Treats All Around: The Bernard Herrmann Blogathon Begins!!

Happy Halloweekend and Welcome one and all to The Bernard Herrmann Blogathon!

Are you ready to embark on this weekend full of spellbinding mystery and musical delights? I know I am!

Bernard Herrmann needs no introduction. His music is the very definition of the word iconic. From a barbaric shower scene, to ghostly cottages, to an eerie alien invasion, he did it all. And with a completely new musical landscape that nailed the setting every time.

A complex man who was known for his abrupt manner but had a sensitive side as well, he excelled at and pioneered the art of conveying psychology through music.

His powerful music is imprinted on some of the most beloved classic films and his influence is never-ending, reaching into the hearts and minds of composers and movie lovers today.

I admire Herrmann tremendously and am so pleased and honored to be honoring him with my very first blogathon.

So without further ado, thank you for joining us in this celebration! I hope you find a “new” film or two…Because one can never have too much Herrmann 😉

Check back to this post often as I will be updating as the blogathon rolls on!

Bloggers, thank you for making this a special event by lending your time and talent! I can’t wait to read your thoughts!

Please leave me a comment below when you are ready to unveil your compositions. I will add them to the programme as soon as I can!

The Programme

The Classic Movie Muse | Visiting the Maestro: The Final Resting Place of Bernard Herrmann in Elmont, New York

Realweegiemidget Reviews |  Marnie (1964)

I Found It At the Movies |  North by Northwest (1959)

Silver Screenings | 5 Fingers (1952)

Nitrateglow | On Dangerous Ground (1951)

Hamlette’s Soliloquy | Jane Eyre (1943)

Classic For a Reason |  Vertigo (1958)

Caftan Woman |  Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

A Full Rich Blather | The Trouble with Harry (1955)

Taking Up Room | The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Coffee, Classics, and Craziness | Top 5 Favorite Herrmann Soundtracks

Journeys in Classic Film | The Wrong Man (1956)

Diary of a Movie Maniac | Hangover Square (1945)

Magic Time | The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Critica Retro | The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)

The Classic Film Connection | Psycho (1960)

Second Sight Cinema | Citizen Kane (1941)

The Flapper Dame | Garden of Evil (1954)

18 Cinema Lane | The Trap (1959)

Announcing The Bernard Herrmann Blogathon: October 29-31, 2021!

Herrmann’s cameo in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Bernard Herrmann – a man who contributed so much to the movies through his statement making music – leading us from the undiscovered realms of the world to the deepest parts of our human souls.

Although his name will forever be tied to the iconic films of Alfred Hitchcock, we as classic movie fans know that Herrmann wrote the film scores for many beloved classics before and after he met up with the Master of Suspense including Citizen Kane, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and The Day the Earth Stood Still, to name but a few. However, the Oscar winning composer was not constrained to the the silver screen, his work also extended to radio, television, and the concert hall.

During the spooky season leading to Halloween, I can think of no better time to sit back and soak up the mysterious sounds Herrmann conjured for the moving image and beyond.

Not a fan of suspense thrillers? No problem. Herrmann composed for many different genres including drama, fantasy, sci-fi, film noir, adventure, and Westerns. For a list of movies and more….Click HERE.

Stuck for ideas? For an update and list of films ripe for the picking…Click HERE.

The Nitty Gritty

1. For this blogathon you may write about anything pertaining to Bernard Herrmann. You may discuss his life, a book about him, his work in radio and television, his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, or Ray Harryhausen. Or you may choose to review a film Herrmann collaborated on (The Birds counts too!). Top lists are acceptable as well.

2. Because Herrmann’s work is so expansive, I’m asking that a topic or film be covered only once (ouchies, I know!); however, if someone chooses an overview of his collaborations with Hitchcock for example, another writer may choose to review a specific film from said collaboration, etc.

3. I will be accepting no more than 2 posts per person. All contributions must be new material only.

4. I’m asking participants who choose to review a film to pick one from Herrmann’s career ranging from 1941 – 1965.

5. Whatever you choose, please make sure to mention the contribution of this great master as that’s what we are celebrating through this blogathon. Also, please keep the posts respectful, otherwise they will not be accepted.

6. In your post, please link back to my blog and the post that I will release on October 29th so that others may read the fabulous entries.

7. To express your interest in participating, simply leave me a comment below with the name and URL of your blog and your topic of choice. I will add you to the roster once I’ve confirmed your topic.

8. The blogathon will take place on Halloween weekend, October 29th-31st, 2021. Please publish and send your link to me on a day that the event is running…And that’s it!

This is the first blogathon that The Classic Movie Muse has had the pleasure of hosting and I’m excited to celebrate Bernard Herrmann with you! Please choose a banner from down below to help spread the word and to include in your blog post.

Thank you, and I will see you in October!

List of Participants:

The Classic Movie Muse | Visiting the Maestro: The Final Resting Place of Bernard Herrmann in Elmont, New York

Realweegiemidget Reviews |  Marnie (1964)

The Classic Film Connection | Psycho (1960)

Classic For a Reason |  Vertigo (1958)

Silver Screen Classics |  TBA

I Found It At the Movies |  North by Northwest (1959)

Caftan Woman |  Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

Taking Up Room | The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Hamlette’s Soliloquy | Jane Eyre (1943)

Diary of a Movie Maniac | Hangover Square (1945)

18 Cinema Lane | The Trap (1959)

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood |  Cape Fear (1962)

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest | The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

Coffee, Classics, and Craziness | Top 5 Favorite Herrmann Soundtracks

Journeys in Classic Film | The Wrong Man (1956)

The Flapper Dame | Garden of Evil (1954)

Critica Retro | The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)

Silver Screenings | Five Fingers (1952)

Magic Time | The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Poppity Talks Classic Film | The Birds (1963)

A Full Rich Blather | The Trouble with Harry (1955)

Nitrateglow | On Dangerous Ground (1951)

Second Sight Cinema | Citizen Kane (1941)

Fashion Inspiration: Kim Novak in Bell, Book, and Candle (1958)

As part of my Halloween viewing for this year, I saw Bell, Book, and Candle for the first time. This film has been on my radar as the cast includes the remarkable duo of Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak (and was released in the same year as Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo, also featuring the two leads).

In Bell, Novak plays Gil, a witch who uses her powers to do her bidding and to catch Jimmy Stewart for her own. The film starts off with a scene on Christmas Day and makes for some cozy, cold weather viewing. The fashion reflects this as Gil is ensconced in gorgeous capes, cloaks, and gloves.

While the Academy award nominated costumes were designed by Jean Louis, whose most famous creations included Rita Hayworth’s gown in Gilda, Marlene Dietrich’s elaborate stage wear, and Marilyn Monroe’s barely there “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress, all of Gil’s clothing in the film look extremely comfortable to wear and have a cool, relaxed vibe while still being elegant, refined, and stylish.

As I was completely charmed by this movie and fell in love with Kim’s character and her amazing wardrobe, I thought it might be fun to gather some inspiration from Gil’s looks that can easily be incorporated into your own winter wardrobe and holiday looks for this year. Enough talk…on with the visuals!

black and red ensemble

When we are introduced to Gil, she is wistfully contemplating her life in her shop while the snow descends steadily on the streets of New York City. She is wearing a black sweater with black cigarette pants and a red tunic – a festive and cozy outfit for Christmas Day.

leopard print cape

Images: https://alisonkerr.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/bell-book-candle-leopard-print-cape.jpg (left); http://theclassicmoviemuse.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/91c2e-kimnovakleopardcoat.jpg (right)

I cannot get enough of Gil’s leopard print cape. Seriously, how gorgeous is that?! Luckily for us, leopard is all over the fashion scene. Not into capes (or can’t find one)? Pull out a coat instead, or just keep it in the accessories. I love these casual reinterpretations of Gil’s look, totally appropriate for a fun day time outing.

Images: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/4e/74/12/4e741296fb5f7df861cf8ec1000838bd.jpg (left); https://the-sister-studio.com/2018/11/leopard-shoes-sweaters-under-50/ (right)

Here’s a look for the office that can transition easily to date night with Gil’s signature style written all over it.

black and leopard outfit

Image: https://alisonkerr.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/bell-book-candle-black-snood-outfit-with-glimpses-of-leopard-lining.jpg

Image: https://alisonkerr.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/bell-book-candle-black-snood-skirt-suit.jpg

Gil’s leopard cape is reversible as we can see in this scene where she wears an all black ensemble with only hints of the print peeking through. This is a somber scene in the film, accented perfectly by Gil’s ensemble. Her outfit is sophisticated but subdued.

Image: Pinterest

Keep the rest of this outfit simple and let the leopard do the talking. Pair black basics with a variety of textures for visual interest and top it off with some fun accessories. Neutrals never looked so chic.

burgundy velvet dress

Images: https://professorpski.tumblr.com/post/182580123945/what-the-modern-witch-wears (left); https://serenitywomble.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/reddress1.png (right)

https://time.com/3821160/life-magazine-animal-covers/

Gil wears a burgundy velvet backless dress with jeweled bangles on the sleeve for her night out at the Zodiac Club. It’s when she invites Shep (Stewart) to her apartment that the magic begins. Velvet (or velour) is the go-to for holiday wear from tops, to pants, to dresses, and is not hard to find around this time of year. If you pick a dress, go for a high neckline and a lower back, and don’t forget the bangles to recreate Gil’s look.

Images: Pinterest

I hope you enjoyed looking at some of the pieces in Gil’s wardrobe with me. I only picked a few out of the offerings on display. You’ll have to watch the film to see the rest!

Italian poster for the film: Imdb

Bell, Book, and Candle is great fun. In addition to an excellent cast and a memorable score, there is another added bonus. If you’re like me and struggle to find a semi-festive flick to watch between Halloween and Christmas, (or you love Halloween so much you don’t want to let it go yet) let me tell you, your search is over. Bell, Book, and Candle is the perfect “in between” movie! So get your cozy sweaters out, grab your furry friend, and prepare to be enchanted by this wintry, magical tale.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

Cat People (1942) – The Power of Suggestion

You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying “less is more.” In the case of Cat People, that definitely rings true. Producer Val Lewton crafted his first horror flick for RKO from a title and a shoestring budget, but with a masterful usage of light and shadows coupled with sensitive direction, the team elevated the B film into an artistic achievement and a masterpiece of the genre. With complex characters, a story that revolved around the relationships between people, a setting in modern times, and a focus on the unseen, Cat People set out to prove that horror wasn’t all about mad scientists, Tyrolean mansions, and monster makeup.

Jane Randolph, Simone Simon, and Kent Smith

Image: Pinterest

Set in New York City, the film centers around a Serbian young woman, Irena Dubrovna, (Simone Simon) who is a fashion design artist by trade. She meets and falls in love with Oliver Reed (Kent Smith). They marry, but Irena is troubled. She believes she is descended from a line of people with an ancient curse placed upon them. Haunted by her past and fearful for herself and her husband, Irena seeks for answers, but is she beyond help?

Simone Simon and Kent Smith in a promo shoot for the film

Image: https://www.facebook.com/tcmtv/photos/a.202574775395/10155719032290396/?type=3&theater

Simone Simon is absolutely marvelous as the sweet but tortured Irena. As a French beauty with a je ne sais quoi, her exotic features and accent fit her character perfectly, lending to the mysterious aura surrounding her. Simone Simon brings out the loneliness that Irena feels, making her an incredibly sympathetic character due to her nuanced performance. In my humble opinion, she makes the film. It’s no wonder that the character of Irena would become the defining role of her career.

Simon in a promo shoot for the film

Kent Smith plays Irena’s husband, Oliver Reed. American as apple pie, he is drawn to Irena because of her foreignness and exotic charm. Smith’s all-American quality contrasts so well with Simon, making the two a compelling couple. Smith gives a very good performance of a man who goes from being understanding and patient to confused and defeated. It has been said that Smith gave a stilted performance because he did not want to do the movie; however, I think his delivery and style fits the character well. To me, he is a mix between Laurence Olivier in Rebecca and Superman’s alias, Clark Kent – warm but detached, all the while having a desire to be practical and heroic but lacking in tact and discernment.

Smith and Simon in a promo shoot for the film

Image: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0808949/mediaviewer/rm1852855552

Roy Webb

Image: Imdb

Roy Webb was chosen as the composer for Cat People. A former assistant to Max Steiner, he became RKO’s chief musical director and worked in virtually every genre. His first credited score is Alice Adams, (1935) while his most famous is Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946). For Cat People, Webb gathered inspiration from real life by using the song, “Dodo L’enfant Do,” a French lullaby and favorite of Simon’s, as Irena’s theme. (Listen for Irena briefly singing the song a few times.) As the film goes on, the presumed innocence of the theme gets turned on its head becoming twisted, dark, and ominous. Webb’s haunting score for Cat People effectively conveys feelings of despair and longing, as well as the terror and danger that surrounds the characters.

Cat People is a beautiful film, and if you are in love with black-and-white, stylish cinematography, you are in for a treat. Cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca is the genius behind the sumptuous look of Cat People. In 1940, Musuraca filmed what some call the first film noir, Stranger on the Third Floor, and in 1947, he filmed Out of the Past, one of the definitive films of the genre. Similarly, Musuraca brought that rich touch of film noir to Cat People.

Jane Randolph and Kent Smith

Image: https://rowereviews.weebly.com/viewing-log–reviews/cat-people-1942-jacques-tourneur

Cat People is all about subtlety. The director, Jacques Tourneur, believed that what can be rendered in the imagination is much more frightening than what could be placed on the screen. Val Lewton agreed, “We tossed away the horror formula from the beginning.” Those in favor of explicit horror might be disappointed because of this aspect, but I much prefer it. I love the atmospheric, moody lighting and the poetic nature of the screenplay that sets an appropriately eerie tone as the story unfolds.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Sizz/comments/bjsxty/simone_simon_in_cat_people_1942_directed_by/?ref=readnext

For viewing purposes, I highly recommend the Criterion version of the film. The bonus features are great and include a commentary featuring film historian Gregory Mank and audio clips of an interview with Simone Simon. The commentary adds so much to my enjoyment of this film and my appreciation of it. Cat People is one of those films that I get more and more out of as I watch and think about it. Alluring, enigmatic, and unique, Cat People has stood the test of time continuing to draw many viewers into its world of darkness, mystery, light, and shadow.

Behind the Scenes & Trivia

  • Cat People was commissioned to make some quick money for RKO and saved the studio from bankruptcy after the box office failure of Citizen Kane (1941).
  • Val Lewton’s former employer, David O. Selznick, wrote commending Lewton on his work: “It is an altogether superb producing job, and is in every way a much better picture than ninety percent of the “A” product that I have seen in recent months…it is one of the most credible and most skillfully worked out horror pieces in many years…”
  • Cat People was shot in three weeks.
  • Cat People was one of the first psychological horror films and was very influential to the horror genre as a whole.
  • Before becoming an actress, Simone Simon studied fashion design just like Irena Dubrovna.

This post is my contribution to Dark and Deep: The Gothic Horror Blogathon hosted by Pale Writer. You can read all the other spooky entries here. Many thanks to Gabriela for hosting and for letting me take part in my first blogathon!

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!