Tag Archives: Jean Simmons

A Nice Cup of Tea with Patricia

For those of you who enjoyed my interview with sweet-voiced Patricia Hammond (part 1, part 2), I have a treat today! In anticipation of the release of Patricia’s new EP on October 23, her label has released one of the tunes free for your downloading pleasure! Click the photo above and have a listen to Honeysuckle and the Bee.

I have had the great privilege of listening to A Nice Cup of Tea – a four track EP coming out in a few weeks – in advance of the release date.

The four songs on the EP are:

  1. A Nice Cup Of Tea – this song will be remembered as a jingle for a 1970s tea advert but was a lovely little number from the 1930s made famous by Binnie Hale. Patricia found the sheet music at Oxfam. The arrangement involves spoons, glockenspiel, a ukulele, a kazoo and a whistling chorus.
  2. Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry – an Irish folk-song, sung by the actress Jean Simmons in the classic film “The Way to the Stars,” one of the greatest British War films ever made. This version has a spontaneous barberhop-quartet singalong..
  3. The Honeysuckle and the Bee – The hit song from a 1901 show at the Vaudeville Theatre entitled Bluebell in Fairyland. One of Patricia’s most-requested numbers.
  4. We’ll Gather Lilacs – Ivor Novello wrote this for his show Perchance To Dream in 1945, and here it’s given an intimate, chamber arrangement to reflect the hope in its lyrics.

The descriptions above are from the disc jacket, so if you’re in the States and have no recollection of a 1970’s tea advertisement featuring A Nice Cup of Tea, take heart. It was only aired in the UK and is sadly unavailable on YouTube (believe me, I searched!)

My favorite tune of the four is Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry. Patricia’s rendition is bubbly, bright and lots of fun. I dare you to listen to it and keep still! The description above is quite right, the tune was sung by Jean Simmons in 1945. But my memory of it comes from a lesser known Noir called A Woman’s Secret (1949) with Maureen O’Hara, Melvyn Douglas and Gloria Grahame. Maureen sings it in the beginning of the film with great spirit – just as I picture Patricia singing it!

So, have listen to Honeysuckle and the Bee and get ready to be impressed with the new EP!

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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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