Thursday, April 29, 2010

#drinkpeople

I had some fun yesterday with the Twitter hashtag that was making the rounds yesterday. The goal is to take a person's name and turn it into a pun using a beverage. People came up with great ones including Oprah Whiskey, Hot Cocoa Chanel (@modcloth), Vodka Mortensen (@d_whiteplume) and Betty White Russian (@tommysalami). I tried to stick to classic film stars as much as I could. Here is what I came up with. Some are clever and some are just a real stretch. I did have fun with this and I encourage you to share any that you can come up with here or on Twitter. You can find me there @quellelove .

Raquel Welch's Grape Juice
Margarita Hayworth
Lizbeth Scott-ch and Soda
Scotch on the Rocks Hudson
Doris Daiquiri
Shirley Temple
Bloody Mary Astor
Nat King Colada
Dean Martini
Marlon Brandy
Jack Daniels Nicholson
Ginger Beer Rogers (or Ginger Ale Rogers)
Mountain Drew Barrymore
Iced Tea Leoni
Jack Lemmonade
Dean Jigger
Gin and Tonic Randall
Laurence Olive Martini
Ocean Sp-Ray Milland
Gordon MacRye Whiskey
Gin Lockhart and Gin Arthur and Gin Simmons and Gin Crain 
(Gene Jean and Jeanne)
Lauren Bacardi
Gene Iced Tierney
Mint Julep Christie
Vermouth Hussey (Ruth)
Deborah Side-Kerr (Sidecar)
Ann Miller Lite
Granita Page

Monday, April 26, 2010

Now Available on Kindle

A subscription to Out of the Past ~ A Classic Film Blog is now available through the Amazon Kindle store for the Kindle eReader device. You can test it out for a free 14 day trial and if you like what you read you can subscribe for a nominal monthly fee to get all future blog posts sent directly to your Kindle device. And yes I know everyone and their mother is going to copy this idea but at least you saw it here first (or second or third depending on what other blogs you read).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Robert Mitchum Video #3 ~ Calypso is Like So... Playlist

If you are not at least somewhat amused by this album, you have no soul. My favorites are "Coconut Water" and "From a Logical Point of View". Some lyrical gems include:

from a logical point of view
better marry a woman uglier than you
from a logical point of view
always marry a woman uglier than you


an ugly woman give you your meals on time
and try to make comfortable in mind
a time when you lie sick in your cozy bed 
she will both caress you and scratch your head


Fill yourself a glass of coconut water, sit back and enjoy the album in its entirety.




Robert Mitchum sings... Calypso?!



All you need to record a Calypso album is a bottle of rum and a hot chick. Right?

The last thing you think of when the name "Robert Mitchum" comes to mind is Calypso music. That along with puppies, rainbows and soft fluffy clouds. This big lug of a man didn't seem quite suited to the fun and lively rhythms of the Calypso beat. Yet in 1957, Capitol Records gave the world Robert Mitchum's album "Calypso is Like So...".

In 1956, Mitchum had taken a much needed vacation in Trinidad and Tobago. As an actor, Mitchum was a workhorse, doing film after film after film and he rejected the Hollywood lifestyle. So his work could get to him sometimes and he  really needed the type of escape that only the Caribbean could provide. After his jaunt, he returned to the States and was so excited about all the Calypso music he had heard while away that he hit up singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer with the idea of doing a Calypso album. Mercer had referred him to Capitol Records.

You may be asking yourself why a big-wig like Capitol Records would agree to a Mitchum Calypso album? They were already salivating over the idea of a Mitchum music album to capitalize on his stardom. Also, another actor, Harry Belafonte, had done a Calypso album that was a hit on the airwaves. Big name star. Popular type of music. Ka-ching Ka-ching.

In March of 1957, Mitchum hit the studio to record the album. Capitol Records got a motley crew of songwriters, back-up singers and musicians to help Mitchum create "Calypso is Like So...". While Mitchum did a good job capturing the stereotypical Caribbean accent (whatever that is) and singing the Calypso songs with a lively air, the album flopped. No worries though. Mitchum was at the top of his game as an actor in Hollywood and a little Calypso album wasn't going to impede that.

Stay tuned because my next post will include music from Mitchum's foray into Calypso.
------
retold from an excerpt of Lee Server's biography Robert Mitchum: Baby I Don't Care

Extra note: The lady on the cover of Mitchum's album was intended to look vaguely Caribbean (dark) but still be accepted to a Caucasian audience (not too dark).

Monday, April 19, 2010

James Mitchum in Thunder Road (1958)

Robert Mithcum's oldest son, James Mitchum, had a difficult time developing a career as an actor. It didn't help that he looked so much like his father who at that point had a very recognizable face and a well-established acting career. If you take a look at the pictures below, you'll see why. James had his father's sad eyes, square face, pouty lips and even his dimpled chin! These are screen caps taken from James Mitchum's screen debut in Thunder Road (1958).









Thursday, April 15, 2010

Robert Mitchum Video #2 ~ "The Ballad of Thunder Road"

The theme song of Thunder Road (1958) was co-written and sung by Robert Mitchum.


Thunder Road (1958)

Thunder RoadThunder Road (1958) has one of the most interesting backstories of all the films Robert Mitchum made in his long career as an actor. It's not as dramatic as perhaps the one for Out of the Past (1947) which starts with a plane crash, but it's still full of juicy bits of trivia that will keep any film buff entertained.

Thunder Road is a Robert Mitchum production. For some time, Mitchum had played with the idea of writing a story about moonshiners. He wanted to create an adventure story that dealt with the illegal production and distribution of moonshine in the South and the prosecution of the moonshiners by government officials. Mitchum singled out the town of Asheville, North Carolina as the perfect place to base the story and shoot the film and he almost singlehandedly put this film together.

After doing extensive research for the story, he began collecting the people who would help him make the film. First there was screenwriter James Atlee Philips who was enthusiastic to work with Mitchum on the screenplay and also had a connection with the government tax office. Then came Mitchum targeted Arthur Ripley to be the director of the film. Ripley had a reputation for being super efficient and shooting whole films in 3-5 days. Mitchum chose Ripley because he saw one of his films a long time ago and liked it very much indeed (not that he could remember which one). Mitchum's choice seems an odd one, especially considering how Mitchum was so laid back in his work style and never much cared for deadlines or schedules.



Mitchum then set his eye on, of all people, Elvis Presley! He wanted the 22 year old to play the character of Robin Doolin, Mitchum's character's younger brother. Presley was a big fan of Mitchum and even modelled his famous pompadour hairstyle after Mitchum's wavy locks. Despite Presley's interest in the project, Presley insisted that Mitchum discuss the matter with his manage, the infamous Colonel Tom Parker. Mitchum wanted to deal with Presley directly and even invited Presley to the Mitchum house to have dinner and share stories to kind of woo him into the project. But Presley left things with his manager, who demanded the King be paid a salary that ended up being more than the film's entire budget. Mitchum, not one for dealing with managers or with Hollywood politics, decided to use his own son, James Mitchum, in the role instead.

Mitchum's next target was singer Keely Smith.He had heard one of her records and was very impressed. She had very little to no acting talent but Mitchum wasn't fazed by this. He had to have her in the movie and that's how it was going to be. Keely Smith playing the part of singer/love interest. The music part of the movie was very important to Mitchum. He cowrote two songs for the film. "The Ballad of Thunder Road" is the theme of the movie shown during the opening credits. Mitchum sang the ballad and it was so popular it even made it onto the pop charts! Another song, "The Whippoorwill" based on a poem, was sung by Keely Smith.

Once Mitchum had arranged the cast of characters that would bring his film to life, he and his crew headed to Asheville, NC for several weeks of filming. The local women were delirious with delight over the big movie star being in town. Mitchum was a notorious womanizer and he had the pick of the litter. He didn't even have to pursue, they came to him. His wife Dorothy had come to stay with him for a while during shooting. After a weekend of hardcover drinking, Mitchum woke up to see a strange woman in his bed. In a panic, he rushes out of the room and out of the house, leaving behind a beloved watch which was a gift from his wife and had been inscribed with his name and a personal message.. He knew he would be in the dog house with his wife if he didn't find that watch. That morning, Dorothy surprises him by handing him the missing watch.Turns out he had left it on their bedstand. The strange woman was really his wife!

Robert Mitchum wore many hats for this film including that of writer, researcher, sometimes director, producer, casting director, lyricist and singer. On top of all this, he also starred in the film. After years of being under the creative restraints of the eccentric Howard Hughes, Mitchum was finally free to be creatively independent. Thunder Road is a shining example of how versatile and talented Robert Mitchum could be.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ryan's Daughter (1970) and the merits of CGI

Ryan's Daughter (Two-Disc Special Edition)My friend Kirk and I were discussing the merits of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) in film. He prefers films with lots of action and a good amount of CGI whereas I prefer realism and a good story. I scoffed at Kirk for liking pretty fluff instead of a movie that had more meat in it. With the success of Avatar (2009), many of us classic film fans are retreating into our lairs and consoling ourselves with our precious old movies. All this fancy technology, seems to be taking away the merits of intelligent stories, witty dialogue and good old-fashioned plot development. The only CGI-laden film that I've really enjoyed was 300 (2006) mostly because of my interest in mythology, the graphic novel's influence on the book industry and how the film upheld the traditions of ancient storytelling (repetition, grandiose language, emphasis on immortality, pride and patriotism, etc.). But otherwise, CGI is a hard sell for me.

Over the weekend, I went to a late night showing of a documentary and the trailer for Ironman 2 (2010) was shown. And then something clicked. I finally understood. Anyone who goes to see Ironman 2 or any other film with some amounts of CGI wants a visual spectacle. They want something they can't get at home. They want their movie experience to be the equivalent of a roller coaster ride. They want to be on the edge of their seats, hearts pounding, eyes wide open; they want the thrill.

This isn't new. Ever since the advent of Television, movie studios have relied on technological advances to woo movie goers away from their living room and into the theater. CGI is one way. 3-D is another. Weird musicals with Gene Kelly yet another.

So what does this have to do with Ryan's Daughter (1970)? This David Lean epic isn't an outstanding film in terms of story. Sarah Miles stars as Rosy, local pub owner Ryan's daughter, who marries sheepish school teacher Robert Mitchum. She's Irish and has a wild extra-marital affair with a British soldier played by Christopher Jones. Miles and Mitchum are terrific in the film as are Trevor Howard and John Mills. They deliver first-rate performances. But the story is so-so and Christopher Jones is a big disappointment.

What makes this film truly amazing is it's incredible cinematography. It's pure eye-candy; a feast for the eyes. You are transported from your seat into a seaside town in Ireland circa late 1800s. The breathtaking cinematic quality of this film is lost on a TV and it begs to be watched on a big screen.

I created a Flickr slideshow of some of the best visuals from the film. I've also included my favorites below.











Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's a Veritable Robert Mitchum Explosion


Whoopsie!


So I've been preparing for months. And months. And months for a Robert Mitchum Week. A follow up on my highly successful Norma Shearer Week. It made sense. Norma Shearer is my favorite actress so why wouldn't I do a second themed week with my favorite actor Robert Mitchum.

I read the Robert Mitchum biography Baby I Don't Care by Lee Server and I watched various documentaries on Mitchum's life and work. I've been viewing Robert Mitchum movies from various sources: old videotapes, Netflix, YouTube, even Hulu. I've even been listening to his Calypso album! So why couldn't I pull off Robert Mitchum week?

First off, I wanted to write all the pieces together. In one fell swoop. Every time I came up with a brilliant idea for a post, I'd tuck back into the recesses of my brain for later use only to have said ideas lost in the void that is my mind. Plus I had way too many ideas to cram into just one week. I thought about doing a whole Robert Mitchum month but I didn't have enough content for that. And that was a lot of pressure to put on myself.

How about a Robert Mitchum 1 week and a half? Or two weeks and a third?

Did I mention I have to write a review on a Mitchum-related book for a publisher? Yeah. I better get on that.

Then there was the bio. Oh how I dreaded writing that bio. How am I going to cram Robert Mitchum's crazy life and prolific career into a few paragraphs?

So this morning I decided to toss Robert Mitchum Week out the window and just have what I call "A Veritable Robert Mitchum Explosion". I'm going to post lots of Mitchum stuff, willy-nilly, no form, no structure, just Mitchum stuff spewed onto this blog, in post form. And you know what, I feel liberated. I feel like a poet who was try to cram thoughts into a haiku but decided to use free-form poetry instead.

Watch this space as I proceed to post about Mitchum, in all his glory, with no schedule or structure at all.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Queen Norma Shearer ~ Their Own Desire (1929) now on DVD


I cannot tell you how happy I am that one of my top favorite Norma Shearer films is now out on DVD, thanks to the Warner Archive Collection. And now that they are doing nice original packaging for these DVD-Rs (instead of that boring navy blue swirly design they were previously using), Their Own Desire (1929) gets an awesome treatment with this funky contemporary colorized cover!

The movie itself is a feast for the eyes. Many scenes were shot at the Norconian Resort in Norco, California which was an Art Deco paradise. I secretly dream of breaking into the abandoned resort and looking for the lost and decaying Art Deco treasures. The resort boasted an amazing Art Deco swimming pool and Norma Shearer got to show off her diving skills in a great scene with Robert Montgomery. They both hit the water and share an underwater kiss which to me is an iconic representation of the film, the resort and the era.

There is lots more for the eye to feast on! A dancing scene with moving lights and shadows is the essence of cool Art Deco/1920s style. The rich soak up the sun and get some exercise with a nice game of polo. And the clothes. Oh the clothes. I want them all.

Believe it or not, there is a story too but this is where I separate from other folks. Most people do not like the story because they feel it's lacking in substance and is full of predictable cliches. However, I am very drawn to stories about rich jaded people who are so bored and numb that they manipulate lives to get themselves to feel something. Bonjour Tristesse (1958) anyone? And that's what this is. A story about rich people bored with life. To me that's fascinating. Norma Shearer stars as Lally, a young beautiful rich girl who escapes to a resort with her mother after they have found out that her father, Lewis Stone, is having an affair with another woman. At the resort, Lally meets Jack, Robert Montgomery, and they fall in love. Trouble is, Jack is the son of Beth, the woman who is having an affair with Lally's father. Oops! It's the type of soap opera that only a really excellent Pre-Code film can provide.

I wrote a short review back in 2008 when I first saw the film on TCM and I forsee writing more about this in the future. Now that this is on DVD, I hope to purchase it and make some lovely screen cap collections of all the Art Deco beauty of this film. Maybe I'll even make it a week long affair. Stay tuned... 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tony Rome (1967) is pretty darn cool

When Tony Rome is out and about, trouble is sure to follow. I really loved this movie, so much so that I watched it twice in a row. Once for the story and a second time for the atmosphere. I'm a gal who loves details and this film had a lot to savor. Here are some things I picked up on. Enjoy.



Flimsy nightgowns and balcony bar service


7-digit phone numbers without Area Codes




Old-fashioned product logos. In this case, beer cans.


Old-fashioned cars like this blue Ford.


Cocktail stirrers


Iconic shots such as this one.




Young Gena Rowlands




Old-fashioned hair clips




Jill St. John and her outfits




Going to bed with full make-up on




Ginormous pools in really fancy seaside hotels




Smaller Floridian seaside hotels. My dad used to own one back in the early 1970s.




Old-fashioned staplers.




Telephone Books/Yellow Pages




Typewriter-typed documents




Typewriters

------------

Do you like to look for certain details in movies? What do you look for? I particularly like searching for objects that today are obsolete. There is some charm in things we used to rely on but don't anymore. Or even things like staplers that we use today but older versions seem to be of higher quality.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Norma Shearer

This was a guest post on Silents and Talkies. Artwork is created by Kate Gabrielle. Go visit her new blog Scathingly Brilliant.
---------------------------


Norma Shearer was a sight to behold. She was simply stunning and had an elegance and grace that translated well on film and in photographs. Shearer loved the camera and the camera loved her, but their courtship started off on very rocky footing. Over the years Shearer, along with the help of studio stylists and photographers, developed tricks and techniques for her so that the camera always captured her in the best light possible.

If Norma Shearer was so beautiful, what could she have had to hide? Shearer's biggest physical flaw was the slight cast in one of her eyes. Technically it was not a lazy eye but it was ever so off center, enough to make her look cross-eyed. At one point she had surgery to correct this, but it never did fully go away. So what did she do? She dealt with it. If you watch Norma Shearer's films or see any of her photographs, she'd always tilted her head and face at an angle. It created a dramatic look, showcased her spectacular profile and hid her major flaw. It took years of practice and it wasn't until well into her talkie career in which her crossed eyes are completely unnoticeable. She learned an effective trick from photographer George Hurrell that if she looked towards directly in the camera's direction she had to look past it, as though she was looking beyond at something very far away.

As I got to learn more and more about Norma, I discovered that she had even more physical flaws that she withheld from the camera. She had a short dumpy figure, a result of thick legs and arms on a petite body. She was also knock-kneed, something clearly visible when you see her silent film He Who Gets Slapped (1924). Shearer learned to hide her legs with long skirts and dresses and showcase her torso which was slender. She got very knowledgeable about lighting and refused to be shot at any unflattering angle. This oftentimes made her clash with her co-stars who also wanted to look their best on screen. The most notable one is Clark Gable, Shearer's co-star in A Free Soul (1931), Strange Interlude (1932) and Idiot's Delight (1939). Gable had huge ears which were very noticeable and everything possible was done to hide them. He was banned from wearing bowler hats, he had to always look away from the camera and oftentimes his ears were taped to his head so they would lay flat. You can imagine all the work it took to get the best lighting and positioning for when Gable and Shearer shared a scene. It must have been quite a battle!

Beyond the physical, Norma used her natural charisma to enhance her beauty. She always had lively expressions and elegant hand and arm movements. Her vibrancy was electric and seemed to light up the screen. Who would be searching for flaws when they would be too busy being entranced by her charm?

So why do Norma's flaws matter? Norma Shearer acknowledged what she had and what she didn't and worked very hard to be her best. It's something that made her notorious as a diva but to me it showed her admirable diligence to overcome obstacles in her path. I've learned from her and even I've developed tricks so I can look my best on camera.

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