6 Favorites from the 60’s: A National Classic Movie Day Celebration

Happy National Classic Movie Day to all! Today, Rick at the Classic Film and TV Cafe is hosting a blogathon encouraging participants to write about their six favorites from the 60’s in celebration of this momentous occasion! This sounded like too much fun to pass up and I’m excited to share my favorites with you. Let the party begin!

1. THE MUSIC MAN (1962)

Robert Preston shines in his defining role as Prof. Harold Hill, the ultimate smooth-as-silk con man. It’s not until his travels as a salesman take him to a town in Iowa where his whole world begins to unravel from under his feet, forcing Harold to make some important life decisions.

The Music Man is a great time all around, boasting an excellent cast and story, accompanied by a lively score from Meredith Wilson, and beautifully choreographed numbers. But what makes this film even more special to me is knowing it’s been loved throughout the years by my family – three generations to be exact.

Highlights include Hermoine Gingold’s hilarious turn as Mrs. Shinn, Dorothy Jeakins costumes, the “Marian the Librarian” scene, and Susan Luckey, dancer extraordinaire, as the precocious Zaneeta.

2. My fair lady (1964)

A Cinderella story of a Cockney flower girl trained to become fit for royalty. What she didn’t expect was falling for her inhumane teacher along the way, and he in turn, for her.

My Fair Lady is perhaps the wittiest of musicals with not a lagging scene throughout its nearly three hour run-time. George Cukor’s marvelous direction paired with Lerner & Loewe’s brilliant score creates a dreamy confection of sights and sounds. Audrey is wonderfully charming and perfectly convincing in her transformation from a simple flower girl into a regal lady, but it’s Rex Harrison who has the greatest lines and spectacular delivery of them. I love that while he’s busy transforming Audrey externally, his own transformation, unbeknownst to him, is happening internally.

I remember watching My Fair Lady many times as a child and marveling at the scope and beauty of it all. Consequently, this movie was my introduction to Audrey Hepburn – a constant inspiration to me.

Highlights include Audrey Hepburn’s Cockney accent, Wilfrid Hyde-White as the wonderful Col. Pickering, Cecil Beaton’s costumes, Gene Allen’s sets, and a plethora of lovable character actors.

3. west side story (1961)

Leonard Bernstein meets William Shakespeare. Enough said. The combination of the two absolutely sparkles on the screen. A retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1950’s New York City with innovative and exciting choreography by Jerome Robbins, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. This film is an artistic tour de force with excellent performances, glorious music, and a timeless message.

The primary reason one comes to West Side Story is for the phenomenal dancing and music. And led by Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, and Russ Tamblyn, you know you are in good hands. Bernstein’s iconic score possesses a lush, rapturous intensity and wistfulness effectively conveying the emotional range of the story from the thrill of first love, to the hatred of the opposing gangs, to ultimately, sorrow and tragedy. In other words, it all fits like a glove.

Highlights include Natalie Wood’s performance as Maria, Rita Moreno’s passionate Anita, marvelous usage of color by Art Director Boris Leven & Set Decorator Victor Gangelin, affecting screenplay by Ernest Lehman, and snazzy Saul Bass credits.

4. yours, mine, and ours (1968)

In this delightful comedy, two middle aged folks try to resist the attraction they feel towards one another because they are both widowed parents with no less than eight children each! When they get married, they undergo a formidable task – attempting to blend the two families into one.

Yours, Mine, and Ours is a cozy, feel good movie with lots of funny scenarios in tow and literally not a dull moment. With Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda at the helm how can you go wrong? Their chemistry is so sweet and real and makes the film work. Van Johnson also co-stars adding to the fun.

This movie is a reminder that love can bloom anytime, anywhere and that home and belonging is not about blood relations, but rather a coming together of hearts.

Highlights include Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll’s “I Love Lucy” style contributions to the story, the excellent screenplay by Mort Lachman and Melville Shavelson, and the screen stealing capabilites of Eric Shea.

5. the sword in the stone (1963)

Disney’s telling of the legend of the boy who is educated by Merlin the wizard and becomes King Arthur of England brims with charm, humor, and fun. It has a very short run time and is overlooked in the Disney canon nowadays, but I can’t help loving it. As a child I often chose this over many princess movies (which if you know me, is a big deal).

What I love most about The Sword and the Stone are the characters themselves. The short-tempered but good natured Merlin and his crusty sidekick, Archimedes the owl, bicker and fuss like an old married couple. The two of them tickle my funny bone to no end. As they argue over what’s best for the young protege, Wart’s educational journey leads to many misadventures and ultimately, the meeting of Merlin’s nemesis, the mad Madam Mim. Wart learns many life lessons along the way, most importantly, the using of one’s brain over brawn.

Highlights include the squirrel scene, the wizard’s duel, the vocal talents of Karl Swenson as Merlin, Junius Matthews as Archimedes, and Martha Wentworth as Madam Mim.

6. the man who shot liberty valance (1962)

My introduction to this film was on The Essentials one night on TCM. It left such an impression on me that I had the desire to revisit it years later, and it did not disappoint. James Stewart gives a tortured performance of a lawyer seeking to bring law and order to the old West despite opposition from a farmer (John Wayne) and the fearsome outlaw, Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin).

John Ford leads a cast of colorful characters through this poignant drama/western. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a character-driven, thought provoking piece which lingers in the mind long after the film’s end. Wayne and Stewart have surprising chemistry on the screen – their contrasting acting styles and personas aiding the differences between the men. Vera Miles is the girl who captures both of their hearts and for whom sacrifices are made. This film has so much going on underneath the surface of an already great story. The themes – love, honor, hate, and violence – are subtly handled, making this film one that rewards numerous viewings.

Highlights include Lee Marvin’s performance as the villainous Liberty Valance, John Wayne’s Tom Doniphon, and the symbolism scattered throughout the script and imagery.

Honorable Mention: Born free (1966)

And that’s it! I hope this inspires you to come up with your own list of favorites.

Thanks to Rick at Classic Film and TV Cafe for hosting this blogathon and for letting me participate! Click HERE to read the rest of the entries.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

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!

Christmas with the Stars: Jimmy Stewart in The Julie Andrews Hour Christmas Show (1972)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to week three of my Christmas with the Stars Series. I’ve really enjoyed sharing these finds with you over the past few weeks. I can’t believe we are already halfway through the series, but fear not, there are still more goodies to be found, and this one is a pinch hitter!

This week, I bring you not one, not two, but three stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age! Julie Andrews is back, (we kicked off the series with her marvelous The Sound of Christmas) accompanied by Jimmy Stewart as her special guest! Musical star Dan Dailey completes our merry trio with a brief solo number.

Dan Dailey, Julie Andrews, & Jimmy Stewart – Screenshots by me.

The show opens when after Julie’s introduction and jubilant opening number, “We Need a Little Christmas,” Julie and Jimmy make a deal that they will show each other what Christmas is like in their respective countries.

The merrymaking begins with Julie’s old fashioned English Christmas as the company sings traditional English carols, while the setting is like a page of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” come to life. The segment culminates with a goose dinner and a rendition of Dickens’ beloved tale with impressionist Rich Little playing Jack Benny as the miserly Scrooge and Alice Ghostley as Cratchit.

As we transition over to Jimmy’s small town American Christmas, Julie flies in a sleigh over the rooftops of a city then lands on a rooftop and dances with eight Santas! The tone, setting, and choreography of this fun segment reminds me of Mary Poppins and the “Step in Time” number.

Julie Andrews, Jimmy Stewart, & Rich Little

In America, we meet Jimmy’s nephew, Rich Stewart, played by Rich Little. Little impersonating Jimmy is hilarious, but even better is Jimmy’s reaction to this. He is so gracious and is able to laugh at himself and have a good time with it.

The cast sings “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” to reflect the musical style of twentieth century America. The American version of Dickens’ tale plays out with Little reprising his role and Jimmy as Crachit. The segment culminates with a turkey dinner and Jimmy saying a prayer for peace at the dinner table.

In addition to Julie Andrews’ beautiful, emotive voice, I greatly enjoyed seeing Jimmy Stewart singing and enjoying himself on this program. His warm presence is definitely evident here, adding to the already wonderful watch.

It is a ridiculous understatement to say that Jimmy and Julie are wonderful together, but I don’t know how else to say it. Together, they encapsulate the joy of the season, spreading warmth and good cheer, but they also underscore the sacred, serious moments as well.

How this show remains hidden is beyond me. With stars of this caliber, it should be considered a classic and aired on television every year! Thank goodness for YouTube!

(Maybe that should have been the title of my series instead…)

“The Julie Andrews Hour Christmas Show” is absolutely delightful and should be required viewing for fans of Jimmy or Julie and for those who love the music and spirit of Christmastime.

Note: This show also contains a number of famous entertainers of the time such as Joel Grey, Cass Elliott, Carl Reiner, Steve Lawrence, and Sergio Franchi. The original commercials are also included in the video.

Watch “The Julie Andrews Hour Christmas Show” here:

Perfect Pairing: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

You are viewing Part 3 of my series, Christmas with the Stars: Holiday Specials on YouTube You Won’t Want to Miss. Join me as I uncover holiday gems featuring classic stars each week during the month of December!

To view the introductory post click here.

To view Part 1 of the series click here.

To view Part 2 of the series click here.

To view Part 4 of the series click here.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

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); https://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!