Sunday, November 29, 2009

Casablanca and Casablanca (1942) @ the Brattle

My favorite theatre The Brattle in Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA USA) happens to be situated in the same building as a restaurant called Casablanca. I have been to both places many times but always thought it would be cool to dine at Casablanca the restaurant and watch Casablanca (1942) the movie at the theatre on the same evening. The restaurant is inspired by the movie and the Brattle just happens to show that film on occassion. In talking about our mutual admiration for classic films and for the Brattle, I proposed this idea to Carlos early on in our relationship and I always had it in the back of my mind as a future date. Finally, The Brattle posted that this weekend they would be showcasing Casablanca (1942) as part of their Epstein Brothers Centennial series. This was the perfect opportunity to fulfill my dream so I gathered up a few friends, asked them to dress in their finest and we all headed over to Cambridge on a cold dreary November night to an event that I fondly dubbed "Casablanca Squared".

It was imperative that I go the whole nine yards and wear a really nice outfit that night. I was very inspired by the Ginger Rogers outfit Kate Gabrielle put together in her fabulous A Classic Movie Halloween post on her blog Silents and Talkies. I really liked the coat she listed and I had bought it a while ago from Forever 21. I dug into my closet for the rest of the pieces. I wore my Target cloche hat and gloves, my black skirt from TJ Maxx, my seamed nylons from Victoria's Secret, a pair of fabulous pumps from DSW and a white short-sleved collared shirt from H&M. This was the result:



I also wore my Robert Mitchum trenchcoat but unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that. If you want to see what the trenchcoat looks like, check out my Retro-Ware post.



We all met the Brattle got our tickets and headed to Casablanca. This restaurant has fabulous cocktails and good, albeit expensive food. I did a review about them on my food blog and it's funny to read back on it because I had said:
"It is very possible to watch the film Casablanca (1942) and then head downstairs to Casablanca to discuss the movie over drinks. I still dream of doing just that one of these days."
We did this but in reverse. It was Black Friday and with Carlos working at retail and not getting out until late, we had to go to the 9:30 pm showing of Casablanca. So we ate dinner before watching the movie.




Casablanca has these wonderful murals with different scenes from the movie. This one happens to be my favorite and I wanted to make sure we sat in front of it for our meal. I highly suggest taking a moment to stop by the restaurant's website and reading about the history of it came about.




My wonderful friends Gina, Lisa and Kevin came along. They all dressed up and looked fabulous. Check out Kevin with his fedora and his Humphrey Bogart-esque trenchcoat! This happened to be Gina's first time seeing Casablanca and I was excited to hear her reaction to the film. Lisa is my partner-in-crime and is always coming with me to various classic film showings and for that reason, and many others, she is awesome.



Carlos works with men's clothing so it is very easy for him to dress up and he always looks impeccable. Maybe I'm looking at him through girlfriend eyes, but he seemed to exude a Clark Gable quality that night. Casablanca (1942) happens to be Carlos' top-favorite film. It even beats out The Hustler (1961). He was really looking forward to sharing this film with me and I was excited to give the film the second chance I truly believe it deserved.



After our meal and our drinks, we headed to the Brattle. We sat way up in the balcony which happens to be my favorite spot in the theatre. It had been a good 7 years or so since I had seen Casablanca and back then I wasn't impressed. I've grown as a person and as a classic film buff since then so I came with an open-mind and lots of enthusiasm.

The film was wonderful. I loved watching Carlos mouth several lines of dialogue that he knew by heart. He also pointed out some of the fun goofs and squeezed my hand at various romantic moments during the film. I was very moved by the ending and got a little emotional. But who doesn't? The love story of Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is one of the most moving in cinematic history. I thought it was interesting how both Bergman and Bogart expressed emotion. Bogart doesn't emote in his face at all and he has a veriratble stone face with only his lips in motion and the occasional brow lift. But you never once, not even for a single solitary moment question the love Rick feels for Ilsa. He expresses his emotions in his words, his actions and his gestures and in those beautiful sad eyes. Bergman has a more expressive face but she concentrated so much of her expression in those wonderful glossy eyes of hers. Her eyes spoke volumes.

I really enjoyed the cast which many have said is one of the great elements of this movie. Humphrey Bogart is just so cool and Ingrid Bergman's beauty takes your breath away. Claude Rains'  ambiguity makes you have wonderfully mixed feelings about his character. Paul Henreid's gentle expression makes you sympathize for him when really you want to hate him for keeping Rick and Ilsa apart (something Gina pointed out to me). Dooley Wilson's Sam is the epitome of loyalty and he's such an iconic figure in the movie. I have a special place in my heart for both Sydney Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall both of whom are in my favorite Christmas classic A Christmas in Connecticut (1945). And Peter Lorre makes any film better! At one moment during the film, I heard a very familiar French voice. It dawned on me! That guy was in Pillow Talk. Marcel Dalio plays Croupier in Casablanca and the distraught Interior decorator Pierrot in Pillow Talk (1959). Ha!

This was a wonderful night and I'm really happy that it worked out so well. Thank yous go out to several folks. Thanks to Gina, Lisa, Kevin and Carlos for enthusiastically joining me to Casablanca Squared. Thank you to Mercurie at A Shroud of Thoughts for your encouragement. Thanks to Caitlin at Fire and Music for your wonderful post on the film. Be sure you take a look at Alexi's blog Ingrid Bergman Life and Films for her post on the Casablanca.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Casablanca (1942) Round-Up

I'm surprised how few posts there are on Casablanca (1942). Here are the only ones I could find from my list of favorite bloggers. If you love this film, you should really take a moment out to dedicate a post about it! If you have a post on Casablanca that you'd like me to link here, drop me a line!

I have a special Casablanca post coming up so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Charles Emmett Mack (oh and me too)





Today is my birthday. It falls so close to Thanksgiving that it often gets overlooked which suits me just well because as I get older these anniversaries get more and more depressing. So today I decided to honor someone other than myself who was born on November the 25th.

I first discovered Charles Emmett Mack when I was watching the Norma Shearer film The Devil's Circus (1926).  In researching the film for a post I have yet to write, I discovered that Charles Emmett Mack lived a tragically short life. He died in a car accident while shooting the film The First Auto (1927) (See my review of that film). I wondered what his career could have been had he lived longer. Mack had quite a dynamic onscreen presence. He had a kind countenance with a sort of playfullness in his eyes. His face seemed finely sculpted out of stone and he had the most amazing dimples that I'm sure had the ladies swooning.

There is very little to no information on this actor online. Below is what I could gather from various sources. If you have any information to add, please let me know!

Charles Emmett Mack

B. November 25, 1900 Scranton, Pennsylvania
D. March 17, 1927 Riverside, CA

~ Real Name: Charles Emmett McNerney or Charles Stewart McNerney (most sources list the first one)
~ Discovered by D.W. Griffith who put him in several of his movies.
~ Had a contract with Warner Bros. was being set-up for major stardom.
~ "Mack" seemed to be a popular name in early Hollywood. In addition to Charles Emmett Mack there was also Johnny Mack Brown, Helen Mack, Charles E. Mack, Charles Mack, Wilbur Mack, etc.
~ One source claims that his stage name was Charles Montague at first, but really that was his character's name in the film America (1924)
~ Died on the way to the set of The First Auto (1927) - It was a car accident which is ironic given the topic of the film he was shooting.
~ Buried in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles

Filmography
Dream Street (1921) as Billy Mcfadden
The Daring Years (1923) as John Browning
Driven (1923) as Tom Tolliver
The White Rose (1923) as Guest At Inn
Youth for Sale (1924) as Tom Powers
America (1924) as Charles Philip Edward Montague
The Sixth Commandment (1924) as Henry Adams
Down Upon the Suwannee River (1925) as Bill Ruble
Bad Company (1925) as Dick Reynolds
Down Upon the Swanee River (1925)
A Woman of the World (1925) as Gareth Johns
The Devil's Circus (1926) as Carlstop
The Unknown Soldier (1926) as Fred Williams
Old San Francisco (1927) as Terrence O'Shaughnessy
The Rough Riders (1927) as Bert Henley
The First Auto (1927) as Bob Armstrong

On DVD

Dream Street (1921) ~ The Directors: Rare Films Of D.W. Griffith As Director Vol. 1
The White Rose (1923) ~ The Directors: Rare Films Of D.W. Griffith As Director Vol. 4
America (1924) also on ClassicFlix
A Woman of the World (1925)
The First Auto (1927) ~ Warner Archive also on ClassicFlix
Old San Fransisco (1927) ~ Warner Archive also on ClassicFlix

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Early Birthday Present



Carlos presented me with a copy of the out of print Norma Shearer biography by Gavin Lambert as an early birthday gift. When I say "presented", I mean hid it in my apartment and made me go on a wild goose chase to find it! I'm so happy to have this. Now I don't have to check it out several times a year from my local library because I OWN it.

Thank you Carlos!

Monday, November 16, 2009

If Eddie Felson from The Hustler (1961) was on Match.com

Fast_Eddie_Felson

I can't lose.

36-year old man
New York, NY
seeking women 25-35
within 10 miles of New York, NY



Relationship: Never Married
Have Kids: None
Want Kids: No Interest
Body Type: Fit
Height: 5' 10"
Smoke: Regularly. It helps me concentrate on my game.
Drink: Regularly. J.T.S Brown (Bourbon Whiskey)

In My Own Words:

My manager Charlie put me up to this. I'm not really looking for anyone but if someone with a similar life experience who understands a man with troubles comes around, I won't turn her away.

For Fun: Shooting Pool & Drinking J.T.S Brown
My Job: Shooting Pool
Favorite hot spots: Ames', Stan's and various other pool halls. Bus Station, Kentucky Derby, etc.

About Me
Best Feature: Blue Eyes
Sports and exercise: Shooting Pool & Fighting in Pool Halls
Education: Streets
Occupation: Sales Rep peddling Druggist Supplies/Shooting Pool
Income: Money comes and goes
Turn-ons: Hustling a sucker, making money, J.T.S. Brown, Blondes, Beating Minnesota Fats, etc.
Turn-offs: Losing to Minnesota Fats, Burt Young's greed, Having my thumbs broken, etc.


About My Date

Hair: Blonde, short
Eyes: Piercing yet sad
Height: 5' 0" - 5' 5"
Body type: Slender & Petite
Smoke: If she wants
Drink: Yes. I'll buy her a drink if she gets me breakfast.
Have kids: No
Want kids: No
----
This is dedicated to Carlos, whom I met on Match.com. He used "Faster Eddie Felson" as his screen name and channeled Eddie Felson on our first date.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The First Auto (1927)



We are living in a time of rapid and overwhelming technological change. The technologies of 20 years ago pale in comparison to everything we have today. Our culture as we know it is necessarily changing and adapting to these advancements. It's gotten to the point that we've so wholeheartedly accepted these new technologies into our life, that we've become dependent on them and we don't understand how we ever lived without them. I've only had my iPhone a few months but now it's my treasure. I carry it around me like I was a little girl with her precious baby doll. What did I do before the iPhone? How will this effect my life?

While the changes are happening, we don't stop to analyze and study them, that comes years later when we look back on what has transpired. I think it's very important that cultural shifts be explored and sometimes it takes a few years to really realize their impact. New technology divides generations. What older generations learned from schooling and hard work over the years seems to be trumped by the new technology that is more difficult for them to grasp but is easily understood by younger generations.

Sometimes we need films and other outlets to help us understand the ramifications of the rapid change of modern technology . In 1927, a film came about that offered to analyze, discuss and reconcile the very important transition in transportation technology from horse-driven carriage to the automobile (the horse-less carriage).

The First Auto (1927) is a Warner Bros. silent which was written by Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by Roy Del Ruth. The story follows Hank Armstrong (Russell Simpson) a popular horse-racer with a prize mare called Sloe Eyes. His son Bob (Charles Emmett Mack) is highly enthusiastic about a new invention called the "horseless carriage". He shares his passion with his girlfriend Rose (Patsy Ruth Miller) who is amused by Bob but also admires him for his enthusiasm. We start at the turn of the century and progress a few years; from the invention of the automobile to the later advancement towards racing cars. Hank watches his world fall apart as the advent of automobiles threatens his business, while his son Bob sees new and exciting opportunities open up before him. Progress and change are inevitable in society and Hank has to learn to embrace this new technology whether he wants to or not.


This film is quite excellent on so many levels. It explores a major technological advancement and a change in American culture. It focuses on two characters with a specific story to paint a bigger picture. It's both sad and funny. We see the technology evolve as the autos get more and more advanced.

This film was recently made available in the Warner Archive collection and I'm so happy it was! It really is a treat to see and you should take advantage and buy a copy of this film (or rent it on Classicflix). The biggest irony of the film is that Charles Emmett Mack died during the making of this film. He was driving to the set in his auto when he was broadsided by a wagon. Mack had offered to give costar Patsy Ruth Miller a ride, but she had declined on the account of her maid insisting she got some rest. If she had gone with Mack, it's possible that both co-stars would have died that day. At the point of Mack's death, almost all of the film had been shot, give or take a few scenes. At the end, Mack's character is noticeably absent but spoken about by Hank to keep him in the story. There is also a point towards the middle of the film in which Mack's character is far away and writes letters to his girl (part of the story? a rewrite? who knows). *Spoiler Alert*: At the climax of the film, Bob is racing his car and gets into an accident. At that point it looks like he may be dead. This kind of creeped me out. I thought that this may have been his real death and they kept it in the film! But alas, it was not and his character survived, but sadly he did not.







Monday, November 2, 2009

Tuesday Weld ~ Lord Love a Duck (1966)



This is one bizarre film. There is no other way around it, this film is very weird. And if you hear Tuesday Weld stars as Barbara Ann, a high school teen that aspires to be a movie star. She was named after Barbara Stanwyck and Ann Sheridan. Her mother, Marie (Lola Albright) is a cocktail waitress who has a drunken penchant of taking her customers home with her. Barbara Ann meets Mollymauk (Roddy McDowell) another high school student who seems to know everything about Barbara before they even met. In the beginning of the film we learn that Mollymauk (Alan or the "duck" referred to in the title) is mentally insane. Great! Mollymauk/Alan/duck follows around Barbara Ann trying to make all her wishes come true. She wants 12 cashmere sweaters, he convinces her to put a guilt trip on her estranged father to get them. She wants to get married to a rich man, he works that out for her. But every step of the way, Mollymauk/Alan/duck makes sure that all her granted wishes turn awry. This is when the movie really gets dark with suicide and attempted murder.

From what I understand, this film is supposed to be a spoof but I didn't find it very funny. Especially the darker parts towards the end seemed disturbing, even if they were ridiculous. This film pokes fun at bikini movies, high school, teenage-parent relationships in the 1960s, the movie industry, American culture (drive-in church?!) etc. It's an interesting satire but I can't say that I enjoyed this film. It may be too late in the decade. I seem to gravitate more towards the earlier half of the 1960s when films are becoming more experimental but haven't reached the state of utter bizareness!

One reviewer said that Tuesday Weld was very Tuesday Weld-ish in this film. However, this is only my second Tuesday Weld film so I'm not very sure what Tuesday Weld-ish means. She is very cute, pixie-ish and vibrant in the film and these qualities are what draw me to her as an actress. Please enjoy some screenshots of the lovely Tuesday Weld.









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