My Classic Movie Travel Dreams – What’s on Your List?

I’ve been talking a good game the last few years about how I’m going to start doing more traveling, with most of my desired destinations being places somehow related to classic movies or old movie stars and singers. But for various reasons I have not lived up to that talk and pretty soon I’m going to have to start putting my money where my mouth is or I’ll never end up going anywhere.

Hollywood SignOne of my biggest travel goals is to visit the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival held in California every spring. Ever since I first saw that some of my fellow classic movie bloggers were going to the festival a few years ago, I’ve been saying, “next year I am definitely going!” only to have it not come to pass for one reason or another.

I’m not going to lie, the last few years I have really struggled with jealousy as I read all the blog posts and tweets written by those attending the event and this year is no different. But instead of letting envy get the best of me, I decided to focus on all the things I have to be grateful for (which are many!) and to use those feelings as motivation to figure out ways to make my travel dreams come true.

Over the years I’ve compiled quite the list of classic movie related places I’d like to visit someday and following are just a few of them. My hope for this blog is that one day I will be able to post about visiting most if not all of these places.

  1. The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pennsylvania
  2. The Clark Gable Birth Home and Museum and Clark Gable Bed & Breakfast in Cadiz, Ohio
  3. The Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, North Carolina
  4. The Rosemary Clooney House in Augusta, Kentucky
  5. The Kate –  A museum inside the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, Connecticut
  6. Malabar Farm in Lucas, Ohio
  7. The Hollywood Museum in Hollywood, California
  8. Gene Autry Oklahoma Museum – Gene Autry, Oklahoma (this would be in honor of my mom who loved Gene and other singing cowboys) :-)
  9. Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Burbank, California
  10. Vienna Walking Tour – In the Footsteps of The Third Man in Vienna, Austria
  11. The Cypress Inn (co-owned by Doris Day) in Carmel, California
  12. The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and The Surrey Hotel in New York City – several celebrities stayed or lived in these hotels and Cole Porter’s piano is displayed at the Waldorf-Astoria
  13. Las Vegas – although The Sands Hotel is no longer there, an article in USA Today suggests several ways we can still “experience the Rat Pack in Las Vegas”
  14. Los Angeles Union Station – “one of the last grand train depots in America” and a filming location for the William Holden movie Union Station (1950)
  15. Various restaurants frequented by old movie stars including Sardi’s in New York City, Café La Maze Steakhouse in National City, California and Dominick’s in West Hollywood, California
  16. Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, California – I don’t drink wine but still think it would be a beautiful place to visit and I’d like to explore the onsite movie gallery

So, what’s on your list of travel dreams, classic movie related or otherwise? If you’ve been to any of the places I mentioned above, I’d love to hear the story of your visit in the comments below!

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My Classic Christmas Entertainment Alphabet

My Christmas tree is finally up! Which for me means one thing . .  I’m finally ready to start watching Christmas movies and television shows, one of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season!

To kick things off, I thought I’d do a quick and fun post to share just a few of my favorite things from the world of classic Christmas entertainment. Much like I did with my cinematic alphabet a few years ago, I chose one item for each letter of the alphabet, all of which in some way represent my favorite movies, television shows, and songs.

Following are just a few of my favorite things associated with classic Christmas entertainment:

A – Alfred Kralik – Jimmy Stewart’s character in The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

B – The Bishop’s Wife (1947) starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven (I love all three of them!)

C – Christmas in Connecticut (1945) and A Christmas Carol (1938) – I’m so excited that I get to see them on the big screen this Sunday! Check out the details here and see if they will be playing in your area.

D – Desk Set (1957) starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy – I wish my tree at home could look like this, but I think my cat would try to eat the tinsel. :-)

E Elf (2003) – Not from the classic era, but I just love this movie, and it does contain a rendition of the classic song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” originally written in 1944.

F – Fonzie – the main focus of one of my favorite Christmas television episodes, “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas” from Season 2 of the show Happy Days

G – George C. Scott’s performance in the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol, my absolute favorite version of that movie. I think Scott’s performance is brilliant and the movie is perfection!

H – Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank – First airing in 1957, it is a must see episode from the tv series The Frank Sinatra Show, which you can read more about at Christmas TV History.

I It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – I know, a somewhat unoriginal choice, but as someone who adores Jimmy Stewart I just can’t leave this classic off my list.

J – “Jingle Bells” as sung by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters. They recorded the song together in 1943 and it sold over a million copies.

K – Kris Kringle – the character played by the delightful Edmund Gwenn in the equally delightful movie, Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

L – Linus sharing the true meaning of Christmas in A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – as a person of strong faith, I just love the sweet way he recites the story of the birth of Jesus.

M – “Mistletoe and Holly” – a song written and recorded in 1957 by one of my favorite entertainers of all time, Frank Sinatra

N – Natalie Wood’s wonderful performance in Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

O – “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “O Holy Night” – three of my most favorite Christmas carols all just happen to start with the same letter.

P – Polly Parrish – Ginger Rogers’ character in Bachelor Mother (1939) and Debbie Reynolds’ character in that movie’s remake Bundle of Joy (1956)

Q – I tried and tried and tried, but could not think of anything Christmas related that starts with or even contains the letter Q. If you know of anything, let me know! :-)

R – “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” as sung by Gene Autry – my mom loved Gene Autry and his version of the song is one I’ve loved since I was a little girl.

S – “Silver Bells” when it was introduced in the movie The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) and sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell

T The Thin Man (1934) – not necessarily known as a Christmas movie, but it does contain some Christmas scenes and I couldn’t pass up the chance to include this awesome movie in my list.

U – “Up on the Housetop” as sung by Eddy Arnold – it’s not necessarily a favorite anymore as an adult, but it’s one of those songs that brings back good memories from childhood.

V – Virginia Dale who played Lila Dixon in one of my all time favorite classic holiday movies, Holiday Inn (1942) which I had the pleasure of seeing on the big screen last year.

W White Christmas, both the 1954 movie starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and the song made famous by Bing Crosby, which was featured in the movie Holiday Inn (1942)

X – Francis X. O’Leary – The defense attorney who defended Barbara Stanwyck’s character in the movie Remember the Night (1940) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray

Y You’ve Got Mail (1998) – a very good adaptation of one of my favorite classic Christmas movies, The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Z – S.Z. Sakall who played the character of Felix in Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

What are some of your favorites? Choose as many letters as you would like and let me know in the comments below!

Wishing you all a happy holiday season! :-)

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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 →

CMBA Blogathon: Film Passion 101: The Philadelphia Story

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This post is part of the Film Passion 101 Blogathon, hosted by the Classic Movie Blog Association. Be sure to head over there and read all the other great posts!

I have a bad habit of saying I don’t like things when I haven’t even given them a try. I’m sure that habit has caused me to miss out on some great things in life, and I really should learn to break it. Well, except maybe when it comes to beets it would have been wiser to stick to the stubborn “I don’t like them even though I’ve never tried them” declaration that I made for so long. Beets really are gross! :-)

_Theater for Twitter

On a serious note, that habit did almost cause me to miss out on something that I now love dearly and that has had a profound impact on my life, watching classic or “old” movies. For the longest time I insisted that I didn’t like old black and white movies when I had never even tried watching one. I just knew they would be boring, outdated, and corny and I wouldn’t like them. There wasn’t much anyone was going to say or do to get me to watch them. Or so I thought!

Unlike many of the other participants in this blogathon, I wasn’t exposed to old movies very much when I was growing up. My dad watched things like Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy (thanks for the reminder, Ruth!), and maybe a western here and there, and I have vague memories of my mom watching Gone With the Wind at some point, but that’s about it. Of course I did watch The Wizard of Oz quite a few times as a kid, but I honestly thought at the time that it was a current movie, not an old classic. Continue reading →

The Best Oldies to Watch When You Need Cheering Up

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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 →