Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hitchcock's Birthday Bash: Guest Blogger Matthew Coniam on “How the great age ended”: Hitchcock’s “Jamaica Inn”

This guest blogging post was a little more difficult to find! Because unfortunately in the few hours that I didn't check my blog e-mail it was filled with spam! I almost simply deleted the whole lot! But, decided to make a quick check if there was anything worthwhile hidden in all the junk. I found something very worthwhile!

A guest post by Matthew Coniam of Movietone News (and various other amazing blogs!) on one of my favorite Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn. I was really overjoyed to see and read it's amazingness. Because, as I told him in my reply e-mail (it's a sad day when I start quoting myself) I have been defending this film ever since I first saw it, but not being very eloquent I usually just say, "Well, I love it, because....it's amazing!" (Not the most convincing argument, to say the least!) But, here he has written a wonderful post expressing many points I didn't know how to put into words, and others that I didn't even realize! (Unquote ;-D). He also included some shots from the film and one very cool shot of him at the actual Jamaica Inn in Cornwall! And on top of all that he created a super-cool Hitchcock questionnaire! I hope you enjoy it!




“Oh Lord, we pray three, not that wrecks should happen, but that if they do happen thou wilt guide them to the coast of Cornwall…”

These words begin Jamaica Inn (1939), Hitchcock’s historical melodrama of eighteenth century Cornwall, where it was not uncommon for gangs of men to give the Lord a little help… by luring ships to the rocks, killing the sailors and looting their cargo.


Usually dismissed when not completely ignored, Jamaica Inn is my favourite under-rated Hitchcock film. Despite its lowly status it is both historically important and couldn’t be more symbolic if it tried: the last film of his British period, and, like his first American film a year later, an adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier novel. Thus Jamaica Inn and Rebecca, both untypical works, stand as book ends separating the two eras. Yet, while the latter is an acknowledged classic, the former remains little seen and unloved. (Incidentally, I do realise there are some Hitchcock fans who don’t much like Rebecca either, but as they are clearly insane we’ll pass over them in silence.)


My own feeling is that the British years represent Hitchcock at his most sustained creative peak. Many, many masterpieces were still to come, but the sheer unbroken consistency of these years of Rich and Strange, Young and Innocent, Sabotage, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Lady Vanishes and The 39 Steps was not to be repeated in later decades, where for every Notorious there was invariably a Spellbound or two in negative compensation.


And Jamaica Inn, for me, rounds off this most golden era in high style, yet critically its standing is of the very lowest. (The Medved Brothers even include it in their childish but shamefully compulsive book The Fifty Worst Movies of All Time.)


It seems to me that the simple fact that Hitchcock himself didn’t like it – due largely to his impatience, both to get to Hollywood and with his temperamental star – accounts for the greater part of its low standing. Certainly the other reasons most commonly offered are easily rebuffed:

The subject matter is not typical Hitchcock stuff, and there is no room in it for classical Hitchcockian touches. (But the former applies just as strongly to Rebecca, and the latter is not true.)

It was controlled more by the producer than by Hitchcock. (Ditto.)

It is in a genre we are not used to seeing Hitchcock tackle. (Get over it. Mr & Mrs Smith is near perfect, too.)

It’s melodramatic, over the top, artificial. (And? You say that like it’s a bad thing... And like Psycho isn’t…)


The latter objection usually condemns Charles Laughton’s extravagant lead performance to the same bonfire, but I’ve gone on record as saying that I’ve never seen this exquisite actor give a bad show, and I had not forgotten this film when I wrote that. His wicked squire, Sir Humphrey Pengallan (a character not in the book, where the villain is the local clergyman) is a masterly creation: a sort of anti-Scarlet Pimpernel, who hides a life of cunning villainy behind a veneer of foppish banality. It’s a broad performance but by no means a crude one, and we can never quite be sure what he is going to do or how he will respond to a given situation – note the scene in which one of his tenants comes to complain of a leaking roof and receives not the tyrannical outrage we expect but generosity and sympathy. Add to that the fact that the character, though duplicitous and wicked from the start, also goes slowly mad through the course of the narrative, a transition we see reflected in the growing unease of his devoted servant Chadwick, and it will be seen that Laughton, though clearly having fun with the character, is in no sense doing shoddy or unshaded work.


Among some truly inspired touches, Pengallan opting to illustrate his conception of beauty by bringing his horse into the dining room during a dinner party stands out as among the most bizarre, the sequence in which he lures Robert Newton’s undercover revenue man into a trap by pretending to be his ally, all the while leading him straight back into the lair of his foes, among the most chilling.


As in Vertigo and elsewhere, Hitchcock has fiddled with the structure of the original novel so that we know early on whom the villain is, wisely swapping one good surprise for acres of suspense. That’s certainly one characteristic touch. And those who like their Hitchcock films to reveal the psychological quirks of the man himself are directed towards the end scenes, when Pengallan, by this time completely insane, kidnaps Mary and attempts to flee the country with her, applying loving and plainly fetishistic attention to the task of binding her wrists and gagging her with a silk handkerchief.


The finale, too, is a stunner, with Pengallan climbing to the top of the ship’s crow’s nest to avoid capture and then shouting to the crowd below before plunging to his death:

“What are you all waiting for? A spectacle? You shall have it – and tell your children how the great age ended! Make way for Pengallan!”



^Charles Laughton, Leslie Banks and Emlyn Williams

The wreckers themselves are an impressively gruesome bunch, headed by that fine actor Leslie Banks as Joss (formerly on the side of the angels as the anguished father in
The Man Who Knew Too Much), and actor-author Emlyn Williams as Harry, the most sadistic of the gang. Odd, perhaps, to find Robert Newton, relatively restrained but with eyes already bulging, as the heroic Jem – those especially familiar with his work in Disney’s Treasure Island will feel especially short-changed by the casting – but Maureen O’Hara in her debut (she was Laughton’s protégée; at one point he attempted to adopt her) is beautiful and assured.


^Maureen O'Hara


Of course it helps if you love Cornwall, and its folkloric store of wreckers and smugglers, and here, though here only, I will admit to personal bias: I’m a sucker for pretty much anything set in Cornwall, and have visited the ‘real’ Jamaica Inn, that first inspired Du Maurier to write the story, virtually every year since earliest childhood (watching it get less and less atmospheric and more and more tourist-obsessed every time).



^Matthew at the real Jamaica Inn!


But there’s much more to the film than a colourful subject. The photography, sets, art direction and miniatures are wonderfully atmospheric, as is the score by Eric Fenby, (better known as the young composer, celebrated in Ken Russell’s Song of Summer, who was employed by Delius to set down the unfinished scores the blind and paralysed composer was able only to dictate). It’s one of many finishing touches contributing to the overall excellence of a fine film – and a fine Hitchcock film.


While we’re here, anyone fancy a Hitchcock mini-questionnaire?

1. What are your five favourite Hitchcock films?

2. And your three least favourite?

3. The three most under-rated…

4. … and the three most over-rated?

5. The three you’d show to someone who had never seen a Hitchcock film before?

6. Your favourite villain…

7. Your favourite hero …

8. Your favourite blonde …

9 … and your favourite score?

10. Finally, what is your single favourite scene from any Hitchcock film?


Watch Jamaica Inn at Internet Archive


Thank you ever so, Matthew for this wonderful post! I can see you put some time into it, and I really, really appreciate it!

Everyone else: I'm going to be gone camping until Sunday!!! While, I'm gone you can still send me Hitchcock posts and I will post them right after I get back!! And, Matthew...I am so going to do that Hitchcock questionnaire after I get back!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hitchcock's Birthday Bash: Guest Blogger Amanda Cooper on "Secret Agent"

Once again, I was so happy to see an e-mail in my in-box about Hitchcock! This time it came from the fantastic Amanda Cooper of A Noodle In A Haystack and Public Jitterbug #1. And I was furthermore excited to see that she had written about one of my top five British period Hitchcock's: Secret Agent. Her review is knowledgeable, enjoyable, and pretty darn thorough!

Here it is, the second real review my poor blog as ever seen: Amanda's take on Secret Agent





I sat down this evening to watch a movie directed by the ingenious Alfred Hitchcock. Out of twenty movies on four discs (respectively), only one disc would play on my computer. Luckily for me, this was the disc containing Secret Agent (1936).




The first thing that really pulled me in about this movie was (rather disturbingly) the morbid excitement that I experienced when the one-armed man used one of the candles that stood sentry about our hero's casket to light his cigarette. As for the story, I expected it to go back in time and show us how Brodie (John Gielgud), a British officer, met his demise. I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued, however, to learn that he wasn't dead at all. He had just returned to England and been given a mission: find a certain German spy and prevent said spy from completing his mission. Brodie, who has now been renamed Richard Ashenden, travels to the Hotel Excelsior in Switzerland, where the spy is stopping before moving on to Constantinople.

Once at the hotel, Ashenden discovers that he has been "assigned" a wife, Elsa (Madeleine Carroll), who is being chased by the flirtatious Mr. Marvin (Robert Young). Also pursuing Elsa, with a little more creepiness and much less charm, is a man known as the General (Peter Lorre), who is also Ashenden's assistant.

As always, Hitchcock directed with mastery and produced a film that is a fascinating portrait of four people during World War I. Two who begin to question their mission when an innocent man is killed because of them; a third who kills not only because he believes he must, but also because he takes great satisfaction from his role as assassin, and a fourth who hides his true identity behind a mask of playfulness. Each character, even the awful General and Marvin, gained a certain measure of sympathy from me as I watched, through a spellbound mist, while the plot progressed and they were all changed, or (in the case of the General) tragically unchanged, by their experiences.

Notes on the characters:

Richard Ashenden was perhaps a little too noble, which makes him all the more wonderful. After plotting with the General to kill the man they believe to be the spy, Ashenden's conscience doesn't just prick him: it stabs. The General will not be stopped, however, and kills the suspect despite Ashenden's protests. Later, they learn that Ashenden was right, and the wrong man was murdered. After receiving this news, Ashenden decides to resign: he wants nothing more to do with spying and assassinations, but when new information comes about the identity of the real German agent, Ashenden can't leave. He truly believes that he must do all that he can to prevent more lives from being lost: even though it means he will have to commit murder, but when his chance comes, he is unable to carry out his mission. He can't bring himself to kill an already dying man.

The General was insane. I knew this with certainty by the second time he appeared in the story. He was sinisterly overzealous in his duties, but I still couldn't help but feel sorry for this man. Nothing was ever said of his past, but this is what I think: he had been killing for so long, that his conscience and sense of morality (which I believe he must have had at some point) left him completely, destroying his sanity, as well. I think that my theory is proved by the General's reaction to the news that he has killed a harmless old man instead of a cold-blooded spy. He laughed, shrilly and almost hysterically. In spite of my sympathy for him, however, I find that I'm glad he didn't survive the climax. The world feels safer without him.

Elsa Carrington began her mission as a perky young woman who wanted excitement, but by the end of the film she was a more mature woman who only wanted to be safely away from the perils of war and espionage, in company, of course, with her beloved Ashenden. The scene when she comes to fully understand what Ashenden and the General have been sent to do is nothing short of heartbreaking. I don't even want to write about it, so if you want to know what happened, you'd better watch the movie. Suffice it to say that Hitchcock directed this scene in the terrifyingly exquisite way that only he could.

Robert Marvin first appeared to be a simple flirt of no real consequence, but as the story unfolded, his character took on a more important, and gradually darker role. His disguise was charming and he easily fooled the other characters. During one scene (just moments before the heartbreak I spoke of while discussing Elsa's turning point) he pretends, quite convincingly that he cannot speak German with anything akin to fluency. This, we later learn, is obviously untrue because he is a native German and the very man that Ashenden and the General having been trying to stop. One of the things that I enjoy so much about Marvin is his interest in Elsa. He truly seemed to care about her, as evidenced by the fact that when common sense must have told him to shoot her, he didn't. He put away his gun and tried to believe her when she said that she loved him. Why did he try to convince himself that she wasn't lying? Because he wanted, and maybe even needed, to believe.



Watch Secret Agent on Hulu

Thank you so much, Amanda I was really fascinated as I read!

Everyone else: guest bloggers are some of my favorite people in the world, so if you want to be able to say that you're one of my favorite people in the world...this is the easiest way! Hahaha...

Want more? Read DKoren's previous post in the series!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Photo of the Day!

An actress Hitchcock loved to work with:


Ingrid Bergman!

Of course he never did quite forgive her after she deserted his movies for Rossellini's...;-D

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hitchcock's Birthday Bash: Guest Blogger DKoren on "Malice Domestic"

As you may know, I have declared the month of August to be Hitchcock's Birthday Bash. To help me celebrate I have called out to all movie bloggers to write guest posts for my blog about anything Alfred Hitchcock.

My first guest post comes from the amazing DKoren of Sidewalk Crossings. I was really delighted when I saw this in my e-mail inbox. It's original, extremely well-written, and just all-around entertaining! She decided to write a review (the first real review my poor, little blog has ever seen) on a favorite episode of the television series: Alfred Hitchcock's Presents.
Here are DKoren's thoughts on Malice Domestic:


I've always loved Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962), especially the
half-hour eps. They're the perfect length to provide plenty of
entertainment but not take up the whole evening. The opener and closers
with Alfred Hitchcock himself introducing the episode are often quite
wacky, macabre, and sometimes, they're better than the actual episode.
He tends to mock the sponsors quite a bit, wonder how he got away with
that? Just by being Hitch? LOL! There should be a DVD of just his
bookends, only his wrap-up usually gives away the ep's twist, so I
suppose that wouldn't work without spoiling many episodes. There's a
prime example with an ep called "The Crystal Trench." The episode is
okay, but not fabulous. The bookends, particularly the closing one,
make me laugh out loud.

This series tends to suck me right in. They're usually well-written,
usually have a twist or two, and usually star more than one well-known
actor from the era. One of my most-watched episodes features one of my
favorite actors, Ralph Meeker. He's probably most famous for staring as
Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly, and as the ill-fated Corporal Paris in
Paths of Glory, though when I throw his name out, even among fans of old
movies, I often get blank looks. I find him a thoroughly intriguing
actor: good-looking, sexy, smirky, subtle, shifty, and smart. He's
scarily good at playing characters who are simultaneously sincere and
yet untrustworthy, and that makes him the perfect guest star in a show
like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, where nothing is ever quite what it
seems.

He guest starred in four episodes and has the distinction of being in
the premiere episode "Revenge." My personal favorite of his four
outings is "Malice Domestic." It's both a well-written ep, and also the
kind of episode that lets Ralph do what he does best. I know I'm a bit
biased, but I never tire of watching this ep.

There's a lot of threads woven into the tapestry of this ep. It's one
of the reasons this is one of my favorites. It's robust, packs a lot of
set up and motives into a short time. A look, a few words... these
suffice to supply the viewer with reams of background on the characters.
Ralph plays Carl, a writer stalled out on his book. His wife, Annette
(played perfectly by Phyllis Thaxter), rides him about it. She's
successful making pottery not having any trouble producing beautiful
pieces -- and distracting him from his book to have him look at what
she's made. They've just adopted a lovely Great Dane named Cassandra,
who Carl loves but Annette doesn't. Carl is a rather cheerful fellow,
his wife is a bit cold and inscrutable. She also has a minor thing
going on with another man. The tension between this married couple is
palpable, and yet they also have their tender, affectionate moments, and
it makes them real to me. There's also a doctor who takes care of Carl
when he starts suffering from terrible stomach pains, and who, after
seeing the wife out with the other man, discovers Carl is afflicted by
more than a mere virus or nervous stomach, that his problems are
actually caused by a bit of arsenic lacing his food...

I won't spoil the ending, but it's satisfying. My favorite scene is
where the doctor has just informed Carl he's been poisoned, and right
when Carl finds a container of arsenic among his wife's pottery supplies
-- she brings him a big tall glass of orange juice with a big smile on
her face. I just love his reaction. "Malice Domestic" is just one of
many entertaining episodes produced during the run of this series.

Watch Malice Domestic on Hulu

Thanks again, DKoren for this fabulous post!

And everyone else: I still want guest bloggers! Please don't feel intimidated by DKoren's amazingness! I would love anything and everything (and believe me my little blog welcomes the chance to see better writing than I've been giving it...and anything is better writing! ;-D)

Photo of the Day!



Gene Tierney looking amazing as always!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bobby and Judy sing a Medley!

I love this video and I thought I would share it!

Bobby Darin singing a medley with Judy Garland:

Photo of the Day!



Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone discussing costumes...

P.S. I can't recall where I found this one (it was several months ago)...so if I stole off your blog...terribly sorry!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Photo of the Day!

Well, for lack of absolutely any imagination:

It's James Dean Sunday again!


James dining with Ursula Andress.

And thanks to the darling Sarah for sharing the photo with me!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The party's over now...


^Joseph Cotten (or should I say...Uncle Charlie) toasting Hitchcock!

Now, tell me honestly, when you just read that title did you by any chance start singing? Don't be ashamed to admit it! I started singing...it's such a tragically sad song though...perfect to announce the end of the Hitchcock Birthday Bash!

Okay, well actually it's not over! I'm merely opening up my blog for posts on other subjects besides Hitchcock! The Hitchcock Birthday Bash is gonna keep going all month long! Hehehe, you are gonna be so sick of Hitchcock by the end of this month (as if you ever thought that was possible!). And, really I do want guest bloggers! Seriously, I really am gonna make up all those fakes bloggers, if you guys don't come to my rescue! ;-D


Anyways, I was gonna do a review on my favoritist Hitchcock ever:
Shadow Of A Doubt. But, as is typical of favorite movies, I found it difficult to explain just how amazing it is! Instead, I'm gonna link to the superb review of it, that Sarah wrote a couple months ago (okay, I just checked and it was actually way back in March...eeek! Time is going by so fast! I thought she wrote it in June!) titled: Strange Uncle, Strange Uncle...

BTW, I also thought you might like to know, that the other day my littlest brother and I were really bored so we randomly and spontaneously "wrote" a song to the music of
Strangers In The Night based on Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train. Here for the first time and for your immense enjoyment only (;-D) I have included the lyrics. Please do sing them...to the right tune of course...that is most essential!


Strangers on a train…exchanging murders.


Wondering on the train…what were the chances we’d be sharing death before the film was through.


Something in your eyes was so frightening…something in your smile was so maniacal…something in my heart told me I must flee you.


Strangers on a train…two desperate people…we were strangers on a train.


Up to that moment when we said our first hello…little did we know…death was just a glance away…a cruel and tortured mind away...and…


Ever since that ride…there’s been death between us…murderers at first sight…now hating one another…oh, it turned out so wrong…for strangers on a train…





My family is a little strange...

Anyways...um...yeah...I still WANT guest bloggers!!!!

Still Partying with Hitchcock's Mr. and Mrs. Smith!

Although, I'm afraid I've probably been partying alone...I've still been partying...all day...and all for Sir Alfred!






As, I explained in my earlier post, I've been babysitting my littlest brother. Also, my mom told me that after Suspicion...NO MORE HITCHCOCK'S FOR HIM! Of course, I still had an obligation to this blog to watch early Hollywood Hitchcock's, soooo, being the crafty and clever person I am I figured a way to please everyone (except maybe the poor people who have to read this blog). I merely showed him Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941). That way my mom's happy (no "scariness" for my little bro), my little brother's happy (he's become fascinated with Hitchcock), I'm happy (I get to continue on with my Hitchcock theme), and you lucky readers are happy (you get to read more and more of my delightful witticisms...;-D).

Mr. and Mrs. Smith is one of my all-time favorite movies! It's hilarious, well-written, well-acted, and of course well-directed. So much so, that I always get particularly annoyed when "film buffs" say rather nonchalantly, "Well, it was okaaaay, but it wasn't Hitchcock". Excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me? Who's name is that:



Poor Hitchcock really was typecast, so much that even when he makes a delightfully amazing screwball comedy, critics call it just okay (and act like they're making a concession). I've often wondered if say Hawks (one of the least type cast directors ever) made MAMS. Then, I believe it would have been called one of the great screwballs! When Hitchcock makes it...it's a disappointment...grrrr!

Anyways, I know not everyone feels that way! There are many of you out there that love this movie in all it's amazingness! So, I will stop ranting!

Haha, I adore this movie for many reasons I will list a few of them below:

1.

Carole Lombard. She is HILARIOUS in this movie. Brilliantly hilarious! BTW, I love that dress!

2.

Robert Montgomery (isn't he just adorable?). As David Smith, Robert practically steals the movie from Carole, but not quite...

3.

Carole and Robert together. She and Robert were a perfect pair, it was a pity they didn't do more together! But, tragically Carole made just one more film after this, before she died.

4.

Robert Montgomery's facial expressions. There is a select group of four or five actors, who, merely by the sight of their face, I burst out laughing. Robert is at the top the list. Seriously, he is such an expressive actor and uses his face so much! I start laughing just watching him!

5.

The cat scene. This scene is on my short list of most hilarious movie scenes ever. It's so brilliantly funny! Carole (who must continually pin her skirt, because it's bursting at the seams) is trying to get Robert to repropose to her (it's a long story), but he is not paying her any attention at all, and is instead transfixed by the fact that the cat (at the dirty restaurant they're eating at) won't eat any of the soup (he's sure that "means something"). The situation isn't helped any when the restaurant owner comes up and nonchalantly comments, "I'm unlucky with cats. It's the third one I've lost this week. *pause, while Robert stares horrified* They get run over...........I think". Gosh, I love this scene so much! It's way better than even the "little blue dress" scene!



6.

Carole and Gene Raymond getting stuck on the parachute ride thingy at the fair.


And then it starts to rain...

7.
That theme music. That song is played, hummed, whistled throughout the movie and it just perfectly sets the tempo!



BTW, My brother thoroughly enjoyed this film and said that it was (and I quote), "almost tied for first with The Lady Vanishes". And plus, he didn't mind at all that this movie ended happy...I credit that to Carole being more likable than Joan Fontaine.


Well, although this semi-semi-semi-semi-semi-review is not very good...MAMS is! If you have never seen it, then you really should just rush out and watch it!!! You will not regret it!




I'm finally done! I've been working on this post for like FOREVER, and I was almost finished when Sarah popped up to chat on AIM, well I just couldn't say no (not to Sarah). I was having so much fun that I completely forgot about my duty to Hitchcock. Unfortunately, Sarah and I did not even once mention Mr. Hitchcock, so I have no excuse! Except the we were having a very fascinating and intelligent conversation about vintageness...Sarah, even discovered that she's 5 inches taller than Davy Jones (of The Monkees)...;-D

I'm off to watch my favorite Hitchcock ever: Shadow Of A Doubt. Expect a review tomorrow! See ya'!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Photo of the Day!

The party continues!



Alfred Hitchcock and Carole Lombard on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

BTW, did you know that if you search for "Alfred Hitchcock and Carole Lombard" in the Google Images search engine the first page has three photos that link back to my blog. Also, two that link to ClassicMontgomery. The second page has a photo that links back to Lolita, and the fourth page one that links back to Sarah...we have invaded the world! ;-D

"What?!?!?! It's gonna end HAPPY?" - Watching "Suspicion" with my ten year-old brother.


^Hitchcock on the set of Suspicion.


As I promised, this blog is gonna be partying for Hitchcock all day long!

Next up, is a semi-review of Suspicion. Well, it's not really even a semi-review. It's more some observations of watching this with my youngest brother.

I was babysitting again today, while my mom was gone running errands. My other younger brother has been gone at scout camp all week, so it was just my littlest brother and me. And, I had a sworn duty to this blog to watch Hitchcock all day today, so my brother just had to tag along.

Unfortunately I had a dilly of a time (I LOVE saying that) getting my mom to agree to letting my brother watch Suspicion. She informed me that he had been stricken with nightmares all the night before, which she attributed to Hitchcock. I informed her that nobody could have a nightmare after watch The Lady Vanishes...as it was more comedy than suspense. She just wouldn't listen. Until, I went and got my brother and asked him what he had the nightmares about. Well, it turns out he had been dreaming about one of our crazier aunts...

This finally persuaded my mother...as she too has a had a nightmare or two about that aunt (her sister-in-law). But, my mom also firmly stated that after that there would be no more Hitchcock for him for a while! I had to be happy with that. And, now I have to wait for my mother to return home, before I can watch anymore Hitchcock. I suppose I could have just say, "Hey kid, go amuse yourself and don't get into any trouble"...while I retreated to my bedroom to watch more from Sir Alfred. But, I'm a better sister than that...

Anyways, we finally did get to pop in the DVD of Suspicion. I hadn't seen this movie in over a year, so I was excited.

This movie is stupendous! It has Cary Grant giving a great performance, it has a multitude of wonderful Hitchcock regulars (Dame May Whitty, Leo G. Carrol, Nigel Bruce), and it has Joan Fontaine...doing her normal role (although Joan, when she's acting, is thoroughly impossible to dislike, I have never thought her a very good actress; she always seems to be playing the same role...no matter what the movie is; Olivia on the other hand...). How's that for a run-on sentence?

However, there is that slightly awkward ending:

SPOILER ALERT!!!!

I did not tell my brother anything about this movie, before it started; except for a little back-story on a few of the actors (what he might know them from, etc). I wanted to see his reaction to the infamous ending...

It was not pretty...


^The glowing, not-poisoned milk.

He personally did not find Joan thoroughly impossible to dislike, and was actually looking forward to her death (I have such morbid relations). With the tension mounting with each minute, I noticed my brother's eyes begin to gleam rather maniacally. His eyes followed Cary up each step. And he was severely disappointed to find the milk untouched the next morning (Hitchcock probably would have liked my little brother). But, there was still one final chance!


^I just can't trust Cary when his face looks like that!

Cary could throw Joan out of the car!


^You should have seen my brother's face light up, when he saw this shot.

Unfortunately, that was also not to be. It was after Joan ran from the car and Cary began confessing his failures that it finally came through to my brother. That is when he yelled out: "What?!?!?! It's gonna end HAPPY?"

It's not so much that my brother hates Joan, or that he has a thirst for blood. It's just that he had been caught up in the tidal wave of Hitchcock genius...and was letdown by the lack-of-courage of RKO (who wouldn't let Cary Grant play a murderer).

However, when it was all said and done. He said that Suspicion was still good. And was now his second favorite Hitchcock (Behind The Lady Vanishes, which after a night's sleep and subconscious thought has replaced The 39 Steps as #1).

I have to go to work now, but when I get back...the party continues!

I STILL want guest bloggers! NO Hitchcock related writing will be turned down! Just send it to my blog e-mail!


^A Mean Cary is certainly a frightening thought!

Happy 110th Birthday to Mr. Hitchcock!

Happy Birthday to Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (August 13th, 1899 - April 29th, 1980)...the coolest and most genius person to ever be born on a Friday the 13th!


^Mr. Hitchcock enjoying a birthday martini!

Words cannot describe how amazing I think he is. He made movies that are entertaining, but also by watching and liking them, a person is considered intelligent and cultured...that's pure genius!

I know there will probably be a lot of other interesting (and better written...;-D) posts about him today, so I am just gonna share why I like him (this means sit down...'cause it gonna be a looooong read) and a few Hitchcock related thoughts.

Today (being a delightfully rainy and gray day...perfect for movie watching) I had the privilege of introducing my youngest brother (who just turned ten last week) to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. In my family (a place where Hitchcock is revered above all others), the first Hitchcock a kid sees is The Lady Vanishes. The reason is because somewhere, way back down the line of seven children, my mom got the idea that this is the least traumatizing of all Hitchcock's. I have no idea where this thought originated (perhaps it's because Dame May Whitty is smiling throughout the whole movie except of course when she is SPOILER ALERT..........completely wrapped up like a mummy and half suffocating. Hehe, Dame May is bound to look like some kid's Grandma. Now, that's not tramautizing at all! Just old Granny almost getting gunned down by the mean bad guys...) END SPOILER

Anyways, I got to introduce this film to my youngest brother, and I'm happy to say he thoroughly enjoyed it. Later, during dinner (because this is Hitchcock week...and I was babysitting) I showed him The 39 Steps. He liked that one even more, but just barely he told me. In fact, he was quite conflicted on the matter. He liked Michael Redgrave just a bit more than Robert Donat, but he informed me that The 39 Steps was a little easier to understand, so it won out.

Some of you may know, that last year I actually hosted a birthday party for Mr. Hitchcock and invited people over to view one of his films and eat chocolate chip cookies in the shape of his profile. The viewing if his film worked out and we watched Notorious, the cookies however, failed. They turned out looking like big blobs of nothingness...sad! I am hosting a second annual Birthday Party, but not until next week. One of my friends (the most vital and necessary for anything to do with AH) is out of state until then. However, I have been enjoying Hitchcock with my little brother (and by myself) all day and will continue to tomorrow. I also made a second attempt at the cookies (mere minutes ago)...but it was also unsuccessful. I'm such a failure...*tears run down my cheeks*... Well, hopefully I do better next year!


^Hitchcock finds my failure most amusing...

Last month or so, Kate (or maybe Elizabeth...or just possibly someone else) suggested that I host a blogging birthday party for Mr. Hitchcock. Maybe make it the whole month of August or something. Well, of course, whoever it was (very stupidly) left me in charge. Of course, I thought about it, got all excited, got some great ideas, and promptly unremembered it a few days later. And, didn't reremember it 'till today. Well, I would still love to host a online party for Sir Alfred! Maybe make it last until the end of the month. If you would like to join the party just visit this blog 'cause it's gonna be partying all day tomorrow (hopefully)!

Also, to make the joy last all through this month, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have some guest blogging on Alfred Hitchcock, or maybe your favorite Hitchcock film, or just anything remotely pertaining to Hitchcock. The reason I have never had any guest bloggers before, is because I've always been worried that no one would ever want to write guest post for a lowly blog like my own, but I've figured out a way to take care of that! I just write a really sad, depressing sentence proclaiming my low blog-esteem and then everyone (feeling extremely sorry for me) flocks to my blog with amazing guest posts! So how about it? Pleeeease? If no one offers to guest blog for me, then I'm afraid I will have to make up a bunch of fake Blogger accounts and make fake blogs for them and then write them all fake guest blogger posts and then post them to my blog. Now, you really don't want to see a depressing sight like that, do you?

Anyways, if you want to be stupendous and write me a post about anything: short or long, funny or serious, cool or super-cool; just send them to classicforeverblogger@yahoo.com.


^Hitchcock before his diet.


^Hitchcock after his diet.

Now, I want to share one of my favorite Hitchcock stories. It really illuminates just how brilliant he was.

This was taken from the book, Who The Devil Made It? by Peter Bogdanovich. It is an incident that Peter remembers vividly:

"Well, it was a quite shocking, I must say -- there was blood everywhere!" Alfred Hitchcock began suddenly from the rear of the elevator. We were in the New York St. Regis Hotel, heading down to the lobby. There was as light flush to his cheeks from the several frozen dauquiris he had just drunk in his suite. The elevator had just stopped and 3 people dressed for the evening had joined us, and immediately Mr.Hitchcock had started to speak, sounding as though he were in mid-sentence and projecting in that careful and familiar TV tone of his.

He went on, "There was as stream of blood coming from his ear and another from his mouth. The people had recognized him immediately, but now they seemed purposely to avoid looking at him. He went right on, gazing beatifically ahead of him as the elevator stopped again and another well-dressed couple came aboard: "Of course, there was a huge pool of blood on the floor and his clothes were spattered with it -- Oh, it was a horrible mess."

No one on the elevator, it seemed, was breathing. "Blood all around! Well, I looked at the poor man and and I said, 'Good God, What happened to you?'" At that point the elevator doors opened onto the lobby, and Hitchcock said, "Do you know what he told me?" and then paused. After a moment, and quite reluctantly, the other passengers moved out of the elevator and then looked back at the director as we walked away.

After several foggy moments, I asked, "Well, what DID he say?"and Hitchcock smiled benevolently, taking my arm, and said, "Oh, nothing -- that's just my elevator story."

Hahaha, how can anyone not love Hitchcock after hearing that story?


^Hitchcock, with wife Alma, and daughter Pat in 1939. (I actually got a letter from Pat last year it is SO cool!)

Today I started with Mr. Hitchcock's British films. I watched Jamaica Inn (I'm one of the three people who actually like and enjoy this movie) along with the other two mentioned, and I'm gonna watch Young and Innocent (I just love this movie) before I finally go to bed. I wish I could squeeze in a viewing of Secret Agent (another absolute favorite of the British period), but I'm afraid there's no time (it's already one in the morning). Tomorrow morning and afternoon (I'm babysitting again for the first half of the day) I'm gonna continue on with his early American period...haven't decided just what to watch yet...


^Hitchcock apparently trying to decide which bird is more scary. If the choice were ever put towards me, my vote goes to the seagull (and I always thought they were such happy, friendly creatures...before I watched The Birds).

Wow, really this post is getting WAY to long!!! And, I really haven't said anything about Hitchcock. Or mentioned that he's my most favorite director ever. Or analyzed any of his films. Or made a list of my favorites (impossible...I love them all). Or even mentioned my favorite: Shadow Of A Doubt. I really am a bad Birthday blogger. Well, tomorrow, I'll be doing a bit more reviewing, so you can start looking forward to that...;-D!


Ahhh, I got to get to bed and watch Y&I! I'm starting to sound even more crazed and deranged than usual!

I will end with some cool Hitchcock photos:


^He is the only one who could make this picture look so awesomely cool!


^Young Hitchcock. Only 27 years old (that makes it 1926). That's Alma right behind him.


^Hitchcock eating lamb chops.


^Hitchcock looking very bored by my very boring post!


^I've always loved this painting!



^Being Hitchcock!


And there you have it! Be sure and tune in tomorrow (well, I guess later today) for more Hitchcock! And please be a guest blogger! It's all I want for Christmas!

Thanks for reading! -Millie!

P.S. I am very tired and am not in any way responsible for what is written above!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lovely Lady of the Week: Cyd Charisse

My Lovely Lady for the week (or so) is: Cyd Charisse!



Cyd was an amazing lady. Although, sadly she is not as well known today (mainstream-wise) as many other musical stars...she certainly should be! She starred in many of the great films in the golden age of Hollywood musicals. She was a classy lady, a delightful actress, and a breathtakingly spectacular dancer.

Enjoy!











^This dress is SO amazing!




^From Silk Stockings














^Held the Guinness World Record for Most Valuable Legs (were insured for $1,000,000).











Speaking of her two most famous dancing partners:

"If I was black and blue, it was Gene. And if it was Fred, I didn't have a scratch."

"I'd say they were the two greatest dancing personalities who were ever on the screen. Each has a distinctive style. Each is a joy to work with. But it's like comparing apples and oranges. They're both delicious."











Favorite Cyd Films:

Bandwagon
Silk Stockings
On An Island With You
Brigadoon
(And of course her specialty numbers in Singin' In The Rain and An American In Paris)

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