Hello everyone. I’ve thought of something that I think will be quite fun. I’ve decided to write a post where I respond to your classic film questions.
Ever wondered what I think about a certain classic? Wondering what my favourite films are in different genres? Are you a classic film newbie who is looking for recommendations of classic era films, directors and actors?
Whatever the classic film question is, you go right ahead and ask me!
I will put together another post answering all your questions. I thought this would be a fun way for you all to get to know a bit more about my classic film tastes and opinions.
One of my favourite films is The Remains Of The Day (1993). I have always thought this would have made a terrific 1940’s/1950’s romantic drama. I have decided to pick this film to reimagine next.
The film takes place in a British mansion. We follow the lives of the servants and master living in that house. The film focuses mainly on the unspoken love and attraction developing between the repressed butler, Mr. Stevens, and the younger housekeeper, Miss Kenton. It is a deeply moving and frustrating portrayal of love, longing, repression, class division and the horrors of war.
I would choose Anthony Asquith as the director. He was one of the most gifted British directors working during the classic film era. He directed several British classics including The Browning Version, The Winslow Boy and Pygmalion. His debut film was Shooting Stars, which is my favourite Silent film.
I picked Asquith because he really knew how to focus on the characters. His films also just let the actors do their thing on screen, which is precisely what is needed with this particular story.
I thought of Michael Redgrave for the role of Mr. Stevens. In The Browning Version he more than proved that he could do emotional repression so well. I think he would have been perfect as the repressed man who desperately wants to acknowledge his love, but who doesn’t know how to even begin to do so.
Michael Redgrave was a commanding screen presence, and I’ve no doubt that he would have convinced as the butler in charge of his staff, and would also have convinced as a dignified and distant man struggling with his emotions and desires.
Greer Garson was my first and only choice for the role of the housekeeper, Miss Sarah Kenton. I think that Greer would have been perfect in this role because she could play outgoing, strong, capable and bubbly characters so well. I can imagine no other actress from this era in this role.
I think she would have been terrific in scenes just featuring Miss Kenton and Mr. Stevens (such as the book scene, the scene where she is crying, or the scene in the garden where she teases him about his guilty smile).
I thought of the seriously underrated Eric Portman for the role of Mr. Benn, a former colleague of Miss Kenton’s, who falls in love with her when he meets her again some years after they worked together.
Eric always convinced as down to earth, worldly, and blunt screen characters. I think he would have been terrific in the role of the man who is able to express his feelings and desires to the woman he loves.
I thought of Felix Aylmer for the role of Mr. Steven’s father. Felix did stern and dignified so well.
I think he would have been perfect as the old butler, whose devotion to his duty means that he doesn’t think of himself at all, even when he is seriously ill. I also think he and Michael would have worked very well together in the scenes where Stevens and his father talk with each other, and in the moments where we see how complicated and strained their relationship is.
I thought of Robert Donat for the role of Lord Darlington. I think he would have been able to convey that his character is a decent man who does what he does to try and prevent another war, but who is also terribly naive and misled in believing that the Nazis can be trusted.
Robert was someone who oozed decency, and I think that could have been used to good effect here. I think he would also have been good in the scenes where Lord Darlington becomes introspective and filled with regret and doubt.
What do you think of these casting choices? Which actors would you have loved to have seen play these characters?
Michaela over at Love Letters To Old Hollywood is hosting this blogathon to mark the centenary of Rita Hayworth’s birth. Be sure to visit her site to read all of the entries, I can’t wait to read them all myself.
I was so happy when I saw Michaela announce this blogathon. I am such a huge fan of Rita Hayworth, and I was absolutely delighted to see her being honoured by a blogathon.
I am in awe at how talented Rita was. I think it’s great that she was able to get the opportunity to show off her acting and dancing skills in her films.
Seeing Rita on screen makes me smile and feel happy. She has such a positive aura about her and you can detect it. She always seemed so bubbly, energetic and happy.
I first became a fan of Rita when I saw her in the film Gilda. Her performance in that totally blew me away. She stole every single second of the film that she appeared in. I loved how she played the character and made her so much more than a mere object of male desire. Gilda is a complicated and multi-faceted woman and Rita conveys that personality so well to us.
Rita was such a talented, vibrant, beautiful and funny woman. She was also someone who was full of life and that clearly shows on screen. When Rita comes on that screen she draws you in, this means that you can’t take your eyes off her for even a second when she is in a scene. Rita had that mystical and enchanting glow about her, the very same glow that the likes of Clara Bow, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Louise Brooks also all had.
Not only was Rita a very talented film actress, but she was also one of the most amazing dancers too.
In my opinion she is also the only female dance partner who was ever able to match the speed and dance ability of the great Fred Astaire on screen.
Fred worked alongside many talented female dancers throughout his career, but I firmly believe that in Rita Hayworth he found his perfect dancing partner. Rita would star alongside Fred in You’ll Never Get Rich, and in You Were Never Lovelier. I think it’s a real shame that the pair didn’t make more films together.
I also feel a connection to Rita for a personal reason. Rita was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in the 1980’s, with the disease eventually taking her life in 1987. A few years ago my gran was diagnosed with mixed Dementia, which is a combination of Alzheimer’s and another type of Dementia. My gran has since died from this disease.
This is very difficult and upsetting for me to talk about. I know only too well from my personal experience how scared and confused Rita would have been when she was sadly struck down by this evil disease. I also know how distressing and frightening it would have been for her family and friends to see her suffer with that horror. It breaks my heart to know how Rita’s life ended. Some good came of Rita’s terrible diagnosis though due to the huge level of publicity around her diagnosis. Rita’s high profile case drew a great deal of international attention to the disease, her case also led to a huge increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research.
In 1985, Rita’s daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, set up The Rita Hayworth Gala, this is an Alzheimer’s benefit which is still held annually to this day. I like to think that Rita would have been very proud and moved to see how much good has been done in her name to try and help others suffering from this horrific disease.
Rita Hayworth was born in New York, on October 17th, 1918. Rita was of Spanish-American descent and she was the oldest of three children. Her birth name was Margarita Carmen Cansino. Her parents were the dancer Eduardo Cansino, and his wife, Volga Hayworth.
Rita’s parents had met when they were both working in the Ziegfeld Follies. Dancing and acting were in Rita’s blood, so it is really no surprise that she went right out and followed in her parents footsteps. Rita had equal amounts of talent as both an actress and a dancer, and she got to show us all just how talented she was in the many films that she made.
I think that the best way to honour Rita on her centenary is for us to discuss and recommend her film performances. I’ve picked a few films which I think highlight Rita’s talents as an actress and dancer. The following films are also all great favourites of mine, and I highly recommend them to anyone who hasn’t seen Rita in a film before.
Once I had seen Rita in this film, I just knew that I would have to try and see as many of her other films as I possibly could.
From her first scene (where she does that famous hair flip)to her last, Rita steals every second of film that she appears in. I think that she is sorely missed when she isn’t in a scene in this film.
Rita makes Gilda sexy, confident, strong, vulnerable, passionate and tender. I cannot imagine another actress having been able to have played this character the way that Rita did. It isn’t hard to see why this one has become the iconic Rita Hayworth film and performance.
Down To Earth (1947)
This extremely underrated gem is my favourite Rita Hayworth film. This is such a fun and dazzling musical. I also like this film because Rita looks like she having so much fun in it. Rita also gets to show off her dancing skills here.
The film is a sequel to Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Rita plays Terpsichore, the Greek Goddess of music and dance.
Terpsichore is appalled when she learns about a new stage musical depicting herself and the other Greek muses as man hungry women, who are all vying for the attention of two American pilots.
Terpsichore gets the permission of heavenly messenger Mr. Jordan to go down to earth and sort out the musical. She works hard to make its depiction of the muses more accurate, and to also improve the song and dance routines.
Rita seems ethereal in this film, so much so that you totally buy her as a goddess descended from the heavens. I also really love how energetic she is in her dance scenes in this. This is a lovely and entertaining film, of which Rita is the heart and soul. You can’t go wrong with this one if you are in the mood for an uplifting and entertaining film. It’s also great to see Rita filmed in colour for a change too.
The Lady From Shanghai (1947)
Playing against type(and with her famous red hair dyed blonde and cut short)Rita enters Film Noir territory. She is very much at home in this world of dark shadows, betrayal, and schemes.
Rita plays Elsa, a cold-hearted woman with a clever plan up her sleeve. Elsa’s mistake is believing that the man she uses for her own ends(played by Orson Welles) will love her no matter what she does.
Her new image in this film makes her seem harder, cooler and sexier than she ever had been before on the screen. I don’t know about anyone else, but I get some serious Lana Turner and Claire Trevor vibes from Rita’s performance and look in this film. Her excellent performance here also makes me wonder why she was never again cast as a femme fatale like the one she plays here.
Not all that familiar with Rita and her films? In that case then I highly recommend that you check her out in the following films: Lady From Shanghai, Miss Sadie Thompson, Down To Earth, Cover Girl, You Were Never Lovelier, Gilda, Affair In Trinidad, They Came To Cordura, Separate Tables and You’ll Never Get Rich.
It is now one hundred years since Rita’s birth. This hugely talented woman is still bringing joy to classic film fans around the world. Rita was one of the brightest stars in the classic film night sky, and I think that her star still shines as brightly today as it did back in the classic film era.
Happy 100th to you Rita. Thanks for sharing your talent with us. R.I.P.
Are you a fan of Rita Hayworth? Which of Rita’s films are your favourites?
Paddy over at Caftan Woman, and Rich over at Wide Screen World, have teamed up to co-host this blogathon celebrating Neil Simon. Be sure to visit their sites to read all of the entries, I can’t wait to read them all myself.
Neil Simon was a master of comic dialogue. He was also involved with so many great films over the years, that it took me a while to decide which film to cover for this blogathon. After giving it much thought, I’ve decided to write about California Suite.
The film is directed by Herbert Ross. The film is based upon Neil Simon’s 1976 stage play of the same name. The film has four separate storylines. Each story focuses on different characters who are all staying at the same luxury hotel in Beverly Hills. Some of Neil’s funniest and sharpest dialogue can be found in this film.
The first story focuses on two couples from Chicago. The four are all close friends and they are on a long planned holiday to Los Angeles, where they are booked in to stay at the luxury hotel which is featured in all four stories.
The group consists of Dr. Chauncey Gump(Richard Pryor) and his wife, Lola (Gloria Gifford), Dr. Willis Panama(Bill Cosby) and his wife, Bettina(Sheila Frazier).
This story is very funny because everything that could possibly go wrong on a holiday does so for this group. On their special trip the friends end up enduring car trouble, major arguments over silly things, food poisoning, bad room locations and much more.
Cosby, Gifford and Frazier are good enough, but I don’t think that there is anything they do that makes their performances particularly memorable.
It is Richard Pryor’s dead pan delivery and reactions to the various things his character endures which really make this story work as well as it does in my opinion.
I really don’t think that this story would work as well as it does if another actor had been cast in Richard’s role.
This story veers into slapstick comedy territory, and to me it often feels like I am watching scenes from a completely different film. This particular story seems to me to be quite similar to the film National Lampoon’s Vacation.
The second story focuses on the famous British actress, Diana Barry(Maggie Smith)who is in Los Angeles to attend the Academy Awards. Diana is a first time nominee for the Best Actress Oscar.
Diana is joined by her loving husband, Sidney Cochrane(Michael Caine). Diana is highly anxious about the Academy Awards, and she is also very worried about her marriage.
While Diana and Sidney love each other very much, Sidney happens to be Bisexual. Although Diana accepts that fact about him, she can’t stand that he keeps having affairs instead of just being with her. Diana and Sidney must take a long hard look at their marriage and decide whether to stay together or not.
This is my personal favourite out of the four stories. Maggie and Michael work so well together and they get many of the funniest and best scenes and lines in the entire film.
I love how they are warm and tender one minute, and then seriously bitchy with each other the next. Their bickering and arguments are hilarious.
I especially love the fight they have after returning to their hotel room after the Academy Awards.
This story also cracks me up because it highlights the hypocrisy of the awards where the nominees all get fawned over on the way in, but if they lose out, nobody wants to know them when they leave the awards ceremony. I love Sidney’s rant about how everyone else got their cars before Diana and Sidney got theirs at the end of awards ceremony.
I think that all four of the stories had the potential to be a feature length film in their own right, but in my opinion the story of Diana and Sidney could definitely have been made into a feature film.
The third story focuses on middle-aged businessman, Marvin Michaels(Walter Matthau), who has to try and conceal a prostitute called Bunny (Denise Galick)who his brother(Herb Edelman)smuggled into his hotel suite as an early birthday present.
Things get complicated when Marvin’s wife, Millie(Elaine May)arrives at the hotel to join him when the prostitute is still in his room.
While this does have some funny moments in it, I think this is the weakest of the four stories. None of the characters in this one come across as being remotely likable.
I also don’t like how Marvin doesn’t seem the least bit concerned for the health of Bunny in the scene where she won’t wake up, he could have at least phoned down for some help. He is just concerned for himself if she is discovered in his room.
If he didn’t want anyone to know she had been his room, then surely he could have taken her out into the corridor, pretended that he found her out there and got some help?
The only positive thing in this segment is Walter Matthau, he was always a very good physical comic and he gets to really do his thing here. I always fast forward through scenes from this story when I watch the film.
The fourth story focuses on Hannah Warren(Jane Fonda) who is staying at the hotel for one day to meet with her ex husband, Bill(Alan Alda).
They are meeting to discuss which of them their teenage daughter, Jenny(played by the troubled child actress, Dana Plato) will stay with for the majority of the year.
As they discuss their daughter, the pair quickly fall back into their old arguments and sniping. I think that Jane Fonda delivers one of her best performances here, as the strong woman trying desperately hard to hide how scared and worried she really is.
Watch her face during the arguments with Alan Alda, she says so much with her expressions alone and conveys to us how she can’t afford to let her tough mask slip for a second.
I think this story is the most poignant and relatable out of the four. I can imagine anyone who has been through a divorce where children have been involved will be able to relate to at least some moments in this one.
The dialogue in this story is very funny and sharp. The trouble is though that much of the dialogue is the sort that you just never hear in real life. I think that the use of such dialogue ends up taking you out of the film, because it comes across as contrived, even if it is very funny and clever.
The good performances by Alan Alda and Jane Fonda keep me interested and invested in this story. There are also some beautiful locations featured in this story that I really enjoy looking at.
While I do like the film quite a bit, I do think that it is one which is a bit hit and miss. Neil Simon’s dialogue is hilarious throughout, but some of the dialogue does come across as being very contrived. Most of the characters aren’t very well developed either, which means that we don’t really care about them that much. The performances in all of the four stories more than make up for these issues though.
A few fun facts about the film.
Maggie Smith would ironically end up winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance here as an insecure actress. While I do like her performance here, it is far from one of her very best screen performances. Is her performance really Oscar worthy? It’s good, but I don’t think it was Oscar worthy at all.
Eagle eyed viewers will spot James Coburn. He is playing Diana’s co-star in the film she is up for an Oscar for. A clip featuring James and Maggie plays in the scene on the plane at the beginning of the film.
The scene where Diana and Sidney arrive at the Oscars was actually filmed at the real 50th Oscars ceremony, which was held in April,1978.
The hotel featured in the film is the Beverly Hills Hotel. Large numbers of celebrities have stayed at the hotel over the years. The actor Peter Finch suffered a fatal heart attack in the lobby of the hotel, in January, 1977.
What do you think of the film? Which of the stories is your favourite?
After having a difficult last few weeks, this news has cheered me up no end. I am touched that people think so much of something that I have written. Congratulations to all my fellow CMBA nominees too!
Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me. Thank you to all my readers for your continued support and friendship. You are all the best! 🙂
A massive belated thank you to everyone who took part in this blogathon last weekend. It is lovely to see so much love for James Mason and his films.
Apologies for not being very present on the blogathon days, and for not having been able to comment on your posts yet. I have a chronic health condition, and unfortunately I have been quite ill because of it over the last few weeks.
I am looking forward to reading all your articles and commenting on them. I hope you all had fun on the blogathon days and enjoyed writing and reading articles.
The big event has finally arrived! Over the next two days, some truly wonderful classic film bloggers will be submitting their articles and reviews about the life and career of James Mason.
Keep checking back to this post over the next couple of days. I’ll be updating this post as the entries come in.
Message dated 06.10.2018. Hello everyone. Please forgive me for not stopping by and leaving you any comments on your sites at the moment. I am not well( a chronic health condition), and I don’t have the strength to be on here much at the moment. I promise that I’ll visit all your sites as soon as I can.
Day 2 Entries
Critica Retro tells us about the time James starred alongside Barbara Bel Geddes in Caught.
Musings Of A Classic Film Addict writes about a little known film called The Seventh Veil.
James Mason was one of the finest actors of his generation. He could play chilling villains, decent and gentle heroes, and complex and intriguing characters. His brooding and intense expressions coupled with that voice of his made him quite the screen presence indeed.
I would like to share my three favourite screen performances from James Mason. The films are all excellent too, and I recommend them all to anyone who hasn’t seen them before. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Pandora And The Flying Dutchman are two of my favourite films of all time.
Pandora And The Flying Dutchman(1951)
In this haunting and poetic love story, James plays Hendrick van der Zee, a cursed man who is doomed to live in the world for all eternity. He must live onboard the vessel known as the Flying Dutchman. He can break free of his curse, but only if he finds a woman who loves him so much that she will willingly die for him.
James is terrific in this role. He conveys the tenderness and longing his character feels for the woman he loves, and also the fear of getting too close to her, as he doesn’t want her to die if she is the woman who could break his curse. He also convinces in the scene where we see the moment of jealousy and madness that led him to be cursed in the first place.
James has this otherworldly air about him in this, and this aura really helps us buy into him being a man who has walked the earth for centuries. He and Ava Gardner manage to convince us that their characters souls are calling out to one another.
The monologue James delivers during the flashback sequence is truly a performance for the ages. This is a film that I return to again, and again, and again. James Mason’s performance plays a major part in my love for this one.
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954)
This was the first film that I ever saw James Mason in. Every single time I watch this film, I am always struck most by how complex and intriguing James managed to make Captain Nemo.
At times James makes Nemo frightening and intense. At other moments he allows us to see this man’s inner torment and hopes, and we really sympathise with him and admire him .
I have never seen any other actor play this character quite like James Mason did. James really managed to capture the varied facets of Nemo’s tormented soul. It is a remarkable performance, and it is one that is still highly fascinating and powerful when viewed today. The film is cracking too!
Bigger Than Life (1956)
James plays Ed Avery, a middle aged teacher who becomes addicted to some prescribed medication. His entire personality changes due to the effects of the drug. He goes from being a loving, warm and gentle husband and father, to becoming a tyrannical brute. His family become afraid of him and he won’t listen to the advice from anyone around him.
If you want to see what a good actor James Mason was, then this film is one that you should check out. His performance here really is extraordinary. At times he makes us despise Ed for his actions brought on by the medication, and yet at other times he makes our hearts break with his plight.
James does a terrific job of conveying Ed’s pain, fear and uncontrollable behaviour to us. It’s one of his best screen performances as far as I’m concerned. I never get tired of watching this film and enjoying James Mason’s magnificent performance in it.
What do you think of James Mason’s performances in these films? What are your favourite performances from him?