Monday, July 11, 2016

100 Days of Old Movies: Instalment 8 (70 – 80)

Here's instalment 8 of my 100 Days of Old Movies. The finish line is drawing ever nearer!

70, 71 & 72: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

You're not doing it to soften the blow, nor to save my face?

The Philadelphia Story is a definite classic, and was remade in the 50s as the Cole Porter musical High Society with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. In the original, however, we have Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and James Stewart. 
Society girl Hepburn is getting married, and some reporters have come down to cover the wedding (James Stewart and a female photographer). Keeping the reports to what the family wants to convey proves tricky, however, what with Hepburn's ex husband (Cary Grant) wandering in and out, and her womanising father turning up unexpectedly. By the end of the film, Hepburn has three men to choose from - her fiance, her ex husband, or the reporter. Two of them worship her, but does she really want to be worshipped?

More under the cut:

73 & 74: Neptune's Daughter (1949)

But baby it's cold outside!

Let's have some skimpy costumes for an Esther Williams aquatic musical! In Neptune's Daughter Esther Williams plays a champion swimmer who now designs swimming costumes in a company she and Keenan Wynne own. She has a dizzy, man-crazy sister (Betty Garrett), and when she hears that Betty is smitten with the captain of the South American polo team (Ricardo Montalban) she sets about to separate them. Ricardo has never met Betty (unknown to everyone, Betty thinks Red Skelton, the polo club's chiropractor, is Ricardo) but goes along with this so that he can get to know Esther. It is in no way a sensible movie, with a very thin plot and a lot of slapstick comedy, with some musical numbers from Xavier Cugat's band. 

75 & 76: Ball of Fire (1941)

Take it off the E-string, play it on the G-string

Ball of Fire is a fun movie. Gary Cooper is a linguistics professor who lives with a bunch of other professors, basically never venturing outside into the real world. He's been writing a book on slang, but realises, to his horror, that everything he has included in Victorian. He heads out to a nightclub to pick up some new phrases, and sees Sugarpuss O'Shea (Barbara Stanwyck) singing a song full of new words. He asks her if she will come and explain some slang for the professors, but she brushes him off, until she learns that her gangster boyfriend is in trouble, and she'd better make herself scarce. She descends on the professors and refuses to budge, causing much confusion for our poor hero, who finds her uncomfortably distracting. 

77 & 78: La Belle et la Bête (1946)

Ma Belle, vous être ma femme?

I don't watch a lot of foreign language films, simply because I tend to draw while working and I don't get much done if I have to rely on the subtitles. But Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête is so totally gorgeous it has to be included in this lineup (plus the French is slow enough and simple enough for me to not have to actually rely 100% on the subs with my schoolgirl French). If you like fairytales, you should definitely try to see this, it's a feast for the eyes. 

Josette Day is Belle, a beautiful girl whose family has fallen on hard times. While her sisters pretend that life goes on as normal, and her brother gets into trouble, she stays home to work, while being pestered by her brother's handsome friend Avenant (Jean Marais). When her father hears that he may be able to recover some of his money, Belle asks him to bring her back a rose, feeling that the expensive gifts her sisters have asked for are already too much. There is no money, but on his way home their father stumbles upon a mysterious castle. He is given a meal, and as he is leaving, plucks a rose from the garden for Belle, so that he doesn't have to return empty-handed. At once a beast (also Jean Marais) appears, angry at the theft of the rose, and demands that Belle return to stay with him, or else the father will be killed. Belle of course heads off to the castle, where every night the beast asks her to marry him, and strange things happen. 

79 & 80: The Bamboo Blonde (1946)

I'm out of place in a kitchen
I can't tell me hand from my glove
but out on a park bench
I'm in there pitchin'
I'm good for nothin' but love

The Bamboo Blonde is a cute B-movie - a vehicle for Frances Langford, with bit-player Russell Wade opposite her. Frances works in a nightclub that has been blacklisted by the armed services, so business is bad. They are almost off the blacklist when in walks an airforce captain (Wade) who has been sent there by his new crew, who want to get rid of him. Frances hides him, and when she hears how lonely he is (he's also been deserted by his fiancee) she takes him to dinner. Thinking he's a farm boy (not surprising, he's not the best actor) she loads him up with presents and sees him off. He takes a photo of her before they say goodbye, and his crew, walking in, think she is his girlfriend and are very impressed. They have bad luck on their missions until (as a gesture of good-will, as they think, to their captain) they find the photo of Frances and paint her on the side of their plane, calling it 'The Bamboo Blonde' - the sudden turnaround in their luck makes headlines and Frances' boss uses the notoriety to build up his nightclub, and things look good. But then the plane is retired to be used in a war bond tour. Neither Frances nor Wade are happy about this. The world thinks they're an item, and they don't even know each other's names. The army has set up a big reunion for them (awkward) which is gatecrashed by nasty fiancee, who has never written to Wade but has changed her tune now that he's a hero...

Sorry, no trailer available for this on youtube!

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