Monday, December 20, 2010
Happy Birthday to Irene Dunne, a grand actress who starred in all kinds of films: musicals, westerns, dramas, and of course screwball comedies. Her pairings with Cary Grant are legendary with The Awful Truth, My Favorite Wife and Penny Serenade. And Irene was sensational in the screwball comedy classic Theodora Goes Wild. Other films include Love Affair (1939), A Guy Named Joe (1943), The White Cliffs Of dover (1944), and Life With Father (1947). Happy Birthday Dunnie, as my friend Renata calls her.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
If I had to choose one Christmas movie to watch during the holidays I would probably choose Christmas In Connecticut (1945). I know there have been countless blogs and posts written about this classic so I won't add another review of this by now familiar tale. Suffice to say, this film works because of just two little words: Barbara Stanwyck. She is positively amazing as columnist Elizabeth Lane, viewed today as the Martha Stewart of her day. Except for the fact that Ms. Lane's description of herself and her abilities is all lies. She can't cook, doesn't know a thing about decorating or antiques, and definitely does not live the family life on a farm in Connecticut as she has told all her loyal readers. Needless to say her lack of skills will be tested when her publisher puts her on the spot to cook a family Christmas dinner for a wounded returning soldier (Dennis Morgan). I simply think this is one of the best of the Christmas films from yesteryear. And when you think about it, the film really is not about Christmas per se, but it's story just happens to take place during Christmas. That won't stop anyone from enjoying this film though. But you will find hearty laughs and a nice comfort feeling while watching this film. As I stated before Barbara Stanwyck is definitely the star of this movie and she carries it like a seasoned professional. Her comic timing, which was not used nearly enough in her stellar career, is perfection. She looks absolutely stunning and plays off her fellow co-stars with ease. Delivering some of the best lines with that sly twinkle in her eyes. One of the scenes I love is when the owner of the magazine requests that she do her sensational high pancake flip that she is famous for. Of course Elizabeth has never tossed a pancake in her life, so the look of her face as she steps up to the stove and grabs the pan to flip the pancake looks like a person marching to the electric chair. I recommend Christmas In Connecticut as a perfect movie to view with friends and family over the holidays. You won't regret it.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Delightful comedy set during the WW2 housing shortage in Washington, DC.
Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur) rents an apartment. Believing it to be her patriotic duty, Connie offers to sublet half of her apartment, fully expecting a suitable female tenent. But instead she gets a mischievous, middle-aged man named Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn). Dingle talks her into subletting to him and then promptly sublets half of his half to young, irreverent Joe Carter (Joel McCrea). Then the rest of the movie has Dingle playing matchmaker for Connie and Joe. This is a top notch comedy that was one of several similarly themed movies. The others include Pillow to Post with Ida Lupino and The Doughgirls with Jane Wyman and Ann Sheridan. The More The Merrier makes good use of it's talented cast with Jean Arthur, who by this time is a skilled comedienne thanks to earlier films such as The Devil and Miss Jones, and Easy Living. She makes it look so easy. Charles Coburn is also a delight as the meddlesome Dingle. And Joel McCrea, who had his share of other classic comedies such as The Palm Beach Story and Sullivan's Travels is pretty good too. And in the hands of skilled director George Stevens, everything clicks like a well oiled machine.