The Golden Age of Hollywood

A companion thread to my "What's the Last DVD You Purchased?" thread. I thought it might be fun to discuss what we all are watching or have recently watched. Below will be my first post in this thread.

Kevin

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I understand. I'm really not much into sci-fi/fantasy. Star Wars is pretty much the only one in that genre I care for.

I'm a great lover of music, so I find most musicals interesting. Perhaps one reason I like it and the final ballet so much is that long before I saw the film, I loved the An American In Paris piece of music. It was originally written long before the film was made, and is a beautiful piece of music.

I too am a lover of music and especially classical and jazz, but I I just don't like the choreography of the ballet in the film. I think the film as a whole is one of Gene Kelly's weaker films. I own well over a hundred musicals and most of Gene Kelly's films.

As for Star Wars I think they are fun films. Not science fiction at all but I can categorize them as fantasy I suppose. They really are just modern fairy tales set in a galaxy far far away.

Kevin

I've not even seen 100 musicals, much less own that many! But I will one day.

As far as the story goes, I agree it is weak. But then most musicals seem to be rather weak that way, few having the intricate plot and developed characters of a film such as, Dark Victory, for example. Or Casablanca.

Perhaps you have a favorite musical Kevin, one you could recommend that a young grasshopper like myself should definitely not miss.

Yesterday, after Calamity Jane, TCM showed Billy Rose's Jumbo. I remember seeing it and liking it years ago, and I liked it again. I'm not really into 1950s/60s musicals, but this one is really charming. Doris Day is so beautiful in it. They even made Martha Raye look beautiful, and Jimmy Durante is very touching as the circus owner, clown, and Martha Ray's bridegroom. The circus acts, the animals, and the beautiful costumes create a magical, innocent atmosphere tied together by the dual romantic subplots. I would place this in my top 5 of Doris Day films.

The Red Danube is coming on now, which I've never seen before. I think I'll have to watch this. What a cast! Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh, Ethel Barrymore and Louis Calhern.

Not being a huge Doris Day fan I have to say that Jumbo is one of her better films but for me it's Durante who takes the show. I love watching the guy in anything he's done. Just a fascinating personality. Cha cha cha! :)

Kevin

Now watching Fancy Pants, which is supposedly a remake of Ruggles of Red Gap. It stars Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. So far it's pretty awful.

Vitaphone Shorts!!  I love them!

I sort of half-watched That Girl from Paris while working. It must be Gene Raymond day on TCM. I had never seen That Girl from Paris, but it was fun to see all the familiar faces that I could actually put a name to: besides Gene Raymond, I saw Jack Oakie, Frank Jenks, Rafaela Ottiano, Mischa Auer, and Lucille Ball! Quite a gathering of the clan. The movie stars Lily Pons.

Flying Down to Rio is on now, which I own on DVD but haven't watched in ages. I like the way TCM sort of force-feeds me movies I otherwise wouldn't get around to watching.

Watched Cary Grant in North by Northwest the other night.

Great film. Good acting, solid story, wonderful direction. The only thing about it that I think could have used improvement was the color. The color seemed faded almost, lacking the rich vibrant hues that characterized the Technicolor films earlier in the fifties and even in the '40s and late '30s. 

North by Northwest has two famous scenes. The one where the crop duster attacks Cary Grant, And the one where Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint climb down the face of Mount Rushmore, pursued by the baddies. Neither disappointed.

The one on Mount Rushmore was obviously a set, but that wasn't too distracting. However the scene with the crop duster was shot on location, and wonderfully done. The weak color almost helped it along too, by capturing some of the atmosphere of the bleak midwest farm land. Cary Grant was never finer, and Hitchcock showed off his stuff, stretching it out, slowly adding more and more elements until the climax. Cary Grant held it together, so that though it does seem long, we're never bored.

All in all, a great film. I'm still trying to decide if I like it or Dial M For Murder better. And Foreign Correspondent is a close third. 

Oh yeah, and I loved Hitchcock's little cameo at the very beginning!

Today I watched Man's Castle (early Spencer Tracy and Loretta Young), followed by The Groom Wore Spurs (Ginger Rogers and Jack Carson), and now I'm watching Funny Face (Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn). It's been a strange day, but I've really enjoyed watching exactly what I felt like.

Last night I watched Gloria Swanson in her 1927 film, "The Love of Sunya", which was used for the opening of NYC's 6,000-seat "movie palace", the Roxy Theater, in March of that year.  When they tore the Roxy down, in March of 1960, Swanson was photographed (gowned and coiffed) standing amidst the ruins.  Quite a run, I'd say!  This particular film was shot after she negotiated her own production rights with United Artists.  It isn't as well known as her earlier Cecil B. DeMille films, or her only movie made with Rudolph Valentino, "Beyond the Rocks", which was long thought to be a lost film, but which was found, restored, and then released in 2006.  I like "The Love of Sunya", and have watched it before.  Most people, rightly, know Swanson best from her starring role in "Sunset Boulevard", and watching this mega-star from the silent era in her early films would be good background for it.

I also watched Leatrice Joy (once Mrs John Gilbert, and mother of his daughter) in "Saturday Night".  It's worth a look, especially if you want to see at this particular female silent star, but I think the movie's ending is less than adequate.  (You may have seen Joy in an interesting interview she did for the fabulous Thames TV, 13-part series, "Hollywood".) 

Criterion released Charlie Chaplin's film "The Kid" today on Blu-Ray. I have to say that the restoration was just fabulous! The details in the film are awesome. It's such a sweet film too. Jackie Coogan was outstanding as the kid. It always moves me when he gets put in the back of the orphanage truck every time I see the film.I think Amazon has it for only $23.00 this week and trust me it is worth buying. 

Kevin

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