Libeled Lady (1936)

All individuals find themselves in precarious situations from time to time. These embarrassing events may be completely unexpected, but more often than not there were precipitating instances leading to this specific moment in time. One’s wit, pride, righteousness, as well as their negotiation skills and shrewdness with other players shapes further twists and turns in this scenario, especially the outcome and potential lessons learned. Screwball comedies embody this overall comedy of errors, and the 1936 screwball Libeled Lady directed by Jack Conway with an all-star cast does this splendidly.

Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) is the managing editor of the New York Evening Star, a frenetic newspaper trying to obtain the latest scoop like all of the other competitors. Both he and his lovely fiancee Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow – my absolute favourite actress) are getting dressed for the wedding and are heading to the church. On that same day, a false story is posted about a wealthy socialite’s role in dissolving a marriage. Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy) becomes the “libeled lady”, suing the paper a whopping five million dollars for libel! At this moment, Haggerty makes a beeline to the newspaper, leaving Benton extremely angry and hurt over his decision yet again to prioritize his work over her needs.

So, Haggerty has made his decision to deal with the needs of the newspaper. He feels as if he has to quickly use his noggin to persuade Allenbury to drop the suit. His old colleague and foe, the ever so suave and single Bill Chandler (William Powell), becomes involved in this cantankerous scheme at the pleading of Haggerty. Chandler’s role is to convince Allenbury to fall in love with him but to be caught scandalously with her by his wife. Who becomes his wife, you ask? None other than Benton! She obliges at the cajoling of her beloved fiance so that he can save face. As Haggerty says, “she may be his wife but she’s engaged to me!” As you may guess, much humour and tomfoolery ensues!

libeled-lady-harlow

This film has so many twists and turns throughout the plot’s plethora of deceptive arrangements, shifting attractions, and discontentments. It ensues to reach an emotionally intense yet hilarious finale. As with all screwballs, sharp repartee, a grand battle of the sexes, and memorable scenes (especially the greatest fishing scene in the history of cinema) are weaved throughout the film.

The electric cast and star power amplifies the film’s wit, storyline, and chemistry. All of the stars had contracts with Metro Goldwyn Mayer during the studio system era, and it was therefore much easier to create a vehicle with this star power fuelling the engine. It was Myrna Loy and William Powell’s fifth film together out of fourteen collaborations throughout their careers. While it was no secret that Powell and Harlow were a couple at the time, the studio pushed for another coupling of Loy and Powell secondary to their box office success. Either way, the winning screwball formula of this film created the impetus for a Best Picture nomination at the 1937 Academy Awards.

It is no doubt that screwball comedies are a true joy to inhabit and experience as a viewer. However, I feel as if this film and many other screwballs convey themes and messages that grapple with struggles at the core of humanity. Relationships are constantly tested in this genre of film, which is a fear yet reality of the human experience. As well, the division between social classes is a common theme. In this film, a man of the working class tries to undermine rich elitists. Variations of this plot device are present in many screwballs, which was quite reflective and contemporary to many in the Great Depression era. Therefore, I believe that great comedy can touch audience’s lives not just through humour but with a high degree of familiarity to our struggles and also our greatest delights.

jean-harlow-myrna-loy-spencer-tracy-william-powell-libeled-lady

I do not own any of the photos in this post. As well, this post is part of the “Addicted to Screwball Blogathon” hosted by Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies! Please check out the other posts over the next day related to other fabulous screwball comedies!

addicted-to-screwball0

 

Countdown to Medicine in the Movies Blogathon (May 26 – 28, 2017)!

Time flies when you are having fun blogging! I can’t believe that it is a week until I host my first blogathon. I am extremely excited to read, write, share ideas, and to learn more about medicine’s incorporation into the world of cinema. I am so pleased with the lineup of participants and topics they are going to discuss. The list is super diverse and interesting!

If interested, there is definitely still time to sign up to participate in the blogathon! Just write a message in the comments section and I will add your blog name and movie selection to the roster!

Here is a link to the original announcement containing the list of bloggers who have signed up thus far and their topic: Medicine in the Movies Blogathon Announcement! May 26 – 28, 2017

Once you send me a topic to write about, please feel free to use any of the banners below on your blog to inform others about the blogathon 🙂 Happy blogging!

oie_yqU5SVcKigzS

oie_iKJLBLMpK3du

oie_x8KTlPj7fSnV

oie_ZTy4flwfBkwK

oie_82VB75vehCW6

3 Women (1977)

The value of individuality in many cultures is immeasurable. Some feel as if humans cannot actualize or achieve their full potential until they have reached a consensus of inner solitude and clarity in understanding their true identity. The pressure and temptation to idolize and acclimate with supposedly “greater versions” of ourselves can prevent or hinder that valued pursuit of unique identity discovery. Some may subsequently become illusionary with their position in the social sphere as well as their untouched persona.  3 Women is a 1977 avant-garde drama directed by one of the gurus of ensemble cinema, Robert Altman, which explores the extreme benefits and costs of collectivism versus individuality in a Western society.

Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek) is an impressionable, clingy teenage girl from Texas who begins working at a California health spa for senior citizens. Millie Lammoreaux (Shelly Duvall) is a highly valued employee of the spa who orients Pinky to her new work environment. Pinky is infatuated with Millie, viewing her as an inspiring, mature, majestic human being who is loved by all. When the opportunity for becoming Millie’s roommate appears, Pinky is only too thrilled to oblige. The third woman, Willie Hart (Janice Rule), is pregnant and paints ancient, mythical, human-like creatures as a means of expressing her perception of reality in the midst of loneliness, suppression, and exceptional introversion. Willie’s obnoxious, womanizing husband Edgar (Robert Fortier) co-owns the apartment complex in which Pinky and Millie live. His presence and distastefulness create great divides and power struggles amongst the three women. Each woman faces and deals with alienation, frustration, and restlessness via distinct and various means which transitions through roads of unity, seclusion, and eventual resolution.

 

The themes in this convoluted, at times dreamlike film hones understandably into its complexity. Mimicry, reclusiveness, fear, guilt, unison, facades, and personality are some of the notions investigated which emerge from each woman’s evolving sense of relating to their world. There is no hero or villain as is the case in reality. There is an aura of vanity, shame, and uneasiness in many actions executed in the film, which is highly relatable to humankind. The actors, especially Spacek and Duvall, embody this concept remarkably well with great chemistry, thus enhancing the viewer’s discomfort with recognition of their own past sometimes regretful actions. Further through incredible direction, cinematography, and fantasy, this intricate film taps into the raw curiosity, shame, guilt, conflict, and concordance of the human experience.

 

3women-750x400

I do not own the pictures in this post. As well, this post is a part of the Decades Blogathon hosted by Thomas J and Three Rows Back! Please check out their blogs over the next couple of weeks to read about films from years ending in the number ‘7’!

decades-17

 

Five Stars Blogathon – My Five Favourite Movie Stars!

I am extremely excited to be partaking in this blogathon celebrating iconic and talented stars of the silver screen on National Classic Movie Day (May 16). This was a very difficult decision to make, but I have narrowed down the list to five. I simply cannot rank them in any order! Please let me know what your thoughts are, and head over to Classic Film and TV Cafe for the Five Stars Blogathon to read other wonderful posts!

five2bstars2bblogathon

Jean Harlow

Although she passed away at the very young age of 26, Harlean Carpenter left such a strong legacy in the world of classic cinema. She was impeccably glamorous, and is the original “blonde bombshell”. However, her comedic timing, fiery personality, and electric chemistry with her co-stars cemented her talent in Hollywood and her important contribution to the screwball comedy. Libeled Lady is my favourite classic film, and that is in a large part due to Jean’s effervescence, style, and wit.

jean-harlow-flowers

Jack Lemmon

Yet another master of comedy enters my list! Born in an elevator in a Massachusetts hospital, Lemmon’s acting bug bit him at a very young age. He was a frequent collaborator with one of the master directors of cinema, Billy Wilder. Jack’s versatility was quite apparent when accounting for his breadth of filmography. Mister Roberts, Some Like it Hot, The Odd Couple, and The Apartment are just some of the classics in which Lemmon’s star shone brightly yet very humbly. He had a down-to-earth quality which made him very relatable, and I feel that this accounts to his longevity.

jl

Jimmy Stewart

On to another legend with a great sense of modesty and down-to-earth personality. If Tom Hanks could be transported back in time, I think he would be best buds with this class act! In most of Stewart’s roles if not all (at least the ones I have seen), the audience is rooting for his character to overcome unthinkable obstacles. It’s A Wonderful Life, Vertigo, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and especially Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are some prime examples. As with Mr. Lemmon, his range and versatility were apparent through his body of work. Jimmy Stewart also heavily reminds me of my late maternal grandfather, to whom I was extremely close. I think my connection with my grandfather has transferred on to my great admiration for this star.

tumblr_inline_nh4507lfby1qgp297

Barbara Stanwyck

Ruby Stevens had an extremely difficult childhood, living in multiple foster homes and losing her mother at a very young age. She escaped into the world of film, and eventually transformed into the classic star we know as Barbara Stanwyck. Again, her roles demonstrated her wide range from slang spewing comedic nightclub performer to devoted mother to ruthless femme fatale and then some. However, I feel that all of her performances demonstrate a level of grit and conviction that can only be drawn upon from life-altering and life-changing experiences. It is still unfathomable that she did not win any Academy Awards for specific roles. However, classic film lovers greatly recognize her depiction of strong females and the ultimate impact that would have on women’s representation in society.

barbara-stanwyck-picture-376331495

And last but certainly not least…

Marlene Dietrich

Hailing from Germany, Dietrich got her start playing violin, acting on the stage, and eventually started acting in silent film. Her breakthrough role was The Blue Angel, attracting attention from Hollywood executives. Her charisma, seductiveness, and commanding presence created classics such as Morocco, Shanghai Express, . and Destry Rides Again. However, her most impressive work was her dedication towards and support for troops fighting in WWII. Her conviction and bravery was reward, as she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1947. The longevity of her career, fearlessness, and allure blend together to create a unique and provocative icon of the silver screen.

marlene-dietrich

Honorable Mentions: Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Giulietta Masina, Liv Ullmann, Toshiro Mifune, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers (they were a TEAM!!), and Ingrid Bergman.

I do not own any of the pictures in this post.

 

Random Harvest (1942)

Memories based on everyday and momentous experiences form the basis of human development and identity. Their formation and foundation can create an environment of empowerment and growth of knowledge. Conversely, their presence can sometimes traumatize and significantly regress one’s path to self-actualization. The wish to eradicate some painful memories has been held by all at some instance. However, I could not fathom anyone yearning to erase joyful recollections imprinted for years in their brains. Some individuals living with neurocognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, are robbed of the grandest and most beautiful memories with no mercy. Random Harvest is a 1942 drama-romance film directed by Mervyn LeRoy which explores the potentially devastating effects of memory loss on individual identity and surrounding relationships.

“John Smith” (Ronald Colman) has been hospitalized at Melbridge County Asylum for over a year following his harrowing experiences on the battlefield of WWI. His diagnosis would fit with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but he has dissociated from the raw emotions of his experiences to the point where he cannot remember his own identity. While wandering away from the psychiatric facility on the night of WWI’s end, he meets Paula Ridgeway (Greer Garson) in the town of Melbridge. She is a local actress and dancer who empathizes with “Smithy” to the point of finding a home in the countryside to escape authorities and unwitting family members. As in many classic films, the two rapidly fall in love and marry. Smithy’s newly discovered writing talent blossoms into a job proposal, but a head injury inflicted via automobile accident allows Smithy to remember and slide into his previous life as the wealthy Charles Rainier. Paula is inevitably obliterated from his memory with few reminders of her once great impact. Themes of abandonment, jealousy, anger, detachment, frustration, and never-ending hope engross the remaining intertwining journey of our lead characters. This leads to an ultimate tear-jerking finale which will melt even the coldest, steel-engulfed hearts.

random-harvest-1942

“Random Harvest” is an interesting and multi-faceted title for this film. Paula and Smithy meet during the typical harvest season (Autumn) randomly it seems in a tobacco shop. The estate to which Charles Rainier and his siblings are entitled is called “Random Hall”. Separately, these words and their place in the film could definitely account for its title. However, the definition of the word “harvest” lends to growth and cultivation, which is what led to Paula and Smithy’s glorious bond and millions of other relationships. As well, the two were randomly brought together, and their relationship was randomly taken away. Hence, their growing interconnected maturation was inadvertently interrupted for varying reasons. Others may beg to differ, citing that no event or association is truly random. Regardless, the atrocity of the events occurring in these characters’ lives is incomprehensible, and we greatly empathize with them.

These drastic impediments yet intermittent delights in the film create a harrowing atmosphere leading viewers to the edge of their seats, fabricating major peaks and valleys of emotion. Our own fears and relatedness to memory heightens the concern and sentimentality in the film. We feel overwhelmed, frightened yet optimistic for the characters’ resolutions. Overall, I feel that “tear-jerker” is an understatement for this beautiful film.

15a

I do not own the photos in this post. As well, this post is a part of the “No, YOU’RE Crying” Blogathon hosted by Moon In Gemini! Please check out the other posts related to tear-jerker films over the coming days!

screenshot-2017-02-26-23-04-58

 

 

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

The pursuit of the perception of greater prestige is one that encompasses Western society’s identity. The quest, attainment, and dissolution of achievement creates an inner restlessness to strive towards higher prosperity without appreciating and smelling the roses. This eventual dissatisfaction inevitably leads to risk-taking, with disastrous and/or meaningful results.  In H.C. Potter’s 1948 classic screwball “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”, the commonplace and relatable journey from leasing to owning and then renovating a home is the focus. Disillusionment of the idyllic country life is eye-opening to the tired yet wide-eyed urban dwellers in the film.

Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) is an advertising executive and family man who has just been assigned to the doomed ham/WHAM campaign, much to his displeasure. He is also frustrated with the tiny square footage and lack of closet space in the New York apartment which he shares with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) and daughters (Connie Marshall and Sharyn Moffett). Much to the dismay of his lawyer “best friend” Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas), the Blandings are deceptively swindled and decide to buy a somewhat dilapidated home that has been erect since the Revolutionary War. This purchase obviously and inevitably does not come without challenges. The multitude of foundational issues with the “new home”, the Blandings’ sometimes varying opinions on construction and blue printing, writer’s block regarding the ham-like WHAM, as well as finance and jealousy all collide to create calamity in classic screwball style.

f072f3a48a085f062c30b16fde042a6d

Becoming a home owner has become a pinnacle of success in our current landscape. It signifies that an individual or family appears to be financially stable and at ease in their lives, prepared to take on this rewarding challenge. Owning a home also signifies autonomy and independence, and undertaking renovations can be an extension of one’s creativity. If the owners are in a relationship, this whole process can also be a test of strength, endurance, and compromise in their unity. It is the hope of all involved that the “ultimate dream home” helps to create actualization and a future of stability and fulfillment.

blandingsdreamhouseplanweb

 

I do not own any of the photos in this post. As well, this post is part of the Favourite Film and TV Homes Blogathon hosted by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and Love Letters to Old Hollywood! Please visit their sites between May 5 – 7, 2017 to check out many great posts regarding this wonderful topic!

blandings_banner_1

La Strada (1954)

An allegiance towards a person, group, or larger organization creates a sense of familiarity, grounding, and purpose in one’s destiny. Loyalty can allow an individual to flourish and grow with encouraging and proper supports. It can also perpetuate a sense of fulfillment and community. Conversely, loyalty may lead to subtle suppression of unique traits with authoritarian and dominating persons in one’s inner circle. Attachments, perceived rewards, and dependency are some factors continuing this reinforcing cycle. Various forms of abuse may emerge and propagate from this pattern. The devastatingly beautiful  “La Strada” is a 1954 Italian drama film directed by one of the masters, Federico Fellini, which examines such a relationship between a meek and mild young female and a domineering circus performer.

Gelsomina (Giuletta Mansina) is now the eldest daughter in a family living in poverty following the death of her sister, Rosa. Her mother begs her naive and impressionable daughter to travel with Rosa’s former travelling circus partner, the intimidating and vain strongman Zampano (Anthony Quinn), so that the family’s basic needs can be met in the form of 10,000 lire. Gelsomina subsequently embarks upon this journey with her new work partner sometimes posing as a husband due to their living arrangements. Zampano’s expectations of Gelsomina’s abilities as a drummer, trumpeter, and announcer are slowly approved, but she remains subdued by his control. Her meeting and evolving friendship with the talented tightrope walker and rival of Zampano named Il Matto (Richard Basehart) implants an idea of individuality and strength into her innocent mind. Other events, encounters, and themes surrounding guilt, loss, sensitivity, faithfulness, brazenness, tragedy, and dignity additionally shape the course of the characters’ future paths.

The title translated into English means quite literally but also figuratively “the road”. The main characters work and nomadically live out of a tiny trailer attached to a faulty motorbike to earn a living. A great deal of time is spent on “the road” traversing from one community to the next, showcasing Zampano’s chest expansion abilities. However, the title refers to our evolution in our personal growth and relationships with and towards others as we face the ultimate joys, challenges, and sorrows. This is all part of the human experience. It is essential that we learn and nurture one another through this unbelievable and humbling adventure, as positive support systems are necessary for us to achieve our full potential while travelling through our personal highways.

90625-004-c0b931e4

I do not own the above image.