Samstag, 31. Dezember 2011


As we rang in the new year, I thought it would be cool to do so with a few friends. Some may go out and some may have a party at home...either way, should be a grand time. So let's get this festive occasion started shall we....

First thing first..make sure you invite everyone you know..
don't forget anyone or you will never hear the end of it

Dean has got you covered in the liquid refreshment department

Believe it or not, Rita's got the food taken care of for you..

Or if you venture out, there's Jimmy and Norma having a little feast

But do keep Paulette away from the cake..please

Soon your friends start arriving like Cary, Irene and Ralph

Carole and Clark

Fred and Ginger doing their thing

Gene and Frank even stopped by before shipping out

Donna ever so helpful in keeping track of the time

As the party starts to get a little wild...

And it finally happens...HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May everyone have a fabulous New Year
and a great start into 2012!

Count our lucky stars


Samstag, 24. Dezember 2011

Irene's list of (more or less) Christmas films..

After Monty posted his list of Christmas films we talked about me doing such a list too - and since then I have this short list of films on my desk waiting to be published.. Frankly: My films may for some of you be no regular Christmas films - which is why I am a bit shy to post it - but after all: How unfair to let Monty do all the posting.. As I said: a few of these film may for some of you be no Christmas films - for me they are. It is quite a personal list - and I guess we all have some films which mean different things for us than they mean for others.. To make things worse: Some of those aren't actually Hollywood films! Not even American either!!! Scandalous!!!! I hope you won't be too shocked.. This blog is still a mainly Classic Hollywood blog.. So please, keep calm, breathe and have a look on my list:

(To mimick Monty I will build this list up to my favourite of those as the last named here - though I might decide another ranking next year - or next week - or in the next 15 minutes.. - But right now at this moment it's:)

LOVE ACTUALLY (2003) - a wonderful cast in a wonderful episode movie - set around Christmas time in London - well, Monty said some words about it before.. 

~ Bill Nighy - Christmas is all around him.. ~

WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954) - a classic most of you will know.. I love it especially for Danny Kaye - and the great costumes.. The whole film is quite beautiful (besides one little thing which really irks me - though it is covered most of the time: Beautiful Vera-Ellen's hands show quite openly that she was famishing herself..)

~ classic Christmas image - of a classic Christmas picture.. ~

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992): The classic Dickens' Christmas Carol brought to the screen with the incomparable Muppets - and Michael Caine as Scrooge!! Always great to see one of my idols in a period drama: Miss Piggy in a part like that where she can show her beauty - and proof her talent as an actress in a "mother-part".. 

~ A few members of the Cratchit family ~

THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940): I posted about it before as you may recall - it is just a wonderful film with a wonderful cast and a wonderful story..

~ James Stewart & Margaret Sullavan - knowing the other side of Christmas shopping.. ~

WE'RE NO ANGELS (1955): Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov as escapees from Devil's Island prison help to make the Christmas of Joan Bennett, Leo G. Carroll and Gloria Talbott really unforgetable - not to mention Basil Rathbone - who will never live through another Christmas like that - or at all..

~ Are they really no angels? ~

DESK SET (1957): When the research department of Katharine Hepburn, Dina Merrill, Sue Randall and Joan Blondell is about to be computerized by Spencer Tracy - even the christmas time (and the obligatory Christmas parties) are filled with sassy dialogues.. One of my all-time favourite films..  The cast is marvellous - so are the dialogues - and the story is quite modern - or should we say timeless?

~ Time to unpack the Christmas presents.. ~

BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE (1958) : In the same year they made VERTIGO together Kim Novak and James Stewart also appeared in this film - and I am very, very sure that James Stewart's secretary in this film dresses a lot like the Kim Novak character from VERTIGO.. On Christmas Eve modern sorceress (Kim Novak) meets her neighbour (James Stewart) and makes him fall for her.. This film will always be in my Top Ten of favourite films.. I love the female cast - and there is the unforgettable and beautiful Siamese cat Pyewacket.. 

~ sheer beauty.. ~

FLYING CLASSROOM (1954) - Orig: DAS FLIEGENDE KLASSENZIMMER: A German film based on on of my favourite children's book by one of my favourite authors: Erich Kästner. Rivalling boyschools and a giant snowball fight, a boy who wants to prove to the other boys that he is no coward and breaks his leg at this occasion, an old friendship revived after decades, a christmas play about a flying classroom - and another boy, whose family is too poor to buy him a ticket back home for christmas.. I grew up with this film - and in the moment when the poor boy's parents are in their meagre living room with a scrubby little Christmas tree looking outside at the other families houses and more lavish christmas celebrations and then their son arrives surprisingly - and jubilating: "And I have the money for the return-ticket, too!!" - your poor Irene is bursting into tears.. 

~ the stars of the Flying Classroom.. At the door one of my favourite German actors Peter Vogel. Peter Kraus, the boy looking at his cap in his hand would be a few years later a German version of a goody two-shoes Elvis Presley.. ~

 THREE NUTS FOR CINDERELLA / THREE WISHES FOR CINDERELLA (1973) (Orig: TRI ORÍSKY PRO POPELKU) - the film which most Europeans will associate with Christmas. It is aired every Christmas time in so many states around here. It's the classic Cinderella story - just that here Cinderella (Libuše Šafránková) is a bit more tomboyish.. The three nuts she receives as a gift contain three costumes - and in each of them she meets the prince (Pavel Trávnícek): disguised as a hunter impressing the prince with her talents, in a ball gown at the ball as mysterious guest (this is the one where she will loose her shoe..) and at last in a wedding dress.. A lot of winter scenery - and a marvellous soundtrack by peerless Karel Svoboda..

~ Libuše Šafránková - who gave me the image of ideal beauty.. ~

I hope you're enjoying the show!

Have a merry christmas!!



Freitag, 16. Dezember 2011

Jane Greer's Christmas Wish List

Jane making her list...being very specific...well I can help
you out a little Jane with a pic of Cary below...

Thank our lucky stars


Let's watch.. ..The Great Rupert (1950)

In my last post I told you about one B-movie - here we have another - actually one of my favourites:


It’s Christmas eve. The Amendola family is awfully unsuccessful in show business and due to that very poor – but at least they now have found a home.

When Mama (Queenie Smith) prays to the lord for some help suddenly money starts falling from the ceiling. Now she can buy a beautiful Christmas tree, a fine meal and some new shoes for daughter Linda (Terry Moore). Papa (Jimmy Durante) is more than happy to be able to pay the rent for three months in advance to his closefisted landlord Mr. Dingle (Frank Orth).

Soon the Amendolas and the Dingles are celebrating Christmas together. All would be wonderful – when Peter Dingle (Tom Drake) wouldn’t get jealous of Phil (Chick Chandler) to whom Linda shows way too much interest in Pete’s opinion..

...And if it wasn’t actually the money of Mr. Dingle the Amendolas are spending: Mr. Dingle had hidden it between the walls of the Dingle’s and the Amendola’s residences – which happens to be the home of “the world greatest entertainer “ (so called by his manager): Rupert.

Just by the way: Rupert – who had just a short career before his manager (Jimmy Conlin) set him free - is a squirrel. He had of course to clean his home by throwing the money out when some rude person stuffed his home with it..

And Mr. Dingle is about to hide even more money in this place – where so much money seems to have room..

~ Swanky neighbours: Jimmy Durante and Rupert ~

Frankly – I don’t like animals being stuffed into fancy outfits – But I am very happy to tell you that most of Rupert’s costume (and dance) stunts were done by a Rupert dummy – in stop motion technique. These tricks are wonderfully done – well stop motion is just amazing.. In this special case is was done with the help of Academy Award winner George Pal.

In case you are (Mid-)European: Rupert is an Eastern Grey Squirrel - which means he is a native American – he is by that not of the red fur colour we are used to from "our" squirrels..

(With the help of wikipedia.org - thank you very much!:)

This is an Eastern Grey Squirrel:

And here we have an Eurasian Red Squirrel (one of those yours Irene just adores):

And it breaks my heart to think that “ours” are about to disappear – in favour of the much stronger American ones.. Evolution seems to be “Anti-red”.. ahem.. Yes, I am a bit worried about my beloved red furred friends.. Not that the American ones aren’t cute and all that – and of course I am wishing for them to have a long, happy live full of pleasure and with a happy and big family - I just want that for ALL kind of squirrels.

But back to the film:

It is also known as A CHRISTMAS WISH.

I really like Tom Drake – he seems to be the perfect boy next door. I am pretty sure most of you know him from MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) – where Judy Garland gave him a real good punch.. And Terry Moore – who I also like - looks indeed dashing in a sweater.. -and the shoes she wears here are for sure worth a look.. She later claimed that she didn’t see this film until over 30 years later – she was way too busy back then when the film was released – which was apparently about two years after filming was finished.

Jimmy Durante is – well.. just classic Jimmy Durante.. And I could believe that he would think of buying a polar bear rug/ radio if he had some money to spend.. He was quite late added to the cast – they even dropped Terry Moore’s name from first to second billing and altered the script for him.

Please watch out for Mrs. Dingle – it’s Sara Haden – who also appears in THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940)..

~well - isn't that a lovely sweater Terry Moore is wearing? Though Tom Drake doesn't seem to care too much.. ~

Again this film was colorized for the DVD release.. The result is quite nice – only thing bothering me is, that Tom Drake’s hair now and then seems to be of a yellowish-green colour.. Anyway: I think it is a nice thing to choose for yourself whether you like to see a film in b/w or in kitschy colours. Both do have their pros.

It’s a really lovely film to watch with the whole family. I didn’t try that actually – but I could imagine it has appeal for each age.. – maybe not for too young folks because there is one scene in which a very sensitive child – like yours truly still is – might be a bit too worried for Rupert’s life..

And now - just because I love them soo much - here you have another picture (from the same source like the others before) of a very young Eurasian Red Squirrel:

Hope you're enjoying the show!



Montag, 12. Dezember 2011

Let's watch.. ..Beyond Tomorrow (1940)

There are so many christmas classics

(hope you all checked out Monty's marvellous favourite christmas movie list!?!)

and there also are so many christmas B-movies - like:


On Christmas eve three elderly gentlemen (C. Aubrey Smith, Harry Carey and Charles Winninger) befriend a young woman (Jean Parker) and a young man (Richard Carlson) who become lovers. After all of them become good friends while spending a great deal of time together the three gentlemen die in a plane crash - but because the young couple is in danger to break away from each other the three men come back to earth as ghosts to help them. Problem is: each of the ghosts has to leave at some point..

~ singing Christmas carols: C. Aubrey Smith, Jean Parker and Richard Carlson ~

This film is also known as BEYOND CHRISTMAS.

The cast is great! I have a soft spot for C. Aubrey Smith and Harry Carey. And like me some fans of old B-horror films will be happy to see Richard Carlson in one of his earlier films whilst fans of silent movies (which I am too..) might be glad to see Rod La Rocque in one of his later films.. And each and everone should be happy to see Jean Parker! I tell you: be happy to see Jean Parker! At once!! Thank you.

The play bill might not contain the big names of Hollywood - but you for sure know the faces! Very fine character actors you'll see in this film.

~ Jean Parker is blue - Charles Winninger is lucent.. ~

Oh and the role names! Esther Williams frequently makes fun in retrospect of the names which appear in old films - and I certainly have fun with them, too! Just one example: Richard Carlson's character is from Texas - and he's called: Jimmy Houston! Don't you love that? And of course he is wild about horses! - plus: he is an aspiring singer! I close my case.

And there're some other clichés in this film: Charles Winninger's character is Irish - and you won't get a chance to forget that.. well - this is kind of cute.

The film is originally a b/w film - but in 2004 for the DVD release there was a colorozation made - which in my opinion gives the film almost a 3D like effect - no real 3D but somewhat like it.. I like both versions very much - have a look at the colours:

~ colorized ghosts: Charles Winninger, C. Aubrey Smith & Harry Carey ~

My favourite part - and you might call me a bit morbid - is the way the ghost leave for good. Each of them has a different place where they go to. Which is quite a nice idea.
It is indeed well done - and I have to admit that at some point I always get a bit teary-eyed - because one of them is anticipated in what maybe is eternity..

~ going for good - isn't this beautiful? ~

This film might be no great classic - but for sure it's a nice little B-movie.

Hope you're enjoying the show!



Sonntag, 11. Dezember 2011

Monty's Top Ten Favorite Christmas Movies

Here is my top ten list of favorite Christmas movies. You can see that I have a mixture of classic and modern films to make one grand list. So let's get to it shall we...

10. REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940) The first of two Barbara Stanwyck films that made the list. Babs plays Lee Leander, a shoplifter, who gets arrested for trying to shoplift a bracelet. ADA John Sargeant (Fred MacMurray) is assigned to prosecute her. The trial begins just before Christmas, but rather than face a jury filled with the holiday spirit, he has the trial postponed. However, he generously posts her bail so she does not have to spend Christmas in jail. And so begins a wonderful holiday film as the two wind up spending time with his family and falling in love. One of the best of the classic romantic dramas that happens to be set during the holidays. Stanwyck and MacMurray have wonderful chemistry together. Remember the Night is a regular favorite that is played on TCM every December.

9. BACHELOR MOTHER (1939) Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers) is a salesgirl at the department store John B. Merlin and Son in New York City who has just been told that since the Christmas season is ending she is going to be dismissed. During her lunch break, she sees a stranger leaving a baby on the steps of an orphanage. Fearing the baby is going to roll down the steps, Polly picks it up as the door is opened, and is mistakenly thought to be the mother. David Merlin (David Niven), the playboy son of the store's owner, J.B. Merlin (Charles Coburn), is sympathetic to the "unwed mother" and arranges for her to get her job back. Mrs. Weiss (Ferike Boros), Polly's landlady, offers to take care of the boy when Polly is at work. Unable to convince anyone that she is not the mother, Polly gives up and starts raising the child. A showcase for Ginger Rogers to prove that she could do more than sing and dance. Remade in 1956 as Bundle of Joy with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.
8. NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989) Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase) and brood return for their third film and my favorite in the series. Instead of traveling somewhere, the Griswolds celebrate Christmas at home with visiting relatives. Comedy chaos ensues with situations like the search for the perfect Christmas tree to adorning the house with tons of lights to tangling with a squirrel trapped inside the house. I've seen this movie like 30 times and it's still funny as the first time I saw it. Chase is the master at the sly, sarcastic Clark who is just trying to give his family the perfect Christmas. And if takes kidnapping his boss who didn't give him a Christmas bonus, then so be it.

7. HOLIDAY INN (1942) Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are pure magic in this delightful musical set at an inn that is open only on holidays. Christmas of course is one of the featured holidays and the duo get to work their magic. Aided by actresses Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale.

6. HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949)  Robert Mitchum plays Steve Mason, a veteran and drifter, is employed as a clerk at Crowley's, a New York department store during the Christmas season. He suspects customer Connie Ennis, played by Janet Leigh, of being a comparative shopper for a rival store when she buys an expensive toy train set without asking a single question about it. That night, her son Timmy (Gordon Gebert) becomes excited when he sneaks a peek at what he thinks is his present, only to be disappointed when his mother sets him straight. When Connie returns the train the next day, Steve tells her that he should report her to the store detective, which would lead to her firing. After she explains that she is a war widow with a son to support, Steve refunds her money, a gesture that costs him his job. I love this movie. It's very under-rated and is in my book a classic holiday film. If you've never seen it, check it out. TCM is frequently airing during the holiday season.

5. THE HOLIDAY (2006) The wonderful modern romantic comedy set during the holiday season focuses on two women: Amanda (Cameron Diaz), a highly successful movie trailer editor in Los Angeles, and Iris (my girl Kate Winslet), a lovesick society column editor for The Daily Telegraph in London. The story is set in motion when each of them suffers a heartache: Amanda discovers that her boyfriend has cheated on her, while the object of Iris' unrequited love announces his engagement at the office Christmas party. Seeking an escape, Iris proposes the home swap on the internet, posting an ad about her quaint cottage in Surrey in the British countryside. Her offer is eagerly accepted by Amanda, who lives in a luxurious home in L.A. but is stressed over her break-up. So a simple switch and things begin to change for the better for the two women. Solid support from Jack Black, Jude Law, and wily veteran Eli Wallach. This movie is great for couples and anyone who loves great romances.
Kate Winslet in The HolidayCameron Diaz in The Holiday
4. LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955) On Christmas morning in 1909, in Norwalk, Connecticut, Jim Dear gives his wife Darling a cocker spaniel puppy that they name Lady. Lady enjoys a happy life with the couple and with a pair of dogs from the neighborhood, a Scottish Terrier named Jock and a bloodhound named Trusty. Meanwhile, across town by the railway, a stray silver mutt, referred to as the Tramp, lives life from moment to moment, be it begging for scraps from an Italian restaurant or protecting his fellow strays Peg (a Lhasa Apso) and Bull (an English bulldog) from the local dog catcher. Things get serious when Darlings have a baby and Lady is left out. Drama unfolds but things get sorted out by the end and a year later at the following Christmas, there is a much more festive mood at The Darling home with Tramp now a member f the family. This may not be the traditional Christmas movie, but it's still a wonderful film. Beautiful to look at and an emotional and heartfelt story. This is not only one of my favorite films from Disney, but one of my favorite films period.

3. THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942) During a cross-country lecture tour, notoriously acerbic radio personality Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley) slips on the icy steps of the house of the Stanleys, a prominent Ohio family, and is forced to recuperate in their home during the Christmas holidays. The overbearing, self-centered celebrity soon comes to dominate the lives of the residents and everyone else who enters the household. He encourages young adults Richard and June Stanley to pursue their dreams, much to the dismay of their conventional father Ernest. Sheridan's assistant Maggie (a wonderfully subdued Bette Davis) tries to keep him in check. And Ann Sheridan is a riot as Sheridan's old friend and Broadway diva Lorraine. Jimmy Durante joins the fun as another of Sheridan's old buddies. The Man Who Came to Dinner is a joyous holiday film, bursting with comedy and fun. One of the best.

2. LOVE ACTUALLY (2003) delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are shown to be interlinked as their tales progress. The ensemble cast is composed predominantly of British actors such as Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. Set in London, the film begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a weekly countdown until the holiday, followed by an epilogue that takes place one month later. This is one of my favorite newer movies and it's perfect for the whole family.

love actually

1. CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945) And finally my favorite Christmas movie is this charming and delightful film starring Barbara Stanwyck as columnist Elizabeth Lane, who is comparable to what Martha Stewart is today. Problem is, her life is all fake and she really doesn't know anything about cooking, decorating, or living on a farm. She is requested by her publisher (Sydney Greenstreet in a nice departure from film noir flicks) to entertain a war hero (Dennis Morgan) over the holidays. Soon Liz is put on the spot to deliver a home cooked meal and decorate the place with her legendary touch. Babs is awesome in this movie. She gives one of her best performances. And this is how you make a great holiday film. Funny, romantic, touching and beautfiful to look at. So that's why it's my favorite Christmas movie of all time. And I know I'm a guy, but is it me or did Babs know how to dress or what? Stunning clothes adorn her throughout the movie. Just another reason to love this movie.

Honorable mentions include:

SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954) with Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds
WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954) with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye
THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940) with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan
I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1946) with Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten
SCROOGED (1988) with Bill Murray

 Thank our lucky stars