Showing posts with label Sexuality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sexuality. Show all posts

Monday, August 9, 2010

God Speed Patricia Neal (1926-2010)


and thank you for this scene in Fountainhead (1949). It's by far one of the sexiest scenes in film history.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Parrish (1961) & Susan Slade (1961)

Parrish (1961) is a coming-of-age soap which follows young Parrish's (Troy Donahue) transition into manhood. Parrish relocates with his mother Ellen (Claudette Colbert) to Connecticut's Million-Dollar-Mile; a stretch of land boasting various tobacco farms. These farms produce some of the finest tobacco leaves that are used as wrappers for top-notch cigars. Parrish enters the world of tobacco farming and learns how the business works. He discovers the underhandedness of the business and what it is to be ethical and fair. He falls in love with field worker Lucy (Connie Stevens) who is a little to quick to become intimate with him. Then he falls into rebellious rich girl Alison's (Dianne McBain) snare. She sees Parrish as an opportunity for a continued life of wealth and pleasure. Finally there is quiet and wholesome Paige (Sharon Hugueny), daughter of tobacco tycoon Judd Raike (Karl Malden) and the only one of the Raike siblings who hasn't inherited her father's greed. Things get complicated when Parrish's mother marries Judd Raike and Parrish becomes part of Raike's dirty business.

There are two reasons you should watch this film. Karl Malden and Claudette Colbert. Karl Malden turns over a wonderful performance as angry man Judd Raike who's greed and desire for control are so overpowering that he will plow over anyone in his way, including his own kin. Malden excels in bad-guy roles, yet he can be genuine playing nice-guy characters too. He just has incredible range. Parrish happens to be Claudette Colbert's last feature-film role. She looked as beautiful as she did almost three decades earlier in the milk-bath scene in The Sign of the Cross (1933). It's quite a delight to watch her in this movie.

Susan Slade (1961) is another coming-of-age soap in Delmer Daves/Troy Donahue style. Similar to Parrish, it follows the story's title character, played by Connie Stevens, as she blossoms into womanhood. After spending 10 years in Chile, the Slade family is returning to the US. On the cruiseliner, Susan meets a young man, Conn White (Grant Williams), who is on his way to Alaska for a mountain climbing expedition. They fall in love and the close quarters of the ship speed up their romance and they become intimate very quickly. They separate once they arrive in California, but Conn promises that he will return to her after his expedition so they can marry. Susan writes to him everyday, longing for the day that he will come back to her and the baby she is carrying but he never returns. Now it is up to the Slade family to figure out how to protect their family and the future life of the baby from a less-than-understanding society. Oh and Troy Donahue is somewhere in their too.

This is not a film I would recommend to folks that did not like A Summer Place (1959). Both films are very similar in how they deal with premarital sex and teenage pregnancy. They also both star Troy Donahue and Dorothy McGuire. If however, you liked A Summer Place, you would enjoy this. The cinematography is beautiful and lush; candy for the eyes. The story is over-the-top in the only way a good soap can be. Also, if you happen to be a fan of Peyton Place (1957), this is right up your alley!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rome Adventure (1962)

Rome Adventure (1962) is a little treasure. It's a wonderful escapist romance filmed on location in Italy. No really! In Italy. Not painted backdrops or spliced in documentary footage, but real locations. Watching this film felt like I was just took a vacation in 1960's Italy.

This film is Suzanne Pleshette's first major film role. She plays Prudence Bell, a sheltered New England librarian who is about to be fired for letting a student read a controversial novel Lovers Must Learn. She decides to quit instead and to escape to Italy to find romance. The film is based on the novel Lovers Must Learn and the book itself is a catalyst for the plot in the movie. I would not consider this a sex comedy or a full-on drama. It's a romantic movie with both comedic and dramatic moments.

Prudence sets sail on a cruise liner to Italy (oh how I wish I could do that!). On the boat she meets boring and love-lorn etruscologist Albert (Hampton Fancher) and suave debonnair Italian man Roberto (Rossano Brazzi). Neither of the two men are able to win over her heart, like American art student Don (Troy Donahue) who wines and dines her and whisks her off for a romantic vacation to Lake Maggiore. Yet Don is tangled up with Lydia (Angie Dickinson), a rich brat who abandoned him for another man, only to come back to Don when she needs his help. The people in Lydia's life are all pawns in her game and she sets out to destroy Prudence's innocent love for Don.

Angie Dickinson mere presence is the best part of this movie. She is the sexpot who is the complete opposite of Prudence. Her character serves to show the fundamental differences between a good girlfriend and a bad one. Plus they give her a beautiful apartment and an awesome wardrobe!

Like Palm Springs Weekend (1963), the music in this film is notable. The musical score is by Max Steiner. The main theme is the Italian song Al Di La and famous Italian vocalist Emilio Pericolo sings it in one of the romantic scenes. Variations of the theme song follow the two lovebirds throughout the movie.

Famous jazz trumpeter Al Hirt (aka "The King of the Trumpet") has a small role in the film. He plays a jazz trumpeter (no kidding!) who has a beautiful yet dangerous girlfriend. My favorite scene in this movie is when he introduces his girlfriend to Don and Prudence. In his introduction, he has her reveal the knife she carries strapped to her thigh. He says that he doesn't know whether she'll leave him or kill him. Prudence is horrified and Don is both fascinated and confused. The whole scene just made me laugh.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Palm Springs Weekend (1963)

Palm Springs Weekend (1963) is a follow-up to the classic Where the Boys Are (1960). Both explore the antics of college students on spring break. The tag line for Palm Springs Weekend pays homage to the original when it declares, It's Where the Boys Are, and the Girls Are. A college basketball team heads to Palm Springs, Nevada and much to their dismay, their grumpy coach has followed them. The captain of the team Jim (Troy Donahue) is reluctant to go on the trip at all while buddy Biff (Jerry van Dyke) is ready for the ladies! On her way to Palm Springs too is Gail Lewis (Connie Stevens) a beautiful teenager trying to pass for a wealthy 21-year-old Hawaiian student. She has two romantic rivals. First is cowboy/Hollywood stunt-man Stretch (Ty Hardin) who has a kind heart. Then there is jaded, rich boy Eric (Robert Conrad) who is on the path of self-destruction, all to get the attention of his negligent father. Meanwhile Jim is romancing townie Bunny (Stefanie Powers) whose father just happens to be the Sheriff (yikes!). The standout of the movie is Amanda (Zeme North), the plain Jane, tomboy who is just plain boy crazy. She's got her eyes set on Biff, who is both scared and intrigued by this petite little fireball. She finally snags him when she gets a full make-over (of course!).

By definition, this film is a sex comedy. It pitches girls against guys and deals primarily with sex, although there is no actual sex in the story. The differences between how men and women perceive romance and commitment are explored in a light-hearted, screwball comedy kind of way. For more information on sex comedies, I highly suggest reading the excellent three-part series on the history of this subgenre found on the blog A Shroud of Thoughts.

This is by far my favorite of the four films in the Warner Bros. Romance Classics Boxed Set. I wanted to watch it again almost immediately after first viewing. I can understand this kind of film may not be to everyone's taste, but give it a try if you can. It's supposed to be fun and silly! Once you understand that, you can open yourself up to enjoy it.

Music and it's effect on youth culture is at the center of this story. My favorite scene in the film takes place at the record store where Bunny and Jim meet. All the kids break out into dance right in the middle of the store. I wish this could happen in real life. I dream of the day that I walk into a Borders and head to the music section only to see a bunch of teenagers rockin' out to their favorite tunes. I dream of that day!

This film is not a musical, but the music in this film is notable. The title song Live Young is sung by star Troy Donahue over the opening credits. It's a fun, light catchy tune that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Also, The Modern Folk Quartet performs Ox Driver in the scene at "Jack's Casino". Both songs are excellent and worth watching... err... listening for.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boxed Set Review: Warner Bros. Romance Classics Collection

The Warner Bros. Romance Classic Collection is a true delight. It's a time machine that transports you to a bygone era and fills you with nostalgia. If you expect a gourmet meal you'll be disappointed, but if you expect delicious candy, you will be thrilled. This boxed set captures the youthfulness of the early '60s with films that spoke to the youth of that generation. It's the living end! Also, the films have been digitally remastered giving them a visual vibrancy that age had once taken away. I just spent a lovely weekend watching the movies in the set.

It contains 4 films starring '60s heartthrob Troy Donahue. First there is Palm Springs Weekend (1963), a hilarious madcap sex comedy geared towards the college-bound. Then it is followed by three coming-of-age stories marking the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time writer/director Delmer Daves teamed up with actor Troy Donahue, the first being A Summer Place (1959). There is Parrish (1961), a soap about a young man torn between three women in Connecticut's Million-Dollar-Mile. Then there is Rome Adventure (1962), a fun escapist movie about a young New England librarian who flees to Italy to find love. Finally there is Susan Slade (1960), a soap about an unmarried young woman who holds a secret that could destroy her romantic and social life. Posts on each of the films are to come.

I find that a lot of classic film fans don't like the movies from the '60s, which in my opinion is an utter shame. Such wonderful movies have came out of this era. It is important to regard these films within the context of the time they came from. Sex comedies and coming-of-age soap operas were escapist vehicles for teenagers and young adults in the '60s. They spoke directly to young audiences in ways that films from previous decades hadn't been able to.

I would recommend this boxed set to anyone who has an open mind and is willing to give films from the 1960s a try. They are all fun and enjoyable to watch. My only complaint about this boxed set is that all the films star Troy Donahue, someone who I've always thought was just bleh. But it is made up for with the likes of such fine personalities as Angie Dickinson, Connie Stevens, Suzanne Pleshette and Stefanie Powers.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

20 Actresses Movie Meme

I was just dying for someone to tag me for the 20 Actresses Movie Meme started The Film Experience blog. But I was patient because I knew that Ibetolis over at the excellent blog Film for the Soul would tag me. He's always very kind to think of me and I appreciate that a lot.

It was a lot of fun working on this list. I discovered that my tastes are by no means mainstream or ordinary. Ladies are presented in no particular order, except for the Queen of MGM who always gets top billing.

~ Norma Shearer ~

~ Joan Blondell ~

~ Susan Peters ~

~ Sandra Dee ~

~ Bette Davis ~

~Ruby Keeler ~

~ Doris Day ~

~ Jean Harlow ~

~ Kim Novak ~

~ Marilyn Monroe ~

~ Bonita Granville ~

~ Ginger Rogers ~

~ Jean Seberg ~

~ Jean Hagen ~

~ Caroll Baker ~

~ Shirley MacLaine ~

I couldn't just make this all about classic film ladies, when there are so many contemporary actresses I enjoy watching too. Here are a few.

~ Amy Adams ~

~ Samantha Morton ~

~ Romola Garai ~

~Ludivine Sagnier~

(thanks Jonas for the photo of Ludivine!)

I'll tag Jonas of All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!, Ginger of Asleep in New York, Carrie of Classic Montgomery, CK Dexter Haven of Hollywood Dreamland and Sarah of Cinema Splendor. Not so much as a tag, more like a smack. Hee hee. Have fun!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You Otto See It: Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

Bonjour Tristesse (1958) is my new obsession. In a nutshell, the story is about bored, rich people who play with other people's lives to pass the time. It reminded me a lot of the film My Man Godfrey. In Bonjour Tristesse, 17-year old Cecile (Jean Seberg) is staying with her father, Raymond (David Niven), at their vacation home on the French Riviera. He is openly having an affair with a French woman named Elsa (Mylene Demongeot), that is until Cecile's godmother, Anne (Deborah Kerr), comes to stay and he shifts his focus. Anne gets in the way of Cecile's two major relationships. The tight yet aloof bond with her father and the burgeoning romance with young law student, Philippe (Geoffrey Horne).

This film is probably the best example of Otto Preminger's keen attention to the details. If you don't pay close attention, you'll miss many important subtleties that are woven into the fabric of the story. And since I am all about the details, I thought I would dissect 3 short scenes from the film to show how Preminger used these subtleties to reveal elements of the character's personal dilemmas.

1) Champagne Scene

Before heading to a casino for a night of fun, the primary characters, all glammed up, drink some champagne. Distracted by their own charms, not one of them notices that the maid is serving herself very generous portions of champagne, which she guzzles down greedily as the party laughs away at their own jokes. It's an interesting commentary at the obliviousness of the upper class (and its moochers) to the state of the lower class. This is an ongoing theme throughout the movie.

2) The Shoulder Kiss Scene

All summer long, Cecile and Philippe frolick around in their bathing suits worshipping the sun, the ocean and each other. The lack of parental supervision has put their courtship into overdrive. That is, until Anne, Cecile's father's fiancee, catches them in a passionate embrace. Anne chastises them, demanding that they no longer see each other. Philippe leaves, but not before kissing Cecile on the shoulder. Enjoying the kiss, Cecile kisses that exact same spot on her shoulder. This is really the first instance we Cecile acknowledging some kind of real connection with someone other than her father. These people are to some extent numb and when one actually feels something real they are either excited or scared by it.

3) Sleep or Sex? Scene

Preminger got away with murder here. Anne and Raymond are engaged. Only a serious commitment from Raymond would allow for Anne to ignore her prudish nature and give into their mutual passion.

Raymond: Oh. Pig, pig, pig. I ate like a pig.
Anne: Sleepy?
Raymond: In a way.
Anne: [pause] No, I have to work.

Basically, Raymond just gave her an opportunity to sleep with him and she just turned it down. All of this in front of Raymond's daughter Cecile. It shows how wrecklessly Raymond treats sex and how this will affect not only Cecile but also Anne.

You definitely Otto see this film. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that because there is so much in this film to take in, that I think you Otto see it twice! If anything, watch it for Saul Bass' beautiful title sequences. They are worth it on their own.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sexiest Scenes in Film History: Teacher's Pet (1957)

I think the picture and its caption are self-explanatory don't you think? What could have turned out to be a boring movie with a young Doris Day still trying to find her stride as a romantic lead and an aging Clark Gable a little incredible as her suitor, was saved by this one great frame!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sexiest Scenes in Film History: Part Two

I had so much fun compiling a list of what I thought were some of the sexiest scenes in film history that I thought I'd come up with 8 more sizzling scenes to share. These are scenes that seethe sex even with the imposed restrictions placed upon them by either the Hayes Code (with the exception of most pre-codes) or societal mores. They are remarkable in that their power is not in the showing but in the suggesting. If subtely is something you appreciate, like I do, then there is no question you will enjoy (or have enjoyed) these sultry scenes.

  1. To Catch a Thief (1955) - Hitchcock was well-versed in the power of suggestion. He took advantage of Grace Kelly's sexual allure and Cary Grant's deobonairre persona to create electricity on the screen. One could even say the chemistry between the two main characters was "explosive". The scene in question has Kelly and Grant, in a hotel room, in the dark sharing a passionate kiss while fireworks go on outside. Fireworks, of course, suggest something else happens shortly after. (link is the trailer)

  2. Young Man with a Horn (1950) - Kirk Douglas stars as a trumpeter who should fall in love with the angelic Doris Day but cannot help being seduced by femme fatale Lauren Bacall. They are married but frustrations grow as he realizes she has little to no desire for him. After much turmoil, Douglas' character confronts his wife when she is out with another woman. Yikes!

  3. Baby Doll (1956) - I often forget this was a film from the '50s and not from the '60s, as I usually classify it in my mind. It's so ahead of it's time. Eli Wallach is hot in this film. And I mean hot! He plays a Sicilian cotton-gin supervisor who likes to torment and tease another man's 19-year old wife. The girl, played by Carroll Baker, isn't quite capable of consuming her marriage as she's stuck in a little-girl mindset, which is probably her way of coping with growing up before she was ready. The infamous swing scene has Wallach's character seducing Baker's, who only pretends not to be interested. Very steamy. (link is the trailer)

  4. The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) - Elements of this film are sexual, but in the wrong way. Queen Norma Shearer plays invalid Elizabeth Barrett who is kept in her weakened condition without possibility of improvement by her overbearing father, played by Charles Laughton. Laughton did an excellent job at suggesting the father's incestuous infatuation with his daughter by evoking his conflicting passions through his eyes. The most uncomfortable scene is when the daughter tried to walk and he sweeps her off her feet and carries her away. Eek!

  5. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - It's New Orleans, the air is hot and dense with humidity, which makes the characters all that more bothered and restless. Besides Brando being absolutely gorgeous in every scene, the Brando/Stanley-Hunter/Stella-Leigh/Blanche sexual triangle is unsettling because each of the character's is not in their right mind. Stanely is frustrated, Stella is frustrated and Blanche is just plain off her rocker. Many of the scenes in this film are very sexy, but there is one that stands out. Stella descends the stairs towards Stanley, who's shirt is barely hanging on by a thread, she pulls him towards her and runs her hands down his muscular back. Is it hot in here or is it just me? (link is the trailer)

  6. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) - Sex is on the mind of every character in this film. Not sex in general but the lack of sex between the young married couple played by Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. While only very subtly suggested in the film, Newman's character is dealing with the internal conflict of being married to an attractive woman but still holding onto to the repressed homosexual attraction to his now deceased friend. Taylor's character is sexually frustrated and it doesn't help that his family blames her for not having had a child yet. To me the most sizzling of scenes is when Taylor wraps her arms around Newman pleading for sexual attention only to have him break free from her grip for the umpteenth time. Poor thing. (link is the trailer)

  7. Red Dust (1932) - I couldn't create this new list without including a Jean Harlow film. This film, which was later remade as Mogambo (1953), stars Clark Gable as a plantation overseer who has conflicting desires for floozy Jean Harlow and married Mary Astor. There are numerous sexy scenes in this film. Harlow naked in an outdoor bathtub, being man-handled by Gable. The howling wind conveniently moving up Harlow's skirt revealing her slender gams. The sexiest one is when Gable roughly pulls Harlow onto his lap, kissing her. This is the culmination of all the sexual tension between them. (link is the trailer)

  8. Design for Living (1933) - I am still surprised that this film was ever made. Miriam Hopkins stars as a woman who cannot decide between which of her two boyfriends (Gary Cooper and Frederich March) to keep, so she decides to keep them both in her life and moves in with them but forgoes a sexual relationship with either. Neither of the two men are happy about her decision but at the same time do they don't want to walk away and let the other snag her. The sexiest scene takes place in a car where Hopkins sits between her two beaus and plants a kiss on one then turns to plant a kiss on the other. Talk about sharing. Wow!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sexiest Scenes in Film History

Many folks say that the famous beach shot of Burt Lancaster and a blonde Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity (1953) is one of the sexiest scenes in film history. I had that in mind when I watched the movie for the first time last weekend. Maybe I was expecting more, but I was mildly disappointed when I did finally see it. It was far too short and quickly moved into a heated argument over jealousy and rumor. I was much more intrigued by the scene in which Deborah's character is looking for her husband and Burt's character says to her, in a very flirty manner, "Is there anything I can do for you?". Yes, I'm sure there was a lot of things he wanted to do for her.

This got me thinking. Classic films are not generally known for their sexiness. In fact, most people have a preconceived notion that because these films were heavily censored that they were stripped of any sexuality. But that just isn't the case. There are plenty of very sexy pre-code films and suggestive movies from the late '50s. Besides, filmmakers found numerous ways to work around the censors and subtley makes for more of an impact on the viewer.

Below is a list of what I believe are the top 10 sexiest scenes in classic films. I hope you've had the pleasure of seeing at least one of them.

1. Rear Window (1954) - Grace Kelly walks in on a sleeping Jimmy Stewart and wakes him up with a seductively soft kiss. Then plants numerous little kisses on him after showing him her overnight bag. WOW! (link is a short clip)

2. Double Harness (1933) - Ann Harding slips into something more comfortable while at playboy William Powell's apartment. So scandalous that it was discovered many years later that the 2-1/2 minute clip was taken out of many copies of the movie. (link is another related clip)

3. Red-Headed Woman (1932) - What scene of this film isn't sexy? I think they all were. Jean Harlow is red-hot as she seduces her wealthy boss played by Chester Morris. He's fed up with her seduction and confronts her at her apartment. She traps him in her bedroom by locking the door and hides the key in her cleavage. Yowzah! (link is another related clip)

4. A Free Soul (1931) - Norma Shearer is in a figure-clinging dress (and nothing else, if you know what I mean) when seducing gangster Clark Gable. She reclines on a sofa and beckons him to put his arms around her.

5. The Cabin in the Cotton (1932) - The sexual tension between Bette Davis and Richard Barthelmess is intense. The most famous scene is Bette line to Richard: "I'd kiss ye, but I just washed ma' hair". She teases him almost endlessly, until one day, the rich southern belle takes the poor boy up to her room, in her mansion, and then well, you know. (link is the trailer)

6. Spartacus (1960) - One of the opening scenes in which Kirk Douglas is slaving away under the hot sun, combines his muscles, a nice tan and a lot of sweat. It's just all very good.

7. North by Northwest (1959) - Hitchcock was a very very clever man. The final scene with Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant, on a train, in a bed... then cut to a shot of a train entering a tunnel. Talk about suggestive. (link is a featurette about censorship of the movie)

8. Woman of the Year (1942) - You are probably surprised that this is listed here. However, the scene where Katerine Hepburn's character meets Spencer Tracy's character for the first time is electric. The chemistry between them was unmistakeable. This was their first film together and it lead to their real-life romance of 27 years. (link is the trailer)

9. The Seven Year Itch (1955) - One of Marilyn Monroe's most iconic roles. Besides the famous flowing skirt scene, this film is rife with Monroe's special doses of blonde bombshell. Monroe is hot (because it's summer and for other reasons as well) and is trying desperately to find ways to cool down. In the meantime, she gets the married Tommy Ewell all hot and bothered. The air-conditioner scene is my personal favorite. (link is the trailer)

10. Cat People (1942) - Feline Simone Simon is seductively bad. There is something very alluring about the bathtub scene. She seems delicate yet dangerous. So subtle! (link is the trailer)

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