It is that time of the year - Halloween when all of the gremlins and ghouls come out! I like to dust off some movies I always watch around this time of the year like: Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and even Arsenic And Old Lace (1944). I may have to watch the creepy Freaks (1932) as well. It's a movie I can not watch every year though. I also like to look through how classic Hollywood celebrated October 31st. Some of the pics are really great to look at again:
Anyone who reads my blog knows I love to make lists
of my favorite things. I can make a list about anything, but that’s a whole
other story. I am going to take the time now to proclaim what I feel is the
best comedy film of all-time…Arsenic And
Old Lace (1944). I love movies that make me laugh, but often with classic
comedies the humor does not transfer through the generations. That is not the
case with this 1944 slapstick comedy. The movie is 70 years old now, but I
laugh as though it came out yesterday. Sure, I laugh at the modern comedies of Steve Carell and Will Ferrell, and some of them are quite good. There is just something about this Cary Grant comedy that makes me laugh every time I have seen it. I have watched it now at least 20 times! It is not really a scary movie, but for some reason I love to watch it around Halloween.
The director Frank Capra
actually filmed the movie in 1941 because of star Cary Grant's availability,
but it was not released until 1944, after the original stage version had
finished its run on Broadway. The lead role of Mortimer Brewster
was originally intended for Bob Hope, but he could not be released from his contract with Paramount. Capra had also approached Jack Benny
and Ronald Reagan
before learning that Grant would accept the role. Boris Karloff
played Jonathan Brewster, who "looks like Karloff," on the Broadway
stage, but he was unable to do the movie as well because he was still appearing
in the play during filming, and Raymond
Massey took his place. The film's supporting cast also features Priscilla
Lane, Jack Carson, Edward Everett Horton and Peter Lorre.
Hull and Jean Adair portray the Brewster sisters, Abby
and Martha, respectively. Hull and Adair, as well as John Alexander (who played Teddy
Roosevelt), were reprising their roles from the 1941 stage production.Hull and Adair both received an eight-week leave of
absence from the stage production that was still running, but Karloff did not
as he was an investor in the stage production. He really wanted to transfer his stage role to the movie. Karloff later expressed that it was one of the regrets he had in his career.
After making the
bold statement that this film was the best comedy of all-time, I better give
some pretty good examples, and this film is full of it. It is just wonderful to
see the transformation of Cary Grant’s character (Mortimer Brewster) throughout
the film. In the first scenes, he seems to be a man who is confident and
self-assured. He is getting married to his beautiful girlfriend (played cutely
by Priscilla Lane). He returns home to his aunts who have helped to raise him
to discover that for years the saintly aunts have been murdering people and
burying them in their basement. There is no scene in Cary Grant’s career as
great as the scene when he first discovers one of the victim’s bodies in living
room storage chest.
Raymond Massey (as
Grant’s criminally insane brother) and Peter Lorre (as his meek assistant) are
supposed to be horrific criminals, but they add a lot of comedy as well. When
they discover the aunts are murderers, they give huge astonished looks like
Grant did. However, what is even funnier is Massey and Lorre are trying to
count the total number of men they murdered, and the aunts have beat them.
John Alexander is
another scene stealer as the uncle who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt. There is
some funny historic humor. When the director ofa mental hospital (Edward Everett Horton) comes to evaluate the uncle, Alexander
gives him a dirty look. Cary Grant asks his uncle what is wrong and he sticks
out his tongue and says “That’s Taft!” (William Taft was a protégé of
Roosevelt, who later had a falling out with him). The aunts have used “Teddy”
to help bury the bodies by telling him that their murder victims died because
of the Yellow Fever in Panama.
I think what makes
me laugh at Arsenic And Old Lace so
much is that the movie shows us a family that seem normal as the movie opens,
but they turn out to be genuinely crazy. Everyone’s family is like that.
Everyone has a crazy uncle or a brother who is the black sheep. After Grant
discovers his aunts are serial killers, and his brother is completely deranged,
Cary does not even want to get married. He’s afraid he will go crazy too, and
by the end of the movie it seems like he will go completely nuts. The aunts
though have one more secret to tell Cary before they are taken away…literally.
Cary Grant was adopted. He is not part of the Brewster family! The movie did
not depend on topical humor like the war so the laughs are not dated.
Basically, the jokes are about the absolute absurdity of this family. When you
think the family is as crazy as it gets, it just gets crazier. I don’t think I
would have laughed at the film as much if Cary Grant had not been in it. His
slapstick approach to the role, his facial expressions, and his decent into
insanity himself is just hilarious. There are a lot of comedies, old and new,
that make me laugh, but Arsenic And Old
Lace is my favorite of all-time…
When I recently showed by 4 year old The Wizard Of Oz (1939), I thought
he would be afraid of the flying monkeys as I was growing up. It was not those
monkeys that gave him nightmares, but it was the Wicked Witch. It is a
testament to the actress that played the Witch, Margaret Hamilton that could
still scare little children some 75 years after the movie came out.
schoolteacher, she worked as a character actress in films for seven years
before she was offered the role that defined her public image. The Wicked Witch
of the West was eventually ranked No. 4 in the American
Film Institute's list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time, making her
the highest ranking female villain. In later years, Hamilton made frequent
cameo appearances on television sitcoms and commercials. She also
gained recognition for her work as an advocate of causes designed to benefit
children and animals, and retained a lifelong commitment to public education.
was born on December 9, 1902 to Walter J. Hamilton, and his wife, Jennie (née
Adams), in Cleveland, Ohio, and was the
youngest of four children. She later attended Hathaway Brown
School, while the
school was located at 1945 East 93rd Street in Cleveland. Drawn to the theater
at an early age, Hamilton made her stage debut in 1923. Hamilton also practiced
her craft doing children's theater while she was a Junior League of Cleveland member. She
later moved to Painesville,
Ohio. Before she
turned to acting exclusively, her parents insisted that she attend Wheelock College in Boston, which she
did, later becoming a kindergarten teacher.
career as a film actress was driven by the very qualities that placed her in
stark contrast to the stereotypical Hollywood
glamour girl. Her image was that of a New Englandspinster, extremely pragmatic and impatient with all manner of
"tomfoolery". Hamilton's looks helped to bring steady work as a character actor. She made her
screen debut in 1933 in Another Language. She went on to appear in These Three (1936), Saratoga, You
Only Live Once, When's
Your Birthday?, Nothing
Sacred (all 1937), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), and My
Little Chickadee (1940). She strove to work as much as possible to
support herself and her son; she never put herself under contract to any one
studio and priced her services at $1,000 a week.
Hamilton played the role of the Wicked
Witch of the West, opposite Judy Garland's Dorothy Gale
Wizard of Oz, creating not only her most famous role, but one of the screen's most
memorable villains. Hamilton was cast after Gale Sondergaard, who was first
considered for the role, albeit as a more glamorous witch with a musical scene,
declined the role when the decision was made that the witch should appear ugly.
She suffered a
second-degree burn on her face and a third-degree burn on her hand during a
second take of her fiery exit from Munchkinland, in which the
trap door's drop was delayed to eliminate the brief glimpse of it seen in the
final edit. Hamilton had to recuperate in a hospital and at home for six weeks
after the accident before returning to the set to complete her work on the
now-classic film, and refused to have anything further to do with fire for the
rest of the filming. After she recuperated, she said, "I won't sue,
because I know how this business works, and I would never work again. I will
return to work on one condition — no more fireworks!" Garland visited
Hamilton while the latter recuperated at home.
about her experiences on the set of The Wizard of Oz, she said that her
biggest fear was that her monstrous film role would give children the wrong
idea of who she really was. In reality, Margaret Hamilton was very nice and had
a great love for children, frequently giving to charitable
organizations. She often
remarked about children coming up to her and asking her why she had been so
mean to poor Dorothy. She appeared on an episode of Mister
Rogers' Neighborhood in 1975, where she explained to children that she was
only playing a role, and showed how putting on a costume "transformed"
her into the witch. She also made personal appearances, and Hamilton described
the children's usual reaction to her portrayal of the Witch.
In the 1940s
and 1950s, Hamilton had a long-running role on the radio series Ethel and Albert (a.k.a. The
Couple Next Door) in which she played the lovable, scattered Aunt Eva (name
later changed to Aunt Effie). During the 1960s and 1970s, Hamilton appeared
regularly on television. She did a
stint as a What's My Line? Mystery Guest on the popular Sunday Night
CBS-TV program. She played Morticia Addams' mother, Hester Frump, in three
episodes of The
Addams Family (1965–66; Hamilton had been offered the role of Grandmama but turned it
In the 1960s,
Hamilton was a regular on the CBS soap opera, The Secret Storm, playing the
role of Grace Tyrell's housekeeper, "Katie". In the early 1970s, she
joined the cast of another CBS soap opera, As the World
"Miss Peterson". She had a small role in the made-for-TV film, The
Night Strangler (1973), and appeared as a befuddled neighbor on Sigmund
and the Sea Monsters. In The
Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976), she portrayed Lynde's housekeeper, reprising the
Wicked Witch role as well as introducing Lynde to the rock group KISS. She reprised her role as the Wicked
Witch in an episode of Sesame Street, but after
complaints from parents of terrified children, it has not been seen since 1976.
She appeared as herself in an episode of Mister
Rogers' Neighborhood and continued acting regularly until 1982. Her last
roles were two guest appearances as veteran journalist Thea Taft (in 1979 and
1982, respectively) on Lou
married Paul Boynton Meserve on June 13, 1931, and made her debut on the New
York stage the following year. While her acting career developed, her marriage
began failing; the couple divorced in 1938. They had one son, Hamilton
Wadsworth Meserve (born 1936), whom she raised on her own. She had three
grandchildren, Christopher, Scott, and Margaret. Hamilton never remarried. She
died in her sleep following a heart attack on May 16,
1985, in Salisbury,
Connecticut. She was
cremated at Poughkeepsie
Rural Cemetery. Her ashes were scattered in Amenia, New York. As
a character actress, there was no one better than Margaret Hamilton. Even ask
my son who currently is not allowed to watch The Wizard Of Oz because of her.
Hamilton was so wicked in that role, she was good…
Rosemary Clooney is one of those singers that I enjoy, and I have a load of her music, but I never seem to listen to her music much. These two new CD issues may change all that...
Another White Christmas costar, Rosemary Clooney, also happened to be one of Bing Crosby’s closest friends. Crosby’s production company created and produced Rosemary’s CBS radio programs in the mid-1950s. On Clooney’s commercial recordings of the period, her talent was often awash in overly produced (and in the early days, gimmicky) middle-of-the-road material. But her personal taste tended more toward authentic compositions by America’s great songsmiths, and in a stripped-down setting, she could positively glow. Rosemary’s record producers might have reined her in with iron fists, but Bing Crosby let her record what she wanted to record for her radio shows. And those recordings appear – most for the first time since they were broadcast – on the new Mosaic Records five-CD, 104 track boxed set, The Rosemary Clooney CBS Radio Recordings 1955-61. With Bing’s frequent musical collaborators Buddy Cole and His Trio backing her, Clooney’s voice shines on compositions by Cole Porter, Billy Strayhorn, Johnny Mercer, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and George and Ira Gershwin. Plus music made famous by Joe Bushkin, Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and more. The radio shows were a blank canvas for great songs and singing. The original session tapes from the Bing Crosby Archive have been restored and remastered to Mosaic’s exacting standards. The Rosemary Clooney CBS Radio Recordings 1955-61 is the perfect companion to Mosaic’s 2009 seven-CD release, The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings 1954-61. Many of the tracks on these collections come from the same recording sessions. The duets from these sessions are available on the two-CD set, Bing & Rosie: The Crosby-Clooney Radio Duets from the Bing Crosby Archive / Universal Music Enterprises.
Because Rosemary Clooney was under contract to Columbia Records when Irving Berlin’s White Christmas was filmed, she did not appear on the Decca Records soundtrack album that featured Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, who both recorded for Decca. Instead, Columbia recorded an entirely different album of songs from the film with only Clooney. That eight song, 10” LP will be released as a fifteen song CD from Real Gone Music on November 4th.
Rosemary Clooney: In Songs from the Paramount Pictures Production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Expanded Edition) features the original album and seven bonus tracks from the Bing Crosby Archive – including a previously unissued Crosby – Clooney duet on “Silver Bells.”
Carmen Chaplin, granddaughter of the legendary Hollywood actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, will be a guest at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s opening gala screening of Ali Mostafa’s From A to B on Thursday night.
The English actress and director has appeared in films such as Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World, Sidney Pollack’s Sabrina and The Serpent’s Kiss, alongside Ewan McGregor. She will be seen next year alongside Malcolm MacDowell in the New Orleans crime thriller Vicious, and has been a member of the international jury at the Rome Film Festival.
Chaplin has also emulated her famous grandfather by moving into directing. In 2012, she made the short film Tryst in Paneme, starring her sister Dolores Chaplin and Bambou Gainsbourg, about a woman whose sense of self-value is wrapped up in her beauty.
Last year she made another short film, A Time for Everything, commissioned by the luxury watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre, one of ADFF’s partners. She also starred in the film – a meditation on the theme of time celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company’s presentation to Charlie Chaplin of a special Memovox watch when he settled in Switzerland, alongside her mother and daughter.
“I love antique watches and the idea that they have a past and a story to tell,” she says. “My grandfather’s watch particularly moves me, because he gave it to my father, Michael Chaplin, his son, when he turned 14. Then my dad gave it to my mum as proof of their love on their wedding day. It was a real good-luck charm because they have been in love now for 45 years.”
This year, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of Chaplin’s Little Tramp, she directed and produced The Innovators, a short sci-fi comedy about three scientists who look to the past to save Earth’s decaying ecosystem...
Recently I was in the mood for just a fun movie musical to watch, so I dug out my copy of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (1967). The film is great late 60s fun, and it is kind of like a musical comedy version of the television series Mad Men. The 1967 musical comedy film was based on the 1961 stage musical of the same name, which in turn was based on Shepherd Mead's book.
The film was produced by United Artists and directed by David Swift, with original staging by Bob Fosse.
The cast includes Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee (reprising their original Broadway roles), Michele Lee, Anthony Teague, Tucker Smith (in an uncredited role), and Maureen Arthur. The film marks the debut of Lee, who later appeared in the popular 1980s television series Knots Landing.
J. Pierpont Finch buys a book How to Succeed in Business, describing in step-by-step fashion how to rise in the business world. The ambitious young window cleaner follows its advice carefully. He joins the "World-Wide Wicket Company" and begins work in the mailroom. Soon, thanks to the ethically-questionable advice in the book, he rises to Vice-President in Charge of Advertising, making sure that each person above him gets either fired or moved or transferred within the company.
Finch begins to fall in love with Rosemary Pilkington, a secretary at the company. Finch finds out that the president of the company, J. B. Biggley, has made advances towards Hedy LaRue, a beautiful but incompetent woman the company has hired. Finch uses this information to assist his climb on the corporate ladder. Biggley's annoying nephew, Bud Frump, also takes advantage of the situation and tries to get to the top before Finch.
All of Rosemary's songs (including "Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm" and "Paris Original") were cut from the movie version. To make up for this "I Believe In You" was given to her for the movie. In the stage play, she does not sing this to him, and the first time it is heard is during the scene where Finch sings it to himself in the executive washroom, but she does a brief reprise of the song after this scene. In the film, she sings the full version in an earlier scene, making Finch's washroom version the reprise.
The scene featuring Robert Morse skipping & dancing down the street on his way to work (immediately after the "Old Ivy" fight song duet with Rudy Vallee) was filmed on location in New York City using hidden cameras and a small earpiece to cue Morse on his timing. The various amused & astonished passersby were not extras, but rather were New Yorkers reacting genuinely to someone dancing to his own tune.
Tony Curtis, who was over 40 at the time, campaigned to get the Robert Morse role, and Dick Van Dyke was briefly considered, but Robert Morse made the movie. Sure, he was not a wonderful singer or dancer, but he is Finch. I can not really picture anyone else doing the role, although the Broadway show has been revived countless times. Another high point of the movie was Rudy Vallee. Vallee, who was a top crooner in the 1920s and 1930s until Bing Crosby surpassed him in popularity, was perfect as well as the clueless company president. It was really the last important role that Vallee had in his career.
My favorite song in the film is one that is barely ever mentioned: "Brotherhood Of Man" was basically the finale of the film where the whole company joins Robert Morse singing. A song that my son and daughter like is "It's Been A Long Day". I guess they like the repetitiveness of the song lyrics, but it is catchy.
Do yourself a favor and watch How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. It's a harmless 1967 romp, and I guarantee you'll be tapping your feet and almost wishing you worked in an office...
who is my opinion was one of the most beautiful women to ever be captured on
film was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on this day - October 17, 1918 inBrooklyn, New
York in 1918 as Margarita Carmen Cansino, the oldest
child of two dancers. Her father, Eduardo Cansino, Sr., was from Castilleja de la
Cuesta, a little town
near Seville, Spain. Her mother, Volga Hayworth, was an American of Irish-English
descent who had performed with the Ziegfeld Follies. The couple married in 1917. They also had two sons: Eduardo Jr. and
wanted her to become a professional dancer, while her mother hoped she would
become an actress. Her paternal grandfather, Antonio Cansino, was renowned as a
Spanish classical dancer. He popularized the bolero and his dancing school in Madrid was world famous. Hayworth later
recalled, "From the time I was three and a half... as soon as I could
stand on my own feet, I was given dance lessons." She noted "I didn't
like it very much... but I didn't have the courage to tell my father, so I
began taking the lessons. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, that was my
girlhood". She attended dance classes every day for a few years in a Carnegie Hall complex, where she was taught by her uncle Angel Cansino. She performed
publicly from the age of six. In 1926 at the age of eight, she was featured in La
Fiesta, a short film for Warner Bros.
In 1927, her
father took the family to Hollywood. He believed that dancing could be featured
in the movies and that his family could be part of it. He established his own
dance studio, where he taught such Hollywood luminaries as James Cagney and Jean Harlow. During the Great Depression, he lost all his investments as commercial interest in his dancing classes waned. He partnered with his daughter to form
"The Dancing Cansinos". Since under California law Margarita was too
young to work in nightclubs and bars, her father took her with him to work
across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. In the early 1930s, it was a popular tourist
spot for people from Los Angeles. Due to her working Cansino never graduated
from high school, but she had completed ninth grade at Hamilton
High in Los Angeles.
took a bit part in the film Cruz Diablo (1934) at age 16, which led to another in In Caliente (1935) with the Mexican actress, Dolores del Río. She danced with her father in such nightspots as the Foreign and the
Caliente clubs. Winfield Sheehan, the head of the Fox Film Corporation, saw her dancing at the Caliente Club
and quickly arranged for Hayworth to do a screen test a week later. Impressed
by her screen persona, Sheehan signed her for a short-term six-month contract
at Fox, under the name Rita Cansino, the first of two name changes for her film
During her time at
Fox, Hayworth appeared in five pictures in non-notable roles. By the end of her
six-month contract, Fox had merged into 20th Century Fox, with Darryl F. Zanuck serving as the executive producer.
Dismissing Sheehan's interest in Hayworth, Zanuck did not renew her contract.
Feeling that she had screen potential, the salesman and promoter, Edward C.
Judson, whom she would marry in 1936, got her the lead roles in several
independent films and arranged a screen test with Columbia Pictures. The studio head Harry Cohn signed Hayworth to a long-term contract, and cast her in small roles in
Columbia features. It was at this time that the Rita Hayworth that we all knew
and loved would be born…