Friday, 1 January 2016

On the 8th Day of Christmas...

... this blogger gave to thee...
... eight great old movies...
... seven shoes to choose from...
... six party frocks ...
... five gold rings!..
... four micro art forms...
... three tubby little cubbies...
... two fancy pens...
... and a lego man made of a tree.

Happy New Year! 

It's 2016 and I have a few resolutions this year because for me 2016 is a kind of make or break year. I don't quite feel ready to go into any details as technically, I'm still on holiday, but I'll let you know what's going on, if you're interested, in due time. Anyway, for me the holidays wouldn't be complete without getting to watch a load of my favourite old movies on TV. Do I have most of them on DVD? Actually, no, but somehow watching them on TV always feels different anyway. And I think that's one of the nicest parts of the festive season, getting to sit with your family in the middle of the afternoon, watching It's a Wonderful Life  (1946) or White Christmas (1954).

So here are eight of my favourite old school movies. I'll try not to spoil you, but the newest of these movies is fifty six years old and the oldest seventy seven, so you've had plenty of time to be spoiled before now.
Some Like It Hot (1959), we may as well start with one of my favourite films of all time. Staring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, this is and ridiculously funny film. Musicians Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon) witness the Valentines Day Massacre, they're seen and go on the run to keep them from being silences permanently. In an attempt to get out of town, they take the only job they can find, in an all-female jazz band heading to Miami. Disguised as women, rechristened Josephine and Daphne, they get on the train and are confronted with a new problem, Sugar Kane (Monroe) who is the bands singer and ukulele player. Both fall for her and attempt to win her heart whilst still in disguise... you can probably guess how well this story goes.

This genuinely is one of my favourite films. It's hilarious, the music's great and I'm not ashamed to say that I own a ukulele because of this film (well, that and my parents, but the films was the inspiration). If you ignore all the other films on this list, watch this one. If only for the final line which kills me every time.
High Society (1956), starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm, is the musical interpretation of the play, The Philadelphia Story by John Barry, in which Tracy Samantha Lord (Kelly) is about to get married to a very boring man of good standing. Unfortunately her ex-husband Dexter (Crosby) arrives in town conveniently timed for a Jazz Festival. Dexter is still in love with Tracy and tries to win her back. Meanwhile reporters Mike Connor (Sinatra) and Liz Imbrie (Holm) arrive at the Lord estate to cover the wedding, in a big to avoid their newspaper publishing a story about her father. Inevitably Mike falls for Tracy too and the film spans the few days leading up to the wedding in which Tracy must choose between her fiance, her ex-husband and the reporter.

The Philadelphia Story, had been made into a film staring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart sixteen years earlier. I love this film, it would have been on the list but I have such a soft spot for all the fantastic songs in High Society, that I'm ashamed to say I bumped it. If you love the musical watch the original, it's wonderful also.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), is number two for Marilyn Monroe in this list, alongside Jane Russell, in which they play showgirls Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw travel to France for work. It's Lorelei's plan to marry her fiancé Gus while there, however his disapproving father stops him and sends a private detective to spy on her and gather evidence to prove she's merely a gold digger. The PI however, instantly falls for Dorothy, who barely notices him. Unfortnately Lorelei meets the owner of a diamond mind, flirts and inevitably gets bother herself, and Dorothy into trouble.

This is of course where Marilyn's infamous "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" musical number is immortalised and Madonna paid homage too, in her Material Girl video. I love Marilyn in this film, but Jane Russell is awesome and they always seemed to me like they were having a lot of fun.
Operation Petticoat (1959), the second in our list starring Tony Curtis, but the first for Cary Grant. Post World War Two, Admiral Sherman (Grant) is preparing to see the now obsolete submarine, Sea Tiger, he commanded during the war prior to its departure for the scrap yard. The film looks back at the events that took place whilst under his command and every hampered by the creaking old Sea Tiger, Lieutenant Holden (Curtis), whose ethics of naval life are very different to the Captain's, a group of evacuated Army Nurses and a lot of pink paint. 

I love this film because both Cary Grant and Tony Curtis are doing a little bit of their expected shtick, but the manner in which they bounce off one another seems to counteract that, with really funny consequences.  
Bringing Up Baby (1938), is a screw-ball comedy staring Katharine Hepburn and (again) Cary Grant, in which Grant plays a paleontologist trying to impress a dowager for a million dollar donation to his museum, all whilst trying to find the last bone for the brontosaurus skeleton he has been attempting to complete and cope with the stress of an impending marriage. Enter Susan (Hepburn), who is unbeknownst to David the dowagers niece, who convinces him to her her bring a tame leopard named Baby, home as a present for her aunt. Needless to say, things do not go to plan as Baby gets loose, they end up in jail and Susan falls in love with her new acquaintance and attempts to stop him marrying his fiance.

I've loved this film for years, although I don't know if without Wikipedia I could have told you the story other than there was a dinosaur, a leopard and a lot of disasters and squabbling. It's been a while since I watched it and you never see it on telly, but if you love Cary Grant or Katharine Hepburn, or you give it a chance, it's a very funny film.
How To Marry A Millionaire (1953), starring Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall as Pola, Loco and Schatze, three gold diggers renting a luxurious New York City apartment as a way to attract millionaires to marry them. Love isn't the desired conclusion, this is all about the money, but none of them are truly happy settling for one without the other. Over the course of the movie, they use all their charms to secure three rich men and pawning off all of their landlords belongings. 

It's a story about going after what you want, but realising that that's not actually right for you. It's a great movie with three very funny women.
Roman Holiday (1953), starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, isn't your traditional love story, because what do you do when you're a bored, sheltered young princess in Rome for a publicity tour? Obvious really, you sneak out of the palace in the dead of night and end up inadvertently spend the night with an American journalist, who once he becomes away of your status and pays his photographer friend to tail you, becomes your tour guide for the day. Allowing you to enjoy all the joys of a normal, independent life that you crave before returning to your royal duties.

This was Hepburn's first major American film role, she won an Oscar, BAFTA and Gold Globe for best actress and she perfectly embodied a demanding young princess who is naive of normal life yet desperate to experience it all. As for Gregory Peck, he plays the role perfectly, of a reporter on the biggest scoop of his life, gradually developing morals as his relationship with the princess develops. He's handsome, only slightly manipulative and perfect for the role - which was originally offered to Cary Grant... which would have been a mistake. Peck allowed Hepburn to be the star because he knew this was a special film and while he was the star, she was the draw. I love this movie
On The Town (1949), is a MGM musical starring Gene Kelly, Vera-Ellen, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller and Jules Munshin, and circles around three sailors on shore leave in New York. Gabey (Kelly) dragging his fellow sailors Chip (Sinatra) and Ozzie (Munshin) around the city in the attempt to find "Miss Turnstiles", Ivy (Vera-Ellen), the subway beauty queen llen madly in love with from a photograph, without ever actually meeting her. Traditional musical hilarity, drama and romance ensues as they rush around the unfamiliar city, with the aid of taxi driver, Hildy (Garrett) and anthropologist, Claire (Miller).

There is wonderful singing and dance numbers, beautiful costumes and it's funny. I remember watching it as a kid and loving how brazen and hilarious most of the women in this film were. They outshone the guys to me. 

So, there you have it. There were a lot of repeat offenders there, lots of Marilyn, Sinatra and Cary, but also a few I missed. I wanted a Doris Day film, but couldn't choose between them (though I'd probably have plumped for  Calamity Jane), I missed off White Christmas, A Wonderful Life, Singing in the Rain and I Was A Male War Bride, all of which I could watch and rewatch, especially around this time of year, but I think this is a good cross section of the era. 

Watch some of them, or none of them, I love them all.

Hope you have a lovely New Years Day.

Happy New Years and a Merry Christmas! Part nine tomorrow...

Link || Some Like It Hot (1959) via IMDb  | Wikipedia | Image | Image
Link || High Society (1956) via IMDb Wikipedia | Image | Image
Link || Bringing Up Baby (1938) via IMDbWikipedia | Image
Link || Roman Holiday (1953) via IMDbWikipedia | Image | Image
Link || On The Town (1946) via IMDb | Wikipedia | Image
Listening: Running Wild - Marilyn Monroe

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