Old Movies Nostalgia

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.

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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?

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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!

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Mini Saturday State Post: Wisconsin Born Actress Nancy Olson

Sunset Blvd (1950)

When  I first watched the movie Sunset Boulevard (1950) many years ago, frankly, I didn’t care for it at all. I know that’s considered a sin by many classic movie fans, but you have to realize that was back in my early days of watching classic movies when I didn’t really enjoy film noir. The movie I guess you could say was just a little too dark and strange for me. But because my tastes have really evolved over the years, I decided to give it another try.

Nancy Olson and William Holden in Sunset Boulevard

Much to my surprise, I liked it a lot more than the previous time and understand now why it’s considered such a brilliant piece of filmmaking. Although it will never be near the top of my favorites list, I came to appreciate many of the aspects that make it such a respected classic.

I especially came away with a renewed  interest in actor William Holden but another person who came to my attention this time around was actress Nancy Olson. Nancy was definitely a bright ray of light in an otherwise dark movie, and I wanted to learn more about her.

I finally did after I watched her in the movie Union Station (1950) in which she once again starred with William Holden. I got the idea to look up which state she was born in with the intention of making that the next subject of my Saturday State Post series. I was excited when I found out that she was born in my home state of Wisconsin, but unfortunately I had covered that already. I decided just to do it in the form of a mini-state post anyway, which you’ll find below. Read More…

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Stories from a Podcast: Julie Garfield Remembers Her Father, John Garfield

 

John Garfield

Yesterday was the 102nd anniversary of the birth of one of my favorite actors, John Garfield, who I just don’t feel gets enough attention or recognition. At least I don’t hear his name mentioned as often as I do many other classic movie actors. I have been meaning to share more “stories from a podcast” ever since I posted one last year about James Garner, so I thought this would be a perfect time to do that since I know of one that involves John Garfield.

In an interview from a June 2014 episode of the Warner Archive Podcast, John’s daughter Julie shared some of her memories of her father with host George Feltenstein. When asked what it’s like when people find out who her father was, she expressed that she really wishes more people would remember her father, a sentiment I know many of his fans share.

John Garfield Joan Crawford Humoresque (1946)

In one story I found interesting, Julie talked about one of the things that made her father stand apart from his peers, that he looked his fellow actors and actresses directly in the eye when doing a scene. She mentioned that on the set of the movie Humoresque (1946) Joan Crawford initially felt uncomfortable with it, at one point complaining, “why does he keep looking at me in the eyes?”

She eventually got used to it, and thanks in part to Garfield’s unique method of acting, turned in one of the best performances of her career. Humoresque is probably my favorite of the John Garfield movies I have seen so far, and I would encourage you to watch it if you haven’t already. Now you have something to look for as you do. :-)

That was just one of many stories and memories she shared about her father’s life and career. Most importantly, she remembered him as a great dad and a great man who loved his country and remained faithful to his friends. You can hear the interview in its entirety on the Warner Archive Tumblr page or you can download the whole podcast and listen to that and additional episodes through iTunes, which I highly recommend.

I think John Garfield’s fans would agree with George when he said, “For a man who had such a heartbreakingly short life, he left a boundless, amazing film legacy.” I look forward to enjoying more of those films in the future, and I hope you will join me in becoming more familiar with his work.

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If you are interested in learning more about John Garfield, the DVD and Blu-ray versions of his movie The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) contain the documentary “The John Garfield Story,” which was narrated by Julie Garfield and includes an introduction by film historian Richard Jewell. I’ve watched it myself and it’s definitely worth viewing if you are a fan of John Garfield.

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The Madeleine Carroll Blogathon: Madeleine’s Most Frequent Movie Collaborations

Madeleine Carroll Blogathon

This post is part of the Madeleine Carroll Blogathon and Birthday Bash being hosted by Dorian at Tales of the Easily Distracted and Ruth from Silver Screenings.

I was originally going to review Honeymoon in Bali (1939) for this post but decided to go a different route instead. I did watch the movie and even though I found it to be pleasant with enjoyable performances by Madeleine Carroll and Fred MacMurray, the movie didn’t really inspire me to write a review.

I guess you could say the Washington Post summed up my thoughts when in a review on October 5, 1939 they exclaimed, “‘Honeymoon in Bali’ Is Delightfully Easy To Take!” I also realized that another blogger was writing about the movie for this blogathon so to learn more about the movie I will instead direct you to the post by Joey at Wolffian Classics Movie Digest.

Honeymoon in Bali (1939)

In becoming more familiar with the movies of Madeleine Carroll, I discovered that not only did she make four other movies with Fred MacMurray, there were also a few other people in the movie industry that she worked with multiple times. So I thought I would explore a few of those collaborations in more detail. Read More…

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