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Mar 19, 2020

Let's Go to the Movies!


Friends, I don't have anything sewing-related I want to share today so let's talk old movies.

I have been a movie buff since I was a kid and I continue to be one, though my tastes have evolved over the decades.

There's a lot of be critical of when it comes to old Hollywood, most specifically the way they presented racial and ethnic minorities when they bothered to present them at all.  The way they depicted the relationships between the sexes was often cringe-worthy.  To say the movies reflected their times sounds like a cop-out.  They both reflected and reinforced these attitudes which today are considered (by most but sadly not all) offensive.

All that said, there's still a lot to admire about a great many old films, particularly the skills on display in everything from cinematography to scoring to costume design.  And then there are the old stars whose charisma and artistry keeps them famous to this day.

Most of us are familiar with the great classics; the four films below are what might be regarded as second tier, not because they are less entertaining or low budget (they aren't) but because they're lesser known.  Perhaps that's why they seem fresher to me.

These films are all hosted on the site OK.ru, which is like the Russian Facebook or YouTube.  The links are provided, you just have to supersize the viewer screen as you do on YouTube.  American copyright laws seem not to be enforced there and that's fine by me. None of the people involved in making these films would benefit even if they were.

If you watch any or all of these films, I'd love to hear what you think of them!


The Gilded Lily (Paramount, 1935)  Costumes by Travis Banton.

Claudette Colbert was one of the most delightful light comediennes of the 1930's and 40's, and some of her best performances were opposite the underrated Fred MacMurray (this is one of his earliest films).   The Gilded Lily is relatively obscure, overshadowed by the classic It Happened One Night of the previous year.  I find it charming: extremely romantic and earthy in a way that Depression-era films often were.  It includes some wonderful background footage of mid-Thirties New York City though it was filmed entirely in Hollywood.  The Travis Banton costumes are beautiful and Colbert wears them to perfection.  Great screen chemistry between the leads and there's one hilarious musical number: Colbert could also sing.

Watch it here.


Two Girls on Broadway (MGM, 1940)  Costumes by Dolly Tree

Lana Turner isn't everybody's cup of tea.  She's often dismissed as a wholly "manufactured" star who wasn't particularly talented.  But before all of the scandals, shellacked hairdos and Jean Louis wardrobes, when she was just getting started, she proved she could handle anything, including this somewhat hokey quasi-musical in which she dances up a storm.  At just 19, she is already a pro (and stunning).  This is a very different Lana than you'd expect if you've only seen her late-career melodramas like Peyton Place or Madame X.

Watch it here.


Road House (Twentieth Century Fox,1948)  Costumes by Kay Nelson 

Ida Lupino rarely got the top-notch roles that dramatic actresses like Bette Davis or Joan Crawford did, but she was tremendously talented (and not only as an actress but also as a director).  Even though she was British (from a family of stage performers), she was utterly believable as a tough American girl treated badly by men, which was the the role she most often played.  Road House has everything: hunky men, sexual tension, great film noir atmosphere, and some classic songs sung in Ida's vodka voice.  I could watch this one again and again and have.

Watch it here.


The Pajama Game (Warner Brothers, 1957) Costumes by William & Jean Eckart

What can you say about Doris Day that hasn't been said already?  She could do it all: drama, musicals, light comedy, even Hitchcock.  She was always committed, always gave it her all.  The Pajama Game is one of the best screen adaptations of a Broadway musical ever: they get everything right. Though she's the only lead not from the original Broadway cast, Doris fits in perfectly.  As a bonus, this film features a LOT of sewing machines!

Watch it here.

Readers, I hope these help to keep you smiling during these trying times.

Enjoy!

34 comments:

  1. Thanks Peter! You are an amazing source for so many things! You were my introduction into bloggers for adult (as opposed to little kid and baby) fashion sewing. Your blog roll was my springboard, still is sometimes, thanks for that too!

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    1. Thank you so much, Barbara. That's lovely to hear.

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    2. Thank you Peter Lappin. You inspire me. I am making your camp shirt and am having a great time. My other passion is old movies! Please Stay Safe and Keep Blogging !

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  2. Peter! Thank you SO MUCH for posting the links to be able to see the movies! I'm a lover of old movies, TCM was on heavy rotation until it was made part of a separate viewing package. The cable company I subscribe to already charges TWO arms and TWO legs for their service, so paying more for something that was previously included wasn't of interest.

    These particular movies I haven't seen, so I'm looking forward to settling down with beverages and snacks and feasting my eyes. When I've seen them, I'll head back and post my thoughts. Again, thanks so much. You've made my day!

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    1. Actually, if you search almost any old movie title on Google and add "OK RU" you are likely to find a posting of it. It's been a fantastic resource for me as I don't subscribe to any streaming services at all.

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  3. Peter, did you see the recent re-make of "Rebecca" on PBS? The setting was done in aprox. 1930 & of course done as only the English can do it with Dianna Rigg as Mrs. Danvers...

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  4. My favorite Doris Day movie is also a Hitchcock movie -The Man Who Knew Too Much, And she sang/screamed Que Sera Sera in it. I love it the first time I saw it (quite young) and I still love it today.

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  5. Thanks Peter! I've been looking thru my pattern library trying to decide what project is next! You are a bright spot in our day!! --Erik in NW Ohio

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  6. As a child I loved watching films. Doris Day a particular favourite as she just didn't care (or seem to) about how silly she looked when she was in a huff (Move over Darling). Cary Grant is another. My Singer 66K treadle is named Jeanette MacDonald because she was "calling mee ee ee eeee ee eee eeeeeee!" LOL! In the evenings and husband has turned in, I get to see these old films whenever I can. Danny Kaye - now what happened to those films - we need a laugh now and again! Especially with Mildred Natwick. Oh and then the lovely Leslie Nielsen in The Forbidden Planet - then with Debbie Reynolds, Tammy. All great films and so many to choose from. Oh well I think I know what I'm trying to source later! Thank you. :D

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    1. "The Court Jester" with Danny Kaye (and Mildred Natwick) is one of my favorities--hilarious!

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    2. The pellet with the poison's in the chalice from the palace. The vessel with the pestle is the brew that is true! Lol! And back to front and then the flacon with the dragon - oh that is well embedded! I miss those!

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    3. For your viewing enjoyment:

      https://ok.ru/video/397202754190

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    4. Squeeeeeeeeeeeak! Thank you! That's earmarked for later when my husband turns in for the night - good job he's a lark and I'm an owl! Oh I am so excited! Brilliant!

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    5. Did enjoy! So much I had forgotten. I think the last time I was watching it with my brother, some 50 years ago! I hasten to add the film is older than me! LOL!

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    6. It's one of the funniest films ever imo.

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  7. IDA!!! That voice!

    Joan took "Flamingo Road" from Ida.

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  8. I watched "Bringing Up Baby" with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn today. Hilarious. Thanks for all these suggestions!!

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  9. On a side note vis a vis Doris Day. Her personal items and wardrobe are being auctioned off in early April via Julien's auction house in Beverly Hills.Lots of clothes and viewable online at their website.The proceeds from the sale go to her animal foundation.

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    1. Yes, I read about that. I'd love to own one of her capes!

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  10. I love Barbara Stanwyck! She had great style. My favorite is the Lady Eve, of course. But Stella Dallas, too. Ida Lupino also radiated that "don't mess with me" vibe while dressed divinely. Speaking of costumes, I just saw Emma with my apple tv and highly recommend for its costumes. The sleeves alone are poetry. My family was annoyed by my gasps of delight at and commentary on, um, sleeves. :) I have seen all of these except the Gilded Lily. So that will be on the agenda tonight. Thanks, Peter!

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    1. Vertigo!

      https://ok.ru/video/264611695267

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    2. Barbara Bel Geddes breaks my heart in that one.

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    3. I find her character so masochistic as to be unwatchable.

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  11. Thanks so much Peter! My husband and I had a lovely weekend viewing these 4 films, none of which we’d seen before. Such fun.

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  12. i'd never heard of it before now, but wow, Road House was such a delight -- if that bar (and bowling alley!) was in my neighborhood, i'd be there every night. looking forward to watching the rest of these. that russian site is AMAZING.

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    1. Yes, that bowling alley/bar is fantastic -- so glad you enjoyed the movie!

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    2. i watched "Gilded Lily" last night -- Fred MacMurray was such a charmer when he was so young. and omg the fashion in that movie! amazing.

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    3. That was his first starring role I believe. They have great rapport.

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