Beach Party Blogathon: Girl Happy (1965) – My First Elvis Presley Movie

My Cat Stanley

The picture to the left is from last weekend when my cat, Stanley and I were watching my very first Elvis Presley movie, Girl Happy (1965) for the Beach Party Blogathon being hosted by Ruth at Silver Screenings and Kristina at Speakeasy.  Or as I joked on Twitter, I was watching, he looked more like he was relaxing on the beach. :-)

I had every intention of writing a more detailed review of the movie for the blogathon later in the week, but unfortunately due to some unforeseen circumstances I wasn’t able to focus on that very well. (I’m bad at reviews so they take me forever!)

Beach Party Blogathon

But since the blogathon ends today, I still wanted to put something together, mostly to shine the spotlight where it belongs, on all the other great posts that have been written so far this week and the two awesome hosts who worked so hard to put on this event. So please do me a favor and head on over to Kristina’s site to check out the list of participants and join in on the party.

Following are just a few of my thoughts about the movie along with some facts about it’s production. I apologize in advance for their random nature. :-)

  • The plot courtesy of IMDb: “A Chicago mobster hires a rock and roll singer and his band to keep an eye on his daughter during Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.”
  • The rock and roll singer was of course played by Elvis Presley and the bandmates by Gary Crosby (Bing’s son), Joby Baker and Jimmy Hawkins.GirlHappyBand
  • The daughter was played by Shelley Fabares, who was the only actress to appear with Elvis in three different movies. Jimmy Hawkins and Shelley Fabares had previously worked together when they played a teenage couple on “The Donna Reed Show” (1958-1965).
  • Having only watched a few “beach party” movies and no other Elvis Presley movies, it’s difficult for me to say how Girl Happy compares with the others. From what I’ve read, it sounds like weak or non-existent plots are the norm for beach party movies, and in that respect I would guess that Girl Happy has more of a plot than most, though still quite simple. I’d also guess it’s about middle of the pack in terms of quality.
  • I just LOVE being by water so beautiful beach and water scenes in movies are always a welcome sight for me. Girl Happy opened with a shot of a beautiful sandy beach and contained a few other beach and water sport scenes which were perfect for getting me in the summer mood.GirlHappyHotel3
  • I also love staying in hotels, which I talked more about in a previous post, so the scenes in the movie set at a Fort Lauderdale motel called the Seadrift, complete with an inviting looking swimming pool, were a treat for me. Even though it’s clearly just a set, I was able to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the feeling that I was also a happy guest at the hotel.
  • I want to give a special shoutout to the movie’s set designers Henry Grace and Hugh Hunt, art directors George Davis and Addison Hehr, and Director of Photography, Philip Lathrop. The beautiful sets and the vibrant color scheme all contributed to my overall enjoyment of the movie.
  • I read in one review that Elvis was already starting to show signs of his future weight issues. Huh?! I thought he looked like he was in tremendously great shape in this movie! Which as others pointed out, made it somewhat strange that he wore pants and long sleeve shirts throughout the movie despite having appeared shirtless or in short sleeve shirts and shorts in other movies.
  • The movie was produced by Joe Pasternak, who also produced another movie set in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Where the Boys Are (1960).
  • Girl Happy was primarily shot at the MGM studios in Hollywood with the beach scenes being filmed in Southern California. Only second unit filming was done in Fort Lauderdale. A few of the stock shots used in the movie were actually taken from Where the Boys AreGirl Happy (1965) Soundtrack
  • My favorite song from the movie was “Cross My Heart and Hope to Die”. To me it best captured the natural charm and charisma that has made me a fan of both Elvis and his music. Actress Mary Ann Mobley appears in the scene in which Elvis sings this song.
  • I read some not so flattering opinions about the song “Do the Clam,” but I’m not gonna lie, I actually like it and thought the scene it appeared in was quite fun. You can watch it here.
  • On a side note, listening to the soundtrack got me thinking about what I would consider my favorite Elvis Presley song overall. I decided on “Suspicious Minds” although I like several others almost as much.

 
Now that I have finally seen one Elvis Presley movie, I’m interested in watching a few more to see how Girl Happy compares.

What is your favorite Elvis Presley movie? What is your favorite Elvis Presley song, either from Girl Happy or overall?

Signature

Remembering My Mom on Mother’s Day: A Love for The Perils of Pauline (1947)

Mother’s Day has been bittersweet for me the last several years, ever since I lost my mom in 2007. Bitter because she is no longer here with us, but sweet because I have such great memories of her as the most wonderful mom ever, and because I was the mom of two sweet cats who brought so much joy to my life. Unfortunately, this year is a little less sweet than most, because I lost both of those kitties in the past year, one just last week in fact. But even though it’s a sad time for me right now, I am still blessed with those great memories of my mom and also time spent with my newest cat Stanley, who I adopted earlier this year.

Perils of Pauline (1947)

I was just thinking the other day about one vivid classic movie related memory I have of my mom, so I thought I’d share it today on Mother’s Day. When I was young, my mom mentioned quite often how much she loved the movie The Perils of Pauline (1947). It was her favorite in fact.

The movie which starred Betty Hutton and John Lund, told the real life story of actress Pearl White and her rise to fame in silent movies. When the VCR and VHS tapes came along, my mom had the long desired ability to watch the movie as often as she liked, which she did many times.

My mom and dad didn’t really watch many classic movies when I was younger and I didn’t start liking them until I was in college, so I didn’t think I’d share her love for the movie and never even gave thought to the idea of watching it with her. Just based on the title and the cover photo of Betty Hutton swinging on a rope, I just assumed it would be a “dorky” movie.

Perils of Pauline (1947)

Of course I feel bad now that I never took the time to watch it with her especially because I did eventually come to appreciate classic movies while she was still alive. Being the loving, forgiving mom that she was I’m sure she didn’t mind, but if I could go back in time you can bet that I would take her love for the movie more seriously and watch it with her.

If your mom is still with you and you have the opportunity to spend time with her doing the things she loves, I would encourage you to do so and hope you are able to appreciate those simple moments with her. In fact, it would make me happy if some day soon you watched one of her favorite movies with her in my mom’s honor. :-)

Wishing all moms a happy and blessed Mother’s Day!

Signature

P.S. What are some of the classic movies you have enjoyed watching with your mom?

The Orson Welles Centenary: Studying His Life and Career

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane

Ever since I wrote about Orson Welles’ portrayal of Harry Lime in the movie The Third Man (1949) for the Great Villain Blogathon last year, I’ve had the intention of studying both his life and career in more depth. For some reason, he has always been someone who greatly intrigues me, probably in part because of the many discussions I’ve heard regarding the movie Citizen Kane (1941).

You know the ones, the debate over whether or not Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever made or if Orson Welles was a genius who should be revered. I guess you could say I’m somewhat neutral in the debate about the movie itself. I’ve seen it a few times and really enjoyed it and appreciate many aspects of it.

It’s not necessarily a personal favorite and I don’t feel qualified to say whether it’s the greatest ever, but I don’t really have anything bad to say about it either. I do appreciate the important part it plays in the history of filmmaking and plan to watch it several more times in the future. How I feel about the genius of Orson Welles is yet to be determined as I further my research. Continue reading →

Choosing a Favorite Alfred Hitchcock Movie: Is it Even Possible?

Alfred Hitchcock

What makes a great director? I’m almost embarrassed to say I don’t really know. I’d love to be more knowledgeable about the role of a director and more specifically what qualities make one great, but I don’t exactly know what to look for to make that determination.

So I certainly would never make the claim that Alfred Hitchcock is the best director ever, but just based on how many of his movies I really like/love, I can definitely say he is my favorite.

Alfred Hitchcock Movies on the Big Screen

I recently had the chance to see the Hitchcock directed movie The 39 Steps (1935) at a local theater. Well, if you can call a 2 1/2 hour round trip drive, local. :-) The theater was running a special promotion that day where if you wrote the name of your favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie on a card, admission was free.

Notorious (1946) Cary Grant & Ingrid Bergman

The theater also mentioned that they will consider showing another of Hitchcock’s movies in the future from the titles they collected. So when it came time to choose a movie, I realized I could either pick my true favorite or instead go with one that I thought would be more impressive to see on the big screen.

For example, even though it’s not one of my top favorites, I considered writing down North by Northwest (1959) just because I think it would be awesome to see in a theater. Crop dusting scene anyone? :-)

My Top Five Favorite Alfred Hitchcock Movies – Or Are They?

I ended up writing down what I think is my true favorite, Notorious (1946), but before I did I expressed on Twitter that I wasn’t sure if I could even choose a favorite. When prompted by a follower to narrow it down to a top five, I deliberated quickly and came up with the following:

  1. Notorious (1946)
  2. Vertigo (1958)
  3. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  4. Foreign Correspondent (1940)
  5. Rebecca (1940)

The top three were fairly easy to decide upon, but the last two were a bit tougher and could easily be interchanged with a few others including Rear Window (1954), Marnie (1964) or possibly even The 39 Steps, which I just saw and thought was a great movie. Obviously there is no right or wrong answer and this list can and probably will change over time, but it was still fun to look through Hitchcock’s filmography and realize just how many of his movies I love.

What is your favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie? If like me, it’s too difficult to choose just one, go ahead and list your top 5, top 10. And hey, if you’re not a fan of Hitchcock, let me know that as well. It’s always interesting to hear differing opinions.

Signature

P.S. I’m super excited that I get to see Rear Window on the big screen tonight, thanks to Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events! Were you able to attend one of these screenings?

My Favorite TV Watching Memories: Starsky, Hutch and the House from Hart to Hart

Television

My sisters and I were recently reminiscing about all the television shows we watched growing up, and trust me when I say we watched A LOT of them! One of my favorite memories is from the late ’70s/early ’80s when we would watch the shows Eight is Enough, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island in succession pretty much every Saturday night. Even though that was over 30 years ago (yes, I’m that old!) I can still remember those nights like they were yesterday.

A while ago I started to compile a list of all the tv shows I watched from childhood through my teenage years, and our recent trip down memory lane inspired me to revisit that list. It currently stands at 126 shows, but I know if I gave it more thought and did some digging online I could come up with a lot more.

Starsky and Hutch

Oh, the stories I could tell of the sneaky things one of my sisters and I did to get our parents to let us stay up past our bedtime to watch some of those shows. Starsky and Hutch is one that immediately comes to mind as I believe it didn’t start until 9:00 PM.

Asking for a “midnight snack” at the last minute and/or taking longer than normal to eat it allowed us to catch at least a small glimpse of the cool shoes worn by Paul Michael Glaser (haha, check these out on Sneakerpedia!) or the blue eyes of David Soul. I’ll leave talk of his song, “Don’t Give Up on Us” for another time. :-)

Another show that one of my sisters and I loved and watched without fail was Hart to Hart, starring Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers and a name familiar to a lot of old movie fans, Lionel Stander. One of our favorite episodes was titled “Murder Is a Man’s Best Friend,” which aired on December 9, 1980. In the episode, the Hart’s dog Freeway was selected to be the star in a new dog food ad campaign. I can even still remember the name of the food, Doggone-Its. :-) I don’t know why we loved that one so much, but we just did. Any other Hart to Hart fanatics out there? Do you remember that episode?

Hart to Hart Television Show

I always thought Jonathan and Jennifer Hart were such a glamorous couple, and I also thought their house was really cool. I recently discovered that the house used for exterior filming of the show has a small tie to old movies, which is something that always piques my interest. The ranch-style house that was used, which is located in Mandeville Canyon, Los Angeles was once owned by actor Dick Powell and his wife June Allyson. I’ve read that Powell was good friends with both Robert Wagner and the series’ producer, Aaron Spelling.

A few years ago the home was put on the market by its then owner Glorya Kaufman, and last year it sold through an auction for $14.6 million. You can see pictures of the entire property on the LA Curbed website. The 48-acre estate includes a 12,000-square-foot house, guest houses, a tennis court, a lake with waterfalls and several other amenities.

Well, I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and I hope it brought back some good memories of your own.

Do you have any fond memories of your early television watching days? Tell me about them in the comments below!

Signature