Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Kildare

Boyishly handsome, Lew Ayres.
Photo Courtesy of
Lew and Louis Wolheim in
Quiet on the Western Front.
Photo Courtesy of
     Today would be Lew Ayres's 108th birthday. He was born on December 28, 1908 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but was raised in San Diego, California. He is most famous for his role as Dr. James Kildare, but had been acting in bit player roles since 1927. His first starring role was in the 1929 silent film The Kiss which starred Greta Garbo, in her last silent film, and Conrad Nagel.
     It was the very next year that Lew starred in the epic World War I film, All Quiet on the Western Front as Paul Baumer, that he became a star. In the years to come he would star in Common Clay with Constance Bennett, The Doorway to Hell with James Cagney in his second film role (all 1930), Iron Man with a still relatively unknown Jean Harlow (1931), the original 1933 film State Fair, and in 1938 he would star as Katharine Hepburn's drunk brother in the wonderful gem, Holiday.
Lew as the adorable drunk brother of
Katharine Hepburn.
Photo Courtesy of
Lew and love interest, Mary Lamont,
portrayed by the beautiful
Laraine Day.
Photo Courtesy of
     After the wrap of Holiday, he made his first appearance as Dr. James Kildare in Young Dr. Kildare. This was actually the second film in the series; Joel McCrea having been the first to portray James Kildare in Interns Can't Take Money with Barbara Stanwyck the previous year. He would go on to make eight more films as Dr. Kildare until the character was written out of the series, which would continue on with Lionel Barrymore's character Dr. Gillipsie. Also in that year he starred with James Stewart and Joan Crawford in The Ice Follies of 1939.
Both Lew and Jane were nominated
for an Academy Award for their
perfomances in Johnny Belinda.
Jane would be the only one to take
home Oscar.
Photo Courtesy of
Lew and Olivia. Lew was often typecast as a doctor.
Photo Courtesy of
      Perhaps due to his role in All Quiet on the Western Front, Lew was a conscientious objector of war, and when the United States entered World War II, he made it known that he was so . . . which didn't sit well with anyone. Before he decided to become an actor, Lew had went to the University of Arizona to become a doctor. Taking this experience, he decided to join the Medical Corps. None of the forces, however, could guarantee him this position, and so he reported himself to the Civilian Public Service (CPS). Having such a well-known figure as Lew declaring himself in that position, the armed forces, not wanting to look bad, revised the rules, and Lew joined the Medical Corps.
     After the war, it seemed as though Lew's career in Hollywood was over, but then Olivia de Havilland demanded that Lew be cast as her love interest in 1946's The Dark Mirror, that he was once again accepted by the movie going public. Two years later, Lew was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor in Johnny Belinda alongside Jane Wyman.
As the V.P. who everyone ignores . . . kind of like they do
now, too.
Photo Courtesy of
     Mostly after Johnny Belinda, he would make few films. He guest starred on a few television shows such as The Ford Show with Tennessee Ernie Ford, The DuPont Show with June Allyson, and The Barbara Stanwyck Show, and he also starred in several television miniseries. His biggest film after Johnny Belinda was Advice and Consent as the Vice-President that basically everyone ignores, with Henry Fonda.
     Lew married three times: Lola Lane of the Lane Sisters (1931-1933), Ginger Rogers (1934-1940), and finally Dina Hall, whom he married in 1964 and stayed married to until his death on December 30, 1996--only two days after his eighty-eight birthday. They had a son named Justin. It's a shame that because of his way of that his career which was so very promising was basically destroyed. In my opinion, Lew Ayres was a fantastic actor, and had he gotten more roles such as that of Paul Baumer in All Quiet on the Western Front or as Dr. Robert Richardson in Johnny Belinda, perhaps he wouldn't be so easily forgotten by so many of us today, including us classic film fans. I hope, however, he knew that the films he did do: All Quiet
on the Western Front, the Kildare series, and Johnny Belinda, plus many others, are loved by those that watch them, and that he, too, is loved by all of those that remember him.

Awww . . . Lew and Ginger fishing.
Photo Courtesy of

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bogie: In His Own Words

Bogie + Dark + Brooding = Sexy
Photo Courtesy of
     If there ever was a man that did things his way and said to fudge with anybody and everybody that didn't like the way he did it, that man would be Humphrey Deforest Bogart.
     In all reality, Bogie should never had made it in Hollywood. After all, he wasn't classically good looking. He was short. And he had a peculiar way of speech. Yet, by his own force of nature, he did make it. He bid everybody a fond "screw you", and proceeded to show them all. Being that Bogie is one of my favorite actors of all time, I'm very glad that he did.
   I've never been a part of a blogathon, and I'm still getting a hang on this whole blog bit in the first place, so when it came to deciding what I should do for this Bogie Blogathon, I found myself on a never ending merry-go-round. First I decided to do a film review, but then I scratched that idea. I could, I thought, write a little mini-biography. Again, I scratched that idea. I was up at bat, and already had two strikes. The next idea was going to go one of two ways: another strike, and it was game over for me, or a home-run in the idea department (or at least one that got me to first base). Finally, I got a hit.
     Ever since I "discovered" the classics, one of the greatest things I love about the films besides the actors, actresses, directors, etc., etc., etc., is the most terrifically awesome witty lines that has ever been written in film history. It was through my love of classic film quotes, that I hit upon the fact that Bogie's way of life could be explained through his own quotes in his own films. So, here we go.
Bogie and The Maltese Falcon
Photo Courtesy of

The Maltese Falcon Quotes:

Sam Spade: I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble.

(Bogie got into a lot of "trouble" in his life. He was one half of the Battling Bogarts, and if that doesn't spell trouble, I don't know what does. He also, along with wife Lauren Bacall, spoke his mind about what he thought of the Red Scare in Hollywood. The Panda Bears incident . . .)

Sam Spade: When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it.

(Again, Battling Bogarts. Suffice to say Bogie knew how to handle his own.)

Sam Spade: People lose teeth talking like that. If you want to hang around, you'll be polite.

(Some say he was a hard one to handle. He liked to bait people, get their hackles raised. Others of course said he was very nice, polite.)

Sam Spade: Don't be too sure I'm as crooked as I'm supposed to be.
Rick in the rain, reading Ilsa's letter. One of the saddest
scenes in the whole film to me.
Photo Courtesy of

(Many have said that Bogie wasn't really like a lot of the tough characters he portrayed.)

Casablanca Quotes:

Rick: I stick out my neck for nobody.

(Ah, but we all know he did.)

Major Strasser: What is your nationality?
Rick: I'm a drunkard.
Captain Renault: That makes Rick a citizen of the world.

(He really was a citizen of the world.)

Rick: I'm the only cause I'm interested in.

(Again, we know this wasn't so.)

Rick: I'm on their blacklist--their roll of honor!

(He found himself on the Warner Bros. "Black List" a lot of times.)

Rick: Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the word, she walks into mine.

(Just as it was for Rick and Ilsa, it was fate for Bogie and Lauren Bacall to find one another.)
In a Lonely Place: Did they, or did they not
kill? That is the question.
Photo Courtesy of

In a Lonely Place Quotes:

Mildred Atkinson: Before I started to go to work at Paul's, I used to think that actors made up their own lines.
Dixon Steele: When they get to be big stars, they usually do.

(Being one of the biggest stars ever, did Bogie ever make-up his own lines? I think maybe he did.)

Dixon Steele: There's no sacrifice too great for a chance at immortality.

(He made sacrifices, and thanks to celluloid, he will be forever immoral.)

Dixon Steele: It was his story against mine, but of course, I told my story better.

(Bogie had a lot of stories to share, and they were unlike any others.)

Dixon Steele: It's much easier to get people's names into the papers than it is to keep them out.

(And Bogie saw his name in the papers a lot of times . . . for the good and the bad.)
Bogie on The African Queen.
Photo Courtesy of

The African Queen Quotes:

Charlie Allnut: One thing in the world I hate: leeches. Filthy little devils.

(Self explanatory I think . . .)

Rose Sayer: Who do you think you are ordering me about?
Charlie Allnut: I'm the captain, that's what!

(He was the captain of his own boat, The Santana.)

Charlie Allnut: Let's go while the going's good.

(He went, and the going was fantastic.)

Charlie Allnut: Never say die. That's my motto.

(It was also his way of life in the early part of his career.)

Charlie Allnutt: It's a great thing to have a lady aboard with clean habits. It sets the man a good example. A man alone, he gets to living like a hog.
Bogie with co-star Pard, played by Bogie's
real life pooch, Zero the Dog, on the set of
High Sierra.
Photo Courtesy of

(If there were truer words ever spoken, I've yet to hear them.)

High Sierra Quotes:

Roy Earle: I wouldn't give you two cents for a dame without a temper.

(Bogie had a few of those in life . . .)

Big Mac: Times have sure changed.
Roy Earle: Yeah, ain't they? You know, Mac, sometimes I feel like I don't know what its all about anymore.

     Well, this has been my contribution to the Bogie Blogathon. Perhaps some might disagree with the quotes that I have chosen, but I feel that they are a perfect example of the life of the one and only Humphrey Deforest Bogart.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jerry Lewis and Me

My Fella . . .
Photo Courtesy of
      Anyone and everyone that knows me knows that I'm infatuated with Dean Martin. He didn't become apart of my life until I was about fifteen-years-old, and he had been dead for over fourteen of those years. I "discovered" him, at first, through his music. It was only until I did a little research on my own that I discovered he had been a huge presence in not only the music industry, but he was just as huge a presence in the night club/stage, television, and film parts of the entertainment industry. I learned that he was The King of Cool. I also learned that with his partner, Jerry Lewis, he was one half of one of the biggest and most successful comedic teams of all time.
Jerry taking a break.
Photo Courtesy of
     As my infatuation grew, I had to satisfy my need to see him, listen to him, and learn everything about him that I could. Doing this, I kept reading and hearing over and over again how he was treated when he was partners with Jerry: how everybody thought that Jerry was the "funny" one, how he was the "gifted" one, and how Dean was only the "good-looking" guy who could sing and always got the girls in the end. Basically, everyone thought he was a second banana to Jerry. I've always been one to root for the "underdog", and that was just what I did. Dean was being treated as the underdog, and I naturally sided with him. By doing this, I left Jerry out in the cold. I liked him, but only if he was with Dean. I liked the films he did, but never did I watch one of his that he did on his own, only the ones that he did with Dean, though I never have watched the last film they did together, Hollywood or Bust, nor will I ever. When they broke up, or rather, when I had come to that point in Dean's life, I sided with him. I asked no questions. I simply went with Dean.
     It wasn't until today when I watched a documentary on Jerry called Jerry Lewis: The Method to the Madness, that I decided I had to give him a chance. They had been playing a selection of his films since two o'clock, but because none of them were the films that he and Dean had done together, I decided to forgo all of them . . . Damn was I an idiot. In the beginning I had only wanted to watch the documentary because I knew they couldn't talk about Jerry's life without mentioning Dean. It was, and is, impossible to do so. After the documentary, which by then I had began to feel something but what it was, I couldn't quite tell, I decided to watch The Nutty Professor, the last film that they were showing.
I do believe if the "Nutty Professor" was
my chemistry teacher, I'd like chemistry.
Photo Courtesy of
     I laughed, laughed, and laughed some more during the whole film. I really felt for the Professor, and even when Buddy Love was around, I felt for him too because I knew that the Professor's feelings of insignificance, trepidation, and sadness were still, even through all of Buddy Love's rude, he-man, macho guy stuff, coming through. And the speech that the Professor gives near the very end of the film, even after more than forty years later, still runs as true today as it did back then, even more so in fact.
     It was clear to me by the end of the film that I knew what I was feeling: Guilt. I was feeling gulity because I hadn't even given Jerry a chance. I found that I did like him. In fact, film wise, I like him better by himself than I do with Dean. In most of their films, I found him annoying, and his "idiot voice" got on my nerves a lot of times (and I don't like how Dean was portrayed for most of their films). I've always loved them during their Colgate Comedy Hour shows best because they were more free, the ad-libs were always bouncing off the walls, and, most importantly, they weren't bound by a script.
     Point is to all of this, I found that I could enjoy Jerry without feeling as though I had betrayed Dean by doing so. I'll never feel for Jerry as how I do for Dean, but now I can respect him as the great talent he truly was, and still is. It's also needless to say that The Nutty Professor will not be my last Jerry Lewis film.
Though Buddy Love is perhaps the embodiment of all the bad qualities
 of Jerry's (and a few others), he's still very much loveable because
you know deep down that's not who he truly is.
Photo Courtesy of

Monday, December 12, 2011

Twelve Days of Ol' Blue Eyes

Buon Compleanno!
Photo Courtesy of

     Happy Birthday to You/Happy Birthday to You/Happy Birthday Ol' Blue Eyes/Happy Birthday to You!
     I, unlike "The Voice", cannot carry a tune, but that is of little matter. For he could carry a tune then, and from here to eternity (like my pun?) will still be able to carry a tune.
     Music is a timeless piece of art. Though according to my brother, I'm 'too young to be acting so old', Frank's music can be, and is, enjoyed by anyone from any generation, young or old. His music touches so many, and will continue to touch people as long as they continue to listen. And they will continue to listen. They will listen until music is no more. Perhaps they might have to be given a litte nudge to finally become "introduced" to Frank, and his contemporaries, but if they have any smarts, any taste, they will realize that these fellas were--are--legends.
     That's a dangerous word to use, for it's thrown around today like rice at a wedding. It's a word that many have forgotten the true meaning of. They were, as the Cole Porter song goes, 'the top', and everybody today is, in my opinion, 'the bottom'.
     Frank's music is not only just for the 'young' or 'old', but also for the 'weak', 'strong', 'sad', 'happy', 'mad'. His music is for anyone that has a soul. It's for anyone that needs to laugh, to feel alive, and to cry. Frank, in every song I've ever heard him sing, put his whole being into the music. He made that song tell a story, not just any story, but his story. Not too many can claim to do the same. Not then, and not now.
     So, in salute, I listen to Frank's music, his stories, his life, and today, I say: Happy ninty-six birthday, Frank.

Listen to his music, and you'll know the man.
Photo Courtesy of

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cary Grant: Never to Be Forgotten

"I pretended to be somebody until I finally became him. Or he became me."
--Cary Grant
Cary: The Epitome of Sophistication
Photo Courtesy of
     Cary Grant, Hollywood's favorite leading man, the world's favorite leading man, came into my life quietly and inconspicuously. I cannot, if I were asked, tell you what the first Cary Grant picture I ever saw was, simply because I cannot remember. But how is that so, you might be thinking, if Cary Grant is her favorite actor, how can she not remember? I cannot remember because like a long lost friend that I knew I had had, but had completely forgotten about, he all of a sudden was just in my life. It was as though he had stood before me, with his hand stretched out, and said in that voice of his, "Hello. Do you remember me?"
    And on this day, Tuesday, November 29, I do remember him, as I am sure so many of us do. When I first "discovered" the classics a couple of years back, I had been in search of a safe haven. While Cary wasn't the first actor I knew from the classics, for I have been raised on John Wayne all my life, he was the first one that I became aware of on my own. He and the classics became that safe haven I had been in search for. For that, I will always love, respect, and admire him.

"My family name is Leach. To which was added at my christening, Archibald Alexander, with no oppurtunity for me to protest. For more than half my fifty-eight years I have cautiously peered from behind the facade as a man known as Cary Grant."
--Cary Grant

Little Archie. He looks so sad to me.
Photo Courtesy of
     Archibald Alexander Leach was born approxiametly at 1:00 on Monday, January 18, 1904 to Elias and Elsie Leach. He was an only child, a child having been born and died before him, and his mother had since then suffered from clinical depression. When he was nine, his father told him that his mother had gone on a "long holiday." For months he waited for his mother to return, and it wasn't until he was told by a family member that his mother had died, did he stop. It wouldn't be until he was thirty-one that he would be told by his father that his mother hadn't died, but, had in fact, been placed in a mental institution.
     He was expelled from Fairfield Grammar School in 1918. Having forged his father's signiture, he ran away and joined The Bob Pender Stage Troupe. His father, however, found him and brought him back. Despite this, he was able to convince his father to let him to return. Archie performed as a stilt walker, and travelled with the Troupe to the United States at the age of sixteen in 1920 on a two-year tour of the country. It was while he was with the Troupe that he learned and mastered the grace and comedic timing as a stilt walker, acrobat, juggler, and mime that he would later become so known for on the screen.
     When the Troupe was ready to return to England, he decided to stay on and continue with his stage career. Still using his given name, he played in Irene, Music in May, Nina Rosa, Rio Rita, Street Singers, The Three Musketeers, and Wonderful Night all in 1931.

Archie Leach, say hello to Cary Grant.
Photo Courtesy of
     After appearing in several musical plays on Broadway, Hollywood came knock-knocking on his door, and whisked him away. (Strangely enough, Cary never appeared in a stage play again.) The name Archie Leach, however, was not acceptable. Suggesting the name Cary Lockwood, which was the name for his character in the play Nikki, he got a yes on the Cary and a no on the Lockwood, which apparently was too similar to that of another actor's last name. Given a list of last names, he chose the name Grant, apparently because the C.G. had been lucky for actors Gary Cooper and Clark Gable.
     Cary's first picture was This is the Night as the husband, Stephen, of Thelma Todd. The film did not make him an overnight success, and Cary hated it so much, not believing that any man would accept his wife's infidelity so easily and welcome her back with open arms. After seeing the picture, he decided to quit Hollywood, but his friend Orry-Kelly, whom he had roomed with in New York when he had first started out, talked him out of it. Interestingly enough, twenty-eight years later, Cary would play a similar character in that his wife, this time being Deborah Kerr, cheats on him with another man, this one being Robert Mitchum, and in the end, accepts her back as well.
     After three films and a short subject later, Cary appeared opposite Marlene Dietrich in their only film together in Blonde Venus. It wasn't, however, until Mae West had him star as her leading man in two of her own biggest hits, She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel (both 1933) that he was really put on the map. The two films helped save Paramount from bankruptcy. She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel were really Mae West vehicles only, and didn't require much more of Cary other than to be a sounding board for West and her sharp (and still very much effective) innuendos, and to stand there and be handsome. Paramount for the next several years put Cary in a series of unsuccessful pictures. In 1935, he starred with for the first time, Katharine Hepburn in Syliva Scarlett. Today, though still forgotten mostly, it is when seen, recognized as the gem that it is. It was considered taboo back then for the storyline--Katharine being in drag for more than half the film, the hint at lesbianism--and for the simple fact that at the time Hepburn was on her way to be considered as "box-office poison." Cary incorporated a Cockney accent as Jimmy Monkley, and the film remains widely considered as the first time that his famous personality began to register on screen; he was the only one to receive praise from the critics.

Cary used a Cockney accent, and
Katharine dressed as a man in
Sylvia Scarlett.
Photo Courtesy of
Sylvia Scarlett Quotes:

Sylivia Scarlett: You've got the mind of a pig.
Jimmy Monkley: It's a pig's world.

Jimmy Monkley: Little friend of all the world, nobody's enemy but me own.
Slyvia Scarlett: Yeah, I can tell that by the look of you.
Cary, Ronald Young, and Constance Bennett.
Photo Courtesy of

     It was not until Topper in which he starred with Constance Bennett in 1937 in which he and Bennett played the fun-loving Kirby's who, after driving too fast and turn a sharp curve, die in a car crash, and come back as ghosts that as their good deed that will get them to Heaven, decide that they have to teach the uptight Topper how to have fun, that he truly had his first hit.
     His next hit, and the biggest between the two, was The Awful Truth, which paired him for the first of three times, with Irene Dunne. The Awful Truth finally brought Cary to the front of everyone's mind. It established him as a screen persona of sophisticated light comedies, which in my opinion he became the King of. As writer/director Peter Bogdonavich said, "After The Awful Truth, when it came to light comedy, there was Cary Grant, and then everyone else was an also-ran."
    In over the next four years, Cary would star in some of the greatest classics ever to be produced: Holiday--a forgotten gem (1938), Bringing Up Baby--a box-office failure when it first came out, now considered to be the greatest slapstick comedy ever made (1939), and The Philadelphia Story--Cary's last film with Katharine Hepburn, and his first and only film with James Stewart (1940). He also starred in Gunga Din (1939) the best action-adventure yarn ever made, and Only Angels Have Wings (1939) with Jean Arthur (!), an essential that one must see (and no, I'm not being biased).
The Three Musketeers.
Photo Courtesy of
     Also in 1940 he starred in his second film with Irene Dunne, My Favorite Wife, and, for the one and only time, he starred with Rosalind Russell in the classic His Girl Friday. Here's a funny little ad-lib by Cary in His Girl Friday:

Walter Burns: [describing Bruce, Hildy's fiancee] He looks like that fellow in the movies--Ralph Bellamy.

Jean, Jean, Jean.
Photo Courtesy of
FYI: Just in case you haven't seen the film, Ralph Bellamy is the fiancee Bruce.

     1941 was a big year for Cary, one, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Penny Serenade (the third and final film he did with co-star, Irene Dunne), and he starred in Suspicion with Joan Fontiane, directed by Alfred Hitchcock which would be the first of four collaborations. Cary was, in the words of Hitchcock, who was known not to be too terribly fond of actors, "the only actor I ever loved in my whole life."
     Penny Serenade is a true heart-breaker, and Cary rightfully deserved the nomination, but 1941 was a tough year, and he was up against some serious stiff competiton: Walter Houston for All That Money Can Buy, Robert Montgomery for Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Orson Welles for Citizen Kane, and the winner of the Fourteenth Academy Award Ceremony, Gary Cooper for Sergeant York.
Cary and Irene Dunne in Penny Serenade.
The scene in which Cary pleads with the judge to
let them keep their daughter is one of the most heart
rendering scenes in any film I've ever watched.
Photo Courtesy of

     I'm not a critic, all I know is if I like it, then I like it, and if I don't, I don't. Apparently, Times didn't like it, having said, "Grant and Dunne cannot overcome the ten-little-fingers-and-ten-little-toes plot. Written by Morrie Ryskind, produced and directed by George Stevens (Alice Adams), it is too often a moving picture which does not move. Skillful direction saves it from turning maudlin." I highly disagree with this review, and I highly recommend anyone to watch this film, so in the very least you can watch Cary's moving portrayal.
Mother and son: Ethel Barrymore
and Cary in None But the Lonely Heart
Photo Courtesy of

      It wasn't until three years later that Cary was, for the second and final time, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in None But the Lonely Heart. None But the Lonely Heart was based on Richard Llewelleyn's, author of How Green Was My Valley, novel of the same name. Cary portraying Ernie Mott was quite a stretch considering that Cary was forty-years-old when he made the film, and in the novel, the character Ernie Mott was about twenty. Once again, however, he was marvelous. This is one of Cary's "grittier" films. Ernie Mott is a restless wanderer whom wants to have a better life than what he's always known, but he doesn't want to settle down and work for it. He becomes involved with a gangster's ex-wife, played by June Duprez, though Aggie Hunter, a musician played by Jane Wyatt, truly cares for him. He doesn't have a good relationship with his mother, played by the extraordinary Ethel Barrymore, but when he learns that his mother has cancer, decides to settle down and be there for her. Through a series of unfortunate events, he learns that "life is a queer little man" to use the words of Barry Fitzgerald's character in the film, Henry Twite.  Cary was finally awarded an Honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1970, presented by friend, Frank Sinatra, for his "sheer brilliance in the acting business."
The camera angle Hitchcock used in
this scene is one of my favorites of all time.
It adds even more mysteriousness to Cary's
T.R. Devlin. Photo Courtesy of
     In 1946, for their second collaboration together, Cary starred as his most cynical character, T.R. Devlin in Notorious, with Ingrid Bergman which would be the first of two films that they would star in together. Cary was very helpful toward Ingrid, which apparently was unusual of him. By doing this, however, the two began a lifelong friendship, and in 1956 when Ingrid won her second Academy Award for Best Actress for Anastasia, Cary accepted the award on her behalf.
     One of the film's signature scene is the kissing scene, which also, to me, is one of the most erotic kisses, only to be bested by another Cary kiss in the film North by Northwest that he shared with Eva Marie Saint on the train (Wow!), was one that made Cary and Ingrid a little uncomfortable. Hitchcock had them kiss, break it up because of The Code which only allowed screen kisses to last as long as three seconds, have them nuzzle, walk around a bit, and start kissing once more. When Ingrid told Hitchcock how awkward it was, he replied, "Don't worry. It'll look right on screen." He was right.
     After Notorious, Cary made ten more films some of which were the hilarious The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and The Bishop's Wife (both from 1947), the crazy-funny "If you ain't eatin' Wham, you ain't eatin' ham" Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), and Room For One More (1952). He made one film in 1953, Dream Wife, when he decided that he was going to retire . . . and so he stayed that way for two years, until Alfred Hitchcock showed him the script to To Catch a Thief.
    The third of their four collaborations, this time Hitchcock had Grace Kelly, one his "blondes", for Cary to star with. The film was shot in the beautiful Monaco, which is, to me, the third star in the film. It was Grace's last film for Hitchcock, and as Cary and Ingrid had become lifelong friends in Notorious, Cary and Grace became lifelong friends during the making of To Catch a Thief. Hitchcock was so at ease working with Cary and Grace that he allowed them to improvise on-camera. They both had a knack for coming up with dialogue while still getting the key plot points across. The most significant of these scenes is the one in which they end up getting covered with chicken feathers while driving along the Riviera.     
Cary is a father of three, but knows nothing
about how to actually be a father.
Photo Courtesy of
     In 1958, he starred in Indiscreet, the second of the two films that he did with Ingrid Bergman. He also, starred in the second of the two films that he did with Sophia Loren, Houseboat. During their first film together, The Pride and the Passion, in which Frank Sinatra also starred, they had had an affair, and Cary had worked it so that they could do Houseboat together, which was a project that his third wife, Betsy Drake, had come up with, and in which she and Cary were going to be in together at first. However, they changed so much about the script that Betsy decided not even to ask for any writing credit. Also, by the time the project started, Cary and Sophia were no longer, and both wanted out, but too much money had already been put into it, and they were both told: No. It was uncomfortable for both, but being the actors that they were, they pulled through it and a delightful film was made. Perhaps, the only scene in which you can clearly tell that there is any tension, is when they are at a party and they are dancing together, but it works for that scene very well because it's the scene where both of them know that they are attracted to the other, and both of them knows that the other one knows that they are.

This is the kissing scene I was talking
about. Talk about steamy.
Photo Courtesy of
      And finally, in 1959, he made his fourth and final picture with Hitchcock, which also ended up being Cary's most highest grossing picture ever: North By Northwest. This, in my opinion, is the best of all the four films that they did together. Cary is Roger Thornhill, an advertising man, uncannily fitting the description of a made-up spy, whom triggers a deadly cross-country chase. Two of the greatest chase scenes are in this film: the dust-cropping scene, and the chase across Mt. Rushmore. The music score is divine. It's really mysterious and fast and dangerous. It was scored by Bernard Herrmann.
Cary and Audrey Hepburn. In this scene
Cary kisses the back of Audrey's neck, and
the way he does it . . . makes me want to melt.
Photo Courtesy of
     He finished up 1959 with Operation Petticoat, co-starring Tony Curtis. In the next six years Cary starred in only five more pictures, Charade, with Audrey Hepburn being among one of the five. He and Audrey starred in only this one picture together, though ten years previous, he had the chance to work with her in what was her first film role as an "American" actress, Roman Holiday. Gregory Peck ended up with the part that Cary would've played, but he said once in an interview, "Whenever I got a script, I had a feeling that Cary Grant's paw prints had been all over it." Charade is considered as "the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made." It's about a woman who is caught in a web of intrigue involving her murdered husband and his missing fortune. Pursued by the police and a trio of gangsters, she accepts the protection of a suave stranger. Can this charming stranger, however, be trusted?
     Charade Quotes:

     Reggie Lambert: Do you know what's wrong with you?
     Peter Joshua: No, what?
     Reggie Lambert: Nothing!

     Alexander Dyle: There's an old riddle about two Indian tribes. The Whitefeet always tell the truth, and the Blackfeet always lie. So one day you meet an Indian. You say, 'Hey, Indain, what are you? A truthful Whitefoot, or a lying Blackfoot?' He says, 'I'm a truthful Whitefoot.' So which is he?

     In 1966, due to the birth of his only child, a girl named Jennifer, whom was born prematurely on February, 26, 1966, Cary decided to retire and focus his attentions on his daughter. His last feature film was Walk, Don't Run; a remake of the 1943 film The More the Merrier starring Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur.
     Having read many things about Cary, I think it is safe to say that above all else, he enjoyed being a father the most. When I read Good Stuff: A Reminiscence Of My Father, Cary Grant, and Dear Cary by Dyan Cannon, I know that is what he considered to be the best thing that had ever happened to him. More than anything, I'm glad that he was able to experience fatherhood.
     Cary Grant, Archibald Alexander Leach, the Golden Age of Hollywood's favorite leading man, the little kid who made himself into the man that he wanted to be, or the man became him, has been gone now for twenty-five years. Through his pictures, he lives on. Through the memories of the people that knew him best, he lives on. Through his daughter, and his grandson, he breathes. He touched--touches--so many lives throughout his life with his work, with his kindness, that he will never leave us. Cary Grant lives on, and I should say, "that's good stuff!"

Cary and his "greatest production ever", Jennifer.
Photo Courtesy of

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime

     For those few that actually read this blog, I'm sorry I haven't been as regular on here as I would like to be. It's sad, but I totally forget that I have one of these things, so it'll take a bit longer yet to get the handle on this whole I've-got-a-blog bit.

How can you Not love him? That smile . . .
Photo Courtesy of
     Anyways, what I want to talk about is this wonderful series that I found quite by accident: The Rat Pack mysteries by Robert J. Randisi. If you know me, and even if you don't you'll find out pretty damn quick, pardon my Italian (hmm, now I wonder why I said that instead of my French . . .), that I LOVE Dean Martin. Sure, I love Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and I think Joey Bishop is really funny, and Peter Lawford, well, he's not a favorite, but I don't think he's as horrible as everybody seems to think he was. Out of all of them though, Dean is my fella, and you can bet at a later date I will most definitely be doing a lot of reviews when it comes to Dean and almost everything he did.

     Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime is the first in the Rat Pack mysteries (none of the fellas really called themselves the Rat Pack. That was really just the name the 'papers liked to call them.), and the mystery wraps solely around who's sending some not oh-so-nice letters to Dean (if you didn't catch it, the title is a play on words to Dean's most popular song, Everybody Loves Somebody (Sometime).

     Here's the synopsis (supplied by Amazon):

I adore the cover.
Photo Courtesy of
Las Vegas, 1960.

     Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford are the Kings of Cool---the Rat Pack. Ocean's 11 is their first movie together and they have taken Sin City by storm--filming during the day and cavorting onstage at the Sands Casino at night. It's clear not everyone is charmed, however, when Dean begins receiving anonymous threatening letters. Eddie Gianelli, also called Eddie G., is a pit boss at the Sands.  After twelve years, he's got the whole town wired. But he's still surprised when Joey Bishop drops by his table and invites him to meet with Frank in the Rat Pack's private steam room. Frank asks Eddie to find out who's been sending the threats, as a favor to him and Dean. Eddie wants to politely decline, but caught between his boss, Jack Entratter's, not-so-subtle nudging and being utterly starstruck by Dino, he agrees to look into it. He gets help from his P.I. best friend and a Jewish torpedo from Brooklyn.  A few dead bodies and bruised ribs later, he remembers why he was reluctant. In a city of gamblers, Eddie has become the highest roller of all. The game is murder, and the stakes just may be his own life.

     The book is fast paced, delightlfully fun to read, and for a twist-and-twirl (Cockney for girl) like me who wishes with every breath in her body that she'd been around back in that time, a fantastic way to live those dreams (if only for a little while). The ending was a surprise, and it was most definitely a stretch, but a harmless one. The language, compared to today's, is mild. The F-bombs are tossed about a good bit, as are a few other letters in the alphabet, the loose way a "dame's" or a "broad's" front and rear bumpers (I'm sure you'll understand what I'm trying to say) are described are also tossed in there a good bit, but nothing to the point where it gets vulgar. 
     The most important thing that one has to remember if he or she is to remember while reading these books is that they are happening in the SIXTIES! They really did talk like that, and I guess another helpful thing to remember is that ALL men, well, you know . . .  Another wonderful thing about these books is that you actually learn a little bit of history about the good ol' Las Vegas, and how it all started. If I have any problem with the book is that Randisi mispells Dean's wife's name. Her name's not spelled J-E-A-N-N-I-E; it is pronunced that way, but it is spelled J-E-A-N-N-E.

    I highly recommend the series to anyone who loves the "Rat Pack". I really think if Dean, Frank, Sammy, Joey (maybe not Peter because Eddie G. doesn't really like him, and I have a feeling that's so because Randisi himself doesn't favor him) would enjoy them. I've only read the first two, this one and Lucky Be a Lady, Don't Die, which I'll do a review on in a couple of days. As I said, they're meant for pure enjoyment, and they're actually pretty darn funny. Another reason to like them is because Dean, Frank, Sammy, Joey, and Peter aren't the only names that you'll recognize either. So, just remember, they're not meant to be taken seriously. So do yourself a favor: Don't. Just kick back, relax, and enjoy.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Song and Dance Man

The desolate theater had once been a palace,
but now citizens of the town look upon it with open distaste and malice.
Rotting inside and out, the building was falling into shambles,
they, the citizens, talk in rambles.
They want it gone; they want it no more.
Decades before the theater had once been the town's core,
but the people thought not of it's history, thought not of the long-ago yesterdays,
it was now the twenty-first century. Brush aside the old; it's time for new ways.
So plans were made, and the people that would commit the horrendous deed were called
the big man said, "We'll be there at the break of dawn."
The next morning, as the jaws of death rolled in, the citizens stood around in a crowd,
not ashamed of the act that would soon commence, they all stood proud.
And when the engines were revved by the destruction crew,
the crowd erupeted into cheers that only grew and grew.
But just as the cheers rose to a deafening height,
the zealous crowd became audibly silent, as quick as turning on or off a light.
For here came forth a man in tails, top hat, and with a cane tapping; keeping time.
When he reached the front, he turned toward the crowd, and with baffling simplicity said,
"You're commiting a crime."
From somewhere out in the crowd a voice arose, "This is our town, we'll do what we please. What do you know?"
His eyes grew soft, and a knowing smile curved his lips. He whispered, "Come, follow me. Let me put on a show."
Without saying another word, he turned and walked into the once-upon-a-time palace,
they followed suit as though in a trance, this crowded epitome of callous.
And when they stepped inside,
all feelings of old discrimination and hate for the theater were put aside.
The theater that'd been destroyed and rotting inside as it'd once been before,
was no more--it'd been restored.
The seats that had been ripped and torn,
sat right side up reborn.
And oh! the stage!
The curtain open, the boards all replaced, it shined as though it were brand new--and the
entire crowd knew that they were no sage.
And there--the old hoofer from the Golden Age,
stood upon the brand renewed stage.
The scene was set; the props were all in place,
all were beautiful and elegant, but chaste.
A gasp was heard, and then a "Look over there!"
Set off to the side, a large band of musicians sat with their instruments, sweet musical
notes began to fill the air.
But that was not all,
for coming from the side doors, men and women all dressed as one would in the olden
days, came in from the hall.
The men wore ties, bow and some not.
The women wore furs, pearls and diamonds--what surpise they all brought.
Fascinated eyes all watched as the forgotten people took their seats.
The crowd's hearts were beginning to dangerously skip beats.
Then the strange man whom stood upon the stage, held up his cane in one hand,
and motioning for the band, the music began.
The spot lights went dim,
and away went the man's loose limbs!
His feet were like the wind, so quick and smooth.
It was apparent that the man enjoyed what he did, an obvious groove.
The taps of his shoes went across the stage: tippity tap, clickity clack.
He swayed, he bent, he twirled and jumped--the good times were back.
They all cheered, present and past when he came to a finish.
He gave a deep bow, smiled and raised his hand, accepting the praise. Breathing heavily,
excitedly, he said, "Thank you, thank you." And there things began to diminish.
The people in thir seats began to fade away like mist,
the band disappeared, the seats returned to their unholy state; all that was new went away, in wisps.
The song and dance man only remained, but not even he did for long.
"You saw what was once the past, a part of this town's history. You saw how sweet it was, like a melody in a song.
This will forever stay in your mind and heart.
Don't let this memory go stale, or become lost within you. Don't let it go bitter and tart."
And with those last words hanging in the air,
he tapped his cane to his hat in salute, and was gone; the theater lost its glow and once
again became desolate and bare.

The Song and Dance Man Himself.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Only Angels Have Wings

Information: TCM

Director: Howard Hawks
Cast: Cary Grant --Geoff Carter
         Jean Arthur --Bonnie Lee
         Richard Barthelmess --Bat MacPherson
         Rita Hayworth --Judith MacPherson
         Thomas Mitchell --Kid Dabb

Year: 1939
Duration (minutes): 119 or 121

Brief Synopsis: (Spoiler Alert!)

     When showgirl Bonnie Lee's ship docks in the "banana republic" of Barranca, she is delighted to meet Joe Souther (Noah Beery, Jr.) and Les Peters (Allyn Joslyn), two American flyers for a cut-rate airline owned by softhearted Dutchy (Sig Rumann). The airline is run by the hard-boiled Geoff Carter, who, despite hazardous weather conditions in the Andes and frequent crack ups, must maintain a regular schedule for six months in order to obtain the mail subsidy.
     The conviviality of the evening is shattered as Dutchy, Tex, Geoff and Bonnie watch in horror as Joe's plane crashes in the fog. Geoff's best friend, Kid Dabb, warns Bonnie to stay away from the misogynistic Geoff, whose bad experience with one woman has soured him against the entire sex, and whose motto is that he will never ask a woman for anything. Bonnie finds herself attracted to him nevertheless, and decides to remain in Barranca. Complications arise with the arrival of Bat MacPherson, a new pilot, and his wife Judy.
     Years earlier, MacPherson's cowardice caused the death of Kid's younger brother, and as a result, the other pilots object to his presence. When Geoff is forced to ground Kid because of failing eyesight, however, he is short on pilots and agrees to hire MacPherson on the condition that he fly the most dangerous missions. Meanwhile, Bonnie is on the verge of confessing her love for Geoff when Kid calls him away to test a new airplane. On the night of the last flight necessary to clinch the contract, a storm rages, and Bonnie, terrified that Geoff will not return from his mission, accidentally shoots him while begging him not to fly. With a bullet in his shoulder, Geoff is unable to fly, and so MacPerson and Kid, the two antagonists, volunteer to take over his mission.
     While they are navigating the fog shrouded-pass, a bird crashes through their windshield, breaking Kid's neck and setting the plane on fire. Rather than save himself by parachuting to safety, MacPherson crash lands the plane in a ball of flames, thus winning redemption from the dying Kid. As the weather clears, Geoff and Les prepare to take off again, but before he leaves, Geoff uses Kid's single-sided coin to ask Bonnie to stay with him.

     This film is my all time favorite. The flying sequences are amazing (especially the one when Cary gets knocked out), the action is white-knuckled, the dialogue witty, the romance between Cary and Jean feels real, the setting is exotic, and the cast is one to be awed and googled over. And the fact that Cary Grant and Jean Arthur are my favorite actor and actress, well, that's just icing on the cake.
     This film set Rita Hayworth's career on the fast track, all her previous pictures having been trivial and unimportant, and none of which showcased her talent. And it seems as though 1939 was definitely Thomas Mitchell's year: in 1939 alone he starred in four of the money makers: Only Angels Have Wings started the year off, then came Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (again starring with Jean Arthur), and just in case you've lived under a rock you're whole life, this is the year that the BIG DADDY of all epics was released: Gone with the Wind; and he then rounded off the year with The Hunchback of Notre Dame. After this film was released, Richard Bartelmess, a previous star of the silents, only made three more films. Jean was a veteran of thirty-four previous pictures, a good many of which were silents (and Jean in a silent just doesn't make sense! You couldn't hear probably the most recognizable thing about her: her VOICE). And then there's Cary . . . By the time he did this picture, he had went freelance. Two years previous he had done Topper and The Awful Truth, both of which finally had caught the people's eye.
     It's fast paced, there's not a single dull moment in it, and Howard Hawks . . . well, it's obvious why he's one of the greatest directors ever.

Jean schools Cary on how to play the piano.

     Did You Know?:
  1. Cary actually did know how to play the piano (which to me makes the above scene all the more funny).
  2. This is the film that the oft-misquoted "Judy, Judy, Judy," is mistaken to come from. Not once does Cary say this in the film.
     Bonnie Lee: What was she like, anyway?
     Geoff Carter: Who?
     Bonnie Lee: That girl that made you act the way you do.
     Geoff Carter: A whole lot like you. Just as nice, almost as smart.
     Bonnie Lee: Chorus girl?
     Geoff Carter: Only by temperment.

     Bonnie Lee: Say, isn't that girl the one he used to be in love with?
     Kid Dabb: Bonnie, when it rains, every third drop falls on one of them.

     Geoff Carter: Got a match?
     Bonnie Lee: Say, don't you have any?
     Geoff Carter: No, don't believe in laying in a supply of anything. [she hands him a match] Thanks.
     Bonnie Lee: Matches, marbles, money or women, huh?
     Geoff Carter: That's right.
     Bonnie Lee: No looking ahead; no tomorrows; just today.
     Geoff Carter: That's right.

     I could go on and on about this film, but I think this is probably enough. All I can say is this: If you haven't seen it yet, go do so!

                                                                                                Signing Off,