Regular readers of this blog know that I LOVE Film Noir. I’ve decided it’s high time I held a blogathon celebrating all things Noir.
I invite you all to join me to walk through the dark alleys of Film Noir. For this blogathon you can write about any Noir film. You can write about your favourite characters and couples in Film Noir. You can write about the look and style of Noir films. You can write about the history of Film Noir and the impact these films had on cinema.
You can write more than one post for this if you wish to do so. I’m asking that there be No duplicate posts of films for this particular blogathon. There are so many Noir films out there that we shouldn’t need to all write about the same ones. That having been said though, if someone writes a full post about Double Indemnity, it is fine for someone else to write a bit about that film in a list/article which discusses various Noir films. It’s also fine to write about a remake of a Noir film of the same title.
The blogathon will be held from the 27th – 29th of July, 2019. Please try to have your posts ready on or before those dates. Take one of the banners from below to put on your sites to help advertise this event. Check below to see who is writing about what.
Have fun writing! Enjoy watching those Noir films!
The Participation List
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: Cry Of The City, Dark Passage, Murder, My Sweet(1944)
Pale Writer: Dead Reckoning,Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake
Screen Dreams: Barbara Stanwyck’s Noir Films
Films On The Box: Fear In The Night
Down These Mean Streets: Strangers On A Train
Movie Movie Blog Blog II: Laura
Cinematic Scribblings: Brighton Rock(1948)
Caftan Woman: Thieves Highway
Poppity Talks Classic Film: They Live By Night
Realweegiemidgetreviews: Body Heat
Overture Books And Film: The Killing
Silver Screen Classics: The Asphalt Jungle
In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Joan Bennett And Film Noir
The Stop Button: In A Lonely Place
Portraits By Jenni: Pickup On South Street
The Old Hollywood Garden: Friendships In Film Noir
Regular readers of this blog will know that I love me some Silent cinema. I’m very sad to have to confess to you all that it was not always the case. I saw my very first Silent film when I was in my mid teens, it was shown in a film class when I was studying at college. The film was Metropolis. I was intrigued to see the film because it was directed by the great Fritz Lang.
Lang was a director who was already well known to me because I was a fan of Film Noir. He directed such classic Noir films as The Big Heat and Scarlet Street. I liked his work, but I had yet to venture into his expressionistic Silent films. Little did I know that the German Expressionism found in some Silent films, was also a major influence on the Noir films that I loved so much. The use of shadows and lighting in Noir is straight out of those German films. I was amazed when I first learnt about that. All Noir fans out there should show some love to those German Silents; without their direct influence, the look of Film Noir would have most likely turned out very differently indeed.
Before seeing Metropolis, I was already a huge fan of classic era films. I had never before had the slightest interest in seeing a Silent film though. I thought they would be boring and weird to watch. When this film started playing, there I was, still stubbornly convinced that there was no way this was going to be for me.
Then something happened that I can’t really describe. I just became fascinated by the images I was seeing on the screen. I was so impressed with the scale of the sets, the overall look of the film, and by Lang’s unforgettable depiction of the future. Before I knew what was happening, there I was, actually sitting there and enjoying a Silent film.
I have to say that while Metropolis has never become a favourite of mine to the extent that I regularly watch it, I do love and admire it a great deal. The image of the future that it presents to us is an image which is impossible to get out of your head. It’s one of the greatest films that Fritz Lang ever made. Metropolis will always have a special place in my heart for being the film that made me a fan of Silent cinema.
From that point on I started to watch more Silent films.Then I started to laugh at myself for having held such stupid views about Silent films in the first place. Why had I been so hesitant about checking these out sooner? I think it mainly had to do with the actors not speaking. It was such an alien concept to me after being raised on sound films. I think the lack of speech is still the main problem for people who are hesitant to watch these films today.
While hearing audiences may have difficulty with these films, I would imagine (would love to see some studies done on this)that Silent films can perhaps appeal more to deaf audiences. So often today the subtitles are not always that good on DVD releases, and this can make it difficult for deaf viewers to follow the dialogue. Some TV channels and programmes do not always offer subtitles either, which sadly means that deaf audiences are excluded from some content. Silent films don’t have those problems. In Silent films you often don’t really need dialogue in many scenes, the actors convey all we need to know. I think it’s also very easy to follow what people are saying in Silent films because we have the title cards popping up displaying the dialogue. Personally I think that Silent films provide quite an inclusive experience to viewers who have hearing difficulties, or who perhaps don’t speak any languages other than their mother tongue and want to watch films from other countries(yes, I know DVDs of sound films have language dubbing :-)).
Now I am happy to say that I’m a huge fan of Silent cinema. I think that Silent films are incredible. Hard to dislike films where all the stunts are done for real; where all the special effects were done by hand(no CGI here, folks), and where even the editing was done by hand. Making these films was a real labour of love and it shows. I also think that many of these films are like paintings brought to life due to a combination of beautiful costumes, colour tinting, uniquely designed title cards, lavish sets etc. You really don’t see films so visually beautiful anymore. I am a huge fan of tinting and especially love the use of blue in the Silent documentary The Epic Of Everest (1924). The blue tinting in that documentary makes me feel the cold of the location somehow.
When you see these films today and know that what you see was all done by hand, it just blows you away. The stunning, jaw dropping visuals in these films, are leaps and bounds beyond anything that CGI gives us today.The directors and film crew working at this time were so innovative, and I find their fearlessness in exploring new and exciting ways of making films and creating film effects quite admirable.
Without these films we would most likely not even have films today. Film fans should be watching these films because it is where the medium began. We owe these films, and the filmmakers of this era, a massive debt of gratitude. I think it is vital that we get younger generations interested in these films. We need to preserve and honour these magnificent films.
The more Silent films I watch, the more that I come to love and appreciate the different acting style. Some of the acting when viewed by us today looks quite theatrical, and I concede that this can be strange to get used to if you’re new to it. Having said that though, it’s important to note that so many performances in Silent films come across as very modern and fresh when viewed today.
I think that the acting in these films is all about the actors conveying emotions to us, and in doing so they really make us feel their pain or joy. These actors do not need dialogue because they have the ability to convey to us what’s going on through expression alone.
In my opinion no actor of the era was better at conveying emotion than Lon Chaney Sr. Lon was a very unique actor. He created and applied his own make-up to play disfigured characters. I really can’t recommend his films highly enough. I write about him and his career in detail here. He was such a fascinating man.
Another thing I love about Silent films is the music. Music is very important in these films. You see despite there being no audible dialogue, these films are not actually totally silent(another myth busted). There is music playing throughout these films, and the music is very important for helping to establish and convey the mood and emotions of characters. I would love to go to one of those silent screenings which have a live orchestra accompanying the film. Has anyone ever attended one of these? What was it like? Silent films also have title cards, which appear at various points in the film, to display to us the dialogue being spoken by the characters.
New To Silent Cinema?
Have you yet to dip your toe into the ocean of Silent cinema? What are you waiting for? There are dramas, historical epics, experimental films, short and long films, romances, comedies, horror,documentary, crime etc. Forget the damsel in distress cliche as well, because the Silent films provided very strong roles for women. They also had many women working behind the cameras as directors, producers, editors and writers in the Silent era.
Please don’t be afraid of these films. Pick one to watch and give this different film style a chance. Don’t simply dismiss these films as being old, outdated, or weird when you have never actually watched one.
If you don’t try these films, then not only will you miss out on some stunning visuals, powerful stories and memorable characters, but you’ll also miss out on some truly remarkable actors. People like Lon Chaney Sr, Douglas Fairbanks Sr, Lillian Gish, Louise Brooks, Ruan Lingyu, Rudolph Valentino, Buster Keaton, Clara Bow and so many others.You’ll also miss out on directors like F.W Murnau, Charles Chaplin, Fritz Lang, Buster Keaton, Cecil B. De Mille.
Where To Begin With Silent Cinema?
You are going to watch your first Silent film, but you don’t know which film you should watch first. I would say forget all those famous titles; just go right ahead and pick a Silent film that is from your favourite genre. Don’t immediately try one of the very long feature films like Metropolis for example. You may get lucky as I did and end up really enjoying your first Silent, even if it is a long feature, but on the other hand you may well end up getting bored if your first film turns out to be a drag. So I’d say that you should maybe try something that appeals to your tastes before checking out the acclaimed epics.
A good place to start is to try and watch a comedy short.If you’re going to do that, then I would heartily recommend the films of the legend that is Buster Keaton. This comic genius made both comedy film shorts and feature films.
Buster was the master of physical comedy, and he had such perfect timing. He also performed some of the most jaw dropping film stunts ever captured on film.If you like comedy you can’t go wrong with Buster’s work.Charles Chaplin, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Harold Lloyd’s films also come highly recommended by me.
If you are interested in seeing the famous stunning visuals, epic running time and visual trickery of Silent films, then these films are ones that I would highly recommend that you watch for various reasons: The Phantom Carriage (1921), Battleship Potemkin (1925), Der Mude Tode(1921), Intolerance (1916), The Thief Of Bagdad(1924), Orphans Of The Storm (1921),Ghosts Before Breakfast (1928), A Trip To The Moon (1902), The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920), Metropolis (1927),The General (1926),Nosferatu(1922) , Sherlock Jr (1924) , The Epic Of Everest (documentary from 1924), The Man With The Movie Camera (documentary from 1929).
A Silent Film That I Would Recommend To A Newbie?
1- Shooting Stars (1928) This British Silent is a behind the scenes look at filmmaking. It follows three actors who are caught up in a love triangle. The film is funny, suspenseful and very moving. It looks at the fleeting nature of fame and how we should never take what we have for granted.
This film was one of the first(possibly the first)films to show audiences what goes on behind the scenes of films, and of how shots are achieved in film. We see how the screen fiction is achieved and made believable to an audience who buys into the illusion of film. You can read my full review of this film here.
I would also recommend The Artist(2011). This charming film is a homage to the Silent era.It also brings to mind sound films such as Singin’ In The Rain and A Star Is Born. It also features the cutest and most scene stealing dog you’ll ever see.
I could go on and on about Silent cinema, but I don’t want to bore you all. 🙂 I hope that I have piqued your interest in these films if you have yet to check out any Silent films. Let me know how you get on if you do decide to check out Silent films for the first time.
If you are already a fan I would love to hear from you. How did you become a fan? What are your favourite Silent films? Did you put off seeing them for ages?(like me).I sometimes feel like an oddity because I’m 30 and don’t know anyone else my age (outside of people online) who loves these wonderful films.
May I also suggest you head on over and see Fritzi at Movies Silently. Fritzi knows all there is to know about Silent cinema.
Virginie at The Wonderful World Of Cinema and Samantha at Musings Of A Classic Film Addict are teaming up! They are co-hosting this blogathon dedicated to the actress Jean Harlow. Be sure to visit their sites to read all of the entries. I’m so happy that Virginie and Samantha are honouring Jean with this blogathon.
What do you think is the first thing that comes to mind when most people hear the name of Jean Harlow? I bet that many immediately think of her as being the original blonde bombshell, a beautiful woman with hair so blonde that it almost looked white. When I hear or see the name Jean Harlow, I think first of how funny she was, and of how much her screen antics have caused me to laugh or to cheer on her characters.
I love Jean Harlow so much. I love her badass and sassy screen persona. I love her style and her looks. I love how funny she was. She was so vibrant and full of life, and it is such a great shame that she died so young.
What draws me to Jean Harlow the most is that mixture of vulnerability, innocence, and toughness that she had about her. I also love how she embodied the go-getting attitude of so many women during the 1930’s.Her characters are often clever, tough- talking, feisty and independent. I’m sure that many a young woman living in the 1930’s could relate to Jean and the attitudes of her characters. Her performances and many of her characters seem quite modern when we watch her films today.
I first became a fan of Jean’s after seeing her in the comedy Dinner At Eight. At this point in my life I had heard of Jean Harlow. I knew what she looked like, and I was aware that she had sadly died at a young age, but I had never seen one of her films before.
I thought she was absolutely hilarious in Dinner At Eight. I was very taken by how her character was a woman who just did her own thing. I also loved how her character stood up to her rather brutish husband(Wallace Beery).
Jean was one of the first actors I came across who had the ability to make you unable to really focus on anyone other than them when they are on screen. This is especially true of her performance in Dinner At Eight.
I don’t think anyone has become a fan of anyone as fast I became a fan of Jean Harlow. I loved everything about her in that film, and I also knew that I really wanted to see more of her work after seeing this film. I checked out Red Dust next. That film left me in no doubt that I was a Jean Harlow fan.In this film she co-stars with her friend Clark Gable. Jean and Clark would go on to make six films together in total. The pair have such incredible chemistry in this film.
When Jean and Clark are on screen together you believe they are a couple, and you can see a genuine affection and warmth between them. Their chemistry in Red Dust is wild! Jean steals every scene in the film. She makes you miss her fun and feisty character Vantine so much when she isn’t in a scene.
Jean also makes Vantine so full of life and so likeable, that you sit there shaking your head in disbelief when it seems like Clark’s character will choose Mary Astor’s rather dull character over Vantine.
There is a funny story about the making of Red Dust that I always get a good laugh from. At the end of the scene where Vantine takes an outdoor bath, a topless Jean is supposed to have stood up and faced the camera while it was still running. She cheekily called out to the crew members on the set “This is one for the boys back at the lab”. If that story is true, then it certainly shows that Jean had a great sense of humour and that she was no prude. 🙂
Red Headed-Woman, Reckless, Platinum Blonde, Wife vs. Secretary, Libeled Lady are just a few of the films which have made audiences fall in love with Jean Harlow over the years. Jean’s film career first began back in 1930, when she was cast in Howard Hughes WW1 aviation epic, Hell’s Angels. While her performance in that film isn’t one of her best in my opinion, it is certainly a very memorable film debut for her. What is also clear from that film, is that she had that special star quality about her right from the very beginning of her career. It would take a few more years for Jean’s popularity to increase, but when it did so she would become one of the most beloved stars of the classic film era.
Jean Harlow (known affectionately as Baby) worked steadily in films over the next two years. Her fame and popularity gradually began to increase. In Red Dust and Red Headed-Woman, both released in 1932, she found her two most iconic film roles. Her characters in both of these films are fun-loving, tough-talking, forward, and strong willed gals who know exactly what they want and won’t stop till they have it. Jean would become forever linked with these two films and characters. I love both of these films very much. I consider Red Headed-Woman to be one of Jean’s best film performances.
As the 1930’s continued, Jean Harlow quickly became one of the most popular and beloved American stars of the era. Audiences and colleagues adored her. She was talented, bubbly, outgoing, and she knew just how to make people laugh. She shines on screen in those 1930’s films and really gives life to all of her characters.
I always wonder about what roles she would have received had she lived into the 1940’s and beyond. I can totally see Jean in Noir films. I would have loved to have seen her as a Femme Fatale or as a Noir heroine in films like The Dark Corner or Lured. I also think that she would have been good in some more serious roles too. She excelled in comic roles, but she was a very good dramatic actress too. I for one would have loved to have seen her in more dramatic leading roles.
On the 7th of June, 1937, a shining light left this world. Jean Harlow died. She was just 26 years old. She had been suffering from kidney failure.
She had fallen ill with flu the previous month, and at first it was suspected that her ill health during the making of her final film Saratoga was linked to that illness.
Tragically by the time that the exact nature of her illness was realised, it was far too late to treat and save her.Her death left her loved ones and fans equally shocked and upset. Her fiance, the actor William Powell, was left completely devastated by her death.
Jean’s funeral became an extravaganza of grief. MGM studios closed on the day of her funeral. William Powell paid for her crypt, at a cost of $25,000. Her funeral was attended by a multitude of actors. Clark Gable served as one of her pallbearers. A personal note from William Powell was placed with Jean in her coffin. The Blues singer Leadbelly eulogised Jean in his song Jean Harlow. The inscription on Jean’s crypt in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, simply reads ” Our Baby”.
I feel sorry for Jean because she was robbed of life at such a young age. As a film fan I also feel sad that we never got more performances from her. Decades after her death, Jean Harlow is still one of the most famous, iconic, fascinating, and beloved actresses of all time. Her performances come across as very modern when they are viewed today.
I mourn for the performances we could have had from Jean, while cherishing the ones she left us with. Jean is still making audiences laugh and cheer in 2019. I like to think that she would be touched to know she has not been forgotten.
Thanks Jean for all the joy you have given to this classic film fan.
For the fifth year running, Lea at Silent-ology is hosting her annual blogathon dedicated to our beloved stone-faced comedian, Buster Keaton. Be sure to visit her site to read all of the entries, I can’t wait to read them all myself.
I’m writing about Sherlock Jr, which is one of Buster Keaton’s greatest film achievements, as both an actor, and also as a film director. The film only lasts for 45 minutes, and yet it somehow manages to be more stunning, more inventive, and much more memorable than many other films which last hours longer than this one does.
Sherlock Jr is a film that shows just what can be achieved on screen by those who make films. It contains sequences and camera tricks that had audiences and fellow filmmakers of the time eager to know how those things were achieved. Watching this film in 2019 has me feeling the exact same way. I like to think that Buster would be proud to know that his stunts, camera tricks, and comedy are still wowing audiences all these decades later.
A memorable moment where Sherlock Jr opens a safe and it opens into a street. Screenshot by me.
This film contains some of Buster’s funniest moments on screen. I especially love the banana gag, which sees Buster setting a banana gag up to make the projectionist’s rival slip, but then Buster falls victim to it himself instead. This slipping gag never fails to make me giggle, and I really love how the gag plays with our expectations about who will slip. I also love the scene where our hero crashes through a window, slides along a table on his back, and kicks the guy sitting at the end of the table straight out the other side of the wooden building. 🙂 The looking for a dollar sequence is hilarious too.
There’s also a wide range of very impressive stunts in this film. The sequence where he is on his runaway motorbike is a real highlight. I also love the scene in the sinking car. Another sequence,where Buster is hit by a large amount of water on the train tracks, resulted in Buster falling and unknowingly fracturing his neck. He didn’t find out about the injury until many years later when he was examined by a doctor who then discovered the injury.
Buster and his runaway motorbike narrowly avoid a train. Screenshots by me.
The film also features some truly amazing camera trickery and shots. There are several stunts/camera tricks in this that are so remarkable and flawlessly put together, that I am still scratching my head trying to figure out exactly how they were so seamlessly achieved and put together on film.
There is one trick in particular in this that had me rewinding the DVD several times when I first saw it trying to work out how it was even possible. The scene I’m referring to is the one where Buster leaps into a suitcase held by another person and disappears. This shot was achieved by using an old vaudeville trick which Buster’s dad, Joe Keaton, had apparently invented during his days on stage. There was a trap door behind the suitcase and the actor holding the case lay horizontally with some long clothes hiding the fact that there is no body there. It is such an amazing trick and the scene never fails to have me open mouthed and pointing at the TV trying to figure out how such a thing is even possible.
The film first began life in 1923, under the working title of The Misfit. The title was later changed to Sherlock Jr, and the film was released in April of 1924. Buster had initially hired his close friend Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle to help him co- direct the film. Roscoe had been Buster’s friend and co-star for many years, and the pair had made a number of short films together.
Roscoe had been falsely accused of the rape and manslaughter of the actress Virginia Rappe in 1921. After three trials Roscoe was exonerated of the crime, but sadly by that time he had become something of a broken man. Buster stood by his friend throughout the scandal and trials, and he also tried to offer him work on his films. Apparently Roscoe was very difficult on the set of Sherlock Jr, which then led Buster to completely take over directing duties. It is unclear which footage(if any)in the film is the work of Roscoe Arbuckle. Roscoe would finally get to direct some films again under the name of William Goodrich, he died in 1933.
Upon its release Sherlock Jr would unfortunately become one of the least popular films that Buster had made so far. The film also did very poorly at the box office. It may not have been widely appreciated and loved at the time it was released, but in recent decades it has become one of the most beloved and admired of any of Buster’s films.
I think the film works as well as it does not only because of the stunt work and visuals, but also because it is at heart a film about an unlucky, ordinary guy, who we in the audience just want to be happy.
Buster’s performance in this film is also a huge part of its charm in my opinion. Buster’s performance in this is one that I love a great deal. Buster makes his character a really sweet, shy and down on his luck guy; we root for him, we like him, and we feel sorry for him as he suffers injustice and heartbreak. When Buster becomes the detective later in the film his performance changes. I really like how Buster becomes a suave man of confidence when he is in the film within the film.
Buster Keaton plays a gentle and shy cinema projectionist/cinema cleaner. He is in love with a girl(Kathryn McGuire)who is from a well off family. He also yearns to be a professional detective. The projectionist has a serious rival (Ward Crane)for the heart of his one true love.
The rival steals the watch of the girl’s father(played by Buster’s dad, Joe Keaton) pawns it at a local shop, and then plants evidence on our poor hero to make out that he is the thief. The father banishes our hero, but the girl doesn’t believe his guilt and she sets out to prove his innocence.
The leaving the body scene. Screenshot by me.
One night, while running a mystery film at the cinema, our hero falls asleep. We next see his soul come out of his body (a remarkable sequence achieved by using double exposure) and walk off into the big screen to become a part of the film. In his dreams our hero now transforms into the confident and famous detective Sherlock Jr. The actors playing the girlfriend and the rival replace the actors of the film our hero has entered.
What I love about the dream/film within a film scene is how random and mixed up it all, just as dreams are while we are experiencing them. Once Buster’s film dream gets underway we then have a series of stunts and sight gags to enjoy. Buster somehow controls a runaway motorbike by sitting on the handlebars and driving through heavy traffic. Buster jumps through things, off of things, and into things. Buster also narrowly avoids getting hit by a train in a scene that was apparently shot in reverse, but which doesn’t look like it to me. The film is non-stop action once Buster enters the film within the film.
I also love that the happy ending of the film basically shows us the projectionist gaining tips from the movies on how to be romantic. The ending also shows us that some things can’t be learnt from films, instead they must be discovered for ourselves off screen in reality. The projectionist has adventures and happiness of his own waiting just around the corner in reality.
The film is so much fun. I do wish that it had been a bit longer though. I also wanted some more scenes at the beginning between the projectionist and his girlfriend. What is present in the film is very good though.
This is a film which lets us all just sit back and marvel at what we are watching. In my opinion this film stands as a tribute to film making. It also stands as a tribute to the magic of the cinema, and to the timeless appeal of Buster Keaton. I highly recommend this film to anyone who hasn’t seen it.
I never met Albert Finney. I never corresponded with him either. Yet he is someone who I have always felt connected to, and he is someone I respect a great deal, despite not actually knowing him. I think part of that is because although he was someone who became rich and famous, he never once gave himself airs when he hit the big time. He always came across as down to earth and natural in interviews. He was simply a working class lad who made good and never forgot where he came from. I like that.
Albert Finney was one of the best actors of all time. His films have been a big part of my life as I have grown up over the past thirty years. I developed the biggest crush on him in Two For The Road and Saturday Night, Sunday Morning. I adore him in Erin Brockovich and Annie.
I cheer at how badass he is in Miller’s Crossing.I cheered loudly the first time I saw him appear in Skyfall, as the shotgun toting gamekeeper and friend of Bond’s. I feel great pity and affection for him in A Man Of No Importance and the remake of The Browning Version.
He was one of those actors who convinced in whatever role they took. He was always good at playing tough guys. He had a don’t mess with me attitude about him always. He always delivered an excellent performance.
He has been a favourite of mine for years. I first saw him in Erin Brockovich, and I instantly became a fan and wanted to check out more of his work. I have been a fan ever since. My heart is broken right now. Sending sympathies to his family and friends.
Farewell, Albert. R.I.P. Thank you for so many wonderful film performances.
Here are some films and series of his that you should watch. Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, Miller’s Crossing, The Dresser, Two For The Road, The Green Man(TV), The Gathering Storm(TV), A Man Of No Importance, Erin Brockovich, Scrooge, Gumshoe, Under The Volcano, The Playboys, Shoot The Moon, Loophole, The Browning Version, Murder On The Orient Express.
The big day is finally here! Over the next two days a large number of truly wonderful bloggers will be writing about all things Alfred Hitchcock. I want to welcome back those of you who’ve joined me before, and offer a warm welcome to the new bloggers joining us.
Please join me for a buffet laid out on top of Mount Rushmore. Beware of low flying crop dusters and flocks of birds that you may see approaching us. Bernard Herrmann will be providing a suitable score for our Hitchcock themed event.
Day 2 Entries
Silver Screen Classics takes a look at the dark love story Vertigo
The big day has finally arrived! Over the next three days, a large number of truly wonderful bloggers will be writing about Barbara and her films. I will be your hostess today. Crystal over at In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood will be your hostess on Monday and Tuesday.
We are so looking forward to reading all of the entries. Thank you for joining us to celebrate this remarkable actress.
I will update this page as often as I can today as the entries come in.
This is my entry for the Stanwyck blogathon being co-hosted by myself and Crystal next weekend. Can’t wait to read all the other entries.
For this blogathon I’ve decided to write about one of Barbara Stanwyck’s less well known and less discussed films. It is a film about love, family, second chances and following your heart, wherever it may lead you.It’s a very underrated film and features an excellent lead performance by Barbara.
All I Desire is a film from that master of soap and melodrama, the legendary classic era director Douglas Sirk. When most people think of Sirk’s work they usually associate his name with vibrant Technicolor films such as Magnificent Obsession or Written On The Wind, but he also made some films in Black and White and this film is one of them.
This film isn’t one that instantly springs to mind when people discuss Douglas Sirk’s films, I think that is a real shame because it is a good film that deserves to be better known and discussed.
All I Desire may well be quite a predictable film, but it is never the less a very enjoyable film. Barbara Stanwyck’s performance is a big reason for this film working as well as it does in my opinion.
Barbara does a terrific job of conveying to us how much of a conflicted personality her character Naomi has.
Although Naomi craves excitement and danger, she also longs for a normal life as a mother and wife.
Dialogue isn’t really required in many of Barbara’s scenes in this film, her face tells us exactly what her character is feeling or longing for every moment she is on screen.
I especially love Barbara’s acting in the scene when her character watches her daughter act on stage, it is such a beautiful moment. Barbara was a very expressive actress, she inhabited her characters completely and this film is a good example of her ability to do that.
The film is set in Edwardian era America. Naomi Murdoch(Barbara Stanwyck)longs to be an actress more than anything else. She abandons her husband and three children to tread the boards. Some years later she receives a letter from her second daughter Lily(Lori Nelson)asking her to come home to see her graduate and perform in the school play.
Naomi returns to her family and receives different reactions. Screenshots by me.
Naomi agrees and is welcomed home with open arms by Lily. She also receives a warm welcome from Lena(Lotte Stein)who is the Murdoch’s loyal cook and cherished friend. Naomi receives the cold shoulder from her eldest daughter Joyce(Marcia Henderson)and from her estranged husband Henry(Richard Carlson).
Naomi also meets her young son Ted(Billy Gray) who can’t remember her very much. Joyce has had to become the mother figure to her two younger siblings, and she is very angry and upset that her mother thinks she can just come back into their lives and that everything will go back to how it used to be.
Henry still cares for Naomi but has just about put his life back together again following her departure, he now has to try and work out just how he feels about her. Things are complicated by the presence of Sara Harper(Maureen O’Sullivan)who is a local teacher who loves Henry. Naomi must also cope with running into her former lover Dutch(Lyle Bettger) who wants to take up with her again.
Naomi, Henry and Sara all look at each other during a party, and they can all tell how they feel about one another just by looking. Love this scene so much. Screenshots by me.
As Naomi settles back in to her former life, she begins to see the emotional damage she has caused by leaving. Naomi realises that she wants this family life, but will her family want her to stay with them? Will she herself actually be able to settle down to small town life again after so long away? Can she resist the charms of her former lover?
There is so much going on in this film that it is pretty remarkable that the film only clocks in at 1 hour 16 minutes long. The film doesn’t feel rushed, but I would have liked it to have lasted a bit longer. I always want more scenes between Henry and Naomi when I watch this. I also want to see more of what happens after that ending, as I don’t think this situation would be tidied up so neatly and quickly in reality.
Barbara delivers the best performance in the film. The rest of the cast all deliver solid performances. Lori Nelson stands out the most from the supporting cast, she lights up every scene she is in. Lotte Stein is terrific as Lena and I love the mother daughter bond between her and Naomi.
I think the film does a pretty good job of allowing us to sympathise with all the main characters at times. The film also allows us to dislike the characters or disagree with them at times. Due to this the characters come across as very real, they are all flawed, all full of hopes, dreams and issues. Love is messy and complicated, as are people, and this film shows us these facts.
I highly recommend this film to fans of Barbara and Douglas Sirk. What do you think of the film? What do you think of Barbara Stanwyck’s performance?
Happy New Year to you all. I would like to invite you all to join me this April to celebrate Stewart Granger. Stewart Granger was born James Lablache Stewart, in Kensington, London, on the 6th of May 1913.Changing his name(we can’t have two Jimmy Stewart’s)to Stewart Granger, he would go on to become one of the biggest film stars of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.
Stewart was one of the most intense and handsome leading men of the classic film era. With that distinctive voice of his, coupled with his smouldering good looks and intense presence, Stewart Granger is someone who you don’t forget in a hurry.
Stewart worked in his native Britain for much of his career. Gainsborough melodramas were the films in which he first gained fame.
He would go on to become a big star in America too. He could play gentle and romantic men, as well as brooding and dark villains or troubled men. He was married to Jean Simmons for ten years.
For this blogathon you can write about any of Stewart’s films or TV appearances. You can write about the films he made with Jean Simmons. You can focus on his British or his American film career. You can write a tribute to him. If you ever met or corresponded with him you can write about that experience too. If you have never seen one of his films before, why not take this opportunity to finally do so?
The blogathon will be held on the 13th and 14th of April, 2019. Please post your entries on or before those dates. I will accept just the two duplicates per screen title. You may post up to three entries each if you wish to do so.
Take one of the banners below to place on your site to help promote the event. Let me know what you want to write about below. Check the participation list below to see which titles have been claimed. Have fun writing about Stewart and watching his films.
The Participation List
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: Caravan
Pale Writer: Love Story and Footsteps In The Fog
Pleasant Street: The Man In Grey
Realweegiemidgetreviews: The Wild Geese
The Stop Button: Moonfleet
Mikestakeonthemovies: The Secret Invasion
Dubsism: King Solomon’s Mines
Catftan Woman: The Last Hunt
MovieRob: Sodom And Gomorrah and The Secret Invasion
The Midnite Drive-In: North To Alaska
Poppity: Scaramouche and Fanny By Gaslight
Critica Retro: Salome
Retro Movie Buff: Scaramouche
In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: The Little Hut
I want to pay tribute to a film company that helped to change the direction and look of British film forever. Sixty years ago in Britain a film production company called Woodfall Films was formed.
Between 1958 and 1984, Woodfall would produce several films which would not only go on to become classics, but which would also have a huge impact on the future of British cinema.
The Woodfall films would also herald the arrival of several young actors who would go on to become major stars. Albert Finney, Rita Tushingham, and Tom Courtney all became household names thanks to their performances in a Woodfall film.
The production company was co-founded by director Tony Richardson(husband of Vanessa Redgrave, and father to Joely and Natasha Richardson), producer Harry Saltzman (producer of the Bond films)and playwright John Osborne(Look Back In Anger). Woodfall Films ushered in a new and exciting era for British cinema. The films were daring and groundbreaking in so many ways.
Woodfall films tackled real life issues such as life as a working class member of society, sex, abortion, people wanting to better themselves, female independence and sexuality, marital problems, race, and youth versus the older generation.
Tony Richardson wanted to make films in a new way, he wanted to make films that reflected life as he knew it. He certainly succeeded in both areas in my opinion. The films look different from a visual perspective, and they also have a much more realistic and gritty tone than many other British films. The directors shot on location which added to the overall realism. The actors look and behave like people you could run into in your own lives. There’s no glamour or escapism to be found in these films.
The famous shot in Girl With Green Eyes where a door is opened onto a real street. Screenshots by me.
The Woodfall directors, producers, cameramen and actors were all trailblazers in helping to bring more realistic, unique and grittier stories and characters to the screen. Woodfall made films which focused on the British working class.
There had been earlier films such as It Always Rains On Sunday, This Happy Breed, Woman In A Dressing Gown, Millions Like Us and Waterloo Road which had been realistic and focused on working and lower middle class characters, but the Woodfall films made such characters and realism their primary focus.
Not all of the Woodfall films would become classics, but eight of them did and are the reason why the name Woodfall is remembered today – Look Back In Anger, The Entertainer, Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, A Taste Of Honey, The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner, Tom Jones(a cheeky and funny period romp), Girl With Green Eyes and Kes –are all among the best of the so called Kitchen Sink films.
Ordinary people finally got the chance to see characters and events on screen that mirrored their own lives and experiences.Without Woodfall films, I highly doubt that we would have gotten the likes of Ken Loach or Mike Leigh making films.
I also doubt that films like Room At The Top, This Sporting Life, A Kind Of Loving and The L Shaped Room would have ended up being made either. Woodfall films helped inspire future generations of directors and writers to make films that reflect their own lives and experiences.
The first Woodfall film to be made was the 1959 adaptation of John Osborne’s play Look Back In Anger. Tony Richardson directed the film.
Look Back In Anger features Richard Burton delivering one of his most powerful performances as the first angry young man, Jimmy Porter. Passionate, complicated, angry and misunderstood, Jimmy must surely have been someone that many young men in the audience could identify with. This film focuses on a lower class man who is justifiably angry at the way his life has turned out, and also at how he is held back from bettering himself.
Both the film and the play shock due to the violent and complex relationship between Jimmy and his wife(played by Mary Ure in the film), and also because of the love hate relationship between Jimmy and Helena(Claire Bloom in the film).
The third film, Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, would go on to become the most acclaimed and famous of all of the Woodfall films. A fresh faced Albert Finney delivers a remarkable performance in the lead role of the rebellious and angry Arthur Seaton. Arthur works in a factory and he hates it, he takes every opportunity he can to stick it to the establishment and the upper classes. Arthur also doesn’t care much for rules and traditions. The film is also rather daring in showing an affair between Arthur and a much older woman who is married (Rachel Roberts).
Saturday Night And Sunday Morning is also perhaps the ultimate working class film, as it so accurately manages to capture the life endured by millions here in the UK at this time and for a long time before.
It’s also through this film in particular that I am able to get a better sense of the way of life my parents and grandparents had before I was born. Both my mum and dad grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and they have both commented on the accuracy of the characters, the streets, homes, attitudes etc seen in this film and others.
The fourth Woodfall film is A Taste Of Honey, and it is this film which I think is the most daring of the lot. This film focuses on Jo(Rita Tushingham) a teenage schoolgirl who is in a relationship with a black sailor(Paul Danquah)by whom she becomes pregnant. The rest of the film focuses on her dealing with the pregnancy with the help of her gay friend Geoffrey(Murray Melvin).
This film also shows us that the younger generation(so often depicted in this time as bad or lacking responsibility)have more sense and decency than the older ones. Jo’s mum(Dora Bryan)is someone who should know better and should be being a good mum, but instead she leaves her daughter to her own devices and is sleeping around and thinking of herself. In many ways Jo is the adult and her mother is the teenager.
This film shows us that adults are not perfect and don’t always do the right or moral thing(the opposite of what we are so often told is the case when we are kids). The film also depicts a homosexual character who becomes in many ways the hero of the story and a very likeable character, this was quite daring due to homosexuals being largely vilified in society at the time. I like how this film depicts Geoffrey as simply being the normal man that he is, and that it just so happens that his sexual orientation is different to other peoples. His personality rather than his sexuality is what is focused upon in the film.
My favourite of the Woodfall films is Girl With Green Eyes. Based on the trilogy of novels by Edna O’Brien, this film focuses on the love affair between the young Kate(Rita Tushingham)and the middle aged Eugene(Peter Finch).
It’s a daring film, based on a daring book, set in Ireland and focusing on a girl who is having sex outside of marriage and who is going against convention and the dictates of religion in so many ways. I like it because it focuses on sex and relationships from a female perspective. The film is also very moving and features terrific lead performances from Rita and Peter. A young Lynn Redgrave lends solid support as Baba, the outgoing friend and flatmate of Kate.
Many of the Woodfall films have become very well known here in the UK. I’m very aware that they may not be all that famous in other parts of the world. I highly recommend them all to you, not only because they are good films, but because they visually capture a time,place and a way of life that is just starting to disappear over here.
I hope anyone who has never seen any of these films will seek them out. Remember as well that these films ushered in a new way of filmmaking, Woodfall helped to make it acceptable to make more films like the ones they were making.
Have you seen any of the Woodfall films? What do you think of the films?
For the seventh year running, Aurora from Citizen Screen, Kellee from Outspoken& Freckled, and Paula from Paula’s Cinema Club, are joining together to host this blogathon. It celebrates the great character actors. Be sure to visit their sites to read all of the entries, I can’t wait to read them all myself.
For my second entry in this blogathon, I’m writing about a character actor who was an acting chameleon. The name of this man? It’s Marius Goring.
Marius had me fooled for years! Why did he have me fooled? It was only a couple of years ago that I discovered that this man, who speaks with such a convincing foreign accent in so many of his films, and who had me convinced he was of German descent, was in fact British born and bred! He is that convincing in his roles.One of the best actors in the business as far as I’m concerned.
Marius played so many roles throughout his career, but he became best known for playing German or French speaking characters.
He is best known today for his performances in two Powell and Pressburger classics, the first film is A Matter Of Life And Death, and the second film is The Red Shoes.
He was often cast as German officers, men who were unlucky in love, or as bitter men who are eaten up with jealousy and desire.
Marius starred in so many classic films over the years: The Barefoot Contessa, The Red Shoes, The Spy In Black, Pandora And The Flying Dutchman, Odette, Circle Of Danger, The Magic Box. He also took the lead role in the 1956 TV adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel, this little known adaptation is a real gem and it is currently on YouTube if you have never seen it. Marius delivers one of his best performances in that TV adaptation.
Marius was born on the Isle Of Wight, on the 23rd of May, 1912. He was the son of Dr. Charles Goring, who was a pioneer in Criminology. Throughout his life and career, Marius Goring worked on the stage, appeared in many films and also worked in television. In 1929, Marius became a founding member of the actors union,British Equity, and he served as its president between 1963 and 1965 and 1975 and 1982.
Marius Goring is one of those actors who commands your whole attention whenever he appears on screen. He also had a knack for really making us feel the emotions and needs of his various characters.
Marius as the Conductor in A Matter Of Life And Death. Screenshots by me.
The character he is best remembered for today is the Conductor in A Matter Of Life And Death. I love that film so much and Marius Goring’s performance is a big reason why I love the film so much. He is hilarious, playful, mysterious and charming as the Conductor.
When he is in a scene in this film he dominates it, and when he is not in a scene, I for one really miss his presence. With that mischievous grin and those twinkling eyes it’s hard not to like this character and long to see more of him.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I would have happily watched a film series starring Marius(something like Here Comes Mr. Jordan)focusing on the Conductor and his adventures in heaven and down on Earth.
The scene where the Conductor stops time is a real highlight of this film and Marius really helps to make it so. He is so convincing that you totally buy into him being a man from the past who is also a playful ghost. He and David Niven play that scene perfectly.
One of my favourite film performances from him can be found in the seriously underrated/little known film, Mr. Perrin And Mr. Traill. Marius plays Mr. Perrin, an fussy and awkward older teacher who has to contend with a younger rival – a rival not only in the classroom – but also for the heart of the younger woman who Perrin loves from afar. I think it is one of his best performances and it is both subtle and powerful.
I highly recommend the film, not only because of Marius’s performance, but also because it has a very good story, and because it plays out as a dark combining of The Browning Version and Goodbye Mr. Chips.
Marius manages to give us a good sense of his characters inner turmoil, and he also ensures that we both pity and hate him as the film goes on.
Marius was a regular face on stage and screen for over fifty years. He died on the 30th of September, 1998. His presence in a film or series is always a welcome sight for this classic film fan.
I hope that this post will encourage any viewers out there who are unfamiliar with Marius Goring to go and seek out his work. He was one of the best character actors of the classic film era, and he is always a treat to watch.
Any other fans of Marius Goring here? What are your favourite films and performances?
For the seventh year running, Aurora from Citizen Screen, Kellee from Outspoken & Freckled, and Paula from Paula’s Cinema Club, are joining together to co-host this blogathon. Their blogathon celebrates the great character actors found in films. Be sure to visit their sites to read all of the entries, I can’t wait to read them all myself.
This is my first time taking part in this. I am really looking forward to finally being able to be a part of this wonderful event. I’ve decided to write two posts for this.
My first post celebrates one of the all time great character actresses. The name of this lady? It’s Sara Allgood. I think that Sara’s surname manages to perfectly describe the quality of all of her film performances. Sara was simply incapable of delivering a bad or dull performance.
Sara’s name may well be unfamiliar to some people today, but once you catch a glimpse of her warm and open face in a film, you won’t forget her in a hurry and I’m sure you’ll be eager to see more of her work.Sara Allgood is always a regular and welcome presence on the big screen for this classic film fan.
Sara appeared in so many classics over the years – The Spiral Staircase(the first film that I ever saw her in), The Lodger(stealing all the scenes she is in as the landlady), The Strange Affair Of Uncle Harry, Blackmail, How Green Was My Valley(deeply moving) and That Hamilton Woman(hilarious as the pushy mother of Vivien Leigh’s Emma Hamilton).
Sara was one of those performers who you can never catch acting. She always gave such natural and convincing performances. She will command your utmost attention when she appears in a scene, even if she is doing nothing more than sitting quietly in the background. Sara is one of the best characters actors of all time in my opinion. She often played mothers and housekeepers on screen.
Sara was born in Dublin, Ireland on the 29th of November, 1879. She was one of eight children. Sara joined The Daughters Of Ireland and studied drama. She worked predominately on the stage for much of her career. Sara toured on stage in America many times and would eventually move out to the States in the 1940’s. Sara Allgood died in America on the 13th of September,1950, after suffering a fatal heart attack. Sara was seventy years old when she died.
Her personal life had much tragedy in it. Her father died when she was very young and one of her brothers was killed in WW1. Sara married her leading man on the stage, Gerald Henson, in 1916, sadly both her husband and their daughter died in the flu epidemic of 1918. Somehow she managed to carry on with her life after those terrible losses. Her sister Mary(stage name Maire O’Neill) also became a well known stage actress and appeared in some films, sadly the two sisters became estranged in later life.
Sara’s film career began in 1929. Throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, Sara ended up working with some of the greatest directors of the classic film era including John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Siodmak.
Sara is best remembered today for her performance as the strong Welsh mother in How Green Was My Valley.
Sara is so convincing in her role in How Green Was My Valley, that you would swear blind that you were watching a real woman from the 1800’s. She has that radiating warmth, that unbreakable strength, and that inner kindness thing down so perfectly. She makes you love and admire her character and you believe that she is the glue that binds her mining family together. Whenever I watch this film, I never fail to be moved by the stoicism of her character, and I always marvel at how Sara so completely inhabits that character.
I highly recommend Sara Allgood to anyone who has never seen her in a film before. She truly was one of the most gifted and natural actresses of the classic film era.I hope that my post will help to spread her name far and wide to those unfamiliar with her.
Any other Sara Allgood fans here? What are your thoughts on Sara and her performances?
If anyone has ever seen the whole of the film Between Two Worlds, could you please tell me what it is like? I have only been able to see a couple of clips on YouTube one of which features a big speech scene for Sara. I long to see the full film due to Sara being in it, and also because the story intrigues me so much.
We have decided to honour a lady who was one of the most talented and popular actresses of the classic film era.
The subject of our blogathon is the legendary Barbara Stanwyck.
Known affectionately by those who knew her as “Missy”, Barbara became famous for her natural acting style. She also became well known for playing strong, independent and intelligent characters in her films.
Barbara Stanwyck dominated the screen in every single scene that she appeared in. She is one of those actors who could say so much with just a look or expression.
For this blogathon you can write about any of Barbara’s films,TV series, or TV episodes. You can write tributes to her. You can write about her acting ability. You can write about her whole life and career. You can write about her lovely friendship with William Holden. You can write about your favourite Barbara Stanwyck performances. Perhaps you met or corresponded with her and want to tell us about that?
We will accept two duplicates per screen title. You can write more than one post if you wish to, but we ask that you please don’t write more than three.
The blogathon will be held on the20th, 21st and 22nd of January, 2019. I will be your hostess on the 20th. Crystal will be your hostess on the 21st and 22nd. Please send us your entries on or before those dates.
Let us know what you want to write about below. Take one of Crystal’s lovely banners to put on your site to help promote the event. Have fun writing about Barbara and watching her films.
Films claimed twice: Ball Of Fire and Sorry,Wrong Number
The Particpation List
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: All I Desire
In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Topic to be decided
Pale Writer: Christmas In Connecticut and The Thorn Birds
A Shroud Of Thoughts: The Lady Eve
Love Letters To Old Hollywood: Ball Of Fire
Wide Screen World: Three episodes of the Barbara Stanwyck Show
Down These Mean Streets: Double Indemnity
Vinnieh: No Man Of Her Own
Caftan Woman: Banjo On My Knee
Poppity Talks Classic Film: The Two Mrs. Carrolls
Silver Screen Classics: Sorry,Wrong Number
Lisa Alkana: Guest post on In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood:Crime Of Passion
When the clock strikes 11am on this Sunday morning, it will be 100 years since World War One finally came to an end. To mark this important centenary, I decided that I would host a blogathon about films which focus on this war.
I want to thank you all so much for joining me for this special blogathon. In addition to reading through all the posts in this blogathon, I would like us all to take a moment to remember all of the people and animals(their deaths and injuries all too often get overlooked) who lost their lives in this brutal and senseless war.
This war is an event that we should never forget. Sadly war is still present in our lives today, and it would seem that our species has learnt nothing from the horrors and pain of all those past wars. I hope that one day war can be a thing of the past, something that is found only in the pages of history books.
Check back to this post over the next two days to read all of the entries. I’ll update this post as often as I can over the weekend. Thanks again for joining me for this.
Day 2 Entries
Pop Culture Reverie tells us about Wonder Woman and her time in the trenches.
Silver Screen Classics writes about Peter Weir’s classic war film Gallipoli.
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?
I’ve wanted to hold a blogathon celebrating James Mason for a while now. So I thought it was high time that I got on and put one together. He is a great favourite of mine, and as a fellow Brit, I am very proud of him for having been able to achieve international stardom.
James Mason was one of the greatest classic era actors. He had one of the most distinctive and memorable voices in history. He was suave, brooding, intense and charming.
James Mason excelled at playing both villains and good guys. He was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, on the 15th of May, 1909. He would go on to enjoy a fifty year career in film and Television. He died in 1984.
For this blogathon you can write about any of James Mason’s films and TV performances. You can write about your favourite James Mason characters. You can write a tribute to him. You can write about his career as a whole. You can write about either his British or American film career.
You can write more than one post if you would like to do so. I will allow two duplicates per screen title. Previously published articles and reviews are very welcome.
The blogathon will be held on the 5th and 6th of October, 2018. Please publish your entries on or before those dates.
Let me know what you want to write about in the comments section below. Check the participation list below to see who is writing about what. Take one of the banners and put them somewhere on your site to help promote the event.
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: Three Favourite James Mason Performances
Caftan Woman: Five Fingers
Dubism: Odd Man Out
Realweegiemidgetreviews: Heaven Can Wait
Diary Of A Movie Maniac: Salem’s Lot
Musings Of A Classic Film Addict: The Seventh Veil
Pale Writer2: The Wicked Lady
Wide Screen World: Heaven Can Wait
The Stop Button: Bigger Than Life
Silver Screenings: The Reckless Moment
In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: North By Northwest
MovieRob: The Desert Fox & The Desert Rats
The Wonderful World Of Cinema: James Mason and Margaret Lockwood
Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: The Story Of Three Loves
Today is Alfred Hitchcock’s birthday. He was born in 1899 in London. I thought I would put together a ranked list of the ten films that I consider to be his best.
As you all know, I am a major fan of Hitch’s films, so it has proven to be quite a challenge indeed for me to only pick ten films of his to rank.
I’d love to get your thoughts on these ten films. I’d also love to know what your own top ten Hitchcock list looks like. Please do leave your own choices in the comments below.
10. The Birds (1963)
Hitchcock proves he has a talent as a horror director with this film about birds attacking humans. A clever mix of real birds, fake birds and matte shots convince us that the bird attacks and mass gatherings are real.
Featuring a strong debut performance by Tippi Hedren. I also love this one a great deal because of the relationship which develops between Mitch and Melanie.
9. Sabotage (1936)
Sabotage is a suspenseful drama about the British police trying to prevent a terrorist attack in London.
The best remembered scene in this involves a London bus. This bus sequence is one of the most shocking and suspenseful sequences in any of Hitchcock’s films.
The other standout sequence in the film is the dinner table scene, where the wife gives her evil husband quite the fright.
Sylvia Sidney is excellent as the young wife who slowly comes to realise that her husband is a cold and deranged murderer, and that he doesn’t care who gets hurt by his actions.
I think this is Hitch’s best British film.
Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman play against type in this thrilling film about spies, romance and murder. The daughter of a Nazi(who doesn’t share her father’s views) is asked to spy on a Nazi group who live in America.
She accepts the task and soon finds herself in great danger. She is also romantically torn between two very different men (Cary Grant and Claude Rains).
Cary is all toughness and cynicism as the American agent unwilling to admit he is in love with the woman he is sending into danger. Ingrid plays a disreputable, fun-loving woman, whose heroic actions redeem her self destructive behaviour. Superb support from the great Claude Rains and Leopoldine Konstantin.
7. Rope (1948)
I’d say this has to be the most macabre Hitchcock film. Two men murder one of their friends, put his body into a trunk, and then use the top of the trunk as a buffet table.
They invite a group of their friends(including the victims father and fiance)to dinner in the apartment to eat off the trunk. The suspense lies in whether or not the dead body will be discovered.
John Dall is chilling as the evil, cold and possibly psychopathic, Brandon. Farley Granger is equally excellent as the twitchy Phillip, who unlike Brandon, is actually unhappy about what they have done and is nervous about getting caught.
Rope is notable for seemingly having been shot all in one take, and also for the homosexual undertones to the relationship between Brandon, Phillip and their friend and former teacher, Rupert(James Stewart). The film was inspired by the real Leopold and Loeb murder case.
6. Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)
Hitch shows us that all is not as it seems in small town America. Joseph Cotten delivers a career best performance here playing Uncle Charlie, a charming serial killer who is being pursued by the police.
The film becomes a thrilling cat and mouse game once Charlie’s niece finds out his dark secret.
This film is all about shattered innocence, misperception and danger. The fascinating relationship between Charlie and his niece is something that has been much discussed and interpreted(the pair are almost like twins in some ways, and there is also a hint of a strange tension between them which could be sexual), and it is one of the most memorable aspects of the film. Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright both deliver excellent performances.
5. Vertigo (1958)
In my opinion this is Hitchock’s darkest and most fascinating film. The film also features the best Hitchcock score (in my opinion) composed by Bernard Herrmann. This haunting Noir is part suspenseful mystery, part twisted and tragic love story, and part eerie ghost story.
This is one that can be interpreted in so many different ways, which means that it is one that you can have a great deal of fun watching and analysing.
James Stewart and Kim Novak are both at their best as the ill-fated lovers, Scottie and Madeleine. This is one of the darkest and complex performances that James Stewart ever gave. Kim Novak convinces in a duel role as two very different women.
4. North By Northwest (1959)
This one is a real thrill ride from start to finish. The best of Hitch’s wrong man on the run films in my opinion. This film is part thriller, part comedy, part romance and part spy story. It looks gorgeous visually and the cast all look so stylish and glamorous.
The film features two of the most iconic moments in film history(the crop duster attack and the Mount Rushmore sequence). Cary Grant is at his best,and he is ably supported by Eva Marie Saint, James Mason and Martin Landau.
3. Rebecca (1940)
This gothic ghost story is expertly directed by Hitch. The film begins with a sweet love story, the film is also very brightly lit at the beginning and everything looks idyllic.
The mood and lighting of the film quickly become much darker once Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier’s characters return home to England.
All shadows and billowing curtains, this atmospheric and suspenseful drama features career best performances from Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson. I love how Hitch makes us sense the oppressive presence of the dead Rebecca.
2. Psycho (1960)
The film that changed everything. Starting off as a film about a woman on the run, the film takes an unexpected detour into horror territory and makes film history in the process.
Featuring the scariest shower sequence ever filmed, one of the creepiest houses in film history, and a brilliant twist at the end which makes you reassess everything that you have just watched.
Scary, suspenseful and featuring a remarkable performance by Anthony Perkins. Strong support from Vera Miles, Janet Leigh, Martin Balsam and John Gavin.
1. Rear Window (1954)
I struggled for a very long time over which film should be in first place. In the end I decided that this film should be number one.
I think it easily qualifies to be the best Hitchcock film as it so perfectly encapsulates what Hitchcock’s films are all about.
The plot of the film and the way everything is all set up, means that this film is still effective and doesn’t feel dated when viewed today.
Rear Window is filled with suspense, murder, relationships, obsession, mystery, danger and thrills. Hitch also cleverly makes the audience obsessed voyeurs, just like Jimmy Stewart’s character is, by making us see everything from that characters perspective. Featuring terrific performances from James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr.
Deborah Kerr is one of my favourite actresses from the classic film era, and I want to hold this blogathon to celebrate Deborah and her films. I do hope that you can all join me to pay tribute to this very talented lady.
Deborah Kerr was born Deborah Jane Kerr- Trimmer, in Glasgow, on the 30th of September, 1921. She would go on to become one of the most beloved and famous actresses of her day, and she worked in both English and American films. On screen she was the epitome of an English rose.
For this blogathon you can write about any of the films and TV series that she appeared in. You can write about her entire career. You can write a tribute to her. You can write about your favourite Deborah Kerr characters and performances. If you ever met or corresponded with her, then you can write about that experience too.
You can write more than one post if you want to. Previously published posts are very welcome. I will accept two duplicate posts per screen title.
The blogathon will be held on the 30th of September, 2018. Please post your entries on or before this date.
Let me know below what you want to write about. Please take one of the banners and put it on your site somewhere to help promote the event. Check the participation list below to see who is writing about what.
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison & Four Essential Deborah Kerr Performances
Poppity: Black Narcissus
Caftan Woman: Reunion At Fairborough
Anybody Got A Match: The Hucksters
Musings Of A Classic Film Addict: Tea and Sympathy
The Stop Button: Separate Tables
Old Hollywood Films: The Grass Is Greener
Silver Screen Classics: The Night Of The Iguana
Whimsically Classic: From Here To Eternity
Pop Culture Reverie: Tea And Sympathy
The Wonderful World Of Cinema: Separate Tables
Palewriter2: An Affair To Remember & The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp
MovieRob: Edward My Son
Critica Retro: Vacation From Marriage
Diary Of A Movie Maniac: The End Of The Affair & Beloved Infidel
Lady Eve’s Reel Life: The Innocents
Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: The films of Deborah Kerr
I am a big fan of Audrey Hepburn. I have often thought about which of Audrey’s film performances should be considered to be her best work. After thinking about this for quite some time, I have finally chosen a few performances that I think are her best.
I would love to get your views on Audrey’s performances in these films.
The Nun’s Story (1959)
Audrey stars as a nun called Sister Luke. This film is a biopic of a real life woman who became a nun and worked out in the Congo. Audrey is beyond amazing in this film. There are scenes in this where you really do believe that she is on the point of having a breakdown. You really feel that Audrey’s character is struggling emotionally and that she has conflicted feelings about the life she has chosen to lead.
She perfectly conveys the emotional and physical struggle this woman endures as she overworks herself, becomes physically ill and tries to adhere to the strict rules of convent life.
This is a film that doesn’t get discussed often enough, and it really should be much better known because Audrey is phenomenal in it.
Roman Holiday (1953)
Audrey delivers one of the most natural and remarkable debut lead film performances in film history. She totally convinces as the reserved and unhappy Princess. She also convinces as the carefree, happy, curious and adorable woman enjoying a welcome taste of real life.
I love how she easily switches between innocence, intense happiness, deep sadness and being torn between her duties and her desires. It really is a poignant and powerful performance. It is easy to see how she managed to capture the public’s hearts when this one was released.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)
Audrey wasn’t the actress who was initially the first choice for the role of Holly, but Audrey defied expectations, and more than proved that she was indeed the right choice for the role. Audrey perfectly captures the various emotions and quirks of Holly so well. One moment she is happy and quirky, the next she is vulnerable and melancholy, and the next she is daring, sexy, passionate, mean and strong.
I like how Audrey makes you feel for Holly and enjoy spending time with her. Holly is such a unique character and Audrey captures her many different facets so well. You can tell when you watch this that Audrey put so much effort into this role. It is so difficult to imagine any other actress in this role now other than Audrey. It isn’t difficult to see why this has become her iconic role and film.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Although she doesn’t really convince as a cockney flower girl living in poverty, Audrey certainly does convince as an awkward and nervous woman who transforms into a society lady.
Audrey always had a natural class and dignity about her that aided her in her performance here. She also does such a good job of conveying Eliza’s despair, frustration and anger over her dismissal by Higgins after the ball. She makes you feel how much hard work and effort Eliza has put in, and also feel how hurt and used she feels by Higgins dismissal of her success.
The Second Annual Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon has finally arrived!
Over the next two days, a large number of truly wonderful bloggers will be submitting their articles on all things Hitch. Check back to this post today and tomorrow, I will be updating it as regularly as I can linking to all of the entries.
I can’t wait to read all of your posts. Thank you so much for taking part.
The Second Annual Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon participants gather together in the hotel lounge. The strains of Bernard Herrmann’s music can be heard floating through the air.
Someone kindly informs us that lunch is now ready. We all tuck into a delicious buffet, this is laid out for us on top of a suspicious looking chest belonging to some guy called Brandon.
Day 2 Entries
The Wonderful World Of Cinema goes out to sea in order to discuss Hitchcock’s ocean set thriller Lifeboat.