Archive for the Category »1950′s Movies «

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.

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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 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 »

The Best Oldies to Watch When You Need Cheering Up

Sunshine

Are there any movies you like to watch when you’re feeling happy, sad, bored, etc.? For me, it’s rarely my emotions that determine the movie I watch, although sometimes the time of year or even the weather can play a part. I mean, who doesn’t love to watch a good mystery when it’s storming outside?! Well, I do anyway! :-)

But when Frances stopped by my Facebook page and suggested I create a list of the best oldies to watch when you need cheering up, I thought it was a great idea. Even though I don’t usually pick a movie for that reason, I figured it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a few titles handy just in case I’m ever in need of some good cheer myself.

So after going through the list of all the classic movies that I have seen so far, I came up with the following movies that I think would put a smile on just about anyone’s face. (To learn more about each movie, click on the title which will bring you to its summary page on IMBd.com)

Laughter is the Best Medicine – Classic Comedies

It Happened One Night Hitchhiking Scene

It Happened One Night (1934) One of the first classic movies I ever watched, the hitchhiking scene with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert showed me early on that old movies can be just as laugh out loud funny as current movies. I never would have believed that before I discovered my love for classic film.

The Thin Man (1934) and the entire “Thin Man” series. This movie is just so much fun. I love the mix of comedy and mystery, and the wonderful chemistry between its two stars William Powell and Myrna Loy make them one of classic film’s greatest on-screen couples. Continue reading »

Universal Backlot Blogathon: All That Heaven Allows (1955)

This post is an entry in the Universal Backlot Blogathon, hosted by Kristen at her blog Journeys in Classic Film. Please visit her site to read all the other great entries and let her know she’s doing a great job on hosting her very first blogathon! :-)

“Black and white is more beautiful than color in my eyes.”

No, that’s not a quote from an actress, director, or fashion designer . . . it’s just a quote from me that I use as part of my Twitter bio. I have no idea if that’s corny or not, but it just came to me one day and I really liked it, so I’ve been using it ever since. :-)

I’m referring to movies of course, and for me that quote applies probably about 95% of the time. I’ve come to love black and white movies so much that I just prefer them over color now.

But every once in a while I’ll watch an old movie in color that will be an exception to that rule. Such was the case recently when I watched All That Heaven Allows (1955), starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson.

When I first started watching the movie, I was struck by how beautiful and vivid the colors were. I was also happy when I realized it was set in a small, scenic New England town for the same reasons I discussed in my review of the movie The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry.

All That Heaven Allows was directed by Douglas Sirk, and if you’ve ever read any discussions about this movie or any of his so called “melodramas” such as Magnificent Obsession (1954), Written on the Wind (1956), or Imitation of Life (1959), you know there is much debate about the quality of those movies. Some think they are nothing but corny, overly sentimental soap operas while others believe they are great movies that provide important social commentary on life in the 1950′s. Continue reading »

My Favorite Movies Set on Ocean Liners Part II

 
In my last post, I highlighted some of my favorite 1930′s and 40′s movies that were set (at least partially) on ocean liners, one of my favorite movie settings. This post covers a few of my favorites from the 1950′s.

Royal Wedding
Year of Release: 1951
Directed by: Stanley Donen

Royal Wedding is a musical comedy starring Fred Astaire and Jane Powell as a brother and sister dance pair who take their Broadway show to London around the time of the 1947 royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. It features two of Fred’s more well known dance routines, one where he dances on the walls and ceiling and one where he dances with a coat rack, which much to the chagrin of classic film fans, was turned into a tacky commercial for Dirt Devil a few years back. This was my first time watching Jane Powell in a movie, and I really enjoyed her performance. Continue reading »