Saturday State Post with a Twist: Classic Movie Actors from Europe/Asia

A list that doesn’t include Cary Grant, no matter the topic, just doesn’t seem right to me. So in this week’s Saturday State Post I’ll be mixing things up a little by venturing outside of the United States and into Europe and Asia. There are sooo many great actors and actresses including Cary Grant who were born in other countries that it only seemed fair to “bend the rules” a little bit and include them in my “state’ series.

A few of the actors and actresses from Europe and Asia are:

Claude Rains

Claude Rains

Born:  November 10, 1889 in Camberwell, London, England

Died:  May 30, 1967 (age 77)

Married six times

Known for the Movies:  Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Four Daughters, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Now Voyager, Casablanca, Mr. Skeffington, Notorious, Lawrence of Arabia

My Favorite Claude Rains Movie:  Casablanca

 
 
Interesting Facts About Claude Rains:

  • He once had a very serious Cockney accent and a speech impediment, which were corrected with the help of elocution lessons paid for by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, founder of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Rains later served as a teacher there before coming to Hollywood, with Laurence Olivier being his best known student.
  • He was one of Bette Davis’ favorite actors (she had great taste!), and they made four films together; Jaurez (1939) Now Voyager (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and Deception (1946).
  • Unlike many Hollywood actors, he is not buried in Hollywood but in New Hampshire, a state in which he lived for a brief time. He is buried at Red Hill Cemetery in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. You can read more about his burial place and see a few cool pictures including his headstone on J.W.’s blog Odd Things I’ve Seen. I would love to go visit the site myself someday.

Charles Boyer Continue reading »

Stories from a Podcast: James Garner in Darby’s Rangers (1958)

James Garner in The Rockford Files

Play the theme to The Rockford Files, and it will instantly take me back to when I was a young girl watching tv with my mom and dad, especially when the very familiar harmonica part starts up.

I know we watched it together regularly even though I don’t remember much about the show itself, but that song will always remain a small part of my childhood memories. I can’t claim to know a lot about the rest of his career, but when the star of The Rockford Files, James Garner, passed away last week I couldn’t help but feel sadness for those who loved and knew him well.

In what was a bit of a coincidental moment, just yesterday I was listening to an episode of a podcast called The Commentary Track hosted by film historian Frank Thompson in which he interviewed William Wellman, Jr., son of William A. Wellman, who directed Garner in the movie Darby’s Rangers (1958).

Wellman, Jr. told the story of how when the original lead actor Charlton Heston was replaced due to unacceptable contract demands, the assistant director informed the entire cast that they’d all be “moving up a part.” To that Garner replied, “Well, if I move up one part then I’m the lead.” He certainly was, and that is how he received his first starring role in a movie.

Even though the interview was taped a while back, one thing that stood out to me as Wellman was telling the story was how he repeatedly referred to him as ‘Jim’ Garner with a friendly affection in his voice that seemed only appropriate given the sadness of his recent death.

Tributes to James Garner

A few of my fellow classic movie bloggers recently paid tribute to James Garner; Laura from Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings wrote a touching post about how much he meant to her over the years and shared with us part of her James Garner memorabilia collection, Raquel from Out of the Past paid her respects to his life and career and included a link to a wonderful picture of James and his wife Lois, and Aubyn from The Girl With the White Parasol shared a sweet picture and quote as a nice farewell to the actor.

My sympathies go out to the family and friends of James Garner including his wife of 58 years, Lois Fleishman Clarke.

Signature

If You Had a Time Machine, Where Would You Go First?

A few days ago I went to an awesome concert put on by a local community band, the theme of which was “A Trip Around the World.” I loved every piece and did not think I would be able to pick a favorite UNTIL they came to a medley of music by German composer Kurt Weill. The medley included a song I’m sure most of you are familiar with, “Mack the Knife” from one of Weill’s most famous works, The Threepenny Opera (1928).

Cocoanut Grove in The Ambassador Hotel Los Angeles

The reason that piece was my favorite is that I immediately felt like I had been transported back to the 1930s and was sitting in a nightclub listening to an orchestra or jazz band. I realized that even if they had not introduced the piece and mentioned when it was composed, I would have immediately recognized it as being from my favorite time period as far as entertainment goes, the 1920s-1940s.

It made me ponder how I would answer if someone asked me when and where I’d go first if I had access to a time machine. I think after my experience at the concert, I’d have to say I would go back to the 1930s and visit a nightclub such as The Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles or the Stork Club in New York City and listen to great jazz or big band music while socializing with some of my favorite movie stars. Being the huge history lover that I am there are many other places I’d love to go as well, but for the pure fun of it I think that would be my first choice.

To take a visual trip to some of these clubs as seen in classic movies, check out a fun post called Nightclubbing Through Classic Hollywood: The 1930s by Carley at The Kitty Packard Pictorial.

So, if you had a time machine and could go back to any time period, when would that be and what’s the first thing you’d do when you got there?

Signature

P.S. Even though I knew the song “Mack the Knife”, I was not familiar with Kurt Weill but have since learned that he has an interesting story which includes some ties to classic movies. For more information about his life and career, please visit the website for The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.

CMBA Blogathon: Fabulous Films of the ’50s – Some Like it Hot (1959)

This post is part of the CMBA Fabulous Films of the ’50s Blogathon hosted by the Classic Movie Blog Association. You can find a list of participating blogs and read all the great posts by visiting the CMBA website.

Some Like it Hot (1959)My apologies in advance for this post being somewhat scattered, but a recent death in the family has had me feeling down and preoccupied, so I’m not quite at my best this week. For what it’s worth, following are just a few of my thoughts on the classic comedy Some Like it Hot (1959), a movie about two male jazz musicians who after witnessing a mob hit, disguise themselves as women to “hide out” by traveling the country with an all female jazz band. The movie stars Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe and was directed by Billy Wilder.

I’m not sure what it is about me and covering an almost universally loved classic comedy for a blogathon, but much like the time I wrote about Bringing Up Baby (1938) for a TCM Summer Under the Stars blogathon a few years ago, I feel like I need to hang my head in shame for not loving the movie Some Like It Hot (1959) as much as it seems I “should.”

It’s number one on the AFI’s list of the 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time and a favorite of just about every classic film fan I’ve ever heard mention it, so I was surprised when I realized about halfway through the movie that I probably wasn’t going to share the same sentiment.

I’m not at all saying that I didn’t like the movie because I did, I just didn’t connect with it in a way that would put it near the top of my favorites list. I swear, I really do have a great sense of humor, but just going off of AFI’s list, I much prefer the comedy of films like The Philadelphia Story (1940), It Happened One Night (1934) or His Girl Friday (1940).

Anyway, much like I did for Bringing Up Baby, I’m not going to focus on the negative here. What I will be doing is discussing a few random items related to the movie, and my apologies again, I do mean random. :-) Continue reading »

The Great Villain Blogathon – Orson Welles as Harry Lime

Spoilers Ahead: Although I don’t go very deep into the plot of the movie The Third Man (1949), some of my comments may reveal key plot twists and bits of dialogue that could detract from your enjoyment of the movie if you have yet to see it.

This post is part of the Great Villian Blogathon hosted by Ruth of Silver ScreeningsKaren of Shadows & Satin, and Kristina of Speakeasy. Please visit any of those wonderful sites to read more posts about great movie villains.

Sometimes an actor or actress will appear in a movie for just a short amount of time but will still make an enormous impact that is felt for a long time afterward. There may be no better example of this than the appearance of Orson Welles in The Third Man (1949).

Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man

Although he doesn’t appear until a little over an hour into the film and only appears in a few key scenes, his character of Harry Lime is considered by many to be one of the most fascinating and mysterious movie villains of all time. And I know I’m not alone in thinking his first appearance in the film was one of the most “electrifying” in movie history.

One look at the expression on his face may be all you need to see to understand just how devious yet charismatic Harry Lime was. In his review of the movie, Roger Ebert described the entrance this way, “The sequence is unforgettable: the meow of the cat in the doorway, the big shoes, the defiant challenge by Holly, the light in the window, and then the shot, pushing in, on Lime’s face, enigmatic and teasing, as if two college chums had been caught playing a naughty prank.” Continue reading »

The James Stewart Blogathon – The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

“This post is part of the James Stewart Blogathon hosted by the Classic Film & TV Cafe. You can view the complete blogathon schedule here.”

The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

According to author Marc Eliot in his book, “Jimmy Stewart, a Biography,” Stewart had for some time wanted to make a movie about Glenn Miller, a man with whom he shared several things in common. They were both small town boys with music in their backgrounds and both had served in the Army Air Force. Stewart had long admired Miller’s work, and in 1953 he got his wish to play the trombonist, arranger and bandleader in the movie The Glenn Miller Story (1954).

For the making of the film, he was paired for the fourth time with director Anthony Mann, with the movie being their first non-western collaboration. Their partnership began in 1950 at Universal Pictures with the making of Winchester ’73 and ended with another western, The Far Country in 1954. Unfortunately, it was said that Mann didn’t really care for The Glenn Miller Story, but only took it on as a favor to Stewart.

Born Alton Glenn Miller on March 4, 1904, Miller and Stewart were born four years apart, which meant that Stewart was 46 years old when he played a 25-year-old Glenn Miller at the beginning of the film. In a very similar situation just a few years later, Stewart was 49 years old when he portrayed a 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh in the movie The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), a role he had to actively fight for because the producers thought that he was too old for the part.

Glenn Miller

The Glenn Miller Story (1954) traces the career of Glenn Miller from his early days as a struggling musician in the late 1920′s through his most successful years as the leader of his own band and the Army Air Force Band, and ends with his tragic death over the English Channel in 1944. Although the movie definitely took some liberties with some key facts as is often the case with many biopics, you can get a basic understanding of what the movie is about and learn more about Miller’s life by reading the biography page on his official site.

Much of the focus of the movie centers on Glenn Miller’s courtship and marriage to Helen Berger, who was played by June Allyson. Berger was his college sweetheart while they both attended the University of Colorado-Boulder. Stewart and Allyson were good friends off screen, and they played husband and wife on screen in two other films, The Stratton Story (1949) and Strategic Air Command (1955). Continue reading »