Saturday, November 30, 2013

A few of my favorite things...

Box Office Bonanza!
As the Christmas holiday arrives,
so does nostalgia. The other day
my friend "M" and I swopped fave
flicks. Fortunately we both agreed
on a few. It's hard to narrow my
list down to the best. However I'm
going to try to do just that. You'll
see several "chick flicks" but given
my proclivities, I doubt that many
of you are surprised! Roll camera!

Dark Victory 1939
Of course we must start with Bette Davis.
Here's the story - Long Island Socialite
gets BAD headaches. Visits handsome doc
(George Brent). He diagnoses brain tumor.
He operates, and they fall in love. However
her prognosis is "negative". After marriage,
they move to a farm to enjoy a few months.
Upon sensing signs of her imminent death,
Bette sends him off to a medical convention
and then nobly crawls into bed to die.

Terms of Endearment 1983
I find everything about this flick endearing.
Shirley MacLaine plays Aurora a rather self
indulgent, domineering mother (watch for
a pattern here). She is wooed by her roue'
neighbor, an ex astronaut (Jack Nicholson).
Her daughter (Debra Winger) is beyond a
disappointment until she is sadly stricken
with cancer and succumbs. Leaving Aurora
to raise her kids and hopefully not destroy
their lives. "She needs her medicine NOW!"

A Foreign Affair 1948
Billy Wilder... now he knew how to make
a picture. Marlene Dietrich is a former Nazi
paramour, who now sings for her supper in
a basement cabaret in post war bombed out
Berlin. Her beau is an Iowa stud (John Lund)
who makes sure she's stocked with chocolate
and nylons. Enter Jean Arthur as a prim and
proper Iowan Congress Woman. She arrives
with a cake from the soldier's mother and
everything blows up. Who will win the war?

Sunset Boulevard 1950
Let's stay with Billy Wilder. In case you didn't
know it, I have a thing for William Holden.
Layer on top of Bill (just think of it) a stellar
performance by Gloria Swanson and you have
a winner. To recap, down on his luck writer
meets washed up silent film recluse. After he
becomes her boy toy he rebels. All as butler
Max (Eric Von Stroheim) watches from the
sidelines of their crumbling Spanish mansion.
This is old Hollywood at it's best with cameos
by Cecil B Demille and Buster Keaton. In the
end what's best is Bill in his batik bathing suit.
I'm ready for my close up Mr. Holden...

Giant 1956
Speaking of handsome men, everybody needs
to spend a little time with Rock Hudson. One
must admit he was gorgeous even if he was a
little nellie in real life. Add Elizabeth Taylor,
and James Dean and you get a hell of a flick.
While I loathed living in Texas, I truly love this
homage to the Lone Star State. My favorite star
is the ranch house which slowly transforms
from dark Victorian gloom to sleek and posh
fifties glamour! Plus Elizabeth's clothes...

Working Girl 1988
Our hunkathon continues with Working Girl.
It's certainly the only Melanie Griffith film
I ever truly liked. That's probably because
Harrison Ford was her love interest. Plus...
Alec Baldwin played a cameo role as her two
timing boyfriend. I will never forget seeing
Alec naked for the first time. Add Sigourney
Weaver as the self absorbed bitch boss and
you have a fabulous cinematic tidbit. Oh...
and be sure to watch out for BIG HAIR!

Now Voyager 1942
Almost a man, Bette Davis plays a Boston
spinster who journeys into psychoanalysis.
As ugly and introverted as they come, her
family finally intervenes and places her in
the care of Claude Rains. Post treatment,
Bette takes a cruise and falls in love with
Paul Henried. Alas, he's married and so
their love cannot be fulfilled. By the final
scene Bette assumes care of her lover's
youngest tot to save her from a unibrow.

Love In The Afternoon 1957
Imagine an old man romancing a young
girl in the Paris Ritz to the strains of my
favorite ditty "Fascination" played by a
gypsy quartet. There you have a synopsis
of this cherished cinematic treasure. As a
young boy I pirouetted around the house
in my tighty whiteys to Mantovani's version
of Fascination (and I didn't know I was gay.)
But I digress, elegant Gary Cooper woos
innocent Audrey Hepburn. While it's hard
to see what she sees in him, one can't help
but be charmed. Add Maurice Chevalier and
moody Paris for the perfect french bon bon!

To Catch A Thief 1955
Staying a la francais, my dream man is
absolutely Cary Grant and I am fortunate
to live with the Montana equivalent. Alfred
Hitchcock paired a stellar cast with Monte
Carlo to create this web of intrigue. Miss
Grace Kelly was beyond divine. That is
probably why she captivated Prince Rainier
while visiting his castle on a publicity stunt
for this film. You see? Dreams truly do come
true... do I hear George Clooney knocking?

High Society 1956
Thinking of things that make me happy...
nothing makes me feel better than a dose
of Cole Porter and Grace Kelly. This was
Grace's last film before she became royalty.
Add Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Bing
Crosby, and Celeste Holm, and I can't think
of a better way to end a career! While I adore
everything about this film, I especially covet
Grace's wardrobe. It's still just was beautiful
and elegant fifty eight years later. Timeless!

Summertime 1955
Take the most beautiful city in the world.
Add the dash of the sexiest Italian man ever.
Sprinkle with the reluctant beauty of a middle
aged Kate and what do you get? Perfection!
Everything about this David Lean production
delights me. You can sit in Dubuque and feel
like you've just spent the afternoon on the
Grand Canal after viewing this homage to all
things Venetian. Plus, you'll realize that love
comes to all who want it not matter their age.

Sound of Music 1965
I must end with what has become a holiday
classic. Who doesn't want to sing along with
Rodgers & Hammerstein? Julie Andrews is
a charming Maria but Eleanor Powell as the
elegant Baroness is beyond enthralling. How
did the captain resist her alluring ways? One
thing is certain, I can't resist a Prussian who
barks orders at his children and yet is a real
pussycat underneath that uniform! Anything
Christopher Plummer tells me to do I will do!

To be continued after intermission...