Jun 14, 2011
Friends, the cliffhanger is over -- my second-hand Allen Edmonds shoes arrived yesterday afternoon and I love them.
I've already worn them to walk the dogs and they are as comfortable as can be. I don't know if this is because they've already been broken in by someone else, or because the fit is so good, but I know I'm going to be getting a lot of use out of them. I even invested in a pair of cedar shoe trees, which, unfortunately, cost about half as much as the shoes, but what are you going to do?
I haven't talked about sewing projects in a while but I did want to share with you some fabric I recently purchased, a summery, lavender, slightly transparent cotton (voile? I'm not sure -- I'm still waiting for my Claire Shaeffer fabric book to arrive), that I plan to use soon to make a shirt for myself.
I've been getting a tremendous amount of wear out of my summer shirts given that the weather here has been extremely hot (though it's cooler today). I've been meaning to write a post about which completed sewing projects I wear most frequently. I do wear nearly everything I sew, and as old RTW clothes wear out, they get replaced with something I make. Speaking of which, I need a pair of linen pants, both long and short, and I've been toying with the idea of an unlined seersucker blazer.
With the stresses of my mother's operation and hospital visits and all that, I've been self-medicating in the best way I know how: by watching bad old movies on DVD from the library. These are not movies I share with Michael -- he'd never sit through them. These are titles so obscure, so dated and so yawn-inducing, that only a true old movie connoisseur can appreciate them. Oddly, the library is full of them.
I'd like to share a few with you today.
If you've never seen a Sonja Henie ice skating musical you really must. Norwegian Sonja was a three-time Olympic gold medal figure skating champion in the 1920's and 30's and landed a long-term contract with 20th Century Fox, who produced a string of skating musicals to showcase her talents. Unlike Sonja's swimming equivalent at MGM, Esther Williams, Sonja wasn't gorgeous, couldn't act, and often sounds like she learned her English lines phonetically. Her figure skating technique, involving lots running on tip-toe across the ice, looks clutzy today, unlike Esther's classic backstroke.
One of Henie's last films was It's a Pleasure, her sole technicolor effort. A dreary melodrama with a few skating numbers interspersed, it does boast some stunning Forties clothes, mainly worn by starlet Marie McDonald, who'd been famously dubbed "The Body." How flattering.
Watch at your own risk.
I thought I'd died and gone to hell when I started watching the Joseph E. Levine production of Harlow starring Carroll Baker. This movie -- one of two trashy Harlow biopics released in 1965 -- is a two-hour travesty, telling a completely fictionalized, sexed-up account of Thirties platinum blonde superstar Jean Harlow's life. Splashy and over-produced, with a bossa nova-infused Neal Hefti (of Batman theme song fame) score that sounds nothing like the 1930s, Harlow gets it all wrong: the story, the interiors, the hairstyles, the cause of death, you name it.
With one or two exceptions, all the characters have fake names, as does the studio where she works. (Fear of lawsuits?) See it for the Edith Head costumes that evoke Ginger on Gilligan's Island (where they probably ended up) more than Jean Harlow.
I got through about five days' worth of Michael's Todd's Around the World in Eighty Days, which I remember seeing in re-release as a child. This movie is a widescreen bore with Shirley Maclaine woefully miscast as an Indian princess supposedly educated in England, though her English accent is straight out of a community theater production of My Fair Lady.
Best enjoyed before bedtime, one day at a time.
Finally, there's A Date with Judy.
If you've ever seen clips of Jane Powell singing It's a Most Unusual Day, this is the movie where she sings it. How much you enjoy this film depends on how you feel about sassy, spiritual-singing black maids and Carmen Miranda doing whatever you call what she did. Carmen was a big hit here in the early Forties, but my understanding is that many Brazilians of that era were highly offended by her clowning. Is it wrong to admit I always found her fun?
See A Date With Judy for the lavish color and lovely Helen Rose costumes and for the young Elizabeth Taylor, who can only be described as ravishing in it. When you see her, you get what all the fuss was about.
Friends, we're out of time and I must away. Have you seen any of the aforementioned turkeys and did they come with cranberry sauce?
What do we do with films that perpetuate ugly racial and cultural stereotypes yet still have -- arguably -- redeeming qualities? I'm not sure, but I think at least a warning label is called for.
Have a great day, everybody -- or at least a most unusual one! (click twice to see full screen)