Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Forbidden Past (1951).

My Forbidden Past(1951). Directed by Robert Stevenson. Cast: Robert Mitchum and Ava Gardner.

In New Orleans, aristocrat Barbara Beaurevelle, wants to join her fiancee, medical researcher Dr. Mark Lucas, on a South American ship. When her cousin Paul reminds her about her aunt Eula's heart condition and the pain that it would cause her, he talks Barbara into writing Mark a letter asking him to wait for her and promises to deliver it.

Two months later, on Halloween, Barbara waits for Mark's return and is heartbroken to find out that he has married another woman. Barbara goes to see Luther Toplady, a lawyer who has been trying to contact her about an inheritance her grandmother Carrie had left her. Because Carrie led an infamous life, Barbara's relation to her has been kept secret, and Barbara asks that Luther transfer the money to her without mention of Carrie's name. Barbara goes alone to a cemetery, which is filled with trick or treaters. There, Barbara sees Mark and Dean Cazzley, giving Mark's new wife Corinne a tour of the town. There she finds out that he never received her letter. Barbara then lights a candle at her notorious grandmother's grave.

Barbara visits Corinne at home to invite her to a ball. During the visit Corinne shows her true colors as a calculating social climber. While at the ball Corinne, is immediately attracted to Paul. Once alone with Mark, Barbara learns the truth about her letter and asks Mark to divorce Corinne and marry her. Although Mark kisses Barbara again, he turns her down. Angry, Barbara comes up with a plan to break up Mark's marriage by having Paul seduce his wife Corinne. Will Barbara's plans work to win back Mark?

I really like the films unexpected twist at the end. I would have liked the musical score, to enhance the mood of New Orleans more. But, I still think the movie is worth watching if you are a Robert Mitchum and Ava Gardner fan.

Janis Carter (October 10, 1913 — July 30, 1994). After attending Mather College in Cleveland, Ohio, Carter moved to New York wanting to start an opera career. Although unsuccessful in opera, she was working on Broadway where she was spotted on stage by Darryl F. Zanuck who signed her to a movie deal.

Carter, after moving to Hollywood, appeared in over 30 films beginning in 1941 for 20th Century Fox, MGM, Columbia, and RKO. She appeared in the films Night Editor (1946) and Framed (1947) with Glenn Ford and the Flying Leathernecks (1951) with John Wayne.

After leaving Los Angeles, Carter returned to New York and found work in television in comedies, dramas, and as hostess for the quiz show Feather Your Nest, opposite Bud Collyer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Old Maid(1939)

The Old Maid (1939). Director: Edmund Goulding. The screenplay by Casey Robinson is based on the 1935 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same title by Zoë Akins, which was adapted from the 1924 Edith Wharton novella The Old Maid: the fifties.

On the day of Delia Lovell's wedding to socially prominent Jim Ralston, Clem Spender, to who Delia had once been engaged, reappears after being gone for two-years. Delia's cousin Charlotte, who was also in love with Clem, slips away to console him, coming home very late that night. The next day Clem enlists in the Union army and dies on the battlefield. Four years later, Charlotte has made a home for war orphans. Tina, Charlotte and Clem's own daughter comes to live with her. Charlotte lives with her secret until the day she is to marry Jim's brother Joe. Delia, who still loves Clem, decides to destroy Charlotte's chance to marry Joe and Charlotte goes into seclusion. She reappears several months after Jim has died in a riding accident, and accepts Delia's invitation to move into the Ralston mansion with Tina.

Over the years Tina, considers Delia to be her mother, while Charlotte has become a miserable woman. Delia adopts Tina legally to provide her with a name. On the eve of her wedding, Charlotte insists on telling Tina her true identity. Will Charlotte be able to keep her secret forever hidden?

I thought both Davis and Hopkins were amazing in this passionate film with many pull on your heart string scenes. Davis is wonderful in her transformation from beautiful debutante to embittered old maid. This movie reminded me of what a good actress Miriam Hopkins really was.

Miriam Hopkins (October 18, 1902 – October 9, 1972). At the age of 20, she became a chorus girl in New York City. In 1930, she signed with Paramount Pictures, and made her official film debut in, Fast and Loose. Her first great success was in, Trouble in Paradise (1932). During the remainder of the decade, she appeared in such films as: The Smiling Lieutenant and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (both 1931), Design for Living (1933), Becky Sharp (1935), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, Barbary Coast (1935), These Three (1936) (the first of four films with director William Wyler) and The Old Maid (1939).

Hopkins had well-publicized fights with Bette Davis (Davis was having an affair with Hopkins' husband at the time, Anatole Litvak), when they co-starred in their two films The Old Maid (1939) and Old Acquaintance (1943). Davis admitted to enjoying very much a scene in Old Acquaintance in which she shakes Hopkins.

After Old Acquaintance, she did not work again in films until The Heiress (1949). In The Mating Season, she gave a comic performance as Gene Tierney's character's mother. She also acted in The Children's Hour, which is a remake of her film These Three (1936). In the remake, she played the aunt to Shirley MacLaine, while MacLaine took Hopkins' original role.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pride and Prejudice(2005)

Pride & Prejudice(2005). Film based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name. This second major motion-picture was produced by Working Title Films, directed by Joe Wright and based on a screenplay by Deborah Moggach.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie: Elizabeth visits the Collinses at Rosings, the estate of Lady Catherine; they are invited to dine at the grand house and there meet Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Darcy begins to have interest in Elizabeth, especially when she replies to Lady Catherine's jabs with spirited wit. The next day, Colonel Fitzwilliam lets slip to Elizabeth that Darcy separated Bingley from Jane. Upset she runs out into the rain; Darcy tracks her down and to propose marriage. He claims that he loves her despite her 'lower rank.' Elizabeth refuses him because of his treatment of Jane and Bingley and of Wickham. Darcy leaves heartbroken.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Merry Widow(1934). This is a Little Master Piece!

The Merry Widow(1934). Film adaptation of the operetta of the same name by Franz Lehár. Director: Ernst Lubitsch. Cast: Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. A French-language version was produced at the same time and released in France the same year as La Veuve joyeuse.

In the European kingdom of Marshovia, playboy Count Danilo, the captain of the royal guard, sees the veiled widow Sonia during a military parade and later meets up with her in her gardens. Because of Marshovian edict widows must wear veils in public, the surprised Sonia covers her face before Danilo can see her. Sonia rejects Danilo's flirtations but, over the next few days, can not seem to get him out of her mind. Sonia decides her one-year widowhood over and moves to Paris. Because Sonia controls half of the economy, her leaving worries the king, Achmed II, who talks it over with Queen Dolores, about possible suitors for the widow. After Dolores rejects all of his suggested suitors, Achmed catches the queen entertaining Danilo in her bedroom. Angry, Achmed orders Danilo to go to Paris and marry Sonia. Before reporting to the Marshovian embassy, Danilo visits Maxim's, where all of the can-can dancers adore him. As Danilo leaves his rooms, Sonia, sees him and follows him to Maxim's. There Danilo runs into Ambassador Popoff, who shares his plan of capturing the widow attentions during the embassy ball. When Sonia meets up with him at Maxim's, she is mistaken for a cabaret "girl" and is picked by the unsuspecting Danilo. Shocked by Danilo's playboy ways, Sonia, decides to call herself Fifi, flirts with all the men who catch her eye in front of the count and laughs at his hurt feelings. In one of the private dining rooms, Sonia decides to give Danilo some of his own medicine by acting seductive and indifferent towards him. Danilo says to her that he prefers cabaret girls because they never ask about "tomorrow," Sonia tells him that she is a "lady" and quickly leaves. Heartbroken, Danilo fails to show up at the embassy ball and is found by his orderly, in a drunken stupor at Maxim's.
You have to watch to see if the ambassador of Paris plans work out..

I just saw the film, Merry Widow(1934), for the first time on TCM. I thought Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald gave very convincing performances. Loved the romance of the music. MGM built some wonderful sets: the grandeur of the King of Marshovia's palace and the great dance sequences at the Embassy Ball may have influenced others 20 or so years later. There are some humorous touches and every performance is perfect right down to the gypsy violinist.


MGM hired at least 500 extras for the "Merry Widow" dance number.

It took four months and 12 seamstresses to make Adrian's two dozen designs for Jeanette MacDonald's gowns.

The 1,000 gas chandeliers on the sets took two hours to turn on.

The final film collaboration between Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, and director Ernst Lubitsch.

A French-language version was filmed simultaneously, with Chevalier and MacDonald in the starring roles. (As a trained opera singer, MacDonald spoke and sang excellent French.) However, the rest of the cast was replaced with French-speaking actors. Marcel Vallée played the Ambassador (who is played by Edward Everett Horton in the English version).

Una Merkel (December 10, 1903 – January 2, 1986), looked a lot like actress Lillian Gish and began her career as a stand-in for Gish, in the 1928 classic The Wind, a late silent film. Merkel appeared in a few films during the silent era, including the two-reel Love's Old Sweet Song (1923).

Merkel achieved her greatest success with the "talkies". She played Ann Rutledge in the film Abraham Lincoln (1930). During the 1930s, Merkel became a popular second lead in a number of films, usually playing the wisecracking best friend of the heroine,  Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Loretta Young, and Dorothy Lamour. Merkel was an MGM contract player from 1932 to 1938, appearing in as many as twelve films in a year, often on loan-out to other studios. She was also often cast as leading lady to a number of comedians in their starring pictures, including Jack Benny, Harold Lloyd, and Charles Butterworth.

In 42nd Street (1933), Merkel played Ginger Rogers's character's buddy.  Merkel appeared in both the 1934 and the 1952 film versions of The Merry Widow, playing different roles in each. One of her most famous roles was in the Western Destry Rides Again (1939) in which her character, Lillibelle, gets into a famous "cat-fight" with Frenchie (Marlene Dietrich). She played the elder daughter to the W. C. Fields character, Egbert Sousé in the 1940 film The Bank Dick. In 1950 she was leading lady to William Bendix in a baseball comedy Kill the Umpire.

She had a major part in the MGM 1959 film, The Mating Game as Paul Douglas's wife and Debbie Reynolds's mother, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Summer and Smoke (1961).

Merkel, whose final film role was in the Elvis Presley film Spinout (1966).

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Camille(1936). Director: George Cukor. Produced: Irving Thalberg and Bernard H. Hyman, from a screenplay by James Hilton, Zoe Akins and Frances Marion. The picture is based on the 1852 novel and play La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils. Cast: Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Jessie Ralph, Henry Daniell, and Laura Hope Crews.

The film inspired Milton Benjamin to write a song called "I'll Love Like Robert Taylor, Be My Greta Garbo." Camille was included in Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Movies in 2005. It was also included at #33 in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions. Portions of the film, including the final scene, are featured in the 1982 musical film Annie after the number "Let's Go To The Movies."

Beautiful Marguerite Gautier, is known as "the lady of the camellias" because of her love for the flowers. Marguerite's friends know her as a woman whose heart is bigger than her bank account. Though she is given money and jewels by her many suitors, her lifestyle and generosity have kept her in debt. Prudence Duvernoy, comes to Marguerite and tells her, she must find a rich man who can take care of her and arranges for her to meet, Baron de Varville. When Prudence leaves the theater box to find de Varville, Armand Duval, who has been in love with Marguerite and has been following her for weeks, joins her. Because they have never met, she thinks that he is the baron. When she is introduced to the real Baron, Marguerite is disappointed, but she leaves with him.Soon, Marguerite is de Varville's mistress and has indulged herself with his money. When he goes on a business trip to Russia, her frail health keeps her home. At a coach auction, she meets Armand again and is told by her maid, that he came to ask about Marguerite's health every day. Later, Marguerite invites him to a party at her home, and when she becomes ill, he carries her into her bedroom and tells her that he is deeply in love with her and wants to take care of her. Marguerite, must choose between the young man who loves her and the baron who wants her.

I feel this is one of the most romantic film ever made and it is one of my favorite Garbo performances. She is beautiful, her performance is full of moments of flawless acting. The cinematography, art direction and costume design are also beautiful. The supporting performances from Lionel Barrymore, Laura Hope Crewes to Maureen O'Sullivan are perfect. Robert Taylor, is very young and handsome. A wonderful classic film you will not want to miss.

Fun Facts:

Greta Garbo's personal favorite of all her films.

Greta Garbo wore bedroom slippers under all her fancy dresses so she could be comfortable.

Film debut of Joan Leslie.

Elizabeth Allan (9 April 1908 – 27 July 1990) was an English actress who worked in both England and Hollywood, making about 50 films over more than a quarter century. She made her movie debut in 1931, first appearing in Alibi. 1935 was her most memorable year in Hollywood, when she not only distinguished herself in two memorable Dickens' adaptations as David's young mother in, David Copperfield and as Lucie Manette in Jack Conway's, A Tale of Two Cities, but was also featured in, Mark of the Vampire. By the 1950s, Allan had made the transition to character parts. Particularly memorable is her appearance in, The Heart of the Matter (1953). In 1958, she appeared as Boris Karloff's wife in, The Haunted Strangler.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life With Father(1947)

Life with Father(1947). Tells the true story of Clarence Day, a stockbroker who wants to be master of his house. Unfortunately, his wife and his children ignore him, until they want him to change his own life. In keeping with the autobiography, all the children in the family (all boys) are redheads. Cast: William Powell and Irene Dunne as Clarence and his wife. Elizabeth Taylor performs as the girl that Clarence's oldest son becomes infatuated with, along with Edmund Gwenn, ZaSu Pitts, Jimmy Lydon and Martin Milner.

Fun Fact:
The play's writers, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and Clarence Day's widow were on the set and were given power of the film. According to author David Chierichetti, Mrs. Day approved Irene Dunne's characterization and even lent some jewelry that belonged to the real Vinnie.

Click to view LIFE WITH FATHER in full.

I thought this was a very "charming" period film, that takes you back in time, to a simpler life. Powell and Dunne are excellent and play off each other very well. It is fun to see a very young Elizabeth Taylor .

Edmund Gwenn (26 September 1877 – 6 September 1959), appeared in more than eighty films during his career, including the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice, Cheers for Miss Bishop, Of Human Bondage, and The Keys of the Kingdom. He is perhaps best remembered for his role as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He received a second nomination for his role in Mister 880 (1950). Near the end of his career he played one of the main roles in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry (1955). He has a small role as a Cockney assassin in another Hitchcock film, Foreign Correspondent (1940).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex(1939)

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939). Romantic/drama. Cast Bette Davis, and Errol Flynn. Director: by Michael Curtiz, and was based on the Maxwell Anderson play. Supporting cast: Olivia de Havilland, Donald Crisp, Henry Daniell, Henry Stephenson, and Vincent Price. The score was composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who later used a theme from the film. The elaborate costumes was designed by Orry-Kelly. Among the film's five Academy Award nominations was a nomination for Best Color Cinematography. Bette Davis was thought to receive an Academy Award nomination for her role; instead, she was nominated in that year for Dark Victory.

Earl of Essex returns from his battle at Cadiz to be greeted by Lady Penelope Gray and other ladies of the court and the jealousy of Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Robert Cecil. Queen Elizabeth, in love with Essex, fears his thirst for power and puts him down him for the high cost of his victory. Proud and thinking the Queen is wrong, Essex travels back to Wonstead. Francis Bacon, wants to smooth things over, suggests that Elizabeth appoint Essex Master of the Ordnance in order to stop the uprising in Ireland. To serve his country, Essex returns to court where he falls victim to Raleigh and Cecil who conspire to turn him and the queen against each other by sending Essex to Ireland against the Queens wishes.. Later his pleas for help go unanswered and facing death, he is forced to surrender to Tyrone. Unknown to either Essex or Elizabeth, Cecil, Raleigh and Penelope have been intercepting the lovers' letters, and so Essex returns to England, believing that he has been betrayed by his queen.

This has to be one of Davis best dramatic performance ever!

Fun Fact:

The sixth of nine movies made together by Warner Brothers' romantic couple Olivia De Havilland and Errol Flynn.

Donald Crisp (27 July 1882 – 25 May 1974) was an English film actor. He was also an early motion picture producer, director and screenwriter. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1942 for his performance in How Green Was My Valley.

While touring with the company in the United States and Cuba, Crisp first became interested in a career in the theatre. By 1910, Crisp, now using the name Donald, was working as a stage manager for director George M. Cohan. It was during this time he met and befriended film director D. W. Griffith. When Griffith moved to Hollywood in 1912, Crisp accompanied him.

From 1908 to 1930, Crisp, in addition to directing dozens of films, also appeared in nearly 100 silent films, though many in bit or small parts. One notable exception was his casting by Griffith as General Ulysses S. Grant in Griffith's and The Birth of a Nation in 1915. Another was his role in Griffith's 1919 film Broken Blossoms, as "Battling Burrows".

Crisp worked as an assistant to Griffith for several years and learned much during this time from Griffith. His first directing credit was Little Country Mouse, made in 1914. Over the next fifteen years, Crisp directed some 70 films, most notably The Navigator (1924) with Buster Keaton and Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925) with Douglas Fairbanks. His final directorial effort was the 1930 film The Runaway Bride starring Mary Astor.

Friday, May 14, 2010

All I Desire(1953)

All I Desire (1953). Drama. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck as an actress who returns to visit her husband and children after having run off with another man years before. It is based on the novel Stopover by Carol Ryrie Brink.

The story begins in 1910, aging actress Naomi Murdoch receives a letter from her daughter Lily. Ten years earlier, Naomi had created a scandal by leaving her teacher husband Henry and their children. Even though it means continuing to lie to the family that she is a famous Shakespearean actress. Naomi decides to return to Wyoming, and uses her entire savings for a makeover. At the same time that Naomi's train pulls up at the town station, Lily is wishing that her mother will arrive in time to see her star in the school play and Henry is being named the new superintendent of schools. Naomi shows up during dinner, shocking everyone, until Lily and the housekeeper welcome her. Henry and Joyce, are not sure about Naomi's visit. Naomi is surprised to find herself thrilled at how little the house has changed, but is heartbroken when Joyce lets her know that she does not consider Naomi family and wants her to leave. Soon after, Henry and Naomi argue over the reasons of her leaving, and she promises him that she will not embarrass him. Will the family ever forgive Naomi and welcome her with open arms?

All I Desire, is one of the movie selections from, Barbara Stanwyck new DVD collection. This film reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, with the similar storyline about small town America. The story also has a similarity with the movie Clash by Night, made one year earlier, where Stanywck stars in a similar part.

Richard Carlson (April 29, 1912 - November 25, 1977). His first film role was in, The Young in Heart(1938). in the beginning he appeared mostly in comedies and dramas, including The Little Foxes and Too Many Girls (1940).

In 1948, Carlson was cast in two film noirs: Behind Locked Doors and The Amazing Mr. X. His movie career made a turn around in 1950, when he co-starred with Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger in, King Solomon's Mines. Other films followed, including the World War II naval action film, Flat Top. He then moved on to science fiction and horror B films: The Maze (1953), It Came from Outer Space (1953), Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Magnetic Monster. His success in the genre led him to the director's chair for the 1954 sci-fi film Riders to the Stars, in which he also starred.

In addition to writing and directing film and television projects, Carlson was also performed in the television series, I Led Three Lives from 1953 to 1956. He was featured in The Helen Morgan Story (1957). His last film was, Change of Habit (1969). In the 1958-1959 television season, Carlson portrayed Colonel Ranald Mackenzie in the syndicated western series Mackenzie's Raiders. His last acting role was in a 1973 episode of CBS's Cannon detective series starring William Conrad.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Picture of Dorian Gray(1945)

The Picture of Dorian Gray(1945). Horror/drama, film based on the 1891 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, his only novel. Director: Albert Lewin. Cast: George Sanders and Hurd Hatfield. The film was mainly shot in black-and-white, but featured two 3-strip Technicolor inserts of Dorian's portrait for effect (one of his portrait's original state, and the second after a major period of degeneracy).

I thought I had seen the film Dorian Gray, until I saw the picture begin to change.. The story begins with, Dorian Gray, half wishing to remain young for eternity, unknowingly sells his soul so that a portrait will age instead of him. The wish, made in the presence of an ancient Egyptian Cat statuette of the goddess Bast, comes true.

Over the next eighteen years, Dorian lives a life of sin, influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton. Who reminds you of the saying... "with friends like him...who needs enemies?" His sins include: ruining his romance with vaudeville singer Sibyl Vane. Later, he murders Basil Hallward, after he sees the horrible state of his portrait, and then blackmailing an old friend to dispose of Basil's body, frequenting opium dens and defiling Basil's young niece Gladys. He keeps his picture locked in a high room in his London house. As an evil reminder to which he has given his life. Will he ever turn his life around or continue down his evil path?

I thought Hurd Hatfield's performance, was very interesting, in that he wears the same expression throughout the film, to conceal his emotions.

Fun Fact:

Albright's painting of Dorian Gray, used in the film was painted on commission during the making of the film in 1943-1944 by Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, an American artist who was well-known as a painter of the macabre. Created specifically for use in the film, it is now part of the art collection of The Art Institute of Chicago.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only published novel by Oscar Wilde, appearing as the lead story in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine on 20 June 1890, printed as the July 1890 issue of this magazine. Wilde later revised this edition, making several alterations, and adding new chapters; the amended version was published by Ward, Lock, and Company in April 1891. The story is often mistitled The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

George Sanders (3 July 1906 – 25 April 1972). His smooth, English accent and British manner put him in demand for American films. He played many supporting roles in the films such as, Rebecca and Rage in Heaven. He was also the lead in the films: The Falcon and The Saint film series. In 1942 Sanders handed off the Falcon role to his brother Tom, in The Falcon's Brother. The only other film in which the two brothers performed together was, Death of a Scoundrel (1956).

Sanders played Lord Henry Wotton, in the film, The Picture of Dorian Gray(1945). In 1947 he co-starred with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison in, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. That same year he gave one of his bet known performances, The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. He and also performed biblical epic, Samson and Delilah (1949).

In 1950 Sanders drew his most popular role in the film, All About Eve, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He then starred in the film, Ivanhoe(1952). His career spanned over 40 years.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Out of Africa (1985).

Out of Africa (1985). The story based on the autobiographical book Out of Africa written by Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of the author Karen Blixen), which was published in 1937, Dinesen's book Shadows on the Grass. This film received 28 film awards, including seven Academy Awards. The book is from the 1914 to 1931, the story is about the European settlers and the native people of Kenya. The setting spans from Mombasa up to Nairobi and from Mount Kenya to Kilimanjaro.

Directed by Sydney Pollack. Cast: Meryl Streep as the Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke; Robert Redford as Denys Finch Hatton; and Klaus Maria Brandauer(as Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke).

The film opens as an older Karen Blixen is remembering back to a hunting expedition in Denmark, when she lived in Africa. Denys Finch Hatton, a big-game hunter whom she met when she first arrived in Africa. She was looking forward to helping her new husband Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke, start a dairy farm. Things do not go as she planned, Baron used her money to buy a coffee plantation. She struggles to maintain a coffee farm on her own, through all her struggles and many disasters, she wants to improve relations with the natives. Karen does fall in love with the the Baron over time and is heartbroken when she learns of his extramarital affairs. Karen contracts syphilis from her husband, which at the time was a very dangerous disease. She returned to Denmark for a cure using experimental medicine Salvarsan. This was before the discovery of penicillin. After she recovers she returns to Africa, a relationship between her and Denys begins to develop. She soon realizes that Denys can not settle down. She decides to open a school to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, and also some European customs to the natives.

What a very emotional movie. With the breathtaking cinematography and the beautiful musical score, makes the movie worth viewing, especially, when Denys Finch Hatton, gives Karen Blixen her first airplane ride.


Audrey Hepburn was originally offered the role of Karen.

The film was shot on location in Africa, but local laws prohibited the use of wild animals in film. Trained lions were imported from California.

The story was originally planned as a project for Greta Garbo. At various times, Orson Welles, David Lean and Nicolas Roeg had tried to make a film about Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen).

Meryl Streep developed her accent by listening to actual recordings of Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) reading her works.

The pilot in the scene where the flamingos take flight was Sir Henry Dalrymple-White, a British Baronet and former WW2 pilot who moved in Kenya in the 1940s. He flew until he was 80.

During filming In one scene, Karen Blixen, travels across dangerous terrain to bring supply wagons to her husband's regiment. During the night, a lion attacks one of the oxen and Karen tries to fight it off with a whip. Streep was assured that the lion would be tethered by one of its back legs so he couldn't get too close. When the scene was shot, the lion had no restraint. The lion got closer than Streep anticipated; the fear on her face is real.

Isak Dinesen and Karen Blixen, lived in East Africa for twenty years making a living on their coffee plantation. Out of Africa, is a memoir of her life on the plantation and the people. The way Blixen writes you become swept up in the words and imagery. It is obvilious that Blixen loved Africa.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dragonwyck (1946)

Dragonwyck(1946). Period/drama. Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck and Ernst Lubitsch. Based on the novel Dragonwyck by Anya Seton. Music score: Alfred Newman. Cinematography: Arthur C. Miller. Cast: Gene Tierney, Walter Huston and Vincent Price, with Glenn Langan, Anne Revere, Spring Byington, Harry Morgan and Jessica Tandy.

Dragonwyck, is one of those films that would lose it's moody atmosphere if it were in color. I thought Vincent Price did an outstanding performance in one of his first films. The story starts as the innocent farmers daughter Miranda (Gene Tierney), excited to learn that she is related to the rich Van Ryn. And is being invited to visit their beautiful mansion to take care of his young daughter.. Miranda is instantly attracted to the handsome Nicholas, the owner of "Dragonwyck". Mean while, Nicholas busy fighting off a revolt of his tenant farmers and coming up with a plan to get rid of his wife. (Because she has not given him a son.) Miranda moves back home with her parents after the wife's death. Not long... Nicholas comes for her and they marry and Miranda gives birth to a son, the boy is not healthy and does not live. Nicholas begins to slip into insanity, moving to the attic of his mansion to live in his world of drug addiction..

A broken hearted Miranda looks for help from the the local doctor, Dr. Jeff Turner (Jeff Langan). Dr. Turner falls in love with Miranda, and he eventually learns that Nicholas killed his first wife to be with her, and he fears that Miranda might be next on the list.
Dragonwyck Movie Trailer.


Gregory Peck was the first choice to play Nicholas Van Ryn, but he bowed out when he learned Ernst Lubisch was dropping out as director. When second choice Laird Cregar died, Price was assigned.

Vincent Price lost 30 lbs. for the film.
Anne Revere (June 25, 1903 – December 18, 1990). Revere was a direct descendant of Paul Revere. She made her Broadway debut in, The Great Barrington (1931). Three years later, she went to Hollywood to reprise her stage role in the film, Double Door. She returned to Broadway to create the original role in the 1934 production of, The Children's Hour, and in later years she appeared on the New York stage in As You Like It, The Three Sisters, and Toys in the Attic (play), for which she won the 1960 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.

Revere worked as a character actress in many films, performing in nearly three dozen films between 1934 and 1951. She frequently was cast in the role of a matriarch. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress three times and won for her performance in the film, National Velvet. Some of her other films include: The Song of Bernadette, Gentleman's Agreement, The Keys of the Kingdom, Body and Soul and A Place in the Sun.

She did not perform again on film for the next twenty years, finally returning to the screen in, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon. She also began performing on television soap operas such as: The Edge of Night, Search for Tomorrow and Ryan's Hope.

Revere and her husband, theatre director Samuel Rosen, moved to New York and opened an acting school, and she continued to work in summer stock, theater and on television.

It is a fictional story of Miranda Wells and her marriage to Nicholas Van Ryn, set against an historical background of the Anti-Rent Wars, the Astor Place Riots, and steamboat racing on the Hudson River.

The book focuses on Miranda Wells: her longing for her rich cousin Nicholas Van Ryn and her marriage to him and her discovery of her husband's dark and twisted life.

The novel was adapted into the film Dragonwyck, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Gene Tierney, Walter Huston and Vincent Price.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

This Lady in Ermine(1948)

THIS LADY IN ERMINE(1948) Is a beautiful period film/ musical. As the Austrian army takes over Italy, beautiful Countess Mariana marries Count Adrian Murillo before he leaves to defend the castle. The overbearing General Dostal makes his headquarters at the castle of Countess Beltrami and immediately competes with the Austrian Crown for her attention. At midnight, all the portraits in the gallery come to life and ask Francesca, Angelina's great, great, great, great grandmother, to save the castle .

Count Murillo disguised as a gypsy breaks through the Austrian lines and is able to return to the castle. He is caught and ordered to be shot as a spy. The countess shares with him a time 300 years ago when her grandmother saved her husband by going before the general wearing only an ermine coat.

The colonel, enjoys Mario's musical performance, hires him to be his "personal gypsy." He soon learns that Mario is Angelina's husband and offers to let him go if she will dine with him at nine. Angelina does not come that evening, but Francesca later visits the colonel while he is sleeping. As the clock goes back to nine, Angelina joins him and demands a kiss from him. As she puts her arms around him, she throws the knife at the clock, stopping time.They dance and sing together, as the portraits watch them.The next day, when the colonel awakens he realizes that it has all been a dream .

Angelina rushes in and says that she could not reach Mario's general to plead for his life. The colonel sets Mario free, he tells her about the dream. She is deeply touched when he confesses he will always love her. She cries as she watches him from the balcony.

Will Mario walk out on her?
Will Angelina ever see the Colonel again?


Though this film is listed in his filmography as his last, Ernst Lubitsch only directed eight days' worth of shooting before he died of a heart attack on November 30, 1947. Otto Preminger was called in to finish the film, but took no credit and allowed Lubitsch to stand as director.

For me Grable is convincing in her performance of her two contrasting characters. And shares the honours in the verbal duels with her male supporting leads. Fairbank's performance in particular is also wonderful.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Queen Christina (1933)- Pre-code.

Queen Christina (1933). Pre-code historical/ drama. Director: Rouben Mamoulian.The film was written by H. M. Harwood and Salka Viertel with dialogue by S. N. Behrman, based on a story by Salka Viertel and Margaret P. Levino. Cast: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith and Lewis Stone. The movie is very loosely based on the life of the 17th century Queen Christina of Sweden, who, in the film, falls in love during her reign but has to deal with the political realities of her society. It was billed as Garbo's return to cinema after an eighteen-month hiatus.

In 1632, after her father, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, is killed on the battlefield, six-year-old Christina raised as a boy is crowned "king" of Sweden . And then promises to her court, that Sweden will fight until it wins the war.

Many years later, the now-grown Christina, who dresses in men's clothing, meets with her council and states for the good of the country, they must find peace. Christina then argues with Oxenstierna about marrying her Swedish-born cousin, Prince Palatine Charles Gustavus. Not wanting to marry a man she does not love, Christina rejects Oxenstierna's demands. To escape Christina, goes on a hunting trip with her servant Aage. While riding, Christina comes across the path of a coach filled with Spaniards, which have gotten stuck in a ditch. Because she is dressed as a man, Christina is not recognized and is treated as a male servant by Don Antonio de la Prada. Later, Christina and Aage seek shelter at the Inn and once again meet Antonio and his men. Antonio apologizes when he learns that Christina is a gentleman of means and engages him/her, in conversation. Christina impresses Antonio, after which insists that he take her to his room, the last room in the inn. After a polite argument, the couple decide to share the room. While Antonio undresses, Christina becomes uncomfortable, but finally reveals that she is a woman by removing her jacket. Surprised, Antonio takes Christina in his arms. For the next several days, Christina and Antonio, who is still unaware of her royal identity, fall in love and promise their lasting devotion to each other. Needing to accomplish his mission, Antonio leaves the inn, but arranges to meet with Christina in Stockholm.

Back at the palace, Christina is confronted by Magnus, who questions her about her disappearance. Christina's only care, is her reunion with Antonio and dresses up in her most beautiful gown to greet him. When Antonio is introduced to Christina, he is surprised but maintains his composure. Later in private Antonio, accuses her for playing with his affections and presents to her a proposal of marriage. Christina ignores her royal duties to spend time with Antonio. Jealous, Magnus hires two men to spread rumors about the queen's scandalous behavior, and one night in the Palace, Christina is met by an angry mob.

After calming the crowd, Christina confronts Magnus, where he threatens to have Antonio killed. For his protection, Christina orders Antonio back to Spain, unaware that the Spaniard has challenged Magnus to a duel. Christina calls together her court, announces that she is stepping down from the throne. While Christina says good by to her heartbroken court, Antonio and Magnus engage in their sword fight. What will Christina find when she reaches Antonio's ship?

Fun Fact:
Since John Gilbert was becoming less popular as a leading man, Greta Garbo was doing him a big favor by requesting him as the male lead. Unfortunately, the film did not help to re-establish Gilbert, and soon after he dropped out of pictures altogether.

I just watched Queen Christina for the first time. For me, it is a beautiful and haunting film. John Gilbert and Greta Garbo had wonderful on screen chemistry. My favorite scene in the movie, is when she is enjoying herself as a woman.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Black Swan(1942).

The Black Swan (1942). Swashbuckler film by Henry King. Based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini. Cast: Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, and won one for Best Cinematography, Color.

After Pirate James Waring, is captured during a raid, Don Miguel puts him on the rack to get information about, Captain Henry Morgan. Who, Jamie says, is in England about to be hanged. Jamie, is soon rescued by his friend, Tommy Blue. Morgan comes in with the news that he has been made governor of Jamaica and has promised to maintain the peace between England and Spain. Morgan tells the men that if they lay down their weapons, they will receive a pardon and one hundred acres of land, but that if they do not, they will be punished. Captain Billy Leech and his partner Wogan, refuse to join and promise to take the Black Swan, to Maracaibo. Morgan takes Jamie and Tommy with him to Port Royal, where he is sworn in. Jamie attempts to sweep Margaret off her feet, but she says Roger Ingram is her fiancee. Unknown to Margaret, Ingram turns out to be a dirty rat and has given important information to Leech, about the English treasure. Leech takes over the ship and gives the captain's share to Ingram. Morgan sends Jamie after him, but Leech is able to escape and take over more English ships. When Jamie returns to Port Royal, Ingram says that he and Margaret will sail to England to take the news to the waiting king. Morgan orders Jamie to go after Leech. It looks as if he has joined up with the rebels and the men are set for a fight.

What a fun film. It has everything you could want in a adventure film, a handsome hero, a damsel in distress, bad guys, my favorite part of the film.. the sword fights and sea battles. I thought the film was a little too short..or maybe the ending was a little to abrupt in my opinion.

Fun Fact:
The ship in the picture was also used in the films That Hamilton Woman(1941), The Princess and the Pirate(1944) and Captain Kidd (1945).

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Adventures of Don Juan(1948). Adventure/romance. Director Vincent Sherman. Producer Jerry Wald. From a screenplay by George Oppenheimer and Harry Kurnitz based on a story by Herbert Dalmas. Cast: Errol Flynn and Viveca Lindfors, Robert Douglas, Alan Hale, Ann Rutherford and Robert Warwick. Also in the cast are Barbara Bates, Raymond Burr and Mary Stuart. Music score was by Max Steiner. Cinematograper Elwood Bredell. Costumes: Leah Rhodes, Marjorie Best and Travilla.

After a romantic moment with a beautiful woman, Don Juan barely escapes an angry husband, when he and his friend, Leporello, are stopped by soldiers keeping the road clear for a Spanish Duke. Trying to avoid the husband who is hot on his heels, Don Juan pretends to be the Duke, only to find out that he is expected to marry Lady Diana and so decides to play along. Don Juan and Leporello, are quickly arrested after the real Duke arrives and Don Juan is to be deported to Spain in disgrace for his royal punishment. Before Don Juan can leave England, the Spanish ambassador, asks if he would help stop the war between Spain and England. Next in my favorite scene, Once in Spain, they stop to have dinner at an inn. A group of Duke de Lorca's soldiers arrives and start to make trouble for the people in the town. After winning the sword fight with the soldiers, he is accepted by the people as a hero.

When Don Juan meets with Queen Margaret, she tells him that because he pretended to be the Duke, he disgraced the state. Also, he destroyed any possibility of a political marriage, that would have prevented the war, between England and Spain. But when Don Juan takes one look at the beautiful Queen Margaret, he promises to defend her throne and capture her heart.

At the end of the film, the young woman in the coach asking Don Juan for directions is Errol Flynn's wife, Nora Eddington.

I really enjoyed this film, the script is great with a lot of very funny lines. Flynn plays the part with a wonderful flair.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) romantic/ musical.Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer, Tom Drake, Leon Ames, Marjorie Main, June Lockhart, and Joan Carroll. Director: Vincente Minnelli. The movie was based on Irving Brecher and Fred F. Finklehoffe, the story of an American family living in St. Louis at the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World's Fair in 1904. The movie was adapted by Irving Brecher and Fred F. Finklehoffe from a series of short stories by Sally Benson, originally published in The New Yorker magazine, and later in the novel 5135 Kensington. In the film, Garland debuted the songs "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

Meet Me In St. Louis, I love everything about it, the scenery, costumes, actors and story line about learning life lessons. If you were to ask me which is my favorite part of the movie. I would have to say Halloween when, Tootie and her sister Agnes dress up and go out to celebrate Halloween with the neighborhood children. Wanting to prove herself to the other children, Tootie, insists on going up to the feared neighbor Mr. Braukoff door, and blow flour in his face. After Tootie is called the "most horrible," she puts her family into a panic when she returns home, crying, bruised and with a cut lip. Tootie claims that John hit her by the trolley tracks, Esther at first refuses to believe her, but.. changes her mind when she sees a clump of hair in Tootie's hand. Esther storms over to John's house, accuses him of being a bully and beats him up. Tootie and Agnes confess that John actually saved them from being arrested after they almost caused an accident on the trolley tracks. Esther rushes back to John's house to apologize.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) film adaptation of the novel of the same name, produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and Spyglass Entertainment and by Douglas Wick's Red Wagon Productions. Directer: Rob Marshall. Cast: Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, Youki Kudoh, and Suzuka Ohgo. Ohgo plays the younger Sayuri in the movie, which was filmed in southern and northern California and in several locations in Kyoto, including the Kiyomizu temple and the Fushimi Inari shrine. The film was nominated and won numerous awards, including nominations for six Academy Awards, and won three for: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) Is one of my top 5 "gotta see films". I love everything about it, the scenery, costumes, actors and story line of a young woman growing into a beautiful and accomplished geisha. The film, set in Japan During the Showa Era, tells the story of Chiyo Sakamoto who is sold by her parents work in a geisha house when she is nine years old. Chiyo is taken in by the owner of a geisha house, where she works to pay off her debt of ruining a beautiful silk kimono owned by a famous geisha, Mameha. Chiyo was forced into defacing the kimono by another geisha, Hatsumomo. One day the young Chiyo meets the Chairman, who buys her an cherry sorbet and gives her his handkerchief. Her spirit lifted by his act of kindness, Chiyo makes a promise to herself to become a geisha so that she may have a better life.

When Chiyo, becomes a young woman, she is taken under the wing of Mameha, head of a rival geisha house. Despite a vicious rival who nearly takes it all from her, the girl blossoms into beautiful and accomplished geisha Sayuri, Sayuri captivates the most powerful men, but is haunted by her secret love for one man.

This film is filled with suspense, romance and twists and turns..The music becomes a part of the movie, telling the story when there is no dialogue. The cast did a fabulous performance.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


The Illusionist (2006) period drama written and directed by Neil Burger. Cast: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, and Paul Giamatti. Based on Steven Millhauser's "Eisenheim the Illusionist".
The film is seen through Chief Inspector Uhl eyes.

When Eisenheim was a young boy, he meets a traveling magician sitting under a tree beside a road. The magician performs several tricks for him and then, right before his eyes.. both the magician and the tree vanish. From that day on, Eisenheim becomes obsessed with magic tricks. He falls in love with Sophie, the Duchess von Teschen, well above his social class. Young Eisenheim makes Young Sophie a puzzle locket, when twisted shows a small, picture of Eisenheim. The two are forbidden to see each other, they meet secretly in the woods, where Eisenheim tells her of his plans to go to China to learn magic, Sophie wants to go with him. On the day that they are planning on leaving, the police come looking for Sophie. The two hide and Sophie begs Eisenheim to make them both disappear. He is unable to perform the trick.
Eisenheim leaves his village to travel to China. He returns 15 years later as a master illusionist. When magician Eisenheim begins to perform his amazing illusions in Vienna, word quickly spreads of his amazing powers. Crown Prince Leopold, believes the illusionist is a fraud. Leopold attends one of Eisenheim's shows, not being very much of a gentleman, he has his fiancee Sophie von Teschen, assists the magician onstage. Eisenheim and Sophie recognize each other from their childhoods and realize that they are still in love. Eisenheim and Leopold begin fighting over Sophie, it quickly becomes obvious that they will go to any length for her. Vienna's Chief Inspector Uhl, is demanded by Leopold to expose Eisenheim, even while the magician gains a devoted following. With Uhl searching for the reasons behind the illusions, Eisenheim performs his greatest illusion.

Info from wikipedia: Edward Norton did many of his own magic tricks, with the coaching of James Freedman. He worked with Norton preparing him for his stage performances and acted as a hand double in numerous situations.

The trick of the Orange Tree was made famous by a 19th Century French magician named Robert-Houdin. It was from Robert-Houdin that another magician, Ehrich Weiss, came up with the stage name "Houdini." This trick is first mentioned in old Indian manuscript as an illusion by Faux. Analogical trick was also performed by Pinetti, an 18th Century magician, but instead of oranges, he used lemons. Houdini was the first one to use real fruits.

This is one of my top 5 favorite movies. This film is filled with suspense, romance and twists and turns.. The special effects are amazing. The music becomes a part of the movie, telling the story when there is no dialogue. The cast did a fabulous performance.
You can view the movie The Illusionist on You Tube.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


The Duchess (2008) British drama. Based on Amanda Foreman's best-selling biography of the 18th-century English aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. Directed by Saul Dibb.

A wonderful film that shows the marriage, relationships, and passions of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Georgiana (Kierra Knightly) 17 years old, is flattered to have been selected by Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes), and marries him even though he has very high personal and family expectations. The Duke is a unemotional man who is far more interested in his dogs than spending his time with his new wife. She spends most of her time at parties and gambling with her friends who tease her that Georgiana is loved by all of England, except her husband.
The Duke, brings home a little girl to live with them. Georgiana shocked to find out that the child is his illegitimate daughter. Over the next few years Georgiana gives birth to two daughters of her own, but fails to provide the Duke with a son. While "taking the cure" at Bath in the hopes of being able to conceive a boy, Georgiana finds a friend in Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell). Georgiana's and the Duke invites Bess to live with them in Devonshire. Soon Georgiana finds out that the Duke and Bess have been sleeping together. Georgiana goes to Duke and demands that Bess must leave the house, he refuses. Georgiana looks for comfort in Charles Grey's arms. She goes to Duke and says she will not object to his continuing to have Bess live with them, if he will not object to her having in an affair with Grey. The Duke rejects the idea, saying that he does not make "deals,". He criticizes Georgiana for not giving him a son, and for not remaining loyal to him. She is outraged and runs from him. He chases her down and rapes her.

Will Georgina ever gain the courage not to be a victim?

I absolutely love/love this film.. the costumes, jewelry and hair are spectacular, beautiful landscapes, and music. If you enjoy period films this is a must see..