Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ms. Stanwyck Take Two

Last night I took another shot at Barbara and watched "The Lady Eve" with Henry Fonda.

Barb is a card shark con-lady and she has her eye on beer ale heir Charlie Pike. He is obsessed with snakes and they meet on a boat trip back from South America. She starts to fall for him before she remembers she is supposed to take him for his dough. 

Charlie boy is a bit of a dork and acts like one as he looses all his money playing cards with Barb and her pa. He asks her to marry him but soon finds out she is crooked and dumps her before they hit port. Barb is mad because she really does love him and decides to con him again for revenge. 

She puts on a fancy gown and shows up at his pad as another woman, English mind you, although she has no accent. Charlie, being a dork, can't decide if she is the same broad from the ship or not, but eventually falls for her and asks her to marry him (again). They do, and on the honeymoon train ride, Barb goes for her revenge and makes up some lies and tells Charlie about all her bedpost notches and he gets mad and gets off the train. She doesn't want a trip to Reno and decides she wants him for real, but Charlie wants nothing to do with her. He finally stumbles across her thinking she is the con-lady again, and they reunite.

The rest is history...although it seems there is a lot of explaining to do!

Edith Head does the gowns for this picture, and they are divine. There are a couple fun scenes in this film. One when Charlie shows Barb his pet snake, Emma, and Barb wigs out. Another when Charlie has some moments of clumsiness and gets a pot roast dumped in his lap. This was a great screwball comedy and Barbara Stanwyck is growing on me!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

"You always pass failure on the way to success."
-Mickey Rooney

Film Noir and Crafting

Over at Janell's yesterday we decided to compliment our crafting session with "No Man of Her Own" starring Barbara Stanwyck. We stitched away as we watched this 1950's film that neither of us had ever seen.

Barbara plays a poor woman who is knocked up and thrown out by her "loving" boyfriend Steve. She gets on a train and meets a kind rich couple. The wife is just as preggers as Barb and they hang out during the train ride. The wife tells Barb that they are traveling to meet her in-laws for the first time and they have no idea who or what she looks like. She lets Barb try on her wedding band and *SMASH* there is an awesome train crash scene where the rich couple die.

When she wakes up she notices that the hospital has mistaken her for the rich wife, and Barb decides to go with it. She ends up living with her "in-laws" and the story plays out as she feels the guilt. Steve eventually finds her and the noir in film noir begins. On the side, her "brother-in-law" has the hots for her and dates her while at the same time introduces her as his sister-in-law. Classy. 

There is another film by the same title starring Clark Gable that I will have to check out. According to they do not have the same story line. But I liked this film. It is full of murder and lies and deceit which surprisingly goes well with crafting.

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Born To Be Bad"

I hadn't seen this film in many years, but remembered enjoying it. Watching it again, I learned my memory didn't fail me. This movie stars two of my favorite actors, Cary Grant and Loretta Young.

Loretta plays "Letty", a single mom who teaches her son to have street smarts. He is 7, drinks booze, smokes, and plays hooky from school. Letty doesn't mind or course, because she is born to be bad. She cavorts with rich men every night looking fab in beautiful dresses (designed by Cecil B. DeMille's protegee Gwen Wakeling). When her son is hit by a car by rich Cary Grant, she tries to make it seem worse than it is to the courts to use Cary as her meal ticket.

This plan backfires and Letty's son is taken away because (shocker) her parenting skills are horrible. Cary Grant being the perfect specimen that he is feels bad and decides to take the troubled kid in. His wife is all for this since she can't pop kids out herself. Since Letty is again, born to be bad, she sees this as another way to drain Cary's bank account and tries to seduce him. Since Letty is so damn hot, Cary gives in. Letty records this  and just before the blackmail begins, Cary tells her he has confessed to his wife and that he wants to be with her! Fail. Now Letty is faced with a challenge. Not once thinking what is best for her kid until the end, Letty must go through mixed emotions until she decides to do what is right.

This picture is exactly one hour long and showcases Loretta Young at her finest. This was an interesting role for her considering a year later she would herself become a single mother after her private affair with married Clark Gable. Loretta was a faith filled woman and to watch her play such a bad charactered woman is fun.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I am big! It's the pictures that got small....

As per the boyfriend's request, I think it is time to write about one of the best films ever made, at least in my mind, "Sunset Blvd." I could probably write a book about how much I love this movie. It has everything: superb acting, writing, music, lighting, sets... Gloria Swanson is at her peak and she wasn't even the first choice for the part (fourth actually, Mary Pickford turned it down because she wanted to re-write the script, a big no-no according to Mr. Wilder, Mae West and Pola Negri said hell no because they didn't want to be seen as an old, washed up star).

For those who haven't seen this picture, I wouldn't dare spoil it by giving you all the details. But a small teaser if you will...    I must say the opening scene to this film is so wonderful. The crime seen, the cops, the reporters, the dead body in the pool. I actually have the dialogue memorized. (Yes, reason #32 I am an old movie nerd.) The film introduces William Holden is a screenwriter, and strapped for cash. His intro begins in his apartment, which is the Alto Nido Apartments, located on the top of North Ivar, 1851. It is still there today.

This is also the location where the Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short) lived before her murder. Any how, William is in a pinch and while trying to escape the heat, he stumbles upon an old mansion with an empty garage. This location was actually on Wilshire and is now a parking lot (tear). There he meets the strange Norma Desmond played by Gloria Swanson, and the adventure begins.

William ends up doing a side job for her and meets her butler, who is played wonderfully by Erich Von Stroheim, an old time silent era director who once directed Gloria when she was first starting out. They once got in a fight and were enemies until reuniting many years later for this film. Norma takes William under her wing and you soon learn what a loony Norma Desmond is, but you LOVE her. William gets antsy and escapes a few times from the mansion and meets a gal who is getting hitched to his friend. They start working on a screenplay together and fall in love. But what will he do about Norma?

There is a neat scene where William and his gal pal (Nancy Olsen) are walking though the real lot of Paramount at night. Wilder asked them to have a long kiss at the end, because he wanted to fade out. When William and Nancy kissed, William's wife, Ardis, didn't like this and yelled out "cut!". Norma loves herself and they watch movies of her in the screening room. The film that they watch in the infamous scene is one that Erich directed back in the day.

At one point, Norma wants to visit her old buddy Cecil B. DeMille on stage 18, which was really the sound stage Cecil used at Paramount. He feels bad for Norma and lets her sit in on a film he is making.  Cecil demanded a ton of cash and a new car for acting in this film and Wilder obliged. Later on, Wilder needed some pick up shots of Cecil and he told Wilder he wanted $10,000 more  for one close up. Diva.

How much do I want a leopard printed lined car?!

At the end, William is dead and floating in the pool. The scene where they show William face down in the pool and the camera is looking up was filmed by using a mirror at the bottom of the pool and filming upwards. Clever.

Norma then does her infamous staircase walk and everyone watches her madness as she prepares for her "close-up". She was so nervous to walk down the stairs in heels that she ended up doing the scene barefoot. Everyone knew how powerful this scene was going to be for the film, and actors who were not called on set that day came anyways to watch Gloria do her magic. After Wilder called "cut", Gloria started crying. 

 Oh, how I love this film. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 3. Louie B. Mayer hated the film because it showed Hollywood in a true bad light. He told Wilder what he thought and Wilder responded by telling him f*@# you!

I disagree with you Louie, I think it is wonderful! A great book to read about the behind the scenes is titled Close Up On Sunset Boulevard by Sam Staggs.