Garland


It’s someone’s birthday! Yes, the beautiful, vivacious, Judy Garland! Judy was one of the first actresses I ever watched and admired, and I loved her ever since.

TCM has a great marathon on television today in honor of Judy. Here are a few of my favorites of Judy’s which I highly recommend (I’ve left out some of the more obvious ones like Wizard and Meet Me in St. Louis):

Presenting Lily Mars
Judy stars as Lily, a young girl who pesters her neighbor’s director son to give her a chance at acting. Van Heflin costars.


In the Good ‘Ol Summertime
Judy and Van Johnson costar as music shop employees who hate each other by day, but are secretly pen pals who are falling in love with each other.


Girl Crazy
Probably the best of the Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland pairings. Great dialogue, costumes, and swinging music make this musical set in out West at Cody College a fun time for all.

For Me and My Gal
Gene Kelley gets his first starring role alongside Judy in this wartime musical. This is one of my favorites and boasts great numbers and plot. Gene and Judy’s characters are falling in love as fast as their careers are taking off. But their big chance to “play the Palace” comes at the same time as Gene’s character’s draft notice. In an attempt to avoid being called up, he injures himself and in the process almost destroys his relationship with his fiancee. Their reunion scene overseas at an USO show is one of my favorite scenes of all time.



…that I finally get to watch TCM’s original documentary, Hollywood’s Greatest Year: 1939!! The special is just now1939coming on TCM so for those who do not have TCM or have not gotten to watch it either, here it is a running recap.

From films such as Gone with the Wind to Wizard of Oz to Wuthering Heights, 1939 is arguably the greatest year in cinematic history.

The documentary opens up with vintage footage from the Oscars ceremony from that year. It then discusss how efficient Hollywood was back then. Studios could churn out a 100 films if needed and they really connected with the audiences of the day. The documentary then discussed the various movie studios and their respective 1939 films.

MGM Studios and Louis B Mayer were the big winners in 1939. The studio owned such stars as Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, and Myrna Loy.

But MGM’s brightest star during this time was Mickey Rooney. Babes in Arms was his feature film in 1939, which also starred Judy Garland. Mickey had starred in several Andy Hardy films by 1939 and was hugely popular. Many female stars, such as Lana Turner, first starred as one of Andy Hardy’s lady loves before going to bigger fame later.

Judy Garland was one of MGM’s home-grown talents and she won the role of Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, even though Shirley Temple was also considered for the role. One of MGM’s first forays into technicolor, Wizard was a huge success and gains new fans everyday.

Wizard catapulted Judy into even bigger fame and before the year was up, she had been cast in another one of Mickey’s movies, Babes in Arms. This is one of my first-watched and favorite musicals.

Another movie studio mentioned is Warner Bros. WB featured films that had more tommy-guns than satin and lace. Their bread and butter was crime and drama. Its gritty stars James Cagney, Humprey Bogart, and Bette Davis all made great dramas during this time. Errol Flynn was also a major star that brought class and strength to the western genre in Dodge City.

Bette Davis truly had a banner year in 1939. She starred in Dark Victory, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Juarez, and The Old Maid . As the documentary stated, most actors would be happy with these films during their entire career, but Davis accomplished all of these films in just one year. Davis was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for Dark Victory but lost out to Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind.

Universal Pictures needed a great film to help themselves right their ship. They chose to go the route of the monster movie and produced Son of Frankenstein.

Frank Capra made his mark in 1939 by directing the great drama Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Jimmy Stewart gives one of his greatest performances in this movie about a naive senator who makes a difference in government. This movie did draw controversy for its political tones, but Capra refused to shelve it. This one is a must-see for sure.

Howard Hawks, who like Capra worked for Columbia Pictures, worked twice with Cary Grant in 1939. He directed Only Angels Have Wings for Columbia. For RKO Pictures, Hawks also worked on Gunga Din, which is considered to be one of the best action films of the year. Gunga Din stars Grant and Douglas Fairbanks and was one of the most expensive films RKO ever made.

20th Century Fox Studios was only four years old in 1939 but already had stars like Henry Fonda. The studio owner focused on getting and keeping director John Ford. Ford was instrumental in making the great western Stagecoach starring John Wayne as Ringo Kid. Ford had to fight to cast Wayne, who was a newcomer to Hollywood at this time. Of course we all know that Wayne went on to create many other great westerns throughout his career.

Wuthering Heights was one of 1939’s more ambitious films. Many said that the story of doomed lovers was unfilmable.

Perhaps the best known film of 1939, Gone with the Wind certainly became producer David O. Selznick’s legacy. It is said that Selznick liked to make the big decisions himself, but when it came to GWTW he knew that casting Rhett Butler was out of his hands. He had to rely on MGM’s consent to loan out Clark Gable for the role. Selznick took a gamble in casting a relative unknown in Vivien Leigh. But that risk paid off in huge dividends.

GWTW truly challenged the ideas of studio budget, size, running time, and censorship. Also, unlike other films of the time, women were really the focus even though it can also be considered a war film.

The momentum of the studios came to halt after Pearl Harbor when studio were forced to sell off their theater chains. Television then came to more available and 1939 was one of the last big producing years for these studios.

With all types of genres covered, stars that were already big box-office draws to unknowns that made their mark immediately onscreen, and films that appealed to all human emotions, 1939 was truly the apex of cinema history.

For more in 1939, visit TCM and check out http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article/?cid=240778&mainArticleId=238944.

babes Smith

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!

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.