tavm

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The Miracle of the Bells
(1948)

The Miracle of the Bells is a fine drama starring Fred MacMurray and Frank Sinatra
For years, all I knew about this movie was it was the only time Frank Sinatra played a priest. He's good in the role as is Fred MacMurray as a Hollywood agent who's bringing the body of an actress (Alida Valli) he represented and was in love with. We keep seeing Ms. Valli in flashbacks as we see her and MacMurray spend some time together as he helps her to make her dreams come true. I'll stop there and just say Mom and I really enjoyed The Miracle of the Bells.

Three Coins in the Fountain
(1954)

Three Coins in the Fountain was an okay romance taking place in Rome
Well, I've finally watched this long-time romantic movie taking place in Rome and partly in Venice after hearing about it for 40 years largely based on that famous title song that won the Oscar. Frank Sinatra is fine singing that song at the beginning while all those landmarks are being shown. Then we get to the story of three secretaries and the men they have their designs on. One of whom is smitten with a prince so she finds out his favorite things when talking to his waiters and other acquaintances. One likes the translator in her workplace. And one has long worked for her writer boss for many years during his sabbatical which he's now ending. The woman who deceits her prince with pretending to like the same things he does fesses up which seems to end that romance though not really...I'll just now say that while that last woman I just described isn't very appealing she did remind my mom of Audrey Hepburn probably because of her shape and hairstyle. The other romances were a bit better. In summary, Three Coins in the Fountain was interesting as a travelogue and was pretty enjoyable as fluffy entertainment, if nothing else...

Ana Lani
(1941)

Ana Lani is a song performed for this Soundie by Ray Kinney and His Orchestra with The Aloha Maids
Just watched this Soundie on YouTube. It features Ray Kinney and His Orchestra performing the title song with some lyrics sung by him and his male singers while some female dancers known as The Aloha Maids perform some traditional Hawaiian moves. This was quite entertaining to watch for the 3 minutes it was running...

Row Row Row
(1940)

Joy Hodges sings Row Row Row for this Soundie
Just watched this Soundie on YouTube. It's depicts singer Joy Hodges at a nightclub singing the title song of this nearly 3-minute short and doing seductive turns during the "row, row, row" part in front of three men at a certain table who keep staring at her until the end when they get up with their oars, get behind her, and then they all sit behind her as they then move and shout those same words as the video ends! This was a pretty entertaining Soundie...

Anchors Aweigh
(1945)

Despite being pretty long, Anchors Aweigh is mostly enjoyable as a musical
When I first watched this a couple of decades ago, I was a bit annoyed that the movie was such a long haul (140 minutes) for a story that seemed more suitable for 90 minutes. I mean, did they have to showcase so much of Jose Iturbi at the piano especially during that Hollywood Bowl number (enjoyable as it was especially since I was familiar with it from the Bugs Bunny cartoon Rhapsody Rabbit)? What also extended the movie's running time was a couple of Gene Kelly dream sequences though one of them-the cartoon sequence with Jerry the Mouse and Tom the Cat as his servant-is still great and is one of Kelly's highlights in the movies. There's also Frank Sinatra with his smooth singing voice and Kathryn Grayson with her operatic warbling (I'm not really a fan of her singing but she's tolerable enough). There's also a cute child performance by Dean Stockwell who would later-as an adult-do a fine turn in David Lynch's Blue Velvet and is also fondly remembered as Al in "Quantum Leap". Anyway, while once again I felt the movie was too long for its own good, I enjoyed it more this time and my mom did, too! So that's a high recommendation for Anchors Aweigh.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
(1954)

I finally watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and enjoyed it immensely!
After a few decades of only knowing about this movie by reputation, I finally watched this on DVD with Mom just now. Both of us enjoyed this immensely but when the men kidnapped the women she was saying "What?" part of the time. I knew this was part of the plot so I kept quiet and I was hoping I wouldn't regret watching this and I don't as the way it's all depicted, I felt was true to the characterization and I didn't think they meant any harm which was true. Anyway, leads Howard Keel and Jane Powell are in fine voice and Stanley Donen has proven how great he was even without Gene Kelly at his side when directing many classic musicals. And the fact that the screenwriters of this one-Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett-also co-wrote my favorite movie, It's a Wonderful LIfe, also helped. So on that note, Mom and I highly recommend Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

American Masters: Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer
(2002)
Episode 8, Season 16

Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer is a mostly fine chronicle of his life and career
Having previously seen this back in 2002 when I taped this off of the "American Masters" series from PBS, I just watched this again on the second disc of the An American in Paris DVD set. It chronicled the life and career of dancer Gene Kelly as we see pics of his early childhood with his family as well as his only filmed performance of him dancing with his brother Fred in Deep in My Heart. Of course, what follows are many of his movie highlights in subsequent years: His debut in For Me and My Gal with Judy Garland, his "alter ego" number in Cover Girl, his turn with the animated Jerry the Mouse in Anchors Away, the "New York, New York" number in On the Town, the "An American in Paris" ballet in the movie of the same name, and, perhaps the most iconic of all movie musical numbers, his dancing and warbling in Singin' in the Rain. Also shown are some of his not-so-successful movies like Brigadoon (which I said I enjoyed in my review of it last year on this site) and It's Always Fair Weather. There are interviews from many of his leading lady co-stars but perhaps the most interesting was from his first wife, Betsy Blair, in telling what their home life was like. His career after the '50s is mostly given short shrift but then, it's mainly Gene Kelly's '40s and '50s output that provides the most joy for the devoted moviegoer. So on that note, Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer is well worth seeing for his fans.

'S Wonderful: The Making of 'An American in Paris'
(2008)

'S Wonderful: The Making of 'An American in Paris' lives up to its name!
This was a fascinating look at the cast and crew behind-the-scenes of the now-classic movie musical An American in Paris. But while it's very interesting listening to Gene Kelly, Vincente Minnelli, as well as latter-day interviews with Leslie Caron and Nina Foch, the most fascinating interviews were of two of the kids in the "I Got Rhythm" number: Andree Guy and Claude Guy. They mention how much fun and caring Mr. Kelly was with them and the other French children during that particular number. Also interviewed were various authors who wrote about either some of the people involved or the entire Arthur Freed unit at M-G-M. In summary, 'S Wonderful: The Making of 'An American in Paris' is just that and more!

Symphony in Slang
(1951)

Watch all the literal gags fly by in Symphony in Slang!
I had first seen this Tex Avery cartoon from M-G-M on the Tom & Jerry show on weekday afternoons during the late '70s. In this one, a man enters Heaven puzzling St. Peter and Noah Webster with his various slang terms when telling his life story. I'll just now say that the literal gags come fast and furious with each slang word the guy mentions and one would have to watch this cartoon more than once to get all of them! Anyway, this was one of the most hilarious of Avery's shorts I've ever seen! So on that note, Symphony in Slang is highly recommended.

Paris on Parade
(1938)

Paris on Parade was an interesting travelogue short about the 1937 Paris Exposition
Saw this James FitzPatrick's Traveltalks short on the An American in Paris DVD. It showcases the 1937 Paris Exposition, which has Pavilions from 44 countries of which the United States was one of them. We don't see the inside of any of them and only occasionally do we get some scenes of people as opposed to all those buildings. Like a male water skier doing his thing. Or some dancers from Hungary. Or some musicians from Spain accompanying a group of men playing with sticks. Then we're shown the Fountain of Peace during daytime before segueing to colorful looking fountains at night which then ends with some fireworks. In summary, Paris on Parade was a pretty interesting travelogue short from the period I mentioned just now.

Biography: Betty Grable: Behind the Pin-up
(1995)
Episode 23, Season 7

Betty Grable: Behind the Pin-up is a good documentary of Ms. Grable's life and career
Just watched this on the DVD of Down Argentine Way. It was an episode of the TV show "Biography" which showcased DAW's star Betty Grable as it chronicled her life and career from her native St. Louis to Hollywood at age 12 where she moved with her mother to audition for various studios. She'd initially be part of the Goldwin Girls at Samuel Goldwyn's studio in various Eddie Cantor musicals before getting fired for moonlighting at a rival backlot. Then she worked at other major studios before accepting an offer to appear in Du Barry Was a Lady on Broadway with Bert Lahr and Ethel Merman. That led her to a contract with 20th Century-Fox which then cast her as the leading lady in Down Argentine Way after original leading lady Alice Faye had to bow out due to exhaustion from overwork. That movie made Ms. Grable a star which lasted through the 40s and mid-50s before leaving the movies for good when Marilyn Monroe was overtaking her at Fox. She also went through a couple of marriages to Jackie Coogan and Harry James with whom she had a couple of daughters. And then there was her most iconic moment when she was photographed from the back in a one-piece swimsuit with her head turned around and her famous legs displayed prominently for various military men to admire from their barracks. Peter Graves narrated and interviews were done with Alice Faye who declared there was no feud between her and Ms. Grable when they were both at Fox, Carol Burnett who had her as a guest on her show, as well as Hugh Hefner who was one of her most ardent admirers. There's also much Fox newsreel footage of Ms. Grable visiting many of her admiring men in uniform. So on that note, I highly recommend Betty Grable: Behind the Pin-up.

An American in Paris
(1951)

An American in Paris is one of Gene Kelly's greatest movies!
This is my second time of watching this particular movie and my first with Mom. We both were enthralled by everything in it: music, dances, spectacular colors, etc. Gene Kelly is aces not only doing his own dancing and singing but also choreographing the whole thing as well as Vincente Minnelli directing most of it. I also liked Nina Foch, Georges Guetary, and Oscar Levant who especially is great whether playing multiple versions of himself in a dream sequence or drinking and smoking while Kelly and Guetary unknowingly talk about Ms. Leslie Caron! Speaking of her, this was as fine a film debut she did as anyone who had such a smashing entrance in their career! And then there are all those familiar George and Ira Gershwin tunes that deserves this line from one of them "who can ask for anything more?" So on that note, Mom and I highly recommend An American in Paris if you haven't yet!

Down Argentine Way
(1940)

Down Argentine Way is quite memorable for the star-making turns of Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda
Having heard about this iconic movie for years, I finally watched this just now with Mom. We both enjoyed the music numbers and many of the acting performances though the story was pretty silly for what it was. Still, it made Betty Grable a star after years of struggling in the movies starting from when a teen perhaps because of her stunning beauty as well as her adequate singing and dancing skills. Don Ameche made a fine leading man, Charlotte Greenwood and Leonid Kinskey were amusing for support, and the Nicholas Brothers tap dances up a storm during their numbers. But perhaps the highlight of the movie was Carmen Miranda, here in her American film debut, due to her costumes, her dances, and especially her fast-singing patter in her native language. It made her quite a force in her period she was working for 20th Century-Fox during this time, that's for sure! So on that note, Down Argentine Way is slight entertainment made memorable by Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda.

Who's Got the Action?
(1962)

Dean Martin, Lana Turner and the rest of the cast of Who's Got the Action make it passable entertainment
Dean Martin, Lana Turner, Eddie Albert, Paul Ford, John McGiver, and Walter Matthau star in this pretty funny movie about gambling, the mob, and horse races. Mom was confused by the plot and while part of me was too, I managed to laugh at many of the visual and verbal gags and characterizations that abounded. Especially seeing Matthau do some of his familiar deliveries brought a smile to my face. In other words, Who's Got the Action was enjoyable passable entertainment.

The Wheeler Dealers
(1963)

James Garner's The Wheeler Dealers has uneven entertainment value
After previously watching James Garner's Cash McCall which I thought was an uneven drama concerning tone, I had hoped this comedy of his would be much better. Unfortunately, the tone is more uneven here as there are only a few good laughs concerning some visual touches as the dialogue is deadly when it focuses on various money matters which it does a lot! Garner and Lee Remick aren't bad as a potential loving couple but the romantic scenes don't really feel right. And even with capable supporting character actors like Jim Backus, Phil Harris, John Astin, and Pat Harrington, Jr., there's no room for them to really do any funny pieces. At least Charles Lane-a player from my favorite movie, It's a Wonderful Life-has some moments as a judge near the end. Ditto, Louis Nye at various places. So that's something. But otherwise, The Wheeler Dealers has less of a geyser than that oil well at the beginning of this movie...

Car of Tomorrow
(1951)

Despite some now-cringeworthy gags, The Car of Tomorrow is a cartoon that still has some worthy laughs
I remember first seeing this Tex Avery spot-gag animated short on the "Tom and Jerry" show during the late '70s. Many of the gags were funny then and many are funny now though some of them may make you cringe in these more politically correct times like one involving an American Indian (or Native American), another one involving Chinese stereotypes, likewise a few concerning "women drivers". But most of them are as funny as before, so on that note, I recommend The Car of Tomorrow.

Droopy's Double Trouble
(1951)

Droopy's Double Trouble lives up to its premise
While as a kid of the late '70s, I remember watching many classic M-G-M cartoons on the "Tom and Jerry" show on my local station, including many Droopys but I don't remember this one so I think this was my first time viewing this particular one right now on the DVD of Royal Wedding. In this one, Droopy works as a butler at the mansion and when his superior tells him to get someone to work with him, Droopy calls his brother Drippy. Drippy has a similar personality to his brother except he's much more direct in enforcing the rules which in this case is "no strangers". So then Droopy's friend Spike shows up...Directed by Tex Avery, lots of hilarious physical gags abound concerning Spike's confusion between the actions of Droopy and Drippy. And when Spike reacts at the end, well, if you know Avery, you wouldn't be surprised, I'll tell you that! So that's a high recommendation of Droopy's Double Trouble.

Week-End in Havana
(1941)

Week-End in Havana is quite an enjoyable musical from 20th Century-Fox
As a kid growing up in the late '70s, I used to watch quite a lot of Technicolor musicals from M-G-M and 20th Century-Fox on my local public TV station. But this particular one was not one of them so when I saw this was in my local library, I had to get it! Having just watched this with Mom right now, it's quite a delight seeing the full spectrum of colors especially when Carmen Miranda is on the screen doing her numbers! There's also Alice Faye, John Payne, Cesar Romero along with nice support from the likes of Sheldon Leonard (another player from my favorite movie It's a Wonderful Life I like to cite when I see them in another picture) and Billy Gilbert (as a waiter who's not above tripping someone if they don't pay!). The songs are pretty enjoyable and the comedy is pretty hilarious part of the time. So on that note, Mom and I recommend Week-End in Havana.

Private Screenings: Stanley Donen
(2006)

Robert Osborne does a great interview with Stanley Donen on "Private Screenings"
Just watched this on the DVD of Royal Wedding, one of the many classic movies of filmmaker Stanley Donen host Robert Osborne discusses with him. Osborne also discusses with him his early days as a dancer on Broadway and Hollywood and his working relationship with Gene Kelly as well as Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, and his idol Fred Astaire. And while many fascinating stories were mentioned about all those movies, the most fascinating one was about how Donen prepared to accept his honorary Oscar when he mentioned rehearsing singing "Cheek to Cheek" and then doing his little dance with the orchestra playing before doing it for real at the actual ceremony which is shown as a clip here! So that's a high recommendation of this ep of "Private Screenings".

Royal Wedding: June, Judy and Jane
(2007)

Royal Wedding: June, Judy, and Jane was a fine short doc on the making of Royal Wedding
This short doc on the making of Royal Wedding was in the DVD of that particular movie. They mention that June Allyson was originally the leading lady to Fred Astaire until she got pregnant which Ms. Allyson acknowledges on screen. Then Judy Garland was picked to replace her but she was exhausted from her previous work and was becoming increasingly more difficult so she was eventually let go from the M-G-M studio which allowed her to reboot herself on the concert stage. So finally Jane Powell replaced her and she told how different her experience was in this film compared to her previous ones especially since she got to do a number with Fred that was way outside of her operatic training. Besides her and Ms. Allyson, we also see testimony from director Stanley Donen, songwriter Burton Lane, and Judy Garland biographer John Fricke. So that's a recommendation of Royal Wedding: June, Judy, and Jane.

Suspect
(1987)

Cher convinces as a lawyer in Suspect
After years of being curious about this movie, I finally just watched it with Mom just now. Cher is a lawyer who defends Liam Neeson who's a Vietnam vet now homeless who's also deaf and dumb. Dennis Quaid is a lobbyist who's also a juror in the case. Quite a bit of suspense is spread throughout until the reveal. Performances are good all around especially Cher. So on that note, Mom and I recommend Suspect.

That Touch of Mink
(1962)

Cary Grant and Doris Day make a fine team in That Touch of Mink
After doing Pillow Talk with Rock Hudson, Doris Day had a new image-instead of the girl-next-door type now she was the eternal virgin looking for the man to marry-and that meant her leading men would be more, well, manly and after Hudson who else could she be paired with? Well, none other than Cary Grant who still had those dashing looks after more than two decades. So here they are getting together because of some rain-related accident, he takes her out, she enjoys many of their adventures in the city but then he offers a trip to Bermuda and she thinks they're getting married! There are plenty of funny moments courtesy of Grant, Gig Young, Audrey Meadows, Dick Sargent, John Fiedler, and Richard Deacon but Day really brings her funny side when she gets inebriated one time! I watched this with Mom and while she also enjoyed it she did think the humor was a bit risque when is what I liked about it! So on that note, we both recommend That Touch of Mink.

Father's Little Dividend
(1951)

Father's Little Dividend was almost as funny and entertaining as predecessor Father of the Bride
Having just rewatched The Father of the Bride, I now had the need to watch for the first time its sequel Father's Little Dividend. So I found this on YouTube and just watched it with Mom who enjoyed this as much as the original. Me, I enjoyed it as well though I didn't find it as humorous as the predecessor though it did get pretty hilarious when Joan Bennett was rushing through traffic trying to make it to daughter Elizabeth Taylor's first offspring birth while hubby Spencer Tracy was getting flabbergasted! Spencer, himself, still has some good humorous scenes especially when reacting to his daughter's praise of her doctor's innovative methods of caring for her baby. There's also another believable argument/reconciliation scene between Ms. Taylor and her husband that made Mom laugh as all out! So on that note, Father's Little Dividend is worth checking out.

Father of the Bride
(1950)

Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor star in the wonderful Father of the Bride
I first watched a colorized version back in the '90s of this film. I think I was too distracted by those colors (and noticing which parts were still black & white) to really enjoy the humor and drama of the whole thing at the time. So I just watched this b/w version with Mom and we were both enthralled by Spencer Tracy's performance in the title role, constantly worrying about his daughter's well-being as well as what kind of man she's marrying to. As that daughter, Elizabeth Taylor certainly is beautiful enough at the age she was at the time. The only humorous thing she gets to do is sneeze constantly during her wedding rehearsal while Tracy has to deal with his old formal uniform, various workers preparing for the Big Day at his residence, and his nightmares of making a fool of himself during that day! There's also a nice humorous scene when Tracy and wife Joan Bennett meet their upcoming in-laws and he drinks quite a bit! So on that note, Mom and I highly recommend Father of the Bride. P. S. Since I always like to cite when certain people from my favorite movie-It's a Wonderful Life-is involved in something else, here it's screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett who did this and that as well as Moroni Olsen-potential in-law here-who was the voice of the lead angel persuading fellow heavenly-mate Joseph to let Clarence try to earn his wings by telling him George Bailey's life story.

Jerry and Jumbo
(1953)

Jerry and Jumbo was another hilarious Tom & Jerry cartoon
This Tom & Jerry cartoon I just found and watched on the DVD of Billy Rose's Jumbo. It has a baby elephant stumble from a moving train to the house where the cat and mouse live. That elephant first goes in Tom's bed under his blanket before that cat goes there for his rest. I'll stop here and just say what happens after that is quite hilarious especially the way it all ends, that's for sure! So on that note, I highly recommend Jerry and Jumbo.

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