Welcome to 2009… Here’s your accordion.

It’s a new year, and all I can hope for 2009 is that it doesn’t suck as much as 2008 did. That’s a pretty low bar for 2009 to reach, yet I’m not at all confident 2009 will reach this goal. We’ll see. Let’s get the administrative junk out of the way. The About the Blog post has been revamped, as has the Edits post. I’ve made several edits to posts recently, the most notable being: Added information I received from Jeremy Morgan to the Mrs. Potter post, added links to Louie’s blog in my El Brendel post, and created a new “Wife vs Secretary” photo gallery. Now, on with the fun. It was a film-filled holiday here at Casa del Stacia, which I thought I would share with you all, because it fulfills my need to constantly tell you all about my fabulously fabulous life. Just before Christmas I rented “The Man Who Came to Dinner” again. My husband hadn’t seen it before, it’s a terrific holiday film, and watching it again reminded me just how wickedly funny it is. I think this film more than any other proves wrong those who say Bette Davis doesn’t really act but just plays herself. Part of the reason I watched it, though, was because of Ann Sheridan’s blouse. And if you don’t recall what I’m talking about, let me show you: Hubba. Hubba. Not only is she wearing some clingy flimsy fabric with nothing underneath — and looking even better than … Continue reading

The Twenty Actresses Meme

Ibetolis at Film for the Soul tagged me for the Twenty Actresses Meme. Five days ago. So yes, I’m shamefully behind on my blogging, but I also suck in another way: I almost couldn’t come up with 20 actresses I like. Why? Because I like actors more. There, I said it. Of course I had to ponder this for a while. In real life I don’t prefer men over women, so why should I in movie life? It’s because they have better roles. And there’s more of them. And I find myself wanting to be the male characters simply because they tend to be more intellectual, active, and interesting. The male characters experience life while the female characters tend to be used as objects to illustrate the movie’s philosophy as portrayed through the male. I don’t want to be Susan Alexander, I want to be Charles Foster Kane! Not to mention that serious dramas focusing on women in real life roles — and not as some sexy secretary girlfriend of the male hero — all but disappeared after the early 1950s. Nothing passes the Bechdel Test anymore. This meme originated at Film Experience, where I discover I’m not the only one who likes actors better. Like Movie Viewing Girl, I wonder if I’m just jealous or catty when I say I prefer actors. I won’t deny the possibility. With all that yammering out of the way, here are my 20 favorite actresses: Bette Davis was my first favorite actress. I … Continue reading

TCM Remembers 2008

As always, a moving tribute to those in the film industry who left us in 2008. It’s been a rough year. I never realize just how rough until I watch the montage and see those I thought were still with us. Note: The version TCM showed Friday evening just before 7:00 PM Central had Van Johnson in it, but I don’t believe this version does. I’ll post an update later. Final update: As of January 1st I still can’t find the video on the TCM site, but Moira at Skeins of Thought has the edited version with Van Johnson in it here. They removed Roberta Collins from the montage and added Van Johnson, which is a bit unfortunate. As about 100 people in comments have mentioned, the song playing in the tribute is “God Only Knows” by Joe Henry.

Reflections on Red Rock West (1992) (no spoilers)

“Red Rock West” is a dreamy, neo-noir masterpiece of storytelling. Written by Rick and John Dahl, starring Nicholas Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle, Dennis Hopper and J.T. Walsh. Michael Williams (Nicholas Cage), a former Marine from Texas, finds himself broke and in the town of Red Rock, Wyoming, looking for a job. The honest Michael takes a detour from integrity and, when mistaken as Lyle from Dallas who has a job waiting for him in tiny Red Rock’s only bar, takes the opportunity and pretends to be Lyle. Unfortunately for Michael, he just stole the wrong job — bar owner Wayne (J.T. Walsh) hired Lyle to kill his wife Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle). Michael tries to do the right thing. He tries, many times, to leave Red Rock. He cannot. Each time he escapes the town he passes by this sign. The first time he passes by the sign it’s ominous, the second time it’s disturbing, and the third time it’s funny. You know he will be back. The town is Fate, and you cannot escape Fate. “Red Rock West” made me sad. I suddenly became desperately, intensely nostalgic for the 1990s. For the first time in my life I found myself missing that decade, the decade where as an adult I really came to understand films, to have films evoke new ideas and powerful emotions. In the 1990s I always considered myself a child of the 80s, but as I age I realize that the 1990s were my true formative … Continue reading

Alibi (1929)

My entry on “Alibi” was inspired by sixmartini’s wonderful post — and you are reading sixmartinis and the seventh art, right? Shame on you if you’re not. As you skim through the screencaps here you may see some very similar to what sixmartinis already posted, which I promise you was completely unintentional. Her entry apparently worked some unconscious mojo on me. The visuals sixmartini chooses stay with me for a long time, and I truly love that about her blog. “Alibi”, an early talkie from 1929, opens on a semi-silent expressionist scene, the forced metronome cadence of prisoners slowly replaced by sunlight, then freedom, then the rhythmic tapping of dancing girls as Chick Williams (blog fave Chester Morris) is released from prison. That night he dines at Bachman’s club with club owner Buck Bachman, Buck’s girl Diamond Daisy, and Chick’s girl Joan Manning (Eleanore Griffith). Buck assures Chick that everyone knows he was framed by the corrupt local police. Nearby a table of peculiar men, one smoking a joint, look on. The craziest and allegedly least sober of the group approaches the table and hits on Joan. He is introduced as Billy Morgan (Regis Toomey), one of Buck’s “brokers”. At Daisy’s encouragement he finagles a horrified Joan’s address. During the scene at Bachman’s there is a lengthy tracking shot from the back of the room to the table where Chick and his friends are seated. Inspired by Roger Ebert’s recent article entitled “How to Read a Movie”, and knowing that … Continue reading

Favorite Films: The Alphabet Meme

The Film Doctor recently challenged me to compile a list of my favorite films. The catch is that I must have one film per letter of the alphabet. The whole alphabet? That’s at least 15 films, maybe more! The worst part was trying to pick just one film for some of the letters. I failed a few times and resigned myself to listing runners up when I absolutely had to. “C” was a particularly difficult letter for me. This meme is originally from Blog Cabins and I’m supposed to challenge others, but since I’m already in the blogosphere doghouse for my recent demand that you tell me your 3 favorite movies (what the hell was I thinking?), I will keep this voluntary. *** All About Eve (runners up: A Star is Born 1937, A Star is Born 1954, The Asphalt Jungle) The Best Years of Our Lives (runner up: Blade Runner) The Conversation (runners up: The Cranes are Flying, Charley Varrick, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Carnival of Souls) Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb 8 1/2 (runner up: Electra Glide in Blue) Femme FataleThe General The Haunting The Innocents Jewel Robbery (runner up: “Ji Ji”, aka “Miracles”, aka “Black Dragon”) The Killing The Little Foxes Millers Crossing (runner up: Metropolis) Night of the Hunter Out of the Past Point Blank (runner up: Pulp Fiction) Quatermass and the Pit Rope (runner up: Rashomon) Skyscraper Souls (runners up: Sunset Blvd, Shichinin no samurai, Silence … Continue reading

Supporting Actress Smackdown at StinkyLulu!

I had the honor and the fun of participating in this month’s Supporting Actress Smackdown at StinkyLulu. Go check it out here! The October Supporting Actress Smackdown was for the year 1976, which I admit I championed back when we were voting on which year to choose. After revisiting the five movies, though, I kind of wonder why I thought 1976 was so great. And in a testament to how my movie tastes have changed over the years, my preconceived notions of which actresses gave the best performances and which were mediocre or worse were almost entirely flipped by the time I watched all the films. The nominees for 1976, if you don’t remember off the top of your head (and unless you’re Robert Osborne, you probably don’t) were: Beatrice Straight, “Network” Jane Alexander, “All the President’s Men” Jodie Foster, “Taxi Driver” Lee Grant, “Voyage of the Damned” Piper Laurie, “Carrie” I positively adore Lee Grant. Grant is so wonderful in so many films, and I remember watching her in a dozen TV shows. She was even in a show called “Fay”, which my parents watched and which I remember for the notoriety of having the phrase “stretch marks” censored! Yes, thanks to being moderately neglected in childhood, when I was 5 years old I was watching shows like “Soap”, “Maude”, and “Fay”… and learning all sorts of things most 5 year olds don’t even think about. A few months ago I grabbed “Voyage of the Damned” off TCM, pretty … Continue reading

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)

A young man on a bicycle rides happily through town, heading to his job at the local church and greeting passersby. This kid is far too perky for his own good. Thankfully, when he arrives at the church he finds DEATH AND BLOOD in the form of a beautiful woman whose body has been stuffed into the church bell. The poor kid is turned pale and mute from fear, but really, how can you feel sorry for him? He knew better than to try to lead a happy, cheerful life; he was a supporting character in a Hammer horror film. So begins “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave”. (Risen from the grave? Interesting. I didn’t know he was dead.) October is the month for horror films, of course, and I wanted to watch more Hammer horror movies, so picked one starring Christopher Lee. The idea to choose this particular movie came last month when I read this post on Starlet Showcase. DHRFtG is the fourth film in Hammer’s Dracula series, the third of which stars Christopher Lee as Dracula. It begins just where Lee’s previous outing, “Dracula: Prince of Darkness”, left off two years earlier. The inaugural film in the series was “Dracula” (1958), followed by an official but Dracula-less sequel “Brides of Dracula” in 1960. Monsignor Mueller (Rupert Davies) arrives in the small town to speak to the village priest, who is drowning himself in drink at the local pub. The Monsignor doesn’t understand why the church is empty … Continue reading

Blogiversary? Por moi? You shouldn’t have!

She Blogged By Night turns a year old today, and boy are my arms tired! Wait, I think I told that wrong… I’ve had a ton of fun working on this blog in the past year. Really, I don’t have a lot to say, but I did want to mark the occasion. In lieu of content, I offer you some of my favorite photos. CREDITS:Nazimova courtesy the AMS Silent Movie Calendar. Sessue Hayakawa courtesy thiscoldair from the LiveJournal community silent_films. Judy Garland courtesy mardecortesbaja.com. Rita Hayworth by George Hurrell, courtesy a Google images search. Kay Francis and Bette Davis courtesy amy_jeanne of It’ll Take the Snap Out of Your Garters!

Bop Girl Goes Calypso (1957)

“Bop Girl Goes Calypso” is the story of a young rock ‘n’ roll singer who discovers that science has proven rock and bop is on its way out, and is soon to be replaced by calypso as the new hot song craze. Thus, the bop girl goes … yeah, okay, I can’t even say this with a straight face. But when the film began, I found myself really wanting to love this movie. Dig that crazy Nino Tempo! While screaming out “Horn Rock” with his band, he rips off his suit jacket, loosens his tie, and thrusts his hips in a decidedly impure way. I’ll be in my bunk. Truly, this is a terrific beginning to a film. Hot, jazzy rock by a dynamic performer while the credits — most notably all musical credits — scroll by on the right margin. If only the entire film were half as good as this opening sequence. In the audience watching Tempo is a man sitting alone at a table. Well, unless this big machine thingie he carries with him is his date, but that would probably be an entirely different movie. The machine has a gauge that is obviously measuring something and Mr. Science Machine is taking copious notes, but since this opening 15 minutes or so is all music and no dialogue we have no idea what the machine is measuring. It’s all just a gimmick to get Mr. Science Machine to go to one club after another, anyway. But first … Continue reading