Cary and Irene (THE AWFUL TRUTH)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Great Race (1965) is madcap fun...

The Great Race was on TCM last night as part of their Natalie Wood tribute and this epic comedy is still tremendously funny. The story of a go for broke automobile race in 1908 between dashing good guy Sir Leslie (a charming Tony Curtis) and arch-rival Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon in a terrific performance). The race begins in New York and goes to Paris by way of Siberia. Along for the ride is Leslie's right hand man Hezekiah (played by Keenan Wynn) and Fate's sidekick Max (Peter Falk). Also on board is TCM's star of the month Natalie Wood as Maggie Dubois (who is my favorite Natalie role she ever did....funny, sexy and take charge). Lemmon also does double duty as a royal prince. The Great Race is one of my favorite films as it has a constant barrage of slapstick and pratfalls and anything else you could want in a comedy. It's very large in scale, comparable to It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World and it features several cameos inlcuding Vivian Vance, Dorothy Provine, Larry Storch, Denver Pyle, and Ross Martin. It also features a rousing and amusing film score, the Professor Fate theme is to die for. It's awesome seeing Curtis and Lemmon paired up again after their classic Some Like It Hot. And great to see Natalie Wood in an all out comedy. I truly believe that comedy was her best genre even though she was very good in dramas too. I just enjoy her more in comedies like The Great Race. And wonderfully directed by Blake Edwards (The Pink Panther).While the film runs well over 2 and a half hours, it never drags. It will keep you entertained the entire time. One of the best comedies ever made.

Memorable Quotes:

Max: We gotta do something.
Professor Fate: Oh, don't worry. Before this iceberg melts and we drown like rats, we're going to do plenty.
Max: Yeah? What?
Professor Fate: We're gonna starve!

Maggie DuBois: You mean amazing because I'm a woman.
Professor Fate: The eternal struggle takes time, Max.


This movie is loosely based on an actual 1908 New York-to-Paris race. "The Leslie Special", four of which were built for the movie, was a loose interpretation of the 1907 Thomas Flyer that won the real race.

In the film's press kit, Natalie Wood divulges that she took fencing lessons, sidesaddle lessons and practiced smoking cigars, but her biggest challenge was driving the Stanley Steamer. The steering was difficult ("like turning a tractor, I suspect", she says) and going into reverse was nearly impossible.

During the pie throwing scene there is a running gag that The Great Leslie remains clean while everyone else is covered in pie. Tony Curtis was required to change clothes several times when he was accidentally splattered with debris from a pie that had hit someone else.

The pies used during the pie throwing scene were real, containing fruit, custard, whipped cream and other ingredients. Following this scene the crew devoured more than 300 leftover pies.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday in New York (1963).

Sunday in New York (1963). Director: Peter Tewksbury. Cast: Cliff Robertson, Jane Fonda, and Rod Taylor. The screenplay by Norman Krasna was adapted from his play which had been produced on Broadway the previous year. It was one of Fonda's earliest films.

Airline pilot Adam Tyler, is getting ready to spend a romantic weekend in his New York apartment with his girlfriend, Mona Harris. When they are surprised by arrival of his sister Eileen, who has just broke up with her fiancee, Russ Wilson, because she does not to sleep with him before they are married. After telling Eileen that she has done the right thing. His flight assignment is changed at the last minute and he is unable to reach Mona.

Soon after he leaves, Eileen finds Mona's night gown in her brother's closet and becoming angry at her brothers double standard. She decides to seduce Philadelphia newspaperman Mike Mitchell, after meeting him on a bus. Mike respects her virtue and can not go through with it, even though they are falling in love. While still in their robes, they are surprised by the arrival of her fiancee Russ, who mistakes Mike for Eileen's brother. When her brother returns to his apartment he is introduced as his own co-pilot but goes along with the story, even though he suspects the truth. How will this situation be resolved?

I thought Sunday in New York, was a very charming, romantic, comedy. Performed very well by all the actors. A hidden gem!

Jo Morrow's mother encouraged Jo's acting career by entering her in a "Be A Star" contest. Which Morrow, won a 20th Century-Fox contract (film-debuting in Gary Cooper's Ten North Frederick (1958) and from there moved to Columbia. The 1964 birth of a deaf daughter forced Morrow to choose between movies and motherhood. Although, she made a short comeback in 1970s, Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls (1973) and Terminal Island (1973).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Affectionately Yours showing on TCM, Friday June 18th

The lesser known comedy from 1941, Affectionately Yours will be airing on TCM early Friday morning at 4:45 am EST. So set you machines to record this comedy that stars Merle Oberon, Dennis Morgan, and Rita Hayworth. It's been awhile since I've seen it but the story goes like this: A married reporter's assignments carry him all over the world, which gives him ample opportunity to put the moves on the local females. He's in Lisbon attempting his latest "conquest" when he gets word that his wife back home has found another man and is divorcing him. Panicking, he heads back to the US to try to patch things up, but the girl from Lisbon follows him back, determined to take advantage of the situation. Morgan is the husband. Oberon is the wife. And Hayworth is the girl from Libson who is aching for Dennis to get a divorce. The stellar supporting cast also includes Ralph Bellamy, Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen. That's a pretty impressive cast. So if you get the chance to record or watch this comedy gem, please do so.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Poll Started

Sorry for being so late with the monthly poll, but here it is. Who is your favorite leading lady of Preston Sturges wonderful screwball comedies. The choices are Claudette Colbert (The Palm Beach Story), Veronica Lake (Sullivan's Travels), Betty Hutton (The Miracle of Morgan's Creek), Barbara Stanwyck (The Lady Eve) or Betty Grable ( The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend). I will let the poll run for a full 30 days. Enjoy. As for my pick, you can tell whose my favorite is by the photo above.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Feminine Touch (1941)

The Feminine Touch (1941). Romantic Comedy. Cast: Don Ameche and Rosalind Russell.

College psychology professor John Hathaway, becomes upset when Dean Hutchinson suggests that the team's star, Rubber-legs Ryan, must pass an exam to be put back on the team. Rubber-legs has eyes for John's wife Julie, John, who is writing a book about jealousy, thinks he is above all that and is not upset. Which does not make Julie very happy. When John and Hutchinson argue over Rubber-leg, John quits and moves to New York with Julie. At the publisher Elliott Morgan office, they meet, Nellie Woods, who is secretly in love with Elliott. While John talks over his book with Nellie, the jealous Julie meets the womanizing, Elliott who does not appeal to Julie. At a party, Elliott admits that he is attracted to Julie, and John says that he should spend time with Julie, while Nellie and John spend time together working. Julie goes sightseeing with Elliott and becomes very upset that John is not jealous. One day, when Julie comes home and sees John and Nellie hugging and drinking champagne, celebrating the sale of his book, Julie's jealousy surprises John. Later, while they are riding a subway, Julie and John jokingly pretend that he is bothering her and bystanders call a policeman. She tries to stop John's arrest but is pushed back onto the subway by the crowd. You have to watch to see what happens next.

I thought this was a very charming romantic comedy. Not heavy on plot, a perfect movie for a summer afternoon with its snappy dialog, especially from Russell and Francis. Another fun part about watching this movie is Julie fun hats. We also look back at 1940's feminism seen though psychology professor eyes but scoffed at by Julie, who says those are the women who are alone at night.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Doughgirls (1944) is screwball comedy at it's best...

Coming out at the tail end of the screwball comedy genre is this wonderful and entertaining film, The Doughgirls. Featuring an all-star cast of Ann Sheridan, Jane Wyman, Jack Carson, Eve Arden, Charlie Ruggles and Alexis Smith. The story centers on recently married couple Arthur and Vivian Halstead (played by Carson and Wyman) who arrive in Washington, DC to honeymoon in their reserved suite. But with the wartime housing shortage (this film is set during WW2) things do not go as planned. When they arrive, their room is already occupied by another recently married couple, Julian and Edna Cadman (played by John Ridgely and Ann Sheridan). There is a tense scene when the two women meet behind closed doors that you think is going to turn ugly, but ends up being not so bad, once they realize they are friends from their old chorus line days. Soon a third friend will drop by a Nan Curtis Dillion (Alexis Smith) who is there to marry a soldier fiancee, who is en route before he flies out on a mission. All this is well and good except that Arthur wants to spend time with his wife, but with so many people dropping by that becomes futile. Eve Arden shows up as Russian soldier, Sgt. Natalia  Moskoroff, on a goodwill tour of the United States. Her accent will have you cracking up every time she speaks. And she also carries her rifle everywhere she goes, occasionally letting off a few shots from the balcony, much to the chagrin of the hotel's manager. Also on hand is Charles Ruggles as Stanley Slade, Arthur's new boss, who decides to put the moves on Vivian. And Edna has to deal with the return of Julian's ex-wife, who wants him back in a big way, now that he is meeting with the high rollers of D.C. Almost all of the action takes place in this one room but a lot of things and situations happen that will keep you entertained throughout.

The performances are all wonderful. Jane Wyman is awesome as Vivian. She gives a ditzy blonde performance (even though she is brunette) that would make Marilyn Monroe proud. You won't believe half the things that come out of her mouth but you will be laughing anyway. I never knew Wyman could be this funny. Ann Sheridan is pretty good too despite a few times she comes close to going over the top with her shrieking. But she gives the best double takes along with Jack Carson out of the whole cast. And speaking of Carson, he is in top form as usual. Alexis Smith actually is quite good in a comedy role instead of her usual dramatic ones. She even gets to do a thick Brooklyn accent that will bring a smile to your face. And let's not forget the great Charles Ruggles, who is perfect as Slade.

The Doughgirls is a very funny movie that I loved from the get go. It's setting will remind you of The More the Merrier and Government Girl, as those films also dealt with the wartime housing shortage. And it is just as memorable as those films as well. I have no problem placing The Doughgirls on the list of great screwball classics.