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How To Dress Like a Freakin’ Grown-Ass Man

If you’re a regular reader of my humble blog, then it probably comes as no surprise to you that I think a vast majority (read: 99%) of my generation is nothing more than a bunch of shallow, horrendous barbarians. Not only do they behave like barbarians (spitting on the street, fighting in public, smoking in people’s faces, collapsing drunk on the sidewalks, cursing around children, publicly flaunting their complete and utter stupidity like it’s something to be proud of, etc.) but they also DRESS like barbarians. Nowadays, it’s considered okay to walk around with your pants down to your knees while wearing a XXXL t-shirt that has some ugly pattern on it. What happened to the days in which people, you know, actually cared about the way they dressed? I’m a big sucker for men who take pride in their appearance, who meticulously groom themselves until they are so clean and neat you could eat off them. This isn’t bragging, but I do tend to dress elegantly, or even luxuriously, on a daily basis, and it would be an absolute dream to meet a man who can match me in that respect. Too bad they are like a rare and gorgeous species basically on the verge of extinction.

However, there is a side of me that is stupidly hopeful about many things. Maybe, if I write a post about it, some men will take notice of it and make an effort to bring some class and elegance into the mostly abysmal human race. Luckily, I study men’s fashion just as seriously as I study women’s fashion. As you can see, I don’t discriminate. So, here’s my little crash course on how to dress like a grown, mature man. Because boys, you need all the help you can get.

The Basics

I know it’s silly to have to say this, but CLEANLINESS IS IMPORTANT, GUYS. It’s more important than anything else I will write in this post. Unfortunately, I’ve met quite a few boys who think showering is an option. BUT. IT. ISN’T. Shower every single flippin’ day. Use goddamn deodorant. They don’t have it in stores for decoration. It’s for you to use, embrace, enjoy.
Body hair isn’t really a big problem, because boys are supposed to be hairy, right? However, that doesn’t mean you should look like a gorilla. If you have back hair, get rid of it right now. If you have an unsightly unibrow, tweeze that thing until you get two eyebrows. It’s not unmanly to tweeze. You don’t want to be mistaken as a primate by an a big game hunter one day and locked up in a zoo somewhere.
It’s also not unmanly to take care of your nails. Nothing makes me shudder quite like seeing a man with long nails. It looks filthy. Trim all nail growth and file those nails smooth. And DON’T BITE YOUR NAILS. Do you know how much bacteria you’re putting into your mouth?!

Get a Tailor

Adolphe Menjou: sartorial elegance.

Adolphe Menjou: sartorial elegance.

Grown men own suits, so when buying suits, make sure they are in…wearable…colors like black, grey, and navy blue. Other colors, like puke green, radioactive yellow, and hot pink are suitable for Halloween only. Every man’s body type is different, so a lot of the time, a ready-to-wear piece can fit well in some places and not so well in others. This leads men to buy suits that are a size or two too big. This is where the tailor comes in. Even though ready-to-wear pieces are cheaper and easier to get, they automatically assume that people come in cookie-cutter sizes. Men who are too tall or too short can find their suits out of proportion: a tall man’s cuffs might not come down to his wrists, a short man’s breast pocket might be too far down the suit jacket, etc. A tailor can fix all that, and help to make the suit fit you as closely as possible without it being too tight.

A suit should fit you closely, but not too close that you feel your buttons straining or your skin pinching underneath the material. A good guide to follow: if you can fit a finger or two between your body and your clothes, it is a good fit. It’s just enough room for you to be comfortable without looking you raided Fatty Arbuckle’s closet.

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Clark Gable’s suits were tailored by Eddie Schmidt to accommodate his large frame

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, ready-to-wear suits were a rarity. Suits were almost always tailor-made, which is why they fit each man so well, even if his body was not the “average” male body of the time. Clark Gable, who was 6’1 and weighed about 190 pounds, was considered a gigantic man for his time (back then, the average man was about Humphrey Bogart-sized: 5’8-ish) so he had to have literally every piece of clothing custom-made to fit his body. His tailor up until WWII was Eddie Schmidt (he made both Gable’s regular clothes and the costumes for his films) and after the war, all his clothes were tailored by Brooks Brothers. Even though Gable was a big man who probably would’ve had a hard time finding his size in stores, he fit like a dream in everything he wore, and because of the necessary adjustments that had to be made to his clothes so they could fit him, he helped to start new trends like broad shoulders and tapered waists. Let’s take an opposite case: Adolphe Menjou was a shorter, slimmer man, but you couldn’t ever accuse him of “swimming in his clothes.” James Oviatt, who was Menjou’s tailor, turned him into a men’s fashion plate and a renowned symbol of sartorial elegance.

You should always know your measurements to ensure the best fit when buying a ready-to-wear piece. That means specifics, like your neck measurements, the length of your arms, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind when buying ready-to-wear shirts or jackets is the breadth of the shoulders. The seam of the shoulders should end right where your shoulders do. If the piece doesn’t do that, trash it. This is something very difficult for a tailor to adjust, so make sure it’s already right when buying ready-to-wear.

Be Picky About Your Fabrics

This is something that I learned the hard way. When I was young and stupid, I would buy tons of really cheap clothes at places like Forever 21, thinking that I was so cool for having a lot of clothes. But a week later, the clothes would be literally falling apart and the $3 jewelry would be turning my skin green where I wore it. As I grew older and wiser, I learned that it isn’t about how much clothes you have, but how good the quality of your clothing is. Nowadays, I wear a lot of silk, lace, sequins, leather, velvet, glitter, and wool. It sounds opulent, but it’s fun, I feel good, and I don’t have to worry about my clothes disintegrating in public. A few good pieces of high quality always beats tons of pieces of really shitty quality. Make sure your clothes are made of 100% fabrics, like cotton,wool, leather, and silk. Poly-blends like nylon are not as sturdy and they make you perspire more, which in turn can make you smelly really fast, since the sweat just sits there. When I shop, I can quickly tell what’s a good fabric by rubbing it with my thumb and forefinger for a second. It’s faster and easier than digging through the piece before reading the label.

Get Nice Shoes

Every time I see a man in flip flops, my eyes cry tears of blood. Nobody wants to see your big hairy feet, so cover them up. Get a pair of black lace-up shoes that can go with anything. Brown is good too. Slim, pointed lace-ups are good for special occasions. Loafers are always classy. Like your clothes, your shoes should be of good quality and of the best materials, like leather.

enhanced-buzz-24974-1374511842-0 Ties…Oy.

Ties can really make or break your suit. The tie should match your suit and your dress shirt, so don’t buy your clothes to match your tie. Buy your ties to match your clothes. So that means no ugly ties in silly colors and stupid patterns, because those look immature and will never match with anything. The width of the tie should be taken into account as well. Bigger men should gravitate towards wider, longer ties. Smaller men should go for shorter, skinnier ties. An average-sized man should wear ties that are around three inches in width.
The colors of your ties should be solid or lightly patterned. Nothing too big, loud, or obnoxious. The color of the tie should also complement your natural coloring. Fair-haired, fair-skinned men can pull off light monochromatic color combinations. Dark-haired, fair-skinned men can pull off bolder color combos that combine darks and lights. Dark-haired, dark-skinned men can pull off both, in addition to low contrast monochromatic color combos. Of course, each man knows better than anyone what colors work best on him.

Gary Cooper' solid tie matches the color of his suit.

Gary Cooper’ solid tie matches the color of his suit.

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The pattern on Errol Flynn’s tie complements his suit yet adds color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always Have at Least One Tux

Tuxes are strictly special occasion wear. They’re timeless and debonair. And even though your prom has come and gone and you’re not planning to get married anytime soon (or you’re already married), you should own at least one tuxedo for formal parties, weddings, and other important events. And tuxes don’t always have to be black. You can change it up with a white tux too.

Cary Grant works the black tux.

Cary Grant works the black tux.

 

 

Humphrey Bogart immortalized the white tuxedo in Casablanca.

Humphrey Bogart immortalized the white tuxedo in Casablanca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Casual Dress Clean and Simple

Don’t buy those jeans that are pre-ripped, pre-frayed, and pre-stained. Looking like the hobos I see every day on the subway is not stylish. When it comes to jeans, stick to traditional or dark washes. Jeans in those washes are classic and can go with anything. For jean fit, stick to straight leg. Like your suit, you want your jeans to fit your body well without looking like you:
a) raided Fatty Arbuckle’s closet again
b) raided the closet of a scrawny ten year-old
And by the way, the waistline of your jeans should stay on your waist, not around your thighs. Just a heads-up, in case you weren’t aware.

A great moment in jeans history: Marlon Brando in The Wild One.

A great moment in jeans history: Marlon Brando in The Wild One.

How to Wear Shorts Without Looking Dumb

Wearing shorts is fuckin hard, for both men and women. I hate the summertime for many reasons, one of which is because it’s time for me to wear shorts and I. Hate. Shorts. The problem with shorts is that they’re pretty difficult to wear without looking like you’ve got thunder thighs. They pockets alone can make your thighs look double their size. And for someone with…shapely…thighs like myself, it can be agonizing torture. But wearing shorts isn’t impossible.
You should wear shorts as casual attire only. Don’t go to work wearing a suit jacket on top and shorts on the bottom, unless you’re hoping to get fired. Shorts should be worn only when the weather calls for it. That means no playing in the snow when wearing shorts, unless you’re hoping to get hypothermia and die.
Shorts should be primarily in lightweight materials such as cotton or linen. Cargo shorts should be worn only when hiking or doing strenuous outdoor activities. Athletic shorts should be worn only when participating in sports or running. The length of your shorts is perhaps the most difficult thing to determine when buying them. They should be long enough so that your knees are just visible or very slightly covered when standing still. Anything that hits right past your knees aren’t shorts. They are a highly unflattering abomination and should be burned.
You also don’t want to get shorts that are way too baggy. The baggier the shorts, the bigger your butt and thighs look. Unless you want to suffer from the Thunder Thighs Syndrome I talked about before, then get shorts that are comfortable yet well-fitting.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand that’s about all I’ve got! If there are any questions or if I missed anything, feel free to leave a comment!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Ladies and Gents!

Happy (half hour early) St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! In honor of this holiday, I’m going to repost the most Irish-related post I’ve ever published. It is (surprisingly to me), one of the most popular posts on this blog. It’s a post in which I poured my heart out, the post many of you have loved and read, and the post in which I famously lost my shit. I STILL can’t believe some of the things I wrote in this post. The post I’m talking about my dears, is, of course, the post in which I reviewed Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley, the awful stinker of an authorized sequel to GWTW. So reread, relaugh, and enjoy!!

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Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a diehard “Windie” (Gone with the Wind fan). I’ve read the 1,037 page book (my second-favorite of all time, after Les Miserables), about six times, and I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve seen the film. I just know that it’s over 20. And if you’ve been looking at my sidebar, you might have noticed that I’ve been reading “Scarlett” a sequel to GWTW authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate and written by Southern romance author Alexandra Ripley. I’ve heard VERY mixed reviews on this book, so I thought that I had to read and judge it for myself. I don’t believe in any sequels unless they are written by the original author, so I read this for pure entertainment, and to see just how good it is. Well…I’m sorry to say that the negative hype that had always surrounded the book is 100% true in my opinion. The book gradually got harder and harder to read, there were weeklong periods where I would neglect it in favor of doing something else, and it became a serious drag by the end. When I finished it last night, I was so physically exhausted in such a bad way, as though I had been put through the wringer. Now I present to you my “list of grievances”, every single thing I found wrong with this travesty.

GWTW Became Commercialized: The Mitchell Estate made a BIG mistake when choosing Alexandra Ripley as author of their proposed GWTW sequel. Yes, she, like Mitchell, was a Southern writer. But she, unlike Mitchell, wrote fluffy romance novels. You know, the ones that your mother or other female family member enjoyed and that you liked to flip through when she wasn’t looking. This sequel was so…commercialized and mass-market. It was cheap. “Scarlett” is nothing but an overly-long “bodice ripper” romance or 1980s Harlequin romance with some of Mitchell’s characters thrown in, and Ripley’s illogical creations thrown in there as well. I’m sure you’ve come across fan fiction. This book is like a really REALLY bad, really REALLY long fan fiction.

Ripley is not Mitchell: As I’ve stated above, nothing really ties the two authors together. Why Ripley was chosen, I have no idea. As I plowed through the stupid book, I couldn’t help but question if Ripley actually read and studied Mitchell’s work before attempting to work with her material and characters. It was that ludicrous! Considering the thin storyline, the book was much too long–823 pages–and felt much longer than the four-figure page number of the original. That’s a problem. The “drama” was so forced, as though Ripley had a page requirement to fill. Did she think that writing a long book would make her novel as much of an epic as Mitchell’s? That’s the most laughable idea imaginable! But Ripley made no bones about it. She said herself that she took on the assignment only to bolster her own fame and so “everyone can listen to every damn thing she had to say”, to paraphrase a quote of hers. I have no clue how this hot mess made it past the publishers! These were my thoughts after reading about a quarter of the book, but I have an annoying habit of seeing every book I read till the end, and I secretly hoped to find something of merit in the novel, so I marched onward. To be completely honest, if you changed the names “Scarlett and Rhett” to something else and placed the book in cheap romance section of the bookstore, then this book would’ve been passable (a 2 out of 5) but since it is the sequel to the greatest American novel of all time, it’s simply horrible! Ms Mitchell does not deserve to have her work desecrated and cheapened in this way. The writing is nothing like hers, and the characters don’t retain their personalities. At. All. It’s unethical for someone else to take another author’s work and mess around with their plot, settings, and characters. However, this is not entirely Ripley’s fault. She was commissioned to write this (what happened in the book though, is her fault). As a reviewer on Amazon said, “There is no such thing as a sequel to a masterpiece”.

The Plot: In a nutshell, it is ludicrous, laughable, unbelievable, and downright boring and pointless. It gets rid of all the characters we know and love, gives us a bunch of stupid new ones, and takes the action from Georgia to Ireland. IRELAND?! Anyway, in GWTW all the actions and dialogue carried some weight or meaning and helped to propel the novel forward. In “Scarlett”, all the actions were absolutely meaningless, the dialogue was stupefyingly cliched and forced, and it combined to make a story more stagnant than an algae-infested swamp in the middle of July. Nothing leads to nothing (I never understood that line from King Lear until now) and the characters do not develop whatsoever. They’re still the same insipid things we started out with on page one. All 823 pages are filled with tea parties, balls, hunts, dances, musicales, and house parties that lead to scenic NOWHERE. All of it can be removed and there would be no difference in the action of the story. But the actions that do propel the story forward are so unbelievable and bizarre. There is no detail (save who wore what and who said what at whose party), and none of that sweeping, grand imagery in GWTW.

Scarlett Sells Tara: Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?! Sorry for the language, but there are some times in which it is needed. And this is one of those times. Tara was Scarlett’s lifeblood, her sanctuary, her place to go when she needed to get away from it all and find peace and renewed energy. She loved Tara more than she loved herself; it was a crucial theme of the original novel. She did anything for it, even marry men she didn’t love just to build it back to its former greatness. However, Ripley has Scarlett sell Tara without a second thought. In a heartbeat. In the blink of an eye. Suddenly, she feels that she “doesn’t belong” at Tara. THE FUCK?! And she doesn’t sell it to just anyone. She sells it to Suellen. The sister she always hated with all her heart. The sister who did not understand the value of Tara in GWTW. That is a shocking shame and insult to fans of the novel and the film.

The Characters: Ripley makes quick work of getting rid of Mitchell’s beloved, lively characters and stuffing in droves of her own boring, flat, two-dimensional ones instead. Not only are all the characters seriously under-developed and remain the same from beginning to end, but they have a really bad habit of coming in at random moments and disappearing suddenly, never to be heard from again. Not even like, five chapters into the book, Mammy is killed off (because she would just get in the way of Scarlett’s misadventures later on in the book). Ashley, Aunt Pitty, Wade, Ella, Will Benteen, Suellen…everyone is thrown away as soon as possible. Nor does Scarlett seem to care. I really would’ve liked to see how she keeps her promise to Melanie from the end of GWTW, but do you think that even crossed Ripley’s mind? No, sir. All of Mitchell’s marvelous characters are killed off or ignored. It’s so upsetting, and obviously reeks of cheap romance novel. All the characters are thrust into the most bizarre and unbelievable situations imagined, that it’s actually kind of funny that someone could’ve thought of this and write it on paper without thinking “this is stupid.” No one, absolutely no one, not even Scarlett and Rhett, are complex or compelling, and are more like weak, diluted shadows of their former selves or knockoff clones of Mitchell’s original characters. Anne Hampton (who Rhett MARRIES in the book!!!) is a bad Melanie clone, Luke Fenton is a bad clone of Rhett and Scarlett’s daughter by Rhett, Cat, is an even worse, freaky clone of Bonnie. It’s all such utter nonsense.

Scarlett: She is so stupid, whiny, irritating, and a poor, mere shadow of the strong spitfire we loved in GWTW. In a masquerade ball (one of the many), she is so stupid she doesn’t even recognize Rhett! She also suddenly renounces her genteel upbringing and ladylike veneer and becomes an Irish peasant who refuses to wear a corset or a fancy gown (instead she’s happy with tacky colored petticoats and striped stockings. Uhh, this isn’t Pippi Longstocking, Alexandra Ripley), receives guests barefoot, has no furniture in her house, dances jigs in the street, spits in her hands, and engages in extramarital sex. Yep, she’s turned into an animal. The Scarlett here is utterly mindless, and none of the growth and maturity from GWTW is present here. Scarlett, who was hard-headed, unimaginative, and full of common sense, suddenly takes an interest in superstition, magic and mysticism (which the book is rife with). In GWTW, Scarlett renounces religion and has trouble understanding the minds of the people around her. So now she blindly believes the fairy tales people tell her? This magic crap started when she went to Ireland (because the official religion of Ireland is magic, obviously), and shot through the roof after a creepy-ass witch lady gives her a caesarean with the kitchen knife on Halloween night. And the witch lady heals her with her magical spells. What the fuck is this? Harry Potter? And what is the wonderful name she gives her child? CAT.  You know, after those things that meow. And then she suddenly becomes the world’s most loving, caring, and doting mother to Cat, after she practically alienated her other three children from her in GWTW and continues to abandon Wade and Ella in this sequel! Does Ripley think we’re stupid or something? Her own plot is so riddled with holes that it even contradicts itself! Also while in Ireland, she doesn’t realize that a civil war is brewing right under her nose, even though she’s already been through one! And suddenly, Scarlett is secretly supporting the Fenian Brotherhood and inviting Charles Parnell to her house (I don’t know if Ripley was trying to be all smartass on us and sneak in a Gable reference) when she would literally sleep with her eyes open every time politics was mentioned in the original. What’s even more annoying is that the Irish in the book are so fake and pagan that they worship Scarlett as some sort of savior or goddess, calling her “The O’Hara” (great title, huh?) and she becomes so…nice. Scarlett, that famously flawed, selfish, spoiled brat starts doing benevolent things for people without a greedy ulterior motive. This rebirth of Scarlett as this golden soul was a TOTAL FAIL and reflected no understanding at all of Mitchell’s work. The ending of the book is totally implausible and laughable, to say it nicely (I might as well reveal the end, no one deserves to go through the entire book to find out). The townspeople (yeah, Scarlett builds her own town on the O’Hara’s former land…Ballyhara. Can it get any dumber?) rebel against Scarlett, accusing her and her daughter of witchcraft (WTF?!) They burn her town down and go looking for her, pitchforks and torches in hand. Meanwhile, she reunites with Rhett (who just happens to randomly appear in Ireland) and escapes with him and Cat to hide from the dissenters in a creepy, old tower that’s apparently haunted by a ghost, where she wants to do nothing but have sex on the stone floor with Rhett, while her child sleeps like, a foot away from them, and her town is in flames around them. My mind cannot even begin to describe how stupid this ending was.

Rhett: No longer the witty, sarcastic scoundrel that captured the hearts and minds of women everywhere, Rhett loses all of his masculinity and becomes so attached to his mother that it’s unnatural. He becomes so serious and kind of a wimp, not the reckless dashing blackguard of GWTW. After living through a storm at sea while going on an innocent boating excursion with Scarlett in the beginning of the book, he has sex on the beach with her (WOW). Afterwards he tells her he only did it because they didn’t drown in the boating accident. Then he deserts her on the island. It’s so stupid! And my eyes were glazing over every time I read about how good Rhett looked in his apparently wrinkle-proof sweater. The reader also learns that Rhett goes back to Charleston not only to make amends with his family, but to rebuild his plantation (since when did he even care about his stupid plantation?) and indulge in his new favorite hobby of planting flowers. RHETT BUTLER PLANTING FLOWERS. You read right, unfortunately. And why, oh WHY did he marry that Melanie clone?!?!?!

The Traveling: Scarlett goes wherever she wants: from Tara to Charleston, Charleston to Savannah, America to Ireland, Ireland to America, across the entire country of Ireland…all in the blink of an eye. She instantly pops from place to place like some kind of magician, and the journey across the Atlantic from America to Ireland is of no consequence or importance to her! There was one part in which she journeys across Ireland, forward and back, in one day. By horse. What’s she got, Pegasus? Oh, and Ireland is not the size of your backyard, Alexandra Ripley.

Ireland: How could Scarlett abandon her beloved Tara for Ireland? Wasn’t this the great AMERICAN novel??? It’s absolutely INSULTING to GWTW fans, since Ripley messed around with a cornerstone of American culture and literature by ripping the story out and putting it in a different country. Georgia becomes a distant, painless memory to Scarlett. One of the greatest things about GWTW was the backdrop of the South, with its grandeur and uniquely American attitude. Moving the action to Ireland is ridiculous! Ripley obviously didn’t want to fool with postwar Georgia (because she knew nothing about it), but what she did was blasphemous, since the south was the essence of the novel. As soon as Scarlett met her Irish relations, I knew it going to go downhill from there. And boy, it went downhill like a monstrous avalanche. This book was not only insulting to GWTW fans, but it was insulting to the Irish. I’m not Irish, but I do know many people of Irish descent, and they aren’t superstitious, crazy alcoholics who believe in fairies and leprechauns! She makes it seem like Grimm’s Fairy Tales is the Irish Bible. It destroyed that sense of place and history so prevalent in Mitchell’s original.

The Sex: Being a cheap romance novelist, Ripley tried to add a sex element to her sequel, but failed embarrassingly. Scarlett is turned into an unnaturally beautiful, ageless seductress, even though she’s almost 40 by the time the novel ends. The drunken kiss/attack on Scarlett from Ross Butler (Rhett’s brother) was pointless and downright ridiculous. Scarlett, who famously loathed sex and found the act repulsive, suddenly lured men like a vamp and had extramarital sex with one that she barely knew. After a boating accident, she has sex on the beach with Rhett (which is the cheesiest thing in the entire world). And a scene in which she sensually fondles herself when thinking about Rhett STILL makes my skin crawl.

But I Learned Something From This Book: Now I know why the original story ended where it did. There was simply nothing more to write, no more story to tell. Mitchell took ten years to write GWTW, and she was very tired of it. In her will, she requested that all her notes and manuscripts dealing with GWTW be destroyed. This was faithfully carried out by her husband. We were clearly never meant to know what happens to Scarlett and Rhett. One of the beautiful things about GWTW was that the reader can create their own ending for Scarlett and Rhett. The magic of the novel lies in that cliffhanger, and cemented its timelessness in the hearts of millions.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Hope you are spending it with someone special! And here’s a sweet little secret from me: you are ALL my Valentines today!!! :D Because I love each and every one of you! (P.S. I like anything velvet, sparkly, or peacock!)

If you thought the corniness ended there, you’re wrong. Let’s celebrate by looking at classic movie stars doing adorable, sweet, mushy things, shall we?

tumblr_l9a7c5cPU11qd8zhfo1_400Here’s one of my favorite photos of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Ugh. Can you say PERFECTION? They’re so cute together it kinda makes me sick, but in a very good way. This is the classic movie lover’s dream relationship right here!

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There is something so sweet about Spencer Tracy letting Katharine Hepburn use his back as a table. It reminds me of my high school’s annual Walk-A-Thon in which all my friends would sign the backs of each other’s shirts. Let’s just say that mom was none too happy to see me coming in with my Walk-A-Thon t-shirt covered in rainbow messages and signatures. But Spence is just so much more adorable than a high school student. The way he’s crouching obediently for Kate…that’s the way it should be. Men, take note.

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Guys…IT’S CARY GRANT WITH A PUPPY IN HIS POCKET!!!!! Cute man+cute puppy=heart exploding. There’s just something so masculine about a man with a tiny dog, isn’t there?

tumblr_lnc04m0MYr1qet8i6o1_400AWWW GARY AND ROCKY COOPER KISSING! She’s one lucky woman….

tumblr_lsihgskyMQ1qd48zdo1_400The Gary Cooper cute doesn’t end there. Here he is nuzzling noses with Shirley Temple. It’s the icing on the cutie patootie cake. And mark this, since this is a rare moment in which I actually think Shirley Temple is cute…

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Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…BABY BUSTER KEATON. Look at his little hands and his little chubby cheeks! :’) Maybe I should do a part 2 to the classic movie babies post I did two years ago…

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Gary Cooper seriously needs to stop being so frickin’ cute. But instead of Rocky, he is with my fellow Brooklyn sister Barbara Stanwyck.

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It’s William Powell high-fiving a turtle. If you don’t think that this is cute then you have no business reading my blog. Or living on this planet. Goodbye.

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ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND A KOALA. THE RESEMBLANCE CANNOT BE BORNE.

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;___________: JEANETTE MACDONALD WITH A WEE LITTLE BABY BUNNY IS ACTUALLY MAKING ME CRY TEARS OF HAPPINESS.

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As Clark Gable told Claudette Colbert in this film, “you look kinda pretty asleep.” She’s a cutie pie too!

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Gary Cooper ought to take the cuteness prize because he keeps popping up over and over again in this post. Here, he is teaching his young daughter Maria how to dance. And they say actors are lousy parents!

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Looks like Fred and Ginger had themselves a little moment there!

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Norma Shearer HAS GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. THAT IS THE MOST ADORABLE LITTLE DOG THING I HAVE EVER LAID EYES ON. Like…THAT’S ACTUALLY A DOG!?

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This Handsome Men with Puppies in their Pockets trend continues here with Buster Keaton. And it should never stop.

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This post has made me come to the conclusion that Norma Shearer probably owned an entire menagerie of unbelievably cute and impossibly tiny animals.

That’s all I’ve got! Happy Valentine’s Day, loves!


After The Thin Man (1936)

After-The-Thin-Man-Poster-1-Sheet-2Hello lovelies! I realized that I haven’t done a film review in an extremely long time, so I plan to concentrate on just turning them out for a while. Here’s a fun one to start us off…

After the Thin Man stars our two favorite detectives: the fast-talking, hard-drinking, sharp-tongued husband and wife duo Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy, an onscreen couple that never fails to make me get down on my knees and thank God for creating them). But this time, instead of running around New York, they are back home in San Francisco, where they can relax…or so they think. When the Charleses go to spend New Year’s Eve with Nora’s old, stuffy aunt and her aristocratic family, they find themselves entangled in yet another mystery when they find out that cousin Selma’s husband has been missing for three days and rumored to be running around with a club singer. After Nick and Nora find him, Robert is shot that same night, and Selma is accused of murder. As the case goes on, several other murders occur. But was it Selma? Or was it her kindhearted suitor, David (Jimmy Stewart)? Was it the skeevy club owners? The seedy torch singer? Her greedy blackmailing brother? The possibilities are endless, and it’s up to Nick and Nora to make sense of it all.

After the Thin Man 2Powell and Loy are at it again!

Often considered to be the best of The Thin Man sequels, After the Thin Man was the second of the six films in the series and the sixth out of the fourteenth pairing for Loy and Powell. Nowadays, fourteen pairings of the same actor and actress sounds repetitive and ridiculous. But not in Old Hollywood, which went by the rule of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and made you like it! No matter how many times you watch Powell and Loy on the screen, they just never get stale and old. Their chemistry is always top notch, they have spark and zap, and can make anything worth watching. Without a doubt, the antics and verbal banter that these two get into in this film provide almost all of the laughs.

The rest of the laughs in this come from…Asta. Yup. The Thin Man series was (and still is amongst the classic movie set) enormously popular, but I don’t think anyone has ever commented on how awesome that little dog is. Seriously. I’d go so far as to say that Asta is my favorite character in the whole series. This dog is freakin hilarious. One of the best parts of After the Thin Man is the cute little subplot with Asta and Mrs. Asta (and HOW ADORABLE ARE THEIR BABY PUPS?!) and my favorite scene in the film is when Asta accidentally eats a clue! Another thing that is special about After the Thin Man is that you can watch it, understand it, and enjoy it all without seeing the first film. Pretty neat, huh?

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Asta the Pooch: more talented than most of today’s Hollywood actors

The ending of the film is pretty cute, too. Here’s a spoiler (without giving away the identity of the killer): after the case is over and done, Nora insinuates to Nick that they are going to have a baby. Of course, being a man, which means being a bit thickheaded when it comes to such matters (sorry, boys!) he didn’t get the hint, resulting in perhaps one of the most famous quotes from Nora in the whole series: “and you call yourself a detective!”

One of the most notable things about this film is the performance by a very very  very early Jimmy Stewart. He will make your jaw drop. That’s all I’ll say here.

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Oh look, it’s baby Jimmy!

Overall, a very fun, yet lighthearted film with plenty of comic relief! One of the reasons why the Thin Man films are so enjoyable is that they take a serious topic like crime and make it somehow…fun? Geez that sounds terrible. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed!!!


That Awkward Moment When…(Part II)

Hello my darlings! Here’s a sequel to the original “That Awkward Moment When” (https://goldenagedames.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/that-awkward-moment-when/) in which we saw that the flawless gods and goddesses of classic film were actually normal people like you and me. So next time you do something embarrassing, don’t fret! Think of this:

That Awkward Moment When Spencer Tracy Forgot His Pants

tumblr_lrcia4BLuD1qj71muo1_400This scene is from one of my favorite Tracy films, Father of the Bride. Thankfully, father Spencer Tracy did not appear at daughter Liz Taylor’s wedding looking like this. Or maybe he could’ve. He has nice, slim, hairless legs.

That Awkward Moment When Bette Davis Flubs The Line

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I think it’s really cute when classic movie stars, especially legends like Bette Davis, mess up the line. The reactions that old movie stars had were vastly different from the reaction stars have today. Like, they would get really upset and embarrassed that they messed up. Back then, time and film were precious, since we are talking about the Studio Era during the Depression. Some actors had really hilarious reactions, though. Like Carole Lombard’s streams of profanity whenever she messed up. You can see plenty of these classic film bloopers on YouTube!

That Awkward Moment When Lucille Ball and Harpo Marx Are Long-Lost Twins

tumblr_m2ymmrzkG21rn9htao1_400I think I might’ve blogged this before, but the crazy resemblance here never fails to astound me. This is from one of my all-time favorite I Love Lucy episodes, the one in which she dresses up as tons of classic movie actors to impress her New York friend and ends up meeting Harpo Marx. This photo has convinced me that Lucy and Harpo are long-lost twins. They have the same hair, smiles, maniacal expressions…there’s no way that these two weren’t womb-mates!

That Awkward Moment When Marlon Brando Duckfaced

tumblr_m3f7eu9V2t1r0a4hso1_400This photo of Richard Burton and Marlon Brando never fails to make me laugh hysterically. I feel that I’m looking at a picture of two bozos on Facebook instead of two acting greats. It has all the qualities of a Facebook photo: the background is obviously someone’s home, they have that “hey buddy!” pose, and the photo was taken with a low-quality camera. But what makes this the absolute perfect Facebook shot is Marlon Brando’s duckface. The man was definitely ahead of his time here. But instead of making the pose something ridiculous that is only done by ugly fake pussies, Brando makes it look classy. Only because it’s Brando.

That Awkward Moment When Buster Keaton Looks Like A Baywatch Babe

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Buster Keaton is one beautiful hunk of man. Nothing makes it more obvious than this photo. Look at him seductively gliding through the water like he’s some god of the sea. Look at that sexy swimsuit, complete with an undershirt. Look at those nice pecs. And look at the wonderfully glum expression. He’s giving Pam Anderson a run for her money here.

That Awkward Moment When Joan Crawford Is Given An Ugly Portrait of Herself

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Imagine you are Joan Crawford. You are asked to sit for a painting. All the while, you are positive that this painting will be a beautiful gorgeous replica of your beautiful gorgeous face. Then you get…THIS. What the HELL is that painting even?! That’s not pretty Joanie! It looks like the frickin spawn of the devil. And look at Joan’s face. I wouldn’t be pleased if I were painted as Satan’s mistress either. Thankfully her self-esteem didn’t go downhill after this one.

That Awkward Moment When Winston Churchill Leaves Very Little to the Imagination

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Okay, I know Winston Churchill isn’t a classic movie star but I came across this photo and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post this. This takes the cake in embarrassing swimsuit moments (and we’ve all had them) because here he’s actually wearing a swimsuit yet it’s so tight that he might as well be naked. Way to flash the entire beach, Winston Churchill.

That Awkward Moment When Laurence Olivier Ruins the Picture

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This has to be my favorite photo of Viv and Larry. There’s Vivien Leigh, so gorgeous and glamorous, as always. And then there is Laurence Olivier, in perhaps the most hilarious photobomb in the history of photography. I’m actually surprised that the usually serious Olivier’s face didn’t shatter into a thousand pieces from all that laughing. Touche, Larry.

That Awkward Moment When Errol Flynn Looks Like He Isn’t Wearing Pants

tumblr_m4pw5fWKdk1r0a4hso1_400This is a very frustrating awkward moment. I WISH he wasn’t wearing any pants. But if you look very closely, he is in fact wearing those little tiny swim trunks all the men in the 1930s wore. Drat.

That Awkward Moment When Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery Are Losing It Over Baby Cows

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It’s pretty funny to see non-farm folks doing farm things. Observe how these two baby calves are obviously getting the better of Carole and Rob. Carole seems horrified, but she’s doing a lot better than Robert Montgomery, who is actually about to fall over right into the calves little pen. Which is fine, I don’t like him that much anyway (crucify me now).

That Awkward Moment When Humphrey Bogart Is Dressed Like a Grandma in Public

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Humphrey, why are you making what seems to be a public speech when dressed like a sweet little Victorian-era grandmother? What has gotten into you, my man? You are supposed to be a rough-n’-tough hardboiled detective! But he’s Humphrey Bogart and he’s always cool so he probably got away with this.

That Awkward Moment When Katharine Hepburn Shreds Better Than A Twelve Year-Old Boy

tumblr_m8volpVT4c1qj71muo1_400Katharine Hepburn is awesome for many reasons. But I betcha didn’t know that she can skateboard! Judging by this photo, she’s got some mad skills. She skateboards so much better than those shrimpy twelve year-old boys with baggy clothes and oily hair who think that they are skating gods but actually end up scraping their knees on the pavement. Kate the Great should’ve been featured in an episode of Rocket Power, if you ask me.

That Awkward Moment When Katharine Hepburn Makes A Giant Food Mess

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Here’s another awkward moment featuring Kate the Great, but here she’s dishing the gossip…and the food crumbs. Look at that abhorrent mess around her plates! Oh my Jesus. I don’t know if any of the food that was on these plates actually made it into Kate’s digestive system. It looks like it all ended up as mess for janitors to clean. Hollywood actresses were supposed to eat like ladies, not like cavemen!

That Awkward Moment When Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre are Sitting Naked in a Sauna and Playing Cards

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I think the title says it all here. No further explanation is needed. But those tan lines are hilarious.

That Awkward Moment When Katharine Hepburn Takes a Dive

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Kate is on a roll today! This is the third awkward moment featuring her. I believe this extremely embarrassing moment was from a film, but I can’t remember which. It must be from a film, since if someone just happened to push her into the water like that, I would assume they’d never see the light of day ever again.

That Awkward Moment When Gary Cooper Is Too Tall for His Horse

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Dude’s feet are pretty much dragging on the ground. His 6’3″ is much too much for that fat little pony. But Coop looks like he’s making the best of the situation, even though the Coop-to-pony ratio is greatly imbalanced.

That Awkward Moment When Fred Astaire Defies Gravity

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I know he’s an amazing dancer but COME AWN. He FLIES now?! Can he stop being so perfect and otherworldly and just be a human being like everyone else?

That Awkward Moment When Your Music is Making Cary Grant’s Ears Bleed

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Here, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason were attempting to serenade Cary Grant with a song on the harp while on the set of North by Northwest. However, Cary Grant found the song so vile and so shitty that he had to cover his ears before he lost his sense of hearing entirely. Sorry guys, your music isn’t classy enough for Cary.

That Awkward Moment When James Cagney Falls Into a Cactus Bush and Bette Davis Just Laughs

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Wow, Bette Davis. Poor James Cagney is visibly dying from pain and you just stand there and laugh? What a hard, cold woman.

That Awkward Moment When Vivien Leigh is Dressed to the Nines and Lauren Bacall is Dressed in a Bathrobe

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The difference between Viv and Betty in this picture is astounding. Viv is dressed to perfection in black, furs, and pearls. Timeless! However, Lauren Bacall is hanging around in a fuzzy, too-small bathrobe that looks like one I owned when I was four years old. Now that’s what I call awkward!

That Awkward Moment When Ray Milland is Very, Very Drunk

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The guy is holding a shot and licking his hand. There is no explanation other than he was drunk, someone took a picture of it, and now it is on the Internet. Awks…

Hope you enjoyed this latest installment! x


Things I’m Thankful For

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL MY LOVELY READERS! Even to my international readers! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for three reasons:1) It revolves around FOOD which is the greatest thing in the world. Food is my friend.
2) It is the beginning of my favorite time of the year…the holiday season!
3) I get to seriously contemplate all of the things I am thankful for.

So here’s the classic movie-related list of things I am thankful for this year.

1) That Clark Gable existed and made movies. Seriously Gabeykins, where would I be without you?

2) That Jean Harlow existed and made movies. She’s my ultimate girl crush with Clara Bow running a close second.

3) On a non classic film-related note: That Barack Obama is still our president. The first president I ever voted for WON! YEAHHHHH! Ladies, here’s to four years without a strange man of questionable religious beliefs all up in our uteruses!


This is me pulling off my best red, white, and blue the day after Obama beat Romney to a pulp. My face says derp, but I think it’s impossible for me to not look like an idiot. Oh, well!

4) I’m thankful for all the new great classics that I’ve discovered and continue to discover each and every year.

5) I’m thankful for all the inspirational classic movie figures that have helped me get through some trying times!

6) I am thankful that Hurrell hair can turn into 50s rockabilly grrrl hair the next day. Observe:


Grrr! You can’t see the rest of my outfit here, but I had floral print jeans and brown boots on that day. Total 50s biker girl. Also, I was pretty sure I was listening to Queen that day.

7) I am thankful for my nutty family and my crazy lovable li’l sis who makes me laugh hysterically and never fails to brighten my day with her unbelievable shenanigans.

8) I am thankful for my friends, who always support me, make fun of me (in a good way!), help me, and make me feel better when I’m blue. When you have friends who always encourage you to believe you are loved and you are beautiful inside and out, you know you did something right :)

9) I am thankful for my classic movie posters and my classic movie calendars.

10) I am thankful for TCM and Robert Osborne who is a beautiful beautiful man.

11) I am thankful for New York City, because it is gorgeous and exciting and it offers so much vintage, Art Deco, and classic film things to enjoy, and that New York is a city that encourages you to be different.

12) I am thankful for my blog which allows me to express my feelings and gives me a place to just be myself.

13) I am thankful for all that I have. After this hurricane, I’ve realized just how important every little thing is, and how lucky I am.

14) Last but DEFINITELY not least, I am thankful for you guys! My readers are the best! You are all awesome! If it weren’t for your support I would still be the shy, quiet girl I was two years ago when I started this blog. Thanks for giving me confidence and advice and encouragement every step of the way! You’re all #1!

I hope you all enjoyed this list, and if you would like to share the things you are thankful for, you are more than welcome! I hope you all ate (or will eat) lots of turkey! :D


Liebster Award!

Margaret Perry over at http://thegreatkh.blogspot.co.uk/ has given me a Liebster Award! YAY! :D The Liebster is given to up-and-coming blogs of 200 followers or less. If you are reading this, Margaret, thank you so much for the honor! So, if you receive a Liebster Award, you must share eleven facts about yourself, answer eleven questions from the blogger who awarded you, and award eleven bloggers of your choice! Here we go:

Eleven Facts About Moi:

1. All of my fingers are double-jointed. I’m like some sort of weird finger contortionist.

2. I’m a voracious reader. My all-time favorite book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

3. I think peacocks are the most beautiful, fabulous animals in the entire world.

4. My biggest goal is to travel the world. I hope to study abroad for winter intercession next year in either England, France, or Australia!

5. I’ve always loved cartoons, and I still do! My favorites were (and still are) Tom and Jerry, Merrie Melodies, Mickey Mouse, and Looney Tunes. I also love the classic Disney films.

6. I confess I have a strange fascination with the occult and the unknown. I love learning about that stuff.

7. The things I notice first in a guy are his eyes (I love light-colored eyes, blue being my favorite) and his smile.

8. I was originally left-handed, but I was forced to switch to right.

9. My favorite fruit is the clementine, which is quite unfortunate since they’re in season only during the winter :(

10. My favorite band is Queen. Queen has gotten me through a lot of difficulties!

11. All my clothes have to: 1) have a vintage flair 2) have at least a dash of sparkle. My latest purchase was a black velvet dress with a gold glitter star pattern from Topshop. It sparkles more than the sun or the stars. Best shopping decision I’ve ever made!

Margaret’s Questions:

If you could matchmake two of your favorite stars, who would be your OTP?
Hmmm…so many possibilities come to mind! But I think my OTP (one true pair) would be Myrna Loy and William Powell. Every time I watch them in a film I find myself begging them to get married and have babies already. Or Jean Harlow and Clark Gable, those two make sparks on the screen!

What classic movie would you like to see remade?
None. Modern remakes have a funny way of messing up beloved originals.

What is your favorite film genre, and what are your three favorite films in that genre?
My favorite film genre is the screwball comedy! My favorite screwballs are It Happened One Night, Arsenic and Old Lace, and To Be Or Not To Be.

You have the opportunity to share one classic film with a theatre full of your friends. Which film do you choose?
Gone with the Wind, most definitely!

What one actor/actress do you love so much, you would see a film simply because they are in it?
Clark Gable! I’ve sat through some really shitty films (LIKE THE PAINTED DESERT) just to look at Gabe’s perfect face.

What/who is your favorite animal character from a movie?
I love Asta from The Thin Man series. That dog is such a boss.

What years do you consider to define the era of “classic movies”?
This is a great, hotly disputed question, and as Margaret implies, the answer varies from person to person. I personally consider the classic movie era to be from around 1905-ish to 1960.

Astaire or Kelly? Audrey or Katherine? Bette or Joan? Olivia de Havilland or Joan Fontaine? Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin?
Astaire or Kelly: love them both with all my heart and soul, but I think I will go with Kelly here. It was a close shave, though!
Audrey or Katharine: Easy. Kate the Great of course! I might get crucified for this, but I CAN’T STAND Audrey Hepburn. The most overrated actress who ever lived, if you ask me.
Bette or Joan: I love Bette, but Joan wins this. Sorry Bette, but Joan is my homeslice for life.
Olivia de Havilland or Joan Fontaine: Livvy is my fave sister. She’s an amazing talent and a delight to watch on the screen. From what I’ve seen of Joan Fontaine’s work, she seems a lot more…forced…than her sister. Just look at the faces she makes in Rebecca and you’ll see what I mean.

Who is your favorite Barrymore?
My fave Barrymore is definitely Lionel. He’s like an old cuddly teddy bear! Who seriously knows how to act.

What is your favorite silent movie? Who is your favorite silent movie star?
Oh geez, this is a toughie. I’m gonna bend the rules here and give two favorite silent movies: Metropolis and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. I’m gonna bend the rules again with my favorite silent stars: Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino.

If you could spend one day with your favorite star, who would it be and what would you do?
I’d spend the day with the lovely Clark Gable and we would tour Hollywood together and visit all of his favorite places there :)

Now I shall award eleven of my favorite blogs (that meet the qualifications) for a Liebster Award! You guys have to list eleven facts about yourself, answer the eleven questions I give you, and award eleven other blogs with the Award! Congratulations to:

All Good Things http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/

Classicfilmboy’s Movie Paradise http://www.classicfilmboy.com/

Dear Old Hollywood http://dearoldhollywood.blogspot.com/

Deep Glamour http://deepglamour.net/

Critica Retro http://criticaretro.blogspot.com/

Gone with the Wind Fansite http://gwtwfansite.weebly.com/

Marlene Dietrich Collection http://marlene-dietrichcollection.blogspot.fr/

The Hollywood Revue http://hollywoodrevue.wordpress.com/

Alexander’s Sanctuary http://alexandersanctuary.wordpress.com/

The Kitty Packard Pictorial http://kittypackard.com/

Old Hollywood Glamour http://oldhollywoodglamour.blogspot.com/

My Questions:

1. If you could have a dinner party with seven classic film stars, who would they be?

2. Who is your favorite classic movie director?

3. Who is your favorite most-underrated actor?

4. Have you ever watched a film in which you had NO IDEA what was going on?

5. Who is your favorite Hollywood costume designer?

6. Who is an actor/actress that you would take out of one film and put into a different one?

7. Do you mix up any classic movie actors/actresses.

8. Favorite movie musical?

9. Have you hated an actor/actress whom you now love?

10. What is your favorite performance that was overlooked by an Oscar?

11. What is your most-quoted film?

And if you don’t have a blog and just want to answer the questions, please feel free to do so in the comments! X


Mustaches For Movember!

Note: President Obama has declared New York City a Major Disaster Area. Please continue to keep New York and the rest of the East Coast in your thoughts and prayers! Xx

November is one of my favorite months of the year. It is the beginning of cold weather, with Thanksgiving and Black Friday it marks the beginning of the holiday season (my favorite time of the year), and it is also known as Movember. During November of each year, men are encouraged to grow lovely, elegant mustaches in order to raise awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

So to all the boys out there, MAKE LIKE THE CLASSICS AND GROW THEM PENCIL ‘STACHES!

Mustaches are awesome because:
1) They can accent an otherwise boring face
2) They give your face a focus
3) They are a badge of masculinity
4) They automatically make you look suave, urbane, and sophisticated
5) Everyone loves a man who can flaunt a ‘stache

I sure do love it when a man has some tasteful facial hair, so Movember is a really exciting time of the year for me. Random fact: my ex-boyfriend wasn’t able to grow facial hair. But that’s because he wasn’t a real man. Or a real human being. He was more like a living, breathing, walking asshole. Anyway, for all the real men out there, here are some classic movie mustaches to inspire you this Movember!


Errol Flynn, one of the most beautiful men to ever come from The Land Down Under.


Claude Rains is an example of point #1: an otherwise plain face made memorable by a mustache.


Without his mustache, Orson Welles looked like a nice, clean schoolboy.


Be wary of the Chaplin ‘stache. He is a perfect specimen of humanity, yes, but growing his facial hair would get you Hitler remarks instead. It sucks when a terrible man ruins the image of a very innocent thing.


Ronald Colman’s mustache gave his face a focus. It also made him look like a swashbucking heartthrob to rival Flynn.

David Niven was cool without the mustache. But the mustache made him cooler than anyone else. This is my favorite picture of him, by the way.


William Powell is one of my favorite mustachioed men. I’ve seen photos of him without his facial article and I couldn’t even recognize him!


Last but not least, the Crowning Glory of All Facial Hair: Clark Gable’s Mustache. At first, Gable wasn’t too enthusiastic about his ‘stache (he had to grow it for a film) but after the unexpected success of It Happened One Night he kept it for the rest of his career because he saw it as his good-luck charm. His mustache has become an iconic trademark. It has been the fantasy of women for ages. It has sparked a fierce, decades-long debate. It has made facial hair cool forever. It even has its own fan page on Facebook. One of history’s greatest mustaches right here.

So here we are, boys! Hope you have been inspired to grow your own epic mustache this Movember!


“Classic Queen”

Hello all! This might be my last post for a little while…as you might have heard, Hurricane Sandy might ravage the Eastern coast starting from tonight and until Tuesday. We’re gonna get the works here: gale-force winds, torrential rains, flooding, and power outages for up to a week. Even the MTA has completely shut down. Since when has the Northeast become Hurricane Central? Anyway, stock up, stay inside, and stay safe for these next several days!

Now, on with the post!

I have a very multi-varied taste in music. I listen to pretty much anything save for country music and “Call Me Maybe”-style pop music, which I DESPISE. I don’t even know how “Gangnam Style” goes, nor do I really want to know.

My favorite genres of music are jazz, big band, and swing. However, my all-time favorite band doesn’t come from that time period at all. I’m talking about Queen.

In case you live under a rock and don’t know: Queen was an amazingly awesome and fabulous British rock band that was formed in 1971. The members of Queen were John Deacon (guitar and bass), Roger Taylor (drums), Brian May (guitar), and last but definitely not least, Freddie Mercury (vocals, piano). The band is responsible for all those amazing songs you know and love, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Killer Queen,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “We Are the Champions,” and many, many more. The band fell apart after Mercury’s life was cut short at age 45 from pneumonia brought upon by AIDS. However, Mercury’s death did not spell the end for Queen. Queen has spent more time on Billboard’s Hot 200 List more than any other band in history (even more than the stupid fuckin overrated Beatles) and is widely considered the greatest band that ever existed. Ever. Fuck Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift, Queen still sells millions of more albums today (over 3o0 million to be exact). Who DOESN’T love Queen!? And if you are terrible, horrible, and evil enough to dislike this band, then I don’t want to know you ever. And neither does anyone else on this planet.

See this man right here? Freddie Mercury is one of the greatest loves of my life. You might be thinking, “but he was hairy and he had those crazy teeth and he was gay!” But those things don’t even matter. This man is awesomesauce as fuck. He is one of the few human beings that is universally respected. Even by the Internet, and the Internet rarely respects anyone. Freddie transcends all our worldly conceptions of what is “good” and “perfect.” He pretty much redefined music and blew the world’s collective mind with his genius. Freddie Mercury is The Rock God.

Now you must be thinking, “What in the world does Queen have to do with classic film?” Trust me, it has a lot to do with it. I relate everything to classic film. I don’t know if this is true, but I think that Freddie Mercury was in fact a classic movie fan. Freddie had plenty of creative license in the band. He was very focused and a dedicated worker, writing all of the Queen hits we know and love, designing the famous Queen logo (he was a talented artist, something not widely known about him), writing and arranging the music of each song, and envisioning Queen’s music videos. If you study Queen’s ouvre, you will notice a lot of classic film references. Here are some of my favorites:

“Under Pressure” (1981)
“Under Pressure” is one of my favorite Queen songs. Come tough times and exam times (I can’t think of a more fitting song than this one when I’m having midterms and finals) this is the song I blast. A collaboration with David Bowie, this song is about our culture that is willing to overthrow political machines and the pressure that has come about all over the world due to the fast-paced, workaholic lives we lead. The cure to all this? Love. “Under Pressure”‘s music video contained neither Freddie Mercury nor David Bowie because both were on tour. However, it contained lots of classic film references:

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Queen seemed to be particularly fascinated by the silent horror films of the 1920s. From top to bottom we have John Barrymore’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1920, Nosferatu (1922), and Fredric March’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1931 (which isn’t a silent movie). The monsters show up in the beginning of the music video to symbolize the evil and corruption in the world.

20121028-135334.jpgI may be wrong, but I believe this scene is from the Russian silent film Battleship Potemkin (1925), which is most famous for that scene in which a man gets his glasses smashed…creaming his eye in the process.

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The next classic movie reference we see in the “Under Pressure” music video is the famous sequence from Nosferatu is which Nosferatu appears to a terrified Hutter during the night. (Fun fact that everyone from my generation knows: The first of these three photos from the film also appears in an episode of Spongebob. Just sayin’).

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My favorite lines from “Under Pressure” are: “‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned world/And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night/And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves/This is our last dance/This is our last dance/This is ourselves.” Such beautiful lyrics! To show that love conquers all, the music video then has a montage of silent movie kisses…none of which I can identify :’( If you recognize any of the kisses above, please tell me!

20121028-135615.jpgOur last “Under Pressure” classic film reference is with the smiling Rudolph Valentino! This scene is from The Eagle (1925). Here he was smiling at Vilma Banky.

Watch the music video for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a01QQZyl-_I

Radio GaGa (1984)
“Radio Gaga” is also chock-full of classic film references. It’s also my favorite Queen music video. The song, which is about television’s takeover of radio and a critique of the subsequent commercialization of radio (something we unfortunately still have today), references two major radio events: Orson Welles’ famous (or infamous) broadcast of War of the Worlds (“You gave them all those old-time stars/Through wars of worlds invaded by Mars”) and Winston Churchill’s “This was Their Finest Hour” speech from 1940 (“You’ve yet to have your finest hour”)

However, the biggest and most obvious classic movie reference in the “Radio GaGa” music video is to Metropolis (1927), Fritz Lang’s classic futuristic film. In order to use clips from the film, Queen had to buy the rights to the film from the Communist government of East Germany. In exchange for the film rights, Queen allowed their hit “Love Kills” to be used in the Giorgio Mororder restoration of the film.

The music video opens with establishing shots from Metropolis:

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Shots of the machinery from the film.

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That really weird clock that only goes up to ten.

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The workers of the Metropolis

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Workers doin’ their thing

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More shots of the Metropolis.

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There were also several scenes in which the band looked like as though they were in the film itself. The picture is grainy black and white, and they drive around the Metropolis in a futuristic little car controlled by a lever.

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My favorite part of the music video is when Freddie Mercury recreates the famous clock scene in which a worker is driven to exhaustion from moving the clock hands around all day long. But of course, Freddie’s clock is big and golden and not the weird one that goes up to ten and he NEVER gets tired. He makes something as silly as moving the hands of a clock look awesome. I especially love how the rest of Queen is standing there like a boss while Freddie works the clock. Also, Freddie’s ass looks divine in those black leather pants.

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The music video also had some recreations of the Metropolis set.

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Next we have the super-famous scene in which The Inventor creates an evil robot replica of the film’s heroine, Maria.

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Then Freddie’s face is superimposed on Maria the Robot’s for a kinda freaky scene in the music video

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Lastly, we see the finale of Metropolis, when the entire oppressive city is flooded and destroyed and all are freed.

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Freddie helps to contribute to the destruction of the Metropolis by breaking a building in half just by lifting his arms and looking triumphant. Which is actually something very plausible for someone whose awesomeness is as high as Freddie’s. What a boss.

Watch the music video for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t63_HRwdAgk

Other Classic Film References Used By Queen
Two of Queen’s albums: “A Night at the Opera” and “A Day at the Races” are named after two Marx Brothers films from 1935 and 1937, respectively. Love those films and love those albums!

The artwork for Queen’s 1977 album “News of the World” also seems to be inspired by Metropolis or vintage sci-fi in general. The story goes that Roger Taylor had an issue of Astounding Science Fiction depicting a robot holding a dead man. This cover inspired the band to have the image revised to contain the robot holding the “dead” bodies of the four band members.

So why are you still sitting here reading this? Go listen to some Queen! :)


Hollywood Halloween Help

I am very proud to say that I’ve got my Halloween all planned out. This year, I’m going to dress up as a glamorous 1930s movie star (last year I was a flapper…see how I’m doing this decade by decade? Next year is Rosie the Riveter). That means I’m busting out my old senior prom gown:

I’m pairing this with peacock feathers in my hair, diamond bracelets, and diamond and emerald earrings. Is it Golden Age enough? I also want to do some creepy stuff…what’s Halloween without it? I’ve always had a fascination with the occult and the unknown, which has only been heightened by the timely book I’ve been reading (Breverton’s Phantasmagoria). The Phantasmagoria detailed an old custom in which if a young girl lights a candle and eats an apple before a mirror on Halloween night, the doppelganger of her future husband will appear before her in the mirror. Of course, this trick can go totally wrong and Bloody Mary can appear in the mirror instead and murder me. If that’s what ends up happening, it was great knowing you all.

But if you are still unsure about what to be for Halloween, I’m here to help…the classic movie way, of course! Why not get some costume inspiration from the stars?


A Very Uncomfortable Indian Chief
Boys, why not take a leaf out of Gary Cooper’s book? Here he is dressed up as an Indian chief, but a very uncomfortable and clumsy-looking one indeed. His fabulous feather headdress is all askew and his face looks like he ripped a fart and is hoping no one heard it. Nevertheless, the Native American people have always fascinated me–they are so proud and majestic!

Your Grandma
Here’s William Powell dressed as your favorite gal–your granny! Just look at this badass grandma…cigarette dangling from her lips like a hardboiled detective, flaunting her skinny old birdlike arms, and her hairy calves. You go granny!


Harpo Marx
First of all, let’s take a moment to think about this picture. Are Lucille Ball and Harpo Marx twins separated at birth?! Forget Zeppo, Lucy is the fourth Marx brother! Just more glamorous of course. Harpo Marx is a very easy costume: oversized clothes, a top hat, and a curly ginger wig. Don’t forget to carry a horn with you and fill your pockets with pictures of horses and other random stuff.


A Knight in Shining Armor
Look at Laurence Olivier standing there uncomfortably in his metal suit and his awkward bowl-shaped haircut. Every girl’s fantasy right there. How dreamy!

 

Charlie Chaplin
Here’s a costume that’s so easy-peasy lemon-squeezy that anyone can do it! From left to right, we have Gloria Swanson, Lucille Ball, and Cary Grant dressed up as the lovable Little Tramp. A very simple costume to put together, and easily recognizable, too!


A Very Classy Guido
You must be thinking, “did this girl seriously just use those words together in the same sentence!?” Indeed, I have. First and last time, cross my heart. Looking at this picture of Nazimova, you can’t help but think she makes the guido spiky-hair style look almost…like something decent people do to their heads.


Fantabulous Sparkling Ice Skating Men
Here’s one you can do with a friend! Forget Johnny Weir–Jimmy Stewart and Lew Ayres are where it’s at when it comes to shimmering glam ice-skating dudes. Just look at those sequin jackets and metallic leggings! Fab! Looks like something I would wear!


A Gay Nineties Couple
This is a costume idea for you and your significant other. Hollywood lovebirds Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg look like they belong in the 19th century with her corseted dress, fur boa, and jaunty hat and his colorful striped suit. A cute idea!


A Big Angry Bug
This picture makes me laugh to no end. Katharine Hepburn, famous for her uppity accent and Bryn Mawr education, clearly looks happy to be dressed in this big bug costume, complete with sequins and two wire antennae.


A Harlequin
I just came across this photo of Claudette Colbert dressed as a Harlequin and I think I’m gonna change my costume to this one, guys! Sequined bodysuit+perfect high-heeled shoes+giant neck ruff=costume with my name written all over it. I’ve always wanted to be a circus performer, after all.


A Giant Shiny Butterfly
Mae West is so awesome we should all bow to her. No one else, alive or dead, classic Hollywood or otherwise, can wear a giant metallic rubber butterfly complete with wings and antennae the size of a small child and pull it off so well like Miss West.


A Giant Shiny Bat

Dear me, what giant shiny animal with enormous wingspan will Mae West be next? The woman wears latex as flawlessly as Freddie Mercury. Mae West’s collecti0n of latex costumes aside, a bat is one of the most classic Halloween costumes you can go with. Don’t forget to add some Mae West glam to what could end up being a cliche costume.

Hope you had fun celebrating Halloween classic Hollywood style!


The Hurrell Experiment

As all of you, my lovely readers, know, the name of my blog is called An Elegant Obsession. It’s pretty straightforward why I christened my blog with this name: I am obsessed with all things classic Hollywood and vintage, and unlike most other obsessions, mine is an elegant one, if I do say so myself. After all, I am obsessed with an era of glamour and class. Part of what made classic Hollywood so elegant is the art of glamour photography.

Glamour photography is, sadly, a dying (ore pretty much dead) art. Nowadays, the idea of photographing celebrities is to show that they are “just like us”: they go shopping, they get coffee from Starbucks, they mow their lawns…whatever. The purpose seems to be to capture them at their most UNglamorous. However, in the olden days I so love, the purpose of photography was to depict these stars as gods: too perfect, too beautiful to be living in this world.

George Hurrell was perhaps the greatest and most prolific glamour photographer. With a career that spanned over seventy years, he photographed the faces of every important star from Norma Shearer to Sharon Stone. Hurrell’s photography is so great because it’s so dramatic. His hallmarks were dramatic lighting with strong blacks and whites. But the Hurrell trademark I want to talk about today is “The Hurrell Hair.”


As seen on the beautiful ladies Bette Davis, Veronica Lake, Carole Lombard, and Jean Harlow, George Hurrell loved to spread out the long, luxurious waves that all Hollywood actresses had back in the day. Any picture with the hair like that is a guaranteed Hurrell. Hurrell used a backlight on his subjects when taking a photo like this, as it added a shimmer or “halo” effect to the hair…which goes back to what I said about the whole “goddess” thing.

So, not being a photographer and having NO equipment but an iPhone 5 camera, I set out to do some Hurrell hair pictures of my own.


Ignore my face. I look like I saw a ghost. Or my reflection in the mirror. Something scary.


Another variation on Hurrell hair, to the best of my ability.

It isn’t so good, as my hair isn’t long enough, the photos are in color, I don’t have photography equipment, and I am an overall strange-looking person. But achieving a cheap knockoff of Hurrell Hair was not as difficult as I would’ve thought it would be!

If you are interested in doing a Hurrell experiment of your own, or if you just want to have long 1930s-1940s style waves everyday like I do, let me know and I will be more than happy to make a tutorial! :)

Meanwhile, I’ll be growing out my hair to get it as long as Vivien Leigh’s in GWTW:

P.S: does anyone have tips on getting rid of dark under-eye circles? I have them all the time, and no matter how much rest I get, I always seem tired and sick-looking! Thanks in advance for any advice!


New York City For The Classic Movie Fan

 

New York City. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. Destination of the world’s leaders and tourists from every corner of the planet. Home to the world’s freaks and geeks, the wealthiest of the wealthy, the most renowned celebrities, the dirt poor, and your humble blogger. I know I make a mighty big deal about being a New Yorker, but being from a glittery yet gritty place like this, how could I not? Everyone is aware of the magic of New York. Even Old Hollywood! Nowadays, New York is a prime filming destination (Who can forget when Sacha Baron Cohen paraded down Manhattan on a procession of camels for his film The Dictator?) and often my school has been used as a film location, the most notable being that inane series Gossip Girl (that day was a TOTAL NIGHTMARE…school was a circus because Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick were outside) and the Kevin Bacon series The Following (which happened at the same time as touring the Freshman class around the campus for their orientation. My school plans these things well, doesn’t it? Oh well, we got to see Kevin Bacon AND an exploding car!) You’d never think that Old Hollywood was up for location filming when it was cheaper and quicker to film on a soundstage. However, Hollywood is not the only place to travel to for your classic film fix, New York has its own classic film landmarks too! So if you don’t live here, don’t forget to come for your classic movie pilgrimage!

And may I recommend flying to New York at night? This might not be possible though, because I’m not sure how many hotels would allow night check-ins. But the aerial view of New York at night is just so beautiful, like sparkling golden jewels nestled in a case of black velvet:

Adam’s Rib (1949)
Summary: Married lawyers Adam (Spencer Tracy) and Amanda Bonner (Katharine Hepburn) find themselves on the opposite sides of the courtroom when Adam is prosecuting a case involving a woman who tried to murder her cheating husband and Amanda is her defense attorney.

The entire beginning sequence of the film, which is about the woman and her husband, was filmed in New York:


The location is Bowling Green Park, the first public park in New York, established in 1733.

 
The husband’s workplace was filmed in this building on 9 Broadway and Morris Street.

This is the scene in which the woman sees her husband going into his gal pal’s house. “Allan’s Steak Heaven” no longer exists, but it used to be located on East 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue.

Here’s an easy location: The Criminal Courts Building, 100 Centre Street


This location is apparently 104 Bayard Street and Baxter Street…but I kinda doubt that. In the screenshot from the film, you see the awning for Carmine’s Restaurant, a legendary eatery famous for its GIGANTIC Italian dishes (I’ve eaten there before, and trust me, one dish can comfortably feed you and a date, with some to spare). But Carmine’s is located in the Theater District, at 200 West 44th Street. Hmm…

All About Eve (1950)
Summary: Broadway newbie Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) gets lucky when she befriends the great, legendary stage diva Margo Channing (Bette Davis). Through her friendship with her role model, she gets close to Channing’s other connections. Everyone thinks that Eve is an innocent, star-struck, obsessed fan, except for cynical theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) who sees Eve for what she truly is: a manipulative snake who uses Margo to make her way up in the notoriously merciless world of theater.

Here is the famous 21 Club, located on 21 West 52nd Street. The 21 Club is a restaurant and a former 1920s speakeasy (it was opened in 1922. Also notice how the doors are a little bit under the ground.) Although the joint was raided numerous times by the police, the owners of the speakeasy were never caught, since a system of levers was used to tip the shelves of the bar and throw all the liquor down a chute and into the sewers. Sounds like a scene straight from a Pre-Code! The 21 Club also had a secret wine cellar, accessed through a secret door in the brick walls and leading to the basement of the building next door, 19 West 52nd (!!!) This wine cellar became the storage spot for the private wine collections of numerous celebrities, including President Gerald Ford, JFK, Richard Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor, Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra, Al Jolson, Sophia Loren, Gene Kelly, Gloria Swanson, Judy Garland, and Marilyn Monroe. Every president since FDR with the exception of George W. Bush (who was an asshole anyways) has dined there. Can you say New York legend?


Here’s the John Golden Theatre, located on 252 West 45th Street and 8th Avenue. This theater, built in 1927, was formerly the home of the Tony Award-winning play Avenue Q.

Bell, Book, and Candle (1951)
Summary: Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is a modern-day witch (such people do exist…this is New York I’m talking about here!). When publisher Shep Henderson (Jimmy Stewart) walks into her building, she falls in love with him and decides to have him all to herself…especially since he’s engaged to her former enemy from her college days. So Gillian casts a spell on him. Will it work?


You can’t really tell because of the use of close-up shots, but this scene was in fact shot on top of the Flatiron Building, located on 175 5th Avenue. The Flatiron Building was built in 1902 and is considered to be the world’s first skyscraper (I know, I know, it’s impossible to think that this was actually once thought of as a skyscraper). At its time, it was the tallest building in New York City.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)
Summary: I don’t like the film or the book (don’t hate me) but much to my chagrin, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered a legendary New York story. Holly Golightly is a madcap prostitute who lives in a brownstone on Manhattan’s East Side. Her apartment is only half-furnished, her cat has no name, she constantly loses her keys, and she loves to visit Tiffany’s because it “feels like home.” (and NO, you can’t eat breakfast at Tiffany’s, it’s a jewelry store for goodness sake. Unless your idea of breakfast is a bunch of diamonds and semiprecious gems.) After spending a day in the city with Holly, her neighbor Paul Varjak falls in love with her. But Holly is determined to marry Jose, a millionaire from exotic South America.


It ain’t Breakfast at Tiffany’s without the Tiffany and Co. flagship store, located on 727 5th and 57th Street. In the film, Holly would spend every morning eating a pastry and drinking coffee while admiring Tiffany’s window displays. When filming this scene, hundreds of onlookers were watching Audrey, which made her nervous and caused her to constantly mess up. It wasn’t until a crew member was nearly electrocuted behind the camera that Hepburn was able to collect herself, forget about the crowd, and finish the scene. This location has been the flagship of Tiffany’s since 1940.


Holly’s apartment is located on 169 East 71st street and Lexington Avenue. Diehard Golightly fans, your future home is here.

This beautiful locale is the Conservatory Water in Central Park, which stretches from 72nd to 75th Street.


The second Central Park filming location was the Bandshell, which stretches from 66th to 72nd Streets.


This scene was filmed at the New York Public Library, located on 5th between 40th and 42nd Streets. It is one of the most iconic and largest libraries in the world and one of the leading research libraries.

This final film exterior was shot at Park Avenue and East 52nd Street.

Butterfield 8 (1960)
Summary: Fashion model Gloria Wandrous is embroiled in an illicit affair with married socialite Weston Liggett. However, Gloria’s desire for respectability causes her to reconsider her lifestyle.


The Liggetts’ apartment is located on 1050 East 5th Avenue and East 86th Street. It looks totally different today!

In the film, Liz Taylor tells the taxi to take her to 38 Horatio Street. However, the actual location is 15 Gay Street and Waverley Place.


In this scene, Liz takes a stroll down 5th Ave and pauses to look at the window display of the store on the corner of 5th and 55th. However, what is located there is now…the Disney Store. Something tells me Elizabeth Taylor wasn’t interested in the latest Mickey Mouse toys and Disney Princess dolls!

42nd Street (1933)
Summary: Big-time Broadway director Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) is putting on a new show and has to deal with the torrential love life of its star, the stuck-up diva Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels). On the night before the premiere of the show, Dorothy breaks her ankle, and it’s up to unknown chorus girl Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) to take the lead. The show must go on!

Okay. I totally cheated here. 42nd Street wasn’t really filmed on 42nd Street. It was instead filmed in Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, California. I passed through those same soundstages where Ruby Keeler tap-danced her way into the hearts of millions of Americans. But it’s fun to see the real location where the famous finale of the film is supposed to take place!

This is what West 42nd Street looks like today. Obviously, the 1933 recreation and the 2012 reality cannot be compared. When the film was made, West 42nd Street was a hotbed of crime, porn, and prostitution. It remained so until the early 90s when Giuliani cleaned it up (I was a little kid then…dear God, do I feel old!) However, there are still one or two adult film schowcases lying around there. Now 42nd Street is the center of the city: it’s in the heart of Times Square and the Theater District. It’s also Tourist Central…so GOOD LUCK walking through there. I have to bite my tongue to prevent the unleashing of the Potty Mouth on the Midwesterners wearing Bermuda shorts and fanny packs and taking VIDEOS of the Empire State Building. Because apparently the Empire State Building moves. People like that don’t last a day in a city like this. End tourist rant.

The Godfather (1972)
Summary: Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the aging Don of the Corleone Mafia Family, one of the five greatest Mafia families of New York. As soon as his youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino) returns home from World War II, the ten year peace is broken when a drug dealer named Virgil Sollozzo asks the Corleones for protection of his drug ring in exchange for money and a share in his drug dealership. However, the Don is morally against drugs and refuses. This prompts Sollozzo to hire hitmen to attempt to assassinate the Don. While the Don recovers, it is up to his sons Santino, Frederico, and Michael to lead the Corleone Family in one of the most violent Mafia wars in New York history.


Best and Co. was a department store that used to stand on 5th Avenue between East 51st and 52nd streets.

Who doesn’t know Radio City Music Hall? Built in 1929 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., this legendary venue has remained largely unchanged since. Renowned interior designer Donald Deskey (ever heard the term “Deskey Deco”? He’s why) designed the elegant, razzle-dazzle interiors which still remain today. The theater’s gold curtain is also the largest in the world. Radio City has also premiered some of the greatest classic films, including the original “King Kong,” “It Happened One Night,” “National Velvet,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Mame,” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” (whose star, Gregory Peck, was a former usher at Radio City). Nowadays, Radio City is one of New York’s most iconic Christmas venues. Every year it stages Christmas Spectacular, featuring the New York Rockettes, who are celebrating their 85th anniversary this year.


This is of course, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, located on 5th Avenue between 50th and 51st streets. A note here: the cathedral is undergoing major renovations, so its famous facade is temporarily hidden by scaffolding. St. Patrick’s is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of New York.

How To Marry A Millionaire (1953)
Summary: Three models, Shatze (Lauren Bacall), Pola (Marilyn Monroe), and Loco (Betty Grable) hatch a plan: tired of cheap, poor boys, each one of them plans to trap and marry a millionaire. However, it is difficult to tell the big money apart from the hucksters, and in the end, will the money even be worth it?


Pola’s apartment is located on 36 Sutton Place and East 55th Street. Some of Manhattan’s wealthiest have lived in this neighborhood, including Freddie Mercury (one of the greatest loves of my life), Bill Blass, Joan Crawford (another love of my life), Marilyn herself, and her then-hubby Arthur Miller.

 

Here, my friends, is the George Washington Bridge. One of the world’s busiest bridges, the George Washington spans the Hudson to connect Manhattan to New Jersey.

The Hucksters (1947)
Summary: Fresh from the war, Victor Norman (Clark Gable) is looking for a job in the competitive world of advertising. His first task is to get widow Kay Dorrance (Deborah Kerr) to endorse Beautee Soap. He does so and gets the job, but things don’t go smoothly when Vic finds himself attracted to Kay instead of his current girlfriend, the young Jean Ogilvie (Ava Gardner).


The exteriors that begin the film were shot at Park Avenue and East 53rd Street, near where the MetLife Building now stands today.

The Jazz Singer (1927)
Summary: Cantor Rabinowitz (Warner Oland) is upset because his son Jakie (Al Jolson) would rather become a jazz/ragtime musician than uphold the family tradition of five generations and take on the role of cantor in his neighborhood’s synagogue. Relations between father and son get so bad that Jakie leaves home, changes his name to Jack Robin, and gets a big opportunity through stage actress Mary Dale. However, Jakie constantly remembers his family and is torn between his career as a jazz singer and his family’s wishes for him to become a cantor.


This street scene was shot at Orchard Street and Hester Street. Still not a ritzy-looking place, even today.

King Kong (1933)
Summary: Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is finishing up his film starring leading lady Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and has found the perfect location: the mysterious, eerie Skull Island. The crew does not know what they will encounter here, but they soon find out that this island is the home of the giant menacing gorilla King Kong. Kong kidnaps Ann, and it is up to the crew to rescue her.

The most iconic scene of the movie and one of the most iconic scenes in film history was shot at the Empire State Building, located at 350 5th Avenue and West 34th Street. The scene I’m talking about is, of course, the one in which Kong climbs the Empire State, Fay Wray in his hands, and swats away at the fighter planes. The establishing shots of the fighter planes were shot in my great homeland Brooklyn (at the U.S. Naval Airbases). The scenic NYC views in the film were shot from the top of the Empire State, and the scenes involving the monkey were shot on replicas of the building in Hollywood (the filmmakers secured the original architectural plans of the Empire State in order to create a convincing recreation for the movie). This 102-story Art Deco landmark was built only two years earlier than the film, in 1931. Here’s a sweet little secret from someone who was walked right past this building numerous times: if you look closely, the windowpanes of the Empire State are red! :D

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Summary: A heartwarming classic New York story. At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an old man discovers that the actor portraying Santa is drunk. Special events coordinator Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) persuades the old man to take his place and becomes a sensation, quickly gaining the post of in-store Santa at Macy’s. Doris then finds out that the man calls himself Kris Kringle and truly thinks of himself as Santa Claus, which makes her uncomfortable since she does not believe in fantasy. However, the people also believe there is something special about Kris. But unfortunately, Kris is soon held at Bellevue and all seems lost until his friend Fred Gaily promises to release him. A hearing is then set up in which Gaily argues that Kris is in fact Santa Claus. Will he win?

 

This scene was shot at East 61st Street and Madison Avenue.

 

Parade scenes were filmed down Central Park West between 76th and 77th Streets.


And of course, parade scenes were filmed at Macy’s, located at 34th street between 6th and 7th avenues, Herald Square. Ah, Macy’s. I’ve got a love/hate relationship with that place. The world-famous flagship location has been standing in Herald Square since 1901. A tip for all of you who are planning a trip to New York and have Macy’s on your agenda: the store has ten floors. It is a behemoth, a monster that saps up all your strength and energy and sanity after awhile. So make sure to give Macy’s an entire day for itself. It is also always unbelievably crowded. And the shoe department is a total nightmare. But if you are an international visitor, go to the Information Desk at the Visitor’s Center on the second floor for a discount card good for 11% off your purchases (yay!) What I like about Macy’s is that it has a large range of products for people of all economic standings (it’s the only place I can think of where I can buy a pair of new Louis Vuitton flats and a Gucci purse and a pair of dirt-cheap jeans from the juniors section) and some of the store still has the old wooden escalators from the early 1900s (although with the recent renovations happening in the store, I don’t know what will become of these relics).

 

The court scenes of the film were shot at the New York County Supreme Court, located at 60 Centre Street in the Financial District.

North by Northwest (1959)
Summary: New York advertising exec Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is kidnapped by a gang of spies led by Philip Vandamm (James Mason) because they mistakenly believe that Thornhill is CIA Agent George Kaplan. Thornhill is able to escape Vandamm’s clutches, but he now must find Kaplan to clear himself of a murder that is believed he committed. Thornhill then meets the beautiful femme fatale Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint)…but is Eve really trying to help Roger?


The scenes of Cary Grant’s character exiting his workplace were filmed at the CIT Financial Office at 650 Madison Avenue. You know, I’ve walked past this building many, many times, never knowing that Cary Grant did so too.


Thornhill then walks into the world-famous Plaza Hotel (750 5th Avenue and Central Park South) this 20-story palace of luxury will be featured greatly in a one of my favorite films, which will be coming up soon on this list.


Sensing that he is being followed, Thornhill then goes to the United Nations Headquarters on 1st Avenue between 42nd and 48th Streets. Nowadays, this is where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad (dunno if I spelled that right) comes to perform his crazy antics every year.


After the fiasco at the UN, Thornhill then calls his mother and buys a train ticket to Chicago at Grand Central Terminal (89 East 42nd Street).

Sabrina (1954)
Summary: Linus (Humphrey Bogart) and David (William Holden) are wealthy brothers, while Linus is all work, David is all play. Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) is the shy, awkward daughter of the family chauffeur and is in love with David “who hardly knows she exists.” Sabrina then goes to Paris for two years and comes back an elegant, beautiful, society women who not only captures the heart of David, but Linus’ as well.


The exterior of the family’s offices was filmed at 30 Broad Street and Wall Street.

The Seven-Year Itch (1955)
Summary: Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) is the exec of a publishing firm and your regular average Joe. He sends his wife and son for a vacation in the country. Always a faithful family man, Sherman often dreams of being successful with women…and temptation strikes when a beautiful sexy blonde (Marilyn Monroe) moves into the apartment upstairs.


Scenes of the Sherman family boarding the train were filmed at Penn Station (7th Avenue and West 31st Street).


Sherman and The Girl’s apartment building was located on 164 East 61st Street and Lexington Avenue…which now seems to be the site of a medical office…how thrilling…


Arguably THE most iconic scene in cinema history was filmed right here in New York: the scene in which an oncoming subway train rushes past, causing Monroe’s skirts to billow upwards as she stands above the subway grating. This legendary grating is located on 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue. The scene was shot on September 15, 1954 at 1 in the morning. However, portions of this scene had to be re-shot in Hollywood because onlookers whistled and cheered Monroe on as her skirts flew up, causing her to forget her lines.

Strangers on a Train (1951)
Summary: One of my favorite, and most underrated, Hitchcock films. Creepy Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) thinks he has hatched the plan for the perfect murder when he meets pro tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) on a train. If Haines kills Antony’s hated father for him, he will kill Haines’ slut of a wife, freeing him to marry his elegant socialite girlfriend, Ann Morton (Ruth Roman). Guy laughs off the plan, but Bruno is serious and murders Guy’s wife. When Guy chickens out of his end of the bargain, Bruno threatens him by telling him that he will plant evidence at the scene of the crime, framing Guy for the murder. Not only is the police suspecting Guy, his career is tainted, his relationship with Ann is strained, and he is being stalked and blackmailed by a psycho. Will he go through with the plan?

Once again, we see Penn Station in a classic film. Penn Station is one of the busiest rail stations in the world. However, the original Penn Station, built in 1910 was much grander and larger, a Beaux-Arts gem of New York City. However, in 1963, orders were given to demolish the head-house and train shed of Penn Station to make way for an office complex and expansions to Madison Square Garden.

That Touch of Mink (1962)
Summary:Sweet, conservative little country girl Cathy Timberlake (Doris Day) meets the man of her dreams, wealthy city man Philip Shayne (Cary Grant) when his Rolls-Royce splashes her with mud while on her way to a job interview. Philip is in love with Cathy as well, but there is one problem: he is not the marrying man, while marriage is the only thing she has on her mind.


This glorious scene of topless Cary Grant was filmed at the new York Athletic Club (180 Central Park South and 7th Avenue). It used to have a red awning. Today it is green and has the initials of the Athletic Club instead of the full name like it used to have.

Week-End at the Waldorf (1945)
Summary: Pretty much a happier, light-hearted remake of 1932′s Grand Hotel but taking place in the swanky Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It stars Lana Turner in the Joan Crawford role, Edward Arnold in the Wallace Beery role, and Walter Pigeon in the John Barrymore role. The biggest plot stretch from the original comes with Van Johnson as a war hero about to undergo major surgery, and who wants to enjoy what would perhaps be the last days of his life. There is also an appearance by humorist Robert Benchley and a cameo appearance by Xavier Cugat as the Waldorf-Astoria’s bandleader.

 

 

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is located on 301 Park Avenue between East 49th and 50th Streets. This 47-story luxury dream of a hotel was built in 1931 and is a world-famous Art Deco landmark. It is also the first hotel in the world to offer room service, forever changing the face of the hotel industry. The hotel houses three American and European restaurants, a beauty parlor, its own railway station as part of Grand Central Terminal, a collection of boutiques, and an elevator large enough to fit FDR’s automobile (!!!)

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)
Summary: Okay, okay, this isn’t a classic film in the true definition of the term. But I consider it a classic because EVERYONE adores it! Ten year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) and his unbelievably large family decide to spend Christmas in Florida (ew…) However, our young hero loses his family and accidentally boards a plane to New York City. Kevin then discovers the power of the credit card, checks into the Plaza Hotel, and leads a life of luxury (i.e. being driven in a limo to the toy store while eating pizza and having banana splits delivered to your hotel suite every day). However, his dream life is ruined when he runs into his old enemies, Harry and Marv (the hilarious Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). Kevin hatches a plan to put Harry and Marv behind bars once again when he finds out of their plan to rob a toy store on Christmas Eve. Because no one messes with kids on Christmas, bitches.


In this scene, Kevin rides in a taxi along the Queensboro Bridge, which was built in 1909 and spans the East River, connecting the borough of Queens to Manhattan.


Once again, Radio City. Ain’t writing that story again!


The Empire Diner, still looking exactly the same twenty years later, on 210 10th Avenue and West 22nd Street.


Here Kevin visits Battery Park, where he uses one of the many binoculars to get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty. It’s a warmer, dryer option than taking the ferry to Liberty Island (I once made the unfortunate mistake of doing this in a pink silk summer dress…Worst. Idea. Ever.)


Here Kevin hangs by the Gapstow Bridge in Central Park. This bridge, a replica of the Ponte di San Francesco in San Remo, Italy, offers a view of the Plaza Hotel.


And here’s the Bethesda Fountain, located in the middle of Central Park.


And of course, Kevin checks into New York’s finest hotel, and one of the finest in the world, The Plaza Hotel. This film is like one long, funny Plaza Hotel commercial.


Harry and Marv ice skate at Wollman Rink, located at Central Park between East 62nd and 63rd Streets.


One of the most heartwarming scenes of the film, when Kevin wishes for his mother to come find him, was filmed at Rockefeller Center (5th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets). Since 1931, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has lit up the holidays each December for native New Yorkers and tourists alike. It has become a Christmas icon and has brought holiday cheer to millions. Indeed, I cannot imagine Christmas without this tree. The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was a 20-foot Balsam fir. Today, the tree is a Norwegian spruce that can be anywhere from 75 to 90 feet tall.

Phew! What a post! I hope you enjoyed and learned something new, and if you are a classic movie fan who lives in or is planning to visit New York, I hope this will be a help to you! If I’ve forgotten anything, feel free to post in the comments :)


The REAL Faces Behind Mutiny on the Bounty

Hi Folks!
Yesterday’s post featured the film “Mutiny on the Bounty” twice, which made me in the mood for that film for the rest of the day. Let’s face it, I’m crazy for this adventure story. I’ve read the  trilogy cover to cover twice, I own the 1935 film on DVD, have it on my DVR, and have it on my iPhone for those days when I need to watch an 18th-century sea insurrection on the go. I am also hell-bent on getting a copy of William Bligh’s own account of the mutiny, but a) I have about 736784624 other books I have to read, and b) I’m a broke college student. The book is only $9, but all I have on me is a dollar in quarters. This, my good readers, is real poverty. Anyway, my Bounty-esque mood got me thinking, “what were these people really like?” Of course, the trilogy by Nordhoff and Hall and the films (the excellent 1935 version and the stinky 1962 version) are based on a true event, but things here and there have been fictionalized for drama’s sake. Today, I am going to try to separate the fact from fiction.

William Bligh


Here is a portrait of the actual William Bligh, lieutenant on the HMS Bounty. Bligh wasn’t the romantic hero of this story, so of course he was played by very…unromantic?…actors such as Charles Laughton (even though the real Bligh looked sickly and seemed to have a complexion the color of Elmer’s glue and Laughton did not, it didn’t matter in the larger story arc. Both of them ain’t gonna win any beauty pageants, and that’s all what matters here). However, Bligh was actually quite young when the events of Mutiny on the Bounty took place: a little over 30 years old. Yet he always seems to be portrayed as some old, cantankerous guy. It’s also interesting to note that the actual reason for the mutiny is unclear. The books and the films tell us that Bligh was a cruel, abusive tyrant. However, the Bounty’s log showed that Bligh sparingly used punishments (they became more frequent only during the return journey from Tahiti, in which relations between Bligh and his men truly started to deteriorate), which leads to another theory that the crew was young and inexperienced and did not want to go back to the disciplined life of a seaman after the sexual freedom experienced in Tahiti. Bligh was seized in his quarters and brought on deck, his hands bound and naked from the waist-down (!!!!!) He was then cast away with nineteen loyalists (four had to remain on the Bounty since there was no room) on a ship’s launch. Bligh then went on to make his amazing, dangerous, open-boat voyage to Timor. Hilariously (to me) Bligh seemed to be type of guy who attracted mutinies in everything he did. His crew rebelled against him during the Spithead Mutiny of 1797. In 1806, he became governor of New South Wales, Australia and incurred the wrath of some wealthy settlers there with his strict disciplinarian ways, resulting in the Rum Rebellion of 1808 and Bligh’s imprisonment in the penal colony of Tasmania, which was pretty much the Alcatraz of the time. Looking at the actual historical events, you kinda feel bad for the guy.

Fletcher Christian


No. You aren’t having nightmares. THIS is supposed to be Fletcher Christian. This man was played by some of the greatest male sex symbols of all time: Flynn, Gable, and Brando. And THIS is what he actually looked like.
Let me clarify.
Fletcher Christian never actually sat for a portrait in his lifetime. So to be honest, no one really knows what he looked like. For centuries, we had nothing else to go on but Bligh’s short description of him: “5ft 9in high, blackish or very dark complexion, blackish or very dark brown hair. Make – very strong, a star tatowed on his left breast, and tatowed on the backside. His knees stand a little out and he may be called bow-legged. He is subject to violent perspiration (how attractive…), particularly in his hands, so that he soils anything he handles.” However, after four years of research, artist Adrian Teal painted the “first accurate portrait of Christian” in 2009, using both historical research and portraits of Christian’s descendants. This is the most accurate thing we’ve got on Christian’s face, despite being painted hundreds of years later. He looks a lot like my high school piano teacher, Mrs. Greene.
Now onto the history: Christian was master’s mate on the HMS Bounty, and was promoted to acting lieutenant by Bligh during the voyage, back when Bligh thought that this voyage was going to be sunshine and daisies. Accounts of the mutiny are pretty much parallel with what we see on screen: bloodless for the most part, and quick.Like we see in the films, Christian and the mutineers returned to Tahiti after taking over the ship. There, Christian married Maimiti, the daughter of one of the Tahitian chiefs, and dropped off the four Bligh loyalists to be picked up by a British ship and taken back to England. Eventually, Christian landed on Pitcairn’s Island, where all hell broke loose.This is the side of the story we don’t get to see, because it is truly quite disturbing.
On Pitcairn’s Island, there was a gender imbalance: fifteen men (nine mutineers and six Tahitian) and eleven Tahitian women. Of course, this led to bloody fights and the deaths of many of the men (they were all pretty much sleeping everywhere and with anyone. Married, unmarried, it didn’t matter). Also disturbing was that the mutineers turned the Tahitian men into their slaves, leading to bloody slave rebellions. They pretty much all became inebriated lotharios.
In 1808, an American seal-hunting ship called The Topaz landed on Pitcairn’s Island, to find only ONE mutineer alive (a man named John Adams), nine Tahitian women, and the children that the mutineers had with these women. Adams and Maimiti told the Topaz that Christian was shot and murdered in the war between the Tahitian men and the mutineers while working by a pond next to his home. On that same day, four other mutineers and all six Tahitian men were killed as well. To make matters more confusing, John Adams changed his story of Christian’s death every time ships stopped by to visit Pitcairn’s: sometimes he would say Christian died of natural causes, other times he would say he went insane and committed suicide, and other times he would stick with his original murder story. Rumors are still swirling to this day that Christian may have actually faked his own death in order to leave the island and come back to England…Christian’s story will always be shrouded in mystery.
Christian was survived by his wife Maimiti and three children: two sons named Thursday October and Charles, and a daughter named Mary Ann. Over the centuries, Christian’s descendants have spread out to Australia, New Zealand, and even the United States. Errol Flynn always claimed to have been a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian. Although I see this as nothing more than a publicity ploy, this is actually kinda plausible since Australia isn’t too far away from Pitcairn’s Island.

Roger Byam


Here is a portrait of “Roger Byam” much later in his life. During the events of Mutiny on the Bounty, “Byam” was only fifteen years old. Why am I writing his name in quotes, you may ask? BYAM WASN’T HIS ACTUAL NAME. For some reason, it was changed in the books and the film. But this man’s real name was Peter Heywood. Heywood and Christian were in fact distantly related, and both got along quite well. In Tahiti, both men were quite promiscuous and had to be treated for venereal disease (gee whizz..I guess it’s tough for these guys being away from women so long!). There was nothing at all about Heywood having to write a Tahitian dictionary as we see him do in the books and the film, so that plot point was purely fictional. However, the rest of Heywood’s story pretty much parallels the events in the books and the films: Heywood was one of the four Bligh loyalists who had to remain on board the Bounty after the mutiny and was let off at Tahiti afterwards (where he adopted the ways of the natives to the extent of heavily tattooing his entire body). Like we see, Heywood and the loyalists were taken back to England on the HMS Pandora and were pretty much treated like crap and manacled below-decks by the captain Edward Edwards (NAWT Bligh as we see in the film). Despite Heywood’s unwavering loyalty to Bligh, in the subsequent court hearing Bligh seemed convinced that Heywood was just a guilty as Christian, and he was at first sentenced to hang. Fortunately for him, he was pardoned by King George III and went on the have an illustrious Navy career (unlike Bligh who was plagued by mutinies and Christian who ended up living out the book “The Lord of the Flies”). Finally, a happy ending in this story!


That Awkward Moment When…

Hello Everyone! I’m back and ready to blog! :) Thank you all so much for the kind and encouraging words, it really touched my heart to see this outpouring of love <3 I truly do have the best readers! :D So here’s a funny post for you guys.

Us classic movie fans like to think of our favorite stars as flawless, effortless, and absolutely perfect. We tend to forget that they too, are people just like you and me, so of course things weren’t always so smooth for them. They, like us, have done some pretty awkward things in their lifetimes. But worse for them, some of these moments have been caught on film. Here are some of my favorite classic movie awkward moments. Don’t forget to comment with your faves! <3

That Awkward Moment When John Wayne Got Beaten Up By A Little Girl

I don’t know what film this is from or who this adorable little girl is, but this picture is hilarious. Look at the big, strong Duke, the paragon of manliness the world over…getting his nose tweaked by a toddler and screaming in pain. I guess even the most manly men have their Achilles’ Heel.

That Awkward Moment When Cary Grant Flips The Bird


Oh Cary. This gem is from “North by Northwest.” He’s holding a ring, but I know he actually thinks that everyone around him is just a mean, nasty, fuck. Good thing the censors were starting to let up around this point!

That Awkward Moment When Clark Gable Says The Wrong Name


This is one of my favorite awkward moments, mostly because I can’t believe no one in the cast or crew realized it. In “The Misfits” the name of Thelma Ritter’s character is Isabelle. However, there is a scene towards the middle of the film in which Clark Gable seems to have completely forgotten this and instead calls her by her actual name…Thelma. And NOBODY noticed. Except me. And I die laughing every time.

That Awkward Moment When Jean Harlow Has A Wardrobe Malfunction


This one’s for the boys. Not that they would mind. In the film “China Seas” there is a particularly intense scene in which Jean Harlow’s character and Wallace Beery’s character fight over half a bank note which can incriminate Beery and send him stuh-raight to the slammer. At one point, Beery pulls on Harlow so roughly that her flimsy little robe almost slides right off…leaving very little to the imagination. Jean recovers quickly, but not quick enough. I guess the Hays Code review board loved what they saw so much that they let it slide. Poor Baby Jean :(

That Awkward Moment When James Cagney Danced Better Than Ruby Keeler


James Cagney: little Brooklyn-born little Irishman with flaming red hair and blue eyes famous for always shooting up the joint as a gangster in films. Ruby Keeler: blue-eyed Canadian darling married to one of the greatest entertainers of all time (Al Jolson), famous for being a professional dancer and performing in lavish Busby Berkeley musicals. Obviously Ruby is the better dancer, right? Wrong. What many people don’t know about James Cagney is that this favorite film gangster was a hoofer since he was a wee child on the streets of New York. So, he pretty much started out as a dancer, and a damn good one. And it shows in the “Shanghai Lil” number of the film Footlight Parade (1933) my personal favorite of all the Berkeley musicals. Towards the middle of the number, Cagney and Keeler do a little tap dance together, and let’s face it, he beats her at her own game. Cagney has this smooth, light, almost sexy way of moving his body when he dances, and Keeler by comparison just looks clumsy, amateur, and…heavy. Just look at her in the picture above, she looks like she’s about to fall over! A truly awkward moment right here.

That Awkward Moment When Buster Keaton Shows Up For Five Minutes In A Chaplin Film And Steals The Whole Show


When people ask me about my stance on the whole Keaton/Chaplin debate, I usually just run away in tears. I love them both so much! It’s almost impossible for me to choose one over the other! However, there is an exception to every rule. And that exception is the film “Limelight,” which is a Chaplin film made much later in his career. “Limelight” is an extremely SAD film, not something you’d usually associate with Chaplin. This story of a suicidal ballerina and a lonely clown never fails to turn me into a big, tearful mess. However, Buster Keaton has a cameo appearance here that is enough to make you cry too…but from laughing too much! Chaplin knew he was taking a risk by giving the equally funny Keaton a role in his film…and Chaplin realized that maybe it was a mistake, because Keaton was obviously the funnier one here. Chaplin was so irked by this that he dramatically cut Keaton’s role…because he was too funny.

That Awkward Moment When Franchot Tone Has A Giant Wedgie


One of my all-time favorite classics is 1935′s “Mutiny on the Bounty.” It’s the perfect sea story, a swashbuckling adventure, and it even has a dash of romance. But another reason it’s so great is that it has plenty of hilariously awkward moments. Like this one. First of all, it’s embarrassing enough that Franchot Tone and Clark Gable had to wear these giant white Tahitian adult diaper things. Secondly, it’s embarrassing that these diapers had to get wet. Clark was smart enough to stand facing the camera. But Franchot, on the other hand, got stuck giving us The View. JUST LOOK AT THAT THING! It’s like, a Super Wedgie. I’m surprised he wasn’t crying in pain during this scene. Honey, you got a letter in your mailbox…

That Awkward Moment When Charles Laughton Picked His Nose In “Mutiny On The Bounty”


HE DOES THIS ABOUT SIX TIMES IN THE FILM, I SWEAR!!! Here’s the last awkward moment for this post, again from “Mutiny.” Charles Laughton literally spends the entire beginning of the film wiping his stray boogers and flicking them off somewhere else. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. Where he’s flicking these boogers off to, only God knows. Maybe on Clark Gable. They famously hated each other. Speaking of Clark, the look on his face is priceless. He looks like he’s about to vomit at the sight. My poor Fletcher Christian :(

That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed!


Old Hollywood in Contemporary Art

Oftentimes we don’t get to see original pieces of art that are centered on classic Hollywood. Most classic Hollywood art that’s out there is drawings and paintings that are exact copies of glamour portraits of famous stars (and yours truly is guilty of this). But Brooklyn artist Jason Bryant breaks the mold by incorporating the Old Hollywood glamour portraits we know and love with his own unique twists.

Bryant, who has a solo exhibition at Porter Contemporary entitled “Smoke and Mirrors” (on until October 20th), combines startlingly realistic paintings of famous Old Hollywood images with comic/cartoon art. Here are some of his works:


This, as many of us know, is a glamour photo of Rita Hayworth from the 1946 film Gilda. At a quick glance, it doesn’t seem that the picture has been altered too much. But on a closer look, you can see that Rita’s eyes are pixellated, giving the effect that they are clouded over by the smoke from her cigarette. It’s interesting to consider, since the title of Bryant’s show is “Smoke and Mirrors.” Also, this painting is entitled “Facade.” With this painting, the message seems to be twofold…Rita’s eyes were clouded over because of the glitz and glamour that Hollywood had to offer…but can this painting mean that our eyes are clouded over for the same reason as well?


This is my personal favorite of Bryant’s works, entitled “A Crack in His Faux Finish.” Here we see the lovely Cary Grant, but his perfect visage is covered up by fireballs and a grim reaper. Looking at the title of this work, we can tell that these bright bursts of flame (and the giant crack in the lower right of the painting) are meant to display the vulnerability of these actors. Grant once famously said, “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.” These stars were given an image to live up to by their studios. However, these images tore some of these people apart. Can you imagine how difficult it must be to always be the perfect, glamorous, sexy star? In the end, it can drive someone crazy, and “cracks in the faux finish” will result.


This painting, entitled “Fabulously Flawed” stars Marlene Dietrich, one of the greatest sex symbols of the 1930s, along with Harlow and Garbo. Dietrich was considered by millions to be a divine, perfect flower. A goddess. But as we can see in this painting, maybe there were some thorns on this rose. Dietrich was a human being and had her flaws like all of us. But with the publicity from the studios painting her as “The Blue Angel,” you were never allowed to know that.

Here’s an interesting painting, entitled “Happiness.” The glamorous Carole Lombard is looking out into the distance, and there is a colorful rainbow and birds all around her. But then you see a sentence saying “Rainbows don’t mean shit” by her lips, as though she’s speaking it (which isn’t hard to imagine, considering Lombard’s famous potty mouth) and then you realize that this isn’t supposed to a happy painting at all, that it is all, going back to the Rita Hayworth painting, a facade.

Bryant’s artwork is unique in that it captures that lavish beauty and glamour of Old Hollywood, but it also shows that not all was perfect in the land of the movie stars. Behind the camera, these stars weren’t gods and goddesses. They were human beings just like you and me. They had their ups and downs. They had their struggles and their inner demons. Many of these stars struggled with their self-image, with love, with loss, with family, with addictions…and some were even plagued by scandal (just look at Fatty Arbuckle and Errol Flynn). To the outsider, Hollywood seemed like some celluloid fantasy playground where all was sunshine and rainbows. But reading biographies of these film stars, many faced serious problems in life, proving that even the rich and beautiful have their bad times. The ultimate message I got from Bryant’s paintings is that whether we are gods and goddesses adored by millions or just an average Joe, we all are on a quest for happiness. It’s something extremely thought-provoking, especially for admirers of Old Hollywood.


Chaplin: The Musical


If you live in New York City, you’ve probably heard of the brand new Charlie Chaplin musical that opened on Broadway about two weeks ago. My best friend and I are big Chaplin fans, so of course we went exploring to see what it was all about!

Chaplin: The Musical is being played at the Barrymore Theatre, which is nice, small, and very fancy, reminiscent of the 1920s-1930s where the bulk of the action in the musical takes place. Also, if you plan to see this show and would like to buy tickets for an evening performance (like I did…I don’t like Broadway matinees, they just don’t seem right!) then DRESS UP! Girls, put on a nice evening dress and some fine jewelry and boys pull out those suits, because a night on Broadway is always a wonderful chance to sparkle! Also, the first thing my friend and I noticed upon entering the theatre was that everyone else except us was extremely…old. Like, age 70 up. I guess it was fun night out at the retirement homes last night because the ENTIRE THEATRE was full of people older than my grandparents! Either that or I’m an old geezer inside a 19 year-old girl’s body. Most likely the latter. Which is fine by me. I’d rather be an old bore than a shallow bimbo straight off Jersey Shore.

The musical got pretty fair reviews in the newspapers. Going in, I honestly had no idea what to expect: was this going to be musical about Chaplin’s life or a musical mashup of his most popular films? Will the actor be true to Chaplin’s character? Will Chaplin be portrayed in a favorable light? How accurate will the facts be? These were just some of the questions reeling through my mind in the days before the show. Then I found out that the musical is about Chaplin’s life; his biography on stage. In a musical. I was nervous as hell. This idea was so easy to mess up!

But then I found that I LOVED it from the very beginning! The story of Chaplin: The Musical covers Chaplin’s life from his troubled childhood in the slums of London to 1972, when Chaplin returned to the United States after two decades of exile to receive a lifetime achievement award. The way the musical weaves together the events of Chaplin’s life was irreproachable. It all flowed so well together, and even incorporated flashbacks perfectly. The musical focused much on Chaplin’s relationship with his mother, Hannah, who was an actress and eventually lost all her mental faculties, devastating the young Charlie. Hannah’s memory would go on to influence Charlie in almost all of his creative work, and indeed, many biographical elements of both Charlie and Hannah directly influence the films that Chaplin goes on to make. The musical also explores Charlie’s sometimes-testy relationship with his older brother/business manager Sidney, his tumultuous marriages until he finds the love of his life, Oona O’Neill (daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill), and of course, the Communist controversy so hatefully started by gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, all because Chaplin declined to be interviewed on her radio show. Of course, I cried like a baby in the end, when Chaplin receives his lifetime award, Oona at his side, forgiving those who cast him off, and being forgiven in return.

Here are some elements of the show that I loved:

Rob McClure. Rob McClure makes his Broadway debut as a Little Tramp, and he does a wonderful job. McClure of course isn’t an exact replica of Chaplin (something impossible to do) but he is as close as you can get, both in his physical looks and his personality. The man sings his heart out, brings much emotion to his role, and even walks a tightrope. He is the best thing about the show and totally deserved the standing ovation he got in the curtain call.


Projections. A lot of projections were incorporated into the show, bringing the audience a taste of the actual Chaplin with little clips from his films. There were also projections of the first silent movies Chaplin saw as a teen in London and a clip of Hitler addressing the German people which Chaplin (in the most hilarious moment of the play) mocks as preparation for his role in The Great Dictator. I felt that the projections were a nice, unique touch that gave the stage show a very filmic quality.

Now here are some things that kinda ticked me off:

Mildred Harris. Sometimes, I found that the parts of Chaplin’s life that the show chose to focus on were quite strange. The fact that the show chose to focus a great deal on Mildred Harris, Chaplin’s first wife, and passed over Paulette Goddard, wasn’t a good decision in my opinion. Goddard was Chaplin’s high-profile marriage, and she worked on some of his most celebrated classics with him. For some strange reason, the show treated his short-lived marriage to Harris to be of much more importance.

Hedda Hopper. Don’t get me wrong here. Hedda Hopper was portrayed brilliantly in this musical. But Hopper’s revenge-seeking ways are what angered me. Starting the false rumors of Chaplin’s “Communist affiliations” only because he did not wish to be interviewed? Really? Because of Hopper’s dirty work, Chaplin would become the subject of a paternity suit and exiled from America in what would be the lowest point of his life and career. Hedda Hopper was The Biggest Bitch in Hollywood.

'Chaplin: The Musical'

I would like to end my review on the best thing about the musical: the moral. Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” character was and still is famous all over the world because he is an Everyman figure: he has some good moments, but he has some bad ones too. Sometimes he strikes it rich, sometimes he loses it all. He finds love, but sometimes it’s a struggle for him to do so. Although many wouldn’t guess it, Chaplin himself struggled with love. His mother had to leave him to stay in a mental institution, which devastated him. His first three wives turned out to be gold-diggers. He struggled with the fact that his millions of fans did not adore him so much as they adored The Little Tramp. There were many points in Chaplin’s life when he questioned if anybody out there really loved him, if anyone will ever see beyond this Little Tramp, beyond his fame, beyond his fortune. Of course, these negative feelings all escalated when he was exiled from the country on false charges of Communism. Was all of his art going to go down the drain after all these years of hard work? It seemed like the end for Chaplin. However, at age 54, Chaplin married the young Oona O’Neill, who was the love of his life, because she was one of the few who cared for the actual man behind the stage paint and the funny costume. And even though it took awhile, both Chaplin and the United States forgave each other for the past. Chaplin’s life story teaches us that love will find each and every one of us, maybe early, maybe later (like Charlie). We just have to find that one person who would care to look beyond the facade, beyond the superficial, and really care for who you are inside, flaws, insecurities, and all. Chaplin’s story also tells us to forgive. No matter how bad a problem may seem, there is always a solution for it.

Chaplin: The Musical had a very emotional ending for me. I’m gonna get a little personal here and say that Chaplin’s films have pulled me out of many a low point. Why? Because they are side-splittingly funny…yet they have the power to bring out the tears too. The background used for the finale of the show was the same one from Modern Times, the barren road leading to everywhere and nowhere. AKA the Greatest Movie Ending of All Time and also The Ending That Makes Me Cry Like A Baby (this ending and City Light’s get me sobbing). I mean, why WOULDN’T you cry? There’s the Tramp, with the girl he loves, both dirt broke with nothing between them, yet they stay positive and move on to life’s next chapter for them, confident that their love will see them through everything. Are you crying yet? Cuz I am. The ending of the musical was so adorable and so emotional and trust me it brought on the waterworks. There I was, sitting next to my friend, with two streams of tears flowing down my face. I’m so glad they didn’t play the song “Smile”…that would’ve turned me into a giant watery mess. I was embarrassed enough that I cried in front of her and I had to fan my eyes with my Playbill. Remember my lovelies, no matter how low things can seem sometimes, “Be Brave! Face life! Tomorrow the birds shall sing” and always keep a “Smile” on your beautiful faces <3
If you are interested in seeing Chaplin: The Musical you can order tickets at http://chaplinbroadway.com/. Also, don’t forget to bring some money to buy some Chaplin souvenirs! :)

 


It’s Beefacake Time

One of the wonderful things about classic films is that almost all of the actors were drool-worthy. Tall, dark, and handsome with amazing bodies. Like most girls, I love it when a man has muscle. And thankfully, Hollywood understood my obsession with the brawny and had most of its actors pose for “beefcake pictures”: photography devoted to shirtless men. Women took “cheesecake” photos, which were swimsuit photos. But today is all about the guys as I show you some of my favorite beefcake photos.


Cary Grant and Randolph Scott
Does this count as a “beefcake” photo? Whatevs, Cary and Randolph have nice, lean muscles. If you’ve seen My Favorite Wife, you’ll know that Randolph Scott had a bod to rival Johnny Weissmuller’s. And nice legs, Cary!


Marlon Brando
Perfection. My copy of A Streetcar Named Desire has this image on the cover.


Clark Gable
This is one of the earliest photos of Gabe that I’ve seen. And one of my favorites. And one of the most drool-worthy pics of all time. Gable haters say he was flabby, but this photo proves he was RIPPED. Dear God, those beefy dimpled shoulders…


Gary Cooper
Coop may have been as thin as a rail, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have muscle! This picture proves that he didn’t have the body of an overgrown child, but had some nice, well-developed arms. He also had a nice smattering of chest hair, an added bonus.

Errol Flynn
Gorgeous!!! He may have been a womanizer and a hellraiser, but with a body like that, who can blame him? Errol is like some long-lost Greek god. They just don’t come that way anymore. Now excuse me while I put my face in the freezer to cool off my blushing cheeks.


James Cagney
Cags may be an unlikely choice for a post like this, but being an athlete and dancer, he did have a great body. Cags wins the award for Most Underrated Beautiful Bod. You can’t see it in this picture, but he also had these adorable freckles on his shoulders. Which is a big plus in my world.


Rudolph Valentino
Last but definitely not least is this perfect specimen of humanity known as Valentino. He was PERFECT. I bet all those rumors about him being effeminate were started by ugly, jealous men. Because let’s face it, he’s gorgeous. And a BIG bonus…his swim trunks leave very little to the imagination. And I’m sure we all like what we see.

Until next time, my loves!


Ball of Fire (1941)

Being Clark Gable’s #1 fan, you probably think that I can’t stand the sight of Gary Cooper, his “rival” (rivals in the box office, they were friends in real life). But Ball of Fire, a screwball comedy classic that Cooper made with my fellow Brooklynite Barbara Stanwyck, is what made me love him. I first saw this film about a year ago. I was home alone; my parents at work and my sister taking her geometry Regents (for all you non-New Yorkers, the Regents are the end-of-year state examinations) and I was having a grand ol’ time watching Stany make Coop all hot under the collar. I’ve seen it again recently as part of Gary Cooper’s SUTS day on TCM, and I adore it even more!

Ball of Fire has a great plot, often touted as a modern-day Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and rightly so: A group of seven old, geeky, bachelor professors (the “seven dwarves” here) are living together and working on an encyclopedia of all human knowledge. Each professor is covering a specific area, and Professor Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper) is an expert in English grammar and is researching contemporary American slang. Bertie goes to soda fountains and other popular hangouts to do research. One night, he wanders into the nightclub of beautiful burlesque stripper Sugarpuss O’Shea (Barbara Stanwyck. If that name doesn’t get you giggling uncontrollably, I don’t know what will.) and he becomes fascinated by her use of slang. Bertie asks Sugarpuss to help him with his research, and she reluctantly agrees only because she needs to hide from the police, who want to question her about her mobster boyfriend, Joe Lilac (Dana Andrews). Keep in mind that Bertie and the professors DO NOT know that she’s a wanted woman, and they kindly allow her to stay in their home and help them with their encyclopedia. The professors are enamored with her, and Bertie is absolutely crazy about her, and she in turn becomes fond of all of them. Sugarpuss teaches the professors many things, including how to conga dance, and when she discovers that she is attracted to Bertram, she teaches him the meaning of “yum yum.”


“Yum yum” becomes Bertram’s favorite slang phrase.

Bertram soon proposes marriage, but before their wedding, Sugarpuss is kidnapped by Joe so he can force her to marry him, and Joe’s henchmen hold Bertram and the professors hostage in their own home. Will a group of bumbling book nerds be able to escape and save Sugarpuss? Or will it be too late?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything about Ball of Fire is great. If you’re trying to get into the films of either Coop or Stany, this film is an excellent place to start. The script is snappy, witty, and hilarious, the actors play their parts perfectly, and the film combines funny moments and serious (but never too serious) moments very well. Coop and Stany are a dream team. Many might feel that someone as…simple-minded as Coop would’ve been horribly miscast as a professor, and a professor of grammar, of all things (we all know of Coop’s sparing use of words), but I think he was perfect! He played the naive, bumbling, adorably awkward guy amazingly well. Coop had a great gift for comedy, and I was hysterically laughing at him more than any other character. Coop seems to be funny without even realizing it. You can’t help but fall in love with Bertram Potts. The role of Sugarpuss O’Shea seemed to have been tailor-made for Barbara Stanwyck, even though she wasn’t originally the first choice for the role (that was Ginger Rogers, and when she declined, Carole Lombard and Lucille Ball were considered before the role was given to Barbara Stanwyck). Stany was snappy, sexy, and smart in this role. Sometimes I felt that Stany didn’t have to do much acting at all, she just had to be herself!

Even though “Potsie” (his nickname from Sugarpuss in the film) and Sugarpuss are complete opposites: quiet, studious, shy, awkward academician and street-wise, sexy, gritty, Brooklynite, they complement each other so well. You can see the sparks fly when Coop and Stany are together on-screen! Just look at those above photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coop and Stany were perfect and excellent in Ball of Fire, but one actor who I feel doesn’t get enough credit in this film is Richard Haydn, who played Professor Oddly. Haydn is well-known as the voice behind the caterpillar in Disney’s animated classic Alice in Wonderland (which is one of my favorite Disney films, and the caterpillar is my favorite character!). His character in Ball of Fire is drop-dead hilarious. Pretty much every line he says had me in hysterics! He plays against both Coop and Stany very well, and is the most lovable professor along with Coop. And for those of you who only know him as Alice’s caterpillar, YES, he always speaks in that voice! It wasn’t his actual voice, but he always put on this famous nasal tone for all the characters he played. His performance is definitely up there with the two leads.


Bertram Potts and his fellow professors learn about the importance of great gams from Sugarpuss O’Shea.

Ball of Fire is a perfect four-star film with a great plot and great performances. You can’t go wrong with it!

Here’s one last photo of Coop and Stany, to prove how cute they are together!


The Pirate (1948)

On the 23rd, we celebrated the centennial of the talented, funny, and handsome Gene Kelly. Apart from watching some of my Kelly favorites: Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, Anchors Aweigh, I watched a film that has been sitting in my DVR for a loooong time…The Pirate.

The Pirate takes place in the adventurous, heady atmosphere of the Caribbean. Manuela (Judy Garland) dreams of someday being spirited away by the legendary pirate, Mack the Black Macoco (this name had me laughing the entire film, by the way) for a life of swashbuckling adventure and passionate romance. But Manuela’s dreams are crushed when her aunt arranges for her to marry the town’s mayor, Don Pedro (Walter Slezak), who isn’t handsome or adventurous at all, a far cry from the romantic Macoco she envisions. The day before her wedding, an actor named Serafin (Gene Kelly) and his troupe come to town. Serafin is quite the ladies’ man, but when he first lays eyes on Manuela, he is smitten and has eyes only for her. He soon finds out of her obsession with the legendary Pirate, and poses as the Macoco to win her heart. Will Serafin’s scheme work? Will the REAL Macoco show up?

Before watching this film, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and I agree completely…I loved it! Is there such thing as a BAD Gene Kelly film? I think not. I even like Invitation to the Dance, which made my sister fall asleep within fifteen minutes -___-

I think The Pirate wins my award for sexiest Gene Kelly film ever. He had excellent chemistry with Judy Garland (which was no secret, they made three films together). They were HOT. So much so that I wish they got married in real life. Seriously. They’re amazing together! But alas, Garland was married to the film’s director, Vincente Minelli at this point, so it wasn’t going to happen. Another reason why this is the sexiest Gene Kelly film is because of the costume he gets to wear in the dream sequence:

Not the best view, but I tried my hardest to find a photo that exhibits both the tightness of that onesie-thingy he’s wearing and how great his butt looks in it. (by the way, Gene Kelly also had the greatest butt in Hollywood History, and it’s not just me saying this, millions of others agree) My jaw dropped to the floor and I had to fan my blushing cheeks. Gene Kelly was sexy and he knew it.

I also loved the music in the film, with my favorites being “Nina,” “Mack the Black,” and “Be A Clown.” And BY THE WAY, when Singin’ in the Rain rolled around four years later, the music from “Be A Clown” was taken, the lyrics changed, and “Make ‘Em Laugh,” Donald O’Connor’s solo in the film, was born! Total plagiarism, but since both The Pirate and Singin’ in the Rain were MGM films, it didn’t matter.

Production of the film was a very tense and difficult affair. Judy Garland was growing more and more dependent on prescription drugs, smoked about four packs of cigarettes a day during filming (how she still had a voice of an angel is a miracle), she fought often with director/husband Vincente Minelli (they would divorce several years later), and she missed 99 of the 135 shooting days (dear Lord!) due to illness. Gene Kelly also had to fight to get the African American Nicholas Brothers included in the film. However, their footage was cut in Southern cities -____- The film also BOMBED when it was released, and MGM lost $2 million as a result. Seriously!? I thought this film was great! However, critics of the time felt that the sophistication of the film was lost on the audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The woman to the left is Laura Ingalls Wilder, famous author of the Little House on the Prairie series. If you’ve read her books (which are the BEST by the way) you’ll know that she was also a schoolteacher. To the right is Gene Kelly with Judy looking on. Is there a difference in hairstyles? Nope.

One complaint that I have about the film: the costumes (with the exception of the above Gene Kelly costume). They were absolutely ridiculous! Gene Kelly’s hair was curly in the front like some 1800s schoolteacher’s (refer to the above photos), and the costume he wears in his first scene (which I couldn’t find a photo of, so I apologize) made him look like Pippi Longstocking gone hobo. However, THIS is the worst costume of the film:

Poor Judy Garland. Wearing a Mr. T-sized cross, a puke-yellow dress, and a plaid chef’s hat. I highly doubt that this is how they dressed in the Caribbean, but it did give me a good laugh after the initial horror.

Now, I’m curious about one thing…and you can probably guess what it is…the mysterious “Voodoo” number. “Voodoo” was a song and dance number that was supposed to be between Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, but apparently it was quite sexy. So sexy that it couldn’t make it past the censors and had to be cut out of the film and the footage DESTROYED. The number that replaces it is the “Mack the Black” number, and considering the circumstances surrounding that one, I can see “Voodoo” as being one hot number. This is a tough question, but does anyone know anything about “Voodoo”? I wish they didn’t destroy that footage!

All in all, The Pirate is a great, fun film!


We’re Two!

Two years ago today, I’ve decided to make this little classic Hollywood blog out of pure boredom. But look at how big and amazing it has become! I thank YOU for reading, commenting, and sharing in my love for classic Hollywood!

This year, we have Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald cutting our cake!
And as always, I’ve changed up the background and header of An Elegant Obsession to give us a new look for a new year. I decided to go for a more shiny, Deco theme. I’ve also gotten a lot, and I mean A LOT of complaints that the background made it hard to read my posts, so I went for a lighter, less intricate background this year. Tell me what you think about it!

Thank you for another fun year! And hopefully we shall have many more!


So I Got Trapped In A Hitchcock Film.

WARNING: This post might have spoilers. I’m going to try my best not to spoil anything, but it’s difficult, so if you plan on seeing Sleep No More without knowing what to expect (which is definitely a good plan!) maybe you should skip this post.

It’s 9:00 in the morning on July 17th.

My feet are bruised and bloodied, my hair is in disarray, there’s a white mask in my room, a two of diamonds playing card on my desk, and a golden band on my finger.

You must be thinking, “What the fuck happened to her?”

Well, believe it or not, I went to see a play. But not just any play, my favorite play: the immersive, haunting, and unusual Sleep No More. I’ve been there twice, and trust me, I will be going again. For many, many times. It is addicting and revolutionary and just beautiful.

Sleep No More is unlike any other play in the WORLD, and I’m not exaggerating. You see, there is no stage or seats. The audience and the actors share the same space, and YOU have a role that’s as equally important as the actors. The show is the story of Macbeth with a dash of Rebecca and set in a film noir. The plot is notoriously complex and very difficult to follow, but my goodness, is it worth it. I got exposed to it this last school semester. My English teacher is a steward there (which mean she is a crew member/security guard for the show) and she took us to see it as a class on the day after my birthday! That was the best birthday present I ever got haha!

What does this have to do with classic movies, you may ask? Well, the story of the play may be about four centuries old, but it gets a new spin by being set in the 1930s, and takes lots of inspiration from the works of Alfred Hitchcock. The show even has some characters from Rebecca, such as the second Mrs. DeWinter and Mrs. Danvers. Cool, right? The show takes place inside the McKittrick Hotel (sound familiar, Vertigo fans?) which is actually a warehouse in Chelsea that has been converted into a six-floor 1930s style hotel with over a hundred rooms, including a maze, a graveyard, a nursery, an apothecary, a sweet shop, a banquet hall, an infirmary, a padded cell, a bathroom, a bedroom, a bar, a hotel lobby, a morgue, a detective’s office, a luggage room…you name, it, the McKittrick has it. It even has a Narnia closet, in which you enter, then exit into a different part of the hotel!

Some of the many lavishly detailed and decorated sets of the McKittrick.

The themes that Hitchcock explores in his films: voyeurism, psychoanalysis, superstition, character doubles, homosexuality, and religion, are all main themes in Sleep No More as well. I’ll get more in depth with this later in the post.

The show also has the most amazing music! It’s all vintage swing/big band music, my favorite! It also has snippets from the Vertigo theme and love song as well. You aren’t allowed to talk in the show, and it takes me all my strength not to sing along with the beautiful/eerie music!

Here are some things that set Sleep No More apart from your average theater production:

No stage, no seats. Both actors and audience share the same space within the McKittrick Hotel. If the character is writing something on a typewriter, you are encouraged to look over their shoulder and read it. You can sit at a table with a character, or stand next to them. If you wanna explore the McKittrick, go ahead. If you want to chase an actor and learn more about their character, go ahead. The show is meant to be interactive. There is no right or wrong way to go about the show. You choose your own path and do what you want to do. Similarity to Hitchcock #1: immersiveness. In his films, Hitchcock tries to stimulate all of the audience’s senses. Sleep No More does the same. A normal stage show only stimulates your sense of sight, but here your sense of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and even taste are stimulated! It’s truly a full-body experience.

You never see the same thing twice. Yes, the same things are performed at Sleep No More, but you never see the same thing twice, no matter how many times you see the show. Seriously. Because you are choosing your path through the McKittrick, everyone sees something different. There are no two similar Sleep No More experiences. And most of the scenes happen at the same time, so when you are watching something, there about 20 other things going on at the same time in different locations throughout the hotel. The show is three hours long (yes, standing, walking, and running on your feet for three hours, can’t ask for better exercise!) and each hour is a “loop,” so the action of the show repeats three times so you can have a chance to attack the show from a different angle each time. There is a finale at the end that everyone gets to see.  So it’s actually not a waste of money to see this show more than once. My two visits to the McKittrick so far were COMPLETELY different.

The actors barely speak. You read that right. The story of Macbeth is told entirely through dance here. Yes, this is interpretive dance. No it isn’t boring. Yes, it is difficult to understand and is meant to make you think. The dancing is violent, passionate, and visceral. I admire these performers and the amount of physical work they do. It’s a lot harder than it looks. Can you imagine telling a story entirely through movement? That’s what these actors do. It isn’t about what the characters say, but it’s about what they feel, what’s going on in their minds. It’s about their psychological makeup. Like in Hitchcock’s films, psychology is an extremely important theme. The actors put a lot of improvisation into their roles, and even though they aren’t as famous as the shits we have in today’s films and television shows, they are easily the most talented performers I can think of today. Some actors get more vocal than others, but this would usually be through screams and other sounds to convey emotion. There is a scene in particular in which Lady Macbeth begins to see spirits around her (that’s the audience!) and she says that whole scene from Macbeth. I think that’s the most vocal a character will get. The audience is absolutely not allowed to speak either. In this show, silence speaks volumes

Bedroom dance between the Macbeths

You’re in a mask. The audience MUST wear the mask. This is the part of the show that I’m not too keen on, but it’s supremely important. The mask is big, white, scary, and has a duck bill. But the mask is used to create a sense of anonymity and to help you lose some of your restrictions and inhibitions. Because your face is covered, you can lose yourself and loosen up and be someone else. This is SNM’s (I’m using the acronym because it’s easy and I’m that obsessed) version of the Hitchcock voyeurism. Look at Rear Window, Hitchcock’s film that’s all about voyeurism. The mask is like Jimmy Stewart’s binoculars in the film: it allows us to look in on the lives of these people, and take interest in their affairs.


The audience members (in the masks) watch a scene between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

One on Ones. With a show that forces you to share the same space with the actors, you’d think it can’t get any more intimate, right? But trust me, it does. The actors give one one ones, which is a special private performance for one audience member only. The actor gives them only once per loop, so only three audience members get a one one one with each character. The audience member chosen is entirely up to the performer, and each performer looks for different things in a prospective one on one participant. Like the rest of the show, they are EXTREMELY INTENSE. But don’t worry, you won’t get hurt or anything! It’s just intense to witness. Touch is also an important part of the one on ones, but it’s nothing inappropriate. You also get a little gift from the character after the one on one :) If you get lucky and are chosen, one on ones are really the highlight of the night!
Nicholas Bruder as Macbeth. He’s scary…a scary GOOD actor!

It’s not scary but…it’s extremely eerie and suspenseful, like a Hitchcock film! There are no monsters waiting for you and no creepies lurking behind corners or anything. Yet SNM is wonderfully sinister. The entire hotel is dimly lit (you actually need to walk through a pitch black labyrinth just to get into the hotel!), there is a lot of smoke effects, the music can be creepy at times, and the show places a lot of emphasis on the supernatural and superstitious. After all, Macbeth is the only Shakespeare play in which witchcraft and satanism play a central part! The McKittrick is chock-full of superstitious relics and religious icons to “ward off evil spirits” and the show is very much influenced by the Paisley witch trials, which occurred when Shakespeare was writing Macbeth. Also, if you look carefully, legend has it that every line from Shakespeare’s original play is written somewhere throughout the McKittrick. The backstories to these little things you see and experience in the show is absolutely fascinating to explore.


This stained glass window is one of the many religious motifs and icons found throughout the McKittrick.

Now, if you plan on going sometime, here’s some SNM etiquette tips.

Be a courteous audience member. As much as you and I would like it to happen, we are not in the McKittrick alone. You  have about 400 others trying to enjoy the show too. So no pushing, no shoving, and no crowding too close! I am not a big girl, and not all the other audience members are big either, but the ones that are jostle me and have almost trampled me! Luckily I’m on the slender side so I can snake through pushy crowds, but I can’t tell you how many audience members have been rude during my two visits.

MOVE PUH-LEEZ. During my second visit, I spent my first loop following Banquo. He’s a fascinating character, and I was hoping to get his one on one because I heard it is really scary. But guess what? The actors, who are professional dancers and extremely thin and limber, run on to their next scene faster than the blink of an eye. So of course, I’m running like crazy to keep up with Banquo, but because the AUDIENCE WOULDN’T EFFIN MOVE, I eventually lost the guy, and didn’t get his one on one! So audience members: learn to think fast and move even faster please!

Fortune favors the bold. That is the motto of the show. And you do want to follow it. Trust me, good things happen to those who remain fearless and calm throughout the show. My first time, I was a little timid because the show was just so unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. But I was bold my second time, and I had the time of my life! You want to get the best out this experience, so do explore and interact! Remember, it’s a play. No one will hurt you! Have fun!

Do it alone. SNM is meant to be something you experience by yourself, and trsut me, it’s so much better that way. You get to do whatever you want, you won’t be tied down to the wishes of someone else, and you’ll be more likely to get chosen for a one on one! You will have a much richer experience when you do it alone. And there is no reason to be scared. Being alone is empowering, actually!

But if you’re a big fat chicken…and want to go through the show with someone you know, just remember not to be in the way all the time. And if you’re a couple, FOR FUCK’S SAKE DON’T HOLD HANDS. AND GIRLS DON’T CUDDLE YOUR FUCKING BOYFRIEND HE IS NOT GOING TO HELP YOU EVER.

TALL PEOPLE MOVE TO THE BACK. I’ve always considered myself tall: 5’5″. But SNM taught me that I’m actually really…short. And since some audience members never seem to see me and push past me, it must be true. I don’t know what happened, but on my Monday night visit, it seemed that everyone in the audience was over six feet tall! And of course, all the human elevators had to push to the FRONT  to watch the action, while 5’5″ 120 pound me is stuck hopelessly trying to crane my neck over the towering heads! My friend is 5’2″ so she had an even more difficult time. SO IF YOU ARE HOPELESSLY TALL, MOVE TO THE BACK SO THE SHORTIES CAN SEE WHAT’S GOING ON TOO. YOU WILL STILL BE ABLE TO SEE FROM THE BACK. SO STAY THERE.

Respect the actors. The great thing about SNM is that you’re able to get near the actors. But that doesn’t mean people should behave however they please with them. Don’t touch them unless they invite you to or get all in their faces. I’ve heard a lot of stories about people disrespecting and deliberately trying to disorient the actors, and it’s horrible to do. If someone pays $90 for the ticket, why would they even try to ruin the show for themselves? The actors are people too, and have feelings! They work their butts off every night, so they deserve respect.

Dress comfortably. There are always shits who think it’s cool to come to SNM in a cocktail dress and heels, and they end up leaving early because they can’t enjoy themselves. How do you expect to wear six inch heels for three hours straight and live? You are going to be standing the whole time, and doing lots of running, so wear comfortable shoes. Dress in light, cool clothing because some parts of the McKittrick have no air-conditioning and are therefore INCREDIBLY hot and stuffy. I know it’s tempting to dress up for this show, especially with a cast dressed in 1930s costumes, but you need to resist that temptation. One of the few times that comfort goes first for me.


Yes, Macbeth really is naked in that tub

This show is NOT for the faint of heart. Now this is IMPORTANT. You have to be at LEAST 16 to see this show. But having a 16 year-old sister, I think 18 would be a better age. The show is VIOLENT (it’s Macbeth, so that’s a given). My friend actually got bloodstains on her mask! The show also has NUDITY. Yep. The actors do get naked. Both male and female nudity. So if you’re an immature baby who can’t look at a naked body without saying “ew” or laughing, then don’t bother seeing this show. And more than anything else, the show is extremely INTENSE. You are going to see a lot of disturbing behavior, violent scenes, and spaces that are meant to make you feel certain things (the graveyard is meant to give you the chills, etc.) In my first visit, I actually walked into a padded cell! Some rooms are small and claustrophobic, while others are large and spacious. But there is a lot of intense, disturbing psychological situations. Actually, they are at every turn. So if you feel that you are not up to seeing such things, don’t go. It’s not an easy show to watch, and it really drains your emotions, but in the best way. It is totally worth it.


The eerie padded cell.

Now I want to talk about my SNM crushes. The entire cast is absolutely beautiful. And it makes life so difficult for a girl like me. I have two crushes:

Nick Atkinson as Maximilian Martell, the Man in the Bar. When you enter the McKittrick, you enter into the Manderley Bar, and from there you get into the actual show. It’s nice to sit in the 1920s speakeasy-style bar to get int the mood before the performance. In the bar, you will see two characters, Maximilian and his sweetheart, Violet. Max is my first-ever SNM crush. He is played by Australian actor and singer Nick Atkinson (so yes, he does have the adorable accent). On my first visit there, we shared a conversation filled with banter and flirtation, and he asked me my name and lovingly kissed my hand. I was hooked since then. I even added him as a friend on Facebook soon afterwards. But now I’m too busy/lead too much of an awesome, exciting life to ever go on Facebook anymore, so that doesn’t matter. On my second visit, he gives me my mask (instead of Violet who usually gives out the masks) and calls me “his love” siiiiighhh. Then when explaining the rules to the audience, he lightly traced his fingers along my shoulders (which were bare) and whispered the last sentence of the rules right in my ear. My heart was thumping like A FREAKIN RABBIT ON THE RUN.  It was on overdrive. How he didn’t hear it, I have no idea. Or maybe he did hear it. Then when the show was over and I went back into the bar to unwind and talk to my friends about what I saw, he comes up to me saying, “My darling! You’ve made it one piece, I see!” Then I explained to him that it isn’t my first time here and he just smiles at me. Does he remember me from three months ago? And just look at how effing handsome he is! Jesus Christ, what perfection.

In the second picture, Paul’s the handsome perfect  ginger on the far left. You can’t see it in these pictures, but his eyes are the most lovely bright blue.

Paul Zivkovich as the Porter. On my first visit to SNM, I saw Paul as Macbeth, and he was EXCELLENT! But when I saw him as the Porter on my second visit, that’s when I fell in love with him. Paul is also Australian (what’s with that place!?) and he is an extremely gifted actor and one HELL OF A PERFECT DANCER. I stuck with Porter Paul for my entire third loop. I saw him laugh, cry, dance, everything. I followed Porter’s story from beginning to end. There is a scene in which the Boy Witch lip-syncs to Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” (a beautiful scene) and while everyone moved forward to watch the Boy Witch sing, I stuck around and watched it from afar with Paul at his concierge desk. He put so much emotion and heart into his reactions to the song that I was on the verge of tears for his character. We made so much eye contact, and during the song he shone his lamp on my hand so he can watch my fingers tap along to the rhythm of the song. It also helped that I had sparkling nail polish on, and men are attracted to anything that shines. he then made eye contact with me again, and shone the lamp on my face. I then proceeded to follow his character around, but then this BITCH came out of nowhere and tried to block me from getting close to Paul and therefore getting his one on one! After one particularly violent dance,  he falls by my feet and that girl’s. She then holds out her hand to him so she can help him up, but you know what? In one fluid motion, he gets up, grabs my hand, and whisks me away, hand-in-hand, down a hallway and through many doors until we reached a room the size of a closet. He locked the door, AND I GOT THE ONE ON ONE!!!! I GOT THE ONE ON ONE!!! WOOOOO! I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll say that it was intense, intimate, and heartbreaking. It was just..amazing! I also got a ring from Paul at the end of the one on one, a plain golden band. I STILL haven’t taken it off since Monday night! And after the one on one was over and he was back in the performance space, he catches my eye and puts a finger to his lips, telling me to always keep his secret. So you see guys, I made a promise to Paul and I can’t spoil anything! But now I’m in love with him and his gorgeous gingerness.

In conclusion, SNM is the best show in the world ever. It’s unlike anything you’ll ever see. It’s better than a Broadway show, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. If anyone plans to go and wants to discuss any questions/concerns with me, feel free to comment or drop me an email! The best way I can describe the experience is that it’s like stepping into a dream, with all the beauty and horror that comes in the realm of fantasy.


The Three Musketeers (1948)

Here’s something many of you don’t know about me: I love “guy’s” films. Films that are more likely to capture the fancy of a guy rather than a girl. I don’t know any girls who would watch and enjoy a swashbuckling Errol Flynn film, immerse themselves in the exciting naval history of Mutiny on the Bounty, get excited over a Western, or get emotional over a war film. They’d most likely fall asleep within the first fifteen minutes. Recently, I’ve added another guy’s film on the list: The Three Musketeers. 

I’ve always loved the book by Alexandre Dumas, so seeing this film was a must for me. At first, I was apprehensive about it because seeing Gene Kelly as top billed automatically made me assume this was going to be a musical version of this beloved story (can you imagine? Dear God…) but thankfully it wasn’t. Gene Kelly didn’t even dance in this film, unless you consider his fancy footwork while swordfighting as dancing.

AND SPEAKING OF GENE KELLY…I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to see the theatrical re-release of Singin’ in the Rain on Thursday!!! And I CRIED. Cried tears of joy! It was absolutely beautiful to see a classic film on the big screen, like the way it was seen back in 1952! The feeling was indescribable, and I had goosebumps all up my arms the entire time. The only other time I’ve seen a classic film in the movie theater was The Wizard of Oz when I was six years old. It was my all-time favorite film growing up, and I still treasure it! But I digress…

I’m sure many of you already know the plot of The Three Musketeers: d’Artagnan (Kelly) is a provincial man who travels to Paris to join the king’s guards, the Musketeers. He befriends lovable yet mischievous Musketeers Porthos (Gig Young), Aramis (Robert Coote), and Athos (Van Heflin). Together the inseparable friends go on an adventure to thwart Cardinal Richelieu’s (Vincent Price) plans to usurp the king’s power. On the way, d’Artagnan finds love with Constance (June Allyson) the goddaughter of his landlord, and he has to deal with evil femme fatale Milady deWinter (Lana Turner).

Gene Kelly often said he liked himself in this film and that d’Artagnan was his favorite non-musical role. However, he was a little…meh for me in this film. He was athletic and funny, but at some points I felt that he overdid it and he annoyed me at those times (like when he first sees June Allyson’s character…puh-leez). I also wasn’t fond of his little mustache. It looked like a smudge of dirt on his face rather than facial hair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See what I mean about the weird mustache? At least the other musketeers have slightly better ones…

The Three Musketeers is notable for being Lana Turner’s first color film. Now, I’m not a really big fan of Lana Turner at all. I never saw anything special in her and I think that her acting is mediocre at best. But she really outdid herself here! The Technicolor suited her beautifully, and she was pure evil as Milady. The only thing tht bothered me about her character was that her stupid fake mole kept changing places throughout the film, but that’s the makeup department’s fault. Props to Lana!


How gorgeous is Lana Turner in Technicolor?

Even though Milady is the bad gal of this film, I liked her way more than I liked June Allyson’s character, Constance. She was so…sweet. TOO sweet. Sickly, sugary, almost fake sweet. Actually, not sugary, but substitute sugary. Like Splenda or Sweet N’ Low. How did d’Artagnan love her!? A fun fact: in the original novel, Constance was the landlord’s wife, not his goddaughter. But of course, the Legion of Decency would’ve never allowed a married woman to be in cahoots with another man. Shame really, I probably would’ve found her more interesting, or at least more human, if they kept the original storyline. And June Allyson’s face bothers me a lot. It’s like it’s missing something. Eyelashes, perhaps. Or eyebrows.

Now onto my favorite performances. I already spoke about Lana Turner’s, so I’ll talk about my other two favorite characters here. My favorite Musketeer was definitely Van Heflin’s Aramis. He was funny yet he tugged at your heartstrings as well. Heflin gave a great, unfairly overlooked dramatic performance here. I found myself tearing up from him at some points, and I found a lot of truth in the things he said. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but he is the most developed characterwise of the Musketeers and has the most poignant story in the film.

Another favorite character of mine is the villain, Cardinal Richelieu. Because he was played by the King of Cool, Vincent Price. And everytime Vincent Price is in a film, you automatically love him, no matter how evil his character is.


And this is why. It’s Vincent Price. Being the bad guy. WITH A CAT. That is all.

All in all, this is an okay film. It’s a fun take on Dumas’ novel and there are great performances, but by the supporting characters rather than the main ones. And Vincent Price and his cat are definitely worth it.


Hold Your Man (1933)

Many people would list Red Dust as their favorite Gable/Harlow pairing, but I have a special fondness for Hold Your Man, perhaps their least-known, most serious, and most scandalous pairing. It’s a great, dramatic Pre-Code through and through, and one of those films I watch again and again and again.

Gable is a con man named Eddie Hall. While running away from the cops (just another day in the life I suppose!) Gable barges into the apartment of a nineteen year-old Brooklyn dame (hey, sound familiar?) named Ruby Adams (Harlow). She helps him hide from the cops and covers up for him. Ruby is an expert manipulator of men, and Eddie is a hit-and-run guy, but sparks fly between them, they realize their love is real, and soon they are sleeping together (the film makes this blatantly obvious…gotta love the Pre-Codes!). When one of Ruby’s admirers writes her a letter, Eddie and his cronies quickly hatch a plan to con him out of money, and much to her chagrin, Ruby is forced to participate in the plan. However, it doesn’t work out when Gable gets jealous and accidentally kills the man. When the cops get to the apartment, Ruby and Eddie are on their way back from getting a marriage license, and Ruby is wrongfully arrested for the murder and sent to two years in a women’s penitentiary. While there, she discovers she’s pregnant, and she and her inmates map out a secret plan to get Eddie and marry them. Will it work or will Ruby get caught by the matrons and Eddie arrested by the cops?

Although this film deals with a lot of serious topics (murder, imprisonment, illegitimate pregnancy, abandonment) it does have its comedic moments. There is a cute running gag in the film about Gable’s crooked smile, which Harlow imitates to a T. In return, Gable imitates her famous hip-swaying walk. The script is excellent, with lots of acidic, witty one-liners, with which Harlow practically steals the picture from Gable. This film also reprises the famous bathtub scene from Red Dust (MGM as we all know, was never ashamed of repeating its successes). Not only does Gable walk in on Harlow bathing, he gets some tub time too–with a face full of soap, hiding from the cops!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also love the scenes with Harlow in the women’s penitentiary. She has some crazy inmates there: a Socialist, a daughter of a preacher, a girl who’s obsessed with sailors, and one of Eddie’s ex-girlfriends, Gypsy Angikon. Funny moments include: a scene in which the Socialist girl rips a missal in half during a church service, a scene where Eddie has to pretend to be one of the girl’s brother and kisses her, and the whole “sneak Eddie into the penitentiary chapel for the secret wedding” part is quite funny. Another great thing about the film is that it takes place in Brooklyn! (Flatbush to be exact) We all know that the film was shot on the MGM lot and not really in Brooklyn, but I think they did a really good job portraying Old New York: organ grinders, children playing on the sidewalks, mothers popping out of windows to tell their kids that dinner is ready…it’s so cute!

For you Pre-Code fans out there (and who isn’t?) Hold Your Man is chock full of racy-for-the-1930s dialogue and scenes. There’s a great bit in which Gable tries to lure Harlow into his bedroom, and a not-so-subtle scene with Gable and Harlow the next morning after their first night together. As the film goes on, it becomes obvious that Harlow is living with Gable. But most scandalous of all is Harlow’s–GASP!–unplanned pregnancy. Of course, the poor girl becomes the talk of the women’s jail. This is why I like Pre-Codes: they are a lot more realistic and they aren’t afraid to show the more difficult, and in some other Pre-Codes, the more ugly side of things (remember Three on a Match?). And from what I understand, this film was supposed to be even racier, and suffered some cuts from the Legion of Decency.

Hold Your Man also gave us the rare opportunity to see Harlow as a dramatic actress. In the beginning of the film she is all sass and dry humor, but the second half of the film allows her to show emotions such us love, hate, angst, and sadness. The scene in which she sings the title song, “Hold Your Man” on the piano is poignant because it shows the confusion over her feelings for Eddie, her worry over her own situation, and the angst that comes with difficulties in love. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it’s a real terjerker, and Harlow does a great job of breaking your heart with her performance. I wish she got to act in more dramatic films like this one.

I hope you see why Hold Your Man is my favorite Gable/Harlow pairing. It has it all: great acting, snappy script, comedy, drama, murder, romance, scandal, and a very strong message. It also proves that Harlow isn’t just some dumb blonde like so many idiots out there think; she was a smart, intelligent woman with great talent. The film isn’t on DVD, sadly, and it’s so rare to come across, but it’s worth the trouble trying to find it. You’ll thank me later!


Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide

TRUST ME, this post is NOT random and it has EVERYTHING to do with classic movies!

When I was 11 years old until I was about 14, there used to be this show on Nickelodeon called “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.” It was about a middle-school student named Ned Bigby and his friends Cookie and Moze. Together, the friends go through ridiculous situations at their three-ring circus of a school and create a survival guide to help themselves and other students combat everyday kid problems like mean teachers, procrastination, bullying, and dating. I used to feel so cool watching this show. Now, I’ve gotten into it again, which is maybe not so cool to say when you’re 19 and not 11, but this show is HILARIOUS, and I noticed something very unusual about it…

“Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide,” a show about modern-day seventh-graders, actually has quite a few secret classic movie references! They’re not references made in the dialogue, but rather they are hidden in the school itself. If you watch the show (it airs quite often on TeenNick) and look at the background in some of the episodes, there are classic movie posters stuck around the school!

In one episode, I saw a poster of a photo of Norma Shearer with the caption “NORMA!” underneath it and I thought I was just seeing things, but after seeing the episode again and seeing the same poster multiple times in other episodes, it most definitely is a reference to one of my new favorite actresses (I know I used to dislike her, but I am now happy to say that I’ve converted)!

The picture of Norma Shearer that you can see hanging on the walls in some episodes of “Ned’s Declassified.”

I wish I could find some screencaps that show these posters, but screencaps for this show are rare enough as it is.

Another reference I saw only once was to Edna May Oliver. There was no photo of her or anything, but there was a handwritten poster saying “Edna May Oliver!” (what’s with the exclamation points?) in the gym of the school.

The last reference I saw was one to Jane Russell. The janitor in the show, Gordy, has a poster of her from “The Outlaw” hanging on the door of his closet. He has great taste!

The picture of Jane Russell in the janitor’s closet.

I LOVE finding secret little classic film references like this! It’s so much fun, like playing a game. So if you ever watch this show, keep your eyes peeled for cute and subtle nods to our favorite stars!


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