Saturday, July 28, 2012

Film Review: Blossoms in the Dust (1941)

In their first of eight pictures together.
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 TCM: True-life story of Edna Gladney, who fought for orphans' rights in Texas.

     As anyone will tell you in my family, I'm a sucker for kids. They're the living embodiment of innocence, they're sugar and spice and everything nice rolled into a warm body with crooked little grins, a big appetite for learning and discovering the world, and all they want to be is loved. A very highly dramatized and faulty film in regards to the truth about the real Edna Gladney, it's still a powerful film in it's overall message: All children should be loved, no matter their parentage. 
     Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson portray Sam and Edna Gladney, the Texan and the Easterner. Sam is Texan through and through; loud and forthright. The moment he sees Edna (we as the audience only here about the meeting) when she comes into the bank, he tells her once she takes off her gloves: "That better not be an engagement ring." Startled, Edna asks, "Why?" And like any true Texan, he tells her very bluntly, "Because you're going to marry me."
     A little later on, when Sam sort of kind of crashes the engagement party that is being thrown for Edna and her adopted sister, Charlotte, and dances with Edna, already, during that one scene, I was able to see how the pairing of Walter and Greer would become so successful and so lasting.
The (first) fiance, Edna, and the Texan.
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     Leonard Maltin nails it on the head when he calls Blossoms in the Dust "a slick tearjerker". There are few truly happy happy moments. Instead, this film is a series of sad happy moments.
     Time has passed, which is shown through a series of letters that they exchange when Sam goes back to Texas to "fix it up" for Edna panning across the screen, all showing how their greetings change as time passes on. They start out, "Dear Mr. Gladney . . . " to "Darling . . . " And it is let known through these letters that, despite Edna's first misgivings about Sam, she has fallen in love with him (just as Sam knew that she would).
Edna and Sam.
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     When Sam returns to marry Edna and take her back to Texas, the happiness doesn't last very long. Very close to her adopted sister, Edna and Charlotte plan on a double wedding. Until, that is, Charlotte's fiancee's parents found out that she is a "foundling"--a child with no name. At the insistence of the almost-monster mother-in-law, she will not allow her son to marry Charlotte, even through the son argues that he doesn't care; he truly loves Charlotte. With a tear running down her cheek, Charlotte leaves the room, and after throwing her bracelet at Edna telling her that she wants her to have it to remember her by, she runs up the stairs into her, slams the door, and a few moments later, we hear a gunshot (a sad/weak spot in the picture for me. It's sad, but what woman in the early 1900s has a gun in her bedroom? And why did she give up so quickly? She didn't even give herself time to fully understand her situation before she ups and decides that her life isn't worth living if she can never marry because she's a "foundling".)
Blossoms in the Dust (1941)
This is what women wish they looked like after giving birth.
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     Time has passed once more, and though she still mourns the lost of her sister, she and Sam are finally given a little happiness when, after three years of marriage, Edna gives birth to a son whom they name Sammy. Yet once again, the happiness is short lived when Edna learns that she cannot have the brood of children that she had always wanted.
     Sam and Edna make a life with their adored son. The little screen time that he is given before tragedy once again strikes shows that he is their whole world. Sam appears to be a wonderful father, Texan style of course, and with Edna you see her living her role as his mother to the fullest. And as Sammy, you see that he is a happily contented child who knows that he has a Mommy and a Daddy who loves him very much.
Mommy and Sammy.
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     Their happy little world doesn't last nearly as long as it should, though. When Sammy and his nurse go out for a sleigh ride on Christmas day, the sleigh overturns, and little Sammy is killed. He is brought to his parents, and you know that Edna will never be the same again as she calls her son's name over and over as she holds him in her arms.
     As I said, Blossoms in the Dust is not a film of happy happy moments, but rather its foundations are built on sad moments that turn into bitter-sweet moments. A couple of years have passed since Sammy's death, and while Edna had once been a young beautiful woman full of dreams, she is now a bitter woman with her dreams, at least the ones that she was aware of, buried with her son.
The loves of her life: Sam, Charlotte, and Sammy.
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     It is through the encourage-ment of her husband and through a family friend that she is finally able to move on, not to forget, but to move on and discover her calling. There are a few more sad moments, but I'll leave them for you to cry over, as I had to do. I didn't think I would be able to finish this picture, but I did, and I'm quite glad that I did. It's a fictionalized biography of the real Edna Gladney, but nonetheless, it is a beautiful story of a courageous woman who fought for what she knew was right who had overcome many tragic adversaries in her life.
     Blossoms in the Dust reminded me of all that I had to be thankful for: loving parents and family. It also reminded me of all the poor children that aren't nearly as lucky as so many other families in this world.
     A side note that I found interesting was that though this film cemented Greer's popularity, she didn't necessarily enjoy making it. She is quoted as saying that "the screen is neither a platform nor a pulpit." Despite her beliefs about what the silver screen was and was not, Greer gave it her all in this picture, and it shows twofold.
A bitter-sweet goodbye.
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     I recommend anyone to watch Blossoms in the Dust, but I also recommend that you either have a box of tissues handy, or a few hand-kerchiefs at hand. I give this picture 3/4 hankies (yes, I changed the rating system for this one picture, that's how much it had me).

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Great Recasting Blogathon: Splash (1984)

     It is quite well-known in my family that I detest the 70s and the 80s. There are very few things that I do like about either decades, but in the case of the latter, there is one film that I have always liked, and probably always will: Splash starring Tom Hanks (a truly fine actor), Daryl Hannah, and John Candy.
Tom Hanks, the man, and Daryl Hannah, the . . . fish?
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     As much as I like this movie, however, and nearly as perfect as I think it is, I know that it can be made better. What could that possibly be? Why, instead of it having been made in the 1984, let's change the production date to that of a more suitable time during the Golden Age of Hollywood, change the director (sorry Ron Howard), and (sorry Tom, Daryl) the star players.

Hey, Leo!
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     First thing first, I see Splash as being a product of MGM. This flick entitles something glossy and beautiful, and no one knew how to make a picture glossy and beautiful like MGM did.
     Second, because this is going to be a bright, bold, colorful film (thank you Technicolor), I'm going to make the year of production/release 1950. The fifties, in my opinion, were the most colorful of Hollywood golden years.
How's everything coming along, Vincente?
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     When I think of "bright", "bold", and "colorful", one man comes to mind more than any other: Vincente Minnelli. Now, I know that Vincente is mostly known for his musicals, but he did direct some great comedies and dramas without any musical numbers in them (Some Came Running, Father of the Bride, Father's Little Dividend, The Bad and the Beautiful), so I think making Vincente director is a brilliant idea (MGM would surely be rolling in the dough).
     Now, here comes the hard part: The main players. Who to pick, who to pick? 
     Well, after several roll calls, I've finally decided that the following would replace Tom Hanks as Allen Bauer, Daryl Hannah as Madison, and John Candy as Freddie Bauer, and Eugene Levy as Walter Kornbluth:

The new Allen Bauer
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     Before you object, or say something like, "What!? She's nuts!" I would like to point out that Dean was truly a very funny man. I know that in 1950 he was only in his fourth of ten years of partnership with Jerry Lewis, (you need not worry, I am NOT making this into a Martin and Lewis film) and due to a clause in their contract neither could be in a film without the other, I'm just going to pretend that that clause never was, and that Dean could be in any film that he wanted to be in.
      Now, the reason why I also say that Dean is a good pick (and no, it's not just because he's my favorite because if I did that I'd have to make Cary be Madison to even things out) is that Tom is pretty funny in Splash. He sings a little while he's juggling some fruits, starts dancing with his brother, and pulls some very comical lines . . . Well, hello, people, that's Dean all over! Also, there are a few spots in Splash where things get serious, and despite what people may think, Dean could be serious, and he did so very well.
Meet Madison.
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     She is picking her favorites! No, I assure you, I'm not . . . at least, not on purpose. It took me a while to think of an actress who could play Madison. Madison is beautiful, smart, magical, and, for the lack of a better word, special. Who, I wondered, did that remind me of? Then my Jean came to me. Of course! She would be the perfect Madison because Jean was everything mentioned before and more. Jean had that magical air about her that seems to define what we think a "mermaid" would be like. Now, would Jean be described as a "Siren?" A woman of incredible beauty that leads men to their deaths? Well, no, she wouldn't (and besides that would be a completely different movie from Splash), but Jean was very beautiful in my opinion, and with that magical sense about her, I really do think she would make the perfect Madison.
Freddie my main man!
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     I didn't really have to think too long about who would fill in John Candy's role. It just came to me. Both big fellas (and fellow Canadians) it seems to me that John and Jack Carson have the same sense of "Let's have a good time, don't talk too fast" sense of humor. Jack is best remembered as a comedian who could do a little heavy drama if the time called for it (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), and John is best remembered as a comedian who could say a few well-thought out piece of advice.
Sure mermaids are real, Walter, sure.
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     Anybody that has ever seen an Astaire and Rogers picture knows that poor Edward Everett Horton was never completely . . . stable. He was all over the place, completely frazzled, and quick to get confused. If that doesn't sound like Walter Kornbluth, I don't know what does.
Like it says. The end.
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     Well, there we are. This would be my version of a 1950 Splash starring Dean Martin, Jean Arthur, Jack Carson and Edward Everett Horton which would be produced by MGM and directed by Vincente Minnelli. Splash would be, if nothing else, very interesting to watch; it'd be a hot mess most likely, but an entertaining one, or at least that's what I think.
      I would like to think Natalie and Rianna at In the Mood and Frankly, My Dear for coming up with this marvelous idea! It was great fun, and it was nice to indulge myself with this little cockeyed dream of mine.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dana Andrews Blogathon: State Fair (1945)

The best of all three adaptations.
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TCM: An Iowa family finds romance and adventure at the yearly state fair.

This is my (last minute) contribution to the Dana Andrews Blogathon hosted by Classic Movie Man. Check out the rest of the contributions here.

     State Fair is one of my all time favorite musicals. It is charming, lively, colorful, and the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, if the story within itself wasn't any good, would make it well worth the watch. Thankfully, however, the story of an Iowa family's annual trip to the state fair to partake in the hog contest, mince meat judging, and, for the two youths, finding first loves, is good. In fact, it's fantastic.
     There has (so far) been three adaptations to Phil Stong's 1932 novel of the same name (all of which I have seen). The first (and only non-musical version of the trio) was produced a year after the release of the novel in 1933. It starred Will Rogers and Louise Dresser as Abel and Melissa Frake (the parents) with Janet Gaynor and Norman Foster as Margy and Wayne (the kids). Finally, the immediate cast is rounded out by Lew Ayres and Sally Eilers as Pat Gilbert and Emily Joyce (love interests to Margy and Wayne).
The first Frake family.
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     This adaptation is the closest to Philip Stong's novel. It is mostly played as a drama with just enough laughs thrown in to not make it too heavy. This film adaptation is split evenly between all the players, and what I mean by that is the adults get their screen time and the kids get theirs, and it's sort of everyone's film, not just one particular person. The couple that I wanted to watch the most of though, was, of course, Janet Gaynor and Lew Ayres. As Pat and Margy, they go through the stages of the meet-cue, the attraction, and the eventual falling in love with the intensity of the early 1930s, but nonetheless they are believable as a couple.
Pat and Margy.
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       The most interesting person in the film, though the film is clearly about the Frakes, is Lew Ayres' Pat Gilbert. Lew plays Pat not as a cynical newspaperman as more often than not they were all made out to be, but rather as just a man. It's nice. There are cases when you are given the feeling that something else might be lurking behind the facade, if there is one, but mostly what you see is what you get which is a good guy.
     In the 1945 version, little has changed besides the fact that music has been added, and the film is mostly focused on the love lives of Wayne and Margy, this time played by Dick Haymes and Jeanne Crain and their love interests Emily (change of name here) played by Vivian Blaine and Pat (same name as before) played by Dana Andrews.
Though his voice was dubbed (along with Jeanne Crain),
he really could sing.
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     Now, I like Lew Ayres, in fact I like him a lot, but by far Dana is my favorite when it comes to who is the best Pat Gilbert. Dana gives Pat an air about him that an experienced news-paperman who hops around a lot, looking to make it big, surely has about him. He's slightly cynical, but not so much where you want to say, "Listen, I know life isn't a piece of cake, but it's not that bad." Instead, it's like Pat knows that life is a joke, but he's the who's figured it out, and the rest of us are kind of floundering about.
You can't be hard bitten and drink Coke, too.
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          Unlike Bobby Darin's try as Pat Gilbert in the 1962 version of State Fair, Dana doesn't make Pat out to be so much as cocky (so cocky that you feel like hitting him upside his head like I sometimes do with Bobby Darin's Pat Gilbert), but rather confident. Sure of himself, but not so stiff necked about everything that he doesn't know how to have fun. In fact, as I stated before, he knows that life is a joke, and so he takes it as one.
"Got a match?"
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     I haven't seen too many of Dana's pictures, though I have seen just enough, and observed just enough, to perhaps surmise that he was a man comfortable in his own skin; he was comfortable with himself, and this is evident through his portrayal as Pat Gilbert.
     In the 1962 version, Bobby Darin makes his Pat Gilbert to be more a man of the world than Dana did. After they have met and spent the day together, and Dana is telling Jeanne about the places that he's worked, where's he's been, she very dreamily says, "You've been everywhere" to which Dana is quick to say that no, he hasn't, but he is going places. Bobby, on the other hand, flat out tells his Margie (spell change) played by Pamela Tiffin that he's been here, done that, and "Oh, you should've been there the time . . . " and as we find out later, he's done none of the things that he said; he was, in fact, just overcompensating for his lack of achievements that had so far been obtained. He was trying to impress.
Bobby and Pamela as Pat and Margie.
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     Dana knows he doesn't have to impress. He just does so naturally. From the moment he's introduced in the film (sitting in a roller coaster, eating an apple) to the end with him jumping out of his car and running to take Jeanne Crain in his arms, he commands the screen in every scene that he's in, but he does so subtly, and that's what I like.
     Another thing that I like that Dana does differently than Bobby does is that as Pat, he takes things in stride. When Bobby's Pat realizes that he's fallen in love with Pamela's Margie, he becomes frazzled. He doesn't know how to handle it exactly. He beings to think he doesn't deserve her (and maybe he doesn't). When Dana realizes that he's in love with her, he's like "Hmm. Okay. Didn't see that one coming exactly, but whatever." He's not flippant about it, but he's not too overly worried about it. Stride. It's all about the stride.
Just when you think you know him, he does something to
make you think twice.
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     In the end, I like all three versions of State Fair. They're all different, and everybody gives their inter-pretation of their character, and they all do them very well. For my money, though, despite the fact that I really do like Lew and Bobby, Dana does the best job of portraying Pat Gilbert. He, much more so than Lew and Bobby, gives Pat Gilbert layers. He's not exactly who you think he is, and just when you think you've figured him out, he says or does something that makes you reconsider everything about his character once more.
     I suggest that you view all three adaptations of State Fair and make your own conclusion about which version is the best (obviously my vote is 1945) and which actor you think does the best as portraying Pat Gilbert: Lew, Dana, or Bobby.
     Now, to finish things off, I give State Fair, a film that I would suggest for the whole family to watch, a 3.5/4 stars.

A great way to end a great film.
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Film Review: The Valley of Decision (1945)

Gregory and Greer . . . need I say more?
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TCM: An Irish housmade's romance with the boss's son is complicated by labor disputes in the Pittsburgh mills.

     Have you ever read a synopsis of a book or film, and you become so enchanted and enthralled with the premise that you become obsessed with getting your hands on it, and reading or seeing it? Well, that's exactly how I was with this film and the novel upon which it was based.
     I wanted to see The Valley of Decision so bad, the palms of my hands would itch in anticipation every time I would check to see if it was coming on TCM. Thankfully, (for who knows how much longer my palms would have made it), I found it on youtube; and with the feeling of victory coursing through my veins, I sat back and watched . . .
     . . . I'm jumping the gun, though. Having read the whopper of a novel (640 pages) first, I must say that I (for the first time ever, I believe) disagree with the trite (but usually correct) statement that "the book is always better than the movie". I liked the very condensed film adaptation better than I did the actual novel; and I say this with the more romantic viewpoint.
The setting: Pittsburgh. 1870.
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     I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm really not that all of a romantic person. In today's films, I could careless if the lead actors get together in the end or not. In the case of the classics, however, I'm always rooting for them to kiss, marry, have a brood of children, and live happily-ever-after (this should give you an idea how the film wins over with me as where, while the novel of the same name by Marcia Davenport is much meatier and fantastic in all its glory, comes second). So by saying that, had they followed the novel more closely, M-G-M would have had an epic on their hands that probably wouldn't be as easily forgotten as I feel The Valley of Decision is now.
Mary and Paul.
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     I'm part Irish and proud of it, and so Greer playing the spunky Irish housemaid, Mary Rafferty, completely wins over my heart. Her brogue is charming, and she has this magical air about her that makes one think of leprechauns and four leaf clovers and fairies. As Mary, Greer is completely irrisitable to me, and, much more importantly, Gregory Peck, who, in only his third picture, plays Paul Scott, the son of the Big Steel Man, William Scott, played by Donald Crisp.
   Greer and Gregory were quite lovely in this picture. I loved watching them fall in love, I ached when Greer ended things because she thought it was what had to be done after what all had happened between her family and his, and I rejoiced when, in the end, they were able to be together.
Paul and Jim Brennan, the other man in love with Mary.
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     Something I found very interesting when I first watched this film was the fact that, according to IMDB, Greer was a good twelve years older than Gregory . . . I swear to you, though, you would never guess it. They are well matched in everything: their talent, their beauty, and their youth. The leads could not be any better than this.
Greer and Gregory in a promotional picture for
The Valley of Decision.
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     One thing I would like to point out are all the familiar faces. Lionel Barrymore, my favorite of all the Barrymores, plays the wheelchair bound father of Mary, Pat Rafferty; with Gladys Cooper as the matriarch of the Scotts, Jessica Tandy (Fried Green Tomatos, Driving Mrs. Daisy) in an early role as the woman who wants Paul for his money, Dan Duryea as Paul's older brother, William, Jr., and little Dean Stockwell in his first feature film as Paul's son, Paulie.
     In the end, The Valley of Decision is a beautiful, honest picture of star-crossed lovers. The chemistry between Gregory and Greer is one that should be noted. I fell in love with the book, and with Paul and Mary, and I desperately wanted them to have a happier ending in the film, and in this case, I'm glad to say that the film didn't really match the book. They deserved to live happily ever after, and long after The End credits rolled away and left a black screen, I think about them from time to time. I think that they did.
     I give The Valley of Decision, a picture that really got the classic romantic in me to come out, a big 4/4 stars.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Film Review: Random Harvest (1942)

One of the most romantic films ever to be produced.
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TCM: A woman's happiness is threatened when she discovers that her husband has been suffering from amnesia.

     I have started and stopped this film so many times that I've lost count on the attempts of me actually trying to watch it. It is with my greatest pleasure, however, that I am now able to say that I have watched it from beginning to end, though my hand twitched to pause it, walk away, and swear to myself that I would finish it another day.
     I'm glad that I didn't.
Dr. Jonathan Benet and Smith.
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     Though this is technically my second Ronald Colman picture, it is my first where he is, quite irrevocably, the leading man . . . and what a leading man! I don't know much about Ronald Colman due to my lack of watching his films, but it is with this picture and doing a little research on him that I can safely say that he deserved to be a well-loved leading man in the 1930s through the 40s. I read a quote once saying that Coleman was the one person that could make Cary Grant look pedestrian . . . while I think that might be going too far (a biased opinion), I will say that Ronald certainly does give Cary a run for his money.
Beautiful and quite haunting in my opinion.
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     As I was reading up on Ronald, I found out that he actually served in World War I, and was seriously wounded by a shrapnel to the ankle at the Battle of Messines. It is with this bit of information that makes me wonder if Ronald actually knew military men suffering from amnesia as his "Smith" character did, and if so, did he base Smith on them?
Smith: Lost in more ways than one.
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     Random Harvest, due to the subject manner and in which the way the lead actors play the roles, is a very heavy and haunting picture. The first half of the picture is photographed in such a way that it makes it feel as if everything were a dream, which works very well; and the most dreamy quality is Greer Garson herself. While Greer was a truly beautiful woman in every picture she did, she looks beyond gorgeous in Random Harvest.
Random Harvest (1942)
Meet Paula.
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     To me, Greer Garson had the appearance of a delicate beauty, but as I've learned she was a strong woman, though she had to fight tooth and nail for her strength, and, ultimately, because of that, her strength showed through her characters, too.
Paula and Smith.
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     I've also noticed that Greer was made out to be a loving caretaker in her films, for in everyone that I've seen, even in Julia Misbehaves, she is always taking care of someone, whether they be sick, or in need of a good shoulder to cry on, or whether it's to help an amnesiac man remember his past--not once, but twice. As aforementioned, the first half of the picture, with Smith not knowing who he was, but nonetheless becoming "Smithy" to Paula, and liking his role as her husband and father, their life together is photographed in soft lights, romantic picnics by a crick, and a little cottage with a fence in need of a good oiling and a tree limb full of soft pink blossoms (I assume they're pink) with a little baby boy--the stuff that dreams are made of.
'Tis all but a dream.
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    And just as everyone is becoming accustomed to the lovely dream, all of us are rudely awakened when Smithy once more has an accident and in the process has remembered who he was, but has forgotten who he is. And this is when Paula shows her true love and devotion for her husband when she continues to stand by her man as Charles Rainier's (his real name) secretary. For years she has pined away for the man that she fell in love, and all the while, he's sitting right there by her, she remembering everything, and he remembering nothing. A cruel twist of fate.
So close, yet so far away.
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     There's something though, something in the back of his mind, lurking in the shadows, tantalizing him to remember; it's mischievous, however, and just when it seems that he's got a hold of it, it slips through the cracks of his fingers, and is gone, leaving Charles with nothing but the feeling that he's lost. With patience there comes a reward, and with the help of Paula, whom he knows as Margaret, his wife (again), he does remember, though it's almost too late.
A little sense of déjà vu.
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     As they say, love conquers all, and in the end, that is just what Random Harvest is all about. Love conquering the most trying of obstacles that tests how true one devotion and love is to the other. Many times, it kills the love. Then, there are the times that love wins, and when that moment happens, it is akin to no other feeling in the world.
Paula and Smithy together again.
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     Perhaps Random Harvest is improvable, and corny, and too sentimental as I have read on some other people's reviews, but I don't really think it is. I think it's like Pandora's Box: When all else in gone in the world, hope is left. I give Random Harvest, which so far is my favorite Greer Garson picture (and coincidentally hers, too) a 4/4 stars.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Film Review: Julia Misbehaves (1948)

A truly delightful comedy.
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TCM: A showgirl returns to her stuffy estranged husband when their daughter gets engaged.

     In the fifth of their eight films together, Julia Misbehaves was meant to shake up the quickly tiring combination of the two who were the "epitome of grace under fire" as TCM: The Leading Couples puts it. Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson were best known for their pairing in such films as Blossoms in the Dust, Madam Curie, and, of course, Mrs. Miniver which were all about strong people being put to the ultimate tests that life threw at them.
     Julia Misbehaves, a film meant to shake up their loving husband and wife image, is the exact opposite. It's crazy light fun reminiscent of a 30s slapstick.
     I thoroughly enjoyed Julia Misbehaves and I can't quite seem to wrap my head around the reason why it failed. Sure, I can see how some might balk at the fact that they didn't want to see Greer Garson, who at this point was seen as a very loving, motherly figure, leave her husband and child for the stage, but really, in my opinion that shouldn't have caused them to dislike the film as they did.
Julia Misbehaves (1948)
Meet Julia, the actress on the first floor.
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     The film starts out in London in 1936 with a woman named Louise running across the street, dodging on coming cars, dashing into a shop and informing, Benji, the pro-prietor, that Julia intends to off herself. Hurrying back across the street, Benji and Louise rush inside the building whereas we, the audience, are given a hint that something might be up with the deceleration of this Julia "doing away with herself" when an old busybody woman tells her friend, "It's that actress on the first floor."
     Benji and Louise rush into the apartment, and we find a group of men who inform Benji where she is exactly and that she plans on "sticking her head in the oven". Pounding on the door insistently, he commands for Julia to open the door . . . whereupon the camera shows us that a large grandfather clock and other assorted items are lodged up against the door barring anyone from entering, and Julia . . . not sticking her head in an oven to do away with herself, but soaking in a bubble bath in a large tub.
Julia Misbehaves (1948)
Walter Pidgeon as the husband, William,
 and Elizabeth Taylor as the daughter,
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     And it is with this introduction that you pretty much figure that you are in for a good time, which you are. As far as I can see, comedy wasn't exactly Greer's forte, drama being mostly her line of work, but I think she was wonderful as the madcap Julia and the puzzlement over why this film failed still continues to boggle my mind. It seems to me that the 1948 audience didn't realize that it had a truly funny film on it's hands just like a decade before the 1938 audience didn't realize that they had the greatest slapstick comedy on their hands--does Bringing Up Baby ring any bells for anyone?
Julia Misbehaves - Greer Garson
"Save me! Save me!"
Photo Courtesy of
     This isn't my first Walter and Greer picture, Scandal at Scourie (1953) having been the first, but it is my second of their eight films together, and already I know that I really like them as a team. They have a great chemistry, though it is quiet kind of chemistry in my opinion, and I think they worked very well off each other. They were people of dignity, and it shows. Of course, just because they were people of dignity, that does not mean they weren't willing to be, say, and act some very silly and wild things.
Julia Misbehaves (1948)
Mother and daughter meeting for the first time in years.
Photo Courtesy of
     I've noticed as I've watched Greer's films, which most of them have her as a mother, is that she really was a natural when it came to portraying a mother. She did it in such a way that has me believing if her onscreen children had been her children, she would act just as she did in the film: patient, loving, and understanding. So, to state the obvious, I really liked Julia's and Susan's relationship in the film. I question as to whether or not Susan really would have accepted her mother back as easily as she did, but that does little to deter my liking of the picture.
     Another aspect that I liked about the picture, surprisingly, was Peter Lawford. Now, being the huge fan of Dean Martin, I've seen Peter in all of the "Rat Pack" pictures, and Easter Parade (1948), but that's about all I've seen of him. And besides the latter, I've never really been given a good picture of Peter Lawford. I didn't like him and I didn't dislike him; he just kind of . . . was. In Julia Misbehaves, however, I liked him. Granted, his role is kind of small, but he and Elizabeth hit just the right note for me together, and he gave me some laughs (and if you can make me laugh it's a good chance that I'm going to end up liking you).
Ritchie, Susan, William, and Julia getting ready for a picnic.
Photo Courtesy of
     One thing I did find very interesting is that while Julia is suppose to be coming for her daughter's wedding, not once do you see you see the prospective groom (no, Peter Lawford isn't the groom, though that's what I had thought at first). The only thing that gives you an idea that there is a fiance is that there is 1) a picture of the fiance , and 2) a wedding rehearsal where the groom's parents are met and we find out that he's off at some meeting. Other then that--nothing! And I like it that way (Peter and Elizabeth are very cute together in my opinion, so I didn't want anything messing up the picture).
     Julia Misbehaves is a delightful film that should be given a chance by everyone. It's light fun, and it's a film I think the whole family would enjoy. I give this film 3/4 stars, and I leave you with one of my favorite scenes (and the funniest) from the film:

(Video Courtesy of

Friday, July 6, 2012

Greer's Essentials

1. Julia Misbehaves . . . (July 7, Saturday)
2. Random Harvest . . . (July 14, Saturday)
3. The Valley of Decision . . . (July 21, Saturday)
4. Blossoms in the Dust . . . (July 28, Saturday)
5. Mrs. Miniver . . . (July 31, Tuesday)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Star of the Month: Greer Garson

     I just decided on a whim who the Star of the Month would be. I've seen a few of her films, and I've liked her in all that I've seen, so I'm quite sure that this month's star, as all my past ones have been, will be especially fun. I don't know too much about her either, so it's almost like discovering a new actress. We'll see if she becomes a favorite.
     And so, without further ado, the Star of the Month for July:

The lovely Miss Garson.
Photo Courtesy of

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Cried Like a Baby . . .

     Okay, first thing first: THANK GOD FOR AUCTIONS!
     Now, let me explain the title and topic sentence of this here post. My stepmother likes to go to auctions. This past Saturday, she took me to one, and I quite enjoyed it. I got a few old Classic Hollywood things, and she got a boat load of stuff. I went with her because I'm on the lookout for a record player. Not one of those record players that also has a AM/FM radio, a CD player, and you can hook you iPod up to it. No. I'm on the  lookout for a legit record player, the kind that everybody had in their homes in the forties and the fifties.  I mentioned this to my stepmother who talked to the people at another auction that she went to tonight, and she told me when she got back to the house that they're all on the lookout for one for me.
     In the meantime, knowing what I like, and who I like, she brought to me the most wonderful of presents:
     She also got me a Bill Crosby record entitled "I started out as a child . . ." which I know it's going to be hilarious because after all it is Bill Crosby we're talking about here, and a very young one at that. A Simon and Garfunkel record entitled Bridge Over Troubled Water. Now, I've never really listed to Simon and Garfunkel before so I don't really know if I like them or not, but what the heck, I'll give them a try. An Elvis Presley record entitled Elvis' Golden Records which includes the songs: "Hound Dog", "Loving You", "All Shook Up", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Jailhouse Rock", "Love Me", etc. It's Elvis; I already know I'm going to love it. And finally, KC and the Sunshine Band. Again, just as Simon and Garfunkel, I've heard of them, but I don't really think I've ever heard their music, so I don't know if I'm going to like them or not, but again, I don't really care either way because I've got


     And the beauty of it all is that I've been eyeing these exact records (along with all the others) on Amazon. Wanting. Wishing. Dreaming, that one day they would be mine. And now, I have them. When my stepmother was showing me the records, the first one I saw was the Bill Crosby one, and I thought, "Hmm, okay. I'll be getting some laughs out of that one. Then she showed me Elvis, and I was like, "Alright! The King!" And then, she showed me the first Dean record, Gentle on My Mind. My heart leaped to my throat and sat there like a stone. I could only stare. I was speechless. Then she unveiled the next one, I'm Proud of What I Am. I sat there dumbfounded. Not knowing what to say or do or how to react. At last, my tounge recovered from it's amnesia, and I could at last speak my words of deep and heartfelt gratitude. When I was left alone at last, I broke down. I'm not going to lie, I hugged the two records to my chest, and I cried like a baby. I could only think over and over in my mind, "Dean. Dean. Dean."
     Though I "discovered" Dean Martin at the late age of thirteen, thanks to my mother, and though he's been gone from this world for sixteen years now, his music, his films, clips of his shows (and now select few episodes on DVD) has been there for me when I needed him the most ever since I was thirteen, and I am now seventeen. He makes me smile, he makes me laugh, and when I'm down, he's there to bring me back up again. I will never able to meet him, but if I could I would thank him for the sole reason of giving me (and everyone in this whole world) a chance to enjoy his talents, and love him as a performer and as a human being. He's helped me in ways that words in any language would never be able to explain, and if they were, it would all sound corny.
      So, in a few final words, I would like to thank God for my stepmother, auctions, and, most importantly, Dean Martin