Oldest Footage of London Ever

This is a fastastic film….talk about time travel! It compares London landmarks on film and pictures in London over a hundred years ago. It’s just an incredible piece of documentary. Thank you Old Boy for allowing me to reblog your blog post. Enjoy 😊

Movies From The Silent Era

From Yestervid

Ever wonder what London looked like over 100 years ago?

This is the oldest footage of London ever. Includes amazing old footage, plus modern shots of the same location today. Also features maps carefully researched to show where the camera was.
http://www.yestervid.com

oldest-footage-of-london-6

The video features:

  • 46 vintage shots of recognizable places in London from 1890-1920
  • Added dates and maps to show where the camera was
  • Amazing side-by-side comparison with modern footage of exactly the same spot
  • The clip that is the oldest surviving footage of London from 1890.

Here’s the film:

As far as we know, a project of this nature and factual depth has never been undertaken.

oldest-footage-of-london-7

We also love the feeling of seeing the horse drawn carts, people and old buildings. Nostalgia makes you reflect on your own life and leaves you with a sense of wonder because essentially, this is your story.

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In March 2015, old…

View original post 102 more words

Singing Sweethearts Blogathon: Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy…Happy Valentine’s Day

I was invited to write a post on one of the most successful singing duos in Hollywood history.  To be honest I knew next to nothing about the pair.  Their heyday happened years before I was even born. The couple became famous near the end of the Great Depression (1929 – 1942).  During those bleak days of the Depression, it must have been something wonderful to watch these two beautiful people singing their love songs while staring into each other’s eyes. Even by today’s standards, their on-screen chemistry is off the charts. It is no surprise that their movies were extremely popular and lucrative magnets for box office profits.  They attracted millions of fans around the world, then and now.

Since it is Valentine’s Day, it is only fitting that the most appropriate Blogathon ever to celebrate Sweethearts is created for our film lovers. Of course, it is The Singing Sweethearts Blogathon hosted by Tiffany and Rebekah Brennan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (PEPS). To read more posts about MacEddy movies and their individual movies, please use the link below:

https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/ring-the-assembly-bell-the-singing-sweethearts-blogathon-has-arrived/

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Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy made eight films together from 1935 – 1942.  Of course, they were musicals; since both were trained opera singers. Eddy always considered himself a singer, first and foremost. MGM’s Louis B. Meyer couldn’t agree more.  Eddy did not do well in his screen tests. As a matter of fact, before he starred in his first movie with MacDonald, he wanted out of his contract; so, he could return to his singing career. The shy Eddy felt out-of-place in Hollywood.  Fortunately for Eddy, his smooth baritone voice could rival Andrea Bocelli tenor voice in beauty and expression. So, after a film career of 16 movies, he continued to give concerts. He performed literally to the day he had a stroke on stage and died hours later, in 1966. MacDonald had a lovely soprano voice; but her on-screen presence and her natural acting ability allowed her to make 28 movies. She was an established star before she made her first movie with Eddy.

I had no idea what a great actress she was; until, I watched my first and only “MacEddy” film: The Girl From the Golden West. Since viewing it a few times, I am a true fan now; and, I intend to binge watch their movies, together and individually.

 

 

History: The Girl From The Golden West And Opera

This is the fourth movie made (1915, 1923, 1930 & 1938) that is adapted from David Belasco’s play with the same title. In 1910, Giacomo Puccini turned this play into a popular Italian Opera, La Fraciulla Del West. If you don’t know Puccini, you don’t know opera. Even this gifted child of nine knows Puccini. Amira Willighagen sings on Holland’s TV show, You Got Talent: O Mio Babbino Caro (My favorite, Puccini song). Forgive me for this indulgence. Opera is passionate and full of gut wrenching emotion. To hear a song sung by a child that is basically a mother’s plea for the life of her child is completely overwhelming: That’s Opera! To understand the MacEddy movies, you have to appreciate the impact this genre of music had on their audiences.

With a sample of a Puccini opera piece and a bit of history, I hope it  helps in understanding the appeal that these movies had on audiences of that time.  It was a scary time: world-wide economic Depression with democracies failing and dictators seizing control.  Opera is music that not only tells a tragic story but revels the raw emotions involved within that story.  Please don’t underestimate the impact these songs had on the fans and audiences of that era. Opera has been described as the beautiful sounds and emotions of life itself.

The Movie: The Girl From The Golden West (1938)

This MacEddy movie is a musical western. It is not a cowboy musical western, like a Roy Rogers or a Gene Autry movie. This movie is concerns the dramatic movement to the West with all its dangers and mingling of diverse people and cultures. Granted this is an old Hollywood imaginary version of that era. This movie was also made with the watchful eye of the Hays’ Decency Code. So, the rating today would be probably be a G (General audiences) because no one is killed, no one says a curse word, and everyone is honorable, even the bad guys, in one way or another.

The First Thirty Minutes of  this Two Hour Movie:

The movie begins with settlers in a wagon train moving west. All singing in chorus about their hopes for the future: Sun up to Sun Down🎶. It reminds me of another western musical, Paint Your Wagon (1969). In this film, they sang I’m on My Way 🎶. The two opening scenes are very similar in imagery and song. I would not be surprised if the opening scene from Paint Your Wagon was indeed influenced by this MacEddy film.

 

We see an elderly man who is driving the wagon. Beside him, is a little girl of 9 or 10. We learn from their conversation that the little girl, Mary, is an orphan. Her dying father, who was a gambler, asked his brother, Davy (Charlie Grapewin) to care of Mary and take her with him if he goes out west. Mary’s mother passed away before her father. Uncle Davy and the other settlers are alerted to break for camp since the Tom Tom of the Indians can be heard nearby.  Once they gather around the camp fire, little Mary (Jeanne Ellis) breaks out in song: Shadows On The Moon🎶. It is a lovely lullaby taught to her by her mother.

As she sings, they are spied on by a Mexican bandit and boy (Bill Cody Jr.) around Mary’s age. They boy is mesmerize by the song and Mary. Just as Mary finishes her song, they are visited by a priest, Father Sienna ( H.B. Warner).  He is impressed with Mary’s song and asked if she swallowed a canary. Mary, being a gambler’s daughter, laughs and claims: I bet ya a dollar that I didn’t.

The padre introduces himself and explains that he lives in a mission nearby. He asks Mary if she could sing for his parishioners in church one day. She promises that she would. Father Sienna explains his mission is to bring civilization to the Indians and bring information to civilization in order to help settlers cross through the wilderness and reach their destination. He pulls out a map to show them where they are in relation to the surrounding mountains and rivers. Some panicked Indian parishioners interrupt the priest.  They explained that he must return to the mission immediately. General Ramirez (Noah Berry Sr.) and his men are there.  Before he leaves, he warns the settlers to stay away from Ramirez because he is very dangerous man.

At the mission, Ramirez and his rowdy men are drunk. The boy seen earlier spying on the settlers is with them. The General begs the boy, Gringo, to sing for the men. They love to hear him sing. However Gringo is reluctant.  The General teases him about mooning over the singing little girl (Mary). The General then persuades Gringo to shoot a sheep with his bow and arrow. If he kills it in one shot, he will give him a medal. Gringo kills the sheep and earns his medal. He then sings a song of camaraderie: Soldiers Of Fortune🎶.

When Father Sienna finds his dead sheep with an arrow shot through its body, he angrily says to General Ramirez: Since when are soldiers warring with sheep?  The priest demands to know who killed his sheep. Gringo steps up and proudly admits guilt. Father Sienna is impressed with the boy’s courage and honesty. He explains that violence and killing can be avoided and that there is a better way. Gringo’s heart is moved; and, he agrees with the priest against Ramirez’s objections. The priest gives Gringo a cross pin. He says it is a medal of a different kind.  The General angrily takes his medal back from the boy and explains to the Padre: If I do not take the medal from the boy when he does something bad, I will run out of medals to give him when he does something good. 

An Indian chief complains to Father Sienna that if the land belongs to his people why are the people trying to settle there. The General yells that the settlers want to take the land and kill all of them.  He demands that Gringo repeat what he said to the chief in his language. Gringo refuses to tell the chief what the General said.

To prove to Gringo he is willing to try to accept the new settlers in an act of friendship, the General and his men decide to pay them a visit. The settlers mistake them for  warring Indians. They shoot at them and fatally wound the General. They make it back to the mission. As the dyng General ridicules Father Sienna, Gringo sadly sings, Soldiers Of Fortunes for the last time. Gringo is so angry with the priest, he ripped his gift pin off his shirt and tosses it to the ground.

The Set up For The Rest of The Movie

The Movie moves from a wagon train, to years later in a small gold mining town, Cloudy Mountain in California. It is here, we find our heroine, Mary Robbins aka “Girl” (Jeanette MacDonald). She is the sole owner of the Polka, a saloon. She is also one of the very few women in town and only single white woman. Yet, our miners are respectful of the Girl while they enjoy camaraderie, boozing, and gambling in her establishment. They also trust her with all their gold and money; until, the coach comes; and, they can send it on to banks for safe keeping.

 

 

It is here, Mary talks to one of her admirers, gambler and Sheriff Jack Rance (Walter Pigeon). Pigeon is perfect as the charismatic handsome but dangerous gambler turned Sherriff. He just shot at a man for trying to cheat him at cards. When Mary sees him sitting alone with a deck of cards, she notices his recently used gun displayed on top of the card table. She asks Jack: What’s the gun for? You afraid of cheating yourself? Mary is witty, beautiful and smart. MacDonald adds a western accent and movements to her character. She walks around in long strides; and, her steps are more like stomping around. She convincing embraces the core of her mountaineer character.

Mary obviously understands her power over the men folk; and, she uses it. She also has another admirer, the town blacksmith, Alabama (Buddy Ebsen). Unlike the Sheriff, he knows his love for Mary can only stay within the friendship mode. The friendship is affectionate and warm. Ebsen better known for his TV roles in The Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones. 

Sheriff Rance sends Alabama to fetch the girl because he has a surprise for her: a piano pronounced: Pie-And- nee. Alabama approaches Mary playing a fife. Mary sings the lovely tune: The Wind in The Trees🎶Which is one of the my favorite songs in the movie. Later in the movie, Ebsen will sing solo in another great song: The West Ain’t Wild Anymore🎶. 

Meanwhile, a Robin Hood type of bandit, Ramirez (Nelson Eddy) and his outlaw gang are causing fear and unrest amongst the settlers in the region. Ramirez is a white man whose parents was killed by the Indians when he was a small child. He is Gringo all grown up. He and his gang enjoy singing their song: Soldiers of Fortune. Eddy is a tall, blonde and wholesome handsome. He resembles Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger. He is easy on the eyes and he is likable. He is at his best when he is singing or sharing the screen with MacDonald.

Ramirez is popular with the ladies but he is not “in love” with anyone. But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his favorites, like Nina Martinez (Priscilla Lawson). He keeps love coaching his right hand man, Mosquito (Leo Carrillo) to not get tied down with love; besides, it messes with your criminal career.

 

 

That is until; he robs a coach on its way to Monterey. This coach has a very special passenger: Mary.  She travels to Monterey every year to sing in Father Sienna’s church. She has done this since she was a child. On this trip she is singing,  Ava Maria🎶

Honesty, the scenes between Eddy and MacDonald are the best part of the movie.  He outrageously flirts; and she; is witty and sassy.  Their whole exchange is truly funny and sweet. In other words, the sparks fly with these two. If Eddy is not a great actor, he had to be completely enamoured with MacDonald off-screen. This kind of chemistry is flawless and timeless. Not since Jane Austen‘s Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice has there been such heated sexual undertones. I ask you, how can a man pointing a gun at you while he is robbing you be so dang charming?

The Girl of the Golden West

I don’t like spoilers; so, you just have to watch and enjoy the MacEddy banter in the movie for yourself. Despite being in dire straits, Mary does not show her fear; since, she knows Sheriff Rance sent a posse for her protection, and probably, for the gold too. When Mary hears horses arriving, she triumphantly announces to Ramirez that he and his men are caught. However, as the posse arrives, Mary soon realizes that the posse is actually prisoners of Ramirez’s men.

As Ramirez continues to rob the people of the coach, he believes he is chivalrous when he allows Mary to keep her necklace from her mother, and her dresses for her performance at the Church. Also, he tolerates  and jokes with her concerning her “sassy mouth.”  So, he continues to flirt with her; until, Mary gives him a parting gift: A sound slap across the face from the window of the “just leaving” coach. Mosquito and the men are shocked that Ramirez allowed Mary to “get away with that.” Ramirez seemed shocked too. He then tells Mosquito to ride with him into Monterey. They will go as visitors; since, no one knows what Ramirez looks like. Once there, Ramirez plans to locate Mary in order to repay her for the slap.

He finds Mary in the Father Sienna’s Church as she sings Ava Maria. 

 

Upon hearing Mary sing, Ramirez remembers that she is the little girl who sang that beautiful song around the camp fire years ago.  He never forgot the song nor the lovely voice that sung it.  Ramirez is now in full blown, “I am madly in Love” mode. After Mary’s performance, he overhears the Governor inviting her to a ball that evening.  He tells her he will send an Army officer to escort her. Ramirez seizes his chance. So, he “borrows” an Army uniform to escort Mary, while at the same time, he uses his birth name, Anderson. So, Lieutenant Anderson escorts Mary to the celebration; so that he might have the opportunity to woo her.

 

During the celebration, one of the best dance scenes at that time is filmed, The Mariache 🎶 sung by Eddy. Again, I think this movie may have influenced another Western musical. That movie had one of most memorable dance scenes in film history. The barn raising dance scene in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954).

 

After spending the evening with Mary, Ramirez/Anderson wants to tell her the truth about himself. So, he follows her to Cloudy and finds her.  In order to woo Mary properly, Anderson/ Ramirez must sing a love song. This clip is an example of MacEddy’s mutual chemistry and his beautiful voice. The song is Who are we to say🎶. Near the end of this clip, Alabama (Edsen) appears. Also, at the end of this clip, I think MacDonald is fascinating to watch.

He is also introduced to Sheriff Rance who had previously asked Mary to marry him. Rance is none to friendly with this new rival for Mary’s attention.  Plus, he is furious that his posse failed to capture Ramirez. So, Rance has set a trap for Ramirez. He put a $10,000 award for his capture and is luring him to the saloon to steal more gold.

No one knows what Ramirez looks because he covers his face and speaks with an accent during his robberies. However, Mary will soon learn the truth about the Lieutenant Anderson’s identity.

The last forty minutes of this movie moves very fast. It involves lynching, sacrifice, lost love, gambling for love and life, and of course the power of True love. As I said before when I began this post, I knew very little of this phenomenal coupling of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Now, that I do, I am so thankful to Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan at PEPS. This particular movie is not a fan favorite like Maytime (1937) or Rose Marie (1936); but, this and their five other movies are dearly loved.

Besides, the fact the movie is a bit dated, my only complaint would be that it was too long, at two hours. They must have had a terrible time trying to edit this film; since, they would delete all the scenes with Roy Bolger ( The Tin Man in Wizard of Oz) as a character named Happy Moore. Despite the length of the movie, it is still enjoyable.

The story in this film is so appealing that it not only inspired a play, but an Opera, four movies, and finally a novel too.  In addition to this movie, there are seven more movies starring these singing Sweethearts for your viewing pleasure.  I hope, if you have not seen a MacEddy film, you give yourself a treat, and enjoy the escapism of their extremely entertaining films.

Happy Valentine’s Day💞

Reference Links:

Original 1938 Trailer for The Girl From The Golden West:

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/70093/Girl-Of-The-Golden-West-The-Original-Trailer-.html

Nelson Eddy Biography:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0248904/bio

Jeanette MacDonald Biography:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0531776/

Paint Your Wagon (1969):

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064782/

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047472/

Robin Williams Blogathon: Impressions

This actor and comedian will be missed for a very long time. Anyone who had caught his act or watched his movies knew there was some kind of genius lurking there. He was manically funny and his dramatic performances were near perfect. He won an Oscar for his supporting role in Good Will Hunting (1997); and, he had 83 nominations from various film industries and 63 wins. Whether drama or comedy, he sublimely did it all. The ancient Greeks would have considered him the consummate performer, like Buster Keaton. They are a combination of hilarious laughter and heartbreaking tears; or, as the Greeks considered it, an illusion of perfection within the arts of entertainment.  You only had to see Williams once, regardless where; and, he made an impression that you would not easily forget.

His improvisations were pure magic. As with most performing artists, many aspects of his personal life would make it into his act. For instance, he was very proud of his Scot heritage. You can see some of this in the following video clip. In this clip, he is impersonating a “pissed” (into his cups, smashed, drunk…) Scot. This particular Williams character ended up inventing the game of golf. Take a look, if you have not seen it or if you want to laugh again. This displays Williams’ trademark of energetic impersonations along with the hilarity of his wit.

Before I continue, I would like to thank Gill from Realweegiemidget and Crystal from In The Days of Classic Hollywood for hosting this much deserved tribute: Robin Williams Blogathon. To read or see more of this tribute, please use the following links:

https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/announcing-the-robin-williams-Blogathon

https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/awakenings-1990/

The first fleeting impression I had of Williams was from TVs reboot of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In (1977).  Williams was mixed in a fast paced kaleidoscope of comedians doing their gags and short skits. However, he stood out even then. He was young, handsome, and wearing a funny-looking cowboy hat. He wowed me in only a few seconds. Anyone who saw him knew he was different and unique. I tried to catch the show the following week. Either, I missed it; or, it just didn’t never aired.

 

I don’t think I saw him again until the highly popular Mork and Mindy (19781982). He was not a cowboy this time. No, he was a cute, funny-looking space alien who is befriended by the pretty Mindy (Pam Dawber). For those who don’t remember it, this show is a cross between My Favorite Martian (1999) and the Earth Girls Are Easy (1989). For most of us, it was the first time we heard the words: Nano, Nano! Who knew then that “Nano” technology would be in our future?

 

Williams claims he was heavily influenced by many great performers and actors. However, I think his greatest influence came from comedic icon and the first inductee to the Comedic Hall of Fame: Jonathan Winters. If you seen Winters act when dressed as a women, you might think: this is Mrs. Doubtfire’s American cousin: Maude Frickert. If you never seen Winters impersonation of the 87 year old Maude, then I encourage you to watch the following short clip of “her” with Dean Martin. They are setting up a commercial for a sponsor of The Dean Martin Show in what they call a “station break.”

The jokes are a bit dated and sexist; but, it was “naughty” fun for audiences of the early 60s.  The similarities between the two crossdressing elderly, spitfire-characters cannot not be missed. Both are immensely enjoyed by their adorning fans.

After Mork and Mindy were married, they soon announced a baby on the way. Their half Alien/human newborn would be “hatched” into a baby named Mearth (Jonathan Winters). Due to Williams admiration of Winters, this should not have surprised people; but, it did. You had to watch it to understand how ridiculously funny those last few years were on that show with this comic marriage.  Those two together, Williams and Winters, was akin to a comedic molotov cocktail.

 

 

Here is a clip of them ten years later after the show ended. They are on the Johnny Carson Show. Carson had alreadied interviewed Williams before they brought out Winters.  Winters had just won an Emmy for another TV show; however, he did not attend the awards to receive it. Williams was obviously elated to be there with the iconic funnyman.  This clip is just a glimpse of what it must have been like with these two geniuses working together. Their respect and admiration for each other can be seen through the details.

In addition to Winters, Robin Williams credits others whose influence had an major impact on him, especially, when it came to acting. He loved watching British actor, Peter Sellers (Pink Panther, Doctor Strangelove or how I Stopped worrying and love the Bomb) and Dustin Hoffman (Tootie, Hook).  They each impressed upon him the need of learned, practiced characterization.  Each character, no matter how large or small the part, deserved serious study.  Hoffman taught Williams this during the making of Hook: Preparation is key to a great performance. This advice must of become extremely important to the “The King of Improvisation.”

Williams will be involved in 105 film productions. Most, if not all, delivered a character, good or evil, with a degrees of heart and humanity.

The first time one of Williams’ performances surprised me was in Kenneth Branagh’s Dead Again (1991). This is a wonderful movie that salutes the styles of Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Wells. With that said, this movie has passion, murder, mystery and the possibility of reincarnation. It travels from post WWII in the United States (filmed in black and white) to the present (filmed in color). In the past, Branagh is German composer Roman Strauss. He marries a much younger musician, Margaret (Emma Thompson). She is murdered and Strauss is executed for the crime. In the present, Branagh is cynical private eye, Mike Church. Most of his work comes from tracking down missing heirs.

A lawyer contacts Church to locate a professionally ruined psychiatrist, Cozy Carlisle (Robin Williams). What a great name for a psychiatrist, Cozy. Apparently, that was his problem. He got too “ cozy” with his patients. Church locates him working in a grocery store’s freezer locker.

Church is called by his priest to come back to the orphanage (converted Strauss mansion) where he was raised. They have an female amnesiac who just appeared at their gates. Unfortunately, she is so traumatized, she is mute too. As if that is not enough, she has nothing on her to identify her. Church really doesn’t want to deal with this kind of case; but, his priest knows how to guilt him out. Once Mike meets this woman, he is immediately intrigued. He gives her a temporary name, Grace (Thompson).

Eventually, Mike ends up taking her to hypnotist, Franklyn Madson (Derek Jacobi) who also has a antique shop. Church and Grace learn of the Strauss murder under hypnosis. While in the hypnotic state, Grace appears to relive her past life as Margaret Strauss, (the murder victim). As a result, Grace finds her voice but not her memory of her life in the present. Church’s instincts tells him not to trust Madson.  Instead, he and Grace pay a visit to the bitter and angry, ex-doctor, Cozy Carlisle. Church wants his advice about the possibility of reincarnation.  The following two clips completely contain this conversation. Until this movie, I never seen Williams in such a dark role. It was brilliant, of course.

 

Even as this darker character, Cozy Carlisle, Williams delivers a punch line to Branagh’s Mike Church. I liked how this movie explores other beliefs. Although the answers differ by various religions, the questions remain the same (why we are here; or, what is our place in the greater scheme of things). The answers will always be debated; but, even with confusing answers, the questions are always pursued and are infinitely more interesting.

The following year Williams passed away, a very dark movie (his last) was released, Boulevard (2015). I was saddened that such lovely person as Robin Williams is not here anymore to make us laugh. No, I didn’t see it, nor at that time, did I want too.  However, time soften the heart; and, I decided I want to see it. I want to be fair in honoring all of Williams’ work.

For a while, I wanted to remembered the smiling and gifted performer in happier movies. A few years, after he passed away, Americans in the United States were given the “another” last movie with Robin Williams. It was released in the U.K. in 2015 but not in the States.  It is a scientific comedy…Yessss: Absolutely Anything. Williams does the voiceover for the dog, Dennis. The trailer looks funny; and, I am looking forward to watching it.

It is directed by Terry Jones (Monty Python) and it is written by Jones and Gavin Scott. I took the liberty of copying the cast lists from Wikapedia. Here is the link:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolutely_Anything#Cast

Feast your eyes on all of this talent.  As far as the voiceover cast, you might as well call it “Monty Python” with Robin Williams.

CAST:

Simon Pegg as Neil Clarke
Kate Beckinsale as Catherine West
Sanjeev Bhaskar as Ray
Rob Riggle as Colonel Grant Kotchev
Robert Bathurst as James Cleverill
Eddie Izzard as Headmaster, Mr. Robinson
Joanna Lumley as Fenella
Marianne Oldham as Rosie
Emma Pierson as Miss Pringle
Meera Syal as Fiona Blackwell
Mojo the Dog as Dennis the Dog

VOICE CAST

John Cleese as Chief Alien
Terry Gilliam as Nasty Alien
Eric Idle as Salubrious Gat
Terry Jones as Scientist Alien
Michael Palin as Kindly Alien
Robin Williams as Voice of Dennis the Dog
Again, I have not seen this movie; but, I guarantee you that I will by this weekend; even though, the movie received lukewarm reviews.  That’s nothing new. Most comedies receive lukewarm reviews; or, they are totally trashed. It just makes me happy that Williams, in the voice of “man’s friend,” comes from this space age comedy to make us smile, again.  Let me know in the comments if you seen it and if you enjoyed it.

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Again, that you Gill and Crystal for hosting the Robin Williams Blogathon.  Don’t forget to see more tributes to Robin Williams using the following links:

https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/announcing-the-robin-williams-Blogathonhttps://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/awakenings-1990/

Reference Links:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.rogerebert.com/reviews/amp/dead-again-1991

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Williams

http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0101669/

http://ew.com/article/1991/08/30/dead-again/

http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9D0CE7DB1F39F930A1575BC0A967958260

Paying Christmas 🎄Forward With Outlander-Season 3

With a new year, you can expect new challenges.  As a blogger, my year started out with a FANtastic challenge. This year I have been offered the opportunity to write a post that “pays forward” The Twelve Days of  Christmas. The gifts given here is from the popular television series, Outlander, specifically Season 3. These gifts were given to fans of Outlander throughout this past year of 2017.

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The illustration of this Children’s book has a Scot theme with characters who remind me of Highlander Jamie Fraser with his wife, Claire.

Many people, including myself, believe that the true spirit of Christmas should not be celebrated once a year but everyday of the year.  So with that said, allow me to present to you, dear reader, with The Twelve Days of Outlander. I begin this post by highlighting “some” of Season 3’s main events.  It would be impossible to include everything in this post from Season 3; since, there is an over abundance of memorable scenes and surprises. So, I begin by discussing some of those major events (plot and subplot themes). I will include the first and second day of Outlander gifts 🎁 to fans within this long review. Afterwards, I will conclude with listing the final ten gifts.

🚫SPOILER WARNING🚫

If you have not seen Season 3 or read Gabaldon’s Voyager, you need to know that this post is loaded with spoilers. For those of you, like me, who are in Droughtlander (a space of time between two seasons), I hope you will enjoy this post; and, for you, who are just curious, I hope you too will enjoy the post.

What are some of the Events in Season 3?

Jamie and Claire Fraser’s twenty years of separation, the Battle of Culloden, their reunion, the journey and adventure to rescue Wee Ian Murray from pirates, fighting the Bakra and a Sea wreck on the coast of the New World.

The Reunion and Tweny year Separation

Season 3 is based on the third book, Voyager, by Diana Gabaldon. Personally, this is one of my favorites from the eight-book series. One of the most significant events in the book is the Jamie and Claire reunion after being separated for over twenty years.  Here we find a much older Jamie and Claire struggling to find their comfort zone in each other’s hearts and matured lives.

Let’s face it: An 18th century Scottish Highlander-warrior has different skill-sets and cultural perceptions when compared to a 20th century English mother and Combat-Army nurse who had struggled to become a Civilian surgeon in the late 1950s. Without a doubt, they will need years to work out their personal differences and on going martial issues.  Added to these tantamount obstacles, there is also a bit of explaining to do for all their decisions and mistakes made during the last twenty years.  On the first night of their reunion, Jamie questions Claire about her motives for coming back to him, 20 years later. To say the least, time travel is a bitch.

Jamie drives home the point: He is not the same man that she once knew. Now he has additional aspects to his complex life: 7-Years as a cave dwelling hermit, ten more years of prison, smuggler, printer, treasonous writer, second marriage, his son: Willie… Nor, is she the same Claire, he once knew: a mother who raised a twenty year old daughter, a married woman of 23 years to Frank, a doctor with a Harvard degree, Women’s Liberation, The Civil Rights Moment, a man on the moon, penicillin…. Regardless of the time traveling consideration, life has a way of changing us through our experiences. Claire and Jamie are no exception to this rule.

Personally, Claire has more trust issues and lacking a bit of confidence in herself.  Whereas Jamie is extremely stoic and definitely trusts no one, completely. Due to his criminal actions, Jamie is very complex person with a very complex life. For instance, depending on what he is doing at the time, he has various names or aliases for of his various actions or occupations.  Obviously, Jamie and Claire have major difficulties to resolve in their ongoing relationship. Fortunately, they have common bonds besides their enduring love for one another, both mirror each other in courage and perseverance. Plus, they have aged well; and, they are still the sexiest couple on film and probably on the planet.

 

 

🎁 🎼 So, on the First Day of Outlander Gifts 💝 fans were given a hilarious and imaginative parody of Jamie and Claire’s visit to Couples Therapy provided by MTV’s funny man David Horowitz ….🎼 Fala La La La 🎶 La La La🎶

 

🎁🎁 🎼 On The Second Day of Outlander Gifts 💝 fans were given superb performances by Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, Grant O’Rourke, Sophie Skelton, Richard Rankin, David Barry, Steven Cree, Laura Donnelly, Hanna James, and by the whole hard-working cast. In addition to the performances, fans were gifted by the producers, directors, writers, art and set designers, cinematographers, makeup artist,  and anyone who worked on any part of Season 3’s  episodes. Thanks to you all for your gifts of creativity and hard work…🎼 Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶

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The following contain several gifted scenes and pics from Season 3: The Separation years and the Battle of Culloden (Episodes 1 – 5).

Another Major Event in Season 3: The Battle at Culloden

🚫Dear Reader: Unless you are suffering from Droughtlander (the space between seasons) or you just like to read, you may wish to scroll through the next several paragraphs; until, you reach the rest of the Outlander “Pay It Forward” Gifts 🎁 🚫

Another major event in Season 3, the book and Scottish history:  the Battle of Culloden. The last battle for the Jacobite Rebellion. The images within these scenes are not only memorable but eerily beautiful.

 

 

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The opening scene has to be one of the best in television history.  If Sam Heughan’s (Jamie Fraser) performance in these scenes does not receive critical praise; then, I am convinced that critics are either dishonest in their reviews; or, they haven’t a clue as to what a great performance looks like. As the scene begins. an unconscious and wounded Jamie is lying among the massive number of dead on the battlefield.  He awakens with his body partially covered by the dead body of Captain Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies).  His first thoughts: I am dead. He goes in and out of consciousness as he remembers bits and pieces of the battle and his life with Claire (Caitriona Balfe)

Jamie is waiting for death. He wants to die. He not only wants to end his physical pain; but, his emotional heartbreak as well.  This was the last major battle of the Jacobite Rebellion. They fought to put the “rightful” King (Prince Charles Edward Stuart/ aka Bonnie Prince Charley) on the British throne.  With the poor leadership of Prince Charley (Andrew Gower) along with terrible strategies, the Battle of Culloden becomes a horrific defeat for the Scots. Scotland will forever be changed due to hundreds of years oppression that follow this defeat. Most highlanders were killed in battle or soon after. Jamie wanted to die in that battle. He sent his wife and unborn child into the future, never to see them again. Of course, he wanted to die. In his mind, life was not worth living anymore.

As he suffers from his wounds, he awaits for the Angel of Death or the blade of a British solider’s bayonet to end his life. All around him, wounded highlanders are killed by British soldiers. Then, a light snow descends from the night sky.  Near him, he watches a bunny rabbit scampering about. While lying there, Jamie has a vision of Claire.

His cousin, Rupert Mackenzie (Grant O’Rourke), finds him dying.  He refuses to leave him there and helps him off the battlefield to a small cottage (the only building) on the battlefield. Eventually, the remaining Highlanders are found and  kept there as prisoners; until, each is executed: One at a time while the other prisoners can can hear the shots.

 

Jamie listens as each man gives his name to be recorded just before they are shot. Then, near the cottage, Jamie painfully listens to the fatal shots.  Sadly, some of the men were as young as sixteen.  The tears start flowing when Rupert says his goodbyes to Jamie after he volunteers to go next.

 

 

Twenty Years of Separation for Jamie and Claire

For Claire: Co-parenting her daughter, Brianna, with Frank is a double edge sword: She loves that Frank is a wonderful father; but their marriage as a couple is void of passionate love.  She cannot forget Jamie, especially while loving his ginger haired daughter. So, she continues to pine for him even though he died two hundred years ago. To her credit, she tried to leave Jamie in the past. She even agreed to never speak of Jamie or to tell Bree about him while Frank was still alive. However, talking and thinking are two different things. So, cleansing Jamie from her was impossible for Claire. Nothing can stop Claire’s love for Jamie Fraser. Naturally, Frank resents her for this.  For Bree’s sake they remain together as parents; but their marriage is a sham: “friends”  with benefits as Frank promises to be discreet with his girlfriends. How utterly lonely for Claire. This will have a negative effect on her self-confidence and trust in others.

Frank cannot compete with the memories of Jamie.  As a result, Professor Randall looks for love and companionship with his female students. Unfortunately for Claire, Frank not only left her feeling lonely and unwanted, he also did not appreciate her mothering duties. He encourages her to go back at school. However, once her schooling was complete, he resented her leaving their home and child to go to work and making friends like Joe Abernathy.  Frank was a man of his times. He accepted the social rules of separating the races while he secretly thought Claire was having an affair with Joe.  This was not touched on in the show but was mentioned in the books as one of his reasons for wanting to take Bree back to England and leaving Claire. I am glad the writers left this out.

Claire has entered into a “man’s profession” of medicine. She receives little support except for her friend of color, Joe Abernathy (Wil Johnson), who is also on his own due to “Separate but Equal” policies of segregated America and during the Civil Rights Movement. These are major changes in Claire’s life which also affects Claire’s character and personality.

There are plenty of life changes for Jamie Fraser as well. He was seriously injured in the fatal Battle of Culloden. But he lived when nearly every warrior he knew and fought side by side with died. He survived. Despite the fact, he is sent home to die, he survives and becomes a hunted man. To avid capture, he lives in a cave for seven years; and,  he hunts food at night and sneaks it to his sister’s home at Lallybroch. He provides food for his sister’s family who happens to be his only family now. While hiding in his cave and avoiding capture, he becomes part of the Scottish lore, The Red Bonnet.

Eventually, after young Fergus (Romann Berrux) has his hand lobbed off, thanks to the to the Redcoats trying to find Jamie, he has had enough of his family being harassed and arrested because of him.  He decides that it is time to turn himself in to the redcoats.  He begs his sister to work with the British to trap him; so, she can collect the award money.  This award money is desperately needed to help all the families on the Lallybroch lands.

 

Jamie goes back to prison for another ten years. There his finds his “godfather,” Murtagh Frizgibbons (Duncan LaCroix), barely alive; yet, he too is a survivor of the Battle at Culloden.  Eventually, Jamie is befriended by the new prison commander, Lord John Grey (David Berry).  Grey is secretly gay and falls desperately in love with Jamie knowing Jamie cannot and will return his love. Yet, the two men learn to trust each other, eventually.  Grey realizes he is fortunate to earn Jamie’s trust and friendship. Both men respect each other and consider the other as a honorable man.

The following is a clip of a scene between Jamie and Grey as they reveal their sorrow for love ones they lost.

 

Grey’s  appearance in Season 3 is pure joy. He is a fascinating character that Gabaldon has dedicated another series of books too. I hope if there is a spin-off show off of Outlander, I hope it is Lord John Grey.

When the prison closes, Grey prevents Jamie from going into transportation to the American colonies as an indentured servant. Instead he arranges for Jamie to go to the English country estate of Helwater. Jamie’s rebel prisoner status is kept a secret from the Earl’s wife, Lady Louisa Dunsany (Beth Goddard).  The Dunsanys’ son was killed in a battle against the Jacobites. When Jamie expressed sympathy for the Dunsanys’ lost, he explained to the Earl that he understood since he had lost his own two children.  The Earl of Dunsany was moved by Jamie’s statement.  He agrees to give him a small stipend and his prisoner status to be kept secret. Although Jamie remains a prisoner, he is “hired” as a groom due to his skill with horses.

 

Poor Jamie! Why does everybody want to jump his bones? Soon after he begins his work as a hired groom,  he is blackmailed by the Geneva Dunsany (Hannah James). A seventeen year old daughter of the Dunsanys who is arrogant, lacks self-discipline and is spoiled rotten. In addition, she is a virgin who is betrothed to the Earl Of Ellesmere (a man in his 60s).  She is determined that her first sexual experience will be completed with someone she is actually attracted to and is powerless to refuse her. Hello, Jamie!  According to Geneva, Jamie is an ideal candidate because he has been married; and “he will know what to do.”

Two days after Geneva loses her virginity to Jamie Fraser, she marries the elderly Ludovic Ransom, The Seventh Earl of Ellesmere (James Cameron Stewart).  Apparently, one night of love-making with Jamie was too much for Geneva’s fertile eggs. Geneva becomes pregnant; and, nine months later, she delivers a healthy baby boy.  Sadly, Geneva, like many women of her time, dies within hours after giving birth. As the Dunsany family gather to Geneva’s dying side, she confides to her sister the identity of the real father. Soon after Geneva dies, a grieving Isobel (Tanya Reynolds) confronts Jamie. She is interrupted by a servant who cries for their help. Lord Elesmere verbally attacks Geneva’s grieving parents. He yells about the betrayal and sham of his marriage. He knows the child could  not be his; since, he and Geneva had not consummated their marriage.  He is beyond angry: Raging mad is a better description. The Dunsanys beg Lord Elesmere to give the baby to them.  Suddenly, he threatens to kill the newborn. As he holds a knife over the baby and about to plunge it into its small body, Jamie shoots a pistol and kills Elesmere. Jamie kills the Earl; but, he saves his own son.

William makes child number three for Jamie. The first two were girls: Faith and Brianna. Even though Jamie never met either of them, he continued to feel the hurt and pain of a Father who lost his children. On the other hand, his son, William, is there; and, Jamie can see, touch, and speak to him. What he cannot do is claim William as his own. Eventually, Lady Dunsany shows her appreciation to Jamie for saving her grandson’s life. Through her husband’s influence, she offers him a promise to obtain his pardon from the King.  After years of being hunted and held as a prisoner, he can finally be free again and go home to Lallybroch. Jamie thanks her but asks if he would be allowed to stay on as a stable hand instead. He cannot leave William behind; nor can he confide this to Lady Dunsany.  Instead, he explains that his family in Scotland are on hard times; and, they need the money he sends them. So, Mackenzie (Jamie) stays on at Helwater as a free man, a groom; but, more importantly, as a father to watch, observe, and be near his son, William.

A major obstacle appears  as William (Clark Butler) grows older. By the time he is six, his has a near identical resemblance to Jamie. The only difference is their hair color. Willie has his mother’s dark hair instead of Jamie’s Ginger hair. However, people are starting to notice Jamie and William’s uncanny resemblance.  Jamie will not jeopardize Willie Ransom’s wealthy inheritance and title as the future Eighth Earl of Ellesmere.

Mackenzie/Jamie tearfully says goodbye to the Dunsanys, Lord John Grey and his son. Isobel and Grey marry and become legal guardians of Willie. They both promise Jamie to love and protect Willie while keeping Jamie’s secret.

 

Jamie goes home; but, he is painfully lonely. He misses Claire and their baby; and his his heart aches for Willie. So, his sister plays matchmaker. At Lallybroch on Hogmanay (Scot’s New Year Eve party). Jamie is charmed by two adorable little girls. The younger one’s name is Joan (Layla Burns), and; has red hair like Brianna; and, her slightly older sister’s name is Marsali (Lauren Lyle).  They plea with Jamie to dance with them. Which makes Jamie laugh; since, it is usually the males who ask the females to dance. During Jamie’s dance with both girls, Jamie openingly laughs and smiles. He has a soft spot for children; plus, he was reminded of his own two lost daughters. Because the girls are fatherless; and Jamie yearns to be somebody’s father and someone’s husband again, he marries their mother. The mother is “A want-to-be-Jamie’s girlfriend” Laoghaire Mackenzie (Nell Hudson).

This is definitely not one of Jamie’s wisest decisions.  The marriage fails almost before it started. He soon finds himself, alone again, and  making a living as a printer in the city of Edinburgh. There, he finds very little profit as a  printer. So, he resorts to the lucrative, but criminal, side business of smuggling French wines into England. He is always taking care of love ones first; so, he sends money to his sister, Jenny Murray (Laura Donnelly) and her family in Lallybroch; and, he also sends money to Laoghaire for her care and his “adopted” daughters. To save money, he has arranged for a free room that is close to the docks and harbor. It includes free meals and privacy in a location that is another shocker for our honorable Jamie Fraser: a brothel. This is provided by a Madame who not only owns the brothal but who is also one of Jamie’s best customers. She buys a great deal of smuggled French wines.

The Reunion of Claire and Jamie

That moment when Claire and Jamie see each other after twenty years is priceless. Take a look at it in the following clip.

Has Jamie and Claire changed after twenty years?  Without a doubt. No matter how much the lives and personalities have changed, there is one thing that stays constant: Their connected souls.  When your love is shared Soul Deep, there is nothing that can separate you from that love. Jamie and Claire will learn to adapt to each other’s changes and begin a new life together.

The next scene reveals their awkward awareness of each other:

 

The long-awaited event of Jamie and Claire’s Reunion is not the only romantic event in Season 3. There are other loving couples such as Bree and Roger and Fergus and Marsali.

We are introduced to an adult Bree (Sophie Skelton) in the sweetest romance with a Scot who is Oxford history Professor, Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin). Bree lives in Boston. Roger travels from Scotland, at Christmas time, to present to Claire proof that Jamie survived Culloden. Plus, he wanted to see the Randell ladies because he has a huge crush on Bree.  When Bree learns that Jamie survived Culloden, she encourages her mother to go back to him. She wants to make her mother happy again; and, she wants to thank Jamie for his sacrifice and love. This may be the only time she can communicate to her real father that she loves him too. Claire travels back in time to find Jamie Fraser again.

Once back and reunited with Jamie, Claire is shocked and surprised to learn of Jamie’s second marriage to Laoghaire Mackenzie.  This is a shocker since Laoghaire tried to have Claire burned as a witch. Laoghaire wanted no obstacles in her way in securing Jamie’s love. Claire also finds the Lallybroch family has grown up since she had last seen them, especially wee Ian (John Bell). Young Ian is a sixteen year old who is determined to be with his idolized uncle Jamie that he repeatedly runs away from Lallybroch to be with him.

We also learn of  the deaths of Black Jack Randall and Claire’s first husband, Frank. Finally, we meet Jamie’s newest loyal friend, Lord John Grey (David Barry).  I hope some smart producer or producers will make this character into a spin-off series. The Grey books are crime solving mysteries with a lot of humor in them. Plus, Jamie Fraser appears in some of the books to help him out.

A brief summary of the Second Half of Season 3

The second half of the season is like the rollercoaster ride of adventures. Wee Ian is kidnapped by pirates while trying to recover a small treasure chest hidden on a small island in Northern Scotland. Jamie and Claire use Jamie’s uncle Jarred’s ship, the Artemus, to follow and rescue the lad.  While at sea, a British man of war seizes the Artemus looking for doctor to help treat the crew who are quickly dying from an unknown disease. Claire volunteers to go on board against Jamie’s objections. The British Captain (Charley Hiett) promised to return her; but, he lied. One of the British crew recognized Jamie as Alexander Malcolm: A Scot printer who is wanted by the British crown for treason and the murder of a government employee. In fact, it was actually Claire who accidentally killed the government inspector while she was defending herself from being sexually assaulted in Jamie’s room at the brothel.

Voyages And Shipwrecks

Since most of the senior officers have died from the mysterious disease, a recently promoted and very young, Captain Leonard keeps Claire on board his ship to make sure Jamie follows him to Jamaica. He hopes his much larger and faster ship will reach Jamaica before Jamie’s cargo ship. He wishes to set a trap and arrest him for murder and treason. The Captain of the Artemus has agreed to help the British captain capture Jamie.  When Jamie insists they throw cargo overboard in order to make the ship lighter so they could catch up with the British man-o-war.  The Captain wastes no time in having Jamie arrested and thrown in the brig.

Before reaching Jamaica, Claire jumps overboard and swims ashore to a small island.  Jamie’s ship hit rough waters full of rocks and cliffs.  They are shipwrecked on the same island that Claire swam to. Neither knows the other is there.

Once they discover each other, they repair the ship’s mast and sail to Jamaica. Looking for Jamie’s nephew, young Ian who was kidnapped by pirates, they inadvertently purchases a slave. Jamie also discovers that his friend, Lord John Grey, is the new governor of Jamaica.  He and Claire go to the governors’ ball to see if Lord Grey can assist in finding the boy.  They ask their  slave to inquire from other slaves information that help them find Ian too. For his help, they promise to free the slave. He confirms that young Ian is seen at the Abernathy estate.

Before, the Frasers reach the estate, Jamie is arrested by Captain Leonard.  Before Jamie is incarcerated in a prison cell, he is bought before his newest best friend, Governor Lord John Grey.  This next scene is one of my favorites for the whole season. It not only showcased the actors’ prowess, it was exciting to watch John Grey’s “set down” to Captain Leonard. There are three actors in this scene. One of them, Heughan, never says a word; but, his reactions to the other two men, as they  confront each other over the his arrest, speaks volumes for his acting chops. This scene is one of favorite scenes in the season. Kudos to David Berry. Watch how Jamie’s buddy (Lord Grey) handles the ambitious Captain Leonard. It is brilliant.

Of corse Jamie and Claire locate Young Ian at the Abernathy estate.  However, the widower, Mrs. Abernathy, is none only Gellis Duncan. Another time traveler who befriended Claire. Gellis is a “witch” and Claire thought she burned at the stake in order to help Claire escape her fate. She is also bat shit crazy. She hired pirates to steal young, virgin boys in order to bathe in their blood, to remain young.  Mrs. Abernathy is known as the mysterious monstrosity known as the Bakra.  Lucky for young Ian, he was not a virgin. Of course, Jamie and Claire will save him from certain death.

When escaping Jamaica, their ship runs straight into the eye of a hurricane. At the beginning of episode 13, the last episode, Claire says: I am dead. Just like Jamie did at the beginning of episode 1 of season 3. While Jamie awoke, seriously wounded, Claire didn’t wake, she was drowning in the ocean. Again, this is one of the most stunning scenes I have ever seen on film. As Claire drifts to the ocean bottom, Jamie is finally seen trying to cut the ships ropes from her body. Then, he kisses her and breathes his last breath as he blows air into her mouth. This is the following scene.

 

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Outlander Pay It Forward GiftsContinues 

With the completion of season 3 overview by highlighting superb performances and production Gifts (Day Two 🎁 🎁), let us continue the Outlander Christmas “Pay it Forward” in the spirit of The Twelve Days of Outlander 🎶

🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Third Day of Christmas, Starz Outlander gave fans Seasons 3 and the working of Season 4; and by the January of this year, they received yet another gift: the “probable” gift of Seasons 5 and 6….Fa La La La La Fa La La

 

🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Forth Day of Christmas, Outlander presented to fans a Twitter account from the writers of the show: @Outlander Writers. This a Twitter account that fans may directly ask questions to the writers after each episode has aired. Fans receive feedback to their questions every Tuesday…Fa La La La La Fa La La La🎶

 

🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Fifth Day of Christmas, Outlander presented to fans online corrected scripts, Behind the scenes pics and discussions, games and quizzes for each of the Season 3 episodes (13)…Fa La La La La Fa La La La🎶

Writers Matthew B. Roberts and Toni Graphia discuss the last episode with executive producer Ron Moore.  These discussions can be found for each episode.  These discussions have interesting behind the scenes information. Thanks Matt Roberts, I now want to use a water hose too after listening to you describe how much fun you had in spraying Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.

Link to all the Outlander goodies for Season 3

http://www.outlandercommunity.com/

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🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Sixth Day of Christmas, Outlander presents to fans opportunities at Con Gatherings to meet and greet:  cast members, producers, writers, and musicians. These gatherings may include photos with fans, autographs, eating and dancing….Fa La La La La Fa La La La🎶

 

Link to 2017 Gathering with Cast Members:

http://www.outlandertvnews.com/2017/04/outlander-cast-appearances-for-2017/

 

🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Seventh Day of Christmas, Outlander presented fans with wonderful new costumes from Terri Dresbach. Season 3 is known as the season of the Skirt for Claire and the Tricorne hat and blousy shirt for Jamie…Fa La La La La Fa La La La🎶

 

🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Eighth Day of Christmas, the Outlander cast, crew and producer, Ron Moore, provided numerous opportunities for Questions and Answers from Ten minutes to thirty minutes; off and on throughout the year.  These are really fun; and, if they pick your question, it feels like you have won the lottery. In addition, cast and crew are constantly tweeting fun stuff about their work and playing practical jokes on each other. For instance, they love stealing each other’s phones and taking selfies of themselves; then, sharing them on Twitter… Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶

I must add Steven Cree who plays Ian Murray. Ian is Jamie’s best friend since childhood. He even married Jamie’s sister, Jenny.  Steven is also a real life friend to Sam Heughan. Cree loves to use his Twitter account to engage Outlander fans with his Heughan Talks video clips. Cree disguises his voice to talk for Sam (the host with the most) and Sam’s guests, like Michael Jackson. These guests are actually dolls or pics on the computer monitor or on a tablet. Once, for 2017 Christmas, he filmed the real Sam. It reminded me of my sister who aggravated me while I tried to ignore her. Of course, you can tell, both men are having a great time, along with the fans.

 

🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Ninth Day of Outlander, fans were gifted with the added the talents of NEW CAST MEMBERS! Here are a few that comes to mind; but, there were many more …Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶

David Berry, John Bell, Lauren Lyle, Caesar Domboy

 

Hanna James, Wil Johnson, and Gary Young

 

🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼On the Tenth Day of Outlander, the fans were gifted with a lovely surprise: Murtagh Fritzgibbons (Duncan Lacrox) survived Culloden.  In the book, he was killed as he “killed” Black Jack Randall. Some fans do not like it when the main storyline is distorted from the books. I loved that Jamie’s wise and experienced “godfather” was found in Ardsmuir prison. I hope to see much more of him in Season 4 …Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶

 

🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Eleventh Day of Outlander, fans were gifted with the sweetest Christmas scene between Roger and Bree.  Their first Christmas together and a kind of bittersweet date; since, Claire just left to go back through the stones and back to Jamie.  When Roger first visits Claire and Bree, he confessed that he wanted to spend an American Christmas with them. He wanted to eat Boston cream pies and eat lobster rolls. Claire told him that the few Christmas traditions the Randall’s had shared had consisted of reading The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens to a much younger Bree was much younger.  Of course, Claire realizes that this was the first Christmas Roger would celebrate without his father who recently died. She also understood that he wanted to spend Christmas with a friend who knew his father and who has a beautiful daughter that he was seriously crushing on. In the following scene, Bree is comforted by Roger. Her mother just said goodbye. Bree watched her from the window as her mother takes a taxi to the airport for a flight to Scotland. I think Bree and Roger are so adorable as they try to cheer each other up and rekindle the joyful spirit of Christmas together. I am  really looking forward to seeing more of these two and Season 4…Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶

 

🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, Outlander fans could once again see some their past favorite actors and characters help Season 3 become the BEST SHOW on TELEVISION. Thank you actors, all: for reprising your roles …Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶

And of course the whole recurring cast of Outlander, including production teams, writers, and crew that make this show an exceptional delight to watch and follow as the “gifted” fans do. People say that Outlander has the best fans. When in truth, how could they be otherwise with such wonderful gifts from such an Outstanding show. Have a wonderful and Happy New Year everyone.

 

Realweegiemidget Reviews’ Gill Jacob, offered up the “pay it forward” using The Twelve Days of Christmas theme as a challenge to several bloggers. She chose our particular topic, I am honored she singled me out to write a post on the Outlander. I pride myself as one of the millions of avid Outlander fans (book series and the show). I hope you will enjoy reading this post whether you are a fan too or even if you know nothing about the show. If you would like to read other ”Pay it Forward” posts with the focus on other popular TV shows and movies, please use the following link:

https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/

 

To Bloggers:

I am am not going to tag you in order to draw you into a public challenge. Instead, I hope you do write your own “Pay it Forward” in the spirit of the Twelve Days of Christmas. It would great for you to join in the fun, especially after you read other  posts submitted to this Blogathon. However, my friends, I truly hope you will not be offended that I included a few of you have in my tags at the bottom of this post. I hope that it is not too intrusive. If it is, please let me know. I hope everyone has a wonderful and successful year.

***I do not own any of the images found in this post***

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Breening A Movie: All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)

‘The Great Breening Blogathon is an opportunity to censor a movie based on the old Hollywood decency codes. I want to thank Tiffany Brannan for the invite to participate in this fascinating Blogathon; especially since, it provides me with some challenges as a writer and as a movie fan. For instance, it allowed me to see a wonderful film classic with a different perspective.  The film isn’t just a work of art with its own truths and lessons; instead, I viewed it with the eyes of a societal protector that uses a moral compass called the Hays Decency Code.

I have been following a blog, Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (PEPS) for awhile now, and; I have enjoyed their posts. They have invited bloggers to honor the man whose control of movie content has produced many of the classic, timeless movies during a twenty year span (1934 to 1954), known as the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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The Process of Breening 

First, I carefully review the film by watching every detail in each scene for any objectionable material that might not have been allowed according the code.  The process of censoring these movies is called Breening. This is in honor the man, Joseph I. Breen, who perfected this system. For the purpose of this Blogathon, I had to choose a movie that was not  previously “Breened.” A movie not made between 1934 to 1954 and not made after 1968. So, my movie choice which was made in 1930 is considered one of the best films ever made, even by critics today: All Quiet on The Western Front.

Just think about it, this movie was made only one year after the introduction of sound pictures, in 1929.  In addition, this movie is bit historical considering that it was made only twelve years after WW I (1914- 1918) or “The Great War” as it was known then. This means most adult audiences, which saw this movie in 1930, were either in that war or affected by it in some way. This brilliantly made film won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director; and, it also earned two nominations for Best Writing, Achievement and Best Cinematography.

Could this movie even been allowed to be made using the Breening system?

The Movie is adapted from a popular book published in 1929 and written by a wounded, German WWI Veteran, Erich Maria Ramarque. So, basically it is an American made movie based on the viewpoint and experiences of an enemy soldier. Ironically, this is, in and of itself, enough too have stopped the release of this movie under the Hays Code. A general rule of the code claims: the sympathy of the audience must never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil, or sin.  In war, the other side is always wrong and evil.

 

 

Ramarque’s book became a best seller around the world. It is considered one of the greatest novels of all time.  It is still required reading in classrooms and colleges across the United States. A sequel to this book, The Road Back, was published in 1931. In this book, he opposed the rise of Nazis Germany. In 1933, Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s minister of Propaganda) banned his books and had them publicly burned them.  War hero, turned author was an anti-Nazis; so, Hitler deemed him as a traitor. In 1939, he immigrated to the United States; and, he became a U.S. citizen in 1947.

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The Movie and the book are still considered influential anti-war works and important chronicles of WWI. The leading actor in the movie, Lew Ayers, was so influence by the movie, he became a conscientious objector for the rest of his life. This did not make him popular in Hollywood; but, he continued to act in various roles for decades until his death in 1970.

 

 

 

The Great War (1914 – 1918)

Sadly, this war was tagged as the “War to end all wars.”  Many people of that time believed in stockpiles of modern weapons (militarism) as a defense against attack and eventually, war itself.  Their “new” weapons and machines would make the act of war obsolete. This delusional belief was based on the idea that the war would be fought mostly by machines instead of humans, who would just control the buttons. As a result, there would be fewer lives loss; and, the war would be over very quickly.  The technological arrogance of this assumption is deplorable. I guess they thought it would be like Robot Wars.  Of course, Trench Warfare, Submarine Warfare, Chemical Warfare, Tank Warfare, and even uses of the Aeroplanes (flying coffins),  radio, motor vehicles, animals (homing pigeons, horses, and dogs), flame throwers, hand grenades … just made destroying all known life easier to do and in much greater numbers. As a result of so many men killed in this war, the remaining survivors were known as being part of “The Lost Generation.”

What an enormous responsibility these film makers took in making a war movie that the viewing public was still healing from. Too much realism could repulse them and not enough would make the film sound dishonest and irrelevant. Would using the Bleen system change the quality of this two hour and 11 minute movie classic? After censoring this film, would it keep its integrity and possibly be a better movie?  Or, regrettably, with details left out or changed, would it have too much sugarcoat and therefore, unbelievable?

The Breen scenes

The Movie opens with a military parade in the streets. A professor in  boy’s classroom is nearly yelling at his students in order to be heard.  He is encouraging a whole class of boys how honorable and adventurous it is to fight the enemy on foreign soil.  He even quotes the Latin phrase that every Roman soldier said: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

Sweet and Fitting it is to die for the fatherland.

The  need to join the fight becomes so overwhelming, they jump up from their desks and quit school. This displays their heart felt love for their country (Nationalism). The armies around the world would keep families and friends together as a fighting unit or company. They truly were a ” band of brothers” sent off to war together.

So, here is the first scene I would cut or at least rewritten.

Breen #1: Costumes – undressing scenes should be avoided.

Breen#2 Sex: scenes of passion –No excessive or lustful kissing and no suggestive postures or gestures.

It is a scene where the boys first arrive at boot camp and are assigned their uniforms and bunks. These young men sit on their beds together and excitedly talk about the weapons they will be soon trained to use. There is a close-up a man taking off his shirt as they talk. Many are half dressed playing around on beds. As one young man raises his hips off the bed to put on uniform pants, his friend, Paul Baumer (Lew Ayers) jokingly places the pointy Helmut under his butt. Of course, his butt lands on the point. He screams and then uses the Helmut to smack Paul, as they both laugh. Then one of the other friends, grabs another friend’s face in both his hands and kisses him squarely on the lips and then on the cheek while he laughingly says: you won a metal that time Mulller. Muller laughs too.

 

Personally, I love this scene; since, it displays their exuberance for life and their playfulness while they excitedly wait to start their imaginary adventure.  However, I am sure it would not pass decency code at the time. Since it is a long scene, in a long movie, over two hours, it would be easier to just delete it.

Second scene to Breen

When the men find out that their drill sergeant is their friendly post man back home, they literally laugh in his face. Part of boot camp training is to break down independent thinking and then build it up again with team thinking.  Immediately, the Corporal shows the men that he is not their friend and is on a power trip. So much so,  Himmelstoss delivers his cruel and sadistic orders.

Breen #3 Crimes Against the law – REVENGE in modern times are not presented in detail

After 6 weeks of grueling training, the men were denied leave to relax in town. Not one weekend were they allowed a break from training like other companies. They were given their orders to leave at midnight for the Western Front (trenches built between two warring enemies: French and the Germans). They had just enough time to clean the mud off their uniforms. Later, that same evening, they were given an opportunity to even the score.  They happened to witness a drunken Himmelstoss stumbling across the camp. They strung wire to trip him;  then, they covered his head in a blanket.  Then, they carried him into the woods and commenced to beat the “tar” out of him.  They each took turns beating his arse with canes.  Then, they dumped his unconscious body in the mud.

We see the men pre-plan their brutal attack and carry it out in detail against a superior officer.  This would definitely not be allowed under the decency code.  I would rewrite the scene as an accident witnessed by the men for their enjoyment. As the drunken Himmelstoss crosses the camp, he hits his head on a tree limb and falls unconscious into the mud while the men hilariously laugh.

Breen #4 Repellent subjects – Brutality and possible gruesomeness is not allowed

The scenes of men in combat are very graphic.  There is one scene that a soldiers hands are left grabbing wire while the rest of his body has been blown away. I would have deleted this scene.

The last scene I would like to Bleen, although there are many more, is a scene where they are bathing in a lake, NAKED.

Breen #5 Nudity can never be permitted as being necessary for the plot

After lusting for a woman on a poster, in a village pub behind enemy lines, the men decide to take a bath to try to feel human again. While bathing and swimming naked, they see three French girls across the river. The girls are giggling and laughing at these nude boys.  They see them and try to persuade them to join them. They girls only laugh and shake their heads in unbelief at their nudity and terrible attempts in speaking French.  Finally, one of them lures them with a bottle of wine and some bread he had retrieved from the embankment.

A guard on duty orders them back to across the river. The girls indicate their house and for welcome to a rendezvous later that night. They arrive in the dark: wet and naked (nakedness is implied).  The girls are shocked that they were butt naked. So, they grab the feminine clothing hanging on a clothesline. When they come into the house, they clothes are hanging on them in weird ways in their excitement to be admitted in the house. The women are starving and they quickly ravish the food.  One of the girls lead Paul to a kitchen chair beside her.  This is one of the sweetest scenes in the movie. Paul tenderly watches her as she devours the food. Then, she cups his cheek in her hand.  He slowly turns her hand over and delicately kisses her palm. You could almost feel his heart and read his mind as you witness the grossness of the war slowly fall away.

There is free love, nakedness, and sneaking around by breaking orders not to cross the river….let alone fraternising with the enemy. This whole scene would have to be rewritten where Paul is married and returns home for some love. Too bad because this scene, with these two strangers and enemies, reveal a lesson in the fact that humans have a basic need. In order to connect to our sense of humanity, we must do so through others. That is all this scene wants to convey; no more and no less. In a rewrite, Paul’s going back to the wife involves mutual expectations. He is not the man he was before the war.  His experiences have changed him into someone much more complex. All of that has to be included too with a wife.  These two scenes would be completely different lessons with different results. The plot does just thicken, it is changed.

 

Final Thoughts

There are many more scenes that I could Bleen for this movie; but, since I am a newbie at this, I think five scenes is enough for this post. What do I take away from this process? There are movie scenes that can be removed and rewritten to make a better movie. Fine editing is vital for a film’s success.  However, this classic masterpiece could not withstand too much Bleen censoring without changing the true sentiments of the storyline and plot.

This challenge of utilizing the Bleen system, not only entailed that I use someone else’s decency standards; but, also that I judge the merit of an art form purely based on the perceived notions of what is considered “good taste” or what is “right” for the common good.  It is stifling at best and at worst, it limits freedom of speech.  Anyone who has been involved in creating any art form knows that most artists look for the “Truth” from within their soul. Without a doubt, the artist and the censor have two separate perceptions of what Art should be. This difference creates an endless discussion and debate on defining Art and the limitations (if any) on the freedom of speech and expression.

I enjoyed participating in the Bleen process and again, I want to thank Tiffany for this lovely opportunity.  If you enjoyed critiquing this movie with me and you would enjoy reading more posts about other “Bleen” movies, please use the link:

https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/10/13/the-great-breening-blogathon-day-1/

 

 

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REFERENCE LINKS:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020629/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_152

http://www.notablebiographies.com/Pu-Ro/Remarque-Erich-Maria.html

http://www.artsreformation.com/a001/hays-code.html

The Mad Scientist Blogathon

What is it about “mad scientists ” that is so appealing to film audiences? Is it their crazy ideas that fascinates?  Or maybe, it is their passion for possibilities of the unthinkable.  Real scientists like Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, or Leonardo Da Vinci were thought “mad” at times too. Their ideas shocked their contemporaries; and yet, their passions eventually changed our perception of our world which resulted in changing our lives for the better too. It is only natural that we find ourselves drawn to these “mad” geniuses. Christina Wehner and Ruth from Silver Screenings  invited bloggers to write a post about a mad scientist from the movies. Please use the link  below to read more blogs on movie scientists of all sorts:

https://christinawehner.wordpress.co

https://silverscreenings.org/2017/09/10/movie-scientist-blogathon-day-3-recap-the-lonely/

My original “mad scientist” was Doctor Frankenstein from the Mary Shelley’s book and from the multiple film incarnations of him. I also love comedies. Logically, I was going to write a post about Mel Brooks‘ Hilarious Young Frankenstein. However, as I was watching Igor (pronounced I-Gor not E-Gor) looking for a human brain, I had a better idea…Brains….the Human brain.

What if Dr. Frankenstein took the brain and put in in a dead body? I mean a body that wasn’t pieced together from many body parts. Just pick a whole dead body and put in a “good” brain.  Or, as Brain Surgeon Doctor Micheal Hfuhruhurr (Steve Martin) said:

Ladies and gentlemen, I can envision a day when the brains of brilliant men can be kept alive in the bodies of dumb people.

So instead of Young Frankenstein (1974), my post will be about another hilarious movie scientist, Dr. Hfuhruhurr, in the film, The Man Wiith Two Brains (1983).  This is the third of four movies that Carl Reiner directed that starred comedic, mastermind Steve Martin:

  1. The Jerk (1979)
  2. Dead Men Don’t Ware Plaid (1982)
  3. The Man With Two Brains (1983)
  4. All of Me (1984)

The three comedy writers who wrote The Man With Two Brains also wrote the screenplay for Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid: Carl Reiner, Steve Martin and George Gale. This movie mostly spoofs  horror films of by gone years. I feel it is only proper to mention each of the films since they not only inspired The Man With Two Brains; but, they have “mad” scientists who should not be ignored in a blog that honors them.

  • Donavan’s Brain (1953)
  • Blood Devils (1970)
  • They Saved Hitler’s Brian (1968)
  • The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1983)

A Brief look of these Four Horror Movies that Influenced The Man With Two Brains: All movie trailers are added at the end of this post. 

This first one, Donovan’s Brain, stars Nancy Davis. I think this is interesting because she will become the future First Lady married to President Ronald Reagan. In this film, she is marry to a kindly doctor who keeps a criminal’s brain alive; however, the evil brain slowly takes over the doctor’s mind and body.

The second movie is known as Blood Devils in the United States and Beast of Blood in the United Kingdom. This one is a rare treat because it is a Filipino Horror flick that is Dubbed in English. This movie has a disfigured evil doctor on an island who loves making zombies by transplanting heads. He keeps the head and body of a man-beast alive. The head controls its detached body. The last scene in this movie trailer is a funny due to the dubbing process.

Third movie has one of the most unique titles that I ever heard: They Saved Hitler’s Brain. Besides the title, the making of this movie is unique too.  They had a theatrical release of this 70-minute movie in 1963. Then in 1968, the movie distributor asked UCLA students to add 20-minutes more footage to the ending. This was adapted for television. According to this movie, Hitler didn’t shoot himself in the head. His Nazis henchmen smuggled his living head to an island near a country, Mandoras , in South America to be attached when the Third Reich could be revived. Hence, it prompted another movie title: The Madmen of Mandoras.

The last horror film to influence the comedy writers of The Man With Two Brains is The Brain That Would Not Die (1983).  This time the mad scientist has a girlfriend whose head is decapitated in a car wreck.  He keeps her head alive while she begs him to allow her to die. When he tells her he knows what he is doing because he has done it before.  Even though he created a living mess with the poor guy.  She really begins to hate her boyfriend as he goes lurking for a body to attach to her head.  He is little choosy too because his looks for victims at a burlesque show and a beauty pageant. The head really hates it when he decides to killed an old ex-girlfriend for a body. The head nags him so much, he tapes her mouth shut.

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These four movies influenced the making of The Man With Two Brains. In this film, we meet “mad scientist” or should I say mad Brain Surgeon, Doctor Hfuhruhurr who perfected the “cranial screw-top” brain surgery. He describes his over inflated talents  to a reporter in this way:

My brilliant research in brain transplantation is unsurpassed, and will probably make my name live beyond eternity.

When he asks the reporter to read his statement back, he asked him to remove the word “probably” because it made him sound to “wishy, washy.”

Dr. Hfuhruhurr is a widower who still grieves for the lost of his wife and soul mate. He explains to the reporter that a gardener, Ramon, gave him a Barbie doll that was made with his dead wife’s hair. He keeps the doll on the dash of his car. While driving he explains to the reporter. Suddenly, he accidentally hits Delores Bennett ( Kathleen Turner) with his car. He immediately goes to help her and tells a four-year little girl, who witnessed the accident, to go for help. Carl Reiner says this is his favorite scene in the whole movie because that amazing little girl, who could not read, memorized her lines so well that the scene was shot in one take.  The following video is that scene and many more chuckles too.

He operates to save her life. I love the cats that keep showing up during surgery.  Doctor “H” yells at them to “Scat! Damn cats around here.” Little does he know, Delores is a recent widower. She is looking for another wealthy man to marry in order to scam him from all of his money; until, he “accidentally” dies and will leave her even more money through his insurance which is left to her through his Will.

Kathleen Turner is so smooth, sexy, and decadent in this movie.  It was an eye opener for audiences to see her in a comedy after seeing her explosive portrayal as Matty Walker in noir thriller, Body Heat (1983). She claimed she wanted to do a comedy because Delores is so outrageous and “it wasn’t a token female role.”  Besides, the fact she could work with creative funny men like Reiner and Martin must have attracted her too.

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They marry.  But you feel this gold digger is going to be wife in name only. After the preacher pronounces them man and wife and that he may kiss the bride, she turns her cheek to the Doctor ” H” to kiss and says, “Not now.”  He is sexually frustrated for six weeks; before, he tells his new wife that he is going on  a business trip that can easily be a substitute for a honeymoon too. They travel to Venice where unbeknownst to them there is an “elevator killer” terrorizing the women of the city.  Here he meets another “mad scientist” Doctor Alfred Necessiter (David Warner). I love to watch Warner’s work in anything.  He is such a great actor.

Doctor Necessiter discovered a radical technique to store living brains of the victims of the Elevator Killer. Because the killer injects the victims with window cleaner, it allows the doctor to keep the brain alive. However, the brains only have a limited time to live in the liquid before it dies. In addition, he has perfected a method of transplanting a human brain in a gorilla.

While visiting the Necessiter, Dr. H finds he can communicate with one of the ladies brains. She has the sweetest voice (uncredited Sissy Spacek) and although, no one can hear hear her she communicates to Dr. H using telepathy. He is intrigued and wants to help her out of her darkness. He later learns the brain’s name is Annie Uumellmahaye. You just know by the unusual names that they are meant for each other: Hfuhruhurr and Uumellmahaye 💖

Carl Reiner wanted Annie and Dr. H to have a loving romance that time and memories could not prevent. He believes “Random Harvest” (1942) to be the greatest of movie love story. It stars Greer Garson and Ronald Colman This movie inspired the greatest romance of man and brain in the movie.

 

He decides to kidnap Annie and keep her until he finds a suitable dead body to attach her head. The trip to the morgue turns up some pretty bad options. He confessed to Dr. Necessiter  “I cannot F**k a gorilla.” Unfortunately, Dr. “H” decides to murder a woman for her body.

One of the funniest moments in this film is when jealous Delores follows her husband who goes out on a date with Annie’s stolen brain. Their confrontation is hilarious.

I am not going to spoil this movie but writing what happens from this point. I will say it has more surprises; and, it stays hilarious to the end.  Michael Hfuhruhurr represents all kinds of scientist.  He is good, mad and lonely. He is a perfect match for the Scientists Blogathon (2017).  Again, thank you Christina Wehner and Ruth from Silver Screenings for allowing me to add this post late, despite Hurricane Irma (2017). I have decided to watch all five of these horror flicks Halloween week, one for each day.

I hope you will enjoy watching this very funny horror movie.  If you want to read more about a variety of film scientists in this Blogathon, please use the following links below.

https://christinawehner.wordpress.com

https://silverscreenings.org/2017/09/10/movie-scientist-blogathon-day-3-recap-the-lonely/

Print

 

The Man With Two Brains was inspired by the following movies. Here are the Trailers

 

 

Carl Reiner said he loved the movie, Random Harvest (1942). It is a tender love story. That tenderness inspired him as he help write somebody of the movie script for Man With Two Brains (1987).

Reference Links:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085894/

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/brain_that_wouldnt_die

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265870/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065456/

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/17516/Donovan-s-Brain/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_Harvest_(film)

 

 

 

 

Black Hawk Down(2001): The Colours Blogathon

The Colours Blogathon is hosted by Catherine from Thoughts of All Sorts. The movies reviewed in this blogathon must have a color adjective as part of the title.  I chose black since it encompasses all the colors on a color spectrum (complete adsorption of light without reflecting any rays). To match a “black titled” movie, I wanted to review a great movie that has a multilevel of emotions and actions.  So my favorite movie with these requisites is Black Hawk Down.  As far as war movies goes, this movie is one of the best. It is directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, GladiatorThelma and Louise…) and produced by Jerry Buckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2017; Top Gunn (2017); Geostrom (2017) ….

It has an all-star cast from around the globe.  However, none of the actors are from Somalia. Just take a look at the list of these actors who play crucial roles in this film:

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Josh Hartnett- USA (Eversmann)        Ewan McGregor – Scotland

Eric Bana – Australia (Hoot)      .           Tom Hardy- England (Twombly)

Tom Sizemore– USA (McKnight)          Orlando Bloom- England

William Fichtner- USA ( Sanderson)   Sam Shepard– USA (Garrison)

Ewen Brenner– Scotland (Nelson)        Kim  Coates- Canada (Wex)

Ron Eldard- USA (Durant)                      JoAn Gruffud, UK (Beales)

Jeremy Piven- USA (Wolcott)                   Jason Isaacs-English (Steele)

Gabriel Casseus- USA (Kurth)                Nicolas Coster-Waldau                                                                                         Denmark    (Gordon)

Hugh Dancy-England (Schmid)               Enrique Murciano- USA (Ruiz)

Ty Burrell- USA (Wilkinson)

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If I were to name “a lead star,” it would have to be Josh Hartnett (Eversmann).  This war movie presents each soldier (actor) in equal measure because that is how  real teams of soldiers operates: everyman matters and no one gets left behind.  They each have a job to do; and, they must watch each other’s back in order to survive and make it out alive.  All the courage, fear, and frustration to accomplish this is vividly felt throughout the movie. Realistic and gritty are just two words to describe this engrossing film.

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It is based on a book by journalist Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern Warfare (1999). The book is based on an incident that happened on October 3, 1993.  Bowden wrote 29 articles for the Philadelphia Inquirer researching and interviewing soldiers who were involved in this combat.

Historical Record:

In 1991, after the overthrow of Somali dictator, Siad Barre,  civil war broke out between different clans.  These clans arbitrarily attacked civilians and committed war crimes.  These attacks interrupted food production which resulted in a famine.  Across the globe, the news displayed disturbing images of starving people, some were babies.  By 1992, the Bush administration launched “Operation Restore Hope.” The United States in joint effort with the United Nations sent troops to Somali to “destabilize the government and bring food and humanitarian aid to a starving population.”

Warlords of the rival clans intercepted the food supplies sent from other countries to feed this starving population. They distributed the food to their ever-growing armies first. Then, they sold what was left. Essentially, there is no government. At some point, demonstrations of protest began.  When Pakistani soldiers, as part of the U.N. mission, fired into a crowd of protesters, Warlord, Aidid, counter attacked  and killed 24 soldiers. At this point, the U.N. Security Council authorized “All necessary measures to apprehend those responsible.” A $25,000 bounty was placed on Aidid’s head and a manhunt began.

By October 3rd 1993, U.S. Special forces were sent to the capital, Mogadishu on a mission to capture a key lieutenants of Aidid. Using U-H-60 Black Hawk helicopters, soldiers were lowered to the ground. Once the rebel “targets” were captured, the soldiers soon learned leaving the city became near impossible due to multiple road blocks and being under constant fire.

Just as this Snafu began, an unexpected attack by Somalian forces brought two helicopters down using RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades).  Mobs hacked the fallen pilots to death with machetes and dragged their bodies through the streets as trophies. One pilot was captured and was released weeks later. Humvees were used to transport the dead, wounded, and any soldiers they could fit into their vehicles in order to escape the thousands of Somali militia surrounding them.  Many had to be left behind; until, another rescue effort could be made.

Even with air support to direct them out of the city, Humvees found only blockades with militia shooting guns and mortar grenades at them. What should have taken only a few hours ended up taking 15 hours. This is known as the Battle of Mogadishu and it lasted for two days. The route that was “run” by the Army Rangers and Delta Force soldiers from the helicopter crash site to the rally point is known as The Mogadishu Mile. Some of the Rangers were forced to run on foot behind the rescue convoy of Humvees leaving the city.  Each Humvee was packed with dead, dying and/or wounded soldiers. The soldiers who had to run on foot did this unprotected and were still in constant harms way.  This incident is an extremely moving segment of the movie as they run to safety.

The Movie and a few facts:

Although this movie is an excellent film, be warned there are graphic shots and violence because of the nature of the story. There is also a great deal of colorful language and some dark humor. These are typical behaviors for most men and women who work within severely stressful conditions.  However, there is no nudity for those of you who are screamish about people in the buff. If you have not seen this truly great movie, just know that it is a compelling story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  In addition to being a bit anxious, there will be times that you will probably laugh and tear up too.

There has been much written about this film and this battle.  So, I will mention a few things that I noticed while I watched it.

Since all soldiers have similar hair cut and uniforms, the director had each character’s last name printed on the helmets; so, you could tell them apart. Printing names on helmets is not done in the “real” U.S. Army.

The scenes with Major General Garrison (Sam Shepard) in the control room had actual Satellite images of the real battles.  Also some of the radio chatter between the Humvees, helicopters, and command was taken from actual radio transmissions made during the Battle.

Regrettably, the film Black Hawk Down did not show the role of Malaysia and Pakistan Forces in Somalia. When U.S. troops were trapped in the center of Mogadishu, it was the Seventh Frontier Force Regiment of the Pakistan Army that went in to help them get out. When it is all said and done, at least 18 American soldiers were killed and thousands of Somali were killed.  President Clinton pulled U.S. military Forces out of the country. He justified the thousands killed with this statement:

When people kill us, they should be killed in great numbers.

As a result of U.S. forces pulling out, Somali is still a war-torn country and Mogadishu is still one of the most dangerous cities in the world: a hotbed of insurgents and a hide out for terrorists. But, controversially many considered this a failed mission. This film pays tribute to the spirit of those brave young men who went into a country and culture that they knew next to nothing about and risked and loss their lives. They followed orders and remained courageous and loyal to each of their brothers in arms.

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To read more posts in the colours Blogathon, please use the link below:

https://thoughtsallsorts.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/its-a-colourful-day-a-colourful-blogathon-day/

 

References Links:

http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/153561

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hawk_Down_(book)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265086/

 

Third Ingrid Bergman Blogathon: Cactus Flower (1969)

In 1938, she was like no other actress in Hollywood.  She came to Hollywood already a film star in Sweden.  She made six Swedish films before David O. Selznick wanted to her to star in the remake of one those Swedish films, Intermezzo (1939). At first she refused because she did not like his terms. However, he changed the terms and offered again. With a better contract, she agreed to star in the American version that movie. However, Hollywood, being Hollywood, wanted to personally remake Bergman too. They immediately sent her instructions/demands. Again, she surprised them when she refused to have her teeth fixed, shave her eyebrows or change her German sounding name.

She was a healthy, natural beauty who preferred to not wear makeup except lightly, for work or special events. She was a professional when it came to work. She was never late or required special treatment while making her movies.  When she signed a contract, she never renegotiated for more money because the movie became more profitable than originally planned. For ten years, she was successful and well respected by her peers and the public.  She starred in such classics as Gaslight (1944); For Whom The Bells Toll (1943); The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945); Notorious (1946); Casablanca (1942); Spellbound (1945); Joan of Arc (1948) ….

Yet in 1950, she left Hollywood in the whirlwind of scandal.  She went from being one of the most respected actresses in Hollywood to the most despicable, at least in the eyes of public opinion. The “witch hunt” even went so far that a senator from Colorado claimed Ingrid Bergman as “a powerful influence for evil.”  Of course, she was Blacklisted and could not find work in Hollywood after that.

What did she do to deserve such a hateful public outcry?

She left her husband and daughter in the states, to go make a movie in Italy.  Roberto Rossellini was the director of her latest film, Stromboli (1950). Both, actress and director, were married to other people when they began their affair.  Then, she became pregnant; and, declared her love for Rossellini and refused to go back to her husband.  It didn’t matter to the public that they each had been separated from their spouses long before they met.

In 1956, she made her first comeback American movie, Anastasia.  Although this was an American film, it was made in England.  It was nearly 20 years later, before Bergman would walk on a sound stage in Hollywood California again. In 1969, the year of flower power, the sexual revolution, hippies, and Vietnam, Bergman came back to a different America and Hollywood. At age 54, she would star in her first comedy.  She is in full bloom in this 1969 romantic comedy: Cactus Flower. She was quoted as saying:

I always wanted to do comedies; but, nobody discovered this until my old age….they think all Swedes are like Greta Garbo.

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This movie’s premise uses the sexual revolution of the 60s as it’s backdrop for a comedy based on the complex relationships between the sexes. Comparing the strict sexual rules of the 50s to the slacked morales of the 60s and 70s is quite a jump in a cultural turn around. Much of this social change can be attributed to the FDA approving The Pill as a contraceptive in 1960.  For the first time in the history of women, we were given control of when, who, and where they wanted to have children. This equated to sexual freedom.

I had not seen this movie since 1969.  So, I rented it to refresh my memory. Surprisingly, enjoy the humor and one liner jokes.  The script is still witty and sharp. Also, the theme of the movie is still as relevant today as it was in 1969, since equality between the sexes continues to be debated today.

Some of The Other Actors

Walter Matthau is one of those actors with perfect comedic timing.  He has a dead pan delivery (like the straight man in a comedy act) that sounds authentic enough to make his one liners funny.  The amazing thing about this is he can be the finny straight man with any person in any scene. As I watched his hilarious performance in this movie, I realized how much I missed him in his other movies, especially the “grumpy old man” with Jack Lemmon.

Of course, it is a rare treat to see Bergman in a comedy. Who knew she could be so funny?  It is always wonderful to watch her in any movie at any age.  In this film, she plays a uptight, stern nurse in her 40s who is single; but, in love with her playboy boss.  Bergman always possesses that cinema magic with her on screen presence and stage performances. You literally cannot take your eyes off her.

Goldie Hawn was mostly known as Televison’s Rowen and Martin’s “it girl” who danced in her bikini with a ditzy blonde personal. It shocked many people at the time to learn that she shared the screen with the likes of Bergman. This is Goldie Hawn’s first feature in a big budget movie; and, she is so compelling as the booty call girlfriend she won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Bergman was nominated for Best actress but lost to Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brody.

Rick Lenz is an actor that mostly disappeared after this movie.  Too bad because he holds his own pretty well as the potential love interest behind Julian.  The whole time I watched his likable performance, I kept thinking of a young Jimmy Stewart.

Summary of the movie: Cactus Flower

A single dentist (Walter Matthau) who has an much younger girlfriend (Goldie Hawn) feels pressured to marry her. He has just one problem. In order to avoid commitment and marriage, he lied and told her that he is already married. After seeing each other for over a year, this young, idealistic girlfriend realizes she cannot continue the relationship; unless, he agrees to tell his wife the truth; then, they can get divorced so she and he, the dentist, can marry.

Despite the fact that this is a comedy, it begins with a very depressing subject, suicide. After Julian Winton (Matthau) misses their one year anniversary dinner, Toni (Hawn) decides to write Julian a letter explaining why she would rather kill herself then to continue living with constant disappointment and loneliness.

We see Toni coming out of her Greenwich Village flat, in her fluffy pink slippers and overcoat, to put a letter into the mail box. Once back in her flat, she slowly puts out the candles on the table set for two. After she sadly looks over the clean plates and unopened bottle of wine.  She goes to the gas stove and turns on the gas. She then proceeds to lie on her bed with her arms crossed, awaiting death.

Luckily, a neighbor, Igor Sullivan (Rick Lenz) comes out of his apartment into the hall smelling gas.  He locates that the origin of the smell which is coming out of Toni”s apartment.  He bangs on her door and gets no answer.  He climbs out on the fire escape and breaks into her apartment through a window.  He turns off the gas and opens the windows and doors, fanning the gas with his arms.  Seeing Toni unconscious on her bed, he tries to wake her up; but, she doesn’t respond. He performs CPR on her. When she comes too, she thinks it is Julian trying to kiss he. She gives Igor a passionate kiss. They have a sweet conversation as to why she is dating a married man.  Ironically, Toni claims it is because Julian is honest. He told her right away that he was married.  According to Toni, she has been lied too all her life. Julian was the first descent man that she has ever met.

When Julian gets Toni’s letter, he runs out of the office scares to death that he would find her dead. Of course, she is not.  But, Toni insists he quit his wife and marry her. Julian is so relieved she is alive and shocked that she would attempt suicide over him, he promises to get a divorce right away. Then, Toni insists that she meet the wife as part of her conditions.  She wants the wife to know that they would be supportive of her too. Like I said, Toni is a very idealistic young lady.

Julian has a dilemma.  Where can he find a woman to pretend to be his wife? A wife that he has been married too for over ten years? He could of course tell Toni the truth and risk losing her forever. Then again, is her emotional well being strong enough to accept the truth without her trying to harm herself?

His dental assistant and office manager is Stephanie Dickinson (Ingrid Bergman). She is extremely professional, competent and loyal; and, she is secretly in love with Julian. You probably know of a few women who match this description from the work place.  Sometimes, they jokingly refer to themselves as the “Work wife” as opposed to “house wife.”

Julian explains to his moocher friend, Harvey Greenfield (Jack Weston), why he likes Nurse/Miss Dickinson:

She is like a wife. A good wife, devoted, competent, takes care of everything for me during the day. And at night, she goes home, to her home. And I go home with no problems or cares, to my girl. My life is arranged the way I like it.

The title Catcus Flower is symbolic of Nurse Dickinson.  On the outside, she is sharpe, prickly and surviving.  But, as the years go by, there is a beautiful flower inside that is ready to bloom. You can actually see this in two different photographic of her taking care if this office plant.

Of course, Julian is going to ask Miss Dickinson out for a drink; so, he can ask her to lie and pretend to be his wife.  After working for him for over ten years, he has never asked her out for anything after work.  It is a mad guess to figure out what must have been going on in her love sick mind when he actually suggests they have a few drinks.

There are many funny one liners in this movie, I could barely keep up. In other words, I laughed a lot and the movie didn’t get dragged down by over sentimentality like many Romantic comedies. This comedy is so good that Adam Sandler did a remake in 2011,  Just Go With It, with Jennifer Anniston playing Bergman’ s role.

To give you an idea of a Bergman one liner, when she comes into the patient’s room to double check dental instruments and secure the body cover up on patient, Harvey Greenfield, he says to her:

“Hey! I was reading the other day about a dentist in New Jersey who had topless nurses.”  As she adjusts his cover up, she says, ” I didn’t know you were interested in reading.”

You can image how these lies begin to unravel into bigger lies which makes this movie a great comedy. Because, Nurse Dickinson will attempt to help Julian secure Toni’s love. I hope if you haven’t seen this Bergman comedy, you don’t miss a chance to see it. I just like to add a comment about Goldie Hawn. She wrote her autobiography titled: A Lotus Grows in Mud. I just thought it was meaningful that she picked another flower that will only bloom once it has beaten the odds of the struggle and surviving. This certainly speaks volumes for anyone who has gone though horrendous life events and out stronger and better from it.  This quote from the book explains it succinctly:

The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one”.[1]

Ingrid Bergman’s last movie was made for television on the life of Israeli Prime Minister, Goldie Mier. Bergman died of breast cancer on her birthday, August 29th in 1982. She had just turned 67 years old. Without question, she left us far too soon. Thankfully, she also left us with over 50 films of her life work that will inspire actresses and women in general to be strong, work hard and to be true to themselves.

Ingrid Bergman, is honored in a Blogathon which is hosted by Virginie Pronvost of The Wonderful World of Cinema.  I would like to thank Virginie for the invitation to submit my post with various other excellent bloggers who are focused on a variety of Bergman’s movies. To read more posts about Bergman and her work, please use the link below.

https://thewonderfulworldofcinema.wordpress.com/2017/08/27/the-3rd-wonderful-ingrid-bergman-blogathon-is-here/

 

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Link References

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Lotus_Grows_in_the_Mud

http://www.alternet.org/story/153969/how_the_sexual_revolution_changed_america_forever

http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/multimedia/video/2008/wallace/allen_steve_t.html

 

 

 

 

Hitchcock: Under “Suspicion” (1941) The Hitchcock Blogathon

It must have been an unusual life for Mrs. Hitchcock being married to a creative Filmmaker like “Hitch.”  If you can judge by her reaction in this picture, she never had a dull moment; but, perhaps, she had a lot of fun surprises.  Even in the best of marriages, there must be moments of doubt concerning the subject of trust. How can you tell if someone is telling you the truth or lying to you?  What if your intellect tells you they are lying, especially if the evidence points to them lying; yet, they vehemently deny it.

It is a is an extremely difficult situation on any level but more so when you love the lying suspect with your whole heart and soul. God help those who possess an analytical mind and put it in practice with something akin to an old Irish idiom: Don’t believe anything you hear and only half what you see!  The Master Director of mystery films and thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock, provides these questions and situations to ponder as we watch his 1941 film, Suspicion.

In this Hitchcock film, the person possibly lying is none other than the debonair, charismatic Cary Grant (Johnnie Aysgarth).  The person desperately wanting to believe his lies is the lovely, slightly naive Joan Fontaine (Lina Mclaidlaw Aysgarth), his wife.

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Lina, who lacks confidence in herself as an attractive woman along with being painfully shy, accidentally meets a man too good to be true. She finds herself falling madly in love. This begins as handsome Johnnie shows up in her first class train compartment with his third class train ticket. She never met anyone like him before.

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This is the first film out of three Hitchcock films that Grant plays the lead. According to Grant, it was going to be the last movie too.  He didn’t like how his character was handled; and, he thought Hitch gave more attention to Fontaine.  She won an academy award for her performance.  This picture was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture too.

 

I love the way this movie starts with a pitch black screen. Then, you hear a train whistle.  Then, the audience hears Grant’s voice apologizing for kicking a leg.  You hear him say, I didn’t mean to hurt you.  Nothing like a bit of foreshadowing by Hitchcock.  It is dark because the train is going through a tunnel; but, once the train is through it, the light reveals a bookish, nerdy kind of young lady wearing glasses (Lina) sitting alone in a compartment. She is staring, in amazement, at the uncouthness of Cary Grant (Johnnie). This sets the mood for this entire movie…The audience is in the dark and never sure what to believe.

 

This is their first meeting.  The porter checks the tickets and discovers Johnnie (Grant) has a third class ticket; yet, he is in a first class compartment.  He didn’t have enough money to upgrade his ticket.  He asks book girl if she has any extra change.  Again, her jaw drops.  As she fumbles for some money, he sees a postage stamp in her hand.  He takes it and gives it to the porter and says to him: it is legal tender. Now, go and mail a letter.

Later, he sees Lina atop a nervous horse at an equestrian event.  When her horse rears up on its hind legs, she skillfully reins him in; and, he settles down. She is clearly enjoying her ride upon this spirited horse. Johnnie can hardly believe it is the same girl on the train.  He asks his lady companions who she is. They know her and are a bit negative in their comments of her.  You know how jealous some women can be. The ladies decides to introduce Johnnie to her with a visit.  They ask her to join them for Sunday church services.

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Lina meets Johnnie and his groupies for church.  As she is about to go in, Johnnie holds her back.  He asks, You really don’t want to go to Church service? Do you?  Lina tries to pull away, Johnnie is stronger. He tells her they will toss a coin and decide whether to go inside with the others. He tosses a coin.  Head or tails, you just know that he will win. When the rest of the group notices the two missing, they look back but see nothing.

Next, we see another Hitchcock foreshadowing. There is a couple, in the distance, on a hill. They are physically struggling against one another. At first, I thought he was going to toss her over a cliff.  As the camera comes closer, we can see it is Johnnie and Lina. Lina can’t shake him off her. Then, Johnnie says, Why are you fighting me?  Did you think I was going to kiss you?  Lina replies: Yes! Why else would you try to put your arms around me.  Johnnie said he was trying to fix her hair. You know this is total nonsense.  Then, he plays with her hair and puts it in the most ridiculous styles. Which is actually pretty funny.

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Later, when they reach her house, they overhear through an open window, Lina’s mother and father talking about her being a spinster and how her father must leave her a fortune to live on. You can see the hurt in Lina’s face. As she turns away to leave, she sees Johnnie looking over her shoulder. She does not hesitate.  She wraps her arms around his neck and  passionately kisses him, full mouth. Then, she runs into the house.

Of course she cannot help herself. He has given her more attention, in the space of an hour, than she had ever had in her whole life from the opposite sex.  Besides, he is charming, witty, and so visually pleasing to the eyes. He convinces her that he has noted her peculiarities, and what’s more, he really likes how her uniqueness is packaged.  Really, what’s not to love? But, is he telling the truth?

Throughout this movie, we ask ourselves these questions, just like the heroine, Lina.  We really want Johnnie to be honest with her because they are both so likable and sweetly flawed. Does she see warning signs along the way that Johnnie may not be totally honest with her? Is he a pure selfish cad? Or is he a newbie with this whole “trust thing” and he’s just bumbling along?  Of course, she sees the signs. Like many people in love, she believes her mate, Cary Johnnie; even though, he has no job (most playboys/players do not have a job); and, he has acquired massive gambling debits. However, he appears to be so in love with Lina; that he promises to stop gambling and to get a job.

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Besides, Johnnie thinks Lina’s rich Daddy, General Mclaidlaw (Cecil Hardwicke) will give them an expensive wedding gift…Maybe a house or a lump sum of money?  With this in mind, they go on an expensive honeymoon. Since his investments seem to be going no where, Johnnie gets a job from his cousin, Melbeck  However, money turns up missing.  He tells Johnnie if he replaces the money, he will not call the police.  Desperate, Johnnie takes the wedding gift (two antique, heirloom chairs) from his father-in-law and sells them. Lina finds out and is so upset that Johnnie brings the chairs back.

 

When the General dies, the only inheritance he left Lina was his portrait.  Johnnie’s finances are drying up. Then, Johnnie’s best mate, dear amicable, Beaky (Nigel Bruce) shows up to invest in Johnnie’s failed financial adventure in land development.  Lina likes Beaky; and, she tries to talk him out of investing.  When Johnnie finds out she tries to talk Beaky out of investing, he warns her to stay out of his business. Later, he tells her he called off the deal with Beaky.  Instead, he travels with Beaky to London and from there Beaky travels alone to Paris for a business deal.

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However, during these series of unlucky financial events, Lina begins to feel ill most of the time.  A neighbor who writes murder mysteries told her that Johnnie was asking her questions about which poisons are undetectable. Johnnie insists on bringing her a glass of milk before bedtime. Hitchcock brilliantly films Grant carrying the glass of milk up the stairs, in the shadows, with web like shapes running throughout the scene…Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive (Sir Walter Scott).

Then tragedy strikes. Beaky turns up dead in Paris, and no one can find the money he bought with him for the business deal. Lina begins to do more than suspect her lovely, charming husband. She now fears him. With everyone around her is telling her not to trust him, Johnnie vehemently claims his love for her and he is telling her the truth. He demands that she should believe him. He is ready to leave if she wishes it; but, he will be heartbroken for the rest of his life if he isn’t loved by her anymore. Lina wants to leave and visit her mother.  Johnnie angrily insists that he drive her. This isn’t good.

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Of course, I  not going to tell you how it ends.  You have to enjoy it for yourself. However, I will tell you that in the book, Before The Fact (1932), the author, Frances Ike, made Johnnie’s character much more sinister.  He even had a baby with the maid. In the British version of this movie, Lina is indeed murdered by Johnnie. Luckily, for us, this film is in the capable hands of Hitchcock. The creative Mr Hitchcock has a surprise for his audience in this version.  Also, like Stan Lee in the Marvel comics, he always does a cameo.  Look for him in the scene. It’s about 45 minutes into the movie.  He is mailing a letter at the village post office.   Also, people claims he pulled a horse in front of the camera just before Grant is seen at the equestrian event. I hope you watch it or watch it again.  It truly is a great classic.

This is an entry for The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon hosted by Maddie Loves Classic Films.  You can read other posts on Hitchcock film using the following link:

https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2017/08/05/the-alfred-hitchcock-blogathon-day-2/#like-6815

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En Pointe: Blogathon of Ballet: Rimky-Koravok’s Scheheazade

Before the days of DVRs, Wifi, Fire sticks, Hulu and Netflix, and so on…movie choices on television were based on the decisions of big networks or a local broadcasting affiliates.  If you said “Binge watching” in the 60s, most people would have thought you meant that you somehow medically cared for an alcoholic. In other words, watching your favorite movie or show was not as easy as a pushing a few keys on your remote control.

Back in the late 60s, to find my favorite movie, I scanned the TV guide or the Marquee supplement of the Sunday newspaper. Every week, I would skim the television listings looking for one long word: Scheherazade. If I found it, I usually circled it and noted the time and channel.  If that movie came on at 1:00 am, the last show of night, I would wake up out of a dead sleep in order to sneak into the living room to watch it.  I turned the volume dial down so low that I had to almost put my ear on the TV speaker to hear it.  If my mother heard me out of bed, there would be hell to pay.  This is as close to binge watching as you could get in the 1960s.

Was that movie worth all that work plotting and sneaking around? Yes, Song of Scheherazade (1947) was absolutely worth it.  It was my first exposure to classical music and the world of ballet. It will always have a special place in my heart because it was one of my personal gateways to wonderful, exotic worlds. This film is based on an experience of one of the greatest Russian composers of all time Nickolai Rimsky-Korvakov.  He wrote a symphony based on one of the greatest storytellers of all time, Scheherazade.  Twenty four-year old Nikolai (Nicki) travelled around the world on a Russian clipper ship for three years (1863-1866).  When he was not working and off duty for the Imperial Russian Navy, he would compose music. His compositions were influenced by the diverse music and customs of the foreign countries he visited on this long voyage. This is only thing that is true in the Hollywood movie, Song of Scheherazade, concerning any aspect of Korvakov’s life in the navy.

 

The story of Scheherazade is worth mentioning, especially if you are not familiar with her tale. She was one of the many brides of a Sultan. Because, one of his wives, who he dearly loved, betrayed him and ran away with another, he decided to protect himself from heartbreak and disloyalty. Each night, he would consummate his marriage with one of his wives; and then, he would have her executed the following morning.

When it was Scheherazade’s turn to consummate their marriage, she devised a plan to not only save herself but all the other wives too. She held the Sultan spellbound with these fantastic stories about a thief named Aladdin, a heroic sailor named Sinbad and many others who had their own adventures and loves.  She would draw these stories out so when the morning came, her story was not finished.  The Sultan was so captivated by the story, he had to know how it would end. So each morning, he would tell the executioner to come back tomorrow morning. This continued for 1001 nights.  Until, the Sultan realized how much he loved Scheherazade and stopped all executions of his wives.

 

 

The Song of Scheherazade (1947): Summary

It was during a heat wave (116 degrees with no wind or breeze) in 1865, that a Russian clipper ship asked for a tow into the Spanish port of Morocco; as a result, the sailors were given two-day shore leave. Before they could be “cut loose” on the town, they had to undergo an inspection and lecture by their stern, cigar smoking and shirtless Captain Vladimir Grigorovich (Brian Donlevy).  We learn one of the sailors is a spoiled Prince (Phillip Reed).  He loves to carry an illegal bull whip on his person.  Another sailor is “Nicki” Korvakov ( Jean Pierre Aumont).  He is an aristocrat who is in the constant mode of composing operas. French actor, Aumont is perfect as the wide-eyed, innocent Russian musical genius.  His accent is definitely French but not too thick. You soon forget it is supposed to be a Russian accent. The English he speaks just gives his words an exotic European sound.

 

When the sailors are released to start their shore leave, Nicki locates his friend: the ship’s doctor, Dovctor Klim (Charles Kullmann: an Metropolitan opera singer).  Together they search the town looking for a piano for Nicki to play.  They wanted to hear how his newest composition sounded on an instrument.  Looking through the windows of upscale homes, they find a Piano.

I guess the plan is since Nicki is an aristocrat and a musician, the homeowner would allow these two sailors in their home to pound away on their expensive piano. Once they spy a piano through a window, they excitedly bang on the door. As they push pass the servants, they assure them that they come to only check out the piano, nearly knocking them down.  They relax as soon as Nicki begins to play. It is a beautiful melody that is heard by the mistress of the house, Madame de Talavera (Eve Arden). The Madame is a noble Spanish colonists living in Morocco.  She comes into to parlor from the outside to find two strange Russian sailors: one is playing the piano and the another one is studying the music sheets. She instantly enjoys the music. However, she wants to know who these young men are and interrupts the music.   When Nicki introduces himself, she says, “What a long name. Important people have long names.”  Arden supplies much of the comic relief in this film. She is very funny as the confused, gambling, exaggerating, widowed mother with one daughter. Arden is charming, and, her comedic timing is perfect.

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During the making of this movie, the codes of decency were strictly enforced. It required that all costumes be approved three days before filming.  Strangely, they had no problem with any garments; but, they had a lot to say about Arden’s blunging necklines.  De Tralavera’s daughter, Cara (Yvonne De Carlo), is not home to be introduced to these gentlemen. Finally, Doctor Klim uses his operatic voice to sing Nicki’s new song. This is the first song of the film.  The household enthusiastically applauds when the song ends.It is a success. Madame de Travers invites the young men to come back in hopes she can introduce them to her daughter, Cara.  Nicki and his friend are so happy with the song, they rush back to the ship to work the  on the opera some more.  However, their Captain stops them and orders them off the ship.  He wants them to enjoy their two-day leave.  Who knows when another would be feasible? He orders them to find a club for some drinks, some music and hopefully some women.

 

Nicki  finds himself in such a club, sitting alone at a table, working hard on his music.  None of his fellow crew members are there. Finally, the music changes and a beautiful Moroccan woman begins her dance on a small stage.  All activities stops and all eyes, including Nicki’s, is on this enchantress. He is bewitched by the dance and beauty of this woman (Yvonne De Carlo). Nicki does not know this is the daughter of Madame de Tralavera, Cara.  Most people remember De Carlo as TV character, Lillie, the wife of Hermann Munster on a hit show called The Munsters.  She had a long movie career before television.

 

As her performance ends, she walks through the crowd for donations. When she reaches Nicki, he sees a group of sailors loudly making their entrance into the club behind her.  Nicki tugs on her hand to sit next to him as he begs her to please play along.  He didn’t want any of his peers to report to his Captain or tease him in front of their captain about being alone while working on his music in a crowded club. The Prince sees him and is curious about the lovely woman with him. He walks over to investigate.

Nicki says they were just leaving for one of the rooms upstairs (a place to become more intimate with a working girl). Nicki leaves to pay for their accommodations. Cara walks ahead and enters one of the rooms.  She is surprised when she sees the Prince waiting for her.  He assures her that she would rather his company than Nicki’s. Then, he boldly removes her face scarf. He realizes that she is not oriental. Everything on her face is makeup.  She angrily replaces her covering as Nicki enters the room.  The two men come to near blows. Finally, Nicki asks Cara to choose.  Before she chooses, the Prince concedes to leave; since, he did not want the humiliation of her choosing Nicki over him.  As the Prince leaves, Cara tells him she would have chosen Nicki.

Once the Prince left, Nicki tells Cara to eat; and, she could leave whenever she wished to. He immediately starts working on his music. Cara looks confused; but, persuades him to not let her eat alone.  He joins her; and, they talk.  He jokes with her about how a lovely girl like her could end up in a place like this. He guesses that she was born with a silver spoon and all the wealth of her family was lost.  Now, she works here to survive.  She agrees that “his story” is true.  He is curious how she manages to keep her virtue and keep the company with men she “dates.” She explains that it depends on the type of man she is with.  She orders the right liquor and tells him fascinating stories to keep him entertained; until, they grow tired and fall asleep or leave.

Nicki realized that her story reminded him of the story of Scheherazade.  He asks her if she remembered the story.  As she recounts the tale, Nicki becomes inspired to write the storytelling music. Cara has quickly becomes his personal muse. Nicki is furiously back to work on the music; and, Cara is ignored and forgotten.  She quietly leaves with a hopelessly besotted look on her face.  The next day, Nicki will learn Cara’s true identity.  At this point, I hope you see this whole movie.  There is so much to see including De Carlo disguised as a Russian sailor, Donlevy doing the best cigarette trick ever seen on film, and the sad good-bye to Nicki.  Don’t fret, this is the golden age of Hollywood.  There will be happy faces and warm fuzzy feelings to go around at the end.

Besides, the ballet and the music, there is a lovely romance story and a sub plot of the Prince completely destroying what little wealth the Tralavera family has left.  The are various dances besides the ballet at the end.  There are waltzes and Russian folk dancing too. The mix of dance and music are a hypnotic enough on their own; but, to add visual adventures of a fun storyline transforms this film into pure aesthetic joy.

 

This post was written as part of an entry for the En Pointe: The Ballet Blogathon hosted by Christina Wehner and Love Letters to Old Hollywood.

Please use the links below to read more entries in this Blogathon:

https://christinawehner.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/en-pointe-the-ballet-blogathon-begins-today/

OR

https://loveletterstooldhollywood.blogspot.com/2017/07/en-pointe-ballet-blogathon-is-coming-up.html

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References:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Nikolai_Rimsky-Korsakov

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039852/fullcredits