Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Nothing Sacred}

Picture 2
From 1937 it's Nothing Sacred in glorious Technicolor! Scripted by Ben Hecht, who also wrote, among numerous other films, The Front Page or His Girl Friday -whichever you prefer.
Picture 24

Picture 39
After that little mix up with the "Sultan", star reporter Wally Cook (Fredric March) was sent to write obituaries by Oliver Stone the editor. Dammit Oliver, he's not going to rot in obits. He's going to be a journalist and write stories that will tug at New York's heart strings and drive circulation up!
Picture 47
Now, here's a good story that in no way can possibly be fake.
NB: Warsaw is owned by a watch factory. Watches used to be made with radium. Make sense?
Picture 52
Margaret Hamilton has a brilliant cameo as the Drugstore Lady.
Picture 71
Dr. Downer is the town doctor that made the diagnosis. However he wants nothing to do with reporters from the Morning Star.
Picture 75
As it turns out, Dr Downer made a mistake. Hazel Flagg doesn't have radium poisoning. There's nothing wrong with her. But that means that she can't go to New York to die and she can't say anything because Dr. Downer will lose his job.
Picture 82
On the way out, Wally offers her (and the good doctor) a free trip to New York! On a plane! With exclusive publicity rights to the Morning Star, of course.
Picture 96
They could tell Wally that Hazel is perfectly healthy, but that would take all the fun out of it.
Picture 107

Picture 113
So, Hazel goes around town in order for New Yorkers to admire her courage and the brave face she puts on at Death's door.
Picture 123
She also spends a lot of time with Wally. You can tell where that leads to in a Screwball.
Picture 141

Picture 174
Remember when night clubs were night clubs and they had floor shows and live horses on stage? They should bring that back.
Picture 165
It's too bad that this was Carole Lombard's only film in colour.
Picture 183
Now, Hazel does something that is quite natural for anyone trying to cope with new found fame and free champagne. She drinks until she falls over, which I'm sure is something we'd all do in her position. Or just with free champagne. At it's a good thing too, since New York and the Star were getting fed up with Miss Flagg taking so long to die.
Picture 197

Picture 203
This is the best shot I could get of her dress.
Picture 229
Hazel's resulting hangover also awakens her conscience and she realizes that she doesn't want to be a phoney anymore, especially since Wally will hate her if he ever found out. And Stone has sent for some medical experts to examine her.
Picture 257
Naturally, there's only one way out: jump into the river and have Dr. Downer waiting in a row boat.
Love the tilted hat and veil
Picture 262
But Wally gets there in time and fishes her out.
Picture 264
This is one way to get around the Code: propose in a packing crate.
Picture 276
But when Hazel returns to her suite she finds Dr. Eggelhoffer and his Viennese cronies waiting.
Picture 281

Picture 293
Stone is a little upset with the news that Hazel is a fake, but Wally is pleased that they can have a nice, long marriage if he gets to keep his job.
Picture 294
Then comes the news that Hazel is now dying of pneumonia. She isn't and Dr. Eggelhoffer will be there in five minutes to examine her new illness. Wally decides that the only way to raise her pulse and fake the symptoms is to have a fist fight.
Picture 313
So, does Wally's plan of a little light domestic violence get Hazel out of a jam?
Picture 323

You may have noticed that the film is in poor condition. That's because it's in public domain and as such hasn't been restored, even though it needs to be.
But the good news is that you can watch or download Nothing Sacred on the Internet Archive or just watch it on YouTube. Yay!

The Illusionist

Jacques Tati was an absolutely brilliant director, mime and the greatest French comedian since Max Linder and an all round cinematic genius. He made only six films, four of which feature his character M. Hulot: M. Hulot's Holiday, Mon Oncle, Playtime, Trafic (YouTube links). If you've never seen M. Hulot before, you may recognize his influence on Rowan Atkinson's character Mr. Bean. If you've never seen a Jacques Tati film before, go out and rent one or if you have seen them go and watch them again. They're all lovely, hilarious and just the right thing to take your mind off the snow piling up outside your door.

The only film that I went to see this year at the Film Festival was The Illusionist. Sylvain Chomet, you remember his last film Triplets of Belleville, was given a Jacques Tati script from the Fifties by his daughter before she died. The Illusionist is a Jacques Tati film, only in Chomet's distinctive animated style. Set in 1950's Edinburgh it is about a father and daughter, the end of the music hall, the importance of magic, an evil bunny and has a brief appearance by the greatest Fifties British rockers ever! Chomet also painstakingly recreated M. Hulot in animated form. It's all there; the stripped socks, the odd lurching walk, the umbrella and the complete bafflement of modern technology. He also gives M. Hulot a fitting end to his character, something which Tati wasn't able to do.

If The Illusionist is playing on a screen near you (one should only see it on the big screen) then do go out and see it, it will be the most wonderful film you've seen this year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Daily Outfit

29 Nov 10

Remember way back in June when I posted on Ask Any Girl and I said that this sweater would be a brilliant DIY project?
Ta Da!
My sewing and notions store finally put out some new stock after Hallowe'en was over (it's their biggest time since they sell cheap costumes and the like) and they finally got in a huge supply of pom poms. I didn't want to use ones that were as big as the ones in the film, but I think the medium sized ones look pretty awesome. I got the sweater in the summer, it used to look like this, and I just sewed on the pom poms by hand while watching Study in Pink. Do let me know if anyone of you try it.

This week we've been having the normal Vancouver winter of +5 and rain, however last week it was freezing and there was a huge dump of snow. I couldn't even get to my classes one day since the bus got stuck and then the University texted me that classes were being cancelled since the buses were getting stuck. I came home to find that my cat had gotten bored of staring out the cat door and blaming me for the snow and had decided to go on a three day cat nip bender. He's now sobered up and is back to attacking my ankles because I wont make the rain stop. As much as I like snow and wearing fur coats, I do sometimes long for the spring to come and I can stop wearing boots and watch the cherry blossoms bloom. Then I remember that summer usually follows spring and I hate summer. But the thought of warmer weather did remind me of a song which is about one of my favourite springtime activities.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Daily Outfit

24 Nov 10

My friends, for years I have been searching high and low for an authentic felt circle skirt sans poodles and yea verily, my quest is at an end. Behold: the Ob-La-Di Skirt.
Yes, I do occasionally name my clothes, if they deserve a name.
A few days before Hallowe'en, I was Deluxe Junk (my favourite vintage store here) just browsing, having my coat admired by the owner and discussing why Harold and Maude is such a wonderfully uplifting film with the guy who works there. Then, out of the corner of my eye I spotted two felt circle skirts in between the shirt and beaded sweater sections. Both were handmade and from the Fifties and in good condition! The other one had a poodle on it, so I left it on the rack. I don't know about you, but when you wear vintage everyday, you try to look like this is normal for you (because it is) and not like you're trying too hard and wearing a poodle skirt does seem a bit like a Hallowe'en costume. So anyway, I tried on the one with the vinyl and music notes (which is in mint condition) and it fit perfectly and was only $25! I then had to lug around a giant shopping bag with me the rest of the day as I went on my other shopping exertions and to see the new Woody Allen film. On the plus side, it's felt and quite warm when paired with my only (2-layer) crinoline. Why are crinolines so expensive? Wearing layers and my fur coat kept me warm and toasty today, since Vancouver is actually getting the traditional Canadian winter this year and my university is on top of a mountain, so with the wind chill and snow it was -10℃ today.

This is a clip from the only filmed performance of the Summit (what Frank, Dean and Sammy called the group, since the original Rat Pack ended when Bogart died). You can watch the entire concert (once thought to be lost) on this CD, but it's just Frank, Dean and Sammy doing their (toned down) thing. Johnny Carson subbed for a sick Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford had already been kicked out when JFK started to crack down on Frank's friends. This is the brilliant Sammy Davis Jr doing his impressions from a time when you could smoke indoors, didn't need a fancy set and performers could sing live and had talent.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Theodora Goes Wild}

Picture 3
From 1936 it's the vastly underrated screwball Theodora Goes Wild, which is actually the first comedy that Irene Dunn was in and she's wonderfully funny in it.
Picture 6
The Lynnfield Bugle, serving the small Connecticut town of Lynnfield has just gotten the serial rights to the most popular novel of the day: The Sinner by Caroline Adams. You can guess what the novel is about. Naturally this causes a huge uproar in the prudish town.
Picture 14
Everyone calls in to complain, especially Theodora Lynn, calling on behalf of her two aunts Mary and Elsie, with whom she lives with. Being the Lynns of Lynnfield, they still run the town.
Picture 28
Spring Byington plays Rebecca Perry, the town's chief gossip. Rebecca "treats" the Literary Circle to a reading of the first instalment so that the ladies can all tut at the shocking prose, after Rebecca's read out the good parts.
Picture 46
Guess who "Caroline Adams" really is? Right, and she's hopping mad at Arthur the publisher for selling the serial rights to the Bugle. Remember when novels used to be serialized? They should bring that back.
Picture 55
No one but Arthur and his secretary know who Caroline Adams really is, but Arthur's wife Ethel is dying to meet her and so she and her awesome bird hat force their way into the office.
Picture 60
And look who followed Ethel, it's Melvyn Douglas. He's playing Michael Grant, who illustrates the covers for all of Arthur's books. Say, why doesn't everyone go out to dinner together.
Picture 96
Michael is under the impression that Caroline is a small town teetotal spinster, but boy does she prove him wrong. She drinks Arthur and Ethel under the table.
Picture 97
And then they go out dancing to a night club. You know, it's her shoes and her pussy bows that really give poor Caroline away to Michael.
Picture 106
Michael then takes Caroline back to his snazzy deco apartment to see his etchings. But when he tries to act out the seduction scene from Caroline's book, she turns into Theodora and bolts. Anyone else think that Melvyn Douglas is totally cool?
Picture 72
While in New York, Theodora visits her wicked Uncle John, who moved there because he favours chorus girls. He wants Theodora to move out of Lynnfield before she becomes trapped there forever.
Picture 75
Theodora has been hiding her friend Adelaide Perry, Rebecca's daughter, at Uncle John's. Rebecca didn't approve of Adelaide's fiance because he's still in school and can't support her and so Theodora got her a "job" in New York. Adelaide is going to have a baby, but it's alright since she married her boyfriend. As to which came first isn't clear. But this act is the only thing that Uncle John is proud of Theodora doing.
Picture 117
This dress is the only time we see Theodora not wearing some form of a bow around her neck.
Picture 133
On Sunday, guess who the Lynns find whistling at their gate.
Picture 141

Picture 137
Naturally, Michael blackmails Theodora into becoming her gardener for a couple of days.
Picture 168

Picture 169

Picture 178
So, Michael sticks around for several days, much to the disapproval of the town, and he takes Theodora berry picking.
Picture 187
And fishing.
Picture 194
Rebecca is loving how shocked she is by Theodora's behaviour.
Picture 207
The literary circle is barely speaking to Theodora or her aunts. Michael's influence has rubbed off on her and she tells the ladies to jump in the lake and what have you.
Picture 213
But then she mentions the l-word to Michael and she gets a note the next morning.
Picture 218

Picture 224
Naturally she puts on a jaunty hat and goes to his place.
Picture 235
Who is this fashionable woman and what's she doing at Michael's?
Picture 240
Turns out that Michael has been separated from Mrs. Grant for five years, but they can't get divorced because his father is in public office and he doesn't want any scandals.
Picture 244
Michael wants to marry Theodora but can't until his father's term is up in two years.
Picture 249
Miss Lynn isn't going to wait around for two years, so Caroline Adams moves into the apartment and Michael moves out.
Picture 311

Picture 256
And then she goes shopping, because Caroline Adams doesn't wear pussy bows. And dammit Arthur, she wants publicity!
Picture 276

Picture 286
Mrs. Grant is over the moon at this news. She'll divorce Michael if Caroline gives her reason to.
Picture 294
"The Writer Lounging Around At Home"
Picture 305

Picture 308
Michael wants to kill Theodora and denies that he's ever met Caroline.
Picture 310
Ethel is especially worried about Theodora's new behaviour.
Picture 321
When Arthur comes home drunk, she overreacts and names Caroline in the divorce suit.
Picture 326
That really goes down well in Lynnfield.
Picture 362
At the Governor's Ball, guess who crashes with a butterfly in her hair and is photographed dancing with Governor Stephen "Glad Hands" Wyatt?
Picture 377
Then she gives Mrs. Grant evidence to divorce Michael.
Picture 389
Boy, Lynnfield sure is addicted to gossip.
Picture 387
Mary and Elsie are holding up quite well and they see nothing wrong with Theodora's behaviour.
Picture 403
After disappearing for a while, Theodora finally returns to Lynnfield.
Picture 431
And her new hat makes quite the impression.
Picture 430

You can watch some clips by clicking here. TCM does occasionally show the film (I taped it at 5am almost two years ago), but it's not scheduled for the next three months. It is available on this Region 1 DVD collection, the other films aren't that great. Or you could search for an "illegal" copy.