Friday, September 30, 2011

Those Creepy Pictures

When we left off with MorphThing.com, I combined images of Cary Grant and Marylin Monroe. The results were not kind. Monroe disappears and Grant sports lip rouge and a hairdo from the ghost of Einstein.

Who were those other helpless couples whose images I destroyed?

ClassicBecky guessed one half of two couples correctly. prettycleverfilmgal guessed one half of three couples correctly. Here are the answers.

This voluptuous pixie ready to chew your monitor is actually

Orson Welles and Deanna Durbin














This cleft-chinned character who smells something foul is a combo of

Bette Davis and Cary Grant











This delicate little rose is the product of


Gregory Peck and Mary Astor. They even share a part in thier hair.
















Thanks for playing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Laszlo's On Lex Blog Author, Gerald Stewart, Has Died

I can't stop crying. I've only just learned that Gerald Stewart of the Laszlo's on Lex blog died this summer. You can read Gerald's last post "Closing Time" here.


There have been a number of tributes.

I first began reading Laszlo's last November when someone's sidebar showcased the  Veteran's Day post. It is a very well-written tribute to Gerald's brothers-in-arms. I left a comment mentioning my recently deceased uncle - an Army veteran who introduced me to the joys of Gracie Allen- and Gerald reciprocated on my blog:
I came by to follow up on the story that you had told me about your relative whom you had not known was a veteran. They are and were the true guardians of our heritage. If he also influenced you in the direction of classic films, he has served more than one cause.
Gerald's words stayed with me for a long while.
The Deanna Durbin Photo that begat a generous email

The Stewarts noticed my Deanna Durbin blog header and I asked to pick Gerald's brain about what he remembered of Universal Studio's number one box office draw and how she influenced the culture. He replied that he wasn't into girls at the time, but his female relatives liked her movies. In lieu of a personal story, he emailed me the cover story of a film fan magazine that featured Ms. Durbin.

Dear Java:

I scanned in the Durbin article.... I did a test Emailing to myself and had trouble mailing given the size. 

I then went back and reduced the size of each graphic by half and did another test Emailing....

As I am unsure what you have on your device, I will do a test Emailing of the first four pages and wait until you advise if they have been received free of trouble....

If not, I can always download the pages to a CD and send by mail.

Hope it works. Best.

Gerald (Laszlo’s)

emphasis mine

That's right! Gerald - a complete stranger - scanned and uploaded seventeen pages of a fan magazine, tested and retested the email, and offered to send a CD just because he knew I had an interest in a particular film star's career.  The very next month Tom invited me to write for the Amazing Deanna Durbin blog, so Gerald's efforts helped me even before I knew I would need it.

I could not believe the generosity that was coming my way! I recall thinking, "This is how I would like my classic movie blogging to be - generous, beyond  the call of duty and thoroughly engaged."  Gerald inspired me not only in his well-written memories on Laszlo's but in the munificence behind a simple email.

You go about typing words into cyberspace and it feels like a game. Sometimes you forget that there are real people behind the blogs; that email was a reminder, as was the news of a fellow blogger's passing.

I'll leave you with a part of Gerald's Veteran's Day post that stayed with me last year:

Those at work, those in my family, those in that neighborhood bar, and those under whom I served in Germany are all gone now. But I will think about them for a while today...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Best Tango Ever!

Salome Otterbourne, author of romantic novels full of  "good, strong sex" here teaches Colonel Race the Tango "with a sensuous, erotic dash." The following video is from Death On The Nile (1978). The lady is, of course, Angela Lansbury leading David Niven around the dance floor.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Finally! A Chance to Lick Kirk Douglas!

[Not in that way.]

Today the United States Postal Service announced that it is looking for living persons to honor. Classic movies stars have long graced our nation's envelopes.  However, until today, film icons should have been dead for five years before being honored with a stamp.


The USPS  is seeking suggestions via facebook and twitter. Let's suggest Douglas as Michael "Midge" Kelly. Or Deanna Durbin. Or Jane Powell. The list is endless!


What classic film star, living or dead, would you like to see on a stamp? 


You can read the list of movie stars they've already honored here: Katharine Hepburn Graces A Stamp. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hollywood Revue: Film Fashion Blogathon: Auntie Mame (1958)

Mame Dennis changes fashion styles almost as often as she changes her mood. Rosalind Russell plays an eccentric 20th century New Yorker in Auntie Mame(1958), whose so dedicated to style that even her house is an extension of her wardrobe and gets appropriate and timely facelifts as well.


It's the 1920s and we meet Mame for the first time at one of her wild house parties. We instantly know that this woman is a sophisticate who shuns convention, not only because of the odd ducks at her party, and not because she orders bootleg gin during Prohibition, but because of her outfit. In a day when ladies of a certain age received guests almost exclusively in dresses, Mame wears black beaded lounging pants with orange beaded robe and Mandarin collar. She handles an outrageously long cigarette holder from which she never puffs. Cigarettes are an accessory for this character.


Mame wears her version of a smoking jacket in aubergine
When Mame begins her memoirs, her wardrobe (and house) becomes slightly masculine and filled with autumnal colors. Mame bounces about the house dictating the book to her secretary in a bow tie and tailor-made aubergine smoking jacket that nips in at the waist to display her feminine curves. She has emotionally and physically linked herself with another character through fashion, since the mildly androgynous outfit mimics the beige lounging jacket worn by her co-author, Brian.
Mame's co-author wears smoking jacket

A second feminine smoking jacket, this time with ascot
At the end of the second act - still writing her book, a bust of Shakespeare in the corner - she wears a slim, floor length, bronze smoking jacket with ascot, under which she wears matching metallic slacks that catches the light. It's a deliberate contrast to her secretary's matte brown outfit with orthopedic oxfords.

Instructing her timid secretary to get out more, Mame exclaims, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death... Live!" Flinging  the skirts  over her shoulder, Mame races up the curved staircase shouting, "Live!" It's a dramatic ensemble that effectively leaves the second act on a high note.

We see Mame's extravagant wardrobe throughout the film so that during her lean years, after the stock market crash, the difference in style is noticeable. Instead of the usual furs, jewels, opulent hairstyles and whatnot, Mame now wears a nondescript, dark, ankle-length wool coat over a plain navy blue dress as she hunts down odd jobs.

Mame and the maid share a moment and a collar style
Mame, however, is not entirely superficial in Rosalind Russell's portrayal of the character, and the film uses wardrobe to showcase her capacity to love. When her nephew scrapes together some cash to buy her a fake diamond bracelet when they are broke, the heiress tearfully cries, "That's the most beautiful bracelet I ever owned."

Her dress in this scene sports a scalloped Peter Pan collar that looks strikingly similar to the maid's collar. This not only suggests that her income bracket is now similar to that of the servant's, it also again links her emotionally to the family of non-relatives with which she surrounds herself. She's still the fun-loving, welcoming person no matter the circumstances.


Meeting Patrick's trustee in a beige suit and "halo"
Mame is very much aware of her idiosyncrasies. It's as if the world truly is  her stage and she's a player trodding the boards. When Mame is about to meet the officious trustee for her nephew, she hurriedly braids a switch to mimic a halo, and dons a conservative beige suit and pearls; she's acting the part of a dowdy society matron to gain the man's trust. It works.

Backless widow's weeds
After marrying then losing her husband in a freak accident, Mame sports widow's weeds as only she can - with a bouquet of flowers sewn on her back side. It's a neat little surprise  for the audience when the grieving widow turns around. She's not changed a bit even in grief. And we like her that way.







 -------------------------------
This post is a part of the Fashion in Film Blogathon sponsored by Hollywood Revue. Click here to read the other contributions to the blogathon!

8 Autumn-Themed Classic Movies

It's time to fold away your sun-scorched skin and fall into a pile of leaves. Autumn is upon us. Let's catch up on classic movies featuring the fall season.

[Click the titles for movie trailers or movie excerpts]

The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1952)
The Affairs of Dobie Gillis
Before he attended high school on television, Dobie Gillis attended college in this movie starring Bobby Van and Debbie Reynolds. He starts the fall semester joining certain classes just to be near a certain girl. That's what higher education was all about in many early to mid- 20th century musicals.

Autumn Leaves
Contemplating the autumn of her life, Joan Crawford has a May-December romance [actually, more of an August-October affair] with Clift "Kahuna" Robertson. But his father, Lorne "The Progenitor of All Rough-Hewn Dudes" Greene, has something to say about the matter.

Come September
This comedy of international romance between Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobridgida might not be the first movie you think of for autumn since it is mostly set in a sun-lit Italian villa. However, the time frame is the dog days of summer and the first of fall. (It's hilarious, by the way.)


Father Was a Fullback
Fred MacMurray can't catch a break. The college football team he coaches is losing, his younger daughter just came home with a black eye, and his teenaged daughter has decided to "mature" into a minimalist. Thelma Ritter is on hand to crack jokes.

Good News(1947)
In this musical, Tait College's quarterback (Peter Lawford) must pass a foreign language exam to play in the big game this fall. Lawford sings like he's passing a gallstone, but his French is music to my ears.


Too Many Girls (1940)
It's the first film in which both Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz appear. It's all about the goings-on at a southwestern school. The plot doesn't matter - boy gets girl and that's really it. Watch for co-ed Ann Miller's dancing.

The Trouble With Harry (1955)
Shirley McLaine must deal with an anonymous dead guy found among maple leaves that match her hair.  This is a dark comedy by Alfred Hitchcock.
 
Young Ideas (1943)
Two kids (Susan Peters and my crush from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Elloitt Reid) enroll into college to please their new stepfather (Herbert Marshall) who is a professor. This gives the man a false sense of security as the boy and girl plot to break up his marriage and have their mother all to themselves again. Mary Astor -yet again playing someone's mother-  is the coveted prize.


---------------------------------------




Thursday, September 22, 2011

Marilyn Monroe's Son with Cary Grant...

...might have looked like this:




I've just found the website Morphthing.com and  combined this photo









with this one.











It's a fun little time waster.
                                                                    



Here are three more. Who are their parents?



Update: The answers are here: Those Creepy Pictures

Sunday, September 18, 2011

CMBA Guilty Pleasures Blogathon: How To Murder Your Wife (1965)

Perpetual bachelor Stanley Ford (Jack Lemmon) wakes up married to the stripper (Virna Lisi) in his friend's cake. Her presence interrupts his routine, thus Stanley must get rid of her.

How To Murder Your Wife (1965) is written by prolific comedy writer and Broadway author George Axelrod. The writer who penned the tale of an itchy married man who wants to scratch while the wife's away now brings the tale of an angry married man who desperately wants to put his wife away. Permanently.

What could be good about How To Murder Your Wife?  Three things: Terry-Thomas, the tunes and the townhouse.

TERRY-THOMAS

In this film the wife is simple, the husband's a jerk, his lawyer's a pain and the lawyer's wife is a nag. The only person worth your time is Terry-Thomas as the butler, Charles, who refuses to work for married couples.  He's a jerk as well, but somehow, even with a limited amount of screen time, he's funnier than anyone else.
Charles is disgusted!

It is partly Charles' ultimatum and Stanley's desire not to lose a good manservant that catapults our "hero" to action, thinking of ways to rid himself of his lovely wife. Terry-Thomas is the king of indignation and is perfectly cast since the entire plot largely hinges on Charles' disdain for married females. Think of him as a slightly less discriminating Henry Higgins type.

The veteran character actor's elastic face helps here as well. Charles prances about the house glorying in all the testosterone, the corners of his mouth pent to his ears like a Cheshire cat. Discovering there is a missus in the house, the pins pop out and his mouth slowly slides like melting mustache wax. His scowl is hilarious!

THE TUNES


Helping the audience feel the characters' pain is composer Neal Hefti. Hefti is one of a long list of musicians/composers who imbues music for 1960s movies and television with its unique sound.

Each main character in Wife has a theme, but my favorite is the noble little funeral march called "Charles Packs His Bags." It's heard under the footsteps of Stanley's misogynistic butler as he walks towards the door - luggage in hand, nose in the air - protesting his employer's nuptials.  Here the composer of TV's classic "Batman" theme song brings vivacity and humor to an otherwise gruesome tale.

Charles storms out. Nicely placed portrait of a female rests between them

The soundtrack for Wife is not so avant-garde as to be intrusive; it stays comfortably in the background underscoring little gestures. But neither is it a wallflower at this party. The music is partly romantic, partly snappy and jazzy. You keep thinking "Doesn't that sound like a couple of bars from the 'Odd Couple' show?," and "Wow! This is right up there with Henri Mancini and Quincy Jones."

It's a bad movie with an outstanding score.


THE TOWNHOUSE

 
You've got an unapologetically offensive (and thus comical) manservant and you've got great music, but this film wouldn't be half as entertaining without the sumptuous and modern trappings. Stanley Ford lives in a beautiful three story townhouse right in the middle of New York City. With skyscrapers all around, Charles declares, "Look at us! The last stronghold of gracious living in a world gone mad! Mad!"

He's right.
Ford. Stanley Ford.
Near the beginning of the movie, the camera follows Charles as he gives the audience a tour of his employer's opulent but tasteful bachelor pad. The butler looks squarely into the camera, gives a toothy grin and purrs that all of this could have been yours had you poor souls remained unmarried.

And what a pad it is! Married or single, male or female, you will love this house!

A little antagonism in the kitchen. But that exposed brick is to die for!
Spiral staircases, a butler's pantry with floor to ceiling cupboards and drawers, dark wood finishes, a workspace with artfully arranged clutter and a shower with a panopticon array of nozzles that automatically adjust the water to your preferred temperature. Utopia!
Gorgeous! And the guys look good too.

It all comes crashing down, figuratively, when the missus begins redecorating. You can almost hear that famous musical misogynist, Professor Higgins, singing

But! Let a woman in your life,
And your serenity is through.
She'll redecorate your home
from the cellar to the dome,
Then go to the enthralling fun
Of overhauling you.

Seriously, the townhouse is another star in this piece, one that deserves appreciation. Perhaps you should watch How To Murder Your Wife with the sound off. You'll miss the wonderful music, but not having to hear a bunch of idiots rant against women might improve the plot.




This post is a part of the CMBA Guilty Pleasures Movie Blogathon. Click here for the other posts in this 3-day blogathon.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Kathryn Grayson Battles to the Death singing "Bell Song" from Lakme

An opera fan has an excerpt of Kathryn Grayson's performance of Delibes' "Bell Song" from Lakme. The piece is placed among 29 other such presentations performed  by Lily Pons, Natalie Dessay, Mady Mesple and others.
[My favorite is Mesple's since she doesn't seem to be trying so hard to hit those notes.]

Ms. Grayson appears in part 2 at 5:42.



Kathryn Grayson's part was taken from a dream sequence in the movie It Happened In Brooklyn (1947). You can see her rendition in its entirety here: The Bell Song (Où va la jeune Indoue?) - Kathryn Grayson

Saturday, September 03, 2011

On Our Merry Way (1948) - a Meredith film without enough Burgess in it

Anthology films are often irritating. One movie composed of a series of short films tied together with one theme can be aggravating. Although you get a sampling of many actors' talents, you also never get enough of your favorite stars.

One such film is On Our Merry Way (1948) starring Burgess Meredith as Oliver Pease, a reporter who goes about asking random people "how has a baby influenced your life?," or some such question. Then the movie takes a detour into the lives of various characters as they answer the question. Oliver ends up talking to James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Dorothy Lamour... Forget it! Here's the list of people.

But the most interesting story is that of Oliver and his wife Martha (Paulette Goddard).
Two Sleepy People

The movie is at its best before Oliver sets out on his quest, when the script is introducing us to the couple.The doorbell awakens a groggy Oliver in his crowded, little New York flat. He answers the door and has a short spat with the newspaper boy. ("Keep the change." "There ain't any." "Keep it anyway.") He climbs back into bed only to have the alarm clock go off. The scene is like one of those Robert Benchley reels about a guy who just can't catch a break.

"Don't tell me. It's a view of a tulip bed in Holland..."
Oliver and Martha begin their daily routine - he showers, she makes breakfast, all the while bantering and cracking jokes.  
Oliver: When is the common man going to catch up to your style of painting?
Martha: You just did.
Oliver: In spite of your insults, I love your wit, I love your paintings, but most of all, I love... your coffee.
They are such a charming couple, but we get only about 10 minutes with them.
Shaving at the breakfast table

Martha gives him a new idea for a man-on-the-street column and expects to see it in the newspaper. This is what starts the guy on his journey. We later discover that Oliver has lied about his occupation and his salary and that he has gambling debts. These are just the catalysts which propel him from one vignette to another. Will he eventually become a real reporter? Will the racetrack goon to whom he owes money catch him and beat him up? Will his wife find out? All that jazz. It's really an early sitcom.

Despite such luminaries as Fred MacMurray and William Demarest later on in the mix, after about 15 minutes into the film I became nostalgic for the Pease apartment and the fun the newlyweds seem to be having. Why couldn't the film exclusively follow Oliver and Martha?

Oh well. Perhaps since Meredith was busy producing the film, his marked absence from his own movie can be excused.... Nah.

Dear Java: Which Deanna Durbin Movies Are Available?

Java's Journey received an inquiry from R. Chow in the comments section of the 1981 Photo of Deanna Durbin:

I am able to buy only half of Deanna Durbin's movies in DVD. I wonder where I can buy her other DVD movies. I enjoy her movies because [they are] are direct, simple and beautiful. 
Thanks, R. Chow. I completely agree that the allure of Ms. Durbin's films is in their simplicity. I'm glad to meet another fan of Deanna Durbin.

On to your question.



DEANNA DURBIN ON DVD

Since you have about half of Deanna Durbin's films on DVD, you have all that are available in that format.

Deanna Durbin made 21 feature films for Universal Studios and 1 short subject for MGM. Only 11 Durbin feature films are on DVD. (Please note that all DVD information on this post refers to Region 1 DVDs)






  • Universal released The Sweetheart Pack in 2004. It is a set of six Deanna Durbin films on DVD: Three Smart Girls, Something in the Wind, First Love, It Started With Eve, Can't Help Singing and Lady on a Train. You can buy it at the studio's website, TCM.com , Amazon.com or in stores.





    •  In August 2010, Universal banded together with Turner Classic Movies to release another set of Durbin films in the Deanna Durbin: The Music and Romance Collection. Five DVDs are in this set: Mad About the Music, That Certain Age, Three Smart Girls Grow Up, Because of Him and For the Love of Mary. These films are available as a set or individually at TCM.com and on Amazon.com.





    DEANNA DURBIN ON VHS

    VHS cover for 3 Smart Girls
    Although there are only 11 official Durbin DVDs, there are 18 feature length Durbin movies on VHS. Some movies are available in both formats.

    In 1995, Durbin's movies were made available for home viewing for the first time. According to this Washington Post article from January 24, 1995, Universal released four Durbin movies on VHS : Three Smart Girls, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Three Smart Girls Grow Up and It Started With Eve. Universal would later release more Durbin films throughout the late 1990s.

    According to the interview in this 1995 article, Universal Studios owns the rights to all Deanna Durbin feature films. However, MGM/UA released It's A Date (1940) on VHS on September 1, 1998, suggesting the competing studio might now own the rights to that film.

    By 1999, the grand total for Deanna Durbin feature films on VHS from both studios was 18 in all. They are available at Amazon.com. 

    VHS - MGM's release of It's a Date

    Contact Universal for more information and to request that the remainder of Durbin's films be released on DVD.

    Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    100 Universal City Plaza Universal Studios, CA. 91608
    General Phone: 818.508.9600
    www.universalstudios.com

    Contact MGM about It's a Date (1940)
    MGM Studios
    10250 Constellation Boulevard Los Angeles, CA. 9006
    Phone for DVD Questions: 888-223-2369

    Just for the sake of clarity, the following is a list of all Durbin films (and the short subject), whether they are officially available for home viewing and in what format: DVD or VHS. Click the titles for more information on the movie.

    LIST OF DEANNA DURBIN FILMS

    VHS cover for 100 Men & a Girl
    EVERY SUNDAY(1936) 
    Deanna Durbin's 11 minute short subject is owned by MGM and co-stars Judy Garland; you'll find it on the two following Garland films.

    Available on DVD? Yes.  A bonus feature on For Me and My Gal (1942)
    Available on VHS? Yes.  A bonus feature on Summer Stock (1950)

    THREE SMART GIRLS (1936)

    Available on DVD? Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1995


    ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL (1937)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1995.

    MAD ABOUT MUSIC (1938) 
    Available on DVD? Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music and Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1996.

    THAT CERTAIN AGE (1938)
    Available on DVD? Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music and Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1997.

    THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (1939) 
    Available on DVD? Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music and Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1995

    VHS cover for It Started With Eve
    FIRST LOVE (1939)
    Available on DVD? Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1996.

    IT’S A DATE(1940)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MGM/UA in 1998.


    SPRING PARADE (1940)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? No.

    NICE GIRL?(1941)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1997.

    IT STARTED WITH EVE(1941)
    Available on DVD?Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1995

    THE AMAZING MRS. HOLLIDAY (1943) 
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by Universal in 1999.


    HERS TO HOLD (1943)
    Available on DVD? No.
    VHS cover for His Butler's Sister
    Available on VHS? No.

    HIS BUTLER’S SISTER(1943)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1996

    CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY(1944) 
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? No.


    CAN’T HELP SINGING(1944)
    Available on DVD? Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1997.

    LADY ON A TRAIN(1945)
    Available on DVD? Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1996.

    BECAUSE OF HIM(1946) 
    Available on DVD?Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music & Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by Universal in 1999.
    VHS cover for Up In Central Park

    I’LL BE YOURS(1947)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by Universal in 1999.


    SOMETHING IN THE WIND(1947)
    Available on DVD?Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1998.


    UP IN CENTRAL PARK(1948)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1998.


    FOR THE LOVE OF MARY (1948)
    Available on DVD?Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music and Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1998.
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