Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Movies I Watched in February

I was excited that John Garfield was Star of the Month on TCM. I have already seen most of his movies so there were only two in the lineup I hadn't seen before. Now I just have three of his films left: two cameos (Jigsaw and Daisy Kenyon) and Under My Skin (1950). I also finally got to see The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp!!!! It did not disappoint. I read A Twist of Lemmon: A Tribute to My Father by Chris Lemmon.

* indicates a rewatch

  1. Let Us Be Gay (1930) - Norma Shearer & Rod LaRoque, Marie Dressler
  2. Smart Woman (1931) - Mary Astor, Edward Everett Horton 
  3. Their Big Moment (1934) - Zazu Pitts, Slim Summerville
  4. Vagabond Lady (1935) - Robert Young
  5. The Longest Night (1936) - Robert Young & Florence Rice
  6. This is My Affair (1937) - Robert Taylor & Barbara Stanwyck, Victor McLaglen, Brian Donlevy
  7. *Knight Without Armour (1937) - Robert Donat & Marlene Dietrich
  8. *Joy of Living (1938) - Irene Dunne & Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Lucille Ball
  9. Spring Madness (1938) - Maureen O’Sullivan & Lew Ayres, Ruth Hussey, Burgess Meredith
  10. Destry Rides Again (1939) - Marlene Dietrich & James Stewart, Brian Donlevy, Charles Winninger, Una Merkel
  11. East of the River (1940) - John Garfield & Brenda Marshall
  12. Flowing Gold (1940) - John Garfield & Frances Farmer, Pat O’Brien 
  13. The Falcon’s Brother (1942) - George Sanders
  14. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) - Roger Livesy & Deborah Kerr, Anton Walbrook
  15. *Shadow of a Doubt (1943) - Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, Henry Travers
  16. Faithful in My Fashion (1946) - Donna Reed & Tom Drake, Edward Everett Horton, Sig Rumen, Spring Byington, Margaret Hamilton
  17. *Humoresque (1947) - John Garfield & Joan Crawford 
  18. An Ideal Husband (1947) - Paulette Goddard, Michael Wilding, C. Aubrey Smith, Glynis Johns 
  19. If Winter Comes (1948) - Walter Pidgeon & Deborah Kerr, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh, Dame May Whitty, Binnie Barnes, Reginald Owen
  20. Mrs. O’Malley and Mr. Malone (1950) - Marjorie Main, Ann, Dvorak, Dorothy Malone
  21. The Brothers Karamazov (1958) - Yul Brynner, Claire Bloom, Lee J. Cobb, Richard Basehart, William Shatner 
  22. Flower Drum Song (1961) - Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Miyoshi Umeki, Jack Soo, Benson Fong, Juanita Moore, Reiko Sato, Patrick Adiarte
  23. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962) - Jim Backus
  24. Marriage on the Rocks (1965) - Frank Sinatra & Deborah Kerr, Dean Martin, Nancy Sinatra 
  25. Frankie and Johnny (1966) - Elvis Presley & Donna Douglas, Harry Morgan
  26. Hotel (1967) - Rod Taylor, Melvyn Douglas, Merle Oberon & Michael Rennie, Karl Malden
  27. Downhill Racer (1969) - Robert Redford 
  28. Change of Habit (1969) - Elvis Presley & Mary Tyler Moore
  29. Oh, God! (1977) - John Denver, George Burns, Teri Garr
  30. *Running on Empty (1988) - River Phoenix 
  31. *13 Going on 30 (2004) - Jennifer Garner & Mark Ruffalo
Least Favorite Film: An Ideal Husband was pretty boring. I watched it for Glynis Johns but she was hardly in it. 

Favorite MovieThe Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was so good. I also enjoyed Flower Drum Song.

I just LOVE this outfit from Marriage on the Rocks (1965)!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Movies I Watched in January

Detail of Edith Head gown worn by Rosemary Clooney 
in "Sisters" number of White Christmas (1954).

This month I watched more movies than normal as I had purchased a month of HBO Max and wanted to get my money's worth :) Notable this month: I watched my first Mae West movie, then kept going "mmm" to myself lol. I finally rewatched Twentieth Century - I thought it was ok the first time I saw it but a little too zany. I still think it's too much ;) Hamlette's Soliloquy will be happy to see I watched two Alan Ladd movies. The only parts of The Glass Key I remembered were the ones with Bendix, mainly the scene where Ladd gets beat to a pulp. I also noticed that the country house is the same set as Holiday Inn (1942)!! Parts of the set were also used in White Christmas (see this article on Hooked on Houses). 

The bottom images show the same wallpaper and grandfather clock. The stairs may be the same as in the main room of the lodge but in a different configuration. 

TCM showed several movies for Elvis Presley's birthday so already he's going to be on my most watched list this year. I also FINALLY watched Born Yesterday. My favorite Judy Holliday movie is still It Should Happen to You (which I also rewatched. See the end of the post for a note on that). I went to see an exhibit of White Christmas costumes (post on that coming soon) so when we got home we of course had to watch the movie again. 

Read Blonde Venus: A Life of Marlene Dietrich by Leslie Frewin. 

  1. Their Own Desire (1929) - Norma Shearer & Robert Montgomery, Lewis Stone
  2. The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins 
  3. Design for Living (1933) - Gary Cooper, Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Edward Everett Horton
  4. I’m No Angel (1933) - Mae West & Cary Grant, Edward Arnold 
  5. *Twentieth Century (1934) - John Barrymore & Carole Lombard 
  6. The Price of Wisdom (1935) - Roger Livesey
  7. Woman Chases Man (1937) - Miriam Hopkins & Joel McCrea, Charles Winninger, Broderick Crawford, (watched twice)
  8. Rich Man, Poor Girl (1938) - Robert Young & Ruth Hussey, Lew Ayres, Lana Turner
  9. When Were You Born (1938) - Anna May Wong, Margaret Lindsey, Lola Lane
  10. Downbeat Argentine Way (1940) - Betty Grable & Don Ameche 
  11. The Great Mr. Nobody (1941) - Eddie Albert & Joan Leslie, Alan Hale, John Litel, Dickie Moore
  12. Major Barbara (1941) - Wendy Hiller & Rex Harrison, Robert Morley 
  13. Lydia (1941) - Merle Oberon, Joseph Cotten, Alan Marshal, Edna May Oliver, George Reeves
  14. *The Glass Key (1942) - Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake, Brian Donlevy, Bonita Granville, Dane Clark
  15. Bride by Mistake (1944) - Laraine Day, Marsha Hunt
  16. Along Came Jones (1945) - Gary Cooper & Loretta Young, William Demerest, Dan Duryea 
  17. *I Know Where I’m Going (1945) - Wendy Hiller & Roger Livesey
  18. The Blue Dahlia (1946) - Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Howard de Silva, Hugh Beaumont 
  19. Criss Cross  (1949) - Burt Lancaster & Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea
  20. Born Yesterday (1950) - Judy Holliday & William Holden, Broderick Crawford 
  21. *It Should Happen to You (1954) - Judy Holliday & Jack Lemmon, Peter Lawford
  22. *White Christmas (1954) - Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Dean Jagger, Mary Wickes 
  23. Flaming Star (1960) - Elvis Presley, Dolores Del Rio, Barbara Eden
  24. *Blue Hawaii (1961) - Elvis Presley & Joan Blackman, Angela Lansbury 
  25. It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963) - Elvis Presley 
  26. Girl Happy (1965) - Elvis Presley & Shelley Fabares
  27. Harum Scarum (1965) - Elvis Presley 
  28. Spinout (1966) - Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Deborah Walley, Cecil Kellaway & Una Merkel 
  29. Stay Away, Joe (1968) - Elvis Presley, Burgess Meredith, Katy Jurado, Joan Blondell
  30. The Trouble with Girls (1969) - Elvis Presley, Vincent Price
  31. The Towering Inferno (1974) - Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Wagner, Jennifer Jones, Fred Astaire 
  32. Death on the Nile (1978) - Peter Ustinov, David Niven, Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, Olivia Hussey, George Kennedy, Jack Warden
  33. Murphy’s Romance (1985) - Sally Field & James Garner
  34. *Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) - Steve Martin, John Candy
  35. Overboard (1987) - Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell, Roddy McDowall
  36. My Blue Heaven (1990) - Steve Martin, Rick Moranis
  37. Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) - Woody Allen & Diane Keaton, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston
  38. The Pentagon Wars (1998) - Cary Elwes, Kelsey Grammar  
  39. *Ocean’s Eleven (2001) - George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Carl Reiner
  40. Spy Game (2001) - Robert Redford, Brad Pitt
  41. A Good Year (2006) - Russell Crowe & Marion Cotilliard 
  42. *Tangled (2010) - Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi
  43. Victoria & Abdul (2017) - Dame Judi Dench
  44. Ad Astra (2019) - Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, Liv Tyler
God is the Bigger Elvis (2012) - Mother Dolores Hart 
Andre the Giant (2018)
Elvis Presley: The Searcher (2018)

Least Favorite Film: I thought Harum Scarum was bad, but Stay Away, Joe was painful to watch. The Great Mr. Nobody was not as good as I thought it would be and was therefore a letdown. It was the first movie I watched this year. Ad Astra was depressing. Brad Pitt was good in it though. 

Favorite Movie: Woman Chases Man was so good I watched it again the next day with my family. They loved it too. Manhattan Murder Mystery was also really funny and the end was absolutely brilliant!

The stairs to Holliday's apartment are marked with an X. Behind them is an identical set. In the image below you can see they are no longer there. 

Detail of the stonework under the window. It is different under each set of windows. It is circled in the Google Maps screenshot above. I wanted to visit this apartment when I was in NY in 2019 but it was a little out of the way. If I had I would have taken pictures on the wrong set of steps!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2020 Movie Stats

This year I watched 293 new-to-me movies and 43 movies that were rewatches for a total of 336.
New to me: 293 (241 pre-1970, 52 post-1970)
Rewatches: 43 (33 pre-1970, 10 post-1970)
Total: 336 (274 pre-1970, 62 post-1970)

Where I watched them:
TCM: 243 (22 rewatches)
Library (DVD & Apps): 11 (0 rewatches)
Personal DVD: 23 (16 rewatches)
YouTube & OK: 15 (1 rewatch)
Paid Streaming Services: 23 (2 rewatches) 
TV & Free Streaming Services: 18 (2 rewatches)
Theater: 0

          Other: 1

Here are my top ten movie discoveries:

4/17 Baby Boom (1987)
6/18 Blue Hawaii (1961)
7/11 Airplane! (1980)
7/26 Three Days of the Condor (1975)
8/5 Embraceable You (1948)
8/10 Foul Play (1978)
8/29 King Creole (1958)
10/17 The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
11/19 G.I. Blues (1960)
11/30 Dogfight (1991)

Classics I finally watched:

          The Gold Rush (1925) - Charlie Chaplin

          The Divorcee (1930) - Norma Shearer

          Dracula (1931) - Bela Lugosi

          King Kong (1933) - Fay Wray

(1936) - Walter Huston
Dark Victory (1939) - Bette Davis
          Sergeant York (1941) - Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan 

          Citizen Kane (1941) - Orson Welles

          The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) - Joseph Cotten, Tim Holt
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) - James Cagney
On the Waterfront (1954) - Marlon Brando
Magnificent Obsession (1954) - Jane Wyman & Rock Hudson
The Red Badge of Courage (1951) - Audie Murphy 

          Jailhouse Rock (1957) - Elvis Presley

          The Blob (1958) - Steve McQueen 

          Spartacus (1960) - Kirk Douglas

          Sergeant Rutledge (1960) - Woody Strode, Jeffrey Hunter
The Great Escape (1963) - Steve McQueen, James Garner
Viva Las Vegas (1964) - Elvis Presley & Ann-Margaret

          The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) - Steve McQueen & Faye Dunaway 

          The Poseidon Adventure (1972) - Gene Hackman

          Annie Hall (1977) - Diane Keaton
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - Drew Barrymore

Number of movies per decade:

1910s: 1 (0 rewatches)
1920s: 10 (0 rewatches)
1930s: 61 (2 rewatches)
1940s: 79 (15 rewatches)
1950s: 81 (7 rewatches)
1960s: 42 (9 rewatches)
1970s: 17 (1 rewatch)
1980s: 18 (1 rewatch)
1990s: 8 (2 rewatches)
2000s: 6 (4 rewatches)
2010s: 11 (2 rewatches)
2020s: 2 (0 rewatches)

Number of movies per month:

January: 31 (2 rewatches)
February: 37 (6 rewatches)
March: 22 (1 rewatch)
April: 21 (2 rewatches)
May: 30 (7 rewatches)
June: 24 (2 rewatches)
July: 32 (1 rewatch)
August: 25 (2 rewatches) stop
September: 31 (3 rewatches)
October: 27 (3 rewatches)
November: 28 (7 rewatches)
December: 28 (7 rewatches)

Most Watched (Leading) Movie Stars:

Robert Taylor - 20 films
Elvis Presley - 13 films
Mel Gibson - 13 films
Barbara Stanwyck - 12 films
Walter Pidgeon - 11 films
Gary Cooper - 10 films
Patricia Neal - 9 films
Robert Stack - 9 films
Greer Garson - 8 films
Robert Ryan - 8 films
Karl Malden - 8 films

Norma Shearer, Errol Flynn, Bette Davis, George Sanders, Joan Crawford, Marsha Hunt, John Wayne, Marx Brothers (together & separate), River Phoenix - 6 films

Tony Curtis, James Garner, Eve Arden, Goldie Hawn - 5 films

Stars I discovered/grew to love/admire: Elvis Presley, Robert Taylor, Mel Gibson, Robert Stack, River Phoenix

*To see last years stats click here.

Did you keep track of the movies you watched in 2020? Was there a star or movie you discovered that you can't live without now? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Movies I Watched in December

Dangerous Mission (1954)

This month I had the typical Christmas rewatches and then randomly ended up watching quite a few “new” movies: nearly half of this list are post-1970 films! I even watched a movie on “opening weekend” (WW84). Oh, btw... HBO Max doesn’t offer a free trial anymore :/ Luckily there’s enough exclusive content on there that the $16  will be worth it.

I never got around to writing about the free classic movies on the Peacock streaming service. They had over 100 but as of Jan. 1, 2021 they have exactly two movies made before 1970 (not counting James Bond): a Columbo Movie and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol... So basically the only thing left for me to watch on there is Murder, She Wrote.

* indicates a rewatch

  1. The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) - Max Baer & Myrna Loy, Walter Huston
  2. Sabotage (1936) - Sylvia Sydney 
  3. Desire (1936) - Gary Cooper & Marlene Dietrich
  4. A Yank at Oxford (1938) - Robert Taylor & Maureen O’Sullivan, Vivian Leigh
  5. Flight Command (1940) - Robert Taylor, Ruth Hussey, Walter Pidgeon, Paul Kelly, Red Skelton, Nat Pendleton, Marsha Hunt
  6. To the Shores of Tripoli (1942) - John Payne & Maureen O’Hara, Randolph Scott, Pat O’Brien
  7. *Christmas in Connecticut (1945) - Barbara Stanwyck & Dennis Morgan, 
  8. Deep Valley (1947) - Ida Lupino & Dane Clark, Wayne Morris, Fay Bainter, Henry Hull
  9. Fighter Squadron (1948) - Edmund O’Brien, Robert Stack, Rock Hudson
  10. The Damned Don’t Cry (1950) - Joan Crawford 
  11. My Man and I (1952) - Ricardo Montalban & Shelley Winters, Claire Trevor, Wendell Corey, Jack Elam
  12. Dangerous Mission (1954) - Victor Mature & Piper Laurie, Vincent Price, William Bendix, Bette St. John
  13. *White Christmas (1954) - Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen, Dean Jagger, Mary Wickes 
  14. Bombers B-52 (1957) - Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Karl Malden, Natalie Wood, Marsha Hunt
  15. *We’re No Angels (1957) - Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov, Joan Bennett, Leo G. Carroll, Basil Rathbone
  16. The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971) - Karl Malden 
  17. *Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) - Alan Young
  18. Explorers (1985) - Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, Jason Presson 
  19. The Mosquito Coast (1986) - Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix, Martha Plimpton
  20. *Home Alone (1990) - Macaulay Culkin
  21. The Thing Called Love (1993) - River Phoenix, Samantha Mathis, Dermot Mulroney, Sandra Bullock 
  22. I Spy (2002) - Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson
  23. *Elf (2003) - Will Ferrell & Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner
  24. *The Lake House (2006) - Keanu Reeves & Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer
  25. Destination Wedding (2018) - Winona Ryder & Keanu Reeves 
  26. Gemini Man (2019) - Will Smith
  27. Last Christmas (2019) - Emilia Clarke & Henry Golding, Emma Thompson
  28. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) - Gal Gadot & Chris Pine, Kristin Wiig 
Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity (2015)
Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind (2020)

Least Favorite Film: Explorers was very dated. Fighter Squadron needed a stronger leading man. 

Favorite Movie: Destination Wedding was hilarious!! I also really liked Desire.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Movies I Watched in November

William Powell in Too Many Kisses (1925)

This month I started watching The Donna Reed Show (free with ads on IMDb TV - watched half of season 1 with my aunt last year) and season 4 of The Crown

  1. Too Many Kisses (1925) - Richard Dix, William Powell, Harpo Marx
  2. A Successful Calamity (1932) - George Arliss & Mary Astor
  3. Penthouse (1933) - Warner Baxter & Myrna Loy, Mae Clarke
  4. The Vampire Bat (1933) - Melvyn Douglas & Fay Ray, Lionel Atwill 
  5. *The Smiling Ghost (1941) - Wayne Morris, Brenda Marshall, Alexis Smith, Willie Best, Alan Hale
  6. *Whistling in the Dark (1941) - Red Skelton, Conrad Veidt, Ann Rutherford, Virginia Grey, Rags Ragland, Eve Arden
  7. Whistling in Dixie (1942) - Red Skelton & Ann Rutherford, Diana Lewis
  8. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) - Joseph Cotten, Tim Holt, Anne Baxter, Agnes Moorehead 
  9. *Ball of Fire (1942) - Gary Cooper & Barbara Stanwyck, Dana Andrews, S.Z. Sakall, Henry Travers
  10. Whistling in Brooklyn (1943) - Red Skelton & Ann Rutherford, Rags Ragland, William Frawley
  11. The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) - Irene Dunne & Alan Marshall, Gladys Cooper, Frank Morgan, C. Aubrey Smith, Roddy McDowell, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Lawford, Van Johnson
  12. Mr. Skeffington (1944) - Bette Davis & Claude Rains
  13. Two O’Clock Courage (1945) - Tom Conway & Ann Rutherford 
  14. *It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) - James Stewart & Donna Reed, Henry Travers, Thomas Mitchell,  Gloria Graham, Beulah Bondi, Ward Bond
  15. Deception (1946) - Bette Davis & Paul Henreid, Claude Rains 
  16. Dead Reckoning (1947) - Humphrey Bogart & Lizabeth Scott
  17. *Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara & John Payne, Natalie Wood
  18. *Red River (1948) - John Wayne, Montgomery Clift & Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan, John Ireland, Harry Carey, Harry Carey Jr.
  19. The Woman on Pier 13 (1950) - Robert Ryan & Lorraine Day, John Agar
  20. Harriet Craig (1950) - Joan Crawford & Wendell Corey
  21. *Mara Maru (1952) - Errol Flynn & Ruth Roman, Raymond Burr 
  22. Top Secret Affair (1957) - Kirk Douglas & Susan Hayward, Jim Backus  
  23. Good Day for a Hanging (1959) - Fred MacMurray, Robert Vaughn, Joan Blackman
  24. The Great Impostor (1960) - Tony Curtis, Karl Malden, Gary Merrill, Edmund O’Brien, Joan Blackman 
  25. G. I. Blues (1960) - Elvis Presley & Juliet Prowse
  26. The Candidate (1972) - Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Melvyn Douglas 
  27. Running on Empty (1988) - River Phoenix & Martha Plimpton
  28. Dogfight (1991) - River Phoenix & Lili Taylor
Robert Ryan in The Woman on Pier 13 (1950)

Least Favorite Film: For some reason I didn't really like The Candidate. Nothing wrong with it, just worn out hearing about politics I guess. 

Favorite Movie: It's been a few years since I watched Red River and I felt like I got more out of it this time. I also read the book by Borden Chase. I loved G. I. Blues, especially this song...

Song starts at 1:20

Friday, November 6, 2020

Movies I Watched in October

This month I watched Citizen Kane for the first time! It was different from what I expected. The story line didn't seem that unique to me but the cinematography and editing was interesting! I also watched the classic Dracula. Last October I watched half of The Story of Mankind (1957) but was bored so I didn’t finish it. TCM aired it again this month and, like I mentioned in last years post, I am a completest and therefore watched the second half. It was better. The Marx Brothers were funny.

The part they gave Anna May Wong in Impact was insulting to her talent and embarrassing to watch. 

I read the novel Rebecca and rewatched the 1940 film. You can read my thoughts on them here (including the new Netflix adaptation).
    1. Our Modern Maidens (1929) - Joan Crawford & Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Anita Page, Rod LaRoque
    2. One Heavenly Night (1931) - John Boles & Evelyn Laye, Leon Errol
    3. The Erl King (1931-French) 
    4. Dracula (1931) - Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler 
    5. The Solitaire Man (1933) - Herbert Marshall & Elizabeth Allen, May Robson, Mary Boland, Lionel Atwill
    6. Murder on the Blackboard  (1934) - Edna May Oliver, James Gleason
    7. The Mark of the Vampire (1935) - Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allen, Lionel Atwill, Jean Hersholt, Bela Lugosi
    8. Stolen Holiday (1937) - Kay Francis, Claude Raines, Ian Hunter
    9. Breakfast for Two (1937) - Herbert Marshall & Barbara Stanwyck, Eric Blore, Glenda Farrell, Donald Meek
    10. *Rebecca (1940) - Laurence Olivier & Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson, George Sanders, Reginald Denny, Florence Bates
    11. Citizen Kane (1941) - Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Ruth Warrick, 
    12. Mr. & Mrs. North (1942) - Gracie Allen & William Post Jr., Virginia Grey, Tom Conway, Felix Bressart, Keye Luke, Jerome Cowan 
    13. Impact (1949) - Brian Donlevy & Ella Raines, Charles Coburn, Anna May Wong
    14. Across the Wide Missouri (1951) - Clark Gable, Ricardo Montalban, John Hodiak, Adolph Menjeu, J. Carroll Naish, Jack Holt
    15. Flesh and Fury (1952) - Tony Curtis, Jan Sterling, Kim Hunter
    16. Bright Road (1953) - Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte 
    17. The Runaway Bus (1954) - Margaret Rutherford, Petula Clark
    18. The Story of Mankind (1957) - Ronald Colman, Vincent Price, Marx Brothers
    19. Jailhouse Rock (1957) - Elvis Presley & Judy Tyler, Mickey Shaughnessy, Dean Jones
    20. The Blob (1958) - Steve McQueen 
    21. The Journey (1959)  - Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Jason Robards Jr., Ronny Howard
    22. *Psycho (1960) - Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam 
    23. Alice of Wonderland in Paris (1966) - Carl Reiner (voice) 
    24. Double Trouble (1967) - Elvis Presley 
    25. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) - Steve McQueen & Faye Dunaway 
    26. The Lonely Guy (1984) - Steve Martin
    27. *Letters to Juliet (2010) - Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Egan
    Least Favorite Film: Double Trouble was terrible!

    Favorite Movie: Loved The Thomas Crown Affair!!! Breakfast for Two was really cute and The Runaway Bus was unexpectedly funny. Tony Curtis was adorable in Flesh and Fury (the film would have been more effective if the sound had been handled differently). 

    Monday, November 2, 2020

    Rebecca - First Time Reading of Book and the Two Films (1940 & 2020)

    The Novel and 1940 Film

    Last week realized that the new Netflix adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca was about to drop so I finally pulled out my copy of the original novel to read first. Now, my introduction to the story was with Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 classic starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine as Mr. and Mrs. De Winter and Judith Anderson as the creepy Mrs. Danvers. It's such an amazing movie, as I'm sure many of you will agree. The book was equally amazing. Only a few chapters in I was already dreading getting to the end. It is exquisitely written, with descriptions that would have made it come alive even if I had not already had seen the visual masterpiece that came about with the Hitchcock/Selznick adaptation.

    Florence Bates IS Mrs. Van Hopper

    One of the things that immediately struck me was how faithful the movie was to the novel. We have David O. Selznick to thank for that. Another was that Florence Bates WAS Mrs. Van Hopper. She is probably the most perfectly cast character in the 1940 film. Yes, even over Mrs. Danvers, as brilliantly portrayed by Judith Anderson. As I read, I never fully imagined Olivier and Fontaine in the roles. Most of the characters are described slightly different in the novel than the stellar actors that portrayed them in the film. The cast is ridiculously talented. I mean, George Sanders, Reginald Denny, Gladys Cooper, C. Aubrey Smith... I could go on. The most notable character differences were with the Favell character, played in the film by Sanders, and the old servant Frith. Frith seemed a tad more sinister in the novel. In the film he definitely seems more kindly. Jack Favell is described vastly different from the suave George Sanders. Here is the introduction to his character:

    He was a big, hefty fellow, good-looking in a rather flashy, sunburnt way. He had the hot, blue eyes usually associated with heavy drinking and loose living. His hair was reddish like his skin. In a few years he would run to fat, his neck bulging over the back of his collar. His mouth gave him away, it was two soft, too pink. I could smell his breath from where I stood. He began to smile. The sort of smile he would give to every woman. 

    One has trouble seeing Rebecca even associating with him! 

    I wish I had a gif of this moment. Sanders even jumps through the window gracefully!

    The character of Frank Crawley, played by Reginald Denny, seems less sophisticated and rather socially awkward in the novel but always a gentleman and very tactful. It's hard to imagine Denny being awkward. He plays Crawley quiet and dependable.

    The other big change from the novel seems to be Manderley itself. Throughout the book it mentions its "perfect symmetry. In the film, while Manderley is extremely impressive (it was a large model built on a table) it is rather rambling, with nothing being repeated in its outward design. The interior however is very symmetrical, with its central staircase in the great hall with rooms and passages leading to the east and west wings. 

    I revisited the film after reading the book and was surprised that the novel was almost entirely there (only chapter 15 where Mrs. De Winter meets Maxim's grandmother was left out ). Sometimes a different character said a certain line or the action took place in a different room, but it was virtually all there exactly as it was in the book. However, after reading the slow-pace novel with its many descriptions of Manderley and the grounds and Mrs. De Winter's thoughts, the film seemed to rush a little, with sometimes several chapters condensed into fifteen minutes. And the film is over two hours long!

    Warning! If you have not read the novel or watched the 

    1940 film yet you may want to skip the next two paragraphs.


    There are two major departures from the novel in the film, one of them a direct result of the Hays Code. In the novel, Maxim actually kills Rebecca - he shoots her after she tells him she is going to have a child, which is of course a lie. In the film, Rebecca's death becomes and accident, as a character cannot go unpunished in a film if he commits a crime according to the Hays Code. 

    The second difference is the fate of Mrs. Danvers. Who can forget that terrifying scene when she sets Manderley on fire and stands there in Rebecca's room surrounded by flames with that creepy smile on her face? In the book she still sets fire to the De Winter ancestral home, but she doesn't stay and die. One knows this immediately upon reading the novel as Mrs. De Winter wonders where she is in the first chapter. 

    End of Spoilers

    The 2020 Film

    I almost didn't want to watch this version, despite my initial excitement when I first learned of it (I like both Armie Hammer and Lily James), as the novel was SO GOOD! But I decided to watch it anyway and... stopped after 30 minutes. It was underwhelming, crude, and in general not very well made. The early interior shots of Manderley looked like they were trying to go for a horror movie look but minus the horror? I don't know. They DID get the symmetry of the exterior correct.

    Menabilly, Du Mauriers home that she based Manderley on.

    Manderley 2020

    I thought Mrs. Danvers would be the character I would be most critical of, but her portrayal by Kristin Scott Thomas seems fine. I HATED Mrs. Van Hopper. 

    I didn't get this far of course, but the creative choice of changing the dress pitured below from white to red is baffling to me. The irony of Rebecca wearing the white dress is that, while she may have fooled everyone around her but her husband, she was definitely not innocent and sweet and virginal like the white gown suggests, whereas it IS perfect for the second Mrs. De Winter (Fontaine). Changing it to a more seductive red dress takes that underlying meaning away and the viewer is easily able to imagine Rebecca flaunting herself in it. 

    I may still finish this film one day. If it had been an original story I probably would have watched it and liked it, loved it even. If you look at the films I watch every month you've most likely noticed I rarely watch anything from this century, and if I do it's usually a rewatch (or it stars a current crush). As movies rely more and more on sex, crude humor, and excessive violence to entertain their audience, I find myself staying away from them more and more. There are many times when I see a movie trailer that looks really good but then I discover it has nudity or lots of violence so I decide not to watch it. And if I DO end up watching it I'm quick to use the skip/fast-forward button. 


    Who do you imagine Rebecca to be when you watch the film or read the novel? Who would you cast as Rebecca if a prequel had been made? I have always subconsciously imagined a combination of  Gale Sondergaard and Gail Patrick and, suddenly realized recently, Wallis Simpson! A friend of mine imagines Vivian Leigh in the role (she tested for the lead role of the second Mrs. De Winter but was all wrong for the part). I could also easily see Joan Crawford playing Rebecca if Hollywood had made a prequal in the early 40s. Many of her characters in the 30s were likable yet, as we see in The Woman (1939) she could also play the "There's a name for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society... outside of a kennel" type.

    In which adaptation is her presence most strongly felt? Which version is your favorite (there is also a 1997 TV movie which I have not seen). Did you watch the 2020 version?

    I previously wrote about the 1940 film here for a blogathon in 2015. I hope you'll give it a look as well.