Five Stars Blogathon — My Top Five Favorite Classic Film Stars


Hello, everyone! I’m back after yet another long absence, but I promise that I have some very exciting original content in the works, all having to do with stars and food! Today, however, I’m celebrating National Classic Movie Day, what should be my favorite day of the year yet is a holiday that I wasn’t even aware of until this wonderful blogathon idea came about! Speaking of which, I’d of course like to thank Rick of Classic Film and TV Café for giving me such a difficult task as listing only five stars that I consider my favorite. If you’d like to see more lists and more stars than you can count in the sky, you can find a list of all of the blogathon’s participants here!

5. Grace Kelly

77Let me admit first and foremost that Grace Kelly was not my first favorite actress. That honor goes to Natalie Wood, who would undoubtedly be on this list if I had only one or two more spots to fill. However, Grace was the first actress that I became truly obsessed with and wanted desperately to become. She simply oozed elegance and talent from the moment that I first saw her in Dial M for Murder (1954) almost ten years ago, but I didn’t truly appreciate her until I saw her photograph in Entertainment Weekly’s book, 100 Greatest Stars of All Time, and there read about her incredibly charmed life. Little by little her influence took over my wardrobe, my manner of speaking, and the way that I carried myself as I began to watch the rest of her filmography. Grace only made eleven films, but I’m proud to say that I’ve seen and treasured every single one. Few women have ever had what it takes to make the transition from socialite to actress, and even fewer still have ever been taken seriously after the fact. Grace not only survived, but thrived in Hollywood during her time there, winning a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Actress for The Country Girl (1954) as well as the heart of Prince Rainier of Monaco. Alfred Hitchcock, the iconic director to whom Grace Kelly was a muse, was quoted as saying, “They all said at first she was cold, sexless. But to me she was always a snow-covered volcano.” I completely agree, and as an actress, princess, and philanthropist, Grace did it all with a style and gentle femininity that no one else could ever possess, and I believe that she was more like a shooting star than a twinkling one, a fleeting and rare beauty the likes of which will never be seen again.

Favorite Film — High Society (1956)

4. Errol Flynn


I think it’s safe to say that Errol Flynn is my most enduring love on this list. He started out as one of my favorite actors and has continued to be among the best in my book since the beginning of my appreciation of classic film. I feel like I’ve adored him since I’ve known what a classic film was, and what makes him stand out even more among the rest is the fact that he is one of the few actors who have had the talent that’s required in order to have a genre all to themselves. No one could star in a thrilling swashbuckler the way that Flynn could, and hardly anyone dared to try, yet in all honesty the way that he handles a sword has little to do with my love for him. Like I’m sure it’s been with everyone else ever since Errol Flynn cemented himself as a legend, his reputation preceded him, and as soon as I saw his devilish smile, heard his unique and seductive accent, and read about his notorious philanderings, I knew that I had fallen and would never want to get back up. His movies are the evidence that’s left of the endless charm and wit that he possessed that no other actor could ever come close to having for themselves. While many have tried, who could really strut into a banquet hall with a buck slung over his shoulders as effortlessly and formidably as Flynn did in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)? No one, that’s who. Underneath all of that magnetism there was still a very real man with very real feelings that he didn’t reveal to many that knew him, and his offscreen love for Olivia de Havilland that was only chronicled in his autobiography released after his death shows how far from his sleeve his heart remained. I think that his complexity and inaccessibility makes him even more attractive, and for that reason and so many others Flynn will remain the apple of my eye for all time.

Favorite Film — Captain Blood (1937)

3. Jayne Mansfield


I just want to take this time to mention that I have a thing for blondes. I feel that blondes exude the ultimate level of femininity and sex appeal that makes everyone around them stop and stare, and there were so many who made their mark in the golden age of Hollywood that I could have easily filled all five of the spots on this list with fair-haired icons that I admire. Grace Kelly already stole my heart and the fifth spot on this list, so the three ladies who battled it out for the third were Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Jayne Mansfield. I have such a deep affection for all three and feel that they could have each made their way to this ranking for various reasons. Still, I’ve decided to give this title to Jayne Mansfield, because she holds the nearest and dearest place in my heart. Jayne was criminally underrated in my opinion, and while it’s easy to say that the studio system decimated nearly as many careers as it created, I feel that Hollywood was possibly the most unkind to Jayne, and as a result she doesn’t have the respect and acclaim today that she most certainly deserves. All she wanted was to be a star and a mother, but in return she was put forth as a second-rate Marilyn Monroe, and that is exactly what history has accepted her as, though nothing could be farther from the truth. Jayne was practically a genius, fluent in five languages and a virtuoso of the piano and violin. Motherhood and her fans were the most important things in her life, and her kindness and enduring generosity stretched like a blanket over her children and the public. All in all, the misconceptions about Jayne are insurmountable, and I consider myself to be one of the biggest fans of the person that she truly was. Her devotion to her children and her relationship with her daughter Jayne Marie in particular, combined with the struggles that she faced during her lifetime remind me so much of my own mother that an even deeper level of adoration is given to her when I watch her films (if that’s even possible), and because of that and so many other things, my love for Jayne won’t ever fade.

Favorite Film — The Girl Can’t Help It (1955)

2. Rita Hayworth


Can you believe that even after all of that  deliberation over my favorite blonde bombshells, I chose a redhead as my favorite actress? Of course not just any redhead either, but the redhead in my eyes. To me, Rita Hayworth is the pinnacle of Hollywood perfection. It took all of Hollywood and its electrolysis treatments and acting lessons to get Rita to the top, but once she was there she exploded onto the silver screen like an atomic bomb (she did have one named after her, after all). Rita had the opposite effect on me that Grace Kelly did. I discovered both of them in the same book, and while Grace was an instant favorite, Rita took years to take up the second largest spot my heart, but now that she has, she isn’t going anywhere. Both Rita and Grace embody everything that I want to be, but while Grace exudes a cool and unattainable kind of perfection, Rita is the kind of flawless that seems within the realm of possiblity to achieve. The shy and sweet personality that she maintained offscreen led everyone who knew her to consider her one of the nicest people in Hollywood, yet those same qualities made her easy for others to take advantage of. Onscreen, however, a completely different person took over, a daring and sexy femme fatale that no one could hurt or destroy. Her acting and dancing abilities were unrivaled, and her singing would have been too had Columbia head Harry Cohn allowed her to use her quality singing voice in her films. Still, her talents led her to excel in every type of film under the sun, from dreamy Technicolor musicals like Cover Girl (1944) and Down to Earth (1947) to chilling noirs like Gilda (1947) and The Lady From Shanghai (1946). While most consider her simply a love goddess, I consider her a glimmering and talented woman whose cinematic accomplishments are severely underappreciated today.

Favorite Film — Cover Girl (1944)

1. Tyrone Power


Somehow for me writing about Tyrone Power is the toughest part of making this list. On one hand I feel that my adoration for Ty goes beyond words, but on the other there’s so much that I could say about him that I could probably fill a book. He’s yet another star on this list that I’ve had a passion for for many, many years, ever since I first saw him in Marie Antoinette (1938). He was the epitome of a Casanova, and the amourous dialogue that he delivered to Norma Shearer in the film was the best that I had ever seen. In just under three hours he swept both of us off our feet, and after that I dove straight into the rabbit hole, immersing myself in facts about him and his life and watching as many of his films as I could get my hands on. Over the years, I’ve practically become a historian of Tyrone Power, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I consider him to have two eras in film: the light-hearted romantic movies that he made when he started out as a young matinee idol, and the rugged aventure films he made after returning from his service in World War Two that offered him more challenging parts and scripts. Ty himself preferred the latter, but I simply can’t resist how downright beautiful and charming he appears in films like Love is News (1937) and Thin Ice (1937). Like Flynn, he had a bit of a rebellious streak that makes me even more devoted to him. He loved to play practical jokes on his friends and costars, and was considered one of the funniest men in Tinseltown who wasn’t a professional comedian. Underneath the fun and games, however, was a complicated actor who struggled to break away from his romantic leading man image and be taken seriously in pictures. He even went as far as to say that he wished that he could have been in a car accident bad enough to ruin his looks and lead him to take on character actor roles that would allow him to rely on his talent. His biggest dramatic success came late in his life with Witness for the Prosecution (1957), too late to save himself from the ill health that he brought upon himself. His magnificent performances have been unfortunately consigned to oblivion for the most part, and I think that it’s a crying shame. The title that history has given Ty, “The Forgotten Idol”, may be true for many today, but he means so much to me that I won’t be able to forget him for as long as I live.

Favorite Film — Love is News (1937)





Announcing The Dean Martin Centenary Blogathon!


If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you probably know how much I love birthdays. I always give birthday shoutouts when it pertains to a blogathon entry that I’m writing, and my Tumblr really shows my adoration for all of classic film’s brightest stars on their birthdays. So, after trying long and hard to think of a great idea for my follow-up of my blogathon celebrating the 117th birthday of Humphrey Bogart, I couldn’t resist celebrating another birthday! Still, this time I wanted to change things up a bit and celebrate something more important. When I found out that the iconic Dean Martin is celebrating the big 100 this year on June 7, I knew that he was the perfect person to honor in the grandest of fashions.

Few people have ever achieved the level of legendary star status that Dean Martin has over so many forms of entertainment. From his film career that spanned four decades to his discography that includes over sixty albums (including compliation and those released after his passing in 1995) and memorable hits like “That’s Amore” and “Everybody Loves Somebody”, Dean continues to be a household name all over the world. His long-running television shows, “The Dean Martin Show” and “Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roast”, allowed him to reach even higher levels of notoriety, as did his on and offscreen associations with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and the rest of the infamous Rat Pack. However, few of Martin’s accomplishments measure up to his partnership with the incomparable Jerry Lewis, which resulted in sixteen films and a lot of laughs. All of these fantastic achievements and so much more is why I’ve decided to celebrate his life and career.


  1. I am allowing TWO duplicates for each subject, but Dean has an extremely significant and diverse filmography with nearly seventy films to his credit, so I would still like to see as many different topics being written about as possible.
  2. Anything relating to Dean Martin is up for grabs! You could write about his partnership with Jerry Lewis, your favorite song of his, his lesser-known westerns, his many television appearances, or even his associations with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. The possibilities are endless!
  3. Once you think of a topic, please leave a comment with your blog’s name, your blog’s link, and your subject (include the year if you’re choosing a movie).
  4. Once you’ve been approved, I’d appreciate it if you help me spread the word! Please take one of my banners from below and put it somewhere on your blog, and make sure to tell your friends. I’d love to see as many participants as possible!






Help Me Choose My Next Blogathon!


Hey, awesome followers! Since I’ve been getting back into the swing of things I’ve been itching to host another blogathon here on Musings of a Classic Film Addict. My very first one on this blog, a tribute to Humphrey Bogart this past December, was a great success, and I’d love to honor another shining star in the same fashion this spring. Unfortunately, my only problem has been that I can’t seem to decide whom to celebrate!

As my last blogathon celebrated Bogie’s birthday, I’m thinking that I’d like to honor another star on his or her birthday as well, especially because birthdays have always been near and dear to my heart. So, with that being said, I’ve compiled a small list of actors and actresses that I’m seriously considering celebrating in the coming months, and all I need is your input! If you have any ideas that you’d like to see that aren’t below or if you’d like to collaborate, definitely let me know that as well!

Make sure to vote in the poll below, and make sure to tell your friends to vote too! I’ll be leaving the poll open until Friday, March 10th, and I’ll be announcing my next blogathon by March 12th. Have fun voting!

The 90 Years of Sidney Poitier Blogathon: My Analysis of A Patch of Blue (1965)


Already I have another blogathon entry to offer my wonderful followers! This time I’m celebrating the 90th birthday of my favorite living actor, Sidney Poitier, and my favorite film of his. Before I begin I’d love to thank the always gracious host of this blogathon, Virginie over at The Wonderful World of Cinema, for always choosing such incredible and deserving people for us to write about. I wish this blogathon all of the success possible, and I can’t wait to participate in the 2nd Golden Boy Blogathon: A William Holden Celebration in April! And of course, if you’re interested in reading all of the other entries relating to Sidney Poitier, mosey on over to this post which lists them all. Without further ado, I wish Mr. Poitier the happiest of birthdays tomorrow, and on with the post!

A theatrical poster for A Patch of Blue (1965).

I have had a long and loving relationship with this film over the last five years or so. I was first introduced to it as a freshman in high school, and immediately fell in love with both the moving story and its leading actor, Sidney Poitier. This single film has developed into what will likely be a lifelong passion of mine for his work, and the year after I discovered it I introduced it to the classic film club that I created as a sophomore. Of all of the films that we watched during the club’s existence, this was considered the favorite by a unanimous vote, which speaks volumes about its powerful subject matter, artistic direction, and relevancy, even today. The film takes place right in the middle of the historic Civil Rights Movement, and immediately introduces the audience to Selina D’Arcey (Elizabeth Hartman), a blind teenager who dilligently strings beads for income and keeps house after her alcoholic grandfather Ole Pa (Wallace Ford, in his final film role) and her abusive mother Rose-Ann (Shelley Winters, in her typical role as an obnoxious villainess), a prostitute. Despite her hardworking demeanor, Selina is not very independent as she never received a formal education, and begs Ole Pa to walk her just a few blocks to the park. She promises to work twice as hard stringing beads if he does so, and he agrees despite Rose-Ann’s selfish objections.

Sidney Poitier and Elizabeth Hartman in A Patch of Blue (1965).

While there, Selina meets the gentle Gordon Ralfe (Sidney Poitier), a black man who works nights and spends his days in the park. The two become fast friends and Selina tells him the story of how her mother Rose-Ann blinded her by accidentally throwing acid in her face when she was five years old during a domestic dispute with her father. Gordon begins to witness the level of abuse that Selina has been through and feels sympathy for her, helping her string her beads, bringing her pineapple juice, and by presenting her with a pair of dark sunglasses because she felt insecure about the scars around her eyes. He soon learns that she has never attended school and is shocked by that fact most of all, stunned that she had never even heard of Braille or schools designated for the blind. Later that evening he takes it upon himself to do some reading about the blind, and meanwhile Rose-Ann slaps Selina for going to the park and steals the sunglasses given to her by Gordon. Despite her opposition, Selina manages to go back to the park the next day with the help of Mr. Faber (John Qualen), the merchant who gives her beads to string. Once again she meets Gordon, and he helps her find her own way across the street and ends up teaching her a little bit more about the world in the process. The two begin to fall in love, but Selina starts being pulled in two directons. On one hand, Rose-Ann is making plans to shack up with fellow prostitute Sadie, ditch Ole Pa, and forcefully bring Selina into their grim business. On the other, Gordon promises Selina a brighter and more independent life by assisting her in enrolling in a blind school. Which path will she be able to choose? Will Selina begin to teach Gordon a few things about life as well? Is love truly blind, or will Selina never be able to look past the color of Gordon’s skin?

Shelley Winters with her Academy Award for her portrayal of Rose-Ann in A Patch of Blue (1965).

The complex role of Selina D’Arcey proved to be a difficult one for director and screenwriter Guy Green as well as the casting directors at MGM. Hayley Mills was considered for the role but hiring her proved to be too costly. Producers Green and Pandro S. Berman then offered the role to Patty Duke, who was advised to reject it as she had just starred in the 1962 hit The Miracle Worker (1962) as the famous blind woman Helen Keller, and was afraid of being typecast in such parts. Eventually Green set his sights on casting an unknown actress, leading to open casting calls, and as soon as Elizabeth Hartman walked in, he knew that she was perfect for the role. She had only appeared in middle and high school plays prior to her appearance in A Patch of Blue (1965), and the studio decided to take advantage of this fact by releasing “A Cinderella Named Elizabeth”, a short film documenting her casting process and the research that she conducted for her role, prior to the film’s release. Hartman ended up wearing opaque contact lenses as Selina, which added a realistic touch to the completed picture as they ended up actually depriving her of her sight. Her work and research paid off, as she became the youngest woman nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress at the tender age of twenty-two, a record that she held proudly for eleven years until 1976, when Isabelle Adjani was nominated at twenty-one for her work in The Story of Adele H (1976). A Patch of Blue (1965) was nominated for five Academy Awards in all, yet only a single Oscar was awarded to Shelley Winters for Best Supporting Actress in the role of Rose-Ann. Winters, a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, was actually overwhelmed and speechless after winning the award as she felt uncomfortable portraying a racist and disliked her character as a result.

Sidney Poitier and Elizabeth Hartman on the set of A Patch of Blue (1965).

As for our star of the day Sidney Poitier, the picture proved to be the most financially successful of his entire career despite the fact that he did not receive an Academy Award nomination, with the film raking in $6.75 million with a budget of only $800,000. This proved to be most lucrative for Poitier as he forfeited a portion of his salary in exchange for 10% of the film’s profits. In addition, the film skyrocketed Poitier to a new level of stardom with excellent critical reception and box office draws even in the southern cities that were steadfastly against the Civil Rights Movement, like Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte. Scenes of Sidney Poitier and Elizabeth Hartman kissing were nevertheless removed when it was shown in theaters in those and other southern cities, where many states had laws against what they called “race-mixing”. Overall, A Patch of Blue (1965) still proved to be a step in the right direction, and casting agents, directors, and producers began lining up to cast him in films that would later be regarded as some of his best and most well-known, like To Sir, With Love (1966), In the Heat of the Night (1967), and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967). This picture in particular still remains the closest one to my heart of all of Mr. Poitier’s roles, especially due to the ingenious direction by Guy Green. His decision to shoot the film in black and white when he could have very easily produced it in color is a stellar artistic choice on its own, and the audience being visually limited, even if it isn’t on the same scale as Selina D’Arcey, adds subtle meaning to the finished product. All in all, I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking to watch a poignant and underrated classic on his nintieth birthday.

Announcing the Humphrey Bogart Blogathon!


Ever since I joined the WordPress community in June (and even before that), I have wanted to host or co-host my very own blogathon. However, until now I haven’t been able to find just the right subject to celebrate. In fact, it wasn’t until Phyllis Loves Classic Movies astutely pointed out that no male actors had been honored with blogathons this year did I find the perfect icon to pay tribute to. So, without further ado, Diana of Sleepwalking in Hollywood and I are happy to announce our first ever blogathon, paying tribute to the magnificent Humphrey Bogart!

He’s number one on AFI’s Greatest Stars of All Time list, and his film quotations take up an astounding five spots on their 100 Greatest Quotes list, the most for any actor. He’s an Oscar winner and three time Oscar nominee. He has his hand and footprints permanently cemented in the courtyard of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in honor of his outstanding career in motion pictures. In short, he’s the best, and there’s really no better actor to add to this year’s multitude of blogathon tributes. Of course it would be difficult for many bloggers in the community to participate in this birthday blogathon on his actual birthday on Christmas Day, so we decided to push it ahead a little bit in order to accomodate everyone.


  1. Bogie has an extremely significant and diverse filmography with over eighty films to his credit, so we will only be allowing ONE duplicate for each film, and this is only going to be allowed only on a case-by-case basis. We want as many films to be covered as possible, and we made sure to leave most of his classics open for the taking. For example, we don’t want to see two out of five bloggers writing about Casablanca (1942). Try to expand your horizons and write about a film that you may not be as familiar with first.
  2. Anything relating to Humphrey Bogart is up for grabs! You could write about his relationship with Lauren Bacall, his Oscar nominations, his many collaborations with John Huston, or even how he helped Gene Tierney on the set of The Left Hand of God (1955). The possibilities are endless!
  3. Once you think of a topic, please leave a comment with your blog’s name, your blog’s link, and your subject (include the year if you’re choosing a movie). You may comment on Sleepwalking in Hollywood’s post as well.
  4. Once you’ve been approved, help us spread the word! We’re both fairly new blogs and we’ll need all the help we can get! Please take one of our lovely banners from below and put it somewhere on your blog, and make sure to tell your friends. We want as many participants as possible, and if this blogathon is a success we will likely do it again next year!







The Agatha Christie Blogathon: My Analysis of Murder on the Orient Express (1974)


NOTE: As it would be nearly impossible to review or analyze this film without including all parts of it, this will be one of my very few posts that is NOT spoiler-free. Read on only if you dare!

I would like to begin by thanking the hosts of this awesome blogathon: Little Bits of Classics and Christina Whener. I apologize that my post is so late, but I am eternally grateful that both of you gave me the perfect opportunity to see this film for the first time, and I’m even more esctatic to be able to write about both Agatha Christie and Lauren Bacall for their birthdays! So without further ado, I send many belated birthday wishes to Miss Christie and Miss Bacall, and on with the post!

The art deco style title card for Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

I was instantly intrigued by the art deco style of the title cards as well as the chilling score playing over them. It’s clear by the use of color and cinematography — even before we see any of the characters — that this film is from the 1970s, but I’ve always felt that movies from that decade and the one prior shed a new and possibly more realistic light on the 20s and 30s (I find The Sting (1973) and Splendor in the Grass (1962) to be the best examples of this). The use of color in the opening montage was also very functional and deliberate, as the crime scenes and newspapers regarding the disappearance of Daisy Armstrong were tinged with a blue-gray that showed the grief of the incident. The flash of red at the end that paired with the announcement of her murder really grabs the audience’s attention as any clever use of color should, and makes me wonder what sort of connection ties this story to the rest of the film.

The first of the many characters that we meet during the course of the film is our star detective, Hercule Poirot. He is immediately revealed to be a strange yet intelligent man, who surprisingly does not seem to show a great deal of empathy for the lives of others. Next we begin to meet some of the characters who will soon become the passengers of the Orient Express and eventually suspects in the murder of Mr. Ratchett. Colonel Arbuthnot (Sean Connery), followed closely by the woman who we eventually find out is his lover Mary Debenham (Vanessa Redgrave). We see the murder victim in question, Ratchett, and his secretary McQueen (Anthony Perkins) as well as his valet Beddoes (John Gielgud), the elderly Princess Dragomiroff (Wendy Hiller) and her maid Hildegarde (Rachel Roberts), Count and Countess Andrenyi (Michael York and Jacqueline Bisset), the twice-wed Mrs. Hubbard (Lauren Bacall), devout missionary Greta (Ingrid Bergman), the Italian car salesman Foscarelli (Dennis Quilley), Pinkerton’s employee Hardman (Colin Blakely) and the steward on the Express, Pierre (Jean-Pierre Cassel). As Poirot expertly unravels the details of the murder, he slowly but surely finds out that every single suspect was once connected to the Armstrong family.

Agatha Christie attended the premiere of this film when she was eighty-four years old,

Albert Finney as enigmatic detective Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

just fourteen months before her death on January 12th, 1976. Murder on the Orient Express (1974) was supposedly the only film adaptation of her novels that she was completely satisfied with, and she praised Albert Finney’s portrayal of the shrewd Hercule Poirot as the closest screen version to her character that she had ever seen (though she was reportedly unhappy with the whimsical moustache that he was given in this film). The film was no walk in the park for lead actor Albert Finney, however, as he was starring in a stage play while filming, and the task of completing both productions allowed Finney hardly any sleep at all. In an attempt to make the actor’s life a little bit easier as he played both parts simultaneously, the makeup department would pick him up every morning in an ambulance and painstakingly transform Finney into Detective Poirot while he was still asleep in his pajamas! To make matters worse for him, Poirot’s famous monologue at the end of the film required take after take as the set did not allow for more than one camera to occupy the cramped train compartment at one time. This of course was no easy feat for the peculiar detective, as his closing speech was over eight pages long.

Theatrical poster for Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

Finney’s performance certainly paid off as I found the actor’s performance to be delightful, though he was completely unrecognizable in the main role. High praises could also be given to the rest of the all-star cast, including Ingrid Bergman, who won an Academy Award for her performance and had to redevelop her Swedish accent with the help of diction coaches to play the role of Greta. Oscars aside, I must admit that my two favorite performances in the film were those of Anthony Perkins and belated birthday girl Lauren Bacall, who played the suspicious secretary McQueen and the talkative Mrs. Hubbard, respectively. Other notable appearances included the always wonderful Sean Connery as Colonel Arbuthnot, Vanessa Redgrave as Mary Debenham, Jacqueline Bisset as the beautiful Countess Andrenyi, Martin Balsam in a wonderful leading role as Bianchi, and of course Richard Windmark as the murder victim Ratchett, who only took on the role in order to meet the array of other stars who would be present during filming. Of course it’s really no wonder that the cast was so impeccable, as I found out that the film boasts fifty-eight Oscars between the members of the cast and crew.

My favorite performance: Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Hubbard in Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

Despite the valiant efforts of the cast, director Sidney Lumet, and composer Richard Rodney Bennett, I did find a few issues with the film’s plot. Granted, this may be because I have only seen the picture once, but I can’t seem to understand why twelve people, who were all very closely related to the same family and the same crime committed five years ago, happen to be on the same train at the same time on a totally separate continent. Also, if all twelve of these people were so closely related, how did none of them slip up even once to Poirot and reveal that they knew each other? These points lead me to believe that it was either a completely improbable coincidence or that it was planned, and if it was, I noticed no evidence or explanation of this aforementioned plan in the film. I also find it difficult to believe that all twelve of the compartment’s passengers (despite having motive) were completely fine with participating in the murder. The only character to show any remorse at all is Greta, but only because she was committing a crime in the eyes of God. Not a single person seemed worried that they were breaking the law, that one of the world’s greatest detectives was onboard the same train, or that they would more than likely be going to jail. I think more detail could have been provided from the novel to answer these plot holes, or even better I think a sequel that would contain the confessions and backstories of each of the passengers would be a clever way of clearing everything up and tying all of the film’s loose ends. Despite these lingering questions, I still find the film to be a mystery as genius as only Agatha Christie could pen, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who loves a good crime thriller or is a fan of murder mystery dinner theatres, as this was without a doubt the tale that sparked the genre.

The 2016 TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon: My Top Five Picks for Cyd Charisse’s Tribute


We’re almost halfway through the month of August, and while summer is winding down, the stars on Turner Classic Movies are shining brighter than ever! For those of you who didn’t get the chance to read my picks for Esther Williams’ birthday, my top five for Hedy Lamarr’s tribute, or if you’re unfamiliar with Turner Classic Movies, Summer Under the Stars honors a different classic film star during each day in August by showing a twenty-four hour marathon of their films. To be quite honest, I would not consider Cyd Charisse as one of my favorite actresses of all time like I would Hedy or Esther, but I truly believe that her filmography is vastly underrated and she’s an incredible woman in her own right. I knew that she had to be the last of the three ladies that I chose to write about! So, without further ado, keep reading for my top five recommended films that TCM is showing today in honor of Cyd Charisse!

5. It’s Always Fair Weather (1955) On TCM at 10:00pm EST

Though she isn’t exactly the main attraction, Cyd sparkles in this film about three soldiers who agree to meet up in New York City ten years after their service, only to find out that they have nothing in common. Of course the film focuses more on star Gene Kelly than anyone else, but I find this picture to be well worth your time just for its fantastic musical numbers like the now iconic “I Like Myself”, in which Kelly shows his absolute prowess in the art of dancing by hoofing it on roller skates. Kelly later mentioned that he had bought the ordinary pair of skates used in the film just a block from his house, and they were not altered in any way or adhered to his shoes. Despite the hard efforts of this incredible cast, which includes Kelly, Charisse, Dan Dailey, and Dolores Gray, this big budget musical was actually a financial flop, and many film historians attribute the decline of the extravagant Technicolor musicals of the fifties to the failure of this particular picture. Admittedly Charisse is not nearly as present in the film, but just her unique character and her perfect rhythm in the “Baby, You Knock Me Out” number is worth giving this late night treat a go.

4. The Band Wagon (1953) On TCM at 8:00pm EST

Cyd Charisse wearing the white gown as she performs “Dancing in the Dark” with Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon (1953).


This musical comedy is often ranked as one of MGM’s best of all time, and it’s no wonder that many Cyd Charisse fans cite The Band Wagon (1953) as their favorite picture of hers as well. In one of her starring roles, Cyd plays young ballerina Gabrielle “Gaby” Gerard, who is starring in a show that aging musical star Tony Hunter (played by none other than Fred Astaire) has lined up for his comeback. Gaby finds herself intimidated by Tony’s musical experience, and unbenknowst to her, Tony is just as intimidated as she is by the ballerina’s youth and beauty. The two work out their differences, of course, and soon fall in love. Cyd shows in this film that she could truly pull off a leading role in memorable numbers like the finale “Girl Hunt Ballet” and “Dancing in the Dark”, in which she wears a flowing white dress that was actually copied from a dress worn by the film’s costume designer Mary Ann Nyberg. The designer’s dress was off-the-rack and cost about twenty-five dollars, but after searching for a replica to no avail the costume department ended up creating the look from scratch for one thousand dollars. Of course Cyd looks lovelier than ever in it, as she does in the rest of this perfect primetime picture directed by the great Vincente Minnelli.

3. Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956) On TCM at 8:00am EST

Cyd Charisse in a promotional still for Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956), wearing the costume from the number “Frankie and Johnny”.

Cyd stars as Maria Corvier, yet another ballerina in this 1956 musical that takes place in The Sands Hotel, one of the many glimmering attractions of the Las Vegas Strip. Costar Dan Dailey plays slick yet womanizing cowboy Chuck Rodwell, who has arrived to gamble and lose all of the money that he has brought to Sin City. Of course when he expects to lose, just the opposite happens when he holds Maria’s hand, and he instantly follows his lucky charm everywhere she goes hoping to strike it rich. The film includes many adorable cameos, including one from Charisse’s husband (singer Tony Martin) as one of her many suitors who is inevitably out of luck. Even more cameos come from Debbie Reynolds, Peter Lorre, Vic Damone, and two members of The Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra as a man who wins the jackpot, and Sammy Davis Jr., singing the showstopping number “Frankie and Johnny”. In my opinion, this is easily Cyd’s best number of all time, and she absolutely shines in the stort story of two ill-fated lovers told through dance and song. I would certainly recommend that you see this charming picture for “Frankie and Johnny” alone, if nothing else, as the infectious tune and captivating story make all of her other numbers pale in comparison.

2. Silk Stockings (1957) On TCM at 6:00pm EST

Cyd Charisse performing her infamous number in Silk Stockings (1957).

In this musical remake of the classic film Ninotchka (1939), Cyd stars as the title character, a Russian envoy sent to complete a mission that three of her comrades had already bungled: to retrieve straying composer Peter Illyich Boroff (Wim Sonneveld) from Paris. Fred Astaire costars as American film producer Steve Canfield, who corrupts the composer and his comrades with all of Europe’s luxuries, including women, alcohol, and night life. Eventually he even captivates the ever-stoic Ninotchka, and the two fall in love. Aside from the fact that it’s a remake of such an iconic picture, Silk Stockings (1957) is possibly best known for the striptease that Charisse performs over the title number, which definitely turned the heads of both filmgoers and film censors, who demanded that a mirror, chair, and sheer petticoat be included in the scene to conceal Cyd’s shapely figure. Of course the three objects don’t exactly succeed in leaving much to the imagination, but in spite of such a scandalous number the film ended up tanking in the box office as well. Nonetheless, this is without a doubt the film that I’m looking forward to the most yet haven’t seen, and I strongly urge you all to discover this gem with me.

1. Brigadoon (1954) On TCM at 4:00pm EST

Cyd’s husband Tony Martin visiting her on the set of Brigadoon (1954), with costar Gene Kelly.

In what could possibly be considered the most Scottish musical of all time, Cyd stars as Fiona Campbell, a demure citizen of the mideval village of Brigadoon. Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly, by far my favorite costar of Cyd’s) and Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson), who are in Scotland on a hunting trip, discover the town after getting lost and soon discover its fascinating secret: Brigadoon is a blessed village that appears from the mist for only one day every hundred years, so that it will remain unmarred by modern civilization. Anyone who remains in Brigadoon must remain there forever, for if they leave, the town and all of its inhabitants disappear permanently. While there, Tommy and Jeff grow to love the village, and Tommy begins to fall for Fiona, but is one day enough to make Tommy want to remain in Brigadoon for eternity? This lavish picture is filled to the brim with catchy songs, magnificent costumes, and romantic dance sequences, and I consider it one of the most overlooked musicals that MGM has ever produced. Charisse, Kelly, and many of the supporting cast members give heartwarming performances that make you believe in miracles, and despite the overbearing Scottish motifs, I find this film to be a worthwhile classic that song and dance fans of all ages can appreciate.

Once more, I’d like to thank Journeys in Classic Film from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to participate in this blogathon one third and final time. I can see that you worked very hard to make this blogathon possible, and I hope the rest of the month is a big success!

The Film Noir Blogathon: My Analysis of Criss Cross (1949)


I would like to begin by thanking the gracious host of this fantastic blogathon, Quiggy of The Midnite Drive-In, for creating such a perfect homage to such a perfect genre. I’m just as ecstatic as you are for such a magnificent number of responses, and I’m incredibly honored to be one of the blogathon’s many participants. Now, without further ado, on with the post!

Yvonne De Carlo, Burt Lancaster, and director Robert Siodmak share a banana split on the set of Criss Cross (1949).

The film begins with two things that instantly grab my attention. The first is the wonderful yet ominous score, composed by Miklós Rózsa, who oversaw the music of an innumerable amount of classics, including but not nearly limited to Double Indemnity (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), Spellbound (1945), and Ben-Hur (1959). The second thing that catches my eye is the very first exchange of the movie: an amorous love scene in the parking lot of a dance hall that features what appears to be an already established couple, Anna (Yvonne De Carlo) and Steve (Burt Lancaster). They anxiously discuss their affair and plans for the aftermath of a heist that is to take place the following day, including their plan to end up together, with Anna promising her lover Steve that “after it’s all over it’ll be just you and me, the way it should have been from the start”.

Despite the film giving no background about how the couple met or why they plan to go through with what seems to be a dangerous operation, the audience’s sympathy immediately lies with the pair, and the film could have ended right there and gotten a five star rating from me. It goes on, however, and shows Anna’s inquisitive husband Slim Dundee once she leaves the parking lot and reenters the Round Up dance hall. The two argue, of course, and make it painstakingly obvious why Anna is having an affair. Not long afterwards, Slim and Steve get into a predictable scuffle. We find out only later that it was staged just to throw Lieutenant Pete Ramirez off their trail, and that Steve and Slim actually plan on pulling off the robbery of an armored car together, but what meant to be a fight only for show turned into a real one once Slim began questioning Steve about his wife. Nonetheless, the two let bygones be bygones and the day of the robbery arrives. Steve, an employee for the armored car agency that they plan to steal from, is behind the wheel.

Yvonne De Carlo and Burt Lancaster share an embrace in this publicity still for Criss Cross (1949).

As he drives to his destination and the plan is put into motion he begins to hear Anna’s comforting words in his head, and from there he narrates a flashback that finally gives some insight into how it all really started. He begins just after his return to Los Angeles after his divorce from Anna, and spins quite the yarn about how he returned to the Round Up where they used to spend their time together, reunited with her there, and fell in love with her all over again. Steve starts to dream of resuming their marriage, but his hopes are soon dashed once Anna marries Slim, the resident gangster of Los Angeles, and all of the money that comes with him.

A heartbroken Steve is on his own for a time, but inevitably Anna comes back into his life and the two begin a clandestine liaison. After a series of secret meetings between the two of them, Slim finds out that Steve and Anna have been seeing one another, and in a moment of desperation Steve devises an elaborate excuse in order to diffuse suspicion. He states that he was only conversing with Anna so that she and her mobster husband would assist him in holding up one of the armored cars that he is meant to protect for the company he works for, and as soon as the explanation leaves his lips he finds himself planning an armored car robbery for real.

Tony Curtis dances his way to stardom with Yvonne De Carlo in Criss Cross (1949).

Lancaster’s performance stands out head and shoulders above the rest, and though I have not seen the bulk of his filmography I would certainly dare to say that this is the best acting I have ever seen him display onscreen. The feelings of desperation and heartache that Steve goes through are so very convincing that it is quite difficult to separate the actor from the character. Of course De Carlo’s performance is also first rate, and even though at times her acting is a bit stiff (especially compared to such superb an actor as Lancaster) I find her magnificent beauty and appeal makes her vastly underrated as an actress. She practically sends shockwaves through the screen, and I truly feel that she deserves more credit for her incredible films outside of The Munsters. Another notable appearance occurs twenty-two minutes into the film, during the scene in which Steve first sees Anna again at the Round Up, dancing with another man. That man is none other than Tony Curtis, in his feature film debut. He was so nervous that he kept his back to the camera as often as possible, and amusingly he would later star in two more films with Burt Lancaster, Trapeze (1956) and The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), both of which gave Curtis a starring role but gave Lancaster top billing.

In spite of some dull points here and there, I find this picture to be quite the thriller, and though the film contains many noir trademarks, I would consider it anything but archetypal. For once the leading lady is much more than just an afterthought and the love story is fully developed, which balances out the action in the picture nicely, gives it some raw human emotion, and sets it apart from the typical noir. All in all, Criss Cross (1949) is still a suspenseful delight for any noir fan, and its crosses and double crosses leave you hanging on the edge of your seat until the film’s tragic end.

The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon 2016: My Analysis of Marnie (1964)


I would like to begin by thanking the host of this wonderful blogathon, Eva of Classics and Craziness, for arranging such an interesting tribute for the birthday of such an iconic director.  It’s easy to see that you worked very hard to make this possible, and I’m incredibly honored to participate. So, without further ado, I wish Hitch a very happy 117th birthday wherever he may be, and on with the post!

Tippi Hedren post-transformation in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964).

The film begins on an enthusiastically high note as infuriated businessman Sidney Strut, played by the usually lovable Martin Gabel, raves to two detectives about the burglary that has just taken place in his establishment, and he is certain that his raven-haired former employee named Marion Holland is the culprit. Meanwhile, the camera also follows a strange woman whom we soon find out is the thief in question, but not only is the name Marion Holland one of her many aliases, she is also a chameleon who presently becomes the Hitchcock blonde that we all know and love. Soon we are taken into the life of the habitual thief Marnie, who works for businesses under false pretenses, robs them blind, and uses the money to aid her invalid mother.

Tippi Hedren looking lovelier than ever, seen here with Alfred Hitchcock promoting Marnie (1964).

The complex and challenging title role of Marnie became a difficult one for Hitchock and the studio to cast. It started off as a no-brainer, as the famed director had planned to give the role to just as famed actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly. However, the subjects of Monaco did not want to see Her Highness portraying a compulsive thief, making love to Sean Connery rather than their prince, and spending her time in Hollywood when her duty was to her country. Thus, Kelly had to turn down the role, and soon it became one of the most coveted parts in Hollywood at the time. Famous names like Eva Marie Saint, Lee Remick, Susan Hampshire, Claire Griswold, and Vera Miles all threw their hats in the ring but soon lost out once Hitch offered the role to newcomer Tippi Hedren, who was filming The Birds (1963) at the time, as he was quite impressed (though some, including Hedren herself, would say obsessed) with her performance in the film. As many fans of both Hitchock and Hedren know, this was the second and final film that the two made together due to the alleged emotional and sexual abuse that the director inflicted upon her during the filming of both pictures. After the filming of Marnie (1964) ended, he famously held Hedren to her seven-year contract to him, refused all offers that came her way, and essentially ended her career in pictures.

Hitch himself, seen here with Diane Baker and Sean Connery, directing Tippi Hedren in Marnie (1964).

Once the lead actress was cast, there were still many bumps in the road before the cameras began rolling. Hitchcock had first began the creation of the script in 1961 with Joseph Stefano, screenwriter of the pièce de résistance of Hitchcock’s works, Psycho (1960). He wrote extensive notes but was shelved along with the rest of the film’s progress once Grace Kelly turned down the title role. Again the famed director picked up the original novel during the filming of The Birds (1963), and gave screenwriter Evan Hunter the job of working on Marnie (1964). Despite their past collaborations, Hunter and Hitch bumped heads over the novel’s rape scene, and Hunter begged the director to cut it out. Instead he decided to cut Hunter out, and replaced him with Jay Presson Allen, the third and final screenwriter who worked on the film. She later told her predecessor Hunter, “You just got bothered by the scene that was his reason for making the movie. You just wrote your ticket back to New York.” Once the final draft was finished and the picture was ready to be shot, one last hindrance occurred when three days prior to the first day of filming, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and filming was postponed due to the nation’s mourning.

Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery in a promotional still for Marnie (1964).

Eventually Marnie (1964) was filmed, however, and thus completed what many consider to be the last great picture of Alfred Hitchcock. The first time that I watched it I was completely in awe of Hedren and Connery, and despite the fact that Grace Kelly is my favorite actress of all time, I think she would not have done this particular film justice. Tippi has a rebellious and wild aura about her, and despite her beautiful and irreproachable exterior, it’s easy to believe that she could be inherently bad. Connery’s character Mark Rutledge, on the other hand, is far more difficult to place on a scale of good and evil. Yes, he commits dastardly deeds, invades Marnie’s privacy and disregards her consent on multiple occasions, but many audience members (with screenwriter Allen herself among them) believe that he redeems himself by the film’s end, always had Marnie’s best interests at heart, and forced her to face her past as well as her fears.

In retrospect, I find that the film is flawed in many regards and many of Hedren’s actions seemed needlessly exaggerated and forced, but outside of that I truly believe Marnie (1964) is a vastly underrated classic that deals with vices as well as facing one’s own fears. It dealt with many tender subjects for a film of its time and deserves to be applauded based on that fact alone. As problematic as it may be to film buffs due to the offscreen relationship of Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren and also due to the startling and delicate topics within the film like rape, prostitution, and psychological abuse, this film earns its place among Hitchcock’s many triumphs, and to silence the picture’s negativity and controversy would be like denying that those events that occurred inside and outside of the movie ever existed.

The 2016 TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon: My Top Five Picks for Hedy Lamarr’s Tribute


We’re onto Day Ten of the best time of the year: Turner Classic Movies’ Summer Under the Stars! For those of you who didn’t get the chance to read my pick for Esther Williams’ birthday or if you’re unfamiliar with Turner Classic Movies, Summer Under the Stars honors a different classic film star during each day in August by showing a twenty-four hour marathon of their films. After I found out that Hedy Lamarr would be one of the many stars honored this month, I knew that she had to be one of the three incredible ladies that I chose to write about! Without further ado, keep reading for my top five recommended films that TCM will be showing today in honor of Hedy Lamarr!

5. Her Highness and the Bellboy (1945) On TCM at 8:00am EST

Hedy plays against type as a visiting princess from an unnamed kingdom in this

Hedy looking as lovely and regal as ever in Her Highness and the Bellboy (1945).

lighthearted comedy that tears many of its motifs straight out of fairytale books. Her character, Princess Veronica, requires an escort and by an interesting chain of events clumsy bellboy Jimmy Dobson (Robert Walker) steps up to the plate, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend Leslie Odell (June Allyson). Despite how dreamlike the film’s plot seems, the making of the picture was anything but a fantasy. To begin with, Lamarr (who’s star was waning at the time) battled with MGM to get top billing. Much of the 1940s was spent accentuating the studio’s up and coming actors,  but after a heated fight Louis B. Mayer agreed to bill Hedy first. However, she paid the price for it as most believe that the argument was a deciding factor in MGM choosing not to renew her contract, and so this was her last film under contract to any major studio. Costar Robert Walker had his offscreen troubles during the making of this film as well, as he was going through bouts of depression and a heated divorce at the time after estranged wife Jennifer Jones left him for studio mogul David O. Selznick. The situation left him in a state of despondency for the rest of his brief life, and his costars were amazed that he was able to portray such a comical and carefree character despite his real life hardships. This film is truly uplifting and sweet in spite of the struggles that those creating it faced, however, and it truly starts Hedy Lamarr’s tribute on a high note.

4. The Heavenly Body (1944) On TCM at 11:30pm EST

Hedy Lamarr, seen here with William Powell in The Heavenly Body (1944).

It’s in the stars that you should see this adorable romantic comedy! In it, Hedy plays Vicky Whitley, wife of astronomer Bill Whitley (William Powell). Bill discovers a comet and earns his place among the world’s most revered scientists, but soon he becomes so preoccupied with his discovery that he begins to spend more and more of his time at the observatory, much to the dismay of Lamarr. Soon Vicky fills her time with the neighborhood’s astrology expert, and begins to believe that the coomunity’s attractive new air raid warden is supposed to be her dream man. The misunderstanding makes Bill realize just how much he has neglected his wife, but is all lost, or will these two drift back into orbit? Either way, I find that Powell and Lamarr make a beautiful and witty couple, and Hedy’s acting makes me glad that Joan Crawford turned down her role, surprisingly stating, “It was about a girl who stands around and does nothing. I told the studio to give the part to Hedy Lamarr.” To me, Hedy does anything but stand around, and her glimmering personality makes this film a late night delight.

3. The Conspirators (1944) On TCM at 6:00pm EST

Unlike my number five choice, Hedy appears to play the exact sort of role that she was

Hedy and Paul Henried in a promotional still for The Conspirators (1944).

known for when she appears as Irene Von Mohr in this suspenseful World War II drama. In this film, Vincent Van Der Lyn, a Dutch freedom fighter played by the always dashing Paul Henried, is forced to neutral Lisbon to escape Nazi persecution. During his time there he meets a group of underground conspirators, and over time he begins to assist their leader in identifying the traitor in their midst. This picture has endless parallels to the timeless classic Casablanca (1942), including leading man Henried as well as its great arsenal of supporting players that include Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, who appeared in both films. The Conspirators (1944) was also produced by Warner Bros. and uses the same composer and cinematographer used in Casablanca (1942), Max Steiner and Arthur Edeson, respectively. Even more so, Hedy was considered one of the top choices to play Ilsa in the aforementioned film, and did star in Algiers (1938), another great film that shares a plot with the classic. This is definitely the picture being shown today that I am the most excited to see that I haven’t had the chance to see, and I urge you to check out this evening thriller as well.

2. Comrade X (1940) On TCM at 3:00am EST

Hedy and Clark Gable in a scene from Comrade X (1940).

Okay, both my first and second pick are late at night, but I can’t help that they’re both so great! To start off my top two, Comrade X (1940) offers a perfect pairing of Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr. Gable stars as Mckinley B. Thompson, a clever American reporter who uses the codename of Comrade X and a cut up handkerchief to smuggle vital information out of Soviet Russia. Eventually unassuming hotel valet Vanya (played by Felix Bressart, one of my favorite character actors) discovers his secret and uses the information to blackmail McKinley into escorting his beautiful daughter Theodore (Lamarr) out of the country, fearing that her Communist beliefs will get her killed. Despite dealing with such delicate subject matter, this film is laugh out loud hilarious and every single performance in it is memorable. I would go as far as to say that both Gable and Lamarr portray their most likeable characters yet, and if you’re looking for a film that seamlessly combines wit, farce, and plenty of WWII historical subtext in its script, look no further than this one.

1. Come Live With Me (1941) On TCM at 1:15am EST

Once again, I realize how unrealistic it is to include such a late night film on the lineup in

Hedy Lamarr and James Stewart, the epitome of the perfect onscreen couple in this promotional shot for Come Live With Me (1941).

this list, but here I must protest and say that this is quite possibly one of the most underrated romantic comedies of all time. Hedy stars as a Viennese refugee who has illegally evaded deportation for months using the masculine name of Johnny Jones. Finally, the immigration department catches up with her, but feels so sorry for Hedy’s character that they give her one week to marry and stay in the country. To her dismay, however, her hotshot publisher beau is already married and Johnny quickly gives up hope. Nevertheless, all is not lost when she accidentally stumbles upon Bill Smith (James Stewart), a forlorn writer who is down to his last dime. Johnny quickly devises and offers a plan: Bill could marry Johnny so that she could stay in the country, and in return Johnny could pay for his expenses, which would allow him to write the novel he always dreamed of completing. In this film Lamarr and Stewart make for the most wonderful onscreen pair that I have ever witnessed, and I believe that it’s a downright shame that they were never paired together again. Hedy’s exotic and mysterious personality is the perfect contrast to James’ honest and All-American screen persona, and the two opposite stars make this picture a true must-see for any romance fan.

Once again, I’d like to thank Journeys in Classic Film for allowing me to participate in this blogathon, and I hope you check out my last entry covering my picks for Cyd Charisse’s tribute on August 14th!