Friday, November 27, 2009

It's A Miracle!

I know, I know… it is still incredibly early, but I can’t help myself! Because it is Black Friday, I decided to talk about a movie that relates to a store that is incredibly American. Macy’s. So, if you guessed correctly, Miracle on 34th Street.

I actually saw this film well before It’s A Wonderful Life. I fell in love with little Natalie Wood and the lovely Maureen O’Hara at first sight (the first film I saw with either or them). This film captures the true spirit of Christmas, and is as timeless as Christmas itself.

In this classic film, a man who claims to be Santa Claus [Edmund Gwenn] is hired as such at Macy’s department store. He becomes a huge hit with the customers. Doris Walker [Maureen O’Hara], the special events director, learns that the man calls himself Kris Kringle. Ms. Walker, a cynic when it comes to Christmas, has trained herself as well as her daughter Susan [Natalie Wood] to reject all ’notions and belief of fantasy.’ However, everyone starts to see notice something special in Kris. After failing a mental examination, Kris becomes institutionalized as insane. But a young lawyer named Fred Gailey [John Payne], a friend of Ms. Walker, decides to take on his case and defend him, arguing that he truly is who he says he is.

I’m a sap, yes, but I cry at many of the parts. I really can’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it, but I will attach my favorite scene below.

I give the movie four out of four stars. It’s worth every minute of waiting and finally watching. Edmund Gwenn is the only actor to date, to win an Oscar for his portrayal on Santa Claus. And in fact, he was the Santa Claus in the actual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade back in 1946. OH, and you should definitely check out the movie’s trailer! It is one of the most creative ones I’ve seen.

Ramble On

Because of my break for Thanksgiving, I’ve had more time to watch some of my favorite classic movies… and classics in general!

Yesterday, while cooking the yams and baking more pies, I listened to Bing Crosby and Gene Autry [I know, it might be early… but what do you expect?] Afterwards, well, during Thanksgiving dinner, we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Oh, one of my favorites… I’m a big Charlie Brown fan C:. It isn’t comparable to A Charlie Brown Christmas, but that’s on next month ;)

Now, today… we got our Christmas tree :] But beforehand, I woke up and watched Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. I fell in love with Cary Grant all over again. After getting the tree, I watched Yours, Mine, and Ours starring the adorable Henry Fonda and beautiful Lucille Ball. I almost forgot how much I adored that film. And, after some well needed Black Friday shopping, I relaxed while watching Some Like It Hot. The day was simply perfection and just what I needed to get back to reality. I can’t wait until Christmas! Speaking of it, I walked into a Hallmark store today and melted while looking at this lovely Gone With the Wind ornament!

I’m also very excited for December in general! Besides finishing up my classes for my first semester, Humphrey Bogart is the star of the month! He shares a birthday with me [December 25th], and I fell in love with him after seeing Casablanca and The African Queen. 64 Bogart films will be shown next month, including the ones mentioned plus some rare ones! I’m stoked!

For my most recent poll, “Which Hitchcock Film is Your Favorite?” Rear Window won with 71% of the votes. Notorious and Dial M For Murder each received 14%, but nobody voted for Psycho, Vertigo, Spellbound, or To Catch A Thief. Make sure that you vote in my next poll!

I hope that everyone is enjoying a lovely Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

White Christmas

If you didn't already know, I was born on Christmas Day back in 1990. I love Christmas. It's my favorite time of year. And exactly one week from today [on Black Friday], Christmas begins! Okay, well, it actually starts Thanksgiving night for me... but anyway, in the spirit of my favorite holiday, I'm writing about one of my favorite Christmas singers, who just so happens to be an actor, too!

We've all grown to love Bing Crosby, born Harry Lillis Crosby back in 1903. Although parts of his life are sketchy, such as his the relationship with his children from his first marriage or the affair with Grace Kelly, he made such beautiful music. His voice is phenomenal, which Louis Armstrong described as "like gold being poured out of a cup." It was truly remarkable.

His two biggest selling singles were 'White Christmas' (which became the best selling single for over 50 years until broken by Elton John's 'Candle in the Wind') and 'Silent Night,' both which were awarded platinum discs. He was the first person to sing 'White Christmas', and he first performed it on his NBC radio show, The Kraft Music Hall, back on Christmas in 1941. Many musical artists have also recorded the song, but nothing can compare to Bing Crosby's voice.

When most people think of a Bing Crosby movie, perhaps most commonly Holiday Inn, The Bells of St. Mary's, or even The Country Girl come to mind. Nope, not for me. My favorite Bing Crosby film, however, is a Christmassy one. White Christmas. I love so many scenes in that movie, and it might be that one because it has Danny Kaye in it (if you've ever seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, you can imagine the importance). I love Rosemary Clooney's voice, Bing Crosby's of course, the setting, the plot... oh, the film is to die for.

White Christmas (1954) - "After leaving the Army after W.W.II, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Betty and Judy) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General."

The movie has a number of great and memorable parts. Among some of my favorites include all the parts when they are on the train... the four of them singing at the end in their lovely red outfits [that all coordinate], the 'Sisters' song sung by the Haynes sisters, and of course, Danny and Bing's take on the song, wearing several of their accessories and laughing as they make us all laugh.

Oh, it is such a heavenly film. I really love it, and I can't wait to see it again this year :]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oh, Jimmy

Yesterday, I got into a slight argument with my older brother and his wife... along with my own mother. After telling me that my sister-in-law and mother do not like Charlie Brown, they continue to tell me that they also dislike watching It's A Wonderful Life. "Why?" I asked. Well, they just don't like Jimmy Stewart. Oh, I cringed. My brother continues by making his own impression of Jimmy Stewart. Yes, he has that unforgettable voice... but that's why I adore him, among other things, of course. He's the "all American" guy. Warm, gentle, down to earth. I could go on and on. I think I love him so much because I am within three degrees of knowing him--my grandfather was with him during World War II. :] So he has a special place in my heart.
So, I decided to do my list of my favorite Jimmy Stewart films. They are in no specific order, like usual.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946) - If you didn't know already, it is my favorite film in the entire world. I know all the lines and I cry at all the same parts... even the parts that aren't so sad. "I'll give you the moon," "every time a bell rings...." among others :) A movie that stands the test of time and will always be a favorite.

Rear Window (1954) - My first Hitchcock film that I absolutely fell in love with. Although you see Stewart age significantly, he still has the same charm and bravery (even if he's confined into a wheelchair). He rocks the blue pajamas (and the brown ones, too). I love watching his eyes... as he grows with fear.

After the Thin Man (1936) - Not a very large role, but I remember seeing a clip of this film and having to see it. Why? Jimmy Stewart goes berserk. It's one of the few films where he not the hero, but rather then villain. And although he's good at playing the hero, he made a good creeper.

The Philadelphia Story (1940) - His only Oscar win... which was a surprise to him and almost everyone else. He himself thought his good friend Henry Fonda should have won it. Either way, he was charming in the film, even as a drunk. He doesn't end up with the girl, but it's a cute film.

Bell Book and Candle (1958) - His second film with Kim Novak. It's an unusual age difference (but lots of films were like that 'back then'), but he's absolutely adorable for being so naive.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) - Although it was Hitchcock's own remake, and many say it's not very good... I love this film (except for the ending... don't get me started). Doris Day is delightful with Que Sera Sera, but it's the ending where Ben (Stewart) and his son Hank are being escorted out of the building... where Stewart makes his move. Ah! It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. I could watch it all the time.

The Greatest Show On Earth (1952) - Low rating, it seems... but I just loved Jimmy playing the role of a clown. I am completely afraid of clowns, but him as one just makes me want to ask him for a balloon animal in the shape of a dog. Aw.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Rant

I love receiving the Turner Classic Movies monthly email about their upcoming schedule for the month. Of course, you are able to view the schedule a few months in advance on their website, but I still like the surprise sometimes.

However, I am once again a little upset with the amount of Gregory Peck films they are showing. They usually show between one and four a month, and usually late into night... too late for me to watch due to living on the East Coast. I don't recall them playing any this month... but in December, only three will be shown. Two will be shown in January. February should be fun... five will be played. It does upset me a whole lot because he's my absolute favorite, and I couldn't get enough of his films.

And... why can't NBC just give up the rights for It's A Wonderful Life already? It's my favorite film in the entire world, and as much as I like waiting to see it in December (they show it twice a year... right?), I could see it every day.

Alright... so enough of my ranting. I have been so busy with school that I barely ever get the chance to watch classic films anymore. Next week, they are showing Rear Window... my favorite Hitchcock film. I will definitely be watching it! I can't wait until Christmas break to watch a plethora of great classic films!

Grace Kelly: A Small Biography and Tribute

This month, Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the 80th Birthday of Grace Kelly! Because I love the actress so much, I’ve decided to write a small tribute/biography :]

On November 12th, 1929, Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father was a self-made millionaire and ran for the mayor of Philadelphia in 1935 and lost. Grace was enrolled in the prestigious Ravenhill Academy. She modeled along with her mother and sisters and at twelve was in the lead of the school play, Don’t’ Feed the Animals. In 1947, she graduated from a small private school (Stevens School). She was rejected from Bennington College because of poor math scores, but decided to pursue acting instead. She had a small part in the film Fourteen Hours, but a year later, she became a star acting alongside Gary Cooper in High Noon. She was at her peak
in the 1950s, with Hitchcock classics such as Dial M For Murder, To Catch A Thief, and Rear Window. In 1955, she won an Oscar for 1954’s The Country Girl. It was her only Oscar win. Her last finished film was 1956’s High Society. After that, she married Prince Rainier of Monaco, making her Princess Grace of Monaco.

She had three children… Princess Caroline of Monaco, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Princess Stephanie of Monaco. She returned to acting in one film, entitled Rearranged. The movie was never finished due to an accident. This accident ended the life of Grace Kelly. She [apparently] suffered a stroke while driving and was killed in an accident.

Grace Kelly was a true, classic beauty. She had so much class, and was stunningly beautiful. She was elegant, poised, calm, and simple. She is truly missed.

"Hollywood amuses me. Holier-than-thou for the public and unholier-than-the-devil in reality."