Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow day = movie day!

What with all the snow and layers of ice that decorated the world this morning, I chickened out and stayed home, which translated into vegging in front of the TV, watching the last of my Christmas DVDs. It was a lovely day.

Hellooooooo, ladies!
First up was San Antonio, the case for which notes, "Despite his Tasmanian roots and elegant British accent, Flynn made an ideal all-American cowboy. With his steely gaze, lean frame, and understated humor, he tamed the West in eight thrilling sagebrush sagas." Amen to that. He is a wonderful cowboy, basically because he is a wonderful anything. Pirate, pilot, boxer, George Armstrong Custer, I don't care, as long as he smiles that smile at me. Yum.

I worked my way through my Flynn Westerns box set this weekend, also viewing Montana, Rocky Mountain, and Virginia City. Flynn's sidekick in two of these films was S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall, and I'm of two minds about that. On the one hand, "Cuddles" is absolutely adorable in everything he does, which usually includes a lot of bumbling (and how awesome is it that he always had his nickname in the credits?). On the other hand, there's few things more out of place in a Western than a chubby guy with a thick Hungarian accent. Alan Hale is my preferred Flynn buddy, but Sakall turned out to be an acceptable, if somewhat unsuitable, substitute. My all time favorite Flynn western, though, is Dodge City.

I also polished off the last of my Warners Gangsters Vol. 4 set with Invisible Stripes, and Kid Galahad. We'll talk about those next time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Snuggly blankets and hot chocolate in front of a cozy fire

That's what the Andy Hardy movies are to me. When TCM shows them, they usually do a chunk of them in a row in one day. I think I've seen most of them now, the most recent block being shown over Christmas, which was the perfect time for them, what with the gooey family feelings and all.

They are, of course, a completely unrealistic picture of family life -- even more so now than when they were made. And yet, I love them, and watching them is so relaxing. For one thing, you always know what to expect -- Andy falls for girl, gets in some kind of (totally harmless) trouble, has man-to-man talk with Dad -- and yet the details of the story are different each time, so there's a combination of old and new which keeps my interest.

Even as the feminist in me kind of recoils from Mother Hardy's obvious belief that she's just a mere woman who can't even balance her checkbook, there is something comforting in watching her fuss over the children or bustle around in the kitchen -- and what dinners she makes! And the men always come to the table in coats and ties! It's hard to believe that people actually lived that way, although my dad tells stories of the days when men walked the boardwalk at the Jersey shores in coats and ties and hats, the women in dresses and pantyhose and gloves. There is a style about it (and classic films in general, from the manners to the decor) that seems so quaint today, but it's a style I enjoy.

My current box set dream is an Andy Hardy box set...and my birthday is next month, Ted Turner! Hear my cries! For your benefit, here's a list of the films (and in checking IMDB to create the list, I notice Mickey Rooney currently has 323 movies to his!):
  • A Family Affair (Lionel Barrymore was the original Judge Hardy, but I like Lewis Stone much better)
  • You're Only Young Once
  • Judge Hardy's Children
  • Love Finds Andy Hardy
  • Out West with the Hardys
  • The Hardys Ride High
  • Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever
  • Judge Hardy and Son
  • Andy Hardy Meets Debutante
  • Andy Hardy's Private Secretary
  • Life Begins for Andy Hardy
  • The Courtship of Andy Hardy
  • Andy Hardy's Double Life
  • Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble
  • Love Laughs at Andy Hardy
  • Andy Hardy Comes Home

Hmm. Maybe I haven't seen most of them after all.

Portraits of Hollywood's Golden Age

A nifty Newsweek photo gallery I discovered today. Say what you will about Joan Crawford, she could take am amazing picture (#5), and that's not even my favorite of her. The James Cagney picture (#8) is great, a wonderful example of what they did with light and shadow back then. The Hitchcock one (#14) is just plain funny.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Driven into exile by the Nazis, they changed Hollywood forever

I saw an excellent documentary over the weekend, Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood. The film documents the experiences of some well known (Fritz Lang, Peter Lorre) and less well known (Erich Pommer, Joseph Mai) Jews from Germany's film industry who escaped Hitler's Germany and wound up in Hollywood, with varying degress of success. Some of the history I knew, but most I didn't, and the documentary as a whole was fascinating.