Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Makes A Christmas Movie?

So what do you think makes a movie a "Christmas" movie? I had a discussion about this with a couple of friends at work yesterday and it ended in blood and tears. Not really, but I'm lending some Christmas movies to one of them and in the stack I included Meet Me In St. Louis and In the Good Old Summertime. Some thought that the inclusion of these films in the "Christmas" movie category was a little questionable since the movies don't take place entirely during the Christmas season.

Now, I admit In the Good Old Summertime seems like an especially unlikely Christmas movie given the name, however, if anything it's mistitled since very little of the movie actually takes place in the summer. In my head they're both Christmas movies because the climax of the films takes place at Christmastime, and they give me Christmas warm fuzzies! Plus, Judy Garland sings a Christmas song in both of them. If that's not Christmas, I don't even know what is.

The beauty of these hybrid type movies is that you can watch them in June and not feel weird about it, but come December, they're extra fabulous.

So what do you think? Am I just so obsessed with Judy Garland that I've lost touch with reality and made her every day films into Christmas films in my head? Does a movie have to be 100% Christmas to be a Christmas movie or can it have a little more variety?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Top Ten Old Christmas Albums

As we prepare for Thanksgiving this week, it's time to start thinking seriously about Christmas music. Some people think it's too early for Christmas music, but I think that's crazy. The truth is, Christmas music is great all year round and only gets better the closer we get to Christmas.

So today I will share with you my top ten list of amazingly fantastic Christmas albums by dead or almost dead people (to keep in line with the theme this blog, of course):

10. Elvis Presley: Elvis Christmas
You pretty much need an Elvis album in your Christmas music collection. Some of the songs on this album are a little strange, but it's worth it if only for the extremely Elvis-y Blue Christmas and Here Comes Santa Claus.

9. Frank Sinatra: A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra
Frank singing classic Christmas tunes. Can't go wrong with that!

8. Christmas With The Rat Pack
Who doesn't love the Rat Pack? They're certainly entertaining and there aren't many other Christmas albums featuring drunk, middle aged men forgetting the words to Christmas songs. Best song: Marshmallow World.

7. Nat King Cole: Christmas For Kids: From One To Ninety-Two
I discovered this album when I worked at Zany Brainy and we played it all Christmas. It has lots of happy fun songs that you won't find on a lot of the usual Christmas albums. And Nat King Cole has a great Christmas song voice.

6. Ella Fitzgerald: Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas
First of all, I love when Ella wishes me a swinging Christmas. That's really all their is to say. Best song: Sleigh Ride.

5. Andy Williams: Merry Christmas
Listen, Andy Williams is Christmas. His version of Sleigh Ride on this album is disturbingly '60s and makes me want to do a weird Ann Margret dance, but I cannot stop listening!

4. Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song
For those of you who need more traditional Christmas songs, this is the perfect album.

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas
This one is so amazing that I listen to it year 'round. The piano is fantastic and it's just an all around feel good album. I especially love My Little Drum.

2. Bing Crosby: White Christmas AND Merry Christmas With Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Yes, these are two albums, but some songs overlap and they really should be one album. Bing and the Andrews Sisters are just fabulous together and very old-timey. I especially love Jingle Bells.

1. Andy Williams: The Andy Williams Christmas Album
Yes, this is the best Christmas album of all time. It has everything—all your favorite classics plus the weird '60s influences we've come to know and love from Andy. Buy it now before Christmas is over!!

And an honorable mention goes to a completely amazing remix of Happy Holiday by Bing Crosby. I want to dance every time I hear it.

So, those are my favorite old Christmas albums. What are yours?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Old Christmas Movies on the Big Screen

This year the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove is once again showing some classic films that I'm pretty excited about. Namely, Miracle on 34th St. and White Christmas! Don't miss them if you're in the Chicagoland area!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Soylet Green is What?

"It's the year 2022... People are still the same. They'll do anything to get what they need. And they need SOYLENT GREEN."
Wow, Soylent Green, what can I say? I watched it over the weekend and it was ... interesting.

The basic premise is it's 2022 and there's apparently been a population explosion and Global Warming has come to fruition, causing fresh food, electricity, and housing to become hot commodities. One day, an old rich man is murdered and a cop, played by Charlton Heston, takes it upon himself to solve this murder case, while also stealing the rich man's food and having sex and taking endless showers with his woman. Pretty soon he learns some disturbing details surrounding the case and flips out and gets shot. The End.

Where does the Soylent Green come in, you ask? Good question. It's literally only mentioned about three times in the entire movie. This was surprising to me, given the name of the film. The focus of the movie is on this murder case and, almost more than that, on the many strange goings-on of the future. While some of these predictions are interesting, they do not make for a very creepy movie, and the ending feels somewhat anti-climactic since we haven't really gotten a feel for the prominence of Soylent Green. If I hadn't read that tagline at the beginning, I don't think I would have even known that Soylent Green was a very big deal.

Probably the most fun part was seeing what these filmmakers thought the world would be like in 50 years, only 13 years from now!

Some highlights:

  • Global Warming sets in, causing problems for our crops and animals. The solution: heavily processed food using whatever edible, living things there are, such as soybeans and kelp.

  • Apparently in the future, sexy women will come with swanky apartments, literally as part of the furniture, which is what we will call them. "Furniture"

  • The population of New York City will grow to 40 million (about 5 times what it is now. Better start having more kids!), and anyone who's not wealthy will be lucky to get an apartment and may resort to sleeping in stair wells.

  • As a result of this population explosion, riots are frequent and "riot control"
    consists of large dump trucks that scoop people up in the front and dump them into the back of the truck. I think the scene depicting that was supposed to be creepy, but it wasn't.

So is it worth watching? Eh, if you like Charlton Heston and/or sci fi movies, probably. I'm glad I watched it, but it's probably not something I need to see again and it definitely didn't weird me out as much as anticipated. But you may not want to take my word for it ... I don't have the best history with sci fi movies.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Old Movies for Young People

Every month I show an old movie to a bunch of twenty-somethings (like me!). Sometimes it goes over well and other times not so well. So I thought I'd put together a list of the movies that have been well received by my generation in case you're ever in this situation. Granted, they may still make fun of them and not fully understand their brilliance, but some movies are so good that even the hippest young adults can forgive their corniness.

On to the list ...

  • Some Like it Hot - probably our most successful Old Movie Night to date. It's just full of good stuff that will never go out of style: the Mafia, men dressing up as women, hot blond chicks. Plus there are also plenty of dirty innuendos that any young crowd is sure to love.

  • Psycho - This movie is so famous that anyone who hasn't seen it will at least know about the shower scene. And while some of it is a little corny and strange, it's still scary enough to creep everyone out.

  • Casablanca - A classic that even then youngsters have heard of, and is still good enough to hold everyone's attention. Plus it contains a number of quotes that are commonplace even today.

  • The Sting - Paul Newman never fails. Too bad I killed him.

  • Sunset Blvd. - This movie is insane and who doesn't love insanity? Once Norma buries that monkey, there's no turning back.

  • The Philadelphia Story - Everything about this one is great. It's funny and it helps that most people know Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart. It's just a good time.

  • The Birds - It's a little corny, but still pretty scary and definitely a favorite amongst my friends.

  • Singin' in the Rain - I was hesitant about showing a musical for Old Movie Night. People my age just don't understand them. But luckily, Singin' in the Rain is famous and fabulous enough that the crowd dismissed the painful unreality of it and just enjoyed. Plus that Gene Kelly is a dreamboat and everyone knows it.

  • Miracle on 34th St. - Really just a classic!

  • Goldfinger - Pretty much everyone loves James Bond and gold painted ladies laying in a bed.

As I write this I'm preparing for the next Old Movie Night this weekend featuring The Mummy and House of Wax for Halloween. The double feature is usually a safe bet. They have to like at least one of those, right?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Annie: Censored!

Last night TCM showed the classic, Annie, I'm not sure why. But it brought back fond memories of my Annie obsession as a child. In my younger years (and maybe in my older ones too) I was quite a big fan of this film. This may have been partly due to the fact that it's a musical, partly because it's awesome, and partly because Carol Burnett is in it.

In any case, since I was poor as a child, the only copy of Annie I had was taped off the TV, and back in the olden days TV networks saw nothing wrong with editing the heck out of a movie to make it fit conveniently in their two hour time slots. As a result, there were literally at least 4 songs missing. Maybe more.

I realized this was the case when I saw the movie in its entirety when I was in high school and it was eye opening. So many new songs, I didn't know what to do. Being older, I thought they were all kind of lame and I wasn't too impressed, but I'm sure that had I'd seen them when I was 5, they would have been amazing.

So I had to learn to deal with this shocking news that made me feel incomplete and cheated. Then came more shocking news.

My mother confessed to me that she'd done some editing of her own to our taped-off-the-TV version of Annie.

This should have been obvious to me. There was always this one scene in the movie that, when I looked back, came to a painfully abrupt ending. What happens is, after Miss Ferrel uses her feminine wiles to convince Warbucks to adopt Annie, he is so whipped that he goes to the orphanage himself to sign the papers. When he arrives, slutty Miss Hannigan sees an opportunity for ... money, sexiness, attention from an adult? ... and she promptly begins to seduce Warbucks. This is when it happens. Hannigan gets Warbucks cornered in her office, catches a glimpse of a diamond pin on his shirt and exclaims, "My God, is that thing real?!" End scene.

Little did I know, there was much more seduction and even a really lame song that continued after that. Needless to say this was the most shocking of all the edits, given the fact that the scene ended mid-sentence.

I'm not bitter though. I think my mother was right—the scene was basically pointless. Why do we need to know that Miss Hannigan wants to seduce Warbucks? We already know she's a skanky weirdo.

This issue came up not too long ago in my mother's presence and she explained her reasoning. First, obviously, it was moderately obscene moment. But most importantly, at that time in my life I was a pretty big Carol Burnett fan and my mother didn't want me to mimic her skanky ways.

I think it was the right choice. But I often (or barely ever, really) wonder what I'd be like today if that scene had stayed in.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Judy on Life

This morning, my mother alerted me to something very exciting: LIFE magazine on Google books. That's right, there's literally 35 years of LIFE magazine sitting there for the reading, many with some fabulous movie articles. The most important ones are, of course, the two Judy Garland issues, one from 1944 and one from 1954. The July 1969 issue also offers a "A Farewell to Judy." They also covered stories about Judy's "comeback," Judy falling over on stage in 1951, and check out this makeup ad that teaches you how to "have that lovely kind of Judy Garland complexion," complete with marginal notes by Judy herself!

Or if you're not obsessed with Judy Garland for some reason, there are plenty of other very cool LIFE issues:

And if none of these interest you, you can search for whatever you want in the box on the left of the page or just look through them by year and spend literally hours and hours reading!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Famous (Old) People in Chicago!

Big News! If you're in the Chicagoland area, you have the chance to see quite a few washed-up celebrities in the coming weeks. Here's a rundown:

First, both Julie Andrews AND Andy Williams will be appearing at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove within a week. I suggest you check them out. They're both plugging their new books and with the ticket, you'll receive a signed copy. Julie will be there on October 13th, and Andy on October 19th. Check out the Anderson's Book shop website for more info. I got to see Julie Andrews there a couple years ago and it was completely fantastic. I highly recommend it!

And lots of fabulous events coming up at the Hollywood Blvd. theater in Downers Grove and the new Hollywood Palms in Naperville including appearances by Tippi Hedren, Debbie Reynolds, and Tony Curtis! I've been to a few of these celebrity appearances at these theaters and they've always been a great time. I saw Tony Curtis and he was fun and pretty hilarious. You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mildred Pierce Remake

Apparently they're going to remake Mildred Pierce as a made for TV movie starring Kate Winslet.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, given the fact that Mildred Pierce is basically my favorite Joan Crawford movie of all time. I like Kate Winslet, but she doesn't really come off as completely insane as Joan Crawford and I think some insanity is needed for this film.

Nevertheless, I'll give it a try. Hopefully they keep it as shady and weird as the original!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old Movies on Hulu

Hulu is the best. You should try it if you haven't. And what makes it even better? Old movies! This is a nice list of old movies currently available on Hulu. Go nuts!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yoostar: You're not a star at all and there's a reason for that!

It seems someone has come up with the worst idea in the history of mankind: Yoostar. This is a system (for $170!!) that allows you to film yourself in a movie scene of your choice. I don't even understand why this exists. It's true that with Guitar Hero and Rockband we suddenly all think we have the ability to be superstars, but the sad truth is, we don't. At least with those video games, your lack of talent is mercifully glossed over. Not so with Yoostar. Once you get the recording system, you're free to film yourself in whatever terrible, awkward, embarrassing way you choose.

Take, for instance, every single video on their entire site.

The only redeeming quality (if you can call it that) of this site is Snoop Dog's inexplicable presence. I hope he got paid a lot of money to do this. Nonetheless, his videos are actually kind of funny, but only because he's Snoop Dog.

If nothing else, this site makes me appreciate real actors more. And makes me think maybe they do deserve the outrageous amounts of money they make.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Old Movie Record Breakers!

There probably aren't that many World Records related to old movies, but I'm proud to say that I was recently part of breaking one!

On July 21st, as part of the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park, we officially broke the Guiness World Record for the most people wearing Groucho Marx glasses. They showed Duck Soup and we wore the glasses. Then I swallowed my mustache.

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Take that, Missouri!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Questions Answered: Part 2

This is the part of the show where I answer your most popular questions as determined by the number of searches I get on a specific topic in Google Analyics. Many of the questions that I answered last time are still quite popular, but here are some new ones:

- Who is Shiloh?
Good question.

- Where can I watch Doris Day movies?
Just buy them, it's worth it.

- Was Joan Crawford insane?

- How do you say happy birthday in Austrian dialect German?

- In reality, did Christopher Plummer love Julie Andrews?
In reality, how would anyone know that except Christopher Plummer?

- Is 50 too late to come out as gay?

- What is the Doris Day movie where she's a doctor's wife?
The Thrill of it All, I highly recommend it!

- Was Easter Parade in Wall-e?
Nope, it was Hello Dolly.

- Is 50 years of age too late for tubectomy?

- Is christopher plumber alive?
Yes, and kickin'.

- Is it too late for love at age 50?
Yep, sorry.

- What is the movie called that has Doris Day in it that's like My Favorite Wife?
That would be Move Over Darling, also a great movie.

- Is James Bond a corny halloween idea?
No, sounds awesome to me!

- In My Fair Lady were Eliza and Henry in love?
Some say yes, some say no. I like to think that they were not "in love" in a romantic sense, because I find that a bit creepy. And really, if they ended up together in a romantic way, what kind of relationship would that be? Kind of crappy.

- Is it too late to date my friend of 8 years?

- Was Henry Higgins homosexual?
Haha! He sure acts like it, but I think most people would agree that he wasn't meant to be.

- What is the climax of the story Ten Commandments?
Given that the movie is approxomately ten hours long, there may be more than one climax. Maybe when the Jews leave Egypt, maybe when Moses parts the Red Sea, maybe when everyone goes crazy, maybe when Moses gets the actual Ten Commandments.

- Which Vincent Price movie are you?
I don't really understand why anyone would search for this, but if I had to pick I think I'd say House of Wax.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Psycho in Grant Park

Wow, saw Psycho last night in Grant Park and it was basically amazing! It's a totally different experience watching it on the big screen with a big crowd than it is watching it on TV in the comfort of your own home.

The park was possibly the most crowded I've seen it for a movie, which made it even more awesome because the tension was incredible. Everyone yelled for Marion to not get in the shower, Arbogast to not go into the house, and Lila to not go in the fruit cellar.

There were lots of screams during the shower scene, but they seemed forced since everyone basically knew what was going to happen. The best and most sincere screams came during Arbogast's murder scene. People just aren't ready for it, and the tension that builds as he's walking up the stairs is almost painful.

And of course there were plenty of laughs at some of the cornier ("You think I'm fruity?) and obsecene-by-today's-standards lines. I always find it interesting what people laugh at—things that I don't even notice anymore.

It was also interesting to note when people clapped. Of course, they clapped after each murder scene (because they're either really morbid, or appreciated the awesomeness of each scene? You can never tell).

They also cheered when Norman sinks the car in the swamp. I love that scene because you start out feeling sorry for Norman an account of his crazy mother murdering people and him being left with the dirty work of cleaning up. I always feel a tinge of worry when the car stops sinking into the swamp, and relief when it starts again. But the last shot of his creepy little smile makes you rethink your sympathy.

I think that's what's great about Psycho, it really messes with your head! First you think that Marion and her money is going to be the main piece of the story, but both are quickly disposed of and a whole new plot starts. One the way back to the car, I overheard a couple ladies talking about it and one asked, "So nothing ever happened with the money??" Yup.

The crowd reactions are such a good indication of how the movie's jerking you around. They cheer when Norman sinks the car, but also at the end when he's found out. Throughout much of the movie, you're debating whether to feel sorry for him or scared of him. That's what keeps it interesting. The audience thinks they know what Sam and Lila don't, that the mother is murder-happy, but in the end we learn we didn't know as much as we thought we did.

It's intense, I tell you! And even though I've seen it many times, it still freaks me out. The music alone is enough to get me ... especially on the big screen!

Monday, July 20, 2009

After The Wizard of Oz

I had an interesting (and slightly disturbing) Judy Garland conversation yesterday. I was at the home of this woman I didn't really know, and her 4 daughters were watching Thoroughly Modern Millie. I, of course, was excited by this and a conversation soon started about old movies. She expressed that she gets them for her daughters because they're "so much better" than the new ones.

We went on to discuss the movies her kids love and the ones I loved as a child. As one would expect, I quickly mentioned how much I loved Judy Garland movies. Then, something unexpected happened. This woman responded with "Oh, she did movies after The Wizard of Oz?" (Gasp!)

I informed her that yes, there are very many quality Judy movies after Wizard of Oz. She was genuinely surprised by this, but said she would see if there were any at the library. Brilliant! Hopefully I just created a few new Judy fans to add to my list!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sunset Blvd. in the Park

Tuesday was our first movie in Grant Park: Sunset Blvd. It was amazing!! They should show that movie on the big screen more often. It's so much more dramatic and awesome.

This year, TCM is a sponsor of the film fest which was kind of fun because one of their hosts, Ben Mankiewicz, introduced the film. I took this picture of him but he's tiny:

Yeah, that's him at the front at the podium.

We also got some free goodies, including a TCM Now Playing guide, which I was very excited about since I constantly see the commercials for it and always want to subscribe:

TCM was also giving away prizes which I unfortunately did not win. Maybe next week!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

MJ Being Judy

Awhile back I wrote about how everyone's pretending to be Judy Garland lately, and now it seems Michael Jackson has jumped on the bandwagon. Actually, he may be driving the bandwagon since this video is from like 15 years ago.

Anyway, amidst all the hubbub going on with MJ's unfortunate passing, I came across this video that just screams Judy! Ok, it may only scream Judy for about 2 seconds at the 6.25 mark, but that's enough for me!

I bet all the stupid teenie boppers in that audience have no idea he's rippin' off Judy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

2009 Classic Films in Grant Park

Yep, it's that time again ... time for the Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park. They're showing some good films this year, but I'm a little disappointed there are no musicals! Nevertheless, I am very excited to see Sunset Blvd. and Psycho, outside on the big screen! Here's the full schedule:

• Sunset Boulevard (July 14)
• Duck Soup (July 21)
• Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (July 28)
• Born Yesterday (Aug. 4)
• Psycho (Aug. 11)
• Young Mr. Lincoln (Aug. 18)
• Tootsie (Aug. 25)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Record Coasters

My awesome boyfriend and I (but mostly my awesome boyfriend) made pretty much the most greatest set of coasters ever:

We saw some at Target, 4 for $12 which seemed outrageous, and decided that we could make them ourselves. I have a large collection of albums that we went through and picked ones that had cool stickers and I felt I could live without.

After all the work and supplies bought, $12 doesn't seem as outrageous as it once did, but it's way cooler to use my own, handpicked albums that I love!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Being Judy Garland

It seems that everyone is pretending to be Judy lately! First we have Anne Hathaway getting ready to play Judy in a new movie, and now apparently Katie Holmes is going to recreate Judy's Get Happy number on the finale of this So You Think You Can Dance show. Now, I haven't seen much of this show, but my roommate watches it and I think she cried at it once, so I'm not sure what to expect. And isn't Kate Holmes married to that Tom Cruise fella? That concerns me a bit. But whatever, give it a try.

Meanwhile, here's the original Get Happy number from my favorite Judy movie, Summer Stock.

P.S. It's been exactly 40 years today since Judy's death.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Judy, Judy, Judy

Yes, today would be Judy Garland's 87th birthday! In honor of her birthday, I'm listening to Judy all day. I highly recommend it. And here a great moment from the first Judy movie I was ever obsessed with. It's a classic. Enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Microsoft's Bing (Crosby??)

Did you hear that Microsoft invented a new search engine named after the legendary Bing Crosby?? It may not say anywhere on the page that it's named after him, but I know it is. I mean, if it's not then where in the world did they get that name?

I decided to do a search for Bing Crosby on Bing. I think they want "Bing" to be used as a verb, like Google, in which case, I Binged Bing Crosby. Unfortunately, it didn't cause the internet to explode as I'd hoped.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Beatles Rockband!

So I say that I was born too late, having missed experiencing the debut of all my favorite movies, music etc ... But I know that actually I was born at just the right time, where I could enjoy all those things in an obsessive way thanks to DVDs and my iPod.

And now another great reason that I am living at exactly the right time: Beatles Rockband. One of my favorite old things (The Beatles) meets one of the favorite new things (video games where you pretend to play musical instruments)! Ok, yes, I love Guitar Hero and the like. Maybe I'm a dork, but I'm telling you, it's fun. It's not like I'm ever going to be able to play the guitar, so pretending to play guitar solos for my favorite songs is quite a thrill. And nothing could be more thrilling than pretending to play Beatles songs!

Unfortunately I have to wait like 3 whole months before the game comes out. It's going to be rough, but I'm fairly certain it'll be worth the wait.

Just this week they finally released some limited information about it that made me even more impatient. They also put up a trailer for the game (I didn't realize video games have trailers, but they do), and this kind of cool ... thing ... not sure what one would call it, but the second half made me feel like I was on drugs.

Needless to say, you may not see much of me come September 9.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lovers and Lollipops

Yes, there's actually a movie called Lovers and Lollipops. I happened to catch it on TCM this weekend and I was intrigued.

The cover for the DVD sort of makes it looks like it's a horror film, and honestly, there were times I thought it was going to turn into one. Mostly because nothing actually happens in the movie and Hollywood has trained me to expect a shocking horror scene after scenes of nothingness. But this one surprised me in a non-shock/horror way.

I came in a few minutes after it started to find the two main characters, Ann and Larry, on what was obviously (given the level of awkwardness) a first date. Then I went to blow dry my hair. When I came back, they were making out in the living room and a little girl was peeking out and watching them from another room. I knew at that moment I wouldn't be able to stop watching.

Next thing we know, Ann and Larry begin a "romantic" relationship. There was, however, almost no romance involved expect for the occasional kissing. Definitely not the typical movie romance. They just went out and did stuff. Then came home. Basically nothing happened. At one point, I thought something was going to happen when Ann and Larry took her daughter, Peggy, to the beach and Larry lost her in the parking lot. But then they found her. Nothing. Happened. He didn't even get nervous that he lost her. He just stood there waiting for her to come back.

Then something sort of happened when Larry and Ann decide to get married and Peggy is not too keen on the idea. Larry tries to buy her love, but she's not interested. But then she changes her mind and everything's fine. The End.

It's filmed like a documentary in some parts—giving a feeling that you're spying on these people's boring lives. But really, it's just projecting how mundane and boring our actual lives are, especially compared to the usual big Hollywood films. It's by far the most realistic film I've ever seen. So if you're looking for a really strange black & white, painfully mundane and true to life, unromantic romantic film, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Rat Pack on American Idol: The Results

No, not the actual results, just my results.

I was pleased that most of the contestants did not ruin these classic songs. I thought Kris fit the part the most in terms of voice and look. I liked Matt and his fedora, but I really hate that "My Funny Valentine" song. Adam sang like a girl and was slightly disturbing, as usual. Yes, he's a good entertainer, but it's a little too over the top for me, especially last night. And he sings like a girl. Watching him last night, he actually reminded me a little of Judy Garland, and the last thing I want is for some dude on American Idol to remind me of Judy. Shudder!

I wish Frank Sinatra could have been a guest judge. He'd set those kids straight!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Rat Pack on American Idol

So the American Idol kids are singing Rat Pack songs tonight. It could either be great or a huge disaster. Either way, I'm excited that they're doing some songs that I'll actually know well! I'm hoping they'll be respectful of the old standards. I'm guessing that Adam kid is going to butcher an old classic by singing it like a woman. He better be careful!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Facebook Says I'm Bette Davis

Yep, I took this quiz on Facebook and it says I'm Bette Davis. I'm not sure if I should be insulted by this, but honestly my first reaction was: Awesome! Who doesn't want to be Bette Davis?? But really, I think it's only about 50% right. Though I'm sure there are people who think I'm a bitch, in which case it's maybe 75% right.

The Ten (hour) Commandments

We watched The Ten Commandments at old movie night last night which was a bit risky given its ridiculously long run time. But we did it, and most of us made it through. A couple people left before it ended which is really unfortunate for them since they'll never have the sense of accomplishment the rest of us do.

Anyway, what can I saw about this movie? It goes on forever. The special effects are ... interesting. Charleton Heston is surprisingly handsome as the young, shirtless Moses. Yul Brenner just kept making me want to watch The King and I. Vincent Price is in it and is creepy as usual, but not in his usual way. Overall, a great experience if you have the time to sit through it.

It follows the Bible story pretty well, but there are quite a few liberties taken. Luckily, the overall focus of the film remains on God and his purpose for Moses. I guess they were still allowed to talk about God in movies in the 50's.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Judy Miracle

A couple weeks ago, my friend Emily went on a trip to California and knowing she was visiting Hollywood, I told her to be sure to take pictures of some Judy Garland stuff for me. Being the good friend that she is, she took a couple with Judy's feet and hand prints at Grauman's Chinese Theater. While looking through the pictures, she noticed something a little weird going on:

That's right, what's with all the red shoes?? These are the only 2 pictures she took of Judy's space and they both happen to contain red shoes. Coincidence??

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Classic Films in Grant Park!

If you're in the Chicago area, don't miss the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park. Yes, watching movies inside is ok, but watching them outside, on a big screen with thousands of other people is amazing.

This year's lineup is pretty good. I'm very excited that they're showing Sunset Blvd., especially since this is the year I realized how truly amazing it is! I'm also looking forward to Psycho, of course.

Here's the entire 2009 lineup:

Sunset Boulevard (1950)
8:58 p.m. July 14

Duck Soup (1933)
8:52 p.m. July 21

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
8:45 p.m. July 28

Born Yesterday (1950)
8:37 p.m. Aug. 4

Psycho (1960)
8:27 p.m. Aug. 11

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
8:27 p.m. Aug. 18

Tootsie (1982)
8:05 p.m. Aug. 25

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Anne Hathaway as Judy Garland?

So word on the street is Anne Hathaway will be playing Judy in an upcoming film based on Gerald Clarke's biography, Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland. I don't think I've read the book ... you can only read/watch so many things about Judy before it gets old and kind of depressing! Nevertheless, I suppose I'll have to see this movie. It could be interesting, and I do like Anne Hathaway. Even though she's no Judy!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Old Movies at Work

I found an exciting new lunchtime activity: old movies on Hulu! My wonderful boyfriend alerted me to the fact that Hulu recently put up some oldies, so I watched part of His Girl Friday today at lunch. It was heavenly. I'll have to finish it later in the week. Too bad the weather's nice enough now that I no longer feel the need to hibernate in my office for my entire lunch hour.

Anyway, be sure to check it out. There are abou 13 or 14 new (recently added) black and white films—a few with John Wayne, an Orson Welles picture, and of course, His Girl Friday, one of my personal favorites. This one also looks very interesting.

Elvis Happy

I have to admit that I haven't seen many Elvis movies. Last year I decided to watch Viva Las Vegas and it was pretty great, mostly due to Ann Margaret's amazing dancing. I'm not sure I could tell you what the film itself was actually about.

So I was pretty excited when we decided to show an Elvis movie for Old Movie Night this month. We decided on a slightly obscure one called Girl Happy, in which Elvis is sent down to Ft. Lauderdale during Spring Break to keep an eye on his boss's daughter, while performing there with his "combo" made up of three other young, much nerdier men. The premise is pretty predictable, about a gazillion young, bathing suit-clad girls, Elvis falling in love with multiple women, lots of gyrating, a beach party, a jail breakout—the usual. Basically all the makings of a great time.

I think it was a hit with the Old Movie Night crowd and it was a great way to usher in the spring. Especially since the weather here has been quite spring-like lately. Everyone got pretty into the picture, showing off some nice 60's dance moves:

And the proportion of Elvises to girls in this photo is about the same as the movie!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tony Curtis in Chicago

If you're in the Chicagoland area, be sure to go see Tony Curtis and a screening of Some Like it Hot at the Hollywood Blvd. Theater on March 20. I went last year and it was an amazing time. Tony answered some questions before the film that were quite entertaining, and of course Some Like it Hot is a classic.

Who Is Shiloh?

I have a confession to make: I like Neil Diamond. I realize that's way dorky, but I can't help it. And did you see him sing at the Grammys? People seemed to enjoy it; they weren't laughing or anything.

So lately I've been listening to this Shiloh song of his, and I came to realize I have no idea what in the world this song is about. Now I realize this blog post isn't going to be very far-reaching in terms of audience—there are probably only about 5 people in the world who know this song and only 2 of those 5 probably care what it's about. Nevertheless, this is how I entertain myself so bear with me.

At first I thought it was maybe about a childhood friend, Shiloh, who's a really pathetic character and bows to Neil's every whim only to get dumped when Neil finds a woman, but some of the lyrics just seemed a little creepy if that was the case. I also thought perhaps it's about a pet or something more abstract like a place, but that doesn't really seem to make sense.

Then it hit me: multiple personality disorder! That's clearly what's going on here. It's really the only explanation that makes sense and isn't really creepy. Young Neil is obviously severely neglected as a child by his parents and friends, so he "turns on the only friend [he] can find/there in [his] mind." Then he meets a hot girl and no longer has a need for his multiple personality, but when she dumps him, he wants Shiloh back! The End.

I can't believe I didn't think of this before, it's so clear now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interview with Jane Russell (part of Christianity Today International, my place of employment) posted this interesting interview with Jane Russell about her Christian faith and old-timey Hollywood stuff. It's quite good, take a look!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Are Musicals Back?

Well, probably not anymore than they were like 7 years ago when Chicago came out, but still, I enjoyed the musicals tribute on the Oscars last night mostly because it involved more than one Judy Garland clip!

I also enjoyed Queen Latifa's performance for the In Memoriam segment. It was painful to think that I may be responsible for at least three of these deaths.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sunset Blvd.

If you haven't seen Sunset Blvd., I strongly recommend that you do. Yes, it's really weird. Yes, that Gloria Swanson is a total nut-job. Yes, it's awesome. I watched it for the second time ever last weekend for Old Movie Night, and it was better than I remembered. And it was especially fun to watch with a group of 20-somethings who were completely disturbed by most of it.

If you don't know the story, which you should, it opens with a dead man in a pool. That's how you know it's going to be great. We then go back some time to find out how this fellow ended up in the pool. Joe Gillis (William Holden), a handsome, young Hollywood hopeful narrates the story of his accidental meeting with the insane, washed up movie star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). For whatever reason, he gets sucked into her weirdness and things spiral out of control from there. It slowly builds as Norma gets more and more crazy and poor Joe tries harder and harder to get away from the madness.

(Sidenote: Is it just me, or are there a lot of crazy movie characters with a variation of the name Norman? Norma Desmond, Norman Bates ... Hollywood has doomed the name!)

Also adding to the insanity is Norma's creepy butler Max (Erich von Stroheim). He's always lurking in the shadows and seems to have some weird, unhealthy obsession with Norma.

Clearly, it has the makings of a great film: A big old mansion, an insane old actress with crazy eyes, a dashing young man trapped by the old lady, and a creepy butler who plays the organ.

The group at old movie night seemed to enjoy it. Despite some mocking laughs at Norma's weird facial expressions and some plain old corny dialogue, it seemed to go over really well. It's definitely a film that holds up. As my insightful (and cute!) boyfriend said, it's kind of like a really long episode of The Twilight Zone. It's plenty creepy, but not really a scary movie.

We were so inspired by Norma's crazy eyes that we took a Norma-inspired group photo:

To make things even more interesting, check out the trivia for the movie. Good stuff. And take a look at their trivia for Gloria Swanson. Turns out her on screen persona isn't that far off from real life. And Carol Burnett's parodies of the movie is always entertaining.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Judy + Mickey

I stayed home sick from work today and finally got the chance to look through the Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney boxed set I got for Christmas. It includes 4 movies—Babes in Arms, Strike Up the Band, Babes on Broadway, and Girl Crazy— plus a while disc of bonus material, PLUS these fancy little behind-the-scenes photos. I'm not sure what one would ever do with them, but they're still great!

Today I watched Babes on Broadway which is my favorite Judy/Mickey movie. Then I moved onto the bonus disc, which turned out to be awesome for one reason: The Judy Garland Songbook, "A Chronological Cavalcade of Musical Numbers." Yeah, it's basically like Judy Garland music videos which is kind of a dream come true for me considering I generally just fast forward straight to the songs in most Judy movies. I'd say the entire set is worth it for this feature alone, especially when it's only like $30 on

The curious thing about this Judy Garland Songbook is that they failed to include "Over the Rainbow," the most famous Judy song EVER, but chose to include "Friendly Star" which I believe to be one of the worst songs in the history of the world. I mean really, if they're going to include a lame song from Summer Stock, there's no doubt it should be "Howdy Neighbor, Happy Harvest." But apart from that one strange oversight, all the other songs are quality and they range her very first short film at MGM to "Born in a Trunk" from A Star Is Born which opens and closes the entire set of songs.

The bonus disc also includes the TCM's Private Screening interviews with Mickey Rooney which I have yet to watch, but I'm sure are everything one would expect from a crazy old Mickey Rooney. I'm looking forward to checking that out!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oldies at The Grammys

I watched the Grammys last Sunday night for three reasons: Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and Neil Diamond. (Yes, I like Neil Diamond. I've come to terms with it and you can too.)

I was pleased that they chose to bring back some of the oldies for those of us who have no idea what these new songs are. I kissed a girl and I liked it?! No, give me Neil Diamond. I was a little concerned that they stuck poor Stevie Wonder with those Jonas Brother kids, but I think it turned out to be one of the best performances of the night. Stevie can make anything amazing.

Paul's performance was decent. Not amazing, but Paul is always cool.

Neil Diamond started off a little questionable. I was worried he was going to do that weird talk/sing business for the entire song, but luckily, things got better. The crowd was very into it and it was overall a pretty good performance for a corny old man.

And here's Stevie and those Jonas kids.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Lady from Shanghai

It's been awhile since I've posted about an Old Movie Night viewing! Last weekend we watched The Lady from Shanghai. This wasn't necessarily my first choice, but a friend had been wanting to watch it for quite some time. I was a bit hesitant since we'd watched another Orson Welles movie, Touch of Evil, last year and it didn't really go over that well. Actually, I have no idea what it was even about. Luckily, The Lady from Shanghai turned out to be better.

In it Orson Welles plays a sailor, Michael O'Hara (with a painfully fake Irish accent), who meets a really hot chick, Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth), in Central Park, I believe. When he's later approached by her old, creepy husband to work on his yacht, Micheal can't refuse. While working, he of course gets just a little cozy with Elsa. Soon he finds himself mixed up in some crazy murder plan involving Elsa, her creepy husband, and this crazy weird man, George Grisby, culminating in an interesting scene in a fun house involving guns and a lot of mirrors. I won't give away the end.

So if you're a fan of Orson Welles or murder mystery type movies, I'd definitely recommend this one!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Summer Stock

I can't believe I've never written about this movie. It was #1 on my Top Ten Judy Garland Movies list, and even though I made that list 2 years ago, I still have to say Summer Stock is my favorite.

This movie is great for a few reasons:

1. Judy wears overalls in it and rides a tractor ... all while singing! It doesn't get much better than that.

2. There's a character named Orville and he's everything you'd hope for in a character named Orville.

3. Gene Kelly.

I'm the first to admit that the movie is extremely corny and kinda lame. I mean really, it's about Judy running a farm and her flakey sister who invites her theater friends to put on the show in their barn. It's basically a Judy/Mickey movie with 30 year olds. Also, most of the songs are pretty lame, except of course for Get Happy, which is pretty popular, I think mostly because Judy doesn't wear any pants during the number. (Sidenote: when I was a kid watching Summer Stock, I was very confused as to why Judy was rather heavy (for her) through most of the movie, but then in Get Happy she was quite thin, as usual. I came to find later in life that Get Happy was filmed a couple weeks after regular filming ended and after Judy was back on a regular diet of pills and booze and whatever else it was that made her too skinny.)

Anyway, I recommend Summer Stock if you're a fan of MGM musicals. It's silly and overall a good time.

And now, my favorite Summer Stock moments:

- Judy singing on a tractor (of course). Especially when she's holding a note at the end and makes some insane face. I'd like to note that one of the lyrics in this song (Howdy Neighbor) actually goes, "and if the weatherman won't upset us, mister you can bet us you'll have lots of crispy lettuce in your jeans!" This has always baffled me. Crispy lettuce in my jeans?? Doesn't sound appetizing. I'd also like to point out that I just quoted that line completely from memory.

- When Marjorie Main (who plays Judy's hired help, as usual) is in the barn with the sleeping actors and she attempts to wake them up at the crack of dawn by ringing a large bell. The bell ringing itself is not terribly funny (just a little), but she starts to ring violently and it is then that her hair, in a bun on top, flies back and forth on her head like I've never seen before. It's a small moment, but amazing.

- The Portland Fancy. My cousins and I watched The Portland Fancy so many times that the tape got fuzzy. Stupid VHS. But anyway, some great dancing from Judy and Gene. It's worth watching the movie just for this part.

- When Judy and Gene sing You Wonderful You alone in the barn. So cute.

- When Judy tells off Orville, particularly when she tells him to "Go away!" and "Go home!" with crazy eyes.

Since Summer Stock is a pretty cheezy old musical, it also has a number of cringe-worthy moments:

- Any scene with Phil Silvers

- Most of Judy's outfits.

- The terrible, terrible, song at the end with the dogs. I don't think I've ever actually watched that part so I have no idea what the song is. I just know that Gene sings it with Phil Silvers and they're dressed like mangy old farmers, they're missing teeth, and I think they have sweat stains on the fronts of their shirts.

- Everyone's outfits in the final song.

- "Friendly Star." I believe this is my cousin's favorite song in the movie, but I'm not sure if she's joking or not. Plus Judy's wearing a dress with snowflakes on it while she's singing and it's clearly not winter.

This turned out to be a long post and I'm slightly disturbed that I have this much to say about Summer Stock.