Showing posts with label Hunka Kirk Douglas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hunka Kirk Douglas. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast (2017)

If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast (2017)
"__________ is still alive?!" 

Just fill in the blank with the name of a very elderly actor, actress or entertainer and this is a question I hear on a regular basis. As someone who has an interest in classic movies and 20th century culture and entertainment, I cherish the fact that some of my favorites are living legends. It makes me happy to see so many of them in their 90s and 100s thriving and in many cases still working. It pains me when people relegate the status of old people as useless or simply close to death. People fear growing old and dying so when they see an elderly person their defenses go up and they lash out. It's my belief that we should respect and treasure the elderly. They bear the wisdom of the decades and we have much to learn from them about living life.

This is why it is so important that everyone watch HBO's new documentary If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast (2017). This doc explores several figures both in and out of the entertainment industry who are living life to the fullest in their 90s or 100s. The documentary follows legendary comedian Carl Reiner, 95, with the help of his nephew George Shapiro, as he seeks out the stories of those who are thriving in their advanced years. The title of the documentary is inspired by this often repeated quote:

"Every morning before having breakfast, I pick up my newspaper, get the obituary section and see if I'm listed. If I'm not, I have my breakfast." - Carl Reiner

Carl Reiner, George Shapiro, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear
Carl Reiner, George Shapiro, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear

Many familiar faces can be found in the documentary. Tony Bennett who recently turned 90 serenades us with a song. Reiner chats with long-time friends producer/comedian Mel Brooks, 90 and TV producer Norman Lear, 93. Their casual chats produce some of the best moments in the film. Reiner has a hilarious conversation with Betty White about age, having purpose in life and sexuality. At 94 she says, "I don't want to be a burden to anybody. Except possibly Robert Redford." Dick Van Dyke, 90 never lost his goofiness or energy over the years. There are numerous scenes with him in the documentary including sit down chat with Reiner but we also see him heading to Capitol Records to record songs with his wife Arlene, at a Barnes & Noble for the launch of his book Keep Moving (I've reviewed it here) and dancing around and being jovial out and about and in his home.

Carl Reiner and Betty White, If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast (2017)
Carl Reiner and Betty White

Comic book creator Stan Lee shares his life's story as well as some insights on what his life his like at the age of 90. All of these figures are healthy and thriving. This gets Reiner thinking about people who are at an advanced age yet are suffering from poor health. He visits Kirk Douglas, 99 at the time of filming, who is still dealing with the aftermath of his stroke. They have a honest chat about death. Reiner shares the story of his wife Estelle's passing and Douglas relates the story of his mother's passing. Douglas' mother told him, "don't be scared. It happens to everyone."

Then there are the discoveries. Those wonderful figures who grace this documentary and charm us with their wit, wisdom and joie de vivre. Moments spent watching them were my favorites. There are a few you might of heard of including fashion icon Iris Apfel, 94 who is the figure of a fantastic documentary Iris (2014) directed by Albert Maysles. Then there is singer/actress Patricia Morison who at the age of 101 still enjoys singing, delights us with her joy and tantalizes us with a scandalous story about Yul Brynner. I fell head over heels for a few of these discoveries. There is Stan Harper, the world's greatest harmonica player. He was Reiner's old army buddy and can be seen at the age of 14 in One-Third a Nation (1939). Fyvush Finkel, 92 a Yiddish comedian and singer who lives to perform. He quipped "as soon as I get on that stage I have all the energy in the world." Lounge pianist and music composer Irving Fields, who wrote Latin infused songs including A Latin from Manhattan, won my heart. I feel head over heels for his passion for music and his drive to keep doing what he loves to do. Unfortunately all three of these have since passed away.

Irving Fields
Irving Fields

Others who will inspire you include centenarian athlete Ida Keeling, pianist Harriet Thompson, 93, yogi and tango dancer Tao Porchon-Lynch, 97, portrait artist Ray Olivere, 91 and singer Alan Bergman, 90. I particularly loved the segment with Jim "Pee Wee" Martin, 95, who was in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment during WWII. We see footage of him sky diving at the age of 94. His interview was one of my favorites because of his frankness. He lived a life where he cherished simplicity and hard work. Martin reflects, "the age part is nothing. I don't feel any different today than when I was 25 years old."

There are lots of great bits of wisdom throughout the documentary. Here are some highlights:

"Life is the main gift that we have. And as long as you're here eat it up." 
Patricia Morrison

"There are two words we don't understand the importance of: over and next. When something is over its over. And then comes next." 
Norman Lear

"I do it my way. I'm not interested in being current."
Iris Apfel

"People are scared to death of age. Don't fear it. Meet it head on."
"New experiences are the only thing that you can collect in life that end up being worth it."
Dick Van Dyke

 "Don't lose your curiosity." 
Ray Olivere

"I go on and on because I love what I do."
Irving Fields 

"Being old is like a whole new adventure. You can't describe it to young people."
Stan Lee

"You gotta be the boss of your body."
Ida Keeling

So what is the secret of longevity? There are many answers that Reiner as well as longevity expert Dan Buettner share in the documentary. These include: Have a social life. Be optimistic about your future. Have a purpose for every day. Be physically fit and enjoy life. Then there are those elements that are genetic or pure luck like being cognitively aware at an advanced age, avoiding fatal accidents and overall good health.

If there's one thing I hope to get across to people, its that they absolutely need to watch If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast (2017). I could review it as a straight documentary and find its flaws. But the importance of its message and wonderful stories of beautiful lives that it shares overshadows everything else. I fell in love with this documentary and the people in it. I hope you do too.

If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast (2017) is currently available on HBO GO and HBO Now. I hope it gets a DVD/Blu-Ray release in the near future. I'll definitely be picking up a copy. And to my TCMFF friends, you'll delight in seeing our bud Jeff from Larry Edmunds Bookshop who makes a cameo in the documentary.

*All ages listed reflect the correct age at the time of filming.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Young Man With a Horn (1950)


Young Man With a Horn (1950) airs on TCM Friday August 30th at 8AM EST for the Kirk Douglas Summer Under the Stars day and it's not a film to be missed. This post is my second contribution to this year's Summer Under the Stars Blogathon hosted by Jill and Michael.

The story is based on the novel Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker. The books is considered to be the first jazz novel and is loosely based on real life jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke but is really in essence a work of fiction. I plan to review the novel for my 2013 Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge so stay tuned for that!

The film follows the life story of Rick Martin (Kirk Douglas), a jazz trumpeter, from beginning to end. We first see Rick as a young boy. He's parentless and being raised by his sister. He discovers music, jazz in particular, purely by accident and is instantly enamored. Rick watches jazz musicians turn out tunes and dreams of owning the trumpet he sees in a local pawn shop. He's a white kid amongst a lot of African-American jazz musicians including Art Hazzard (Juano Hernandez), who would become his life-long friend. The years pass and Rick fine tunes his skills and becomes a professional jazz musician.

Rick meets Jo Jordan (Doris Day), the girl he should be with, and Amy North (Lauren Bacall), the girl he wants to be with. Jo is a singer who befriends Rick and tries to help him out during his many low points. However, Rick has his eye on Amy, a sophisticated and glamorous socialite who is enamored with Rick. She's talentless and is intrigued by Rick's wealth of talent. She goes to school and parties to fill the hours of her days because she's terribly bored. Rick and Amy marry but it's a turbulent marriage that sends Rick on a downward spiral.

Young Man With a Horn is a wonderful film. When reading the novel, I discovered that while the film doesn't stay very true to the original story, it focuses more on Rick's romantic life and downward spiral, it still stands well on its own. The film was released 63 years ago and is notable because, as of today, all three main stars are still alive: Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall and Doris Day. It deals with issues of race, love and alcoholism. Kirk Douglas is really good at playing characters who are intense and passionate and the character of Rick Martin is no exception. Doris Day has an opportunity to sing as well as to play the good girl character she's become known for in the years that followed. Lauren Bacall is really enticing as the femme fatale whose siren call is Rick's downfall. Lesbianism is hinted at in the story when Amy North brings home a female companion for what looks like a romantic rendezvous. Author Dorothy Baker didn't include this in the novel but was interested in homosexual characters and they appear in several of her novels. We talk a lot more openly today about homosexuality so for modern audiences this doesn't mean much but probably did mean a lot in 1950.

I've seen this film several times and feel a sort of bond with it. I watched the film early on when I started to develop an interest in classic movies and it has stuck with me ever since. Each time I watch it I get something new out of it.

TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Kirk Douglas DVDSo get up early or set your DVR for Young Man With a Horn (1950)! If you do miss it, it's available to rent from ClassicFlix and Netflix and you can purchase it as part of the TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Kirk Douglas DVD Set or the Doris Day Collection Volume 1. It used to be available as a stand-alone DVD but has since gone out of print.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

20 Actors Movie Meme

It was inevitable after the 20 Actresses Movie Meme circulated among the blog world that an Actor one would follow suit. And I was ready! The men were much easier to select from than the women. While it's terribly easy for me to dislike an actress (she looked at me funny), I have high respect for many actors. This list was easy to order as well, since I have formed very strong attachments to certain actors and I could guage what number to put them at based on the strength of my feelings. I also use the giggle-mometer. Whenever I see any of these fine gentlemen onscreen, I let out a giggle. The higher-pitched and more annoying the giggle, the more I like him. I guess you don't want to be around me when I see my King Robert Mitchum on screen do you?

Robert Mitchum

Bobby Darin

Rock Hudson

(Kevin - This image is dedicated to you!)

Clark Gable

Kirk Douglas

Jimmy Stewart

Cary Grant

Richard Barthelmess

Lewis Stone

Buster Keaton
Laurel & Hardy

(Thank you Frank for this wonderful image!)

The Marx Bros.

William Powell
(image from Google-LIFE Archive)

Robert Montgomery

Sidney Poitier

George Sanders

Louis Calhern

Charles Laughton

Sterling Hayden

~Honorable Mention: 5 more to round it out to top 25~

Jack Lemmon

Dennis Morgan

Spencer Tracy

Chester Morris

Ramon Novarro

Now it's my turn to tag some folks, seeing as I tagged myself for this one. And the unlucky SOBs are....

Ibetolis @ Film for the Soul

Ginger @ Asleep in New York

Jonas @ All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!

Casey @ Noir Girl

Joanne @ Zippin' Along

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ten Things I Like About Old Movies

Jacqueline over at Another Old Movie Blog, did an excellent post called Ten Things I Like About Old Movies. She set aside obvious things like acting, script, camera work, etc. and listed only quirky things that she enjoyed. Self-Styled Siren also did a similar post. I'm going to join the bandwagon and do one too! It's not stealing if I give credit to folks, right?

1) Busby Berkeley-esque choreography - Women and men move in and out of shapes. It's a beautifully complex feast for the eyes. 42nd Street (1933) , Dames (1934) and The Gold Diggers of 1933 are among my favorites.

2) Men lighting Matches - Oh so sexy. They light them in unconventional ways. These men exude confidence and are not scared of a little flame. Wow. Fred MacMurray lit one with his thumb in Double Indemnity (1944), Kirk Douglas lit one on a typewriter in Ace in the Hole (1951) (see below) and William Holden lit one on another man's shirt in Stalag 17 (1953). S'all good.

3) Women's silk robes/negligees - Complete with fancy slippers or some other frou-frou. It made going to bed look like a red carpet event. Like Jean Harlow in Red-Headed Woman (1932).

4) New Year's Eve - It looks like so much more fun in an old movie than it is in real life. How I would love to have a night like Ginger Rogers had in Bachelor Mother (1939) . David Niven dolled her up and took her out for a fancy meal, dancing and a final countdown in Times Square. ::sigh:: New Year's Eve celebrations in The Divorcee (1930) and The Apartment (1960) are memorable too!

5) Coffee & Pastries - So much more delicious (and less fattening) when actors consume them on screen. There is the famous Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) scene with Audrey Hepburn balancing a pastry and cup of coffee in front of the famous Tiffany's store. Jane Wyman offers Rock Hudson a coffee and a roll in All That Heaven Allows (1956) and they fall in love over lunch. Robert Mitchum sips at a cup of coffee when he romances Janet Leigh in Holiday Affair (1949).

6) Clothes Shopping - The Women (1939) anyone? "Zips up the side and no bones." Young models wearing the latest fashions, walking and posing for potential buyers. You'd have to be famous or an industry professional to get this kind of showcase these days. It puts me in mind of How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) too.

7) Impeccably dressed Men - Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart. They all look good in a suit. Sure the women's fashions were great. But a well-dressed man is a sight to behold. If they just happen to be wearing a pocket watch, I absolutely swoon. Even ratty trenchcoats are wonderful, because they wore them well. My absolute favorite? Dennis Morgan in uniform in Christmas in Connecticut (1945). Someone get me the smelling salts! I feel a faint coming on.

8) Art Deco Architecture & Design - I'm getting really specific here. The clean, elegant lines and shapes of Art Deco were beautiful and very conducive to bringing a sense of sophistication to movies. Pools seem to fit very nicely here for some reason. I'm thinking of the communal swimming pool in Their Own Desire (1929) as well as the private one in Female (1933) (see image below).

9) Title Songs - Very popular in the late '50s and early '60s, especially for the sex comedies. Titles were taken from the song name or a song was written for the title. My favorite is Pillow Talk (1959) sung by Doris Day. But I also really love Where the Boys Are (1960) (sung by Connie Francis), Come Fly with Me (1963) (sung by Frank Sinatra) and If a Man Answers (1962) (sung by Bobby Darin).

10) Physical Comedy - We have physical comedy these days, but not to the extent of the great comedians back in the day such as Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy, just to name a few. They threw their bodies into their work and the results were hilarious. Even Donald O'Connor did amazing physical comedic work in Singin' in the Rain (1952). The Make 'Em Laugh number sent him to the hospital, but has kept us laughing for decades afterwards.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You were looking for what?!

A friend of mine who has a personal blog (going for almost 10 years!) used to periodically make a list of the funny keywords people used on internet search engines that led them to her blog. I always enjoyed them and wanted to do something similar for my blog. I had never really paid attention to keyword paths until recently when I waded through some on my stat site. While some were pretty basic, others were downright hilarious! I've listed some of the most amusing or interesting ones below with my reactions. I'm using dashes instead of spaces for some of these so that people don't use the same keyword paths again to find my site.

Seductive-classic-movie-moments - Yes please. I'll take two.

Pressure-Point-lipstick-tic-tac-toe - I haz it!

Famous-Film-Noir-cloche-hat-scene - Whatever this person is looking for, I bet the right words are at the tip of the tongue.

People-that-got-rich-thanks-to-the-great-depression - Those bastards!

A-Face-in-the-Crowd-Vitajex-scene - I haz it!

Classic film calendars - get this one -> Universe's Movie Posters Calendar 2009

Double-Indemnity-matches - huh?

Fred-MacMurray-matches-Double Indemnity - OK I get it. I posted about how I thought Fred MacMurray's ability to light a match with his thumb was oddly sexy. Read it here.

1930's-gay-movie - Well, Let Us Be Gay is definitely 1930 and Norma Shearer was definitely gay. In the jovial sense.

What-necklace-did-norma-shearer-wear-in-The-Women? - I need to join forces with this person to find the long lost booty of Norma. Arr. We search for buried treasure.

Kirk-Douglas-naked -I haz it!

Kirk-Douglas-in-bed-with-cigar - I haz it!

Why do I enjoy watching classic film? - Good question my friend. I ask myself that question every day and I love coming up with answers.

Classic-nun-sex-movies - OK that's just wrong!

Leslie-Nielsen-children's-narrator - He's got a wonderful voice for a narrator. I loved his storytelling in the long lost Canadian TV show Katie & Orbie. This search probably led them to my Young Leslie Nielsen post.

Coolattas3 - I think Kevin has a stalker.

Garbo-at-party-at-Otto-Preminger - Did she actually come out of hiding and attend a Preminger party? I need my resident Preminger and Garbo experts to come answer this one. Kevin and Jonas, where are you?

Robert Mitchum in a trenchcoat - Nice one. Here you go!

I encourage other film bloggers to post any funny or interesting keyword paths that have lead internet roamers to your site. Consider yourselves tagged!

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