Showing posts with label Weddings in Film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Weddings in Film. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Weddings and Movie Stars

Weddings and Movie Stars
by Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh
Hardcover, 287 pages
Reel Art Press
April 2011

Find the book on:
Barnes & Noble

Weddings and Movie Stars is a beautiful coffee table book available from the experts in quality photography books, Reel Art Press.

In June of last year, I attended Book Expo America, a big book industry trade show held every year in New York City. I saw a sign for a company called Reel Art Press, a small indie UK publisher I had never heard of. I thought I'd stop by their booth and check out the Kennedy coffee table book they had been advertising. When I arrived at their booth, I was pleasantly surprised to see multiple high quality classic film related coffee table books including one called Weddings and Movie Stars. I was about to get married in a few weeks and it just seemed like kismet that I found out about this publisher and the book. As soon as I got back home, I ordered the book and had so much fun reading it and looking at the wonderful photographs. Since one of my wedding's themes was Classic Hollywood, it was nice to own this.

Weddings and Movie Stars is a huge book! It is 11.75 inches wide and 13.75 inches tall and clocks in at about 7 pounds in weight (I measured it and weighed it myself). The quality photographs are a mixture of black and white and full color and they are gorgeous making this book total eye candy. The images are mostly from real life movie star weddings but also include on screen weddings. You'll see images from the Hollywood elite of the 1920s through to the 1970s with a few modern images. It ends with a somewhat odd tribute to The Graduate (1967) which I think they could have done without.

The photographs in this book are stunning. Some take up a single page or fill up a two page spread. Other pages have a couple images on one page. Basically what I am trying to say is that these are big luscious pictures that you will want to look at over and over again. Each photograph comes with captions which provide detail information about the couple and the wedding. There are lots of great anecdotes and stories as well as trivia bits about the designer of the gown, the circumstances of the wedding, and the inevitable quips about the various divorces that followed.

This book is $79.95 which is quite pricey but Weddings and Movie Stars is a collector's piece and worth the investment. This would make a really nice gift for a new bride especially one like myself who appreciates the style of the 20th century. It would also make for a great addition to anyone's coffee table. When storing it, lay it flat on its back or spine side down if you are putting in a book case, make sure it's spine side down. I made the mistake of putting the book on a book shelf sideways with the spine up and the heavy pages pulled at the spine ripping it a bit. It's a heavy book so make sure you take care of it!

Some notable couples in the book include:

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart (cover)
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III
Gene Tierney and Oleg Cassini
Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles
Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg
Dorothy Dandrige and Harold Nicholas
Sammy Davis Jr. and May Britt (some never before published pictures are included!)
Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra
Jimmy Stewart and Gloria Stewart
Ginger Rogers and Lew Ayres
Elizabeth Taylor and Various (tee hee)
and many more

There is some juicy gossip, most of it well-known and not anything very shocking. There is a very interesting pairing photographs with a picture from Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher's wedding (with Elizabeth Taylor in attendance) followed by Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher's wedding. Eek. Awkward! I did find one small error in the book. They listed Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as getting married in 1930 when the correct year was 1940. Oops! Also there are several non-movie star weddings including all the members of the Beatles but for the most part it sticks to actors and actresses.

Here are some pictures of the book. You may not find Weddings and Movie Stars at your local bookstore but you can find it online at various bookstores and for sale at Reel Art Press.

Note - If you want to find out if any of your favorite stars are in this book, just email me and I'll look it up and let you know.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Weddings in Film ~ Newlywed Life ~ Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

"My Weddings in Film series explores the different stages of getting married as seen through classic movies. The sixth film, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), takes a look at the struggles of newlywed life.

Congratulations on your recent nuptials! Now it's time to enjoy newlywed life. Because newlywed life is full of rainbows and puppies and picnics in the sun. Right? RIGHT?! Well, not really. Not even close. 

Newlywed life differs from couple to couple. Some couples have already had the experience of living together and you've already gone through that phase in which you are learning how to deal with each others quirks and are starting to combine your daily routines together. In fact, for those couples newlywed life after the wedding can be quite a relief because the stress of wedding planning is over and they can settle back into their old routine. For couples who have not lived together and were waiting until after the wedding to do so, newlywed life brings with it a whole bunch of new experiences that they may or may not be ready for.

Let's take a look at Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) has just travelled from his home in the backwoods ("bear country") to town in search for supplies and a wife. 

"Well, I'll trade you for a new plow, two tubs of lard, a barrel of molasses, 25 pounds of chewing tobacco and you wouldn't have a wife under the counter there?"

Bless her beautiful hide...

He's spotted Milly (Jane Powell) taking an axe to some firewood out back of the inn she cooks at. 
He sits down in the inn for a meal to take a good look at Milly and to taste her home cooking. He likes what he sees and likes what he tastes. She likes the look of him too.

And he proposes marriage to her over the back of a cow.

It's only been a few hours since they've met. But he won't be back for another 5 months. He wants her and she wants him and they both want out of their current situation. He wants to put an end to his bachelor days and have a strong hardworking woman to help him keep the household. She wants to have a man all to herself, one she's not afraid to marry and so that she can leave the inn days behind her. Later that evening, after Adam has had a good hot bath and a shave, they marry.

Everything seems to be perfect but when their newlywed life begins Milly discovers a big problem. Adam left out the fact that he's got 6 dirty and hungry brothers, who are seriously lacking in manners, waiting back at the cabin. She was expecting to take care of one big backwoodsman but starts her married life having to take care of 7 instead!

Always back at the inn when I hear all the men yelling and screaming for their dinners, I think how wonderful it would be to cook and care for one man. Just one man. - Milly

Married life is a work in progress and sometimes it's a full-time job. For Milly, newlywed life is a very tough adjustment. In her very short courtship with Adam, she didn't have time to learn what she was really getting into.


What's wonderful about Milly as a character is that she is one tough cookie. It's not long before she's whipped the 6 brothers into shape. They are all shaven, cleaned up and wait to say their prayers before they politely dive into their meals. She even teaches them how to properly court ladies. It's that 7th brother, her new husband Adam, who is a tougher nut to crack.


The disappointment in Milly and Adam's newlywed life stems from two major faults in their courtship: lack of communication and lack of time to get to know each other. Also, Adam knew that if Milly fully understood what it was she was getting into that she may turn him down. In the end, they both had expectations that didn't match the other persons'. But even a misunderstanding like that can be worked on with lots of future communication, patience, understanding, compromise and love. It's a tough road ahead for Milly and Adam. Can they make it work?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weddings in Film ~ The Big Day ~ Father of the Bride (1950)

My Weddings in Film series explores the different stages of getting married as seen through classic movies. The fifth film, Father of the Bride (1950), takes a look at all the chaos of the days leading up to a wedding.

“I would like to say a few words about weddings. I’ve just been through one. Not my own, my daughter’s. Some day in the far future I may be able to remember it with tender indulgence but not now. I always used to think that marriage was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, get married, they have babies, eventually the babies grow up and meet other babies and fall in love and get married and so on and on and on. Looked at that way it’s not only simple it’s downright monotonous. But I was wrong.” - Stanley

Oh boy! The big day is near and there is still so much left to do. You'll need to gather up your bridal party for a rehearsal, check with all your vendors, make all the payments, cross your T's and dot your I's and much more. And once the wedding is nigh, time seems to fly by at such a rapid pace that you wish time would freeze just so you could take a breather. Those few days right before the wedding are the most stressful.

In fact you may be experience a few headaches during the whole process.

Father of the Bride (1950) follows Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Tracy) as he prepares himself both financially and emotionally to his daughter's upcoming wedding. Things are moving really fast for Stanley. It's only been a short while since his daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor) announced that she was in love with and planning to marry her beau Buckley (Don Taylor).

"It was just three months exactly… that the storm broke here." - Stanley

Three months isn't a lot of time to deal with the stress that comes along with a wedding. Not only that, Stanley has to come to terms with the fact that he's losing his beloved 20 year old daughter to a man whom he doesn't know very much about while also facing the fact that as the bride's father he will have to finance the whole affair.

And there are lots of things to pay for. Lots. Including things like fancy wedding cakes.

With a price tag like that back in 1950, it's enough to make anyone go a little crazy. (Fun factoid: In 2012, my own wedding cake doesn't even cost that much!).

Did Buckley happen to mention who is going to finance these child marriages? – Stanley 

 There are a lot of big and little details that go into planning a wedding and when you put them altogether they can be overwhelming. But nothing is quite as stressful as those days leading up to the wedding. 

"I hope you have better luck than I did. Spent $5,000 on my daughter’s wedding. 6 months later she was on her way to Reno." – random Dad at the Engagement party

CHAOS, absolute complete chaos.” – Stanley

You said it Stanley! Weddings are absolute chaos. Making sure everything comes together can be quite a daunting task. First you have to figure out where your ceremony/reception is going to be held. Then you make your guest list which seems to grow uncontrollably. You make out your invitations, send them out and hope that enough people will say yes. Not too many though, just enough so that you can afford it.

Then there is figuring out the flowers, catering, suits, dresses, gown, trousseau, tents, chairs, candles, cake, entertainment, and on and on and on.

I thought a wedding was supposed to be a joyous occasion. This is a business convention! - Kay

The Stanley and Ellie Banks (Joan Bennett) have their work cut out for them. As the parents of the bride they have to handle and pay for pretty much everything. All Buckley's parents have to do is show up and hand over the groom.

Then there is the matter of attire. One of the most humorous scenes in the movie is when Stanley tries on an old suit and top hat he had in his closet. The box it's in is full of moth balls and the suit is a few sizes too small. Stanley is determined to save some money and re-use a suit he's only worn twice before.

Oops! Stanley has to give in and fork over the money for a new suit. We all find situations like this during the wedding planning stage. You think you'll save money by re-using or skipping something but in the end you just end up paying for it just to not have to deal with the drama.

One thing that does seem to lighten the financial burden of weddings is presents. 

“We were not accustomed to such bounty. The idea that anyone should go out and purchase a gift with hard money filled us with tender gratitude." - Stanley

And when the presents come, make sure you have somewhere to put them! Because they'll take up a whole lot of space.

Wedding planning consists of a whole lot of coordinating. And most of that is wrangling all the people involved. Not only do all the guests have to be selected and invited, you also need to confirm that they will actually be coming to your wedding. Also, bridal parties have to get selected, outfitted in their tuxes and dresses, you'll need to order boutonnieres for the men and bouquets for the women and of course you'll need to have a rehearsal to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Let's hope your rehearsal doesn't go as badly as the one in the movie!

As the wedding day draws near, you may start to have stress-induced nightmares. Like Stanley did!

When the chaos has reached it's peak, it's good to just sit down and talk to somebody about everything that is going on. Being able to sort through all your emotions with a good deep conversation will help immensely.

Just keep in mind what the day represents and all the wonderful memories you'll have after all the chaos has settled and the stress has just become a distant memory.

“On to the slaughter…” - Kay

And by the end, you'll have a big party with lots of friends and family and plenty of booze. Congratulations!

P.S. Did you enjoy the screen caps? You can see a full set of them (including some not seen here) on the Out of the Past Facebook page.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weddings in Film ~ Whose Wedding is it Anyways? ~ Double Wedding (1937)

My Weddings in Film series explores the different stages of getting married as seen through classic movies. The fourth film, Double Wedding (1937), asks the question: whose wedding is it anyways?

Congratulations on setting a date for your wedding! Not only is your family very excited about the big day but they also have a lot of opinions about how it should go. And they are not afraid to share those thoughts with you. In fact, they've made a list. What? It's your day so you think it should go your way? Pshaw!

Weddings can sometimes bring out the worst in people. You've heard of Bridezillas right? They are those crazy brides who demand perfection and adoration at all times. But members of the bride's or groom's families can go a little 'zilla too. Take for example Margit Agnew (Myrna Loy) from Double Wedding (1937). The wedding between Margit's sister Irene (Florence Rice) and Waldo (John Beal) has been all arranged by Margit herself. Margit is all business, all the time: in her professional life and in her personal life too. 

"I've arranged a wonderful honeymoon for them. They wanted California but I think Bermuda would be much nicer." - Margit

She's convinced Irene and Waldo to get married and is handling all the wedding details herself. That is until bohemian actor Charles Lodge (William Powell) gets in the way.

"I'm surprised Waldo ever had a chance to fall in love with you! Or was that Margit's idea" - Charles

"As a matter of fact it was. I should have thought of it myself but Margit explained to me that Irene was the only girl for me and I should I love her. So I did." - Waldo

For Margit, the marriage between Irene and Waldo is an arrangement which she sees as beneficial for all parties including herself. 

"I've planned Irene's wedding for years." - Margit

Margit has lost sight of the true purpose of marriage: the union of two people who love each other very much. Is that Irene and Waldo? Not really. Irene loves Waldo and Waldo loves Irene but they are not in love yet. In fact, Irene who dreams of being an actress in Hollywood lusts more after Charles (William Powell). Why? Because he's his own self. He is not tied down by anything or anyone and he speaks his mind even when faced with opposition. That's what Irene wants out of Waldo. In fact, that's what Margit wants too but she doesn't know it yet! Until she meets Charles.

"What are you impersonating? A wedding cake?" - Charles

This movie is incredibly funny despite the pathetic situation both Irene and Waldo find themselves in. Powell and Loy have great on-screen chemistry and the slapstick humor is side-splitting. Plus the Art Deco style set designs are gorgeous! Fans of the Charlie Chan movies will recognize Sidney Toler as Margit's Butler.

Now Margit is an extreme case of a family member gone 'zilla. In this case, the exaggeration is the basis for the  movie's delicious humor. However, in real life situations some family members do take their role (or what they think their role is) too far. Planning a wedding can be really tricky. It can be very easy to offend someone. The couple is usually walking on egg shells through the entire process. Finding that balance of planning the wedding you want while also keeping their family and friends happy can be really tricky. Sometimes that's achievable and other times that's impossible. And for some folks it means eloping and leaving the whole mess behind! Moral of the story? Don't be a Margit!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weddings in Film ~ Traditions ~ You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

My Weddings in Film series explores the different stages of getting married as seen through classic movies. The third film, You Were Never Lovelier (1942), takes a look at wedding traditions.

You've found the person you want to marry and you've decided between a big or small wedding. Now it's time to talk about wedding traditions. Which ones to honor and which ones to skip. Every country, every religion, every family has their own traditions when it comes to the big day. Today people are a lot more creative with weddings, eschewing convention and going for ceremonies and receptions that better reflect the couple's unique personalities. However, for many, weddings are a rite of passage that inherently come with a set of traditions that have to be abided by.

For example, let's take the Acuña family from You Were Never Lovelier (1942). Unlike the Hurley family from The Catered Affair (1956), the Acuña family, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, can afford a big wedding. Their oldest daughter, Julia, is getting married and in the tradition of the Acuña family, all four daughters must be married in birth order. This puts the two youngest sisters, Cecy (Leslie Brooks) and Lita (Adele Mara), in a bit of a quandary. They both have beaus ready for the altar but the second oldest daughter, Maria (Rita Hayworth), has no prospects and is not interested in finding one either.

"He says it's family tradition that the girls be disposed of: one, two, three, four."

Their father, Eduardo Acuña (Adolphe Menjou), sees the plight of his three unmarried daughters and plans to get the second eldest, Maria, in the marrying mood. So the father starts writing fake secret admirer letters and sends them with orchids to his daughter every day at 5 pm. He hopes this will inspire Maria to want a beau. Like in any good comedy, his plan gets thrown off course by something, or in this case someone, unexpected. Dancer Bob Davis (Fred Astaire) wants a job at Mr. Acuña's night club. However, Mr. Acuña wants nothing to do with him and figures he is out of the picture until one day Maria mistakes Bob for her secret admirer. And then, as I like to say, things get complicated.

The dilemma that is the crux of the story is an example of a wedding tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. This sort of birth order arrangement is not as common as it used to be, and in the Western world it's increasingly rare. Today, most people get married when they want, regardless of whether their older siblings have already married.

When the eldest daughter, Julia, gets married, we see various other traditions come in to play. The bride has a trousseau which traditionally a chest of accessories, jewelry, lingerie, clothing and/or other items that is given to the bride by her parents. It can also include the bride's wedding dress. From one of the very first scenes, we learn that Mr. Acuña is a very demanding man. He personally picks out pieces for his daughter's trousseau because he didn't like the set originally picked out for his daughter.

"First time I ever heard of a father selecting a trousseau." - Juan Castro

Right before the wedding, sisters Cecy, Lita and Maria present Julia with something old (a small bible), something new (a brand new shiny coin), something borrowed (their mom's handkerchief) and something blue (a blue garter).

"And here's something blue Julia. The bridegroom is supposed to sleep on it or something." - Maria

The "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue" tradition is still regularly practiced today.

There is nothing more traditional about weddings than the wedding gown. The white wedding dress, in various shades of white, ivory, eggshell, etc., is still the most common. Brides today may chose to wear another color or add color to their white dress. Julia wears a dress her father picked out for her. During most of the 20th century, wedding dresses often had long sleeves. These days strapless gowns seem to be the norm (a few gals on Twitter and I talk about how we loathe this new trend). Above you see Julia wears a headpiece and veil. This was very common then too whereas nowadays we see smaller veils or no veils and lots and lots of tiaras.

Now let's talk about the bridesmaids. In this film, Julia's three sisters are her bridesmaids with the second oldest Maria as her maid of honor. See those bouquets? Back in the day, bouquets were enormous. As the decades passed they got smaller and smaller and more uniform in shape. Today bouquets are usually a tightly bunched array of flowers wrapped together with ribbon. But back then a bouquet was practically it's own centerpiece. It was very common to see bouquets adorned with silk ribbons that hung beneath the flowers. Sometimes the ribbons would have ornaments themselves.

When it comes to the wedding procession, there are lots of traditions: a young boy as ring bearer, a young girl as the flower girl, bridesmaids and groomsmen and the bride being walked down the aisle by her father. Above you see there are no groomsmen, ring bearers or flower girls but all the other members of a bridal party are there. It's interesting to note that it's not customary in South American countries (including Argentina where this story takes place) to have a bridal party at all. 

In the film, the wedding is a traditional Latin Mass ceremony in a Catholic church. It was pretty standard to have a church wedding with a reception elsewhere; usually at the parent's home or in this case at Mr.  Acuña's night club. Today, some folks still do the church wedding but others opt for ceremonies in other locations or decide to have the ceremony and reception at the same place.

Here Julia and her groom exchange rings which is still one of the most practiced wedding customs out there. In Jewish ceremonies, the bride and groom stand under a Huppah: a wedding canopy and after the ceremony ends there is a traditional breaking of the glass. In some Latin countries, there is an exchange of a bag of coins. Some couples light candles or pour two different colors of sand together into one jar. Other couples release doves or butterflies.

My favorite wedding tradition is the first kiss as husband and wife. Everyone erupts into applause and it's just a very sweet moment. Also it means the ceremony is over and it's time to...

eat, drink and be merry!

Who is going to catch the enormous bouquet?

The wedding in You Were Never Lovelier (1942) is very representative of a traditional big wedding. In fact, you could even call it "old-fashioned"...

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