Frankly, My Dear Classic Film Survey

Rianna over at Frankly, My Dear has been hosting a Classic Film Survey for the month of February. I said earlier in the month that I wanted to take part... it's better late than never right? Sorry for the delay, life has just been hectic. So here it goes...

1. Favorite classic Disney?

It is very hard for me to answer this because I am such a Disney fanatic, but I chose Sleeping Beauty (1959). I went with this film because of how beautifully done the illustrations were. You can literally take a frame from any part of the film and it would look like a piece of art! I especially love the scenes where Aurora is walking through the woods singing with all of the animals.

2. Favorite film from the year 1939?

This one is pretty easy... The Women. An all woman cast with Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford? What more could you ask for?

3. Favorite Carole Lombard screwball role?

While I am a little ashamed to say so, I've only seen one of Carole's films... Mr and Mrs Smith (1941). So I will go with that one as my favorite. I did a review on it, you can read here. I must say that after seeing this picture, I will definitely be watching more of her films.

4. Favorite off screen couple?

Jean Harlow and William Powell. They seemed to be deeply in love. Their 6 month engagement came to an end with Harlow's premature death.

5. Favorite pair of best friends?

Ive always loved the behind-the-scene story of the friendship Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe developed on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). I love that Jane would stop by Marilyn's dressing room and walk with her on set because she knew how terrified Monroe was. A true friend.

6. Favorite actor with a mustache?

Clark Gable by far. What a fine piece of man! I even did a post highlighting his wonderful 'stache for Moustaches for Movember!

7. Favorite blonde actress?

Now this puts me in a weird situation. I love so many blondes! But I will have to pass over Jean Harlow and Jayne Mansfield for my all time favorite... Marilyn Monroe. I don't think an explanation is needed... is it?

8. Favorite pre-code?

I love the Jean Harlow film Red-Headed Woman (1932). She knows what she wants, she goes after it and doesnt feel any shame about it... my kind of gal!

9. Which studio would you have liked to join?

Most likely MGM. I would have wanted to be apart of those musicals! Singing? Dancing? Yes please!

10. Favorite common on screen pairing that SHOULD have gotten married?

I love all the films I have seen with Joan Crawford and Clark Gable! They looked so good together and their chemistry on screen is unmatched!

11. Favorite I Love Lucy episode?

Season 1 Episode 2: Be A Pal... Lucy + Carmen Miranda = HILARIOUS!

12.  Out of these actresses which one do you like best: Lucille Ball, Ingrid Bergman, Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Greer Garson, Grace Kelly, or Katharine Hepburn?

I would have to go with Audrey Hepburn. I love so many of her films and I love her off-screen charity work. She was a beautiful person inside and out. And let's not forget how wonderful her wardrobe was her entire career!

13. Shadowy film noir from the 1940’s or splashy colorful musicals from the 1950’s?

Splashy colorful musical of the 50's... Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!

14. Actor or actress with the best autograph.

Bette Davis by far...

15. A childhood photo of either your favorite actress or actor.

Jean Harlow and Fred Astaire!

Tonight's Movie: Foxfire (1955)

FOXFIRE, starring Jane Russell and Jeff Chandler, has been sitting near the top of my Netflix Instant queue for some time now. When I noticed earlier this week that FOXFIRE would be leaving Netflix at month's end due to the expiration of Netflix's contract with Starz, I squeezed it into my schedule. I'm glad I made the time, as I enjoyed it very much.

FOXFIRE is based on a novel by Anya Seton (DRAGONWYCK). It has a number of cool things going for it: 1) Jane Russell, sassy as ever; 2) Jeff Chandler, one of the notable hunks of the '50s (what can I say?); 3) Dan Duryea, who always adds an interesting dimension to a troubled character; 4) a title song by Henry Mancini and Jeff Chandler, sung by Chandler; and 5) terrific Technicolor location filming at the Apple Valley Inn in Apple Valley, California. There's more info on the beautiful, windswept inn in my post on HIGHWAY DRAGNET (1954).

Jane plays Amanda Lawrence, an Eastern socialite who accompanies her mother (Frieda Inescort) to an Arizona resort. Amanda meets half-Apache mining engineer Jonathan "Dart" Dartland (Chandler) and they fall in love -- or maybe lust -- at first sight, followed by a whirlwind wedding ceremony.

Amanda is crazy about Jonathan and eager to adapt to life in the little mining town where he lives, but she struggles with her moody, insecure husband's dark moods. She doesn't understand the emotional walls Jonathan frequently seems to put up between them until she visits an Apache reservation and meets his mother (Celia Lovsky).

This is a very enjoyable film with the great Universal Technicolor look of the '50s. It has a unique story and setting, as well as a sympathetic heroine who is coping with a new lifestyle and racially prejudiced locals along with trying to figure out her new husband. The viewer roots for the tenacious Amanda and hopes she and Jonathan will make a success of their marriage.

Russell and Chandler were both perfectly cast and have excellent chemistry. As a side note, I do wish Russell's hair wasn't quite so short; I've never understood the '50s trend for actresses to wear "helmet hair," which appears matronly to the modern viewer.

Dan Duryea plays the alcoholic town doctor who quickly starts to carry an unrequited torch for Amanda. The doctor is charming when he's sober, but it's a bit hard to understand what his nurse Maria (Mara Corday) sees in him -- or why he ignores the beautiful Maria, especially when it's clear that Amanda is only interested in her own husband.

The early part of this 87-minute film feels truncated. One minute Amanda's mother is booking a flight trying to separate her daughter from her new love, and the next minute Amanda is racing to Jonathan's home and they discuss a problem with a telephone. It felt like there was a scene or two left on the cutting-room floor that should have been left in. For that matter, although I tend to be a fan of shorter films, I would have welcomed a somewhat longer film which delved even more deeply into the characters and their story.

The supporting cast includes Barton MacLane, Arthur Space, Robert F. Simon, Charlotte Wynters, Eddy Waller, and Beulah Archuletta (THE SEARCHERS).

FOXFIRE was directed by Joseph Pevney. Pevney directed several films I've enjoyed, including Jeff Chandler's next film, FEMALE ON THE BEACH (1955). He also directed AIR CADET (1951), TAMMY AND THE BACHELOR (1957), and THE CROWDED SKY (1960).

This film isn't available on DVD or VHS, and in a matter of hours it will no longer be available from Netflix streaming. It seems as though this film would be a good candidate to be released in the Universal Vault DVD-R series sold through Amazon.

Cable subscribers who have the Encore Westerns Channel are in luck, as FOXFIRE will air on that channel on March 9, 2012.

Tonight's Movie: The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962)

THE HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT is a military comedy starring Jim Hutton and Paula Prentiss. Although the film is set in the waning days of WWII, the movie's sensibilities -- not to mention the women's hairstyles -- seem firmly stuck in the early '60s.

Hutton plays Lt. Merle Wye, a lieutenant stationed on an island in the South Pacific circa 1944. Merle is tasked with finding a Japanese soldier who's been hiding out on the island, repeatedly stealing rations from the U.S. army outpost.

Merle is a klutz -- hence the title -- who doesn't have much success in his mission. But he does gradually make some headway romancing nurse Molly Blue (Prentiss).

This was the fourth film teaming Hutton and Prentiss, who were first paired in WHERE THE BOYS ARE (1960), followed by THE HONEYMOON MACHINE (1961) and BACHELOR IN PARADISE (1961). They also both appeared in LOOKING FOR LOVE (1964), although Prentiss just had a cameo in that film.

Unfortunately THE HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT is the weakest of the four main Hutton-Prentiss entries. WHERE THE BOYS ARE, THE HONEYMOON MACHINE, and BACHELOR IN PARADISE are all fine, funny entertainment, but for most of its running time THE HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT just feels silly. The comedy is excessively juvenile, and there's not enough of Paula Prentiss. The film definitely picks up some energy whenever she's on screen.

Speaking of Prentiss, she and the other nurses in the film didn't look very much like women from films of the '40s. The hairstyles weren't as bad as Susannah York's very 1960s mop top in BATTLE OF BRITAIN (1969), but the film had such little '40s atmosphere that I periodically forgot when the story was supposed to be taking place. It's a very generic, bland "service comedy" in that regard.

In fact, the film's attitude is in many ways so post-WWII that the treatment of Japanese characters seems oddly incongruous at times; thus, some bits may make the modern viewer wince slightly.

The supporting cast includes Charles McGraw, Jack Carter, Jim Backus, Miyoshi Umeki, Lloyd King, Marty Ingels, and Yoshio Yoda.

This MGM film was produced by Joe Pasternak and directed by Richard Thorpe. It runs 90 minutes.

All five Hutton-Prentiss films have been released in remastered widescreen prints by the Warner Archive, including THE HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT. I've seen all of the Hutton-Prentiss Archive releases except  LOOKING FOR LOVE, and they look terrific. A trailer is included on the HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT DVD.

The trailer can be seen online at TCM.

THE HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT has also had a release on VHS.

Hutton-Prentiss fans will want to check out THE HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT, but alas, it's a disappointment compared to their very enjoyable earlier films.

Around the Blogosphere This Week

Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the Internet...

...Here's a really interesting new book that's just out: THE ASTAIRES: FRED AND ADELE by Kathleen Riley. Looking forward to learning more about it.

...And here's a neat children's picture book from last year which my dad called to my attention: JUST BEING AUDREY, about the life of Audrey Hepburn. It's by Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos.

...While on the subject of Audrey, I recommend a book I mentioned here a couple of years ago, AUDREY HEPBURN: INTERNATIONAL COVER GIRL by Scott Brizel.

...For anyone who missed it, the cover art has been revealed for the upcoming release of Season 1 of MAVERICK. Here it is, posted at the right.

...Part 3 of a series on THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1942) has now been posted at Jim Lane's Cinedrome. I linked Parts 1 and 2 in my recent review of the film.

...I admire all that Gary Sinise does on behalf of the military and our nation's veterans.

...LOVE IS A BALL (1963) has a fun cast, including Glenn Ford, Ricardo Montalban, and Charles Boyer. After reading Raquelle's review at Out of the Past I'll be sure to see it!

...I really liked Stewart Granger in GUN GLORY a few years ago and was glad to see that Deb of Sidewalk Crossings enjoyed watching it also. One of those relatively unheralded Westerns that's well made and entertaining; it's available from the Warner Archive. Deb's been watching a lot of Stewart Granger films lately, including ALL THE BROTHERS WERE VALIANT (1953) and MOONFLEET (1955).

...The Self-Styled Siren shared thoughts last week on Linda Darnell, an actress I've always very much enjoyed. Darnell was equally effective as the sweet innocent of THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940) or as more hard-edged characters in FALLEN ANGEL (1945) and A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949).

...Glenn Erickson has recently reviewed THE MAGNETIC MONSTER (1953) and TCM's new Film Noir Classics collection. I thought THE MAGNETIC MONSTER was quite fun. It stars one of my faves, Richard Carlson.

...I always enjoy the classic film DVD reviews by Barrie Maxwell, which can be found at The Digital Bits.

...New from Warner Archive: UNTAMED (1929) starring Joan Crawford and Robert Montgomery. It's remastered, too. This is a Montgomery film I haven't seen yet, and it's definitely going on my wish list.

...Kristina's got more of the latest releases in her Shopping List at Speakeasy.

...The Hollywood Revue recently posted an account of "An Evening with Kerry Kelly Novick." Kerry is the daughter of Gene Kelly and Betsy Blair. It sounds like it was a very special evening.

...Speaking of Gene Kelly, my friend Moira has posted an introduction to his non-musical films at Skeins of Thought. I'm looking forward to more of Moira's thoughts on these films. And her post includes video of a navy short he made on combat fatigue, be sure to check it out.

...Here's a list of the upcoming guest programmers at Turner Classic Movies. (Via KC at Classic Movies.)

...ClassicFlix tipped me off on a TV series coming to DVD next month: Bob Cummings and Julie Newmar in MY LIVING DOLL, VOLUME 1. It sounds like a crazy premise; Julie plays a robot?!

...John Nolte has written an appreciation of the film THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943) at Big Hollywood. It's available from Warner Archive. The Saroyan novel used to be on the reading list for high school freshmen in California; it's a shame it's no longer used, especially as it's an uplifting title, and so much of the required reading focuses on "downer" material.

...A pair of the fabled ruby slippers from THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) will be going to the Academy thanks to Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, and others.

...Royal Watch: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden gave birth to a daughter a few days ago. The future queen's daughter, also a future queen, was named Estelle Silvia Eva Mary.

...At Comet Hollywood, Jessica wrote a lovely post on SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944), focusing on the role Soda the Bulldog plays in the family's life. It was part of the recent Classic Movie Dogathon.

...Dennis Quaid, one of the actors I like most from the last couple decades, is filming a pilot about 1960s Las Vegas for CBS. Quaid plays a sheriff cleaning up the city. Michael Chiklis costars as a mobster.

...Leonard Maltin shares photos of a Cecil B. DeMille display at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. There's more info in the L.A. Times and at the USC website. Last fall USC established a Cecil B. DeMille Chair for the Study of Silent Film.

...And here's the no-holds-barred thoughts of esteemed USC professor Drew Casper about this year's Oscar nominees.

Have a great week!

Today at Disneyland: Sunny Saturday

It's been about a month since our last visit to Disneyland, so we headed out to the park for a few hours this morning. It's nice that our passes aren't blocked out on Saturdays at this time of the year!

We could actually use some more rain here this winter -- looks like we may get some next Monday -- but I was happy to enjoy a beautiful sunny February day in the park! The temp was in the high 60s today.

Here's the view from Town Square this morning:

After breakfast at the new Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, we headed over to New Orleans Square for the New Orleans Bayou Bash:

We enjoyed a jazz band...

...and then a vocal performance by Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen:

I really like Randy Newman's songs "Almost There" and "Down in New Orleans" from the PRINCESS AND THE FROG score.

There's another month or so to go, but it's starting to look like spring in the Market House:

I was sorry to learn of the recent passing of longtime New Orleans Square performer Ernie McLean. For over 30 years, he added a lot to the atmosphere of one of my favorite areas of the park, and he'll be missed.

The Rafters Fall In...

...On our fair Miss Mary!!!

Here's the 'sequence' of the 'ol "saw the bed down to where it collapses" routine in 'Rafter Romance' (wouldn't it have been easier to just take a few of the slats out?) ...but this is just a neat little deal, and if you scroll down these properly, it sorta (...kinda...(maybe...)) looks like a video!

OK, Miss Rogers, pick yourself up, dust ya pretty little ol' self off, and hop on over to Finishing School, where we will all be in a few days with another HueyReview... until then, hope everyone has a Mighty Powerful Weekend (MPW?), exceedingly full of awesome GINGERYNESS!!!

KIG, y'all!