After the Equinox, Coincidences and Classic Movie Junkie

Ghost and Mrs Muir“It’s been a dream, Lucia…”

From The Ghost and Mrs. Muir  1947, 20th Century Fox

After the Equinox

Happy belated autumn equinox!

autumn pumpkinHere in Pennsylvania, temperatures have been lovely—70s and sunny. It doesn’t get better than that. But our daylight hours are shortening, leaves are turning, and night temps are dipping.

Autumn has always been a mixed bag for me. A sense of melancholy sets in as the season changes. Why? I don’t know, but I also remember the excitement that starting a new school year used to bring. So, I tap into those memories to help counteract my autumn blues. Football games, apple cider, farm shows, favorite sweaters and Halloween. Bring it on!

Does the change of seasons affect your mood?

Coincidence Department

Most years, the hub and I spend some time in Montauk, Long Island, a tradition that started when I talked him into going with me to do some research for the 1920s romantic mystery I was writing—It Had to Be You.  Montauk has some rich 1920s bootlegging history.

This year, on our way to our Long Island retreat, we spent a night in Manhattan at the New Yorker. Wonderful midtown location.

TOP OF THE ROCK

View from the Top of the Rock

During our short stay, we visited the World Trade Center Museum, Times Square and Top of the Rock, but my favorite picture from this visit was the sight that greeted me when I stepped out from the revolving door of our hotel. Directly across the street was a building with space to lease. Beautifully carved into its face was one word: BICKFORD’S.bickfords 3

For those who haven’t read It Had to Be You (and I know you’re out there, you one person, you), Bickford’s was a popular national chain of cafeterias that started in the 1920s. It was a part of the New York City landscape for much of the 20th century. It was talked about by Andy Warhol and it appeared in works by William Styron and Woody Allen. It also happens to be a favorite hangout for my hero and heroine as they tool around 1920s Manhattan solving mysteries. ;)

So, here it is. The view from the sidewalk outside our hotel. Look closely at the top face of the building. I love coincidences. Don’t you? Any interesting coincidences happen to you lately?

Classic Movie Junkie

In nosing through TCM’s October schedule, I saw no shortage of classic favorites I’d happily recommend, but I decided that, for this post, I’d look for some options that were new to me – movies that I’ve always meant to see but never got around to.

I picked six that caught my eye. They either had interesting reviews, stars I couldn’t resist or were considered classics. But I hadn’t seen a one. Of the six, here are three picks. Happy post-equinox viewing!

Thursday, October 9

 Gene_Tierney_in_Ghost_and_Mrs_Muir_trailercropped9:45 pm   The Ghost and Mrs. Muir  (1941)  Fantasy/Romance. TCM.  A headstrong young widow moves into a seaside cottage haunted by the ghost of a rugged sea captain. Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Natalie Wood.

Why? Five-star romantic gem. Gene Tierney is perfectly cast as the proper but willful widow Lucy Muir in this sweet, funny, wistful love story that transcends time. Rex Harrison excels as the brash ghostly sea captain who first challenges her and then slowly falls in love with her. But he’s a spirit and she’s young and alive. Will he set her free? Highly recommended.

 Wednesday, October 15

 6:30 pm   Wife vs. Secretary  (1936) Comedy TCM. The wife of an affluent magazine publisher begins to believe that the rumors about her husband and his lovely secretary are true. Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, James Stewart.Jean_Harlow_in_Libeled_Lady_trailer

Why? Star power. It’s impossible not to recognize shades of Nora Charles in Myrna Loy’s portrayal of the sophisticated wife. Her glib other half is portrayed handily by Clark Gable, but it’s Jean Harlow—playing against type as Gable’s over-competent secretary—who’s the most fun to watch. Harlow, a comedienne at heart, had already built a stunning movie career by playing platinum blond vamps-with-a-wink. She was ready to show audiences what else she had.

Also watch for a young Jimmy Stewart in one of his earliest film roles as Harlow’s adorable, long-suffering boyfriend. You’ll want to take him home.

 Sunday, October 19

Alfred_Hitchcock's_Marnie_Trailer8:00 pm   Marnie (1964) Psychological Suspense TCM. A wealthy businessman becomes obsessed with curing a beautiful compulsive thief by uncovering the tragic secrets in her past. Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren. (Director – Alfred Hitchcock)

Why?  Riveting, flawed, complex characters. Connery’s suave brand of animal magnetism has never been more potent (or disturbing) and Hedren’s thinly-controlled ice princess performance never goes over the top. Critics seem to be split on whether Marnie is one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces or if it missed its mark entirely. Judge for yourself. My eyes never left the screen.

Content warning: Adult themes–no foul language or nudity, mild by today’s standards, certainly–but it’s about, among other things, predatory behavior and moral ambiguity. Not for kids.

Times listed are ET. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

Next time… Halloween classics!

Until then, have a great week.

Photo credits:

Ghost and Mrs. Muir Trailer – [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Harlow – By Trailer screenshot (Libeled Lady trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Marnie – By Trailer screenshot (Marnie trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pumpkins and NYC- Delynn Royer

Updates and Whatnot and Classic Movie Junkie

Baby_Face_Barbara“I have to think of myself. I’ve gone through a lot to get those things. My life has been bitter and hard. I’m not like other women.”

From Baby Face, 1933, Warner Brothers

Updates and Whatnot…

GLBadgeFinalist_2014There’s happy dancing going on here at Light of Heart. I was thrilled to learn last week that It Had to Be You was named as a finalist in the Romantic Elements category of New Jersey Romance Writers’ 2014 Golden Leaf Contest.

It Had to Be You is in wonderful company with titles from fellow Romantic Elements finalists K.M. Jackson for Bounce and Tanya Holmes for Within Temptation.

If you’re looking for great romantic reads, there’s something for everyone. Finalists in all of the categories are named in the August 29th post at the NJRW Blog here.  Beginning in September, there will be excerpts, and winners will be announced at the  Put Your Heart in a Book Conference on October 17, 2014. Fun!

Classic Movie Junkie… Labor Day Picks

What’s your favorite season? Are you a summer bunny? Autumn? Winter? Spring? I’m a summer bunny, so it gives me no joy to watch another summer season fade in the rear view mirror. Fortunately, there are some great films on tap at TCM this coming week to ease my grumpy seasonal transition. Here are just a few.

Tonight! Sunday August 31

Alan_Ladd_in_Shane8:00 pm   Shane (1953)  Western, Drama TCM.   A mild-mannered drifter with a violent past joins homesteaders to fight the deadly tactics of a ruthless cattleman to run them off their land. Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon deWilde, Jack Palance.

Why? The mysterious drifter… the Man with No Name … the gunfighter who rides off alone into the sunset. This is an American western archetype that may have culminated in Pale Rider, but long before Eastwood’s anti-heroes rode into town, there was the Man with One Name–Shane.

This classic western still stands as one of the of the best of the genre. Stunning cinematography, timeless story, great performances, and one of the most heart-tugging final movie lines of all time.

Friday September 5

8:00 pm  Baby Face (1933)  Drama. TCM  Tired of being used by men, a cynical young woman moves to the big city to Stanwyck_Baby_Facesleep her way to the top. Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent.

Why?  Stanwyck plays one tough cookie in this Pre-Code classic that, along with some other racy films—notably Jean Harlow’s Red-Headed Woman ( 9/12/14)— helped usher in enforcement of the Hays Code. Is there a great story here? Not particularly, although it’s frank enough to be interesting. I’m not wild about the ending, either, but Stanwyck is a pure delight to watch as this bad girl we love to root for.

Sunday September 7

Charlton_Heston_Ben_Hur_trailer 8:00 pm   Planet of the Apes (1968) Science Fiction. TCM. Astronauts go through a time warp only to find themselves stranded on a planet of the future where apes have evolved as the dominant species.  Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter.

Why? The first and best of the Planet of the Apes series. Charlton Heston brings his A-game to his role as the cynical, mankind-hating astronaut George Taylor. But it’s Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall—as the truth-seeking ape scientist couple Zira and Cornelius—who bring light, wit and (ironically enough) humanity to this grim, clever tale about man’s inhumanity to both man and beast. The final 30 seconds … unforgettable!

Trivia Corner

 Curious about those naughty Pre-Code era films? Many featured strong female characters. Check out more on tap for September 5th on the TCM schedule – Female, Night Nurse, The Divorcee. Then check out TCM’s documentary–Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood.

*

Brandon deWilde

Brandon deWilde – “Shane…! Shane…! Come back!”

Brandon deWilde was that baby-faced actor who belted out the famous tear-jerking final lines in the movie Shane. He was the youngest actor at the time to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award–Best Supporting Actor.

Have a great week!

Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

 Photo credits:

By Trailer screenshot (Baby Face trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Shane – By Trailer screenshot (MGM) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Trailer screenshot (MGM) (Ben Hur) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Brandon diWilde – By ABC Television (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Drive-By Classic Movie Junkie…OMG! It’s Audrey Day!

Audrey Hepburn_Roman Holiday“She’s fair game, Joe. It’s always open season on princesses.”

From Roman Holiday, 1953, Paramount Pictures

 

OMG! It’s Audrey Day!

If I’ve ever done a blog post during the work week before, I can’t remember it, but–crazy busy as it’s been of late–I couldn’t let this get by.

Classic movie lovers such as moi have been basking in happiness this month with TCM’s Summer Under the Stars. Stars featured included some of my all-time favorites: William Powell, Paul Newman, Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and Barbara Stanwyck.

Can it get any better? You betcha! Today tune in for Audrey Hepburn!  Check it below. Three of my favorite Hepburn films are on deck. What are your favorite Hepburn films?

(Too late to catch Audrey today? There’s always TCM’s streaming on demand after the air date. If your cable company is signed up for the on-demand service, it’s free. Worth checking into.)

Friday August 22 – Summer Under the Stars–Audrey Hepburn Day

Audrey Hepburn_Shirley MacLaine_The Children's Hour_trailer4:00 pm   The Children’s Hour (1961)  Drama. TCM. A student’s malicious lie wreaks havoc with the careers of two dedicated school teachers.  Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner.

Why?  Based on a 1934 play by Lillian Hellman, The Children’s Hour is about the irreparable harm to reputation and livelihood one insidious lie can do. In the time period the play was written and even when this movie was made nearly 30 years later, the nature of the lie—the mere insinuation that a teacher was gay—was enough to destroy a career. Expect to get drawn in. Great performances all around.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

6:00 pm  Wait Until Dark (1967 ) Suspense/Thriller. TCM. An innocent blind woman is terrorized by criminals who believe a cache of heroin is hidden in her apartment. Audrey Hepburn, Richard Crenna, Alan Arkin.

Why?  Some aspects of this 60s nail-biter are contrived, but Audrey Hepburn’s Oscar-nominated performance still stands up beautifully. Alan Arkin’s does as well. He’s just plain skin-crawling as the deadly Mr. Roat. In 2004, the Bravo cable channel ranked Wait Until Dark’s hair-raising climactic scene number 10 among its 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

Audrey Hepburn_Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday (1953)

8:00 pm   Roman Holiday (1953)  Romantic Comedy. TCM. A runaway European princess falls in love with an American reporter who is being paid to write an exposé on her.  Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert.

Why?  Ask a group of twenty women over thirty to name their favorite classic movie, and there’s a good chance more than one will choose Roman Holiday. This perfectly delightful 5-star romantic romp through the Eternal City launched Audrey Hepburn’s film career and won her not only an Oscar for Best Actress but a special place in movie-goers hearts that lives on today.

Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

Have a great weekend!

 Photo Credits:

Roman Holiday – By Trailer screenshot  (Roman Holiday trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Children’s Hour – By Trailer screenshot  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hepburn – By Audrey1.com {Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Audrey Hepburn – By Trailer screenshot (Roman Holiday trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cicada Love Songs, Summer Jaunts and Classic Movie Junkie

Meet John Doe“…for every John Doe movement these men kill, a new one will be born. That’s why those bells are ringing, John. They’re calling to us, not to give up but to keep on fighting…”

From Meet John Doe, 1941, Warner Brothers

Cicada Love Songs …

Creek in summer

This is the creek out back of our house.: “Oh, little cicada, little cicada… I wonder where you are…”

I heard a cicada the other day.  I looked at the calendar. Yep. August.  The romance writer in me wondered if that  little fella was one of the first lotharios to eagerly scramble up from his subterranean abode–dressed all snappy and with his hair slicked back–ready to snag himself the best-lookin’ dang date in the neighborhood with his new mating song.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that–just as he was stretching his skinny legs and offering up his first “squee” of the season–he got chomped down by a passing bird or squirrel with a craving for 2014 cicada.

Now, that’s a bitter pill.

So is the end of summer.  It’s coming, folks. Oh, yeah… it’s coming.

Summer Jaunts …

For our anniversary, the hub and I took a weekend trip to Inner Harbor, Baltimore to re-do our second date–a dinner cruise. The weather was perfect, the food was great and we took home a nice photo of the two of us taken just before boarding the Spirit of Baltimore.

Inner Harbor at Night_2014

Inner Harbor at Night

When we got home, I juxtaposed that pic with the one taken 14 years ago. I’m happy to report that we’re still recognizable as the same couple. This indicates either we’ve aged rather well or we may be stuck in a rut. For example, it looks like I’m wearing the same outfit (I’m not–I wish I could still fit in that outfit) and my hair hasn’t changed (it really hasn’t). Hmmm.

Summer travels yet to come include…

  •  A day trip to the coal region of Central Pennsylvania to tour an old coal mine and learn about the life of miners back in the days of the Molly Maguires. (Whoot!)  Um, yeah. See, this is where I do get a little weird. I love this stuff. It’s research for one of my historical romances-in-progress. (Whoot!)
  • It Had To Be You_Carina PressAn overnight stay at the historic New Yorker hotel in my favorite city on the planet. I’ll be strolling the streets of Manhattan where my 1920s romantic mystery series is set.  (It Had to Be You, April 2014, Carina Press). Can’t wait!

What about you? Do you have any summer plans still on the calendar?

Classic Movie Junkie…

Yet another treat to look forward to in August is  TCM’s Summer Under the Stars – a month of amazing classic films. Many titles on tap have already been featured on this blog – The Thin Man, His Girl Friday,  Bringing Up Baby and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid… Check out the TCM schedule.

Here are a few others to watch for.

Tuesday August 5

Cooper and Stanwyck in Meet John Doe

Cooper & Stanwyck – Meet John Doe

5:45 pm   Meet John Doe (1941)  Comedy/Drama/Romance. TCM. A reporter’s fake story for her soon-to-be-defunct column saves her career, turns a homeless man into a national hero for the working class and changes them both into pawns of a powerful politician. Will they sell out? Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck.

Why?  Feeling a little 21st century world weary? Need a revitalizing dose of some off-season Frank Capra-like optimism? There are some who rank the lesser-known Meet John Doe right up with Capra’s crowning achievement, It’s a Wonderful Life. Decide for yourself. (Keep a tissue handy for a fist-pump-worthy final scene Seriously!)

Sunday August 10

 

Barrymore & Lombard - Twentieth Century

Barrymore & Lombard – Twentieth Century

12:30 pm   Twentieth Century (1934) Screwball Comedy. TCM. An express train run from Chicago to New York sets the stage for an egotistical, down-on-his-luck Broadway director to pull every underhanded trick in the book to woo back the estranged high-strung star he created.  John Barrymore, Carole Lombard.

Why? A love-hate-love story at 85 decibels. The one-liners and zingers in this early screwball classic streak by so fast, you’ll need to watch it a dozen times to catch them all. Barrymore’s over-the-top performance as a megalomaniacal Broadway director elevates melodrama to art and Lombard serves back as good as she gets.

 

Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard

6:00 pm   Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) Screwball Comedy/Romance. TCM. When a three-year wed couple discovers their marriage isn’t legal, romantic misunderstandings ensue. Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery.

Why? This fun, often-overlooked screwball comedy is worth a look-see. It was Carole Lombard’s second to last film before her tragic death in an airplane accident in 1942.  It was also Alfred Hitchcock’s only foray into romantic comedy. (Done reluctantly at Lombard’s request. Remember his legendary weakness for beautiful blondes?)  Watch for Hitch’s signature cameo.

Friday August 15

10:00 pm   Three Days of the Condor (1975) Mystery/Thriller. TCM.  A mild-mannered CIA researcher finds himself out in the cold and running for his life when he accidentally survives the execution of everyone on his research team.  Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max Von Sydow.

Why?  This smart 70s conspiracy spy thriller was made in the wake of the Watergate scandal and still resonates today.  The opening scenes are riveting, Redford owns the screen (oh, ladies, yes he does), and Max Von Sydow is excellent as the bloodless yet creepily personable assassin Joubert.

Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

This month’s Amazon Prime Picks –  Meet John Doe and Three Days of the Condor

Photo credits:

Meet John Doe – By film screenshots (Frank Capra Prod. / Warner Bros.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Twentieth Century – By Columbia Pictures [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lombard – Paramount Studios (Ebay [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mr. and Mrs. Smith – By Trailer screenshot (Mr. & Mrs. Smith trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It Had to Be You – Copyright © 2014 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Summer Doings, Thermometer Pets & Classic Movie Junkie

Don_Murray_and_Marilyn_Monroe_in_Bus_Stop_trailer_crop

“I just got to feel that whoever I marry has some real regard for me, aside from all that lovin’ stuff.”

From Bus Stop, 1956, 20th Century Fox

 

Thermometer Cat

Ah, summer. It’s my favorite time of year. But, yeah, it’s hot. I know it’s too hot when Thermometer Cat tells me I don’t have the A.C. cranked up high enough. Here’s how it works.

When the temperature is correct, Thermometer Cat looks like this.

1_Temp Correct - Copyrighted Photo

Temperature Correct

1_Temp Incorrect- Copyrighted Photo

Temperature Incorrect

When the temperature is incorrect, she looks like this…

Low Tech. But accurate.

Other Summer Doings…

1920s Fiction -It Had to Be You

As promised, I’ve fallen off my blogging schedule (if ever I had a schedule). I’ve been staying busy with family coming to visit, working at the paying job and writing and, yes, goofing off. For example, check out my new Pinterest board “Vintage Fashion – ‘20s and ‘30s”,  an It Had to Be You – inspired board. Let me know what you think. Dang, but pinning is time-sucking fun!

Mini Vacay

Summer is for hitting the road. The hub and I have an anniversary this summer, so we’ll be heading out for a day trip to Inner Harbor, Baltimore to “do-over” one of our first dates. As I recall, we got rained on while waiting in an excruciatingly long line at the aquarium. I spent the rest of the day wearing soggy clothing and bad hair. I was convinced this guy–who I thought was sorta cute–would never ask me out again. He doesn’t remember it that way. That’s romance. :)

How’s your summer? Any thermometer pets at your house? A singing iguana? Color-changing poodle? Any mini vacays planned?

Classic Movie Junkie

Speaking of time-sucking fun, there’s a plethora of classic movie gems on TCM this month. Here are just a few on my July watch list…

Saturday July 12

1_Eileen_Heckart,_Marilyn_Monroe_and_Don_Murray_in_Bus_Stop_trailer_18:00 pm   Bus Stop (1956)  Comedy/Romance. TCM. An exuberant but naïve rodeo cowboy won’t take no for an answer when he decides he wants to marry a struggling saloon singer.  Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray.

Why?  Monroe’s performance as down-on-her-luck saloon singer Cherie is funny, sweet heart-tugging and, possibly, the best of her career. Match that with Don Murray’s oddly engaging film debut as the gorgeous but not too bright rodeo cowboy “Bo” who falls madly in love with her at first sight.

The romance builds gradually and unpredictably and is refreshingly complicated on Monroe’s part for what is basically a light  rom com.  Don’t miss this five-star gem.

Sunday July 13

 6:00 pm   Dial M for Murder (1954) Thriller/Mystery. TCM.A husband’s plot to murder his straying wife takes an unexpected turn when she killsDial M for Murder Movie Poster his hired assailant in self defense. Ray Milland, Grace Kelly.

Why?  Clever, clever, clever. Ray Milland is so superb as the suave, conscienceless, patient-as-a-spider murderous husband that we easily forgive the ever-beautiful Grace Kelly for her marital straying. Still, it’s the twists and turns of this shell-game of a plot that make this Hitchcock classic worth more than one view.

Sunday July 27

 256px-Glenn_Ford_-_19552:00 pm   Blackboard Jungle (1955) Drama TCM. An idealistic new teacher is confronted with the hard realities of juvenile delinquency when he takes a job at an inner city boys high school. Glenn Ford, Anne Francis, Vic Morrow, Sidney Poiter.

Why? Parts of this movie are dated but most of it translates very well, thanks to Ford’s understated performance. His portrayal of crusading teacher Richard Dadier—an ex-vet who comes to his first teaching job idealistic but no saint—is nuanced and real.

Sidney Poitier fans: Poitier was too old to be cast as a student in this film, but he still owns every scene he’s in—a treat to watch.

Trivia Corner

Bus Stop marked the film debut of Marilyn Monroe Productions as well as actress Hope Lange, who later married leading man Don Murray. The making of the movie was infamously difficult. Lange later stated about Monroe, “She may have put everyone through hell, but the end result was extraordinary. She’s wonderful in the film.” For more  on the making of Bus Stop, check out AMC’s Backstory: Bus Stop on Youtube.

Dial M for Murder (based on a stage play) has been remade more than once. Check out 1998’s A Perfect Murder, starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Blackboard Jungle featured a little-known rock and roll ditty called “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets. It was a year-old “B-side” song that had already faded into obscurity.  Suddenly it rocketed to #1 on the Billboard charts. And the rest is history. :)

Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

Have a great month!

Photo credits:

Dial M for Murder movie poster – Bill Gold [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 Glenn Ford – By Columbia Pictures (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bus Stop – By Trailer screenshots (Bus Stop trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It Had to Be You cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Thermometer Cat – Copyright © Delynn Royer