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Friday, July 31, 2020

Answering some fun classic film preference questions for the Sunshine Blogger Award!

I'd like to thank Leah of Cary Grant Won't Eat You and Rachel of Hamlette's Soliloquy for nominating me for the "Sunshine Blogger Award"! Even if I'm a little late with this post, I hope you enjoy reading my answers to their great questions below. First, here are the rules:

1.     Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2.     Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
3.     Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
4.     List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in you post.
5.     Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.

Now, on to the questions!

Leah asked:

  1. Which party you’ve seen on film would you want to join? 
    Oh my. There are so many fun and interesting parties in film. I'm a sucker for "oldies" rock and roll and I would love to hang out at a sock hop with the gang from American Graffiti or the gang from Back to the Future. (I'm trying to think of a movie *made* in the 1950s with a fun sock hop, but coming up empty! Anyone??) Putting on a poodle skirt and dancing to 1950s music played live sounds like a blast to me.
  2. Which cinematic character would be the WORST party guest? I was just talking with my Mom the other day about A Clockwork Orange (1971). I'm not gonna lie, if violent gang-leader Alex (Malcolm McDowell) showed up to a party I was hosting I would be more than a bit stressed about the various illegal substances and the home clean-up I'd be required to do afterward!
  3. Which Hitchcock scene do you find the creepiest? Is "all of them" an option? I'm going to go with the first one that popped into my head and stayed there -- it's the meeting between Guy  (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker) in Strangers on a Train (1951). This scene starts like an innocent conversation and then you realize something is "off" about Bruno - at about the same time that Guy realizes it, too. Both actors are perfect here and just the way Hitchcock induces that creepy feeling in you in real-time is a stroke of genius.

4. Which film’s writing blows you away? I love absolutely everything about Trouble in Paradise (1932) directed by the great Ernst Lubitch. A sophisticated, double entendre-ridden European comedy of class and manners. The screenplay is credited to Samuel Raphaelson, adapted by Grover Jones from the play by Aladar Laszlo. Apparently Lubitsch himself contributed to the screenplay.

5. What actor (past/present) does the best job throwing a (funny or serious) tantrum onscreen? This one was hard for me. I finally decided this was the place to highlight Toshiro Mifune's unhinged and partially improvised performance as peasant-turned-samurai in Kurosawa's classic The Seven Samurai (1954). The scene where his character gets drunk and throws his body around threatening his comrades with violence to prove his mettle is about as intense as tantrums come. 
Don't mess with Mifune when he's mad
6. Who is your favorite movie sidekick? It was an acquired taste, but I absolutely love Una Merkel in the 1930s whenever she is cast as the 'best friend' of the movie's heroine. She always brought sweetness, sass, and common sense at exactly the right time. She was the best friend of such stars as Jean Harlow, Ginger Rogers, Irene Dunne, and Myrna Loy, just to name a few.
Una Merkel (IMdB)
  1. What classic movie should become a TV series on Netflix/Hulu? One of my issues with the otherwise good film adaptation of Wuthering Heights (1939) is that the film ended about halfway through the novel. What about making a series that continues the stories of the occupants of the remote English moor through to and even past the novel's conclusion? I can imagine many more adventures, illicit romances, revenge plots, etc., to make at least one season on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime!
  2. Which of your go-to films is one others don’t appreciate? I absolutely adore Billy Crystal's made-for-HBO baseball movie 61* (2001). It chronicles the 1961 New York Yankees' season and the national and personal drama that was the home run race between Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) and Roger Maris (Barry Pepper) with equal parts nostalgia, humor, pathos, and irreverence. It's an absolute delight for film fans and baseball fans. I wrote about it HERE.
  3. What is the best sports scene in a film? Building off my answer to #8, the scene in 61* in which Mickey Mantle (Jane) is at the plate trying to fight through injury to hit a home run to stay in the race is heart-pounding and uplifting. Crystal did a wonderful job recreating the old Yankee Stadium from the point of view of the batter.
  4. What’s the funniest scene on film? So tough to narrow this down, but one of my favorites is in the underrated Buster Keaton silent feature Our Hospitality (1923). Buster is "stuck" as a guest inside in a house of his sweetheart in which her two brothers are looking to kill him for a perceived grievance. The only issue is that their social code says they cannot kill him while he is physically inside the house. The scene mid-way through the film in which Buster is trying every trick in the book to stay inside while his guests are trying to usher him out has me giggling every time.
  5. What’s your favorite (or one of your favorite) one liners/small bits of dialogue? Going back to Trouble In ParadiseFans of this film will no doubt cite the pickpocket games between the two leads or the "Tonsils! Positively tonsils!" line from Edward Everett Horton's character. I giggle when the 'Colet and Company' radio jingle is performed by Tyler Brooke: 
    "Cleopatra was a lovely tantalizer; But she did it with her little atomizer; We'll make you smell like a rose; Ev'ry nose in Paris knows Colet and Company"! 
Rachel asked:

1.  What movie house would you like to live in? It may be the 'recency effect' as I just watched the film for a film group discussion, but I adore 'Gull Cottage' in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)It's a beautiful traditional home impeccably kept, on the coast of England! If it's good enough for Gene Tierney, it's good enough for me! And if Rex Harrison wanted to visit from time to time I wouldn't mind ;-) 
"Gull Cottage": a screen grab from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
2.  What movie pet would you like to own? Um, maybe "Baby" the leopard in BringingUp Baby (1938) if it would land Cary Grant for me like it did for Katharine Hepburn!
Katharine Hepburn and "Baby"
3.  What book do you wish your favorite actor or actress could have starred in an adaptation of? One of my favorites, Alan Ladd, was apparently tapped by director George Stevens to play Jett Rink, the role in Giant (1956) that went to James Dean. Ladd turned it down. The two were such different actors, but I would love to see what Ladd could have done with the role. 
4.  Are there any movies you like better than the book they were based on? This is a tough one! I recently watched The Heiress and concurrently read Henry James' novella Washington Square, from which the film was adapted. I can't fault the novella, but I thought the film adaptation was more taut and suspenseful. Certain plot points were altered slightly for effect, but in a good way. I also thought the character of the father, played by Ralph Richardson in the film, was more nuanced than in the book.

5.  What's your favorite movie that's set in the decade you were born in? Dr.Strangelove was made the year I was born - 1964- and it's a favorite of mine. I talked about it briefly in my post on my favorite films from the 1960s. There are so many others, but I'll go with this one. I love how the script and actors just pull out all the stops in this black comedy. 
6.  Do you collect movie memorabilia of any sort? Not really, although I pick up occasional books and photos when inspired (I have a signed photo of Herbert Marshall!--shown below). I wrote about my top Herbert Marshall performances here and reviewed a new bio here.

7.  What actor and actress have never made a movie together, but you wish would have? How about George Sanders and Maggie Smith? Two incredible English actors who could dish out the snark with the cleverest wit imaginable. Too bad Sanders wasn't around for a guest part on Downton Abbey!

8.  What director would you like to have direct a movie based on your life? It would probably be a pretty dull movie (!), but I would feel comfortable entrusting my life story to Ida Lupino, the classic era director who made sensitive, character-driven dramas, but could also handle noir, mystery, and comedy.

9.  Do you ever like a remake better than the original film? Another tough one, especially for me as I tend not to watch many remakes...but I did like the 2006 version of The Painted Veil better than the 1934version. Both were based on the Somerset Maugham novel of the same name. The former starred Greta Garbo, Herbert Marshall, and George Brent, and had its moments, but it rushed through many plot points and mangled the ending. The later version, with Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, and Liev Schriber in the same roles took its time, but was absolutely gorgeous to look at, and ultimately more tragic.

10. What's your least favorite movie genre?  My least favorite genre is probably film musicals, as I find them tedious at times and want to skip the musical numbers when I'm caught up in the narrative. Sacrilege, I know! On top of that the plots of these films are often thin or silly.
11.  Are there any movies in your least-favorite genre that you do like? I love The Sound of Music (ironically!). My Fair Lady is a close runner-up. Maybe also the 1930s Busby Berkeley musicals such as Golddiggers of 1933.

This was fun! Thanks again, Leah and Rachel.

I'd like to nominate the following bloggers:
Marianne of Make Mine Film Noir
Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled
Elise of the Film Perspective blog
Gabriela of Pale Writer
Julia of Cinema Crossroads

Here are my questions:

  1. What is your favorite silent film?
  2. How do you describe your love of classic movies (and/or your blog) when someone you just met asks you about your hobbies?
  3. What film that many people love would you not bother to watch more than once?
  4. What key plot point in a film would you alter to make the film more impactful, enjoyable, or just make more sense?
  5. Time is short - what one question would you most like to ask of your favorite director?
  6. Your favorite film score?
  7. What TV series would you most like to see adapted into a film?
  8. Who is your favorite film comedian or comic team?
  9. What movie surprises you in how emotional you become when watching?
  10. Favorite child actor performance in a classic era film?
  11. This is a popular question - but what movie do you recommend to someone new to classic film?