Forrest Gump (1994)

Sociopolitical events impact groups within and every individual in a society. Income, healthcare, and personal safety are just some examples. As well, the political climate often shapes the overall atmosphere of the jurisdiction they govern. As a result, our own attitudes towards universality and humanity are often influenced. The interplay with overarching laws and our potentially evolving values may be synergistic or highly conflicting to many individuals. However, others may “float accidental-like on a breeze” throughout this time period. Forrest Gump is a sensational 1994 film directed by Robert Zemeckis that whisks viewers with the main character from childhood to fatherhood in the midst of the heated American political environment of the 1960s and 1970s.

Forrest Gump is a well-meaning, good-hearted individual from Greenbow, Alabama with an IQ below average impeccably played by Tom Hanks in an Academy Award winning performance. He tells vivid stories of his past throughout the majority of the film while sitting on a park bench waiting for a bus in Savannah, Georgia. In spite of the challenges he faced, his uncomplicated optimism, integrity, and honesty led him to the core of major historical events. The Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal, and the running craze of the 1970s are amongst many other grand happenings that occur in Forrest’s life. Apart from his dear mother (Sally Field), this journey led Forrest to meet people who anchor and shape his life. They include love of his life Jenny (Robin Wright), close friend Bubba aka Benjamin Buford Blue (Mykelti Williamson), and headstrong Lieutenant Dan Taylor (Gary Sinise). Apart from the magically astounding special effects, I feel that this film is a reminder of how macro- and micro-level interactions mould our existence.

 

In discussing the importance of rain, I could not avoid major plot spoilers (just a warning!).

Rain in this film surrounds events that influence Forrest’s future relationships with three crucial figures in his life. Firstly, torrential rain is present when Forrest and Bubba commence their friendship on the way to an army bootcamp. While in Vietnam, a four-month monsoon creates a heightened need for reliance and trust amongst the soldiers, and Forrest’s and Bubba’s friendship grows very deep in a short period of time partly as a result. It is absolutely devastating when Bubba’s life ends so abruptly after the rains end. Thus, rain bookends their brief but beautiful friendship. “Bubba was my best good friend, and even I know that ain’t somethin’ you can find around the corner”.

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Following the attack that ends Bubba’s life, Lieutenant Dan’s legs are amputated above the knee. He then becomes extremely hostile towards Forrest, revealing that he had a “destiny to die in the field with honour”. They grow apart over time, but are reunited in New York City where Lieutenant Dan slowly rejuvenates his amicability towards Forrest. The authenticity and respect of Forrest towards his cherished friend Bubba is still resounding, as he plans to buy a shrimp boat and became captain to respect Bubba’s wishes and memory. Lieutenant Dan agrees to become first mate if the plan materializes, and he is definitely “a man of (his) word”. Their success is quite poor until Lieutenant Dan questions the presence of God whilst at sea amidst their lack of luck. As Forrest plainly states, “right then and there, I think God showed up”. Hurricane Carmen ravages the fishing industry in the Bayou la Batre, wiping out all of the fishing vessels except for one. Contrary to logic, this monstrous weather event paves the way for the twosome’s financial freedom and success. The strenuous experience also strengthens their friendship, delivering it to a place of peace, serenity, and forgiveness.

 

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While rain cements the friendships previously mentioned, it signifies a sense of distance between Forrest and Jenny. In one scene, Forrest is waiting for Jenny on a very stormy night outside of her dormitory with a box of chocolates. He does not realize that she is with a young man in a car in the parking lot. Forrest’s protection of Jenny escalates, and punches the other man. Animosity is created with Jenny being extremely embarrassed. However, she understands Forrest’s sometimes rigid patterns of thinking yet good intentions. Upon an invitation to her room, Jenny physically reveals herself to Forrest. Whilst this is an intimate moment, subsequent events diverge the two’s life paths very differently. Another rain scene shows Jenny hitchhiking in California as a part of the hippie and free love movement of the 1960s. Forrest was quite far-removed from that particular world. Despite this, Jenny’s presence was with Forrest during Hurricane Carmen as he named his initial boat and then eleven more after her. Despite their varied journeys, Jenny was always in Forrest’s heart.

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I do not own any of the images in this post. This is a longer entry than usual. It is because Forrest Gump is my absolute favourite film, and I cannot contain my love for this movie! This post is also a part of the April Showers Blogathon hosted by Steve at Movie Movie Blog Blog. Please check out the link for excellent posts about movies with significant rain scenes and plot points throughout the March 31 – April 2, and anytime thereafter!

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Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

The art and direction of conversation fuels our daily interactions. They may consist of information relating to trivial banter, joyous or disastrous news, brainstorming a new idea, or securing a promising sale. Grammar, tone, and phrasing are just some components necessary to convey persuasion and importance to ensure a successful sale. While some are genuine in selling a product, others use manipulation and deception. Tactics used in selling a product may all be influenced by personal communication styles, product practicality and cost, work environment, and mode of pay. “Glengarry Glen Ross” is a 1992 drama directed by James Foley which explores the differing strategies and attitudes of four salesmen working in a real estate agency under extreme pressure from a more powerful company but also for themselves.

Rio Rancho Real Estates is a struggling real estate firm umbrella’d beneath a larger company named Premier Properties. Blake (Alec Baldwin), a cocky, wealthy salesman from the more esteemed business, delivers a masqueraded, vile ultimatum to the disillusioned agents. The top grossing salesman wins an El Dorado, the second best wins a set of steak knives, and the bottom two will be fired by week’s end. The top two will also gain access to the coveted leads of Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms. This prospect cultivates the salesmen to individually and sometimes collectively to achieve their goals with less-than-ideal leads via various means – night-owl home visits, a robbery, and careful coercion via alcohol and crafty wordsmith skills. Greed, family dependence, deception, jadedness, facades, ego, yet survival all fuel the salesman’s quest for success. However, they harbour desperation, loneliness, emptiness, and longing for a less arduous existence at their core.

The ensemble acting is the beating heart of this film. Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Jonathan Pryce, and Jack Lemmon deliver razor sharp dialogue with a mesmerizing tempo. They separately represent men with varying and sometimes polar opposite character traits. Together, they are dynamic, explosive, and clever but also vacuous. Of note, Jack Lemmon was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role of Shelley Levine, a once prominent but now poor-selling salesman with an ill family member. He embodies many emotions so convincingly in this character, from feeling desolate, pitiful, anxious, frightened, shocked, weary, and overjoyed. Lemmon was a veteran and absolute legend at this point in his career, and mutual respect amongst the actors (especially towards Lemmon) palpably exudes from the screen.

The title refers to two important lead prospects, as mentioned previously. Their potential possession dangles in front of the salesmen, creating salivation and yearning for even more monetary gain. The whole idea of giving the most substantial leads for real estate lands to the greatest closer is preposterous. It does not allow those who are struggling to harness their potential with greater material in their initial pitch to buyers. This creates a larger wage gap and animosity between members of the same group, spiralling out of control as long as this setup continues. It is a reminder of the importance of workers’ rights. Decent humanity and protection of these rights will lead to a more productive work and home environment.

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I do not own the above picture.

This blog post is a part of the Jack Lemmon Blogathon hosted by Critica Retro and Wide Screen World. Please check their pages over the next two days to check out wonderful posts about the endearing and wonderful Jack Lemmon!

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Yi Yi (2000)

Films transport us through a vast ocean in the spectrum of emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, and pure bliss are just some examples. They also convey amplified yet sometimes realistic portrayals of life events which themselves stir the deepest sentiments in viewers. Those very tales may have occurred in the past, present, or are impending in the lives of those who are engulfed in the film’s reality. The beautiful 2000 film “Yi Yi” directed by Edward Yang is one of the greatest examples of everyday characters highly representative of many moviegoers. One of the characters in the film states that “movies give us twice what we get from daily life” by living vicariously through their eyes, hearts, thoughts, and actions.

The story focuses on the intergenerational Jian family from Taipei. Each member faces trials and tribulations that are central within their particular stages of life. The adorable eight-year-old Yang-Yang (Jonathan Chang) is quite the school prankster but is extremely inquisitive in trying to understand life’s truths. His teenage sister Ting-Ting (Kelly Lee) is challenged by friendship, loyalty, lust, and loss. Their parents, NJ (Nianzhen Wu) and Min-Min (Elaine Jin), are separately questioning the course of their life trajectories. Their maternal grandmother (Ruyun Tang) suffered a hemorrhagic stroke early in the film, and family members aim to provide care and comfort in her final days on Earth. The film also traverses through a variety of life events, including a wedding, a funeral, a business trip, a Buddhist retreat, and a birth. Many other characters interact through each family member’s storyline and these events, playing integral roles in reflection and personal growth via various interweaving perspectives and differences.

There was one exceptional detail of cinematography that I found quite intriguing in this film – the use of glass and mirrors. Often, there would be two differing scenarios reflected by two sides of glass, usually a windowpane. The simultaneous struggles of two separate individuals were mirrored within the same frame, alluding to humanity’s worldwide daily clashes and endeavours. The use of mirrors would reflect the emotions felt by the characters in a 360-degree realm, a point accentuated by Yang-Yang. He feels as if he needs to look at the back and front of a person to truly appreciate their emotional undercurrents, and this technique allows us as viewers to do the same.

The title “Yi Yi” translates to “A One and a Two”. That particular phrase is commonly used as a brief warm-up signal prior to a musical performance. In relation to the film, NJ reveals to a potential business partner that he ended a romantic relationship secondary to the partner’s lack of appreciation for music. That action impacted his future, just as decisions made within the arrangement of a musical composition can dictate many facets of its performance. Extending beyond that example, there are many within the film warning of probable conflicts. Approaches and compositions in preventing turmoil can be quite different. Every decision we make can have positive or negative consequences, and we must face the outcomes if possible with great composure and consideration. In other words, it is important to manage our roles in life patiently – one step at a time.

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I do not own the above image.

 

The Whales of August (1987)

It is a well-known certainty that family members, while in the same bloodline, may have highly differing personalities. This can create and augment conflicts varying from furniture arrangement to political opinions. Tension may even heighten to a point of estrangement. This step may be necessary, as each familial dispute is highly contextual. In many circumstances and despite disagreements, family members can reconvene and support one another through celebrations as well as trying trials and tribulations. As individuals age, it is essential that the support of family members shine so that their elderly loved ones receive well-deserved attention and care. “The Whales of August” is a 1987 film directed by Lindsay Anderson whereby the necessities of support are central to the survival and quality of life of the main characters.

Libby Strong (Bette Davis) and Sarah Webber (Lillian Gish) are two elderly sisters living together in their childhood beach home on the beautiful coast of Maine. With loss of her vision, the death of her husband, and distancing of her daughter, Sarah cares for Libby on a daily basis. Their personas contrast greatly. Sarah is mild-mannered, welcoming, and still hopeful for life’s unique challenges and promises. Libby appears to be more brash, aloof, and pessimistic. This mix could lead to a seemingly cantankerous relationship. Other vibrant characters contributing to their daily routine include upbeat meddler Tish Doughty (Ann Sothern who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role), debonair Russian nobleman Nicholas Maranov (Vincent Price), and noisy handyman Joshua Brackett (Harry Carey, Jr.). Their interactions throughout the film reveal cumulative loss in many facets of life, the reality of impending death, the treasury of friendship, and the beauty of our natural surroundings.

The magnitude of star power in this film is absolutely spellbinding. Vincent Price is a vital figure in horror and suspense cinema, Ann Sothern is a strong presence in the history of TV and film, Harry Carey Jr. is a renowned character actor, and Lillian Gish is one of the most recognizable faces and pioneers in silent film. To me, Bette Davis is one of the most brilliant and fearless actresses in the history of cinema. She was quite frail at this point in her life. She had suffered several strokes in 1983 post-mastectomy relating to breast cancer as well as major familial conflict. However, her courage, determination, and ferocity shine through in this wonderful role as always.

Whales are frequently mentioned throughout the film. Their presence in the nearby ocean marks the impending change of seasons, but I feel that they symbolically represent nostalgia, home, and a portal to a more youthful past amongst the characters. As individuals grow older at any point in their life, they often lament and pine for more carefree days. Fears relating to health, time, and regret may cloud the present. However, this film demonstrates that a rich life, change of perspective, and subsequent flexibility of ideas can persist well into old age.

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I do not own the above image.

This post is part of the Second Annual Bette Davis Blogathon hosted by Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Please click on the link and head to her blog to read excellent tributes and movie reviews about this legendary, trailblazing actress!

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Yojimbo (1961) & Sanjuro (1962): Double Feature

Loyalty is a driving force behind many of our actions. The bonds of friendship, family entanglements, workplace duties, and an overall sense of respect and love for fellow humans motivate a conglomerate of purposeful activities. While our choices are often rooted with positive intentions, they may also be fuelled by fear, dishonesty, and betrayal. Unyielding overarching power may dictate decisions and planning within allegiances, and any moral compass may be tossed aside to feed egos. Themes of this nature are pervasive in the 1961 film “Yojimbo” and the 1962 film “Sanjuro”, directed by one of the masters of cinema, Akira Kurosawa.

Both of these films follow two distinct journeys of a nameless yet impeccably skilled ronin, played by frequent Kurosawa collaborator Toshiro Mifune. When asked his name, he reports that his given name is “Sanjuro” (translated means thirty years old, although he claims to be “close to forty”) and his surname references species of nearby plants or vegetation. The stories in each film have different content. In “Yojimbo”, Sanjuro opts to continue his stay in an economically challenged town now overrun with opposing gangs. In the eponymous film, he aids a group of young samurai in challenging a seemingly powerful superintendent who has captured the leader’s morally sound uncle. Our fearless, shrewd, and wearied swordsman consistently champions against corruption. He also “can’t fight on an empty stomach”. Resounding commonalities weaving these stories together include betrayal, loyalty, facades, corruption, and friendship among other themes. Kurosawa’s impeccable cinematography draws us into the samurai world of mid-19th century, permitting us to form strong connections with the endearing and spiteful.

The word “yojimbo”translates into the word “bodyguard” in English. Indeed, that was Sanjuro’s initial goal within the battered Japanese community he encountered in the first film. While being a bodyguard or samurai for another perceivably more powerful individual could bring prestige and nobility, freedom and individuality is lost. Sanjuro uses his intellect to forge fragile alliances, and is completely aware that he must rely on them for survival and for the preservation of social justice. Uncertainty and dread is always palpable, but his autonomy remains of central importance. I feel as if this concept is central to Sanjuro’s character development, as he appears to be more grounded in his knowledge and sense of self in the latter film. I believe that he reminds audiences of the importance of discovering and maintaining an authentic identity in their life course. It is essential to protect this commodity, as individuals themselves can duplicate only their uniqueness. Overall, the process of self-discovery and self-love attunes us towards our passions and talents, which can then be used to protect and advocate for those most vulnerable.

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I do not own the above image.

The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)

Divisions and inequities between social classes have plagued the well-being of a multitude of societies for centuries. One major contributor to this boundary has been the wealthy profiting from the hard work of labourers. The truck system once used by merchants and fishermen in the nineteenth century in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada is one example of this exploitation. International demand and poor supply of codfish were important factors in determining the amount of credit that fishermen would receive in a season. However, merchants often engrossingly controlled this credit system. Many fishermen would remain in debt or barely make ends meet despite their arduous and sometimes life-threatening work. This type of working environment and indomitable power created constant fear and poverty. “The Tree of Wooden Clogs”, a 1978 Italian film directed by Ermanno Olmi, explores a similar contentious, fragile relationship between landowners and farmers in nineteenth century Italy.

Many joyous and trying stories envelop this film with bleak yet beautiful cinematography. The lives and alliances of four families harvesting vegetables and livestock are examined with a gradual pace, allowing the tales to humorously and sometimes tragically unfold as nature intended. Their rich landlord profits two thirds of their yearly harvest, a blatant exploitation of his tenants’ patience, talents, intelligence, and fortitude. In spite of this, the families collectively find solace in hope, religion, laughter, and support from one another. The sheer will and strength needed to survive in these often dire conditions is a testament to the mutual affection and respect shared between these families. I feel that a large aspect of the film’s authenticity lies in the actors and actresses originating from the farming province of Bergamo in Italy. This definitely allows for a heightened sense of awareness and connection to the hardships and successes of the types of stories portrayed in the film.

The title of the film refers to one instrumental storyline. Batisti (Luigi Ornaghi) recognizes that his young son Minec (Omar Brignoli) is having difficulty walking the collective eight miles to and from school daily secondary to his dilapidated clogs. He boldly chops down part of a tree on a well-traversed path by the landlord to lovingly construct new clogs for his son, as the family cannot afford to purchase new shoes. Batisti is highly aware of the gravity and potential financial consequences of his deed, but ignores these regulations to momentarily improve the well-being of his son. While his fears echo the utter hypocrisy of maltreatment of the poor, his defiance of “order” demonstrates that love and devotion always extend far beyond petty rules. The type of bravery and gumption that Batisti exercised has been demonstrated worldwide in many seemingly small acts. While some have led to persecution, others have led to the creation of unions and advancement in human rights. While sometimes difficult and resisted, doing what is right is the ultimate victory for humanity as a whole.

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I do not own the above image.

As well, here is a link about the truck credit system: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/economy/truck-system.php

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover (1989)

The unfortunate reality of oppression and tyranny continues to reign in various facets of society, from households to governments. The sheer bravado, sense of entitlement, and perception of power that shrouds those in control creates an alternative truth from the actualities of the world in which they live. All of this heightened greed serves to further destroy and suppress the desires and wishes of those dependent on these deemed leaders. However, borne from this suffering often comes protest, revenge, and ultimately poetic and social justice. “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover” is a delicious (no pun intended) satire directed by Peter Greenaway which addresses this common historical tale with style, wit, dark humour, and vengeance.

The title is most appropriate for the film, as the crux of the story revolves around the four aforementioned characters. Richard Boarst (Richard Bohringer) is the devoted and knowledgeable head chef of the prestigious “Le Hollandaise” restaurant. He is overrun and owned by the ruthless, bolstering, and possessive buffoon, Albert Spica (Michael Gambon). Spica frequents the restaurant every night with his band of unmerry men (quite the opposite of Robin Hood) whereby he abuses any customer, friend, or foe who slightly displeases him. His classy yet unfortunate wife, Georgina (the fabulous Helen Mirren), is trapped in a highly abusive marriage, yearning for a means to think and act for herself. Along comes Michael (Alan Howard), a bookkeeper who frequents the restaurant as well and who also catches the eye of Georgina. They begin having a torrid affair during bathroom breaks and in the kitchen with Richard’s aid in concealing the lust. This is amidst Albert’s complete oblivion to his wife’s inner torture in their marriage. Brutality, increasing deception, literary attentiveness, and the stripping of innocence subsequently occur, culminating in a disturbing yet just finale.

I must mention the glorious set design and cinematography of the film, which I feel further highlights many themes in the film. Firstly, the camerawork is so fluid, gliding from intense, violent imagery to more still and orderly surroundings with gradual, smooth transitions between the scenes. The warehouse design of the kitchen and decadence of the restaurant accents the large class divide and inequities between those served and those being served. The stark white bathrooms represent sanctuary and momentary purity from the stresses of life. The harsh and bright red shades in the dining room are quite intense, showcasing fear, control, anger, and bloodshed. I feel that the calmness of the blues and greens within the kitchen emphasizes the community and loyalty amongst the staff, their strength, and fortitude. While Albert threatens to crumble and invade the white, green, and blue settings, the resiliency of the seemingly “lower class group” and the empowering and fearless Georgina rise to combat his power. Overall, I feel that this film is a perfect blend of genres and use of environmental surroundings showcasing the importance of defending human rights and equity for all in the face of utter repression.

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I do not own the above image.

Medicine in the Movies Blogathon Announcement! May 26 – 28, 2017

Hi to all! As many of you know, I am quite new to the blogging world. I just started in November, but I have been enjoying it so much. One of the best parts of blogging is connecting with others online who share and love very similar interests, and I have been finding that blogathons are such a great way to do that 🙂

I decided to launch my own blogathon with a bit of an offbeat topic. I have always found the topic of “medicine” and its varied portrayal in movies and visual media quite fascinating, as I have a background in public health and medicine. Some portrayals are quite accurate, such as the brilliant TV show Scrubs. Others are not so accurate. Either way, many are entertaining and extremely heartfelt.

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So please feel free to write about any movie where there is some relation to medicine! For example, the main characters may be physicians or nurses, or they may be patients and family members dealing with illness.

Duplicates will be allowed but no more than two per movie or topic. However, you are welcome to write more than one post!

Please let me know which movie you wish to discuss! You can post your topic in the comment section below, send me a message through the “Contact” section of my blog, or send me a message through Facebook via the following link: https://www.facebook.com/charsmoviereviews/ I will keep an updated list! Please note the name of your blog and the url. Once your topic is confirmed, please use one of the pictures in this post to spread the word about this blogathon, and please tag “Medicine in the Movies” on the day which you decide to post.

I am excited about this! Happy blogging 🙂

The List So Far

Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews – A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

Cinematic Scribblings – The Wild Child (1970)

Maddylovesherclassicfilms – The Nun’s Story (1959)

Tranquil Dreams – My Sister’s Keeper (2009)

The Movie Rat – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

I Found it at the Movies – All That Jazz (1979)

Silver Screenings – Night Nurse (1931)

Moon In Gemini – Madame Bovary (1949)

Picture Show Girl – High and Dizzy (1920), Dr. Jack (1922), & Good Night, Nurse (1918)

Realweegiemidget – K-PAX (2001)

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood – Judy Garland’s struggle with addiction and Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001)

That William Powell Site – Arrowsmith (1931)

Movie Movie Blog Blog – A Day at the Races (1937)

Movies Silently – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912)

Champagne for Lunch – 3 Men in White (1944)

The Motion Pictures – Eyewitness (1956)

The Midnite Drive-In – Monk (2002 – 2009)

dbmoviesblog – Spellbound (1945)

Thoughts All Sorts – Tombstone (1993)

Whimsically Classic – Errol Flynn’s various roles portraying a doctor

Pfeiffer Films and Meg Movies – City of Angels (1998)

The Flapper Dame – Made for Each Other (1939)

movierob – MASH (1970)*, Awakenings (1990), & Patch Adams (1998)

Listening to Film – Coma (1978)

Michael Eddy – MASH (1970)* & The Hospital (1971)

Cinematic Corner – The Fountain (2006)

Old School Evil – The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Critica Retro – A Farewell to Arms (1932 & 1957)

seanmunger.comReversal of Fortune (1990)

Pure Entertainment Preservation Society – Dr. Kildare film series (1938 – 1942)

B Noir Detour – A Woman’s Face (1938 & 1941)

For The Love Of Movies – Contagion (2011) & Persona (1966) 

lifesdailylessonsblog – Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Noirish – She Devil (1957)

 – * Please note that MASH has been taken twice and can thus no longer be selected as an entry in this blogathon. Thanks for understanding!

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Unsung Heroes Blogathon – Myrna Loy

When I first heard of this great idea for a blogathon hosted by KG’s Movie Rants, I could think of no one better to write about than Myrna Loy. After much lobbying from the Writers Guild of America as well as various heavy Hollywood hitters in the form of screenwriters, actors, and directors, Myrna Loy received her Honorary Oscar in 1991 at the old age of 86. Some receiving honorary Oscars have received Academy Award nominations and wins in their careers. It is astonishing and baffling that she did not receive any nominations despite having a body of work including 129 films! If she’s not an unsung hero, I don’t know who is.

Born in 1905 in Montana, Myrna Adele Williams grew up on a humble farm. It was after her father’s death in 1918 that her mother decided to move the family to Los Angeles, as he objected a family uproot to the City of Angels. Once the family was settled, Myrna began participating in local theatrical productions at age 15.

Myrna’s beauty caught the eye of Rudolph Valentino and subsequently Warner Brothers, where her surname was eventually changed to “Loy”. I have not seen any of her silent era films whereby she was often cast in very exotic roles. I am so accustomed to her comedic skills and endearing, relatable characters that it would be difficult to imagine her portraying a femme fatale role. Thankfully, W. S. Van Dyke took a chance and insisted on her being cast in a string of films that would change the course of her career…

The aforementioned director was at the helm of “The Thin Man”, a mystery/comedy film released in 1934 starring charismatic movie star William Powell in addition to Loy. It was released three weeks after their pairing with Clark Gable in the compelling and heartbreaking “Manhattan Melodrama”. Nick and Nora Charles are a couple who are private detectives, whimsically solving criminal cases. The electric chemistry between Powell and Loy was undeniable, launching a franchise of five more “Thin Man” films. They complemented each other extremely well, and were the yin to each other’s yang. Powell’s bravado and Loy’s subtlety made for a captivating movie experience (also, the wire-haired fox terrier Asta helped a lot!).

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Many in her repertoire of films showcased her sharp comedic timing. Some of my favourites include “Libeled Lady”, “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer”, and “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”. Her co-stars in these films included some of the most magnetic stars in Hollywood – Cary Grant, Jean Harlow (my personal favourite), Spencer Tracy, and Clark Gable. Her dramatic roles were also very impressive. “The Rains Came” is one great example, and her performance in “The Best Years of Our Lives” is simply stunning. Her portrayal of the spouse of a man returning from WWII is a true embodiment and representation of a wife and mother struggling to come to terms with a world and a husband forever changed by the effects of war.

Her roles in the 1950s and beyond were less in frequency than in the previous two decades. As well, her humanitarian work indicated her commitment to the betterment of mankind. She was involved in the Red Cross in WWII, co-chaired theAdvisory Council of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing, and was involved in UNESCO later in life. She was also a breast cancer survivor.

It is no doubt that Myrna Loy has a remarkable resume of films, and her talent is just unfathomable. As I learned while writing this post, she is an unsung hero in many ways beyond the world of film.

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Fun fact: As a teenager, she posed for a statue entitled “The Fountain of Education” in 1922. It stood in front of Venice High School where she was a student. The statue was replaced in 2010 by a bronze duplicate.

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