Gotta love Improv Everywhere!

I think I’ve mentioned the group Improv Everywhere on this blog before but I have to share their most recent mission, Movies in Real LifeEvery Tuesday they are releasing a new video featuring their own recreation of famous movie scenes in real world settings. So far they’ve released 6 videos, and here’s the most recent one spotlighting Jurassic Park“.

Enjoy!

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney…mmmhm interesting…

I’m a huge lover of everything Disney related, I do the parks, I buy the t-shirts, watch all the movies, and admire the genius of Walt Disney immensely. I was a member of the Mickey Mouse Club in the early 60’s, and watched Wonderful World of Disney religiously on Sunday nights. I’ve drunk the kool-aid and I’m not ashamed to admit it, so when I saw the studio was filming a movie, “Saving Mr. Banks”, about the making of Mary Poppins I started stepping in time faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

But then I saw the trailer….

….Tom Hanks as Walt Disney isn’t really cutting it for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Hanks, and I’ve enjoyed many of his movies, but he just looks and sounds like Tom Hanks but with a penciled in mustache and a slight southern accent (not sure why he has an accent), but if I’m honest I can’t think of any of the current crop of actors trying to portray Walt Disney. So let’s hope I’m wrong, because this movie and story sound terrific, and the poster is pretty darn cute too!

Saving Mr. Banks Poster

Downton Abbey actor ~ handsome, talented and a writer!

There is a fan frenzy currently going on in America and it’s focus is on “Downton Abbey”. I’m not sure why this particular drama has caused such a stir when for years we have been the lucky recipients of so many other great British dramas, comedies and detective series on our PBS and BBC America stations but it has.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really enjoyed the first season because it put me in mind of two of my favorite shows, “Gosford Park”, another Julian Fellowes creation, and “Manor House”, a kind of Edwardian, “Upstairs Downstairs” reality show, but the two subsequent seasons just seem  too “soapy” and the writing has fallen way off. Of course that hasn’t stopped me from watching it mind you!

Today I learned something new about one of the most popular characters/actors on the show, Matthew Crawley/Dan Stevens.  Apparently the 28 year is not only a talented actor but is a gifted writer as well. He studied English Literature at Cambridge and has recently started a literary magazine called, The Junket. This article on the NBC news website talks about Stevens’ decision to start this quarterly magazine to help him get over his procrastination and get down to writing regularly.  He and four of his Cambridge friends originally were writing a blog, but decided this literary magazine venture would force them to be a bit more proactive and not dilly dally so much (this is my phrase not his!).

Matthew Crawley

The first edition came out in October and apparently they have been overwhelmed with submissions, due greatly in part to Stevens’ growing popularity. He was even appointed to the panel of judges for the 2012 Man Booker Prize and has signed up for next year’s judging as well. As the article pointed out, he has added “a large dose of glamour to the award”. 

I already liked him for his portrayal of Matthew Crawley, but I’ve gained even more respect for him because of his love of literature. No wonder he is so much smarter than Lord Granville, this explains a lot!

Dancing amongst the stacks

I love the movie musical, it’s my favorite movie genre!  So this weekend I re-watched one of my favorites, “The Music Man”.  It’s full of some of my favorite songs, and of course every book lovers favorite movie scene:

Of course this is a pretty great movie musical book scene too 🙂

but when I think of a musical number in a library I have to say this one always comes to mind first, even though they aren’t really singing about books, they’re just surrounded by them.  It’s from the 1956 movie, “High Society,

Happy Birthday to Edgar Allan Poe

Carte de Visite of Edgar Allan Poe

The first author I can ever remember labeling as “one of my favorite authors” was Edgar Allan Poe. I had an enthusiastic 7th grade teacher that loved his worked and her love for him rubbed off on me and as a result I devoured his writings.  It also didn’t hurt that one of my favorite film actors at the time was the delightfully macabre Vincent Price.

I had three favorites among Mr. Price’s numerous film and television credits, House of Wax (1953), House of Usher (1960) and The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), two of which were Poe stories adapted for the screen.

They were so frightening that I can remember having to cover my eyes with my hands and peak through my fingers, while curled up in a ball on my living room sofa….and this was on a sunny Saturday afternoon!

While I read his stories and poems when I was younger, I didn’t learn too much about Poe himself until I was much older. His life was so sad and his death was fittingly mysterious and it breaks my heart that he only attained success after his life had ended.

Today you can find Poe’s work and influence everywhere. His detective C. Auguste Dupin, from “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, inspired future fictional detectives including a pretty famous one, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Poe is also credited with single-handedly inventing the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Mystery!

So today I think I will reread a few of his short stories and poems to celebrate his birthday, which luckily for all of us are available online in e-book form for free! Check out either Amazon or Project Gutenberg for a free download.

And if you liked to read a great fictionalized book about Mr. Poe may I recommend “The Pale Blue Eye” by Louis Bayard.

 

Aqualillies making a splash!

From some previous posts you know that I love old Hollywood, the fashions, the stars and of course the films. One of my favorite MGM film stars from the 40’s and 50’s is the beautiful and athletic Esther Williams.

Even though I can not swim a stroke, I loved watching those gorgeous women swim in unison in those dazzling costumes in beautiful Technicolor!

She might not have been the best actress in the world, but that was neither here not there, what really mattered were those big production numbers in the pool!

Today when I was searching for information on the Olympic synchronized swimming results, I came across this story from ABC news about a group of modern Hollywood women, The Aqualillies, that are keeping Esther’s film legacy alive with their pool performances.

It’s great to see that old Hollywood Glam is still alive and kicking (so to speak)!

My Mom and Joan Crawford

Cropped screenshot of Joan Crawford from the f...

In my last post I mentioned that my Mom adored movie star biographies. She really loved reading about her favorites like Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis. Being the child of older parents I probably had a larger knowledge of the old movies and the old stars than other kids my age, plus I was a bit of a shy introvert!

I remember my mom even let me purchase a large coffee style type book that was chockfull of movie stills and I would pour over that book looking at all the beautiful faces and hoping I would one day get a chance to view some of those films.You have to remember there were no vcrs or dvds back then so the only way to watch them was if they happened to come on TV or if a movie theatre might have a classic movie night and show them. Boy, this makes me sound like I lived in the horse and buggy days!!

I was lucky that a lot of these old movies were shown on TV on Saturday afternoons. My mom and I would curl up on the sofa together and watch movie after movie. We both loved musicals and comedies but we would usually watch whatever was on that particular weekend. Though she would get up and leave if one of those cheesy monster movies came on, like The Attack of the 50 foot Woman, or Godzilla 🙂

I loved spending that time with my mom. She and my pop both worked all week so it was so comforting to have her by my side. My pop would usually join us after he got finished doing his weekly yard chores and more times than not we would end up eating our dinner on TV trays while finishing the movie. Good times for sure!

My trip down memory lane was prompted by something I rediscovered the other day in a box in my closet. It’s a typed and signed letter from Joan Crawford to my mom! I bet you’re thinking that this is just a form letter. That’s exactly what I thought until I did a little research and find out the Ms. Crawford was quite a prolific letter writer.

This is an excerpt from a 1951 Cosmopolitan magazine article about Crawford

“The filing cabinet contained some fifteen hundred names of Joan Crawford letter-writing fans. No other motion picture star would have bothered to look at them, let alone file them and dote on them, but to Miss Crawford a letter writer is a jewel, a cupcake, a sister-under-the-skin, a human being whose dignity must be protected at all costs. “By heaven,” she says reverently, “if my fans can write me, I can answer ’em.” The addresses never were found, and Miss Crawford, who will go to any unreasonable length to please a fan, was compelled to labor from sheer memory to answer admirers who, after twenty years’ intimate thralldom, now neglect to set down their return addresses. The ardor of Crawford fans, a special kind of ardor possibly not equaled by any other star’s, is actually overmatched by Miss Crawford’s passion for them. This passion is both sentimental and calculating: emotionally, Joan is as responsive as a strange and grateful child at a birthday party; at the same time, she is as professionally competent as a slide rule. And there you have it. Add the red hair, the big blue eyes, and the imaginative flair, and you’ve got yourself a movie star. No actress living works harder at her job.”

The book Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters also mentions her detailed attention to answering her fan letters. She felt that if her admirers could spend time in their lives to write to her, than she would have the courtesy to write back to them. She worked very hard at being a movie star. It wasn’t a role that she took lightly. Maybe some of these so-called ‘stars’ of today could learn a thing or two from her!

I have no doubt that the letter sent to my mother back in 1951 was from Joan Crawford herself. Although she never mentioned it to me, it must have meant a great deal to my mother as she kept it among her possessions for over 50 years. I only discovered it when I was cleaning out my parents things in preparation for the sale of their house.

Maybe it was because of the circumstances that my mother found herself in back then that she neglected to show it to me. She was raising my sister alone after a divorce and she was struggling financially. It seems she had written to Ms. Crawford for advice on getting work as a script girl at a movie studio.

I only wish I had found this letter when my mom was alive so I could have asked her about it and her plans to move to California.

I’m sure glad that she didn’t end up moving out west because then there wouldn’t have been a me, as a few years later she met and married my pop! That turned out to be her happy ending.