Saturday, June 29, 2013

You're Invited! Joan Crawford's July 4th House Party

Say what you want about our Joan, she knows how to throw a party.

When it comes to being a hostess, Joan leaves nothing to chance. And because she's a patriotic gal, she wouldn't dream of letting Independence Day go by without a swell shindig at her place with all of her good friends (and you, too, of course!).

So, welcome to Joan's home!

Please make sure you remove your shoes....

First: Getting the house ready.
As we all know, Joan loves a clean house and in order to be party-ready she makes sure every inch of her gracious home is spic and span and ready for company.
Joan always adds a personal touch
Making sure the tennis court looks just right
The pool is looking fine
But just in case, she walks the perimeter for one last inspection
Next: Getting herself ready is both a mental and physical task.
Joan never appears less than perfect and will wear many outfits and hairstyles during her party. She is a star and it is expected of her!
This is serious business
Just in case Maurice Chevalier shows up
Joan finds the perfect outfit to welcome her friends to her July 4th party!

Next: The Guest List
Good friends make for a swell party.
Joan labored over her guest list

"Everyone into the pool!"

Joan and buddy Clark Gable enjoy a swim
Claudette Colbert looks as though she is having a good time
Ex-hubby Franchot Tone showed up with fireworks on his mind
Other ex-hubby Doug Fairbanks, Jr. also showed up, but he only had
the pool in mind. Joan always stayed friends with her exes.
Joan and dear friend William Haines share a lovely moment

Next: Food and Refreshments
It is important to make sure your guests are never hungry or thirsty.
Joan did a lot of the cooking herself - what a gal!

Joan keeps a watchful eye on director Clarence Brown as he cuts the cake
Joan loves to serve her guests

Joan believed in keeping her guests refreshed
For obvious reasons, Joan NEVER serves hot dogs at her parties
Because it is the 4th of July, Joan makes sure there are special fireworks for her guests.

Joan had big things in mind. Her party had to be spectacular.

This was a little nerve-wracking

Oops! That wasn't supposed to happen!

But Joan was game. She hopped right back on her rocket, sailed across
the sky and wished all of her guests a Happy Independence Day!

Wishing you all a glorious 4th!

p.s. A girl needs a little refresher after playing hostess all day! Drink up, Joannie. You earned it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What's Cooking? Great Cinema Cooking Scenes

I hate to cook. I love the idea of cooking, but I confess, my oven is used for storage and I'd be lost without a microwave.
Brooks cooks: Do you honestly
think Louise knew her way around the kitchen?
But since I love to eat, I really do appreciate the skill and creativity that tales place in the kitchen. And since my Mom's best dish was Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (my Mom was many wonderful things, but she passed the I-can't-cook gene to me), I am always fascinated by the culinary artistry displayed by those who are blessed with the talent. Just like Mickey Mantle was at home on the ball field and Secretariat was in his element in the home stretch, there are those whose true medium is food. Since I didn't get to see this close up and personal at home (see the macaroni & cheese comment above), I always get a kick out of a good cooking scene in the movies. Here are a few of my favorites.

Christmas in Connecticut

Barbara Stanwyck finds her inner domestic goddess and flips those flapjacks!

The Gold Rush

Charlie Chaplin makes do with the ingredients at hand and proves that it is all in the presentation.

Babette's Feast

A repressed woman whose life has known little pleasure wins a prize and spends it all on a luscious, sensuous banquet that is a celebration of food.


Food as delicious and delightful or immoral and sinful? I vote for yummy!

Julie and Julia

2 women find their creative voice in the kitchen and make us laugh and drool along the way.


A rat with the soul of James Beard.

Big Night

This is my favorite "foodie" movie. I love the relationship between Primo & Segundo, the fact that the great Louis Prima was the cause for such excitement and I will never, ever order the risotto with pasta! A loving testament to food, love and family.

Did I miss any of your favorite foodie film moments?

p.s. My Mom did teach me that everything I need to know can be found at the movies♥

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ann Dvorak Bests Bette Davis Again (and she's "just a housewife")

Housewife (1934)

Sadly, this advertisement is more interesting than the film. "Housewife," a Warner Brothers factory product of 1934, is pretty much a stinker (but not, as Bette Davis referred to it years later, "a horror"). Bette probably hated it because her part, as the vampish bachelor-career girl, was about as cliched as they come. And Ann Dvorak, once again, got the better role. If you remember, Ann also got the plum role of bored and coked up socialite Vivian Revere in 1932's "Three on a Match" and pretty much acted everyone in the film (including Davis, Joan Blondell and Humphrey Bogart) off the screen.

So why bother with "Housewife"? It is one of the few films where Ann Dvorak gets to shine and shine she does (brighter than poor Bette, who is all big eyes and carnal grins). Ann plays Nan Reynolds, wife of underachiever Bill Reynolds (George Brent, who always looks as though he has a short man's head on a tall man's body). Bill is a rather meek and passive office manager at an advertising firm. Nan, efficient home engineer that she is, manages to make do on his meager salary and makes a comfy home for Bill and son Buddy (played by an extremely annoying child actor by the name of Ronnie Cosby). 
the happy home of the housewife before the home-wrecker shows up
Nan is supportive of Bill, always encouraging him and helping him with new ideas. She knows he can do better, but Bill shows a stunning lack of ambition. Don Draper he is not!
Meek Man/Mad Man
A brash and sexy copywriter named Pat Berkeley (Bette Davis) shows up one day at Bill's firm and sets his world on fire. He and Nan and Pat were friends back at school. Pat might have felt a little hurt that Bill chose Nan over her, but now, Pat is a successful career girl and Bill is the boss's punching bag. Pat, who is a real go-getter, makes it her mission to go get Bill.
Pat makes goo-goo eyes at Bill
Meanwhile, Nan has a bright idea, encouraging Bill to pinch a client from his boss and start his own firm. Amazingly, it works, and now Bill is the big cheese and he has brought that little rat, Pat, along to help him. Not only does she help him in business, she helps herself to him after hours.
Nan knows those "honey, I have to work late again" calls are bunk
With Bill's financial success, Nan is running a much more prosperous household, but she is miserable. She must deal with both Bill's blatant affair with Pat as well as his lack of attention to her, his home and his son. She maintains her dignity with a capital "D." Nan married for life and was not going to bow down to that little vamp-tramp. After all, she knows Bill never had an original thought that was born above his waist, and even those thoughts didn't last long. Bill, hot for Pat and angry that Nan won't grant him his divorce, leaves their home in a snit and - EEK! - runs over little Buddy. Her son's life hanging by a thread, Nan agrees to a divorce. 

Buddy slowly heals and Bill feels more and more like a heel with every passing day. Finally, at the court testimony for her divorce, Nan shows herself to still be in love with Bill and Bill just goes back to being that pile of mush that he was before Pat showed up. Cue Pat to slink into the sunset.

Pretty awful, no? Aside from being a modern woman's nightmare and Warners' nightmare wasting Bette Davis after "Of Human Bondage," this film does have a few things to offer:

1. Ann Dvorak

For a brief moment, Ann Dvorak out-juiced Bette Davis at Warner Brothers, which meant that they thought she had just as much star power, ability and appeal as Davis. Sadly, it was a career that never fulfilled its promise. Ann Dvorak was not as driven or determined as Bette Davis (few were or are), and her star quickly faded. She is a rare treat, and she can be well savored here.

2. Orry-Kelly

There are some lovely dresses and gowns by Orry-Kelly, that are always a pleasure to watch. Those Warner gals had some swanky wardrobes!

3. Bette Davis

We all know she hated these kind of parts, but she had to serve her apprenticeship and man, was she a cutie!

So, this was really just an excuse to spend some time with Ann Dvorak in more than a supporting  or trivial part. For those who are Ann enthusiasts, a long-awaited biography of her will be published in November. The book, by Christina Rice, is titled "Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel."
I've pre-ordered mine!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Liebster Award (with a twist): Comment Required

Gwen, the amazing author of Movies, Silently has generously awarded me a Liebster Award!
Joe, go in and buy some film for the camera and
take a picture of me and my award!
Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:
1. List 11 facts about yourself
2. Answer 11 questions posed by the blog who awarded you the Liebster
3. Create 11 questions for the blogs you will pass the Liebster on to
4. Nominate 11 more blogs for the Liebster award.
11 Facts About Me

1. I am left-handed.

2. If you love me, you will buy me a bottle of Cristal champagne.
3. My current favorite perfume is Living Colorfully by Kate Spade.
4. There can never be too many baguette diamonds.
5. My favorite female singer is Ella Fitzgerald.

6. I hate getting up in the morning (why does the bed always feel so good when you have to get up?).
7. The Keurig coffee maker has dramatically improved my quality of life.
8. I don't Tweet. I won't Tweet.
9. I always like the bad boys.

10. I am nuts for BBC America series Black Orphan, Copper & Ripper Street.
11. I rarely follow the rules exactly as written.

Gwen's  11 questions:
1. What is one of your favorite “show, don’t tell” movie moments? You know, moments that really symbolize the characters, mood or setting without dialogue or narration.
The final scene of “Cinema Paradiso” : no words are necessary.

2. Name five of your favorite film scores.
Lawrence of Arabia: Maurice Jarre
Love me Tonight : Rodgers & Hart
Gigi: Lerner & Lowe

3. What was your favorite childhood game?
Childhood covers such a long period of time, but I'll go with Monopoly: I always wanted to be the one with Boardwalk & Park Place (plus I loved the diamond ring in between).

4. What really weird food did you like as a kid?
My favorite sandwich was peanut butter and butter. There can never be too much butter (or cholesterol)!

5. What decade of the 20th century exemplifies coolness to you?
The 1960s beyond all doubt.

6. Name three underrated movies/books/albums that you think everyone should see/read/listen to. (Choose three of the same or mix and match!)
The White Hotel by D.M. Thomas
Avalon (2001)
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)

7. What music would you like to have played every time you enter a room?
Toss up between Elvis Presley singing "Hard Headed Woman" or Jerry Lee Lewis singing "Whole Lotta Shakin Goin' On."

8. What is your favorite thing to cook?
The books. My oven is storage space.

9. The store you lose yourself in is ________.
Anthropologie - truly irresistible.

10. How do you eat Oreos? (Or the #1 goodie in your country if you are not in the U.S.)
Split, lick and devour.

11. How did you decide on the name of your blog?
I adore Norma Desmond and how she was devoted to all of us wonderful people out there in the dark. I thank my lucky (silver screen) stars every day!

Now, as you already know, I never quite follow all directions as written, so here's the twist:

Instead of composing 11 questions for 11 bloggers, I am going to ask you to tell me something about yourself that you are just dying to disclose and I am just longing to know (movie-related or otherwise).

And, instead of nominating 11 bloggers, I am going to ask you all to swing over to the Classic Movie Blog Association website and check out the best movie blogs on the web. They are all award winning! Just click HERE and get blissfully lost in the topics you love best.