Cruises in Classic Movies

Since TCM is hosting a cruise, let's celebrate!  Below are links to blog posts around the blogosphere that feature classic movies and cruising.


You, also, may enter a link below.

Bon Voyage!

Quote of the Day: Louis B. Mayer


The sign of a clever auteur is to achieve the illusion that there is a sole individual responsible for magnificent creations that require thousands of people to accomplish.

Anchors Aweigh (1945) and the Real Life Seaman



While the Allied forces invaded Normandy, Gene Kelly prepped for his next film - Anchors Aweigh. Kelly was always professional during the production of a movie, but at this time his mind was constantly on the war. Still, the actor had a film to make - a film that would become a classic.

Anchors Aweigh follows two sailors (Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra) on shore leave in Hollywood who meet a waitress from Brooklyn (Pamela Britton) and a movie extra (Kathryn Grayson) who aspires to play lead roles. The plot is your basic boy-meets-girl which strings together spectacular musical numbers. We wouldn't have it any other way! Kelly dances, Grayson sings, Sinatra croons, Britton is charming, Jose Iturbi graces the screen with his amazing musical virtuosity and even cartoon legends Tom and Jerry share screen time with Kelly.

The film was released in summer 1945. The following year, Kelly garnered a Best Actor nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his role in the musical. To this day, the number featuring Jerry the Mouse in an animation/ live action dance duo with Kelly is mind-blowingly innovative.


However, behind the fun and glitz is a story with a bit more gravitas.


Kelly wanted to enlist during the outbreak of war but was initially told he could serve his country in a greater capacity performing for the troops at home, selling war bonds and being a morale booster in the movies. This, in part, accounts for the constant run of escapist fantasies from MGM and other studios at the time, including Anchors Aweigh.

But Kelly was restless. By 1944, the actor was accepted into the U.S. Navy and was to be inducted in November of that year.

According to the American Film Institute, the actor had finished with his role in Christmas Holiday with Deanna Durbin by March of 1944. Production for Anchors Aweigh would begin in June. Considering Kelly is the lead and is featured in over six songs or musical numbers and his induction date is fast approaching, the actor had to work like mad on the movie.

According to Photoplay Magazine, November 1945:
Out in Hollywood, a year ago, [Stanley Donen] had witnessed Gene’s frantic struggles to get Anchors Aweigh finished before entering the Navy – with everything possible going wrong at the last minute. The three big dance numbers for the picture were still unfilmed only a few days before Gene was due to report to his Naval Training Station, and by the time those days were over, Gene had run so difficult an obstacle course of his own, that the Navy obstacle course looked like a mere trifle!

Gene danced steadily, day and night, those last hectic days – with the painters on strike, the Cartoon Dance Song unwritten until the night before the dance was shot and recorded, and finally with a blood clot in his hand. This last blow came with the Tango Dance number. The rose thrown to him gracefully by Kathryn Grayson had a lead wire for a stem and it caught him as thoroughly as he caught it.

But he simply had to go on ahead of the Navy. So while the exhausted cameraman shot around his swollen hand, Gene went on dancing – until he got a charley-horse in one leg. Then he still went on dancing, getting the numbers on film hour after hour throughout the days and nights before he had to report for duty. By the time he reached San Diego in uniform his hand was bandaged, he was limping badly and his voice had sunk to a mere whisper.

But, though Gene was almost a hospital case, one of the most successful musical comedies ever made was finished – and while Gene was beginning his new life, the picture was delighting audiences all over the world. 

Modern Screen takes a more moving approach to the behind-the-scenes of Anchors Aweigh, by including Kelly's wife Betsy and reminding the reader that this couple is about to be parted - perhaps forever - like thousands of other wartime families. From May 1945:

Betsy was in New York when Gene got the nod from his Uncle Sam. She’d been expecting it right along. But, like so many things in life, it happened at the one moment when she wasn’t expecting it. Because everything had been arranged for Gene to go overseas and entertain the troops as soon as he’d finished Anchors Aweigh. That’s why she was in New York, seeing about a play… …he phoned. She knew right away what it was, because he wouldn’t phone except about something important…

Her main feeling was: Here I’ve wasted three weeks in New York, when I could have been with Gene…He met her at the airport. Neither of them said much. Gene hates what he calls slush. Besides, he’d been ready, willing and able for a long time. Betsy doesn’t suppose many men leap with joy exactly when their time comes – especially when they’re married and have children…almost the worst thing for Gene would be leaving Kerry…On the other hand he was infinitely better off than lots of fathers who’d never seen their children at all…

They didn’t have long days together before Gene left, because he was working like mad on the cartoon number of Anchors Aweigh. To get it done, he had to work nights and Sundays. Every evening Betsy’d go to the studio and have dinner with him. They liked it that way – doing the things they’d always done, not trying to cram the time with a lot of gay fun that wouldn’t have come natural anyway…
Modern Screen notes that when coming home on furlough, Kelly in uniform does not look odd to his wife since he had worn a uniform for so long during the filming of Anchors Aweigh. The next time  you watch this man pirouetting in a seaman's costume with a cartoon mouse, remember he is a guy "bucking to go," as he would later say, and ready to don the uniform in real life.



This post was written for the Classic Movie Blog Association's Gene Kelly Centennial Blogathon
See more articles at this address: http://clamba.blogspot.com/2012/04/gene-kelly-centenarian-blogathon-august.html

Singin' in the Rain (1952) Encore Presentation August 2012


Singin' in the Rain (1952) comes to theaters in an encore presentation on Wednesday August 22, 2012 at  2pm and 7pm (local time).


Turner Classic Movies brings to the big screen the classic Betty Comden-Adolph Green musical about a 1920s silent screen star who must learn to reinvent himself when sound is introduced in films.

Gene Kelly plays our protagonist in this the 60th anniversary of the award-winning film. Debbie Reynolds and Jean Hagen battle for the handsome Lothario and Donald O'Connor is on hand to make 'em laugh.

Go to FathomEvents.com for tickets and details.

More on Gene Kelly:
Gene Kelly, Attorney at Law?
Gene Kelly's 100th Birthday Celebration
The Three Tenors Pay Tribute to Gene Kelly 
Quote of the Day: Gene Kelly



Gene Kelly, Attorney at Law?

While Cary Grant was doing wrong to Mae West, while Katharine Hepburn frolicked about with Paul Lukas and while a giant latex gorilla stormed the Empire State Building,  21 year old Gene Kelly -  the future cinematic legend - was far away from Tinseltown, entering the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, according to the book Ex-Lawyer.

 via

Kelly discovered within the first semester of  law school that being an attorney was not as he had imagined. According to a 1994 interview with Graham Fuller, Kelly notes,
 “Then I went into law school. I was there a month and I realized that it wasn't about being Clarence Darrow, so I quit that and continued to teach dance for another five, six years. ”

From there the dancer lit up Broadway with his singular talents, then Hollywood came a-knocking.

What would the world have been like had Gene Kelly decided to stick with law? I guess we would not have missed what we did not know was around. Still, you wonder...

Gene Kelly's 100th Birthday Celebration!


CLAMBA is hosting a Gene Kelly Centennial Blogathon this week in honor of the movie legend who's just gotta dance.

It begins Monday August 20th and ends Saturday August 25th. Watch for my contribution on August 23rd - Kelly's actual natal day!

For a list of who else is participating, go to this link: http://clamba.blogspot.com/2012/04/gene-kelly-centenarian-blogathon-august.html

Also, TCM and Fathom Events is hosting an encore presentation of Kelly's Singin' in the Rain in theaters August 22nd. Visit them online to find out where to watch this gem in a cinema near you: http://www.fathomevents.com/classics/event/tcm_singinintherain.aspx?d=8/22/2012

Quote of the Day: Katharine Hepburn


Who is Katharine Hepburn? It took me a long time to create that creature.
- Katharine Hepburn

More Than You Know: An Open Letter to Judy Garland from Billy Rose


News articles about Judy Garland circa 1949 and 1950 are terribly depressing. More than one article chronicles her cry for help, her delays on Annie Get Your Gun, Summer Stock and Royal Wedding, her possible break up from MGM, her definite break up and make up with Minnelli,  her fight with "plumpness," and her exhaustion.


Thus, it was like finding an oasis in the desert of negative rhetoric, when I stumbled across the following article from September 1, 1950. It is an open letter to Judy Garland written by Broadway producer and lyricist Billy Rose for his syndicated column, "Pitching Horseshoes."
Click the picture to enlarge


Rose recounts how watching Garland's latest movie, Summer Stock, lifted him out of his own funk. He says in part,

"You see, Judy, I hadn't seen you on the screen in quite a while, and I had almost fogotten [sic] how all-fired good you are. I found your portrayal of a farm girl in 'Summer Stock' as convincing as a twenty-dollar gold peice, and when you leveled on Harold Arlen's old song, ' Get Happy' - well, it was Al Jolson in lace panties, Maurice Chevalier in opera pumps! From credit flash to fadeout, I was happy when you were happy and weepy when you were weepy, and by the time the picture was over, Babydoll, you had turned my personal jim-jams into Jim-dandies.

.... Well, like everyone else, I read the front-page stories about you a couple of months back, and from the lines between the lines I sensed that you had been having a bout of the jim-jams yourself....

It gets down to this Judy: In an oblique and daffy sort of way, you are as much a national asset as our coal reserves - both of you help to warm up our insides....

It's probably silly of me to address you as if you were a two-bit Joan of Arc, but to my bedazzled eyes that's about the way you shape up in the entertainment world. And that's why I'm hoping that by the time you wind up your vacation at Lake Tahoe you'll have licked whatever was bothering you and be rarin' to strut your stuff again before the cameras."

This is an experienced and concerned showman in his own gentle way telling the 29 year old star, "Buck up, kid; you're more important than you know. Now get to work." His self-conscious use of the words "daffy," "silly" and "two-bit," to describe his own letter makes this personal note even more endearing.

Garland would later receive more bad press about her health, career and finances, but for one brief moment, someone reached out to help her.

Quote of the Day: Doris Day



[On recording "Secret Love" for the movie Calamity Jane (1953)]:

When I first heard "Secret Love" I almost fainted, it was so beautiful. When we finally got around to doing the pre-recording, Ray Heindorf, the musical director at Warner's, said he'd get the musicians in about 12:30 so they could rehearse. That morning I did my vocal warm-up, then jumped on my bike and rode over to Warner's - we lived in Toluca Lake at the time, which was just minutes from the studio. When I got there I sang the song with the orchestra for the first time. When I'd finished, Ray called me into the sound booth, grinning from ear to ear, and said, "That's it. You're never going to do it better." That was the first and only take we did.

Doris Day

Quote of the Day: Vivien Leigh


Some critics saw fit to say that I was a great actress. I thought that was a foolish, wicked thing to say because it put such an onus and such a responsibility onto me, which I simply wasn't able to carry.
                                                                                   Vivien Leigh

White Christmas Onstage (or the Misadventures of a Night at the Theater)

What a treat!  Java’s family is meeting out of town for Thanksgiving and close by is the national tour of White Christmas on stage.  Yea!  After an early dinner, Java inquires about going to the play. 

“Would anyone like to attend one of the greatest, funniest, feel-good, laugh-out-loud, family-friendly, classic movies adapted for the stage?!”

“Not really.”

“Oh.”

“But have fun.” 

Maybe she oversold it. 

Slightly disappointed but undaunted, Java drives on alone still excited. She’s finally seeing a show that’s been on her wish list for years! Visions of footlights, dry ice, and stage snow dance in her head.

But what’s this? Nature calls and there is no relief for miles. The woods? No. She’s sure a stalker lurks behind every oak tree waiting to prey on people who drive to theaters without thinking of “going” before they go.

(Have you ever searched around for a rest stop forty minutes before the curtain rises near a strange town on a holiday weekend when everything is closed? Oh, you haven’t? Well, it’s no walk in the park. In fact you’re not walking at all; you’re running. Everywhere. And you hope not to lose your dignity on the way.)

Surging ahead, Java makes it to the theater before the overture. Victory! Searching for her seat, she notices a man sitting with his wife (sixty-ish), but flirting with two blondes (twenty-ish), with one seat between the two couples. That one is Java’s seat. She greets everyone. They all respond jovially, except the guy.

“Good evening,” Java says. 

“Harrumph.”

“Guess I’m the cock blocker tonight,” she thinks to herself. At this point she has weathered imaginary tree stalkers, found relief where there is none, driven alone to a strange town and made it to her seat before the conductor can tap his wand thingy. 

“I’m here to watch White Christmas,” she muses. “No one can ruin my mood, not even the Scrooge in row A seat 4!”

Java smiles. He turns his back on her and his knees toward his companion for the rest of the evening. 

“Well, maybe I saved his marriage.”

They all watch the play; it is absolutely charming. A faithful stage adaptation of a film with a few changes for flavor. 

The bold, black, velvet gown with silver pin on the back that Rosemary Clooney wears during the “Love (You Didn’t Do Right By Me)” number, is recreated for the stage in long flowing black satin with a black and silver ruched satin train. It looks like this:
Well, it sort of looks like this.
Java internally squeals! The costume designer knows that rabid classic movie fans will be here with pen and paper, taking notes, and making sure everything is just right! 

“I love this play,” she says. 

The show is so lovable that everyone in the audience sings the title song at the end (even Scrooge).Grinning with the contentment that one has when a remake is in good hands, Java leaves town to return to her family. 

“What a great day,” she says to herself, smiling. Just then her car stalls on the side of the wooded highway and nature calls for the second time. 

Here we go again.

Quote of the Day: Laurence Olivier

If I wasn't an actor, I think I'd have gone mad. You have to have extra voltage, some extra temperament to reach certain heights. Art is a little bit larger than life - it's an exhalation of life and I think you probably need a little touch of madness. - Laurence Olivier

Is it possible for an entertainer today to have a career like Fred Astaire's?

Is it possible for an entertainer today to have a career like Fred Astaire's?

An interviewer once posed a similar question to Tony Award-winning dancer/choreographer Savion Glover, who answered in the affirmative.

Glover might be right.
 
I'm stepping on a few toes, but here is why.

Without performances on film, Astaire might have been just another talented, but forgotten, stage performer. It's not just skill, star quality, elegance and choreographic innovation that makes Astaire a legend; aggressive marketing then and now, his handlers' careful honing of his public persona, movies revisited in perpetuity etc., all create that image we know and love.

A talented, present day entertainer might be just as great, innovative and - with the growth of the internet-  iconic.

Just a thought.

Is it possible for an entertainer today to have a career like Fred Astaire's? What do you think?




P.S. Then again, maybe not. There's one thing about movies in Astaire's time that we do not have now - most were meant for the entire family, a wide age range. Now the market is fragmented. Getting a huge chunk of people to like any one thing is harder... but not impossible.

Roger Ebert states in an interview with the Archive of American Television that, "Films are important because they are the art form of the twentieth century. They are the most serious of the mass arts (because even theater is not a mass art).They effect the way people think and feel and behave."

Though it has not supplanted films, the internet is fast fitting the above description. With the rise of the web, I think we are due for a breakout, innovative internet star akin to Fred Astaire in the early days of cinema.

Java's Journey Meets The New York Post

Java's Journey was mentioned in the New York Post on August 1, 2012! Well, sorta.

Lou Lumenick, the Post's chief film critic,  recently published an article about a showing of a Deanna Durbin film.

Lumenick does not specifically use this blog's name, but see the picture below? The words in blue -"her only interview"- are a hyperlink to the Durbin interview page on this blog!

Update November 2013
[They've since taken down the post. You can see the link in the Way Back Machine at this address: http://web.archive.org/web/20120827011909/http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/movies/revival_circuit_christmas_in_july_UfAmi9HKdQOyHY5fb0wD1I]


Click  picture to enlarge

Crazy, right?  I love the interwebs!

Debbie Reynolds Blogs!



Well, her representatives blog for her, and that's cool too.

The official - Official, mind you!- Debbie Reynolds website contacted yours truly to check out the new blog on Ms. Reynolds' website: http://debbiereynolds.com/blog/

It's good. The blog does not focus on Ms. Reynolds, per say, but if a film mentioned in the blog post has a costume or prop in the Debbie Reynolds collection, they say so.

My favorite blog post so far is Ten Leslie Howard Films You Should See. I'll admit to giving Howard a chance only recently. Ashley Wilkes is Leslie Howard or vice versa, was my thought. Boy, was I wrong!

Though the blog is good, I'm hoping it will focus a little more on the star herself and utilize a bit more of she to whom they have access - Debbie Reynolds.

Check out the blog here and tell me what you think.

Saying Hello to an Old Friend

Isn't it great to be on a road trip and unexpectedly bump into an old friend? That's what happened to Java today. As we perused the big box, general goods store in this town, I ran into Edward Everett Horton. Or rather his image on a package.

He is pictured holding a shoe and a cloth on a packet of on-the-go shoe shine materials. I was so stunned and pleased that I quickly snapped a picture on my phone.

The Decent Man's Grooming Tools collection is a part of the Hollywood Fashion Secrets Company. The copy reads"Shoe Shine Wipes: Because Men Love Their Shoes."

I absolutely love this concept! I love this new fad for selling products to guys with images of well-dressed men from the past. (The Art of Manliness Webzine comes to mind.) Whether or not we at the Classic Movie Blog Association have influenced this new marketing ploy, I hope this trend stays around for a very long time. I love the packaging.


[By the way, my eyes are not deceiving me, are they? That is Edward Everett Horton, is it not? Being on the road, I might be going through classic movie withdrawal symptoms. Somebody get me 300 ccs of intravenous Turner Classic Movies! Stat! ]
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