Tag Archives: Judy Garland

National Classic Movie Day–Top 5 Favorite Actors

So sorry I missed my last two advertised Blogathon events.  Frankly, I’ve been really busy at work and at the time I signed up for the events, I wasn’t anticipating how busy we’d be.  Inventory Control in the warehouse has been crazy and everyone (myself included) have been working mandatory 10-hr shifts + OT on Saturdays.  We’re halfway through the month, so if I can get through May, I should have more time to dedicate to writing.  I did not want to miss National Classic Movie Day.  This year, we’ve been asked to discuss our Top Five Favorite Actors, which believe me, is was quite an arduous task just to narrow down my favorites.

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Without further ado…

1954 photo of actor Errol Flynn.
Errol and I have the same sunglasses!

My boyfriend, Errol Flynn.  He’s the whole package: unbelievably attractive, charming, athletic, gifted, great accent, tall, he’s got everything.  Aside from his physical attributes, Flynn is a highly underrated actor.  One of Warner Brothers top stars of the 1930s-1940s, Flynn provided a nice alternative to the gangster and “weepy” films that also permeated the movie landscape at the same.  Though dozens of actors have tried, nobody can top Flynn’s portrayal of the legendary Sherwood Forest outlaw, Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood.  Flynn was born to steal from the rich and give to the poor.   He is one of the few male performers who completely steals the viewer’s gaze (or maybe the female viewer, lol) from the female lead.  Who even notices “her” when he’s on the screen? Did I mention that he’s super cute? And that accent! ::swoon::

Best Known FilmsThe Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Dodge City and They Died With Their Boots On.

My Favorite Films: Gentleman Jim, Uncertain Glory, The Sisters, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Never Say Goodbye and Footsteps in the Dark.

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Alan Hale and Errol Flynn in Gentleman Jim.  ‘Jim’ is a great Errol eye candy film by the way… you know, if that’s what you’re into 😉

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The Star Who Introduced Me to Classic Film: Lucille Ball.  In 1995, when I was in the sixth grade, I discovered Nick at Nite.  How I ended up on the channel, I don’t know and I don’t care.  The first show I watched was I Love Lucy.  I was immediately hooked.  I thought this show was hilarious.  Then, I ended up falling in love with the shows that came on after I Love Lucy, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Brady Bunch and The Munsters.  But ‘Lucy,’ was always my favorite.  On weekdays, I made sure to have all my homework and such completed, so that I was ready to go at 8pm to watch “my shows” uninterrupted.  On Saturdays, Nick at Nite had the “Whole Lotta Lucy Saturday” which was my favorite day, because you got to watch two episodes of I Love Lucy and an episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.

From my love of Lucy and my natural curiosity, I started borrowing books about Lucille Ball and I Love Lucy from the library.  It was from these books that I learned that Lucy had been a movie actress prior to being on I Love Lucy.  Soon, I needed to watch all the Lucy movies that I could get my hands on.  Lucille Ball appeared in dozens of films before hitting it big in radio and television–she could never seem to find her niche in film.  At this same time, TCM was in its infancy and soon I was scouring the TV Guide (remember the paper TV Guide that used to come in the Sunday newspaper?) looking at TCM’s schedule to see what Lucille Ball films were airing.  I would rig up the VCR and cross my fingers that 1) The recording actually worked; and 2) The tape didn’t run out!

From my exposure to Lucille Ball on TCM, I was exposed to other actors which led me to learning about other actors and so on.  I discovered Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers through Stage Door (which also featured Lucy); I discovered Gene Kelly through Du Barry Was a Lady (featuring, you guessed it, Lucy).  From Gene Kelly, I discovered other favorites like Ann Miller and Cyd Charisse.  I Love Lucy started me down the glorious wormhole that is classic film.  I never tire of classic film.  I never tire of Lucille Ball; and I never tire of I Love Lucy.

Best Known Films: Stage Door, The Long Long Trailer, Yours Mine and Ours, Mame and The Big Street.

My Favorite Films: The Long Long Trailer (My #1 favorite film of all time), Stage Door, The Affairs of Annabel, Miss Grant Takes Richmond, Five Came Back, Next Time I Marry and Beauty For the Asking.

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My spirit twin, Lucy Ricardo

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Judy looks longingly at “the boy next door” Tom Drake, in Meet Me in St. Louis.  I don’t blame her, he’s cute!

The Star to Whom I Just Want to Give a Big Hug: Judy Garland.  Poor Judy.  She had such a sad, tragic life.  She had a lot of problems that unfortunately affected her work.  However, you would never know of her problems from watching her on screen.  She is so charming and such a joy to watch.  She was a very unique performer.  She wears her emotions on her sleeve.  As an audience member, you feel every feeling she’s emoting on screen. She’s very underrated as an actress and only appeared in a handful of films where she didn’t sing.  One of her greatest performances is as Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester in A Star is Born.  Frankly, as much as I like Grace Kelly, Garland was robbed of the Best Actress Oscar in 1955.  Her performance is brilliant and also features one of her greatest musical performances, the torch song, “The Man Who Got Away.”

I find it tragic that MGM (allegedly) treated her so poorly when she was under contract.  Louis B. Mayer referred to her as “[his] little hunchback” and frequently made unkind comments about her appearance.  As a teenager, Judy was often cast as the less attractive buddy to the male star.  This is most evident in her films with Mickey Rooney.  Judy was Mickey’s friend, but she was never the object of his affections.  It didn’t help that Judy competed with the likes of Lana Turner and Ava Gardner who were all her peers when she was at MGM.  I think Judy was very pretty.  She had a unique beauty.   Frankly, I find Judy prettier than Lana Turner, only because Turner seems to have a bit of a generic blonde starlet look about her.  Judy is her prettiest in Meet Me in St. Louis and Easter Parade.

Judy’s performances and songs often have an underlying sadness about them and that’s why I want to give her a hug.

Best Known Films: The Wizard of Oz, A Star is Born, Meet Me in St. Louis, Easter Parade, and the Mickey Rooney films (Babes in Arms, Girl Crazy, Babes on Broadway and Strike Up the Band).

My Favorite Films: Meet Me in St. Louis, Easter Parade, The Clock, The Pirate, The Harvey Girls, Summer Stock and Presenting Lily Mars

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Perhaps Judy’s greatest number: “Get Happy,” from Summer Stock

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“Dignity, always, dignity.” From Singin’ in the Rain

Star Who I Could Watch Dance ALL DAY LONG: Gene Kelly.  I love Gene Kelly.  I love Fred Astaire too, but I love Gene Kelly and would venture to give him a slight edge over Astaire.  I would never compare the two men as dancers, as they have two completely different styles, but in terms of films, I love Gene’s films just a wee bit more.  I have found that some people are not fans of Gene’s because they find him too hammy or what not.  I don’t.  I find his smile endearing and also enjoy the massive musical numbers he puts on.  The ballet in An American in Paris is exquisite and a real joy to watch.  The Broadway Melody in Singin’ in the Rain is amazing.  Gene’s greatest on-screen moment may be his performance of the title song from Singin’ in the Rain.  Gene’s joy and enthusiasm is contagious in this number.  I defy anyone to watch it and not instantly feel happier.  If it doesn’t move you, then you’re made of stone and I don’t know if I want to watch movies with you anymore.

Each of Gene’s movies are so innovative and so different from one another.  They really are a work of art and demonstrates how much Gene loves dancing and showcasing the artistry of dance.  His films, like On the Town, An American in Paris and Singin’ in the Rain, elevated the musical film as an art form.  One of his greatest contributions to the musical is forming the plot around the music and dancing so that it makes sense within the context of the film.  Many opponents of musicals dislike them because they find the musical interludes random and they cannot suspend their disbelief.  I’ve found that Gene’s musicals (and many of Astaire’s as well) so beautifully incorporate the music and dance into the film and the dance numbers seem natural and not random at all.

I remember when he died.  I was in the seventh grade and so sad– I watched Singin’ in the Rain in his honor.

Best Known Films: Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, Brigadoon, On the Town, Anchors Aweigh, For Me and My Gal

My Favorite Films: Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, On the Town, The Pirate, Summer Stock, What a Way to Go!, Cover Girl, Xanadu

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My favorite moment of the ballet from An American in Paris

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“Fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna be a bumpy night.” All About Eve

Actor Who I’d be Terrified of, but Also Fascinated By: Bette Davis.  I love Bette Davis.  She is amazing.  She seems like she would have been completely intimidating in person, but also a joy to listen to.  She is compelling in her 1971 Dick Cavett interview (I highly recommend watching it on You Tube or Hulu if you have a chance).  I could listen to her recollect about her life and career all day.

Bette Davis has an interesting career trajectory.  She started out with small parts in a variety of pre-code films.  Many of these films are not good, but she has a few early films here and there that show that Bette had that certain something.  Her big break was Of Human Bondage in 1934.  Many felt that Bette was robbed of the Oscar for her performance in that film, and that her 1935 Oscar win for Dangerous was a consolation prize for having lost to Claudette Colbert the year prior.  Bette had to fight for good roles at Warner Brothers, which was very male driven.  She was on suspension many times, which paid off in the end, when she finally became Warner Brothers’ top female star.  The tides turned for Bette in 1938 when she won her second Oscar for Jezebel.  From then on, through the end of the 1940s, Bette churned out one hit film after another.  By the end of the 1940s, Bette’s star was waning. She left Warner Brothers after filming ended on the hilarious (albeit, unintentionally, I think) Beyond the Forest. She had a bit of a comeback with the amazing All About Eve, however this didn’t end up materializing with any other huge parts. By the 1960s, her career had segued into “psycho-biddy horror films” (as they’re known). I for one, really enjoyed her small role as an elderly aunt in 1976’s Burnt Offerings.

I love Bette because she really gives her all in her roles–she sacrifices glamour in name of the character.  In The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Bette had no qualms about playing a 60 year old Queen Elizabeth I to Errol Flynn’s 30 year old Lord Essex.  She shaved her hairline to mimic the real Elizabeth I’s balding and studied very hard in an attempt to play the Queen as true to life as possible.  In Mr. Skeffington and Now, Voyager, Bette allows herself to appear very unattractive as it fits within the confines of the plot.  In ‘Skeffington,’ Bette’s character is very vain and goes through great lengths to maintain her appearance.  After a bout of diphtheria, Bette’s character’s looks are ruined and she must cope.  In Now, Voyager, Bette appears as a frumpy, overweight, bushy eyebrow-ed spinster who undergoes a makeover which changes her life.  Even when Bette is completely bonkers, like in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, she commits.  “Go big or go home” seems to be her motto.

Best Known Films: Jezebel, Now Voyager, Mr. Skeffington, All About Eve, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Dark Victory

My Favorite Films: Now Voyager, All About Eve, Mr. Skeffington, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Sisters, Three on a Match, June Bride, The Letter, Little Foxes and Beyond the Forest.

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If you ever get a chance to see Beyond the Forest, do it.  Bette is hilarious.  She is the queen of camp.
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Great Moments in Movies- “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) Dorothy Enters ‘Oz’

Movies are made up of a series of moments.  Some moments are exciting, others are sweet.  Some moments are shocking, others are heartwarming.  It’s these moments that the audience remembers.  A film that contains a memorable moment (or multiple ones) is the one that audiences return to over and over again.  There are films that one loves to watch again and again, then there are others that one viewing is enough.  I love Classic films but I don’t instantly subscribe to the idea that just because it’s old, it’s instantly a classic.  A film has to be memorable.  A film has to be worthy of watching again and again without it being tiresome.  While a film may not have received critical acclaim, if it fulfills the aforementioned criteria, then for me, it’s a classic.

This series is about the memorable moments.  The moment in a film that sets the film apart from others.

Without further ado, here is a memorable moment:

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Dorothy steps out of her crashed home into the wonderful world of Oz

The Wizard of Oz (1939).  This film features a series of memorable moments, but the scene in which Judy Garland (Dorothy) steps out of her sepia-toned home and into the colorful world of Oz is one of the most memorable and one of the best in cinema. The contrast between the drab brown of the beginning and the bright, almost too bright, world of The Munchkins is awe-inspiring and does a perfect job setting up the magic of Oz.  This scene also sets up one of the most famous lines in film: “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

No Dorothy, you are most definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Welcome to My New Blog!

There are so many blogs out there.  A person cannot “Google” a subject without finding someone’s blog on the topic.  There are many great blogs, ones that are regularly maintained and always evolving.  There are also a ton of blogs that an enthusiastic fan started and no sooner than they click “publish” on their free blog, they’ve abandoned it.  It’s a regular ghost town of deserted blogs on the internet–Here’s hoping my blog doesn’t end up a statistic.

My intention with this blog is to share my enthusiasm and opinions of classic film and television.  I may slip in some more recent films here and there, because I’m wacky like that.  I do not intend to provide any serious technical analysis of film or television.  I am not trying to win the Pulitzer Prize for greatest written article about Casablanca.  I am not auditioning for anything.  This is purely a not for profit fan blog written by someone who watches way too many movies and way too much television.  I feel all this couch potato time is worthwhile, however.  Someday, all this information (trivial or not) gleaned from these films and programs will assist in my quest to completely dominate trivia night. Everyone needs to know the name of the bully who relentlessly picked on Cindy Brady right? (Answer: It’s Buddy Hinton).

I am a former Nick-at-Nite junkie.  I discovered it one night in the sixth grade in 1995 and watched it religiously until it went downhill (circa 2002).  Nick-at-Nite, back in the day, had such a fun aesthetic.  Retro-inspired graphics, jingles, funny advertisements for their programming (Look up “The Pants That Ate Fred Mertz” on You Tube.  You won’t regret it), and on-screen placards before each episode which provided some basic information (episode name, number, original air date, etc.) with a fun trivia fact.  Their annual Block Party Summer (each evening featured a 3-hour block of a specific show) was one of my favorite times of the year.  It was always a downer when one day was a dud (e.g. one year, Mondays were “Monkee Mondays”).  I always thought: “Now what am I going to do [insert day of the week] nights?”

The first show I watched on Nick-at-Nite was I Love Lucy starring the inimitable Lucille Ball (aka “Lucy”). Even now, after 21 years, I Love Lucy is still my favorite television show of all time.  My other favorite shows that I discovered on Nick-at-Nite and continue to watch up until this day are: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Green Acres and The Brady Bunch.  There are so many fantastic shows that Nick-at-Nite introduced (or re-introduced) me to over the years, and thanks to Hulu and DVDs, I can enjoy them again and again.  I have been known to use a combination of You Tube, DVDs and Hulu to try and re-create at least something that kind of resembles my beloved night-time block of programming.  Until my demands are met, and Nick-at-Nite in all its 90s retro-inspired “graphic-ed” glory are reinstated, my makeshift block of classic programming will have to make do.

In conjunction with my Nick-at-Nite and Lucy obsessions, I branched out into classic movies, via Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and American Movie Classics (AMC).  TCM debuted in 1994.  I only had the channel for a few years before it moved to a higher tiered cable package (don’t worry, I have since gotten it back and have had the channel for the last ten years or so).   AMC used to show classic movies and shorts from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  They closer resembled TCM in that they played a variety of films with Nick Clooney introducing them (a la Robert Osborne on TCM), I used to watch a lot of Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers and The Three Stooges.

TCM (not so much AMC) provided the perfect venue to get to know more about my favorite classic television actor.  Knowing that Lucille Ball had a movie career before I Love Lucy, it was my intention to see her appearances in these films, whether she had a walk on role (e.g. 1935’s Roberta.  Ball appears in the fashion show sequence.  Her lines were deleted from the final cut) or a small bit part (e.g. 1935’s Top Hat, she appears as the flower shop clerk and has  couple lines), or was the star.  I had to see all her films.  I would set the VCR up for these recordings and cross my fingers that the tape didn’t run out or that I didn’t mess up the recording somehow.

During this time, I also watched the annual televised viewing of The Wizard of Oz, which was a tradition.  I love this movie and enjoyed watching it each and every year.  We eventually got the VHS, but there was just something about watching it on network television.  It was an event.  My favorite character in ‘Oz’ was Judy Garland’s character, Dorothy.  From my love of Judy, I started seeking her films out on TCM in addition to Lucy’s.

My love of Lucy and Judy has led me into an inescapable vortex of classic film.  Each film I watch has the possibility to join my running list of favorite films and introduce me to new favorite performers.  Thanks to Nick-at-Nite and TCM, I have discovered so many great stars that have become my new favorites: Errol Flynn, Katharine Hepburn, Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart,  Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, William Holden, Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Betty Grable, just to name a few.  I have one cardinal rule that I try to follow when going into a “new” film: Go into it hoping that it’ll become my new favorite film.  I never look for what’s wrong with a film until the end, when I discover that nothing “clicked” for me when I watched it.  I’m always willing to give films a second chance, unless I hated it so much that I don’t intend to ever watch it again (Apocalypse Now, I’m looking at you).

I hope to share my enthusiasm (and perhaps disappointment) about film and television.  Some of the films I may discuss, I have seen a billion times, others I just watched for the first time and am sharing my initial thoughts and opinions about the film.  I do not claim to be a film historian or expert, I am just a fan.  I’m constantly amazed how many films there are in the world and every day, I am finding out about more and more films I’ve never even heard of, let alone seen.  My DVR is always on the verge of being full.  I can’t help it, everything sounds so interesting.

Remember, this is all opinion, my opinion.  Please don’t beat up on me because you disagree with my opinion.  I’m open to conversation and trying to understand another point of view or perhaps giving a film a second (or third or more) chance, but if someone flat out disagrees that my favorite road movie is The Long, Long Trailer, then I really don’t care.  I love what I love.