I only ask a few things:
1) That the post be classic film related (1920s to 1960s)
2) That it not be too long.
3) That it have a personal perspective or personal twist
4) That you include at least one image or allow me to add one
I hope to see lots of you participate and am looking forward to adding some variety to my blog with the perspective of lots of intelligent and enthusiastic classic film fans.
Popi (1969) - read Tommy Salami's take on this here.
My Family (1995) - superb contemporary Latino family drama
Terror in a Texas Town (1958)
While I'm not writing a proper review about this, I would like to post a little something about this Western being shown on TCM tonight. It's a very interesting little movie about Swedish and Mexican immigrants in a small Western town being run by corrupt and dangerous men. Sterling Hadyen stars as a George Hansen, a Swede, who comes to visit his father's farm only to find out that his father has been killed. A wealthy tycoon had hired a professional hitman/gunfighter to kill anyone who refused to give up their land, which it has been discovered to be oil-rich. His father's best friend, Jose Mirada (Victor Millan), a Mexican, witnessed the murder but is reluctant to give George information about the hitman who was hired to kill him. Hayden's character is determined to avenge his father and the corrupt men in the town, especially the gunfighter/hitman Johnny Crale (Ned Young), is worried that George knows too much and that his freedom as a gun wielding murderer is at stake.
I like the bond between the Swedes and the Mexicans. I think this has to do with me being a Latina and having formed a really great friendship with Jonas from All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!, who happens to be a Swede. If you get a chance to watch this/DVR it tonight, please do! Otherwise, it's available on DVD as well.
Frank ~ Guest Blogger
Jonas ~ All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!
Mercurie ~ A Shroud of Thoughts
Tommy Salami ~ Pluck You Too!
Casey ~ Noir Girl
I will be e-mailing the winners today. Thank you to everyone who participated. If you missed out, there is still time to enter the sweepstakes at TCM's Latino Images in Film website.
Here is tonight's schedule for TCM:
Stand and Deliver (1988)
Walk Proud (1979)
Boulevard Nights (1979)
Badge 373 (1973)
Strangers in the City (1962)
Norma Shearer stars in a dual role as both the virginal angelic Moonyean and the lively spirited Kathleen. (Shearer was not a stranger to dual roles. Check out the silent movie A Lady of the Night (1925).) The setting is WWI England and we are introduced to John Carteret (Leslie Howard), a sorrowful man who holds on to the memory of his long-lost love Moonyean. The ghost of Moonyean beckons to him but he can't sense her presence as he is drowning in his own self-pity and anger. John adopts Moonyean's orphaned niece Kathleen, raising her as his own child. She blossoms into a beautiful young woman; the spitting image of the ethereal Moonyean. Their relationship is just perfect until Kathleen falls in love with Kenneth Wayne (Frederich March), an American soldier whose major flaw is being the son of Jeremy Wayne (also Frederic March). Jeremy was violently in love with Moonyean, yet his love was unrequited as she was to marry her love John. On their wedding day, Jeremy tries to murder John but kills Moonyean instead. John keeps the terrible event a secret from Kathleen and only sees fit to tell her when he finds out Kenneth is the son of Jeremy. John forces Kathleen to promise not to see Kenneth but their love is too strong and they steal moments together until Kenneth goes off to war. Kathleen is torn between her love for her Uncle and her love for Kenneth. Will John be able to move on from the past and allow Kathleen to be happy? Or will it be too late?
This film feels very ethereal with Moonyean's ghost, the soft focus of the camera, the soft English countryside and the almost vacant town. There is an emptiness in the surroundings and this void is filled with heightened states of emotion. The slow, leisurely pace of life contrasts with the bombings of the war going on just some miles away. What I love about Victorian/Edwardian stories like this is that all emotions and reactions are so grandly exaggerated. The characters have so much time on their hands that they are left with their own thoughts and lot of time for thinking and brooding can make the heart heavy. This film is romantic and theatrical and the cast is simply wonderful. It's a veritable treat and I hope you all get a chance to see it, because it would be an utter shame if you didn't.
I hadn't realized that Carmen Miranda was born in Portugal and raised in Brazil until I researched her after watching the film. Confession: I don't consider Portuguese or Brazilian people to be Latino/Hispanic. Second Confession: While I am 1/2 Dominican, I'm also 1/2 Portuguese. So while some would consider me 100% Latina, I only consider myself technically 50% (but at heart I'm that full 100%). For me, Latino culture is intrisincally tied in with the Spanish language.
With that said Carmen Miranda is simply charming in this film as the Portuguese Princess Querida whose wiggle hypnotizes, whose personality dazzles and whose misuse of the English language absolutely charms. This is a quaint film. The storyline is pretty basic musical fare. It's fairly predictable and the only surprises seem to come out of the blue with almost no prior warning. I do however recommend this film highly to anyone who has been interested in watching a Miranda film but didn't know where to start. I was going to talk about the TCM clip in which Rita Moreno talk about Carmen Miranda's career. She calls Miranda "sad lady" and that she had much more potential but this was the hand she was dealt. Casey over at Noir Girl did such an excellent post, which spurred discussion among her readers including myself, that I direct you over to her site to read it. This was my first Carmen Miranda film and I saw her vibrant and electric and not sad or pathetic. I will definitely see more Miranda films in the future.
TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Thursday May 21st
Greenwich Village (1940)
West Side Story (1961)
La Bamba (1987)
The Mambo Kings (1992)
This is director John Frankenheimer second film and first with legendary actor Burt Lancaster. The cinematography is gorgeous. Many shots are layered and the mise-en-scene is dramatic with objects and faces frozen in the foreground and action happening in the background. The film deals with social issues in a way that only a '60s movie can do. The decade really opened filmmakers up to explore human nature more freely and with less restriction as the Code's reign was nearing it's demise. I place The Young Savages at the upper-echelon of superb dramatic movies! (Please read the excellent article on TCM's website about the film. Lots of great trivia and facts to be found there!)
I'm a bit torn about how the Puerto Ricans are represented in this film and find myself more ambivalent than offended. At first, the blind Puerto Rican boy is the epitome of innocence. His family, friends and neighbors all seem angelic in their mourning. However, as the story progresses the separation balance of evil on both sides changes with the Italians looking better and the Puerto Ricans looking worse and worse. We initially hate those three Italian boys but then we pity them. I'm not sure if this story would have worked in reverse with three Puerto Rican teens killing a blind Italian boy or if Bell would have been Puerto Rican, and in that case we wouldn't have had the wonderful Burt Lancaster in the starring role. This is such a great film than I really don't want to think to think ill of it but really in the end the representation of Latinos in this film can be considered poor at best. If you have any thoughts on these, please share!
Level of Brown Face ~ 0 out of 5 shades. 100% real Hispanic actors. Woot!
TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Tuesday May 19th
The Lawless (1950)
Cry Tough (1959)
The Young Savages (1961)
Blackboard Jungle (1955)
Since I don't like meme rules, I'm changing things up a bit. Don't like it? I don't care.
Eight things I'm working on in my life right now:
1) training for a 5k race
2) changing my diet and exercise regimens (lost 10lbs so far!)
3) waking up earlier in the mornings to squeeze in movie watching
4) watch more movies! I've been slacking.
5) start another blog
6) re-envision my social life
7) work on my self-esteem and confidence
8) be more spontaneous!
Eight classic film related things I look forward to:
1) More Warner Bros. Archive movies
2) Jack Lemmon boxed set!
3) Convincing myself to purchase Fox, Borzage & Murnau boxed set
4) Watching more of the Fox Movie Channel
5) TCM's Summer Under the Stars
6) Watching films Professor Jonas has sent me
7) Connecting with more classic film fans
8) Watching more classic films at the Brattle and Harvard Film Archive
Eight things I want to do for this blog:
1) Bring up my followers to 100 and my RSS subscribers to 200.
2) Do more contests & Quel Interpretations!
3) Write a review for every single Norma Shearer film I have access too!
4) Start my next blogathon (shhh it's a secret)
5) Communicate more with other bloggers
6) Finish my Pamela Tiffin series and start another similar one.
7) Do more Match.com style posts
8) Have more guest bloggers (contact me if you are interested)
Eight movies I'm going to watch next:
1) Smilin' Through (1932)
2) The Sign of the Ram (1948)
3) 8 Women (2002)
4) Strange Interlude (1932) Thank you Jonas
5) No, My Darling Daughter (1961) - Thank you Casey
6) The Last of Mrs. Cheney (1929) - Thank you Jonas
7) The Pleasure Seekers (1964) - post coming soon
8) all the Latino Images in Film movies that I had to tape or rent.
Instead of tagging people I want to take this opportunity to point out to people some interesting tweeters on Twitter. Here is a start up list:@tommysalami @mercurie80 @1416andcounting @talkieking @moviecollector @TCManiacs @MoviesonTCM @impossiblecat @fleurdeguerre. Look at who I follow on my Twitter page to find some other great tweeters.
Although Ginger disses Twitter, I think if you use it in the right way it revolutionizes the way you blog and the way you access information on the internet, as long as you follow the right people and tweet intersting things.
Over at Noir Girl, Casey's post about Carmen Miranda got me thinking about how classic film fans watch movies. There are the times we watch films for substance, looking for stories that speak to our own personal experiences or enrich their lives by exploring the human condition in ways they hadn't done before. Other times we watch for enjoyment, for an escape from our everyday world and into another existence. Some of us lean towards the substance, others lean towards the enjoyment yet we all find our own comfortable balance between the two. We approach films different types of knowledge or lack thereof. We come armed with an arsenal of information either about the film, its stars, the director or the genre or we come completely pure and naive ready to experience something new and different. Again, a lot of us lean towards one or the other side but we find balance between the two.
In one of Casey's comments she says "the films are the ice cream, the lives of the stars are just the sprinkles on the top. That's the way it should stay." I've read a few posts by other classic film bloggers and they pretty much align with Casey's viewpoint which is that certain knowledge about the lives of stars stains the purity of enjoyment when watching the films. I don't really agree with this concept but I can understand it. Reading about Loretta Young in two separate biographies about other stars made me not like her so much and thus I have avoided her films. However, I didn't like her much to begin with so the knowledge just enhanced that. On the flip side, I've read sordid details about the lives of Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Robert Mitchum, Norma Shearer, etc. and it hasn't affected how I watch their films. I still enjoy them immensely on screen. I can see where that might not work for everyone. Joan Crawford is forever tainted by that one famous line about wire hangers.
I am far too nosy and inquisitive to not learn about the lives of classic film stars yet is it right for me to dig up the dirt? Should I honor their legendary careers by avoiding their personal lives? If so, why should I? If they did bad things, why should I overlook them? What about those stars who were genuinely good people? Should we avoid them too? Jimmy Stewart was raised in my estimation after reading Marc Eliot's biography of him. Stewart gets the bad rap of being a womanizer (total myth) and dirt-digging Eliot couldn't even find much to tarnish Stewart.
Now I ask you dear readers, would you rather know or not know and why? I would love to hear your thoughts.
TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Thursday May 14th
Mexican Spitfire (1940)
My Man and I (1952)
The Texican (1966)
The screenplay was inspired by an expose written by Lester Velie and published in the July 1955 issue of Readers Digest called "Gangsters in the Dress Business". The Hispanic workers at the garment factory and represented in the film are overworked, underpaid and fed up with it. When they try to fight back, they are oppressed with extreme violence. In real life, a union worker was killed by gangsters and the footage of the funeral is used in the film. The exploitation of Hispanic workers is still an ongoing problem today so this film could definitely open up the opportunity to have some round table discussions.
This is a film in which the execution is poor yet the cultural concept is interesting enough it makes it worth viewing. The acting is so-so and the story is weighed down by poorly written dialogue and weak romantic sub-plots. I was a bit disturbed by the widow Theresa being passed off to a new man before the first husband was even dead. It's not something that happens in the story per-say but as the audience member you know that it's coming. I also found the inclusion of racism a little forced. It's as though someone said "hey we need some derrogatory terms thrown at these Latino characters, let's say ''spic bum' a few times, that should do it!" Otherwise, culturally this film is representative of a volatile time in American history and serves well as a vehicle of looking at the present through the past.
Level of Brown Face: 1 out of 5 shades. Italian is Hispanic enough in this film...
TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Tuesday May 12th
Tortilla Flat (1942)
... And Now Miguel (1943)
The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
Salt of the Earth (1954)
The Garment Jungle (1957)
So why am I writing about this? Because my high school's Dairy Barn is one of the 25 contenders. I attended Norfolk County Agricultural High School from 1994-1998. I was an Environmental Science major but had a special place in my heart for the Dairy cows and the Dairy Barn. The barn was built in 1919 and has been instrumental in teaching students about farm management. However, due to detoriation the barn no longer houses dairy cows and students are not allowed in. This gorgeous barn is now used only for the storage of hay.
So I'm asking you, please vote for my high school's barn. Register on the website and you can vote for it once a day until May 17th. The more votes it gets, the better chance it will receive some funding. Unlike the other sites, the barn is used for educational purposes and does not get any outside funding from admission fees. So it really really does need your votes!
That's me at 16 showing Gemma the Guernsey cow at the 1997 Spring Show.
Here is Gemma and I again and you can see the Dairy barn and silo in the background.
My friends Kevin and Lisa outside the dairy barn. 5/3/09
Here I am petting Crystal the Guernsey. She's Gemma's great-grandaughter! 5/3/09
and have a Happy Mother's Day!
I will be giving away some Latino Images in Film themed composition notebooks to the winners of this contest.
How to Enter:
1) Check out the TCM's Latino Images in Film line-up and the TCM Originals video clips.
2) Add a comment on this post about which film in the line-up you want to see and why or have seen and what you thought of it. Or tell me something interesting you learned watching the video clips.
3) Bloggers, add a link or write an entry on your blog about TCM Latino Images in Film festival. If you are on Twitter, tweet about it to your followers.
4) Entries must be in by midnight Sunday May 24th. You can also e-mail the entries to Quellelove at Gmail dot com.
Winners will be announced Tuesday May 26th. They will be chosen at random. This contest is open to everyone. If you chose not to participate, you can always enter TCM's contest on their website for the same prize. You do however have a better chance of winning a notebook here!
I have to say, this was a very uncomfortable film to watch. It's very violent, not in terms of gore but with torture and murder. Plus there is also a pit of death where the illegal braceros are thrown in to die once they are no longer needed (yikes!). Some folks don't think it's technically a noir but it's got all the elements of a noir just in an atypical setting. This films merits I think lie in the performances of Ricardo Montalban and James Mitchell. They are our heroes and we root for them all the way.
You mean, you can make a film about Latinos with Latino actors?! No!!! The Mexican characters in this film are mostly played by Latinos, which makes a welcome change from Caucasian actors with olive complexions (or extra make-up). The only exception is James Mitchell, who I don't think is actually Hispanic but I could be wrong. The theme of illegal immigration and the exploitation of Mexican workers makes this film incredibly relevant today. The situations in the story are disturbingly real and I think this is a good movie for sparking some political discussions.
Level of Brown Face: 1 out of 5 Shades.
TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Tuesday May 7th
Border Incident (1949)
Right Cross (1950)
Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
Revenue Agent (1950)
This silent classic was produced by Douglas Fairnbanks' production company and was the first feature film release of United Artists, which Fairbanks started with Chaplin and his wife Pickford among others. This was the first in a series of swashbuckling movies that Fairbanks did, which made him vastly popular. Fans of his son Douglas Fairbanks Jr. might remember him mocking his father's performance in the film Our Dancing Daughters. In the cast is also Noah Beery, brother of Wallace Beery and Walt Whitman, although no relation to the poet (darn!).
I thoroughly enjoyed this silent film. Fairbanks was quite acrobatic and his stunts were enjoyable to watch. The representation of Mexican/Spanish people in the film I thought was done very respectfully. What I found interesting is that although the main division is between the townspeople and the law, there is a cultural division between the light-skinned noble Spanish blood which is higher in ranking than the dark-skinned natives. As I am fascinated with early Dominican culture, these kind of cultural divisions always fascinate me.
Level of Brown Face: 2 out of 5 shades
Why am I excited about this? Because I'm a Latina. I'm first generation American and my mother is 100% full-blooded Hispanic from the Dominican Republic. I am fluent in Spanish, I eat my arroz con habichuelas and have the cadera to prove it. What does it mean to be a Latina? For me it means maintaining the culture, learning about my heritage and embracing that Latina fire and passion that runs through my veins.
Classic films are predominantly Caucasian but it has been surprising to find out over the years how many films either have Latino characters or showcase Latino actors. With TCM's list of films for their festival, I have discovered even more!
In honor of Latino Images in Film, I'll be doing a month long series on this blog. For the first three weeks I'll be posting a review of one film on Mondays and Wednesdays before it airs the next day and will also include the following day's full schedule. I'll be reviewing a total of 6 films and all of them happen to be available on DVD just in case you don't have TCM. I hope this will encourage you to watch the films or at least be aware of the films that are out there. For the last week, I tentatively have planned a Latino Images in Film contest.
Each review will contain a summary, background information and what I think about the representation of Latinos in the film. I'll also include a rating level of "Brown Face". Brown face is what I call the Hispanic equivalent to Black face. This is when they take Caucasian actors and put some dark make-up on them to make them look more ethnic. They also used Mediterannean and olive-skinned European actors to look Latino and I also consider this a form of Brown face. I'll point out along the way the level of brown face in each film.
Disclaimer - I'm doing this purely because I want to and not because I was asked to.
I hope you'll enjoy the series!