The Classic Film Fangirling Tag: Unleashing the Inner Fan

Hello, all! I sincerely hope you are keeping well and staying safe. The delightful Miriam @CineGratia and Lee @TotalleeLeeMac have created a super fun tag to get us all out of the slump that we find ourselves in these days and get our brains going! And what better way to do that than to talk about the movies we love. Thanks for putting this together, guys! It definitely got my brain on the right track again – a much needed tonic 🙂 You’ll want to check out their tag videos here and here.

Miriam and Lee have provided 10 questions to answer (which seem harder than they look at first glance!) that you can respond with via social media or a blog post using the hashtag #ClassicFilmFangirlingTag.

So without further ado, let’s begin…

1. If there is one film whose quotations you identify with the most, which one would it be?

If I can twist the word ‘identify’ a bit to mean ‘resonate’ then I would absolutely choose Gone With the Wind (1939). This movie has meant so much to me throughout the years and Scarlett’s famous line “After all, tomorrow is another day” is one of the reasons why. There’s hope in knowing that there is a tomorrow – that things don’t always stay the same, that the future offers new opportunities for personal growth, for fulfilling our dreams, and for the betterment of our world.

2. Name a minor character from a film whose backstory you would love to see explored in a spin-off film of their own.

I’m having a hard time coming up with a backstory I’d like to see but I can think of a sequel! The film noir Leave Her to Heaven (1945) boasts one of the most monstrous female characters in film, but hidden in her shadow is the quiet, meek adopted sister, Ruth (played by Jeanne Crain). At the film’s end it makes me think of what happens to Ruth and Richard after the credits roll. Could they find happiness after what happened? Do the shadows of the past creep into their marriage? I’d like to know…

3. If you could have been an extra in any film, which one would it have been?

For this answer I’m going with Top Hat (1935). I love musicals and where the music is – is where I want to be. Imagine standing on the side lines and seeing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance together IN PERSON. Absolutely magical…after that experience I could die a happy girl!

Which scene would you have loved to have been part of?

I would love to have been a dancer in the big production number “The Piccolino.” There is some fun, outrageous, Berkeley-esque business going on with streamers and an extravagant big-white-set (Venetian style) that only RKO could produce!

4. If you could have attended any film premiere in history, which one would it have been?

Cat People (1942) was unlike anything audiences had seen up to that time. They were used to “creature features” such as Universal’s string of successful horror flicks, whereas in Cat People the monster was suggested and hardly seen. It would have been fun to be in the audience and get caught up in the story with them – to jump with them at the jump scares, and to scream with fright during the pool sequence.

5. If you could have signed up with a studio of the era which one would you have chosen and why?

This is an easy one for me to answer. I would have gone with MGM. The films they made, the stars and creatives they had under contract are among my personal favorites. I also love the prestige, glamour, and sophistication associated with the studio.

6. If you could take a prop/souvenir from one of your favorite classic films what would it be?

It’s all about the shoes! The Wizard of Oz (1939) contains some of the most iconic images in cinema, and the ruby slippers might just be at the very top of the list. Never failing to bring wonder and magic to audiences of all ages, the slippers are a symbol of adventure, magic, imagination, and a reminder that no matter where life takes us, our home is where our heart truly belongs.

I’ve been fascinated with these shoes forever. Not only are they sparkly, beautiful, and nostalgic, they are the ultimate symbol of Hollywood studio era moviemaking at its finest.

7. Which classic film character’s wardrobe would you most like to raid?

I’ve answered this question on an award post before which I’ll link right here, but there so many beautiful costumes in film that this question could be answered a million different ways! So, today I’m going with Gene Tierney as Lili Duran from On the Riviera (1951) with designs by Oleg Cassini. Not only does Lili have the perfect loungewear (and bedroom), she’s all set for the beach, and the ballroom as well.

8. Which restaurant, cafe, or other eatery featured in a classic film would you love to dine at?

I’ve always been intrigued by The Brown Derby ever since seeing the I Love Lucy episode “L.A. At Last.” The idea that the walls were covered with pictures of the movie stars who floated around in that eatery sounded so exciting! The Brown Derby is featured in some classic movies such as What Price Hollywood (1932).

When I went to Disney World a few years ago, I simply HAD to eat at the recreated restaurant at Hollywood Studios theme park. It was a lot of fun, but imagine my disappointment when no movie stars strolled in!

9. If you could have dinner or coffee (at that place) with a star, who would it be and why?

Again, I’ve answered this on that same award post, but I’m always up for meeting another film star! If I was going to The Brown Derby, I would be remiss if I didn’t choose to go with with William Holden 😉

10. If you could have attended an Oscar gala, which year would you pick?

1940! The energy and creativity that was in the air that night must have been inspiring to absorb, and how thrilling it would have been to see GWTW sweep the awards, to hear Vivien Leigh’s acceptance speech for her Best Actress Oscar, to see “Over the Rainbow” win for Best Original Song. A legendary and unforgettable night to be sure!

And that’s it…Stop by Miriam and Lee’s YouTube channels for some more classic film goodness – you’ll be glad you did!

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

My Favorite Leading Men

Here we are – already almost through the first month of the year! Very hard to believe. With that said, I’ve realized that I haven’t done any favorites lists on this blog yet and thought it would be a fun way to spice things up a little. So today, I’ve decided to look at those men who helm the whole picture, opposite the fabulous leading lady of course! I’m going to list my favorites, the role(s) that made me a fan of them, and any other tidbits that I found interesting. Without further ado, let’s begin!

“For me, acting is not an all-consuming thing, except for the moment when I am actually doing it.”

william holden

One of my most watched movies as a teenager was Sabrina (1954). I loved the romance of the Cinderella story, Sabrina’s transformation in Paris, and the characters that inhibit the story. Another aspect I loved about this movie was Sabrina’s crush, David (William Holden). He was charming, handsome, and had a smile that could melt any girl’s heart. I loved the song “Isn’t it Romantic” and still think about David and Sabrina dancing whenever I hear it. What came through to me in this film were Holden’s playful and romantic sides. This was my first Holden film, and it wasn’t until later that I discovered he was much more than a romantic lead.

Ah, I love this film for so many reasons! Judy Holliday is absolutely marvelous in Born Yesterday (1950) as Billie, the uneducated arm candy mistress of a criminal boyfriend. In comes Paul Varrell, (William Holden) and treats the girl as if she were a princess. He listens to her uncritically, nonjudmentally, patiently, and then teaches her to think critically for herself. The chemistry between these two is just lovely as is evidenced by both the romantic and comedic moments.

What stood out to me in this film was how kind Paul is to Billie. His innate goodness shines through the character in a way that I haven’t seen in too many other leading men. It’s so beautiful to see. A little backstory, I’ve heard that it takes leading actors a great deal of humility to take on a role where they know they are going to play second fiddle to someone with a scene stealing part and some will even refuse to “stoop down” to that level. Holden was not of that mindset and supported Holliday (in her Oscar winning role) with grace and dignity.

“I’m no actor and I never have been. What people see on the screen is me.”

clark gable

Clark Gable. The King of Hollywood. In my opinion, Clark Gable was one of the best personalities to ever grace the silver screen. Actually, he commanded it. I love his no nonsense attitude, his sense of humor, his calm, steady manner in times of crises, but most of all, I appreciate the vulnerability that came through in his performances. Underneath all of his bravado and machismo, there beat a gentle heart that needed love and care. In addition, he passed on his sensitive understanding of humanity to others.

Red Dust (1932). Screenshot by me.

Watch the scene in Red Dust (1932) when Clark is about to tell Gene Raymond how he and Mary Astor love each other. Gene Raymond tells Clark his and Mary’s plans for settling down and raising a family and of Mary’s love for their close knit family and friends. Clark’s manner and expression changes from being confident and in control, to sad and reflective, as he knows that he will have to give up Mary. It is a subtly effective, beautiful moment on film.

One of the many pleasures of watching Gone with the Wind (1939) is Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler. Rhett, besides Mammy, is the only one who sees right through Scarlett’s shenanigans and isn’t fooled by the innocence that she masquerades in front of others. He knows exactly who she is and sardonically calls her out on it, but loves her anyway. With Rhett, what you see is what you get. He is bold and honest, and respects those who are the same.

When Melanie comes to comfort Rhett after Scarlett’s accident, Clark gave us one out of the many golden scenes in Gone with the Wind. He encompasses Rhett’s guilt and pain, the tenderness and trust of his friendship with Melanie, and his doomed, tortured love for Scarlett all in one short scene.

“To grasp the full significance of life is the actors duty, to interpret it is his problem, and to express it is his dedication.”

marlon brando

Marlon Brando is a fairly new discovery for me. I know, I know, how can you be a classic movie fan and not know Marlon Brando? Crazy, right? I’d seen Guys and Dolls and heard about all the accolades for On the Waterfront through the years; but I wasn’t in a rush to see it as I thought it was all hype – that is, until I saw it.

In On the Waterfront, (1954) Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is a product of his unfortunate circumstances. He is caught in the middle of his allegiance to Johnny Friendly, the corrupt union boss who rules the docks, and his own moral compass. His goodness is brought to the forefront by his love for the sweet and innocent Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint). It is through their relationship that the tender side of this tough, hard nosed ex-prize fighter comes out, which Marlon beautifully portrays with the emotional sensitivity that became his trademark.

As a sculptor molds clay or a painter wields his paintbrush, Marlon becomes Terry before our very eyes taking us through each stage of Terry’s development and his emotional journey. Throughout the film, he transitions from a victim/accomplice into a courageous man who recognizes his own personal power and embraces it despite the great danger and opposition surrounding him. Marlon won an Oscar for his performance, and it’s not hard to see why. It is a towering performance, both heartbreaking and empowering, flawless in its execution, and should not be missed.

Now it’s your turn! Who are some of your favorites?

Image: Pinterest

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

Book Nook – The Charms of Miss O’Hara: Tales of Gone with the Wind & the Golden Age of Hollywood from Scarlett’s Little Sister by Phillip Done

Gone with the Wind. When I first saw it, I fell in love. It had everything a great movie should have: an amazing cast; costumes that took my breath away; elaborate sets; not to mention a glorious score; and a story that is both heartbreaking and strangely encouraging at the same time. Some say there will never be another movie to its equal. Some think it’s vastly overrated. It is certainly controversial by today’s standards, but no matter one’s preference it has certainly infiltrated our culture and become part of our vernacular. Gone with the Wind is here to stay.

Beyond the vastness of the movie and the legend comes a true story about an author who had a chance meeting with the woman who happened to play Carreen in Gone with the Wind. You may also know her as Andy Hardy’s long suffering girlfriend in the Andy Hardy series. Her name? Ann Rutherford. In this delightful biography and tribute, author Phillip Done takes us through his encounters with Miss Rutherford, his visits to her home, and the wonderful stories she lovingly tells about her life as an actress in Old Hollywood.

Reading this book is like sitting down with Miss Rutherford and listening to her recall her life’s story. The book is so warmly written, and her adorable, vivacious personality jumps off its pages. For instance, she refers to Gone with the Wind as The Wind. Miss Rutherford had a wonderful sense of humor, a joy for life, and by the end you feel as if you have gained a dear friend.

Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) with Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Lana Turner

For a number of years, Ann was under contract to the studio who boasted they had “more stars than there were in the heavens.” Ann’s recollections of the inner workings of her most beloved MGM and the glittering actresses who worked there are fascinating. Some of the stars she mentions are Greer Garson, whom she called Greer Dear, Lana Turner, and she reflects on the first time she heard Judy Garland sing (as part of The Gumm Sisters).

Gone with the Wind (1939)
-Screenshot by me-

I particularly enjoyed reading the behind the scenes tidbits on The Wind: how Ann got the part; how she influenced Selznick’s choices in the makeup department; her memories of filming; her opinions of her cast mates; and her exciting experience of attending the premieres and Oscar ceremony.

Ann with Rand Brooks (Charles Hamilton) at the Hollywood premiere – 1939

I also appreciated Ann’s never ending commitment to the promotion of the picture by donating her memorabilia to the Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum in Atlanta and proudly attending various events honoring the film throughout her life.

Olivia de Havilland, Evelyn Keyes, Ann, and Victor Jory at the 1960’s showing of the film

Image: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/37/17/15/371715fed4e28326df0a91ec19a8df8a.jpg

Evelyn Keyes (Suellen O’Hara), Ann, and Rand Brooks (Charles Hamilton) – 2002

Image: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/12/movies/12keyes.html

The story of how Ann got into the movies is quite fun in itself, and the lengths she went into preparing for her first roles are both astounding and hilarious; however, that just barely scratches the surface of what this book contains. Throughout her career, Ann worked in radio, television, and built up an extensive filmography. Her leading men included John Wayne, Gene Autry, Jimmy Stewart, Errol Flynn, and Red Skelton.

The Lawless Nineties (1936) with John Wayne; Of Human Hearts (1938) with Jimmy Stewart; The Adventures of Don Juan (1948) with Errol Flynn

Images: Pinterest

Several surprises lie in wait for those who go on to read The Charms of Miss O’Hara. I don’t want to spoil the fun by giving everything away!

Whistling in Dixie (1942) with Red Skelton and Diana Lewis

For this classic movie fan, this book is paradise. I’ve read my copy twice already, and I know that I will read it again and again. It’s like stepping into a time machine and going back into the glorious, magical days of Old Hollywood led by a friend who knows all the people you’ve always wanted to meet and who’s been to the places you’ve always wanted to go.

Thank you, Phillip Done, for such a wonderful book and tribute to an inspiring lady who was truly as charming as the title indicates.

You can buy today’s lovely book by clicking here.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

-Images are in the public domain unless otherwise noted-