Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my lovely followers and readers!

Thank you for your kindness and supporting me in my blogging journey, I appreciate it more than you know.

The video below about Bing Crosby and his contributions to the war effort touched me and I wanted to share it with you. Besides, there’s no better way to spend the holiday than with wonderful memories of the Voice of Christmas.

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white.’

Bing crosby

Wishing you and those you love a happy and safe holiday season!

The 12 Days of Christmas Movie Tag

Deck the halls with lots of movies…Hamlette’s Soliloquy has created The 12 Days of Christmas Movie Tag for adding to the festivities of the season. Check out her awesome blog and her answers here.

For my edition of the tag, I’m choosing Christmas movies (or movies tied to Christmas in some fashion) for the answers. This was not mandatory or specified in the rules but I have enjoyed the addition and the challenge it provided!

The rules of the tag:

  1. Use a different movie for each prompt
  2. Add photos and/or explanations of how your choices fit the prompts
  3. Tag a few friends to play along

Here we go…

#1. A Partridge in a Pear Tree – a movie that involves agriculture

Holiday Inn (1942)

Jim (Bing Crosby) is sick of show business and buys a farm in Midville, Connecticut for a complete change of pace. Dreaming of “no work to be done,” he quickly realizes he had no idea what he signed up for. Jim returns to the showbiz scene by turning his farm into an inn that is open only on holidays. Romance falls into his lap, but trouble ensues when Ted (Fred Astaire) shows up, the guy who usually steals Jim’s girl.

#2. Turtledoves – a movie about a long-lasting relationship

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

In this beloved and timeless film, we follow the life of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) who comes to realize that “no man is a failure who has friends.” Perhaps his best friend is his wife, Mary, (Donna Reed) who has had a crush on him every since she was a young girl.

#3. French Hens – a movie that takes place in France

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

Not gonna lie, this one took some digging! A tale of young love set in 1950’s France, this French New Wave musical features an entirely sung script, Catherine Deneuve in her star making role, and the most poignant ending of any film set on a snowy Christmas Eve.

#4. Calling Birds – a movie where people talk on the phone

Lady on a Train (1945)

Deanna Durbin plays Nikki Collins, the title character who witnesses a murder while traveling to visit family for Christmas. Curious as can be, she enlists the help of a mystery writer to help her solve the caper. When Nikki’s father calls to wish her a Merry Christmas, he pleads with her to sing for him. She performs a simple but touching rendition of “Silent Night” over the phone (which even delays the thug who sneaked into her room from completing his dastardly plan.)

#5. Golden Rings – a movie with multiple romances

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

There are a few romances going on in this candy confection of a film: Esther and the boy next door, Rose and Warren, and Lon and Lucille. Additionally, this movie is centered around the love that the Smith family has for each other, as well as the romance of days gone by.

#6. Geese A-Laying – a movie with a birth or that features babies

3 Godfathers (1948)

An interesting spin on the three magi, John Wayne heads up this moving western as the leader of a band of outlaws who honor the wish of a dying woman (Mildred Natwick) – to raise her newborn child and bring him to safety.

#7. Swans A-Swimming – a movie where someone goes swimming

Neptune’s Daughter (1949)

A Christmas movie? Hear me out. This film introduced the world to the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” which won an Oscar that year. While the song does not actually mention Christmas, it has been tied to the holiday in reference to the cold weather. Since Neptune’s Daughter is an Esther Williams movie, you can bet there’s a swan-a-swimming.

#8. Maids A-Milking – a movie with cows

Remember the Night (1940)

In this bittersweet drama/romantic comedy shoplifter Lee Leander (Barbara Stanwyck) and her prosecutor John Sargent (Fred MacMurray) venture to Indiana for Christmas. Along the way, they find themselves in a pasture of cows and its Fred who does the milking and the cow that decides Barbara’s hat makes a tasty morning snack.

#9. Ladies Dancing – a movie with a dance scene

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is a fake Martha Stewart who needs to cook up a farm, a husband, and a baby (and quick!) when she hears that a sailor is being sent to her home for the holidays. This film is full of Christmassy imagery, over-the-top scenarios, and a Christmas Eve dance that I want to attend every year.

#10. Lords A-Leaping – a movie about athletes

Melody Time (1948)

This animated collection of stories from Disney contains one of my favorite pieces of animation done by the studio – “Once Upon a Wintertime.” I pull it out this time of year because the sleigh ride, ice skating, and snowy scenery inevitably remind me of Christmastime. I love everything about this segment: the song; the characters and story; and the gorgeous design by Disney artist Mary Blair.

It makes me smile every single time.

The original recording of the song by Frances Langford.
A preview of the animation. The song is in French in this recording.

#11. Pipers Piping – a movie with someone playing a musical instrument

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

Dudley the angel (Cary Grant) is on a heavenly assignment to bring a couple back together who have drifted apart. He charms nearly everyone he meets (this is Cary Grant we’re talking about) but doesn’t plan on falling in love with the bishop’s wife (Loretta Young) himself.

Every angel worth his mettle knows how to play the harp.

#12. Drummers Drumming – a movie with characters in the military

White Christmas (1954)

No stranger to the Christmas canon of films, White Christmas is more than a “let’s put on a show” movie. Although it contains some of the most dazzling musical numbers in film history, it’s really a story about two ex-Army buddies (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) joining forces to remind their beloved army general (Dean Jagger) that he is not forgotten.

And there you have it! This was a blast (and a half) to write. Thanks again, Hamlette, for this super fun tag!

I won’t be tagging anyone, but feel free to write your own 12 Days of Christmas on your blog or share them in the comments below…I can’t wait to see which movies you would pick for these categories!

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

Grace and Kate: The Princess and The First Lady of Cinema

Grace and Kate. Kate and Grace. Could there be two stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age any more different from each other than these two? Both of these women made their indelible mark on film history with their individuality, remarkable talent, and unwavering determination. As different as they were, there still are many notable similarities. My purpose in this post is to uncover those similarities, thereby giving us a double take of these two legends.

-Images are in the Public Domain unless otherwise noted-

The Early Years

Images: https://forums.thefashionspot.com/threads/grace-kelly-3.207135/page-30 (left); Pinterest (right)

Grace was born into a wealthy family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father, Jack Kelly, was a three time Olympic champion rower who encouraged his family to participate in any and all manner of athletics. Grace’s mother was a champion swimmer who became a physical education teacher for ladies at the University of Philadelphia. She also modeled for a number of years.

Every summer the Kelly family retreated from the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia by vacationing in Ocean City, New Jersey. In Ocean City they enjoyed the beach, boardwalk, and quiet life along the shoreline.

When Grace was a teenager she was part of her school’s hockey and swim teams, and she loved to dance.

Young Grace dreamed of being an actress; however, her parents were not keen on the idea. At nineteen, they permitted her to go to New York to study acting so she could get it out of her system. Little did they know she would be quite successful, and that it would change the course of her life.

Image: Pinterest (right)

Kate was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to a prosperous family. Her father, Thomas Hepburn, was a doctor at Hartford Hospital, and her mother was the director of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association. Her family had a summer home in Fenwick, a borough of Old Saybrook, where the Connecticut River flows into the Long Island Sound. Kate’s father believed in the importance of physical activity, and Kate learned boating, fishing, and swimming at an early age. She also grew an affinity for tennis and golfing, becoming a state semi-finalist in the latter.

While attending her mother’s alma mater, Bryn Mawr College, Kate grew interested in acting. She participated in some of the college plays and decided that was what she wanted to do. Her parents weren’t entirely thrilled, but Kate pursued her dream nevertheless.

Negotiations, Camera, Action!

In 1952, Grace was offered a role that she simple couldn’t refuse. Mogambo would give her the chance to work with two of her heroes, John Ford and Clark Gable, and the film would be shot on location in Africa; however, in order for her to accept the role she would be tied in to a seven year contract with MGM. Grace made two stipulations: that she could return to her first love, the theater, one out of every two years, and that she would be permitted to live in her apartment in New York City. MGM agreed to the terms, proving that Grace, though still very new to Hollywood, could call the shots.

I signed with MGM because Mogambo offered the opportunity to work with John Ford and Clark Gable, and to make the picture in Africa. If the production had been scheduled in Arizona, I wouldn’t have signed the contract. But I did – at the departure desk of the airport, on my way out of the country.”

Grace kelly

In 1942, Kate really was the woman of the year. Having collaborated on the story with a playwright, she brought the idea for the film to the studio heads at MGM. She demanded a fixed sum for her services as well as for the story writers. When the terms were met, she also chose her director, Stevens, and co-star, Tracy.

“I was fearless…and lawless.”

katharine hepburn

Woman of the Year (1942) was Kate’s first film with Spencer Tracy, and it was so successful that it led to a series of films they made together, (nine in total) as well as the blossoming of their legendary romance. Kate also signed a contract with MGM during the making of the film.

The Philadelphia Stories

When Grace Kelly set out for New York to pursue her acting career, she applied and was accepted to the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York City. After making her Broadway debut and completing her training at the academy, she played Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story for her commencement performance.

Images: https://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/HolyCinema/archives/2018/02/09/3-good-reasons-why-you-should-skip-the-fifty-shades-trequel-and-see-high-society-instead-this-v-day (left); https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/fashion/10-of-grace-kelly-s-most-beautiful-on-screen-outfits-21124 (right)

In 1956, Grace was cast in the film version of the play with a few changes. High Society, as it was now called, was a splashy Technicolor musical, made in the grand MGM fashion. As Tracy Lord, Grace was given a duet to sing with co-star Bing Crosby. MGM wanted to bring in a singer to dub Grace, but Bing insisted that Grace had a good voice and that she could carry her part. The result was pure magic! Grace and Bing’s tender duet, “True Love”, won a gold record – an amazing feat for someone unknown as a singer.

High Society turned out to be Grace’s last film in Hollywood – a fine swan song for the actress who in five, short years rose to the top. When filming was complete she started making preparations to leave America to marry her fiance, Prince Rainier of Monaco.

In 1939, Kate was at an all time low in her career. She had just endured a series of flops which had earned her the label, “box office poison.” She was determined to make a come back and turn things around. A friend of hers, Philip Barry, had just the thing. He wrote a play with her in mind for the lead character. The Philadelphia Story opened on Broadway and was a smash with Kate playing Tracy Lord, the haughty, flighty socialite. Kate had made a risky business move in the venture, but it paid off. She did not ask for a salary, and instead asked for a percentage of the play’s profits. Kate’s boyfriend at the time was the multi millionaire Howard Hughes. He purchased the film rights to the play for her, setting her next move in motion.

Kate sold the rights to MGM studio chief, Louis B. Mayer, for $250,000. Other studios had offered her more, but Kate wasn’t after money; she wanted creative control. In exchange Kate got her pick of the director, producer, cast, screenwriter, and she would play the lead once again.

The Philadelphia Story (1940) became Kate’s ticket back into the ranks of beloved star, and she continued acting into her eighties. She said of her character, “I gave her life, and she gave me back my career.” The film won two Oscars and endures as one of the most loved classics of all time.

Icon Status

Images: Pinterest (left); https://baghunter.com/blogs/news/princess-grace-kelly-history-of-hermes-kelly-bag (middle); Pinterest (right)

Grace is known for her classic, feminine, elegant style. Whether a star or a princess, she always dressed the part beautifully. When she became a bride, she stunned the world with her wedding dress, forever setting the prototype for bridal wear. When pregnant with her first child, she used her beloved Hermes handbag to hide her baby bump. Shortly thereafter, it became known as the “Kelly bag” and remains as such till this day.

Image: http://hamptonroadsfashionandstyle.com/2014/09/top-10-style-icons-of-all-times.html (left)

Kate never followed anyone else’s style – she created her own. She brought menswear inspired clothing into the spotlight, making it more fashionably acceptable for women. Kate loved wearing wide leg trousers, loafers, blazers, and collared shirts. These looks were worn by Kate in her films and her fans imitated her style, setting a trend that has lasted for decades.

And there you have it…two extraordinary ladies that made their place in history by living their lives unapologetically, with a lot more in common than one might think.

Thank you for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!