Friday, December 24, 2010

Zenyatta in A Winter Wonder Land

Here is a very lovely film for Christmas.  Click here to view the full aspect video at YouTube (and see other nice Bloodhorse videos.) Almost everyone's favorite thoroughbred mare enjoys a snowy turnout her retirement at Lands End Farm on December 20, 2010.   She is very well behaved and affectionate and certainly very beloved.    I wish Goldikova was getting as much attention too! Three time Breeders Cup Mile Winner!!   But enjoy this happy winter scene and keep the music at a low volume, it's lovelier that way.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spam-Ku and the "Mysterious Porcine Muse"

Who would have though that the canned mystery meat would spawn so much  verse
Because it's so easy!  

Uniform pink meat
Salty and gelatinous
What did it come from?

 + + + + + +
Odd and ends of ham
Collected by the packer
Too damned expensive!

+ + + + + +

Spam fried in hot bacon fat
Pumpernickel and mustard
Served with a pickle!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman on TCM November 4, 2010

"Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight." (Rossiter Worthington Raymond)

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman is on TCM November 4, 2010 at 10:PM Eastern time.

With James Mason and Ava Gardner. Mason is the mysterious, brooding, oh so handsome Captain van der Zee and Gardner is Pandora, headstrong beauty. It's slightly uneven, but a gorgoeous and compelling combination of supernatural and romance. Beautiful people and scenery, beautifully filmed.

I'd throw away the world for Hendrick too! No one does mysterious romance better than James Mason.

Although this has been a favorite film since childhood, I have only seen this in rather muddy color, hopefully tonight's film will have improved color.

In the film, Hendrick quotes some lines from the poem "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold.  The entire poem is here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Answers to Amanda's Cinema Survey

My Answers to Amanda's Cinema Survey

1. What is your favorite movie starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, excluding all of The Thin Man films?  LOVE CRAZY

2. Name a screen team that appeared in only one film together but are still noteworthy for how well they complimented each other.
I think these people appeared together only once: Dana Andrews and Susan Hayward in "My Foolish Heart". Eleanor Parker and Dennis Morgan in "The Very thought of You"

3. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' best film together?
(My personal favorite because it also has Randolph Scott and Harriet Hilliard who sings some wonderful songs.)

4. Your favorite actor named "Robert"?
ROBERT RYAN . Great actor, great hunk.

5. An actor/actress who, when you see one of their movies, you always wish that someone else was in his/her role?
LUCILLE BALL in most movies. (I don’t like “I Love Lucy” either, what an annoying character! I really admire Lucille Ball’s great business sense, she was a consummate professional.  But I never feel like watching a film if she's the star.
Most of SPENCER TRACY’S later movies. He was usually too old for the parts and obviously cast for box office reasons.  (ie, Sea of Grass - and he could not even ride a horse!)
GARY COOPER dramas. He was OK in comedy, but too stiff for drama. He was awful in The Fountainhead (and he knew it). The lusty bits in Fountainhead are quite good of course.

6. An actor/actress that someone close to you really loves that you can't stand or vice versa?
My mother thought Harrison Ford is a good actor, I think he has the talent of a fence post. Ironically, I brought him to her attention by saying I thought he had an interesting face.

7. An actor/actress that you both agree on completely?
We agreed that James Mason was a great actor and a fine figure of male pulchritude. We agreed on most movie things.

8. Complete this sentence: Virginia O'Brien is to Ethel Merman as...
As Buster Keaton is to Joe E Brown.

9. What is your favorite film starring Ray Milland?

10. You had to have seen this one coming: what is your favorite movie of the 1960s?
COMEDY OF TERROR with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff.

11. An actor/actress that you would take out of one film and put into a different movie that was released the same year?
Take Allan Jones out of "Everybody Sing" which is OK, but Jones deserved to be in a better film: "Girl of the Golden West".  Nelson Eddy was too tall, fair and Anglo Saxon to play Rodriguez, although of course Eddy's voice was fine. Allan Jones was Jeanette MacDonalds choice for the film and would have been a
better fit. Besides, I like Allan Jones a lot and wish he'd made more films with Jeanette.  That leaves Nelson Eddy without a property, which is unfair.

Removce Cary Grant from  Arsenic and Old Lace - he can be in anything else as long as it's not A&OL. He was awful in that. Grant said Capra made him mug it up in the movie, he hated his performance.

12. Who was your favorite of Robert Montgomery's leading ladies?
Ann Harding and Myrna Loy in "When Ladies Meet"

13. You think it would have been a disaster if what movie starred the actor/actress who was originally asked to star in it?
WIZARD OF OZ. Shirley Temple was considered to star. They realized the songs were beyond her abilities and needed a stronger singer, so went with Judy Garland. If they had stuck with Temple, maybe they would have tailored the songs to her range and abilities and it would have been a completely different movie, which is unthinkable.

13 Alternate : What movie would be great if the actor/actress originally asked had appeared in it?
Dan Dailey was oroginally cast as the gunslinger in Blazing Saddles. He was enthusiastic had to back out due to bad eyesight. John Wayne was offered the role. He loved the script and would have liked to do it, but he said his public would not understand. Gene Wilder got the part. So instead of an actor
parodying himself, you get a nebbish jewish guy who can't ride.

14. An actor/actress who you will watch in any or almost any movie?

15. Your favorite Leslie Howard film and role?
Tom in THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. I also like The Scarlet Pimpernel, and preferred Ashley to Rhett.
There are some films I have not yet seen, so there may be another favorite.

16. You have been asked to host a marathon of four Barbara Stanwyck films. Which ones do you choose?
MIRACLE WOMAN, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW, THE LADY EVE (I think that well illustrates her fabulous range.) Actually, due to the popularity of the marathon, it should be extended  another day with these films:  MY REPUTATION, CLASH BY NIGHT, STELLA DALLAS. Because once you see a few Stanwyck films, you want to see more.

17. What is, in your mind, the nearest to perfect comedy you have ever seen? Why?
KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS. Every line is pithy. It just works. This movie gets a lot of attention because of Alec Guiness' multiple roles, but the script  and ensemble is great.

18. You will brook no criticism of what film?
I don't worry about that. Everyone has their hits and misses according to personal taste.

19. Who is your favorite Irish actress?

20. Your favorite 1940s movie starring Ginger Rogers? 

21. Do you enjoy silent movies?
Very Much! Especially the long German sagas like THE INDIAN TOMB and SPIES.

22. What is your favorite Bette Davis film?
LITTLE FOXES came first to mind, Davis  was a great actress and it's hard to choose just one.
23. Your favorite onscreen Hollywood couple?
JACK CARSON and JANE WYMAN. They always conveyed fun loving lust.

Memo: Why just couples? How about pairs? Like Ronald Reagan and Wayne Morris in their comedies. Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins!

24. This one is for the girls, but, of course, the guys are welcome to answer, too: who is your favorite Hollywood costume designer?

25. To even things out a bit, here's something the boys will enjoy: what is your favorite tough action film?

26. You are currently gaining a greater appreciation for which actor(s)/actress(es)?
JEAN ARTHUR. Her voice is incredibly annoying to me. I've gotten used to her voice so I can appreciate her talent.  Same thing with Glynis Johns - something about her voice grates on me, but she is great.

27. Franchot Tone: yes or no?  YES!

28. Which actors and/or actresses do you think are underrated?
BASIL RATHBONE: People mostly think of him as Sherlock Holmes but he was extremely versatile and could play anything.
LIONEL BARRYMORE: People remember Barrymore as the crochety old character actor in a wheelchair. They need to see him in more films before he was crippled when he could do so much more.
HEDY LAMARR : she was so beautiful, she didn't always get a chance to play interesting characters. When she had a chance to do something unusual, like The Strange Woman, or a nice natural woman like HM Pulham Esq. She was also excellent in comedies.
TYRONE POWER: Like Hedy, he was so handsome he was stuck Swashing on film, but found an outlet on the stage. Also his career was interupted by WW2. He was from a distinguished acting family, was well read and anxious to play unusual roles. Check him out in NIGHTMARE ALLEY.
RONALD REAGAN: It's fashionable to dismiss Ronald Reagan's film career. Because they don't like his politics, people believe he was a mediocre actor yet have not actually seen his films. This is unfair. He was natural and earnest and very good in light comedies.  Bedtime for Bonzo isn't as bad as they claim - it's cute and lightweight.

29. Which actors and/or actresses do you think are overrated?

30. Favorite actor? I like too many to nail down just one person. I'll answer with a twist. My favorite German /Austrian actors are Conrad Veidt, Wolfgang Preiss and Bruno Ganz

31. Favorite actress?  My favorite French actress is Isabelle Hupert

32. Of those listed, who is the coolest: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, or Patrick Stewart? I'm not sure what the definition of cool is but I like Patrick Stewart best of this list.

33. What is your favorite movie from each of these genres:

Swashbuckler: THE SEA HAWK
Musical: MAYTIME

UPDATE:  hmmm...I'm not sure Maytime is quite a musical, it's a melodrama about opera singers plying their trade.  So I'll suggest one of my 50's favorites "THE PAJAMA GAME". It also features much of the original broadway cast which is a great bonus.

ANOTHER UPDATE:  Segue on Question #13.  I recently read that there were plans in 1977 to remake "Dodsworth"  starring  Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.  Thank goodness *that* never happened!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lieutenant-Commander Tony Bentley-Buckle Obituary

Lieutenant-Commander Tony Bentley-Buckle, who has died aged 88, spent the last 18 months of the Second World War as a prisoner-of-war in Germany, when he and his fellow inmates of Marlag-O, a PoW camp for naval officers in northern Germany, built a man-sized dummy called “Albert RN”.
--From the Telegraph, September 5 2010

This gentleman sounds like a character from a Nevil Shute novel!

Obituary Elizabeth Jenkins 1905-2010

"Elizabeth Jenkins, who died on Sunday aged 104, was a sensitive and perceptive novelist and biographer; having been introduced to the Bloomsbury Group in the 1920s, she soon turned her back on Virginia Woolf, whom she found “appalling”, to achieve success in her own right. " From the Telegraph, September 6 2010
Obituary from The Guardian
Obituary from the Independent

Find Elizabeth Jenkin's books

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hope Bourne, Fascinating Woman, Dead at 91

"Hope Bourne, who died on August 22 aged 91, was an author who celebrated life on Exmoor, where she lived for more than 60 years; her knowledge of this beautiful corner of England – of its flora and fauna and its traditional communities – was encyclopedic, and was gained by submission to a lifestyle which few in the 20th century would have dared even to contemplate." From the London Telegraph August 27 2010

Read her obituary here...         Find her books here...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lou Lumenick on TCM October 20, 2010

Lou Lumenick will be an on air guest programmer on TCM in October 2010. Follow this link for details to a versatile lineup of films such as All Through the Night,  (have cheesecake on hand), The Last Flight, Ride Lonesome and Park Row.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quail Hunt !

Not for the squeamish or uptight vegetarians.

A recent evening at dusk, my cat Quilty brought a freshly killed quail. I call her Quilty because of her patchwork coloring. She is small and dainty, and a good hunter.  There is a steady population of about 30 quail at our place, so their reproduction keeps up with the predators.

I picked it up and yanked a few feathers...they came out readily. In a few seconds, the entire bird was plucked, so I decided to eat it myself.. Sorry Quilty, eat your dry food!

Then I cut off the head and hung it in the sink to drain the blood

… plucked the pin feathers and cut off the wing tips

Next I gutted the little birdy and rinsed it well. The crop contents are in the upper left: green rye grass grains. Note the little birdy's head and new feather crest! It was a youngster.

I rinsed the body well, patted it dry and sprinkled it with salt, pepper and olive oil. I put a little sprig of rosemary, a bit of garlic and a piece of bay leaf in the cavity. When I went back outside, Quilty was meowing over the pile of pulled feathers.  Maybe she'd  wanted it all for herself.  The next day, I wrapped it in bacon secured with toothpicks and roasted it. It was a bit tough and very tasty.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ann Harding

Laura's Miscellaneous Musings has a nice post today about a new bio of Ann Harding, one of my favourite actresses and a great beauty.  I'm not stealing Laura's thunder, so before you follow this link to Laura's post please look at these beautiful pictures of Ann Harding. Click to enlarge. Enjoy.

Another lovely photo.  I think this is from Double Harness

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Four Word Film Review

Four Word Film Review is a great site for those who love movies and puns.
Here are some great examples from various genre.  I  picked examples of my personal favourites.  I haven't posted any reviews myself, because I can't top any FWFR's already posted! Has anyone posted one? Any personal favourites?


Dumbo (1941)
Elephant gets ear-borne.
Large-lobed elephant becomes ear-odynamic.

National Velvet (1944)
Young Liz - Aintree sweet?
Pie-eyed jockey wins National.

The Yearling (1946)
Jody's deer, oh dear!
Boy fawns over deer.


Now, Voyager (1942)
Charlotte lights Jerry's fire.
Repressed voyager escapes dowager.
Fat, myopic heiress transformed.
No moon, just stars.

The Sheik (1921)
Hostage gets just deserts.
Valentino: chic sleek sheik.


DOA (1950)
Poisoned man's frantic search.
Murder victim speaks out!

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Hayden's big, hard Dix.
John Huston's mean streets.


The Red Shoes (1947)
Corpse de ballet
Dancing for Shearer joy.

Beauty and the Beast (1946)
Will Belle Marais Beast?
Cocteau concocts cross-species courtship.


Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Hunchback struck by belle.
Laughton changes church oil.

A Tale of Two Cities (1935)
Selfless Sid thinks ahead.
Sidney substitutes. Sacrifice successful


Streetcar Named Desire (1950)
Blanche seeks/enters asylum.
Scandal plagued belle disintegrates.
Louisiana family, emotional gumbo.

Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Shrew tamed with showtunes!
Porter brushes up Shakespeare.


Richard III (1955)
Olivier plays a hunch.

Hamlet (1948)
Olivier ennobles flakey Danish.
Freudian Prince ponders vengeance.


Stella Dallas (1937)
Stanwyck's STELLAr Role!


Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Mortimer's aunts, mortifying hobby
Sweet, old serial killers.

Twentieth Century (1934)
Tyrant Barrymore bamboozles bombshell.


Mildred Pierce (1945)
Restauranteur's daughter needs spanking.

Grand Hotel (1932)
Hotel reveals Grand stories.
Despair, tragedy, art-deco style.


Ben Hur (1959)
Ben Hurries to finish.
Jesus undoes Messala's work.
Jew overcomes race discrimination.

Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
Statuesque Martian seeks congress.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Pacifist alien targets Washington.
Behave, for Gort's sake!


The Wicker Man(1973)
Island living means sacrifices...
Dirty Rattan Scoundrels.
Wierd Wiccans roast pig.

The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)
Monster bitch with stitches.
Resurrected, engaged, rejected, enraged.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Romantic Movies for Valentine's Day

Lists of romantic movies abound, but they are not films that come to my mind when I think "hmmm, really romantic movie."
I have no way of knowing how these appeal to both sexes. I can't remember any romantic film that my husband liked. His favorite movie was "Thunder Road". I know that my father especially liked "Miracle in the Rain" and "Brief Encounter".
The other thing about this list is that the movies are all b/w except for "A Matter of Life and Death" and "Sweethearts" and they were all made in the 30's - 50's. To me a "newer" movie was made after 1960. I simply prefer the older films and if there is a great english language romance made after 1960, I probably haven't seen it or did not like it.
The fact that most of these movies represent romance which is mostly tragic and yearning will not be lost on an attentive reader. Mulitple hankies are required when viewing these movies.  The links of the film titles will lead you to articles at

In no specific order:

Miracle in the Rain (1956)
Ruth (Jane Wyman) lives alone with her mother, who is a mental case since her husband abandoned the family many years before. Art (Van Johnson), is a very nice soldier who meets her one day in the rain and strikes up a friendship. His manly good cheer is a ray of sunshine to lonely woman devoted to work and  taking care of a heartbroken, neurotic manhater. Tragedy strikes and Ruth's despair and loneliness almost kill her. Both Johnson and Wyman were really a bit old for the parts, but they carry it off so nicely and the story is so lovely, you don't really mind. The 1943 novel and screenplay were written by Ben Hecht who apparently could master any genre.

Brief Encounter (1946)
Directed by David Lean, set in gritty, rationed post WWII England, two middle class married people meet by chance at a train station and fall madly in love. Do they give in to their passion or do the right thing by their families?   With Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto to set the mood.  Another Lean movie which I like just as much as Brief Encounter is The Passionate Friends, also starring Trevor Howard, with Anne Todd and Claude Rains who is really brilliant.

Now, Voyager (1943)
Obviously no plot description is necessary for this classic of a spinster who becomes a swan. Gladys Cooper is one of the great movie mothers from hell. (I saw Cooper in another movie where she was a kind and gentle lady and did not recognize her for some time.) The movie is very faithful to the novel of the same name by Olive Higgins Prouty who also wrote Stella Dallas. ("Now, Voyager" is the third novel of five describing the saga of the Vale family: "White Fawn", "Lisa Vale", Now, Voyager", "Home Port" and "Fabia")

History is Made at Night (1937)
With Jean Peters and Charles Boyer.  A woman escaping from her husband is inadvertently saved by Charles Boyer.  Colin Clive provides the formidable obstacle to their love in the form of psychotic jealousy. There was no one like Colin Clive who really enjoyed playing extreme characters.   Too bad he died so young. In theory, I should prefer "Love Affair" with Boyer and Irene Dunne. (Remade as "An Affair to Remember") Much as I love Boyer and Dunne, I'm not so fond of "Love Affair" and I do not like "An Affair to Remember".

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) A Powell & Pressburger picture.
An RAF fighter pilot who cheats death argues for his life before a celestial court. The earthly scenes are in color, heaven is a black and white bureacracy. It ends with the heavenly justice quoting Sir Walter Scott:
   In peace, Love tunes the shepherd's reed;
   In war, he mounts the warrior's steed;
   In halls, in gay attire is seen;
   In hamlets, dances on the green.
   Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
   And men below, and saints above;
   For love is heaven, and heaven is love.

One Way Passage (1932) Kay Francis, fashionably dressed and terminally ill, arrives in Hong Kong, a stop on her world cruise. There she meets William Powell, debonair murderer, who is in Hong Kong to escape from the gallows awaiting him in San Francisco. They are immediately taken with each other. William Powell is arrested and returned to the USA. It appears no expense was spared to capture him, because he travels First Class with a sympathetic cop, and the couple is able to pursue their romance across the Pacific.
Remade in 1940 as 'Til We Meet Again with George Brent and Merle Oberon. There is nothing quite like the original, but I enjoy the remake almost as much.

The Constant Nymph (1943)
I've only seen youtube clips of this movie. It's considered one of the great romantic movies of the 40's. Tessa, (Joan Fontaine) is a 14 year old girl loves Lewis (Charles Boyer), an older composer and old friend of her family. He marries her cousin, a woman of his own age. As time passes he comes to realize the depth of feeling Tessa has for him and he returns her love. But can they ever get together? Naturally, this is handled with good taste and great feeling. Joan Fontaine received an Oscar nomination for her performance, which is one of her favorite roles. She does a great job portraying a teenager. Charles Boyer was rather old for the part, the composer is really only in his 20's.  It's only available via bootleg. It was on youtube for a while, now removed. The novel by Margaret Kennedy is quite good, I loved it when I was a eighteen. it was somewhat scandalous in it's day because it dealt with the physical and emotional passions of girls. Not that love of the very young is so unusual in older books; in The Constant Nymph, sexuality is also a theme. Erich Wolfgang Korngold wrote the magnificent score. Hopefully, a nice print is safely stored in the TCM vaults and will be broadcast some day when the legal entanglements are unknotted.

Feb 2011 UPDATE!  There is a possibility that The Constant Nymph will be released to DVD this year.  Lou Lumenick has  details.  A big hat tip to Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

Maytime (1937)One of the best Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy movies. This was one of the most popular movies worldwide in 1937. How times have changed! Jeannette loves Eddy but promised to marry her impresario (John Barrymore) to whom she owes all her success. Great romance and great tragedy ensue amidst magnificent music. John Barrymore was on his downward spiral, but he is very good in the role, one feels quite sorry for poor Nicolai left in the cold. The production is loaded with great character actors. MacDonald is also very good as an elderly lady.
Here is the most touching finale - advance to 5:30

Maytime also features an opera written for the movie based on Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony, one of my all time favourites. Everytime a local symphony plays it, I am there.

Which reminds me of a very cheerful, sweet and romantic film to finish the list...

Sweethearts (1938) Jeannette and Nelson in their first technicolor pairing, play a married Broadway stars split up by their scheming business partners. A stellar supporting cast, many many songs by Victor Herbert, including the title duet a fantastic witty script by Dorothy Parker, gorgeous set design, gorgeous fashion and a great supporting cast. I always watch this when I want to cheer up.

As Valentine's Day Approaches....Kisses

Let's look at some great movie kisses.  Everyone has an opinion on something like this.  This is my girlish take.  In the movies, since we are essentially voyeurs at an extremely private moment, it's not about slobbering, it's about the actors' ability to convey love. 
Here are some examples featuring Ronald Colman and Charles Boyer - both age 46 in the clips.  They both had magnificent voices and expressive eyes.  It helps :-)

There is just no one like Ronald Colman. He had the most expressive eyes. If you want to get right to the smooch, advance to 2:00

Charles Boyer was short, paunchy and wore a toupee. In real life he was thoughtful and bookish. One anecdote is that when Bette Davis saw him on the set of "All This and Heaven Too", she did not recognize him and asked to have him removed from the set.   Ah, Le Grand Charles....

Peter Lorre's great scene in "Confidential Agent" (1945)

"Confidential Agent" based on a Graham Greene novel has some typical Hollywood quirks: Charles Boyer , Peter Lorre and Katina Paxinou as spanish agents with, respectively, french, hungarian and greek accents. Lauren Bacall provides great eye candy in her third film role.  However, it's the great acting chops of Boyer, Lorre and Paxinou who make this film great entertainment.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Poem o' the Week: Song by William Blake

Memory, hither come,
   And tune your merry notes:
And, while upon the wind
   Your music floats,
I'll pore upon the stream
Where sighing lovers dream,
And fish for fancies as they pass
Within the watery glass.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Night of the Incinerator - Part 2

Fun with Butane! Imagine if it was a FULL can, instead of only one third. This one threw coals all over the grass. Very pretty to see.
This is the prime season for good fires: plenty of rain so nothing can catch on fire from flying coals and sparks. Also, a few more dead pine trees which need felling, and plenty of fallen cypress so as soon as the chainsaw is back in operation......

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Night of the Incinerator - Part 1

When it comes to burning trash, we don't fool around. Long ago, the incinerator was a 300 gallon fuel tank. Now it is a rusted hulk of its former self, serving well as a burn barrel. Here we toss in an old can of silicon lube. In the background, there is an illuminated window with a silhouette. That silhouette is a grim reaper decoration which I put up on Halloween a few years ago and never took down. Enjoy.