Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ten Random Facts About Yours Truly

Thanks to the wonderful Kate Gabrielle for the tag!

1. I’m left-handed but I can only use scissors with my right hand.
Back in preschool when I first learned how to cut with scissors, I started out using my left hand. Unfortunately, there were no left-handed scissors so I used right-handed scissors. The paper ended up all ugly so I decided to use my right hand and now I can’t cut with my left hand anymore.

2. I was a hardcore cheerleader for eight years, six of which were competitive.
I traveled all over the country for competitions and had to wear the crazy cheer makeup, glitter and all.

3. I’m obsessed with baby names.
I love finding unique and obscure names and playing around with different middle names and last names. If the whole screenwriting career doesn’t work out for me, my dream is to create a baby naming service to help people from making horrible mistakes.

4. I’m fascinated by tornadoes and ghosts and love watching shows about them both.
However, I think I would probably pee my pants if I encountered either one. My city was hit by a tornado last summer, but I was out of town and the tornado hit just a few miles away from my house.

5. I absolutely hate red meat.
I’m not a vegetarian or anything, I just think its disgusting and I can’t stand to look at a piece of steak. My family thinks I’m weird.

6. When I’m home alone, I like to sing at the top of my lungs and pretend that I actually sound good.
Trust me, I don’t have a musical bone in my body.

7. I have the most random taste in music.
On my ipod, you’ll find everything from Margaret Whiting and Peggy Lee to Joshua Radin and Crooked Still. Most of my music is offbeat and definitely not mainstream.

8. I have really strange and complicated dreams.
I once dreamt I had ESP with a squirrel and he told me to hide in his tree to avoid the tornado that was coming towards me. That is probably one of the most normal dreams I’ve had. I swear I’m not crazy.

9. I have a large birthmark on my hip that is shaped almost exactly like the state of Alaska.
Maybe its a sign that I should move to Alaska...nope, too cold for me.

10. I’m allergic to cats.
When I was little, I really wanted a kitten, even though I already had a dog. One day, I went to my friend’s house to play with her new kitten. I petted the cat and then touched my eye. Needless to say, I found out I was allergic when my eye turned bright red and I wanted to scratch the crap out of it.

P.S. Fingers crossed, I’ll have my Great Films Not on DVD post for July up tomorrow. That’s right, TWO posts in one week. Pretty impressive for me : )

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Escapism vs. Realism in 1930's Films

The Great Depression was a dark time for our country as well as for the rest of the world. Unemployment was at an all-time high and happiness was at an all-time low. It is a time that will hopefully never happen again.

During this time, movie theatres were flooded with a plethora of over-the-top musicals, screwball comedies, and romantic tales filmed in exotic locations…I mean exotic-looking Hollywood backlots. For about a quarter, the average joe could be taken away from the woes of the world and into a completely different world full of mystery and romance.

Films provided a cheap escape from the problems that plagued the nation. This is one of the reasons I love classic films so much. For just a few hours, I’m transported to different time when men still opened doors for ladies and cigarettes looked classy instead of deadly and unattractive (FYI: I’m against smoking, but they make it look so darn glamorous!) The escapism that classic films provide is one of the reasons I avoid so many newer films which seem to only depress.

Here is just of sampling of some of the best escapist films of the 1930’s

It Happened One Night (1934)
The Fred and Ginger Musicals
Gone With the Wind (1939)
42nd St. (1933)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Red Dust (1932)

I could honestly go on and on about the wonderful escapist films made in the 1930’s, but I’d also like to point out that some movies decided to tackle the Depression head on. Although there are much fewer of these somewhat realist films in existence, I think they help us remember that the 1930’s weren’t all sunshine and roses like the movies lead us to believe. They show what the Depression was like, but also provide hope. A hope that life will get better, somewhere over the rainbow.
Our Daily Bread (1934)
A group of down-on-their-luck people work together on a farm and create a thriving independent society.

Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
Feeling that they are burdens to their struggling families, two boys ride the rails in search of work. Along the way, they meet up with other poor youths and fight to make a dime.

The film that I believe combines elements of escapism and realism pretty well is Gold Diggers of 1933. The musical numbers choreographed by Busby Berkeley provide a fantastical spectacle to the eye while numbers like “Remember My Forgotten Man”, tug at the heartstrings. It shows all the stages that people went through during the Depression: trying to escape from and ignore problems, facing reality and learning how to deal, and hoping for a better future.

Escapism: Pettin’ in the Park

Realism: Remember My Forgotten Man

Hope: We’re In the Money

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clip of this wonderful musical number, but you’ve probably seen it or at least heard of it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shirley Temple Syndrome

Remember back to a moment in your life when you were just standing around, minding your own business. Someone comes up to you and says “Hey, you look like (insert name of famous person”. You’ve all probably experienced this at least once in your life. My most recent one was last year at a bingo hall (lame, I know). The crazy old bingo guy walked up to our table and told me I looked like Chelsea Clinton. Not exactly the greatest compliment, at least not in my book.
When I was little, family members, family friends, and even random strangers would tell my mom and me how much I looked like Shirley Temple. People at the mall would stop my mom to tell her how adorable I was with my blonde ringlets. Now, my love of classic film didn’t begin until I was in high school so I had absolutely no idea who Shirley Temple was. All I knew was that she had a drink named after her and every time I went to a restaurant, the waitress would say “Oh, you are so cute. Would you like a Shirley Temple?” I drank so many Shirley Temples as a child that now even the mention of a Shirley Temple makes me want to vomit.

I finally found out who Shirley Temple was when I was about eight or nine. There was a commercial on television promoting the Shirley Temple video collection. Personally, I didn’t see much of a resemblance between us. I can still remember going up to my mom and saying “I don’t look like her. My curls are REAL. Her curls are fake!”

Eventually, I grew out of my baby face and the resemblance to Shirley Temple disappeared. Nevertheless, I feel like the connection between the two of us was what sparked my love for classic film, even if it took quite a few years before I realized it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Slapworthy Characters

Sorry for the delay in posting. I have a really fun little post in the works involving Shirley Temple, but I've been having trouble figuring out how to work the scanner. I wish I were a bit more tech-savvy! Anyways, it will be several more days until I complete the whole thing so I thought I'd do a bit of a mini post.

A few days ago, I finally had the chance to watch the 1936 film "These Three" starring Merle Oberon, Joel McCrea, and Miriam Hopkins. All I can say about it is wow! It was such a fantastic film and I felt so completely immersed in the story. The performances by the three main stars were wonderful, but little Bonita Granville completely blew me away. Before watching the film, my only previous experiences with her work were the Nancy Drew movies. Her character Mary Tilford in "These Three" could not have been any further from the precocious amateur detective Nancy Drew. Throughout the movie, I couldn't help wanting to slap some sense into that little brat. Mary Tilford must be one of the most heartless and evil children ever to be on the big screen, except for Damien of course.

When little Mary finally gets slapped in the end (ironically, by the future wicked witch of the west), I couldn't help being happy. She deserved it. It got me thinking about characters in other films that have made me so mad I just wanted to slap them. What movie character would you most like to slap? It can be someone evil like Mary Tilford or someone so oblivious to what's going on that they need to have some sense slapped into them. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Great Films Not on DVD: June

The White Cliffs of Dover (1944)
Starring Irene Dunne and Alan Marshal
Airs June 15 on TCM

American Susan Dunn travels to England and ends up marrying a dashing English aristocrat. The happy times are cut short however, with the onset of World War I and the departure of her new husband. Twenty five years later, she must watch another man go off to war: her son.

Watch for a young Elizabeth Taylor in a small uncredited role and an incredibly handsome Peter Lawford as Dunne’s son.

Raintree County (1957)
Starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Eva Marie Saint
Airs June 22 on TCM

High school sweethearts John Shawnessy (Clift) and Nell Gaither (Saint) seem destined to be married until John drifts away and falls for a beautiful southern debutante (Taylor). The two become trapped in a loveless marriage that crumbles even more when John learns of his wife’s family secrets.

During filming, Clift crashed his car and was saved by co-star Taylor who pulled two teeth from his throat. Although he survived, his face was left partially paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Starring Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon, and Van Johnson
Airs June 30 on TCM

An updated version of Grand Hotel with an ensemble cast featuring Ginger Rogers as a lonely movie star, Lana Turner as a stenographer, soldier Van Johnson, and war correspondent Walter Pidgeon. It’s not up to the level of the original, but it has Ginger in it so how could I resist putting it on the list!

There are also quite a few films from past posts that I thought I would include, just in case you missed them the first time around.

June 2
Bombshell (1933)
On a final note, I would like to thank Nicole for giving me the Friendly Blogger Award. Once again, I’m late in accepting so it looks like pretty much everybody has already gotten it. If you were somehow left out, I’m passing this on to you!