrow over one eye.”  I’ve been trying to find photos of her on the web, to no avail.  She’s so sweet.  I’ve been quite taken with little white dogs for a while now (especially terriers) and I’ve decided that s o m e d a y, I’ll share my life with one.  :)

Third reason for passionate fondness: the remarkable architecture and sets.  Doug sits in an engineering office that has out-of-this-world paintings on the walls.  Then, Roland Young gets a job working for a car dealership that sells the imaginary Wombat.  It’s a deco explosion of amazing sets for that dealership.  And, the Wombat itself is so terrific.  It’s actually a Phantom Corsair that was going to be put into production after the films release.  Unfortunately, the builder died before the deal was complete and the Phantom Corsair never materialized.

Fourth reason for passionate fondness (“which,” to quote Mr. Collins of Pride & Prejudice fame, “perhaps I should have mentioned first”):  the clothes!  Janet Gaynor and Billie Burke wear some fantastic fur coats in the beginning of the film.  Billie’s collar is like a halo of light colored fur all around her face.  Janet’s full length fur coat has a notched collar and she complements it with an exaggerated fedora-type hat.  Here’s a link to a clip from the film where you can see this coat up close and personal.  (TCM doesn’t let this one be embedded.)

If you’d like to see it, it is available on DVD (amazingly!) for purchase through Amazon or, you can wait for it to be shown on TCM again at 7.30am on April 19 (US Eastern time).

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Top Twenty Classic Film Actors

I was tagged by the terrific Raquelle at Out of the Past to list my top 20 favorite movie actors.  It was a hard order to fill, because I really like so many of them.  The first five are according to my esteem for them, the rest are in alphabetical order.

(All images from Dr. Macro, unless otherwise stated)

1. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

2. Tyrone Power

(and the lovely Maureen O’Hara in The Black Swan – I just love the red scarf he wears in this movie!)

3. Robert Taylor

4. Errol Flynn

5. Gary Cooper

6. Marlon Brando

(I adore him in Guys and Dolls as Sky Masterson!)

7. Ronald Colman

(Photo from Arrowsmith)

8. Robert Donat

(This pic comes from The 39 Steps.)

9. William Holden

(from The Bridge Over the River Kwai)

10. Van Johnson

(Shown here with Lana Turner in Weekend at the Waldorf)

11. Jack Lemmon

(From The Apartment which is such a lovely love story.)

12. Victor Mature

(Shown here with Gene Tierney and Phyllis Brooks in The Shanghai Gesture – which, incidentally, if you’ve never seen it, it’s a quirky must!)

13. Robert Mitchum

14. Robert Montgomery

(My favorite Montgomery film is Lady in the Lake, although this photo is not from it)

15. Chester Morris

(The Boston Blackie series is so great!)

16. John Payne

(This photo is my scan from a vintage 1942 copy of Modern Screen magazine.)

17. William Powell

(Asta is pretty cute too!)

18. Gene Raymond

(I found this photo on the internet years ago now.  I can’t remember where it came from, so if it’s yours or you know whose it is, I’d appreciate a little heads up.  Thanks!)

19. Ronald Reagan

robert-sterling-120. Robert Sterling

(I just adore him in I’ll Wait for You (1941).  And, remember, he was Ava Gardner’s husband in the 1951 version of Show Boat!)

This is another photo that I cannot remember where I found it.  Link info would be very much appreciated!

Okay, there it is.  I know I’m going to feel guilty about who I listed and who I didn’t.  I like so many more actors, but when you can only pick 20, it puts a limit on your ardor.  Oh well.

Off to finish my art project!

[1/25/09 Edit:  I am supposed to pass on this tag, but when I wrote this, I couldn’t decide on who to award it to.  Since the lovely Jen was kind enough to be the first to comment on this post (other than my crony in film admiration, Raquelle) I’ll pass it along to her.  Here ya go, Jen.  Have fun!]

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