Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Films of Deborah Kerr

I've been watching a lot of Deborah Kerr movies this year and thank goodness I came across the banner for this blogathon on someone's blog as I would have been very upset to have missed this event! It was impossible to choose just one film to write about so I decided to do and overview of Kerr's films that I have seen!

I've always known who Kerr was. I saw The King and I (1956) when I was young and An Affair to Remember (1957) regularly aired on TV (though I usually just saw the end - I have yet to watch the whole thing in one sitting).That was my extant of Kerr's films until last October when I shivered through The Innocents (1961). The next month I watched one of Caftan Woman's recommendations, Vacation From Marriage (1945), And it is here that we will start.

 *May contain Spoilers*

Before and After

In Vacation From Marriage (1945) Kerr plays the dull wife of a dull man, played by Robert Donat. His routine never changes and she always seems to have the sniffles. War strikes and they both go off to do their part, he in the Royal Navy and she with the Wrens (Women's Royal Navy Service). During the three years they are apart, they both become more self confident through their service. Donat was lost at sea for five days and has shaved off his mustache. Kerr, no longer constantly sick, now wears makeup and has her hair styled attractively (of course) thanks to her fun friend Dizzy (played delightfully by Glynis Johns). Both have become attracted to other people yet remain faithful to one another. As the war comes to an end, the two confide in their friends that they don't want to go back to their old lives as they've both changed so much. Not wanting to go back to their dreary apartment, they meet at a bar and are surprised at how different they have become. They decide to release each other so they can begin a new life but can't hide their new attraction for one another and end up deciding to stay together.

This film has delightful performances all around (it was also my introduction to Robert Donat - I've now watched over half of his films). Kerr plays both sides of her character perfectly. It is also an interesting look at how a person can change due to circumstances beyond their control. The film was released to great success in both the UK (as Perfect Strangers) and in the US.

The Hucksters (1947) was Kerr's first film in America and paired her with the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable. Gable plays Victor Norman, a war veteran looking to get a high-paying job in advertising. His strategy? Pretend like he doesn't need a job! He also likes to throw money away (literally!) every so often to remind himself that money isn't everything. He visits his friend Mr. Kimberly (Adolph Menjou) of the Kimberly Advertising Agency and offers to help him out with his toughest client, Evans' Beauty Soap. Evan's (Sydney Greenstreet) wants to secure the  endorsement of twenty-five socially prominent for his soap. Gable takes the top name off the list, Mrs. Kay Dorrance (Kerr). Mrs. Dorrance, who is immediately attracted to Victor and vice-versa, readily agrees to having her photo taken. The two begin seeing one another, though Kay has some  competition in Jean, the attractive singer friend of Victors' (played by a young Ava Gardner). After Kay and Victor have a misunderstanding they part ways. Victor travels out to California to secure the services of a certain radio comic for Evan's Beauty Soap and ends up on the same train as Jean. Jean is in love with Victor but discovers he is still in love with Kay. Kay realizes she loves Victor and goes to meet him in California. Victor tells her that if Evan's likes the radio program it will mean a good paying job to pay for her kids education after they're married. Back in New York, Evan's first insults then offers Victor a job with a fantastic salary. Victor doesn't like the way that Evan's has just treated him and so he ends up turning it down - and giving Evan's a taste of his own tactics. He breaks the news to Kay that they can't get married after all and she reminds him that money isn't everything. Kiss and fade.

Please Believe Me (1950) was written especially for Kerr with her comedic talents in mind. Her character, Alison Kirbe, is a young working girl in London that corresponds with an old soldier she met during the war who lives on a big ranch in Texas. He dies and leaves it to her so she sets sail for America, not knowing that his letters were embellished and it's actually just a bunch of worthless land. While onboard she is romanced by two men: Jeremy Taylor (Peter Lawford) who has millions and wants a girl that doesn't want him for his money, and Terence Keath (Robert Walker) who owes a lot of money to a casino owner and pretends to be rich so he can marry Alison for her money. Keath loans her money until she gets her inheritance and Taylor's attorney, Matt Kinston (Mark Stevens) tries to prevent Taylor from giving her his money. Alison is attracted to all of them but seems to especially like Kinston. When they find out that her land is worthless their true colors are revealed. Alison admonishes them and, after realizing they were wrong, all three propose to her. I'll let you guess who she chose ;)

King Solomon's Mines (1950) finds Kerr in Africa looking for her husband who disappeared several years ago with the help of her brother (Richard Carlson) and Granger, who is a hunter and guide. He does not approve a women trekking through the jungle but Kerr keeps up with him, determined to match his strength and stamina. They are led to the fabled treasure caves by the natives and trapped inside, where they find the skeleton of her husband. By this point Granger and Kerr have fallen in love and, as she and her husband had drifted apart, they are able to stay together. They escape through the back of the cave and arrive in time to see the current evil king of the tribe battle for the throne with the rightful heir.

Dream Wife (1953) teamed Kerr with Cary Grant for the first of three times. Grant plays Clemson Reade, an American Salesman engaged to Priscilla "Effie" Effington (Kerr). She works in the state department. While on a business trip to Bukistan he is fascinated with how the Khan's daughters are raised to be the perfect wife. This is reinforced when he returns and finds out that Effie has pushed the date of their wedding to deal with an oil crisis. Fed up, he decides to marry the Khan's daughter, Tarji. It turns into a nightmare however when he finds out he must wait three months and isn't allowed to be left alone with her. She also doesn't speak English. Effie, as chaperone lest Reade cause a national incedent, meanwhile teaches Tarji how American women live. By the time the wedding finally rolls around, Tarji is no longer a "dream wife" and Reade decides to break it off. Tarji tells her father she wants to marry someone of her own choosing and Reade goes back to Effie, realizing he'd rather a woman who is his equal and not merely someone who sees to his every need.

I loved Kerr's character in this film. She holds her own with the men she works with while wearing ultra-feminine gowns. As much as I love Grant, his character was somewhat annoying in his expectations of women. Luckily he saw his errors at the end ;)

From Here to Eternity (1953) has one of the most famous on-screen kisses in history. Since this film is so readily available I'm going to presume most of you have seen it. I will say that I found Kerr's American accent disconcerting. It didn't sound like her at all!

In The End of the Affair (1955) Kerr plays an unfaithful wife who begins an affair with Van Johnson and, after a few months, right after Johnson's flat is bombed and he is hurt, abruptly ends it. The reason why is revealed later after Johnson hires a detective who manages to steal her diary. In the diary she reveals that after the building was bombed she rushed downstairs to find a heavy door on Johnson with only his dead hand sticking out. She goes back upstairs and finds herself praying to God that she will give him up if only He will make Johnson be alive. At that moment Johnson walks into the room, shaken and scratched but okay. The rest of the journal tells how she struggles to keep her promise as she had never really prayed before and wasn't even sure there was a God. I won't give away the end.

In The Innocents (1961) Kerr is governess to two children in a creepy house and comes to believe that they are possessed by the gardener and maid who died there. Don't watch this one at night!

This post is part of The Deborah Kerr Blogathon hosted by Maddy Lovers Her Classic Films. Be sure to visit her blog to check out the other posts on this wonderful actress!

This photo was just begging to be made into a banner.
Hope you don't mind Maddy :)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Announcing the Remake of the "They Remade What?!" Blogathon

My first ever blogathon was the "They Remade What?!" Blogathon in October of 2015 and I have decided it would be fun to bring it back, or "remake it" ;) It's a little late to have it on the same days, so this one will run from November 9-11!

Below is a short list of remakes to get you started (You can also look at the films listed in the original post and to see what bloggers wrote about for the "original" blogathon). Please make sure the original film was made before 1970 or whose principal actors are from the Golden Age of Hollywood (ex. Murder on the Orient Express - 1974). The remake of course can be up to the present (A Star is Born anyone?). Book adaptations almost always have several versions - I didn't allow them in my first blogathon but this is a "remake" so I've changed it ;) Also keep in mind foreign films remade in the US, some with the same actors (A Woman's Face, Intermezzo, etc.).
  • Daddy Long Legs (1919, 1931, 1955 - also Adam and Evelyne - 1949 is based on the same book)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920, 1931, 1941. etc.)
  • All the Brothers were Valiant (1923 & 1953) & Across to Singapore (1928)
  • The Racket (1928 & 1951)
  • Raffles (1930 & 1939)
  • Outward Bound (1930) & Between Two Worlds (1944)
  • No, No, Nanette (1930 & 1940) & Tea for Two (1950)
  • The Man in Possession (1931) & Personal Property (1937)
  • A Free Soul (1931) & The Girl Who Had Everything (1953)
  • The Front Page (1931) & His Girl Friday (1940)
  • Smilin' Through (1932 & 1941)
  • Of Human Bondage (1934, 1946, & 1964)
  • Magnificent Obsession (1935 & 1954)
  • Roberta (1935) & Lovely to Look At (1952)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1935 & 1962)
  • My Man Godfrey (1936 & 1957)
  • These Three (1936) & The Children’s Hour (1961)
  • Satan Met a Lady (1936) & The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  • The Petrified Forest (1936) & Escape in the Desert (1945)
  • Nothing Sacred (1937) & Living it Up (1954)
  • Mother Carey's Chickens (1938) & Summer Magic (1963)
  • Five Came Back (1939) & Back From Eternity (1956)
  • The Letter (1940) & The Unfaithful (1947)
  • The Ghostbreakers (1940) & Scared Stiff (1953)
  • Ball of Fire (1941) & A Song is Born (1948)
  • Joe Smith, American (1942) & The Big Operator (1959)
  • The Human Comedy (1943) & Ithaca (2015)
  • To Have and Have Not (1944) & The Breaking Point (1950)
  • And Then There Were None (1945) & Ten Little Indians (1966)
  • My Cousin Rachel (1952 & 2017)
  • Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) & The Pleasure Seekers (1964)
  • The End of the Affair (1955 & 1999)
  • Gambit (1966 & 2012)
  • Murder on the Orient Express (1974 & 2017)
Once you've chosen your remakes, leave a comment below with the titles you will be writing about and the LINK TO YOUR BLOG. So many of your profiles go to Google+ and I can't always find the name of your blog.

There are plenty of remakes to go around so NO DUPLICATES please (unless the film has been remade more than twice like the above-mentioned A Star is Born and someone is only covering the Garland and Streisand version or the Pickford and Gaga version).

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Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: High Sierra (1941) & Colorado Territory (1949) AND The Count of Monte Cristo (1934 & 2002)

Caftan Woman: When Ladies Meet (1933 & 1941)

Back to Golden Days: A Guy Named Joe (1943) & Always (1989)

Movies Meet Their Match: The Shop Around the Corner (1940), In the Good Old Summertime (1949), & You've Got Mail (1998)

The Story Enthusiast: The Male Animal (1942) & She's Working Her Way Through College (1952)

The Flapper Dame: The Front Page (1931) & His Girl Friday (1940)

The Wonderful World of Cinema: Cape Fear (1962 & 1991)

Critica Retro: Magnificent Obsession (1935 & 1954)

Love Letters to Old Hollywood: The Major and the Minor (1942) & You're Never Too Young (1955)

The Midnite Drive-In: Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) & Heaven Can Wait (1978)

Realweegiemidget Reviews: Dynasty (1981-89) & Netflix remake (2017)

I'm in the path of Hurricane Florence (hopefully my area will just get rain) so if you don't see me adding you to the roster in the next few days it may be because my power is out. I should be fine though as I'm pretty far inland. All we got was two days of regular rain.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Movies I Watched in August

TCM's Summer Under the Stars was this month. On the "bigger" stars (Loy, Bacall, Gable, Crawford) I've usually already seen all but one or two of the films. This year there seemed to be a little more lesser-known films. I was excited about Dana Andrews, as I haven't seen a lot of his films despite liking the few films I have seen, and Miriam Hopkins. My surprise "discovery" was Virginia Mayo. There was also some great Clark Gable films (I haven't watched the Joan Crawford movies yet but they expire on the WatchTCM app tomorrow and I dvr'd a couple). And although Joel McCrea didn't have his own day he featured in several films.
  1. Trouble in Paradise (1932) - Herbert Marshall, Kay Francis, Miriam Hopkins
  2. Secret of the Blue Room (1933) - Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, Paul Lukas, Edward Arnold
  3. Roberta (1935) - Randolph Scott & Irene Dunne, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers
  4. Splendor (1935) - Miriam Hopkins & Joel McCrea, David Niven
  5. These Three (1936) - Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon, Joel McCrea, Bonita Granville
  6. Green Light (1937) - Errol Flynn & Anita Louise
  7. *Test Pilot (1938) - Clark Gable & Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy
  8. It All Came True (1940) - Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, Jeffrey Lynn, Una O’Conner, Zasu Pitts
  9. Honeymoon for Three (1941) - George Brent & Ann Sheridan 
  10. Cairo (1942) - Jeanette MacDonald & Robert Young
  11. Night Song (1948) - Dana Andrews & Merle Oberon, Ethel Barrymore, Hoagy Carmichael
  12. The Girl from Jones Beach (1949) - Ronald Reagan & Virginia Mayo, Eddie Braken 
  13. Colorado Territory (1949) - Joel McCrea & Virginia Mayo, Dorothy Malone
  14. Any Number Can Play (1949) - Clark Gable & Alexis Smith, Audrey Totter
  15. Command Decision (1949) - Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon, Van Johnson, Brian Donlevy, Charles Bickford, John Hodiak
  16. Adam & Evelyne (1949) - Stewart Granger & Jean Simmons
  17. Please Believe Me (1950) - Deborah Kerr, Robert Walker, Peter Lawford, Keenan Wynn
  18. Backfire (1950) - Gordon MacRae & Virginia Mayo, Viveca Lindfors, Dane Clark, Edmond O’Brien
  19. Double Dynamite (1951) - Frank Sinatra & Jane Russell, Groucho Marx
  20. Sealed Cargo (1951) - Dana Andrews, Claude Rains
  21. The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) - Ginger Rogers, Carol Channing, James Arness, Clint Eastwood
  22. South Pacific (1958) - Rossano Brazzi & Mitzi Gaynor, John Kerr, Juanita Hall
  23. *Three Men and a Baby (1987) - Tom Selleck, Ted Danson
  24. Like Father (2018 Netflix Original) - Kristen Bell, Kelsey Grammer, Seth Rogan 
Least Favorite Movie: Honeymoon for Three was rather tiresome, mainly because the role didn't suit George Brent at all. I loved Sheridan though!

Favorite Movie: Too many to choose one but I really liked Roberta, Night Song, Adam and Evelyne, Backfire, Double Dynamite, and South Pacific (I've been singing "Some Enchanted Evening" for DAYS! Send help). If you have Netflix Like Father was really good (someone just give Kelsey Grammer an Oscar already!).

Who was your favorite star during TCM's Summer Under the Stars? Did you discover a new star?

Keep your eyes peeled for a blogathon announcement!