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.



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…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

CountryGirl

Grace and Bing in The Country Girl

Still admired today for her beauty and dignity, Grace Kelly was born on this day, November 12, in 1929 in Philadelphia.

Grace wanted to act from a young age. She studied drama at New York’s America Academy of Dramatic Art. Before moving to Hollywood to pursue a film career, she worked as a stage actress and also a model.

After appearing in High Noon with Gary Cooper, she appeared in Mogambo alongside Clark Gable and Ava Gardner and earned Best Supporting Actress nomination. (This is one film that is now on my “must watch when able” list!)

Her work in High Noon garnered her the attention of director Alfred Hitchcock. He sought after her to be one of his leading ladies. Working with famed costume designer Edith Head, Hitchcock made Grace into his ideal blonde bombshell leading actress.

Grace worked with Hitchcock on three films, first Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart, then Dial M for Murder with Ray Milland, and then To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant. These three are some my favorite Hitch films and definitely deserve a viewing if you have never seen them.

Grace went a completely different avenue in The Country Girl. Starring with William Holden and Bing Crosby, she plays the wife of an alcoholic actor (Crosby) who starts to fall in love with the director (Holden) who is working with him. This movie is surprisingly good and viewers see both Grace and Bing Crosby in a very unusual type of movie for them. They both give great performances and after I did watch this film it became one of my favorites.

Grace2

Grace and William Holden attending the Oscars

Grace won the Best Actress Oscar in 1954 for The Country Girl beating out Judy Garland who was nominated for her comeback role in A Star is Born. Crosby was nominated for Best Actor but lost to Marlon Brando for On the Waterfront.

Later the two reunited in High Society which also starred Frank Sinatra. This film is the musical adaptation of The Philadelphia Story.

In 1956, Grace married Prince Rainier Grimaldi III of Monaco and effectively became “Princess Grace” of Monaco. She left her acting career behind for her family. She and her husband had 3 children, Carolina, Albert, and Stephanie. She passed away in 1982 after her car ran off the road in cliffs of Monaco.

Grace Kelly will always be remember for her timeless roles, beauty and fashion sense. Many books have been written about her lavish wedding and wedding gown.

grace

Grace on her wedding day

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.

NuremburgJudgment at Nuremburg is one of the greatest films about post-war Germany. Made in 1961, Nuremburg boasted such stars as Spencer Tracy, Richard Widmark, Burt Lancastar, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, and a very young William Shatner.

Nuremburg is based on the many trials that took place after WWII that prosecuted prominent military, political and economic leaders from Nazi Germany. The actual trials took place in Nuremburg, Germany from 1945-49.

Tracy plays Chief Judge Dan Haywood that has been recruited to preside over the trials of several high ranking German judges who are accused of committing crimes of war.

The trial goes on for several days with no decisions made. Widmark is the lead prosecutor for the American military and goes against a fiery German defense attorney played by Maximilian Schell.

The 4 prominent Germans are on trial for crimes such as authorizing unjust sterilization and passing unfair judgements on fixed trials.

Clift and Garland both have small but quite memorable parts. They both plays witnesses that have been directly effected by the men on trial.

Clift’s portrayl of a mentally slow man who was forcibly sterilized as a young man earned him his 4th and last Oscar nod. You can feel how uncomfortable he is on the witness stand, especially as the defense attorney hammers him with questions about his past.

Garland plays Irene Hoffman-Wallner whose elderly German friend, Herr Feldenstein, was accused of sleeping with her when she was 16 and he in his 60s. He was accused of breaking Hitler’s law prohibiting German-Jewish relations.

Lancaster plays the judge who presided over the Feldenstein case, Dr. Ernst Janning. Janning had passed down a sentence of death for Feldenstein and 2 years in prison for Hoffman. But the case had been a headline maker and was not tried correctly.

Lancaster’s character Janning makes a speech in which he takes responsibility for what he did in the name of the Third Reich. He is the only man on trial that shows any remorse.

Janning is almost completely silent through the first half of the film. But his speech on how he and others should be punished for just standing by and watching Hitler is moving.

Judge Haywood must eventually weigh all the testimonies and pass down his own judgement on who is guilty of what. In the end, the men are all found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The judges state that they realize the men thought they were doing what they did for Hitler and Germany’s good. But they still had to pay for what they did.

Nuremburg earned 4 actors (Clift, Garland, Tracy and Schell) Oscar nominations. Schell won for best leading actor.

This film does a good job of balancing the courtroom drama with Haywood’s daily life and struggles with the case.

This film has been hailed as one of the best about judges. It is quite lengthy but if you are at all interested in the history surrounding WWII, you will enjoy this film.

Nuremburg truly shows the mindset of many German officials who wanted to please Hitler and turned a blind eye to atrocities like the concentration camps. Even after the war was lost, many still believed in communism.

Well hello to all you out there in blogging world!

I am glad you made it over to SilverScreenStories, or the Reel Deal for short. Here I hope to share with you my knowledge and love of film. I love all kinds of films, but I do believe the classics are and always will be the best.

There are a lot of films out there to wade through. This blog will feature the very best of Old Hollywood, from Hitchcock to Hepburn.

I owe my love of classic films to a good friend of mine who pushed many a Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney film into my hands. My dad and I also have sat down and watched classic war movies together. Today, our schedules are crazy so we watch them when we can and usually discuss them over email.

In fact, who doesn’t have a crazy schedule these days? But what better way to unwind than with a great film?!

So ladies and gents, grab the couch and butter popcorn and get ready to laugh, cry, sing, and fall in love with Hollywood’s Golden Age.