Sorry for the delay in posting, but I’ve been very busy with work and dealing with the aftermath of a disaster incurred in my home. During the Thanksgiving weekend, my sewer pipe and sump pump decided to join forces and fail at the same time. Not to be outdone, the rain poured furiously, further compounding the problem. As a result, my basement flooded about 1′, destroying everything in its path. Unfortunately, in one of the rooms in the basement, I was storing my DVD collection. I lost all the films on the bottom shelves in the room. Some other films also suffered some collateral damage due to coming in contact with one of its flood-ravaged brethren.
You’ll notice that the rug is floating. All the movies that are on their sides on the second to bottom shelf are the ones in the water. There were seven shelves in all. Sadly, inside that cardboard box on the right side, were all my husband’s classic NES, SNES, Sega, etc. game cartridges. While I know that the DVDs themselves are okay, the cover art is destroyed. Plus the movies were covered in sewer water. Who wants sewage contaminated films? I don’t. Ick! Insurance should provide me with enough money to be able to replace all the victims.
Anyway. This brings me to my post:
In Memoriam to some of those lost in the great flood of 2016…
You’ll Never Get Rich (1941) /You Were Never Lovelier (1942).
In You’ll Never Get Rich, Fred Astaire portrays the manager of a theater who is enlisted by the theater owner, Robert Benchley, to help him woo dancer Rita Hayworth by buying her a gift. However, Benchley is caught by his wife, Frieda Inescort, who is at the end of her rope. It is implied that Benchley has a wandering eye and Inescort has had enough. She threatens divorce. To save his marriage, Benchley insists that Astaire bought the gift and sets Astaire and Hayworth up on a date. Matters are further complicated when Astaire is drafted into WWII and Hayworth travels to the camp (to perform for the troops) and to visit her real boyfriend. She and Astaire end up falling in love.
In You Were Never Lovelier, Hayworth portrays the second eldest daughter of a wealthy Argentinian, Adolph Menjou, who also owns a local nightclub. Menjou has four daughters and has insisted that his daughters must marry in order of age. Astaire portrays an American dancer who finds himself out of work after losing all his money betting on horses. Looking for work, Astaire visits Menjou’s club. Menjou is not interested. Astaire ends up contacting his friend, Xavier Cugat, who has been hired to perform at Menjou’s eldest daughter’s wedding. Astaire spots Hayworth and is immediately smitten, but she rebuffs him. Hayworth is not interested in marriage. Her two younger sisters are in love and desperately want to marry (in the film it the ladies seem like they’re more desperate to sleep with their boyfriends, but of course, morality dictates that they must wait until they’re married). Knowing the plight of his youngest daughters, Menjou begins sending orchids and love notes to Hayworth under the guise of a secret admirer. One day, Astaire tries to visit Menjou. Menjou, not seeing Astaire and thinking he’s the bellboy, orders him to go deliver the latest love trinkets to Hayworth. Astaire complies and Hayworth assumes that Astaire has been the one sending the notes. Hayworth ends up asking Menjou to set her up with Astaire. Menjou, who dislikes Astaire, offers to give Astaire a long-term contract at the club if he will do his best to repel Hayworth. Of course, they fall in love instead.
A Summer Place (1959)
One of my favorite types of films are the over-wrought melodramas of the 1950s. A Summer Place has everything you could ever want in a film: adultery, bigotry, alcoholism, love, teen pregnancy, everything. Plus, it has memorable theme music that is present throughout the film and adds to the overall mood of the film.
A Summer Place tells the tale of two former teenage lovers (Dorothy McGuire and Richard Egan) who end up reuniting twenty years after the end of their affair. Neither McGuire nor Egan are happy in their respective marriages. McGuire’s husband, Arthur Kennedy, is an alcoholic. McGuire and Kennedy operate an Inn on Pine Island off the coast of Maine. The Inn used to be Kennedy’s family’s opulent family mansion. With the family fortune all but gone, they are forced to rent out rooms. McGuire and Kennedy have even moved into the small guest house on the property so that they can rent out their master suite. One day, Kennedy receives a message from an old acquaintance, Richard Egan, who wants to bring his family to the resort. Egan, who used to be a lifeguard back when Kennedy knew him, is now a millionaire. Kennedy doesn’t want Egan to visit, feeling that he’s only there to brag about how he’s rich and Kennedy is now broke. However, McGuire tells him to accept the request, because they need money. McGuire and Kennedy also have a teenage son, Troy Donahue.
Egan shows up with wife Constance Ford and teenage daughter Sandra Dee. Egan and Ford have a rocky marriage. She is bigoted against pretty much everyone. He even delivers a delicious diatribe completing ripping her a new one. Egan, who is very cognizant of “the love that got away” (McGuire) encourages daughter Dee to listen to her natural desires and to embrace her developing figure and interest in the opposite sex. Ford on the other hand, is a prude who forces Dee to hide her curves and disapproves of any behavior that seems indecent. She particularly disapproves of Donahue and even goes as far as forcing Dee to submit to a particularly embarrassing and degrading physical exam after she suspects that Dee and Donahue were having sex, even though both parties vehemently deny it.
McGuire and Egan, who haven’t been together for twenty years since McGuire left the then broke Egan for the rich Kennedy, rekindle their romance and are soon engaged in an adulterous affair. Their respective spouses end up finding out and the marriages are soon dissolved. At the same time, McGuire and Egan’s respective children, Donahue and Dee, are wrapped up in a teen love affair of their own. Knowing of the time they lost, McGuire and Egan are the most supportive of their children’s affair. Ford and Kennedy both disapprove. Donahue and Dee are deeply in love and nothing, not even being sent to different schools in different states, will keep them from seeing one another.
Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)
This film, the precursor to The Brady Bunch (1969-1974), features Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda as widowed spouses who end up marrying and merging their families. The problem? Ball is the mother of eight children and Fonda has ten children. The beginning of the film features funny scenes of Ball and Fonda’s courtship. When they originally meet, neither knows about the other’s considerable brood. When the truth comes out, they try to put the kibosh on their relationship, but soon it is apparent that they are truly in love and they decide to take the plunge. Both groups of children dislike each other and the tension is high. Eventually they end up learning how to work together and to actually like each other.
One of the funniest scenes is when Ball comes over to meet Fonda’s children for the first time. The eldest sons, tasked with making cocktails, end up getting Ball schnockered by making her “an alcoholic Pearl Harbor” (as Fonda puts it), which is a screwdriver containing vodka, gin and scotch with a tiny bit of orange juice (for color, I imagine). Ball ends up dumping food on one of the children, laughing and crying maniacally, and generally making a fool out of herself.
Another funny scene deals with the plight of poor Phillip, one of Ball’s youngest sons. This poor kid can barely get any food at breakfast, can’t reach the sink to brush his teeth, is left with enormous rain boots that he can’t walk in and later ends up getting in a fight with the teacher in his Catholic school.
My favorite scene though, is the one where Henry Fonda hands out room assignments. He assigns a number to each child (oldest to youngest), a color to each bathroom and a letter to each bedroom. One of the children walks away repeating, “I’m 11, Red, A.”
Van Johnson co-stars as a co-worker of Fonda and Ball; Tim Matheson appears as the eldest child, Mike; and Tom Bosley appears as a doctor.
…and for the saddest casualty of them all…
The Long, Long Trailer (1954)
This is my favorite film of all time. I have probably seen it a hundred times–not exaggerating. When I replace my copy, I will be on my third copy. I wore out my VHS. Anyway, myself and my family can recite all the dialogue. Desi Arnaz has the best lines. These are some of the gems:
“It’s a fine thing when you come home to your home and your home is gone!”
“Have you any conception how much room it takes to turn this thing around? We might have to go on for miles and miles!”
Then the mechanic has two of the funniest lines, that continually haunt Arnaz for the first half of the film:
“Trailer brakes first!”
“Forty feet of train!”
This film is about a newlywed couple (Lucille Ball and Arnaz) who purchase a trailer and take it on their honeymoon. Arnaz’ job takes him to different locations all over the country (it is not stated what his job is, but I am assuming that he is some type of engineer as Ball mentions him working on a bridge and a dam), and Ball envisions them living in this motor home and traveling to wherever Arnaz’ job takes him. They plan to drive from Los Angeles to Colorado for their honeymoon. On the way, they visit Ball’s relatives in another part of California and also visit Yosemite. They get into hilarious incidents along the way, including an impromptu housewarming party, a night stuck in the mud, ruining Ball’s Aunt Anastasia’s prized rose, and much more. The highlight of the film is when Ball has the bright idea of trying to prepare dinner in the trailer while Arnaz drives.
This film is basically one big long I Love Lucy episode, Arnaz’ character’s name is “Nicky” after all, but it is fun from beginning to end and features gorgeous Technicolor and scenery.