Archive for the Category »1950′s Movies «

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 »

Barbara Stanwyck in No Man of Her Own (1950)

Comfort Food: food that is associated with a sense of home or contentment or that is prepared in a traditional style usually having a nostalgic or sentimental appeal.

I’m not sure what it is about Barbara Stanwyck movies, and this might sound a little odd, but whenever I watch one of them I’m reminded of comfort food in a way. For instance, if I’m in a restless mood and I’m not sure what kind of movie I feel like watching, it’s a pretty safe bet I’ll be content watching one of hers. When I finish one, I usually come away from it feeling nostalgic for the time period in which the movie was set. This is both due to my admiration for Barbara as an actress and the types of movies that she has starred in.

Whatever the reason, that was definitely the case with her movie No Man of Her Own (1950), which I watched last night. I was in one of those restless moods, and when I noticed that the movie was available through Netflix Instant I immediately gravitated to it hoping it would be a satisfying choice. I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed the movie and Barbara Stanwyck’s performance. Continue reading »

Have You Seen These Movies? Classics I Have Yet to Watch!

Are there any classic movies that you know are well-loved by others or that have received many awards and honors, that you just can’t get yourself to watch? I’ll be the first to admit that I can be very discriminating when it comes to the types of movies I watch so my answer to that is definitely ‘yes’.

Although there are some exceptions, I usually don’t stray too far away from the typical drama, comedy, or film noir, or movies that tend to take place in “normal” every day settings. For instance, I’m not a big fan of science fiction or fantasy films, and *gasp* have never seen a Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter movie.

Here are just a few of the award winning and much loved classic movies that I have never been able to bring myself to watch, mostly due to the fact that the setting or the time period in which the movie takes place doesn’t appeal to me:

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

IMDb synopsis: “When Prince John and the Norman Lords begin oppressing the Saxon masses in King Richard’s absence, a Saxon lord fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla army.”

Awards and honors: The movie won three Academy Awards including Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Art Direction and was also nominated for Best Picture. Continue reading »