Classic Movie Junkie & It Had To Be You

Nora Charles:  Pretty girl.Thin_Man,_The
Nick Charles: Yes. She’s a very nice type.
Nora Charles:  You got types?
Nick Charles: Only you, darling. Lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.

From The Thin Man, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1934

It Had To Be You Update

I was very excited this week to get a look at the final cover art for It Had to Be You, my new romantic mystery due out April 7, 2014 from Carina Press.  It’s gorgeous and perfectly reflects the “classic movie” feel that inspired me to write the book.  Stay tuned for the official  cover reveal and blurb to be posted soon! 

Classic Movie Junkie … Or “What’s that man doing in my drawers?”

On another note, the timing for my cover art turns out to harmonize perfectly for this Classic Movie Junkie.  I nearly did a somersault when I found one of my favorite pick-me-up films on tap for Sunday morning: The Thin Man.  I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum, but…

No. I lie. I won’t.

If there’s one movie that inspired me to write a romantic mystery, it was The Thin Man. Why? Clever dialogue and flawless romantic chemistry mixed with a murder mystery, shady suspects (complete with shifty eyes) and a scene-stealing terrier named Asta.

This film was so popular it inspired five sequels. The dialogue—even lying flat on a two-dimensional screen—is so quotable it shines. Serve up  those quips and double entendres with the impeccable timing and tongue-in-cheek delivery of William Powell and Myrna Loy and what you get is pure classic gold.

Love mystery? Adore romance? Comedy and snappy comebacks? Check out The Thin Man. It will not disappoint.

And now on to this week’s watch list.  (Oh…waiter? “Will you please serve the nuts?”) 🙂

Sunday, February 16

After The Thin Man 10:00 am  The Thin Man (1934)  Mystery/Detective. TCM. A tippling ex-private detective and his heiress wife investigate a murder while spending the holidays in New York.  William Powell, Myrna Loy.

Why?   Sparkling romantic chemistry, droll humor, and snappy dialogue are topped off by a true-to-form dinner party reveal-the-murderer scene that will tickle your funny bone. “The murderer is right in this room. Sitting at this table. You may serve the fish…”

Monday, February 17

Rosalind Russell

Rosalind Russell in Gypsy

12:45 am  Gypsy (1962) Musical/Biography. TCM . Based on the memoirs of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee. An overbearing stage mother pushes her two daughters to be Vaudeville stars. Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, Ann Jillian.

Why?  I’m the first  to admit that I’m deficient in the area of recommending musicals, but I do love this one for the story and the time period as well as the music. Rosalind Russell is superb as the never-say-die Mama Rose and Natalie Wood tugs at the heartstrings as the less talented daughter who wanted only her mother’s love.

Friday, February 21

Paul Newman

Paul Newman

 3:30 pm  Cool Hand Luke (1967)  Drama TCM.  A strong-willed prisoner refuses to conform to a sadistic warden’s rules in a 1940s southern rural prison. Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin.

Why?  This story about a man who refuses to be beaten down will stick with you for a long time after the credits roll. Newman’s portrayal of the tragically flawed but heroic Luke Jackson is riveting—maybe the best of his career. George Kennedy is perfectly cast as his burly prison mate, Dragline.

Trivia Corner:  Some nifty facts about Asta.*

"Don't make a move or that dog will tear you to shreds."

“Don’t make a move or that dog will tear you to shreds.”

  • Like many early stars, Asta wasn’t born with his glamorous stage name. His real name was Skippy. It was after the first Thin Man movie that Skippy changed his name to Asta.
  • Asta starred in many other films in the 30s,  perhaps most notably as “Mr. Smith,” the object of a custody squabble between Irene Dunne and Cary Grant in The Awful Truth.
  • In 1936, Asta was featured along with other dog stars in the book Dog Stars of Hollywood.
  • Asta appeared in only the first two of the Thin Man movies. The other films featured other canine actors.

* Check out these Asta facts and more at Wikipedia and I Love Asta – The Official Fan Site of Asta the Dog.

Have a great week!

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

 ***

Quotes:  All of this week’s movie quotes are gems from The Thin Man, MGM, 1934.
Based on The Thin Man novel by Dashielle Hammett. Screenplay by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich.

Photo credits:

The Thin Man- By Employee(s) of MGM [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Trailer screenshot Licencing information :http://www.sabucat.com/?pg=copyright and http://www.creativeclearance.com/guidelines.html#D2 (After the Thin Man trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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

Skippy – By Trailer screenshot Licencing information :http://www.sabucat.com/?pg=copyright and http://www.creativeclearance.com/guidelines.html#D2 (After the Thin Man trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Classic Movie Junkie … Valentine’s Week Romance & Bromance

Classic Movies

Classic Movie Junkie

Butch:  All right. I’ll jump first.
Sundance:  No.
Butch:  Then you jump first
Sundance:  No, I said.
Butch:  What’s the matter with you?
Sundance:  I can’t swim.
Butch:  Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.

 From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 20th Century Fox, 1969

Valentine’s Week Romance & Bromance…

Happy Valentine’s week!Valentine's Day

When we think about Valentine’s Day, we think of romance, which is lovely—I write about it, don’t I?–but there are all sorts of relationships to celebrate this week. Friendship is one of them.

I don’t know what shape I’d be in now if I hadn’t had female friends over the years to celebrate with me in the wonderful times and help prop me up in the not-so-wonderful times. One of my friendships is over thirty-five years now and counting.  (Yeah, uh, we met soon after birth … something like that.) Another friend and I have been getting together for dinner once a week for over fifteen years. We never run out of things to talk about.

More recently, I’ve reconnected with some old writing friends as well as made new ones—these are people who seem to understand this crazy writing compulsion of mine.  How awesome is that?

Who are the friends you’d like to thank this week for being in your life?

♥♥♥

I guess what got me to waxing sentimental over friendship is my search through the classic movie schedule for Valentine’s week romances.  Oddly enough, I found no more than the usual number, and only one of them was a stand-out. There seemed to be more five-star bromances on tap.

It’s all good, though. I’ve got as much of a soft spot for buddy flicks as I do romances, especially when one of this week’s picks happens to star Robert Redford.

Thursday, February 13

 5:00 pm  The Shawshank Redemption (1994 ) Drama. AMC. A quiet man’s spirit  remains unbroken during 19 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

Why?  I love this movie. Tim Robbins’ understated performance as the mild-mannered accountant Andy Dufresne is flawless and Morgan Freeman is perfectly cast as his aging prison pal, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. This film offers one of the most satisfying, fist-pump-worthy endings ever.

Classic Movies

Tracy and Hepburn (1942)

2:45 am  Woman of the Year (1942)  Romantic Comedy. TCM. A high-powered political columnist and a down-to-earth sportswriter trade public snipes in print only to find themselves falling in love after work. Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn.

Why?   Witness the birth of pure box office gold. This is the first of nine films Spencer and Hepburn made together. It also marked the beginning of an off-screen romance that lasted  25 years.  My only quibble in an otherwise awesomely fun romance is a few lines that make my feminist side wince, but hey, this was 1942.  Hepburn shines.

Saturday, February 15

256px-Paul_Newman_-Hustler - cropped

Paul Newman

 4:00 pm  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)  Western/Action. TCM.   Two notorious train robbers flee to Bolivia to escape the super posse formed by a vengeful railroad tycoon to track them down.  Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross.

Why?  Newman and Redford. (I could stop there, but you know I won’t.) This is one of my top five favorite westerns. More than just devastating good looks make us fall for these two squabbling bad boys. Charisma, humor, loyalty and a final scene that lingers long after the credits roll.

Trivia Corner

Rpbert Redford

Robert Redford in Barefoot in the Park

 According to the AMC blog, studio execs didn’t approve of casting Redford as the Sundance Kid because he was too clean-cut.  If you think about how he appeared in his Barefoot in the Park days, maybe they had a point.  →

In the end, it’s amazing what a scruffy haircut and a mustache did to mess that suit-and-tie guy up a little, huh? It sure worked for me. 😉

Find nine more things you didn’t know about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at the AMC blog HERE.

 Have a great week!

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

♥♥♥

Photo credits:

By Scott Catron (Sunset on Hollywood uploaded by zaui) [CC-BY-SA-2.0(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Valentine’s Card circa 1910 – [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Newman / The Hustler – By 20th Century Fox studio (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons .  (1961)
Tracy and Hepburn – By Metro Goldwyn Mayer Uploaded by AKeen at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia
Redford -By Trailer screenshot (Trailer Screenshot) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Classic Movie Junkie … Romance, drama, thrills and chills

Classic Movies

Classic Movie Junkie

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

JawsUniversal Studios, 1975

You’ll never go in the water again …

As I was scouting the classic movie schedules for this week, the dates seemed like they had to be wrong. Is it just me, or is this January flying by? In years past, I swear the winter months crawled by like, well… so many sloths crossing the street.  (And if you’d like a visual, there are actually YouTube videos of sloths crossing streets. They—the sloths, I mean–move like I would the day after taking a Zumba class.)

But I digress.

Between TMC and AMC, there are so many excellent movies on deck this week, it was a challenge to narrow my list down to just four, but I did. Here’s this week’s watch list.

Sunday, January 19

Adam's Rib

Tracy and Hepburn in Adam’s Rib

 6:00 p.m.   Adam’s Rib  (1949)  Comedy, Drama, Romance. TCM.  Sparks fly on the home front when husband-and-wife lawyers represent opposite sides in a women’s rights case. [TCM]  Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday.

Why?  Aside from the fact that Tracy and Hepburn are  synonymous with smart romantic comedy,  this thoroughly entertaining film features a battle-of-the-sexes storyline  that’s both fun and thoughtful. Hepburn’s heartfelt courtroom arguments for women’s equality may seem quaint today, but they’re a telling product of their time. How far have we come since then? And how far have we yet to go?

Thursday, January 23

Giant Movie Poster

Giant

 2:30 a.m.  Giant (1956)  Drama/Family Saga. TCM.  When a  wealthy Texas rancher marries a beautiful socialite from the north, it’s just the beginning of his family’s struggles to keep up with rapidly changing times.  Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean.

 Why?   Hudson and Taylor turn in fine performances as Bick and Leslie Benedict in this epic film. Add pre- and post-WWII Texas as the setting and James Dean’s masterful final act as Hudson’s bitter antagonist, ranch hand turned oil-tycoon Jett Rink, and it’s no mystery why this movie was nominated for nine Academy Awards.

Saturday, January 25

 8:00 p.m.   Jaws  (1975)  Action/Adventure/Thriller.  TCM.  When a small beach town is terrorized by a man-eating great white shark, its water-phobic police chief joins with a young oceanographer and a cantankerous fisherman to hunt down the beast.  Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfus, Robert Shaw.

 Why?  This near flawless Spielberg thriller was the first summer blockbuster and the highest grossing movie ever made when it was released. For me, this movie’s excellence is in the conflict and humor that plays out so perfectly between Scheider, Dreyfus, and Shaw as their characters—Brody, Hooper, and Quint—must work together to defeat “The Beast.”

 10:15 p.m.   Alien  (1979)  Sci-Fi/Horror/Thriller.  TCM.  The crew of a commercial space vessel answers a distress call from a dead planet that hosts a vicious alien life form. Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt.

Why?  Originally pitched to studio executives as “Jaws in space,” Alien is an edge-of-your seat sci-fi horror suspense film that spawned three sequels. It’s been said that Sigourney Weaver’s Lt. Ellen Ripley is the best—read strong, smart, imperfect, heroic–female character in science fiction film history. I agree.

***

Trivia Corner:   Taglines have appeared in ads and on movie posters for almost as long as there have been feature films.
A great tag not only nails the heart of the story, it intrigues its target audience.

 Here are some tags from this week’s picks. Which ones would have tempted you to buy a ticket?

 “Who wears the pants?”

“The legendary epic that’s as big as Texas.”

“Don’t go in the water.”

“In space no one can hear you scream.”

 

Have a great week!

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

Credits

By Scott Catron (Sunset on Hollywood uploaded by zaui) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Adam’s Rib trailer created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Giant Movie Poster – Bill Gold [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Classic Movie Junkie … When It’s Too Cold to Go Out

Hitchhiking... Ellie stops a car by showing some leg

Hitchhiking… Ellie stops a car by showing some leg

Peter: Why didn’t you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars.

Ellie: Well, oooh, I’ll remember that when we need forty cars.

From It Happened One Night, 1934, Columbia Pictures

When it’s too cold to go out…

Happy 2014! We who dwell in the northeastern U.S. are enjoying the first deep freeze of the new year. The temperature yesterday morning when I left to attend my first writers’ group meeting of the new year was a toasty one degree.

Yeah, one.

Roofs are covered with snow, sidewalks are sprinkled with salt, and my dog looks at me with big, weepy puppy dog eyes every time I Velcro her into her flannel San Diego Chargers cape (a whole other story) to put her out in this Arctic freeze to do her puppy dog business.

There is one thing, though,  that this frigid weather is good for–bundling up on the sofa with a fuzzy blanket and a cup of hot tea to watch some great movies.

What’s on your watch list this week?

Sunday January 5

2:30 pm  The Magnificent Seven (1960)  Western. TCM. Seven American gunslingers agree—each for reasons of his own– to defend a small Mexican town against a ruthless gang of bandits. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn.

Why?  Pure entertainment for fans of pre-Clint/spaghetti Westerns. It’s also fun to watch Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson before they became box office stars. McQueen took second billing after Yul Brynner, who turned in an excellent performance as the heroic leader of this magnificent seven.

Monday, January 6

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Lana Turner

1:00 pm   The Postman Always Rings Twice. (1946) Drama/Film Noir. TCM.  A drifter takes a job at a rural diner only to become entranced by the owner’s beautiful wife, who entices him to commit murder.  Lana Turner, John Garfield.

Why? Never have two more beautiful, unlikable characters been more impossible not to watch. (Got that?) Be sure not to overdress–the chemistry between Turner and Garfield will heat up the room aplenty.

Tuesday, January 7

His Girl Friday

Grant, Russell, and Bellamy His Girl Friday

12:15 pm  His Girl Friday  (1940)  TCM.  Screwball Comedy. A shameless, fast-talking tabloid editor schemes to keep his star reporter (and ex-wife) from leaving his paper to marry a mild-mannered insurance salesman. Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy.

Why? Hands-down, one of the best screwball comedies to come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The inimitable Roz Russell gives the glib Cary Grant a run for his money in this sassy film adaptation of the play The Front Page.

Saturday, January 11

8:00 pm   It Happened One Night (1934)  Romantic Comedy.  TCM.  An out of work reporter stumbles onto a story that could jump-start his career when he meets a runaway heiress.  Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert.

Why?  Ever wonder when the modern romantic comedy genre was born? Look no further. Gable and Colbert may have introduced to film half the tropes we still love today.  They also won two of the five Academy Awards this movie garnered while they were at it.  The other three? Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing.

This week’s Amazon Prime pick:  His Girl Friday

Keep warm and have a great week!

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

Credits:

Trailer screenshot, from DVD It Happened One Night, Columbia (It Happened One Night trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 Trailer screenshot (The Postman Always Rings Twice trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Promotional Picture for the film His Girl Friday  – [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (Author Unknown)

Holiday Movie Junkie… New Year’s Eve Salutes

New Year Celebration New York

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

“You realize, of course, that we can never be friends.”

From When Harry Met Sally
Castle Rock Entertainment, 1989

New Year’s Eve Salutes

While I was compiling my Movie Junkie Watch List for this last week of 2013, I thought it would be fun to keep an eye out for some classics set around the New Year’s holiday. It would just be a matter of sorting through them all, right?

Not so much.

Unlike the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas when the free airwaves are crammed with heartstring-tugging, Kleenex-soaking, nostalgic holiday movie fare, there appears to be few films scheduled this week that are capable of stirring up so much as one soft, fuzzy dust bunny of New Year’s Eve sentimentality.

Could this be due to holiday fatigue?

Maybe so. (I know I’m ready for about a week-long nap.)

But I’m not ready to give up on holiday fare just yet. So, here’s a countdown of three of my favorite films that just so happen to include memorable New Year’s Eve scenes. Two are romances and the other? Well that one is a—there’s no other word for it—disaster.

***

 3.       The Poseidon Adventure  (1972)  Action Adventure.  After a luxury liner is capsized by a tidal wave, a disillusioned minister leads a motley group of ten survivors up through the bowels of the ship in a desperate bid to be rescued before the liner sinks. Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters, Ernest Borgnine.

Why?  This is the movie that kicked off the disaster film genre of the 70s and it still remains the best one for me. After 40 years, I still can’t tear my eyes away when that tidal wave hits and flips that colossal ocean liner—inverting the dining room where hundreds of passengers are in the midst of a rollicking New Year’s Eve celebration. Pre-echoes of that epic movie-to-come, Titanic? You bet. A 70s all-star ensemble cast is icing on the cake.

Showing this week?
Rats, no! At least, not for free on the major U.S. networks or cable channels, but it’s free on Amazon Prime. Netflix? Maybe. Go forth and search!

2.       The Apartment. (1960) Comedy/Drama/Romance.   A mild-mannered insurance clerk tries to rise through the corporate ranks by letting his bosses use his Upper West Side Manhattan apartment for extra-marital trysts. Complications develop when he falls for his boss’s quirky mistress, the elevator girl. Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine.

The Apartment 1960

Shut up and deal…

Why?  As may be deduced from the genre description —Comedy/ Drama/ Romance—this film aims high and it hits on all cylinders. It’s funny, cynical, bittersweet, honest, sentimental, and clever. Nominated for ten Academy Awards, it won five, including Best Picture and Best Director (Billy Wilder).

In the finale scene—on New Year’s Eve. of course—Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) finally realizes that true love … ah, right, right. No spoilers here.

Showing this week?
Alas, no!  But do check it out wherever you can find it. You won’t be sorry.
It’s available on Amazon Prime.

And a drum roll, please, for my number one favorite New Year’s Eve movie …

1.   When Harry Met Sally (1989)  This romantic comedy follows the pessimistic but amusing Harry Burns and the persnickety but endearing Sally Albright through twelve years of post-college life, love, break-ups, divorce, friendship, spats and, finally, a painfully slow-to-bloom, utterly charming romance. Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby.

 Why?  This is the quintessential romantic comedy of the 80s. It has more quotable, iconic lines than a Woody Allen film and a season of Seinfeld combined, including, perhaps, the best New Year’s Eve Declaration-of-Love Speech Ever. Care to guess what song is playing in the background in that scene?

Showing this week?
Yes!  Check it!
OXYGN – 10:30 am and 10:00 pm – Tuesday, December 31, 2013

 What are your top New Year’s Eve movie scenes ever?

***

Credits:

New York New Years Eve / Photo courtesy PDPhoto.org [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Apartment / By Billy Wilder / United Artists / Mirish Corporation (DVD with the film and the trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons