October 2009


I Was a Male War Bride is one of my favorite service comedies. The movie is not long, but it keeps you laughing all the way through.WarBride

Set in American-occupied Germany during World War I, the story opens by introducing you to Captain Henri Rochard (Cary Grant) and Lt. Catherine Gates (Ann Sheridan). They have learned that they have once again been paired together for a secret mission. Gates tells a fellow female officer that on their last missions Rochard could not keep his hands to himself and she is not happy when she finds out that they have been put together on another mission.

After they spend a few days together on their mission, Rochard is able to win Gates over with his charm. When they return from their mission, they announce that they want to be married.

Since Rochard is an officer in the French army, their marriage is hindered by layers of red tape. Eventually they are able to be married; they end up having three ceremonies, one civil, one Army, and one church.

The day they are married, Gates learns that her company is leaving Germany to go back to the States. Since there is no time to get Rochard a passport, they have to find another way for them to be together.

A small loophole is found in the War Bride law; since there is no specific gender mentioned in the law, Rochard is able to obtain paperwork and become a war bride.

There are several mix-ups along the way and when it comes time to leave on the boat, the US Navy personnel will not allow Rochard to board.

Gates decides to try and dress Rochard as a woman so that he can sneak on board with her. It works for a time, until Rochard removes his hat and reveals that he is wearing a wig of sorts. But since the boat has already sailed, Rochard is able to stay aboard.

The mix-ups are finally cleared up and the happy couple are reunited for the rest of the voyaage.

The banter is this movie makes it so good. Sheridan and Grant have chemistry onscreen and carry off their roles perfectly.

Grant quotes his main line several times throughout the second half of the movie while his character tries to explain how he, as a male, is considered a war bride.

“I am an alien spouse of female military personnel en route to the United States under public law 271 of the Congress.”

This film is one of 5 films that Grant made with director Howard Hawks.

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In celebration of the National Day of Writing, which is today, October 20, I decided to put together a short list of some of my favorite movie lines and monologues. Enjoy!

oZ“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!”- Judy Garland as Dorothy in Wizard of Oz

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”- Strother Martin as Captain in Cool Hand Luke (although I think this line is better when Paul Newman’s character says it later in the film)

“Bond, James Bond.”- Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No

“Play it Sam.”- Ingrid Bergman is Ilsa Lund in Casablanca

“That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”- Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone with the WindGWTW

“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”- Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind

“You think you’re God Almighty, but you know what you are? You’re a cheap, lousy, dirty, stinkin’ mug!”- Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (People just do not tell people off like they used to!)

“You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.”- Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront

Now, get this, you double-crossing chimpanzee: There ain’t going to be any interview and there ain’t going to be any story. And that certified check of yours is leaving with me in twenty minutes. I wouldn’t cover the burning of Rome for you if they were just lighting it up. If I ever lay my two eyes on you again, I’m gonna walk right up to you and hammer on that monkeyed skull of yours ’til it rings like a Chinese gong!”- Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday

ButchCassidy“You just keep thinkin’ Butch. That’s what you’re good at.”- Robert Redford as Sundance Kid in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

“Look I probably should have told you this before but you see… well… insanity runs in my family… It practically gallops!”- Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace

Do you know what’s wrong with you?” “No, what?” “Nothing.”- Audrey Hepburn as Regina Lampert and Cary Grant as Peter Joshua in Charade

“Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.”- Marilyn Monroe as Sugar in Some Like It Hot

To end, here is one of my favorite scenes from Some Like it Hot. Jack Lemon’s character Jerry has pretended to be a woman to escape the mob and has accidentally snagged a rich playboy

Well these are just a few of my favorite quotes. Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know!

Clift and Sinatra on set

Clift and Sinatra on set

I had heard about From Here to Eternity on occasion before and I recently was able to watch this film. Set in Hawaii in the months just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, this classic tale tells the story of a buck private, captain, sergeant, and captain’s wife whose lives are all intertwined.

Montgomery Clift portrays the young private Robert E. Lee Prewitt who has just transferred to another unit and is now under the command of Captain Dana Holmes (Philip Ober). Holmes has heard of Prewitt’s success in the inter-regimental boxing corps and wants him to now fight for his new company. But Prewitt refuses to fight because he had previously caused another man to go blind while boxing. Holmes is sure he can convince Prewitt to change his mind by turning a blind eye while the other boxers in the company make Prewitt’s life a living hell. They give him work detail after work detail to try and break his spirit and make him want to fight. They call it “the treatment.”

While Holmes is trying to win the boxing championship to gain a promotion, Sergeant Milton Warden, played excellently by the rough and tumble Burt Lancaster, is charming Holmes’ wife. Played by Deborah Kerr, Karen Holmes is the target of rumors that followed her from her husband’s last post. Holmes decides to pursue her anyway and the two begin a passionate affair right under Holmes’ nose.

One of my favorite characters from this film was Private Angelo Maggio, played by Frank Sinatra. Maggio befriends Prewitt and sticks up for him when others will not. He defends him to the point one night that he gets on the bad side of Staff Sergeant “Fatso” Judson. Judson is the guard at the stockade and vows that if Maggio ever is courtmartialed and put in the stockade that he would make him pay.

After going AWOL from guard duty one night and getting drunk, Maggio is sent to the stockade. Word gets out that Judson is beating him unneccessarily, but Maggio refuses to cave in and report him. One night Maggio manages to escape after an especially bad beating. He stumbles into Prewitt and some other men and ends up dying in Prewitt’s arms.

Arguably the most moving scene in the picture follows. Prewitt, who had previously been in the Bugle Corps, plays taps for his friend while tears role down his cheeks. You can truly feel the comradery that existed between these two men.

While out in the nearby town one evening, Prewitt catches Judson in a back alley and kills him. But he is also stabbed in the process and barely makes to the home of his girlfriend Alma (Donna Reed). He has to hide out for a few days and heal from his wounds.

While Prewitt is AWOL, the Japanese launch their attack on Pearl Harbor. Prewitt hears the news on the radio and tries to make it back to his company to help out. But since he has been missing he has to try and sneak back without men from other companies seeing him. In his attempts, other men on patrol shoot and kill him.

Although this movie does not have the happiest ending, I believe it was a fairly accurate perception of military life and also the Pearl Harbor attacks.

This movie went on to win eight Oscars, including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actor for Frank Sinatra (He was great,although I would have liked to hear him sing more in this film!).

Clift was also nomination for an Oscar. This is one of best roles. He captures the essence of many young men in those days; many men joined the army with intention of making it their career. Many felt that military life was their only option.

Even someone who is not normally a fan of war movies would like this film. It really focuses on the relationships and less on fighting and gunfire. This is simply a must watch.

The taps scene I mentioned:

Monty Clift

Monty Clift

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite actors, Montgomery Clift. Clift is a lesser-known actor, but still managed to carve an impressive niche in film history. Even though he appeared in less that 20 motion pictures, he was nominated 4 times for an Oscar during his short career.

You may remember that I already referenced his great performance in Judgement at Nurmemburg.

He and his twin sister were born on October 17, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Monty, as he is sometimes referred to, spent the first several years of his career establishing himself on the Broadway stage. Producers came calling and he finally gave in and went to Hollywood in 1946. His first two films were able to set  him up for future fame.

He had turned down several scripts before finally finding one he wanted to do. Red River, also starring John Wayne, gave Clift the new type of role that he wanted to try. Next he played a G.I. in postwar Berlin that helps a young Czech find his mother in The Search.

One of his close friends while in Hollywood was Elizabeth Taylor. They ended up making three films together, A Place in the Sun, Suddenly, Last Summer, and Raintree County. They remained close friends until his death.

Clift and Taylor

Clift and Taylor

After taking a break from the screen, Clift returned to make From Here to Eternity. The movie, also starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, went on to win eight Oscars and earned Clift a Best Actor nomination.

His life took a strange turn not long after the success of Eternity. When leaving a party at the home of Taylor one evening in 1957, his car veered off the road and crashed into a telephone pole. Clift suffered a broken jaw and nose, crushed sinus cavity, missing teeth and facial lacerations. But he surprised people by being out of the hospital after only eight weeks.

After the accident, Clift went back to work and starred in several big films such as Judgement at Nuremburg and The Misfits, which was Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable’s last film.

In the mid-1960s, he was set to star again with Taylor in Reflections in a Golden Eye, but production could not start until she finished work on another film. While waiting, Clift decided to go ahead with The Defector.

Unfortunately, Clift was never able to make that fourth film with Taylor. He suffered a heart attack in his home on July 23, 1966. Many believe that drugs were a factor in his death at such an early age. Clift suffered from inner demons that he unsuccesfully tried to tame with alcohol.

Clift was a bright spot in Hollywood’s history that simply did not have the chance to shine very long.

If you check back with me next week, I plan to discuss a few of Monty’s films. Even though his career was cut short, he was able to make several great films with many of the day’s biggest stars.

TornCurtainOk, I am finally getting  around to talking a little more about Torn Curtain. While most definitely not one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s best films, this movie still has a lot to offer.

The movie, a classic tale of suspicion and intrigue, is set during the Cold War, with the title referring to the Iron Curtain. It opens with Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman) and his fiancee/assistant Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews) en route by cruise ship to a science conference  in Copenhagen.

Things seem to be going well until Armstrong starts acting suspciously. Sherman finds out he is going to East Berlin suddenly and decides to follow him there. He confronts her on the plane and tells her to go home and forget that she saw him. Sherman is not easily persuaded and insists on staying with him. He agrees with the condition that she stay out of the way and return to Copenhagen as soon as possible.

Things become even more suspicious when Armstrong is welcomed warmly at the East Berlin airport by German government officials. Sherman is convinced that her fiancee has defected to the East Germans.

But it soon becomes clear that Armstrong is only pretending to be loyal to the East in order to gain the confidence of chief scientist Gustav Lindt (Ludwing Donath). Lindt is key in the development of the Soviet’s missile program.

The story takes a tense turn when Armstrong is followed to the home of a fellow contact by a German security officer. Armstrong has to kill the officer and dispose of his body without coming under additional suspician by the police.

This scene is one of Hitchcock’s best; it is said that he wanted to show how difficult it really is to kill another person.

Armstrong is able to gain the trust of Lindt and is given the secret he was after.

But he and Sherman must then make an escape by a false bus that is also trying to get others to safety. They then make it to another contact within a traveling troupe that hides them in trunks on a ship bound for Sweden.

As in many of Hitchcock films, the director makes a cameo; he can be seen as a man holding a small child in the lobby of the hotel.

Hitchcock mixes the right amount of suspense, epionage and romance into this plot. Hopefully this is just the first of many Hitch films I will be able to discuss.

This was a very different turn for Andrews after just portraying Mary Poppins and the singing governess Maria. But I think she a great job in this unusual role.

As usual, Newman is fantastic and I would have liked to see him in an additional Hitch film. Although, Hitchcock himself seemed to prefer his old standbyes such as Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant.

I guess I cannot blame him in those cases.

If you like a classic wartime thriller, this movie should definitely should be on your list. Torn-Curtain2

So I was supposed to review Torn Curtain this time around but I have already written another post so I will push that back until next time.

But for today here is a piece I wrote on a classic story retold a few times in a few different ways. Enjoy!

When writing his stage play Parfumerie, Miklos Laszlo probably did not guess that his play would spin off into three motion pictures and a stage musical. The base plot is simple, but it is retold in a new way for each movie.

Stewart and Sullivan

Stewart and Sullivan

Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan star in the 1940 adaptation of Parfumerie, The Shop Around the Corner. Set in Budapest, Hungary, the same setting as Parfumerie, Shop tells the story of two workers, Alfred and Klara, at Matuschek’s, a gift store. By day, Alfred and Klara irritate each other, each trying to outdo the other and impress their boss. But when they arrive home in the evening, one unknowingly has a secret pen pal letter from the other.

Finally the friends get the courage to meet in person. But Alfred discovers that Klara is his pen pal when he peeks in the window of their meeting place. Instead of revealing his identity, he goes in to antagonize her about her date not showing up. Klara is unhappy that Alfred of all people showed up and ruined her evening.

Distressed, Klara stays home from work the next day. Alfred decides to pay her a visit at home and brings another letter from her pen pal (himself) that explains why he broke their date. She decides to schedule another date to see her pen pal. But Alfred tries to keep her late at work by delaying her with questions about her evening. She confesses that she has never seen her pen pal. Alfred tells her that a man stopped by earlier to ask about her, but the man was old and balding.

Klara is surprised and says that she had actually hoped that her friend would look like Alfred, young and handsome. Alfred then asks if she would mind if her friend was exactly like him. She suddenly realizes that she is in love with Alfred and he with her.

The story was remade shortly after in 1949 as a musical, In the Good ‘Ol Summertime, starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson.

Judy can't help but win Mr. Oberkugen over with her voice

Judy can't help but win Mr. Oberkugen over with her voice

The plot is very similar, with Veronica Fisher (Garland) and Andy Larkin (Johnson) working together at a music store. This movie is in fact a musical, but the songs do not appear to be forced. They come at times that make sense in the movie and Judy Garland, as always, brings her voice to screen in a delightful way. For a musical, this movie actually has very few songs, but the overall flow of the movie benefits from this.

Garland and Johnson make an excellent onscreen couple. Garland is excellent in her portrayal of Veronica.  Buster Keaton also makes an appearance as a fellow worker at the music store.

Most people know the most about the third adaption made in 1998, You’ve Got Mail. Katheleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is trying to keep her small, family-owned bookstore alive while Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) is building a large chain bookstore. While the two are competing for the surrounding community’s business, they have started an online pen pal relationship of sorts. They use the screen names “shopgirl” and “NY152” when they are corresponding. They often arrive home to hear their AOL inbox say “You’ve got mail!”

Check out that laptop!

Check out that laptop!

As in the previous two versions, when the two online friends decide to meet, Joe sees Katheleen first and recognizes her from previous meetings. He goes in and pretends they have accidently shown up at the same restaurant and insults her in the process.

But eventually Joe tries to be Katheleen’s friend, bringing her flowers when she is sick and understanding why she is angry at him for having to close her bookshop. One day she tells him that she going to meet NY152 and when it turns out to be Joe all along, she says, “I wanted it to be you.”

This version pays homage to the first by naming Kelly’s bookshop “The Shop Around the Corner”.

All of these movies are excellent, and include great star power. With the addition of songs or updated ways of communication, each offers something different when telling what a well-loved story of two unlikely people were meant for one another.

Holly and Paul on their way to see Sally Tomato
Holly and Paul on their way to see Sally Tomato

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is without a doubt one of the most well-loved classics of its time. Fashion designers today are still trying to achieve that perfect “little black dress” look that Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly carries of so well in this movie.

George Peppard is the leading man in this movie. He plays Paul Varjak, a struggling writer who meets and falls for his upstairs neighbor, a party girl named Holly Golightly. Varjak is fascinated by Golightly’s life and starts to spend time with her at her parties. But when he spends some time with her during the day, they begin a friendship of sorts. They even spend a whole day doing things the other has never done, such as visiting the public library, stealing from a 5-and-dime store, and of course visiting Tiffany’s.

Along the way Varjak discovers Holly has been getting paid $100 a week to visit a jailed mobster named Sally Tomato and give him messages from another man. Golightly doesn’t seem to care that the messages do not make sense to anyone and does not realize that she is more than likely passing along information about the mobster’s ongoing business outside of the jail.

Buddy Ebsen also makes an appearance as Holly Golightly’s husband from Texas. It turns out that he had married Holly when she was very young. He did not accept when Holly annulled the marriage and ran away to New York. He follows after her and tries to convince her to come back home with him. But Golightly has adjusted to life in the big city and has already set her sights on marrying a man from her list of the richest men in America.

She is able to snag one such man, José da Silva Pereira, and he proposes. Much to Varjak’s dismay, she accepts and plans to move to South America with José, even after Varjak proposes as well. But when Holly is arrested, José calls the engagement off. When Varjak bails her out of jail, Holly is devastated but tries to bounce back and pretends everything is fine. She is determined to skip out on her bail and go to South American anyway. Varjak tries to talk her out of it and she becomes angry.

In the famous scene, Golightly throws her nameless cat (Varjak had brought it along to cheer her up) out of the taxicab and into the pouring rain. With a change of heart, she then jumps out of the cab minutes later and goes in search of the cat. Varjask follows shortly and they share a moment when they find the cat and in effect, find each other.breakfast-at-tiffanysKiss

You have probably seen the famous shot of the 2 sharing a kiss while standing in an alley being soaked by the rain.

This movie’s plot may not be exactly straighforward. It was honestly not one of my favorites when I first saw it. But unlike many movies, each time I watch it, I get a little more out of it each viewing.

They film has truly become iconic, mostly because of Edith Head, one of Hollywood’s top costume designers, ability to capture the essence of Holly Golightly’s character.

I think many females can identify with Holly’s search for a life of her own. And what woman does not want to simply stand and gaze into the windows at Tiffany’s?

Breakfast at Tiffany’s was nominated for 5 Oscars in 1962 including Best Actress, Best Writing (the movies was based on a novella by Truman Capote), and Best Music, Original Song (for the classic “Moon River” sung by Hepbun in the film).

If you have not seen this movie, it really should be on the top of your list of films to see. Hepburn is fantastic as usual and Peppard is great as a leading man. Viewers will also enjoy an appearance by Mickey Rooney as Golightly’s Asian landlord.

Holly after a long night...with Cat
Holly after a long night…with Cat
Looking for something special at Tiffany's
Looking for something special at Tiffany’s

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