So, I am pretty much settled in my new place and job and I finally got my internet back up and running! I am back online quickly today to wish two of my favorite actresses a BIG Happy Birthday!

Olivia de Havilland is 94 today! Most movie fans know Olivia from her role as Melanie in Gone with the Wind. But most people may not know that she won an Oscar for her role as Catherine Sloper in The Heiress. This is one of my favorite films and it also stars Monty Clift. The script is based on Henry James’ book Washington Square.

Also, Leslie Caron, best know for her role in the musical Gigi, is 79 today. Leslie is adorable in her role as the young tomboyish French girl. Another of Leslie’s movies, Father Goose, and also starring Cary Grant,  is a great service comedy. Father Goose is the second-to-last film Grant was in, and was pretty much his last leading man role.

Back on point–

Happy Birthday to both of these lovely ladies. I hope they are able to celebrate their day with their closest friends and family.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Grace on her wedding day

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.

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!

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

Mortimer just found something odd in the window seat. . .

Mortimer just found something interesting in the window seat. . .

Talking about Frank Capra made me want to talk a little about Arsenic and Old Lace because it’s one of the best and one of my favorites as I mentioned before.

Basically tbe plot revolves around Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) and his two maiden aunts.

Brewster  has just been married, but right before he tries to leave on his honeymoon he stumbles across his aunts’ crazy scheme. His aunts are secretly murdering lonely old men who happen across their path. Their preferred method is a killer cocktail which includes arsenic of course. Their basement is now full of the dead bodies of widowers and the like.

He finds out about his aunts “bad habit” when he peeks inside a window seat and finds a body. This is one of my favorite scenes of the whole movie. Grant’s facial expressions are perfect. He is panicked as he tries to tell his aunts that “there’s a body in the window seat!” Of course, they are too calm about the whole situation because they put it there!

Hilarity ensues as Brewster tries to talk his aunts out of their scheme, keep his unsuspecting bride from finding out, and prevent his aunts from poisoning one lonely soul that stops by in the middle of everything.

Peter Lorre also makes an appearance in this movies as the doctor of Brewster’s cousin who is trying to elude the police.

This is one of those “I’ve had a bad day, I need a good laugh”-type  of films. A true funny classic that show the great Cary Grant at his comedic best. But, of course, he still manages to remain charming in the end in order to win back his frustrated new bride.

This movie has been adapted into an equally hilarious stage play and performed numerous times.

I’ll leave you with this quote, maybe it describes your family too. . .

“Insanity runs in my family; it practically gallops!”