Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I received my first blog award from Betsy over at Gingerella's Corner. It's really encouraging to know that people actually read your stuff and like it. :) Thanks so much Betsy! She's got a really neat blog herself with lots of great Ginger pics and pinups, so go check her out!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Here's to all of you and all that you're thankful for this season - and best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I've especially always loved Marjorie Reynolds as Linda Mason in Holiday Inn. She's just got that classic 40's beauty and plays the part so well. I guess I'm also intrigued because she seems to be so obscure - I don't think I've ever seen her in anything else. I was reading about her on IMDB, and it looks like she mostly appeared in B films after Holiday Inn, which kind of sucks. But here's some fun trivia - she was an extra in another one of my favorites, Gone With the Wind, as a guest at Twelve Oaks. I'll have to try to look for her next time I watch it!
And how cool is this! Holiday Inn paper dolls (reprinted) - I would LOVE to have this for my collection. I have some Vivien Leigh and Shirley Temple paper dolls I received as a kid too, and my mom was smart enough not to allow me to cut them out and play with them. I was just thinking I need to like vacuum seal them in plastic or something in order to try to keep them in tact.
Here are a few photos of Marjorie I found.
Here's Marjorie post-Holiday Inn era, in His Kind of Woman (1951) with Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, and Vincent Price. Sounds like a pretty heavy drama, maybe noir-ish, but it's neat to see her 10 years later.
So, in the spirit of helping me usher in this holiday season, I'd love to read your comments about your favorite holiday films & why you love them. Doesn't even have to be old, just classic. As for me, another one of my favorites is A Christmas Story, about Ralphie and his Red Rider BB gun. I just recently visited the restored house used in the film in Cleveland, Ohio, so I'll talk about it and post pics on my next post. It takes place in 1940, so it's almost classic.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Ever since I was a kid, I've loved Donna Reed. I grew up watching The Donna Reed Show on Nick at Nite, and I always wished she was my mom - but what kid wouldn't? She was always cheerful and cooking and knowing just the right thing to say to soothe her husband's stresses or encourage her kids. She was some actress, too! The most well-known movie of hers of course has got to be It's a Wonderful Life, but I also liked her a lot in From Here To Eternity (though hers was a sad character there!). She keeps popping up on my radar lately, I even saw her in a small part in one of The Thin Man films the other day.
Well, she was apparently a "pretty swell" gal in real life, too. Back during WWII she was a favorite pinup with the soldiers overseas, and received a lot of mail from her fans on the front lines. The best part is, she even answered some of it. :) I like that. It seems like her modest and down-to-earth character portrayals weren't too far from the mark. I came across this NY Times article entitled Dear Donna: A Pinup So Swell She Kept G.I. Mail (also thru DecadesILove.com) today in which Donna's daughter, Mary (haha, just like Mary Stone!), tells the story of 341 letters she discovered in a shoebox in one of her mother's old trunks in the garage. Apparently Donna had saved many of the letters she received from the GI's along with pictures they sent. Her daughter says that it was quite a surprise, as her mom never spoke of the letters to her kids - she wanted to be "just a mom" to them rather than entertain them with stories from her career days. The article talks about how Donna wanted to "do her part for the war effort," so I guess she felt as if her corresponding with the soldiers could give them some sense of comfort from back home - which it obviously did. If you click on the article link above, you can read the article and even view and read the original letters with pics. Very neat! Touching and sad, too.
You know, until the last few years, I very much loved the WWII history of the 1940's. I thought how wonderful it was that the whole country could come together, make sacrifices, and rally behind a common cause. I thought that the times depicted the true spirit of unity during a difficult and uncertain period, and that was just one more reason why I fervently wished to have been there to witness it all.
About 2 years ago though, I started reading versions of history different than what had been printed in my school text books. I began to learn more (it began with a very eye-opening book entitled The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History) about the causes of WWI and WWII - why did the wars begin and why was the United States involved at all? What I learned turned my view of the last century of American history upside down, that's for sure. US involvement in both wars was not necessary, but was sought out and provoked by political administrations of the time, against the wishes and sensibilities of the American people. As a matter of fact, US involvement in every war of the last century has violated what is known as the Just-War Theory. Morally, ethically, and even Biblically, a nation's involvement in war cannot be justified unless the conflict meets the criteria of this theory. And none have, not for over a century. If you are interested in the details of Just-War Theory, there is plenty about it if you just Google it - but for starters, here is a really good, concise article that lays out the main points.
And if you are like me and are interested in history and knowing both sides of a story, I HIGHLY recommend you check out The Politically Incorrect Guide To American History by Thomas Woods. This listing on the mises.org website gives a really excellent review of the book.
Well, I did go off on a bit of a historical/political tangent, but that's to be expected with me. The point in all of this was that with my new knowledge of the true story behind WWII, it saddens me to now see so much war propaganda in the movies of the time that I love. It's as if the movies for some reason did all they could to put a positive spin on supporting the war effort as your patriotic duty - period, no questions asked. I hope that we are all able to learn for ourselves from history that believing all that the government tells you with no questions asked is never a good policy if it truly is freedom that you want to preserve - as American president Thomas Jefferson said, "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
So back to my Donna Reed story....at the end of the article, it's mentioned that during the Vietnam War, Donna became an organized, anti-war campaigner and is quoted as saying that “she looked forward to a time when ‘19-year-old boys will no longer be taken away to fight in old men’s battles.’ ” I'm afraid she'd still be saying the same thing today. Wake up, America. Ask questions. Investigate.
Thanks for reading my musings. :)
I'll leave off with my favorite vintage WWII era Life magazine photo - the soldier returns home to his girl - exactly where he should be.
This is for all the girls out there who were also born too late - we might've missed out on the 40's, but we don't have to look like it. This makeup/hairstyle video actually has some useful tips that I plan to remember. I'm the one with the narrow (though not quite as long!) face. :)
I found this video here at DecadesILove.com
Friday, September 18, 2009
"Out of Sight Out of Mind" from In Person (1935)
"Shake Your Powder Puff" from Upperworld (1934)
Frederic March introduces Ginger singing "Used to Be You" - no idea what the fancy footwork there towards the end is called, but I love it!
Aaaand "You'll Be Reminded of Me" from Vivacious Lady (1938) is Ginger's version of Alanis Morisette's "You Oughta Know." I couldn't help it, that's what I thought of while watching this! Really though, my favorite part of this is when she says "the food's terrible..." - that, and how young James Stewart looks.
Ok, that's enough. Turning off the computer now. Nighty-night.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
1. splendid or sumptuous in appearance, coloring, etc.; magnificent: a gorgeous gown; a gorgeous sunset.
While browsing flickr.com, I came across some splendid, sumptuous, magnificent Fred & Ginger wallpapers put together by user joflc. They did a beautiful job on these, there is a whole set of about 20 - they were too good not to share! You can view them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joflc/sets/72157617299663830/
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
And just because it's loosely related, here's a random picture of a smoking Vivien Leigh during Gone With the Wind production. Seemed to go with the theme, since there's a smoking 12-year-old Ginger Roger's below. Not that I have a thing for smoking or anything, although Lolita's Classics has a pretty cool Smoking Women series going on.
I was pretty impressed at what a convincing child Ginger made! She looks exactly like a kid, and honestly when I first saw this photo (before seeing the movie), I didn't believe it was Ginger. Pretty amazing!
The only thing that slightly disturbed me about the movie is the whole "bedtime story for grownups" comparison - say what?! - and how quickly the major seems to go for her in the end when it's revealed that ta-da, she's a fully grown woman and not a 12 year old kid. It takes him about...30 seconds to kiss her? I'd have felt better if he'd had a little more time to let it all sink in before appearing to say to himself "oh, thank God - now I don't have to feel guilty, moving in for the big smack-a-roo!" But, these classic films often seem to have quick resolutions to wrap up the ending, so I'm letting it go. :)
I love how the New York Times has archived the original movie reviews for quite a few of the classics. The Major and the Minor was reviewed on September 17, 1942 by none other than Mr. Bosley Crowther - what a name, lol! But Mr. Crowther does give it a good review, calling it a "cunning" film, and saying "Miss Rogers gives a beautiful imitation of a Quiz Kid imitating Baby Snooks. And in those moments when romance brightly kindles, she is a soft and altogether winning miss. Put this down as one of the best characterizations of her career." Well....some compliment!
Here's the trailer for The Major and the Minor (1942).
I found some cute posters and movie stills...
This guy was about to get an egg smashed on his head by the lovely Miss Attitude...
Why does it amuse me so that the restroom was called the lounge?
The 12-year-old smoker, here...
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I think the movie script would only allow for "Sister Boy" as the worst name to call poor John, because I doubt that calling him "gay" would've gotten past the censors, but clearly that is what is believed about him. If the movie had been made today, it probably would've gone with the idea of him being gay and followed that plot to the end, maybe even resulting in a successful suicide attempt, as that seems to be the way that so many of our modern gay movie characters have to go (remembering Lost & Delirious here). That's actually the end I was expecting, but instead I got to witness the intricacies of his bourgeoning infatuation with Deborah Kerr, as she was drawn to comfort and befriend him out of sympathy for the misery he had to endure simply for not fitting in the box. She herself was lonely and neglected by her all-too-masculine husband, who seemed to care more for his sports coaching than his wife.
John and Deborah's friendship, in their loneliness, leads to an affection that is hinted at turning into love. Deborah Kerr's husband begins to suspect that things are going a little too deep, and he becomes jealous and almost cruel in his actions towards both wife and student. He does nothing to help alleviate the teasing and resulting suffering of John, though it is certainly in his power to do so as a teacher and role model for the other boys. In the end, John is driven nearly to suicide, and in the aftermath Deborah is driven to seek him out and express to him just how much he means to her, wrong as it may be. She finds him alone in the woods in one of his quiet reading places, and utters the famous line, "Years from now, when you talk about this - and you will - be kind" as she gives him the long anticipated kiss. What a sad, wonderful ending.....only, it wasn't the end yet.
So shocking was this story's resolution, that the film-makers added sort of a disclaimer at the end in the form of a letter written by Deborah Kerr to her beloved student 10 years later in which she expresses regret for her runaway heart. This 1956 New York Times Tea & Sympathy movie review sums it up well by saying,
"Because the letter at the end, which brings the story into a ten-years-later reminiscent frame, is so prudish and unnecessary, we strongly suggest that you leave after Miss Kerr has reached her hand gently toward the boy and spoken the unforgettably poignant line, "Years from now, when you talk about this—and you will—be kind."
Well, I was so taken by this movie that I started Googling around about it, and found some fabulous vintage movie posters.
I even found this book, which I would LOVE to get my hands on as a collector's item.
And what do you know, there is a Tea & Sympathy British tea house in Greenwich Village, NYC. This place looks so cool, should I ever visit New York, I must go here!
They have all these really unique teapots, including this Alice in Wonderland teapot. Would love to own it!
The menu looks wonderful, all kinds of things I'd love to try like Afternoon Tea for One which includes "Assorted finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry or raspberry jam. A selection of cakes. A pot of steaming hot tea." All for just $35, haha. I bet the tea is delicious. Even if it's not, I'll take the atmosphere. Oh, and deliveries are made in this authentic London cab. I wonder how much the delivery charge is to Ohio? :)
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I was actually raised on classic films while growing up in the 80's & 90's. My parents are great lovers of Classic Hollywood, and they definitely instilled that love and appreciation in me! I grew up singing and dancing right along with Ginger & Fred, Shirley Temple, Judy Garland and the like right in my living room - and even got made fun of for it by other kids! Around elementary age, I used to hold my little portable tape recorder up to the tv and record the songs from the movies I loved, then walk around listening to my prized tapes in my Walkman - could never understand why I couldn't get the other kids to like "my" music. Why would any kid in 1989 choose to listen to New Kids on The Block over my Meet Me In St. Louis home-recorded soundtrack? Even in high school, one of my favorite things to do was fake sick to stay home from school, lay on the couch, and watch TCM all day. :)
Now that I am old and wise, my admiration for the abundant talent evident during the golden days of Hollywood just keeps growing. It should be obvious that I'm slightly obsessed with Ginger Rogers, and oddly enough, it didn't come about through watching the Astaire/Rogers films. It happened one night several years ago when I caught Bachelor Mother on TCM, and was really struck by Ginger's acting ability in a movie which I was frankly quite surprised made it past the censors of the late 30's! I mean come on, the very idea that a single woman could even consider giving the appearance of having gotten knocked up and raising a child on her own in 1939 is pushing the envelope - hence the appeal of this movie for me! I thought Ginger (alongside David Niven) was adorable and spunky, and I feel this film really gave her an opportunity to show her "humaness."
Here's the trailer for Bachelor Mother (1939).
After being so impressed by her acting, I started watching every Ginger film I could get my hands (or remote control?) on. Just read a quote from Astaire the other day in which he graciously gave Ginger much of the credit for their partnership's success -
"Ginger was brilliantly effective. She made everything work for her. Actually she made things very fine for both of us and she deserves most of the credit for our success."
That was modest of him of course, because it was the magic & chemistry between both of them that was superb - but at the same time, I'm so glad he gave her props for her incredible talent and contribution to their pairing. There's just nothing like it.
As quoted from an August 14, 2009 New York Times article entitled They Seem to Find the Happiness They Seek, “You have this pretty girl and this far from handsome yet smoothly attractive guy, and the two of them join together to dance like nobody else, before or since, and some terrific music is playing much of the time, so what the hell, but wouldn’t it be great if life had more such moments: glamorous, romantic, elegant, yes, and uncomplicatedly happy.”
I've spent the evening browsing Blogger and have come across some really wonderful classic film blogs that I'm looking forward to linking up here soon. I'm especially happy to have found a handful of Ginger Rogers fans who have dug up some rare photos to share - I hope to be able to contribute to that treasure trove myself! I've had a great time watching some of the more rare Ginger films they've linked to - especially an early 1930 short called Office Blues from Finding Ginger's blog.
Ginger is so cute in this with that almost Betty Boop-ish late 20's/early 30's-style singing; she must've been about 18-years-old here. The ending would obviously not have made it past the censors later in the decade, those are my favorite to watch! Great find. A co-worker and I shared a good laugh over it at the office today - and then the song got stuck in our heads for a while. Catchy little tune.
Tonight, I will leave off with one of my favorite scenes from Swing Time, as Fred (Lucky) and Ginger (Penny) dance to keep Penny's job after Lucky has just feigned terrible ineptitude at dancing in order to get the lovely dance instructor Penny to consider him as a pupil in need of her tutelage. Too cute! The video is found here.