Spring has truly sprung on Martha’s Vineyard. One of the things I love most about New England is the changing of four actual seasons. When I arrived 3 weeks ago, it was still cold and the leaves and flowers were still waiting for their cue, holed up in their tight buds. With a beautiful Memorial weekend, the island joined in on a resounding, “TA DAA”!
When I am here, there is always something to do to keep up this 135 year old house. It is a job I relish. This summer, I have plans to re-finish furniture, convert the shed into a Pilates studio and maybe, just maybe, build a small deck. It’s a hammer and nails and measuring tape, wood planks, right? I’m sure there is a YouTube for that.
When I retire for the evening, watching old familiar movies is comforting. Especially since my dear husband is in Texas right now. There are some movies I can watch over and over again. Currently, however, I am all about ‘The Avengers”. I saw it again this weekend with my kids, my second time, my daughter’s third. We are hooked. (I want Tony Stark to be real and in my life.) There is something about the familiarity of knowing the lines and what’s coming next that I find reassuring. It is like all is right in the world for 120 minutes. To be honest, we watched Star Wars on Friday night for the, hmmm, 237th time? (It WAS the 35th anniversary!) And, I could still watch again. Continuity can be extremely comforting.
Today, it’s back to work around the Red Door cottage. It is garden day. There are flowers to prune and arrange. And, after a weekend with the kids here, I’m sure a trip to the market is in order, as well. Before I head out, here are my TCM picks for this week. There won’t be as many in the coming weeks since it’s summertime and I hope you are out enjoying it. But, it is nice to have a couple of sure things waiting on the DVR after a long day outside, at the beach or wherever you summer days take you. Enjoy!
Thursday May 31
BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) The legendary bank robbers run riot in the South of the 1930s. Dir: Arthur Penn Cast: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard. C-111 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
Warren Beatty had wanted to only produce this film, with Bob Dylan as his first choice to play Clyde. Warner Bros. had little faith in this violent picture and was given a “B movie” release. After it began to receive critical acclaim, it was re-released with better promotion. The sale of berets soared after Dunaway wore them in this film. Roger Ebert labeled this as the first masterpiece of his then, 6 month old career as a film critic. After Beatty agreed to also star in the title role, he desperately wanted his girlfriend Natalie Wood to co-star as Bonnie. She was going through depression and declined. This is the film debut of Gene Wilder.
I am not usually one for over the top violence, but while the last scene of the film is harrowing and excessive, it is both historically accurate and historic cinematically. Creative gadgets were rigged and the make-up department tested new approaches to making the blood and grisly death scene look very real. AFI #42 Greatest Film of All Time. Filmed in the great state of Texas!
Friday June 1
CACTUS FLOWER (1969) A philandering dentist asks his assistant to help him deal with his latest girlfriend. Dir: Gene Saks Cast: Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, Goldie Hawn. C-104 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
My dear Goldie’s first major film role and she hit it out of the park, winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Toni. It had been over 25 years since Bergman had been on a Hollywood soundstage. All of her films had been made in Europe. The film was an adaptation of the 1965 Broadway production that starred Lauren Bacall, Barry Nelson and Brenda Vaccaro as Toni. The movie has a very “Three’s Company” kind of plot, but the chemistry amongst the characters set in 1969 make this a fun, swingin’, easy comedy. Bonus: you’ll celebrate a little redemption if you sat, painfully, through the 2011 remake, “Just Go With It” with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.
Saturday June 2
WILD ONE, THE (1953) Motorcycle-riding delinquents take over a small town. Dir: Laslo Benedek Cast: Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy, Robert Keith. BW-79 mins, TV-14, CC
This must be the “cool rider” Michelle Pfeiffer really sang about in “Grease 2.” Brando, Harleys, Triumphs, gangs…1950’s cool. Brando rode his own personal Triumph in the film. Lee Marvin had to learn to ride his Harley, not wanting to be shown up by the star, Brando. This was the first film that did not black out the logos of the bikes and, at first, Triumph was none too pleased about being linked with the “Black Rebel” gang, until of course, their sales increased due to the film and Brando. The film is loosely based on an actual incident that happened in Hollister, CA in 1947 and in 1997, a 50th anniversary celebration was held in the same town. This film is iconic Brando as he introduced the long sideburns that inspired Elvis and James Dean. Before there was “Be like Han.”, everyone wanted to “Be like Brando.”
Sunday June 3
TALK OF THE TOWN, THE (1942) An escaped political prisoner and a stuffy law professor vie for the hand of a spirited schoolteacher. Dir: George Stevens Cast: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Ronald Coleman. BW-117 mins, TV-G, CC
One of my personal favorites, well…it IS Cary Grant! But also, Jean Arthur is always precious and Ronald Coleman, that smooth British accent is like poetry. This is drama intersecting with screwball comedy. This film marked the first time Coleman was second billed below another male lead. 1942 proved to be a busy year for Lloyd Bridges. His minute role in this film was one of 20 small appearances he made in that year. Don’t blink or you’ll miss him!
ANNIE (1982) An orphan attracts the attention of a Wall Street tycoon and a con artist. Dir: John Huston Cast: Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Aileen Quinn. C-127 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format
This is for my kids…all four of them. They loved this movie when they were little, each passing it down to the next kid. This film had a long run in the Stallings’ house. The only Annie production we enjoyed more was when our two older girls had parts in their Community Theatre production. Ah, good times, good times. Film nuggets: Jack Nicholson was originally signed to play Daddy Warbucks. Steve Martin had to drop out of playing Rooster since he was in the middle of breaking up with Bernadette Peters and he thought it to be too painful. Drew Barrymore auditioned for the role of Annie. In total, over 8000 girls were interviewed over two years for this coveted role.
Monday June 4
WOMEN, THE (1939) A happily married woman lets her catty friends talk her into divorce when her husband strays. Dir: George Cukor Cast: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell. BW-133 mins, TV-PG, C
A Hollywood homage to women power, with 130 roles in this film…all women. Every animal used in the film…female. All works of art seen in the background are of the female form. Cattiness over top billing, being fashionably late, playing favorites and general bickering ran amuck just under the surface of this amazing ensemble cast, although they never showed it and pretended to be fabulous friends. A great documentary would have been the making of this film with these female power houses. This is the film debut of Butterfly McQueen. As of this post, the only surviving cast member is Joan Fontaine. Again, much better than the modern 2008 remake with Meg Ryan and Annette Bening.
STING, THE (1973) Two con men hit the big time to take on a gangster in ’30s Chicago. Dir: George Roy Hill Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Eileen Brennan. C-129 mins, TV-MA, CC, Letterbox Format
Won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Edith Head won her 8th and final Oscar for Best Costume Design. The second film for the leads to play together, the first Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. At the time, Redford and Newman were considered the most handsome and bankable Hollywood stars. The only time Redford has been nominated for an acting Oscar. Robert Shaw had injured himself just prior to shooting and his limp was written into the script. He had to wear a leg brace during the production. The diner where Hooker meets Lonnegan is the same diner interior used in “Back to the Future”, as both movies were shot on the Universal backlot. Although Redford enjoyed his time making this film, he did not see the actual movie until 2004. This film set a standard for the fun, caper film with a smart, trick ending. The characters were so beloved that audiences didn’t feel “stung” or duped, they simply flocked to see it again and again. Comforting, classic continuity.
Kind of like me with “The Avengers.”