Fred MacMurray Friday

It’s hard to believe it’s already the last week of February!  But it is, which means that this is the final installment of Fred MacMurray Friday.  I’ve had such a good time focusing on MacMurray and his films this month.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it too, and that you’ve been inspired to watch some of his many wonderful movies.

Today we’ll skip ahead about a decade from last week’s dark comedy, Murder, He Says and shift gears entirely.  This film is no comedy, though it certainly has the “dark” part covered.

There’s Always Tomorrow (1956)

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It’s not often that classic movie melodramas focus on the emotional crises of men.  Normally it’s a neglected wife and mother yearning for passion, excitement and appreciation, not a neglected husband and father. There’s a reason they labeled them “women’s pictures,” after all.  But Douglas Sirk’s There’s Always Tomorrow gives us a sympathetic portrait of a man in crisis, showing us that the rigid post-war gender roles and societal expectations so suffocating for women could be just as stultifying and difficult for men.

Fred MacMurray is Clifford Boles, a California toy manufacturer and family man trapped in a life of routine and responsibility.  He’s taken for granted by his family, who brush him aside in their rush of daily activities.  Cliff’s wife, Marion, played by Joan Bennett, focuses all her attention on their three children – a college-age son, a teenage daughter, and another, younger daughter.  She’s so busy taking care of them that Cliff can’t even take her out to dinner and a show on her birthday.  She rebuffs all Cliff’s attempts to spend time with her or rekindle their marriage.  She loves him, but she’s complacent, and completely devoted to her children to the exclusion of her husband.

When Norma Vale, a former colleague who now works in New York as a fashion designer, unexpectedly comes back into his life, Cliff isn’t looking for escape or romance.  But of course that’s the turn things take.  Norma (Barbara Stanwyck, still gorgeous and  with an enviably sexy figure at age 49) was in love with Cliff twenty years before, and though she doesn’t reconnect with him in order to have an affair, she still carries a torch.

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She’s having a crisis of her own, questioning her life as a career woman.  She has a failed marriage behind her and, as Marion points out to Cliff after Norma has dinner with the family, has missed out on the things all women want – a home and children.  Oh yeah, and a husband, too.  (Did I mention that Marion takes Cliff for granted?  He’s always an afterthought.)

One of the interesting things about this movie is that it doesn’t turn into a typical triangle, with the wife discovering the affair and fighting to keep her husband.  In fact, Marion seems unaware of Cliff’s growing feelings for Norma.  She doesn’t even blink when he tells her that he and Norma ran into each other at a Palm Valley resort during a business trip, and spent the entire weekend together.  She seems to trust him implicitly, or else simply not think of him as someone who would ever have an affair or attract a woman in that way.

Instead it’s the Boles’ children who provide the roadblock to Cliff and Norma’s romance.  Cliff’s son, Vinnie, sees Cliff and Norma together in Palm Valley, and though their relationship was nothing but friendship at that point, he assumes the worst.  He and his teenage sister, Ellen, confront Norma, who soon realizes there’s no way the story can end other than her going back to her life in New York and Cliff going back to his family.

“Love is a very reckless thing,” she tells Vinnie and Ellen.  “Maybe it isn’t even a good thing. When you’re young and in love, nothing matters except your own satisfaction. The tragic thing about growing older is that you can’t be quite as reckless anymore.”

Both MacMurray and Stanwyck give sensitive, honest performances as two middle-aged people who briefly find passion and love before being thrust back into the gilded cages of their lives sadder, but supposedly wiser.  This was the final of four movies in which they co-starred, and they’re so comfortable together that you feel right from the start that Cliff and Norma are kindred spirits, both searching for something missing in their lives.

The movie is beautifully photographed and full of classic Sirkian symbolism.  Cliff secretly telephones Norma at night, from the home that has become a prison to him.

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Mirrors and reflections abound, giving the audience a glimpse at the duality of characters, and the facades they put on for the world.

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A robot in Cliff’s toy design workshop is in the foreground when Norma tells him their relationship has to end, depriving him of his brief escape from the soulless existence he endures at work and at home.

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It’s not subtle, but it’s effective.  This article from Cineaste.com delves into the deeper meanings behind what we see in the movie.  There’s Always Tomorrow doesn’t seem to be as well known as other Sirk masterpieces, like All that Heaven Allows, Magnificent Obsession, Written on the Wind and Imitation of Life, but it’s just as powerful an example of the director’s visual and emotional style.

I was heartbroken for Cliff and Norma by the end of the movie, especially for Cliff, whose growing anguish, brief moment of respite and hope, and return to the depressing bosom of his family was beautifully portrayed by Fred MacMurray.  Cliff’s return to his family is ostensibly the movie’s happy ending, but it left me feeling rather hopeless and bereft for this sad man.

I’m sure that was Sirk’s intention.  After all, the movie starts out with the words “Once upon a time in sunny California…” projected over a scene of gloom and rain outside Cliff’s toy factory.  Irony is the name of the game here.

I think the thing I’ve come to love and appreciate most about Fred MacMurray’s performances, whether in romantic comedy, silly slapstick, or tragic melodrama, is how perfectly he depicts the average, everyday man.  He’s the boy next door in his macmurrayyounger days and the suburban husband and father in middle age.  He’s the insurance salesman who meets a dangerous woman and gets in over his head, the sleazy executive having affairs in his underling’s apartment, the decent man trapped in a suburban prison.

He’s just a guy.  Handsome, but not ridiculously so.  Someone you might run into at the office or dropping the kids off at school.  An everyman.  He played those kinds of roles over and over again in different incarnations, from the comic to the tragic.  He brought his “regular Joes” realism, depth, darkness, light, humor, and pathos.

MacMurray was a very versatile, talented actor, something  I’ve come to realize more fully over this month of focusing on his movies.  Although Fred MacMurray Fridays are done for now, I’m sure he’ll keep popping up around here as I continue to discover and enjoy his work.

Fred MacMurray Friday

Murder, He Says (1945)

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Carole Lombard may have had to help coax a comic performance out of Fred MacMurray in Hands Across the Table, but by the time of 1945’s Murder, He Says, he obviously didn’t have any problems with being loose, relaxed, and downright silly when the part called for it. MacMurray’s very funny in the movie, and seems at home with slapstick comedy.

Fred plays a pollster for the Trotter poll (like the Gallup poll, but not as fast), sent to a rural backwood in search of a colleague who went missing. He encounters the Fleagles, a family of mean, crazy hillbillies headed by a bullwhip-wielding Marjorie Main. The Fleagles are trying to find a large sum of money stolen and then hidden by a now imprisoned relative, and they don’t mind killing anyone who gets in their way or, like MacMurray’s unfortunate predecessor, finds out too much.

murder he says posterThe plot is farcical and loony, full of ridiculous, laugh-out-loud situations as the family tries to poison, shoot, or bludgeon MacMurray. There are so many hilarious moments – Fred talking with the poisoned, glowing Grandma on her deathbed, dining with the Fleagles at a Lazy Susan table and trying to avoid the poisoned grits and gravy, and attempting to control legs that are not his own, to name a few. It’s all completely wacky.

MacMurray is fun to watch as the terrified city slicker who gets in way over his head, but finally manages to outsmart the crafty, criminal hayseeds. His facial expressions are priceless and his skills at physical comedy are impressive. In fact, sacrilegious as it may seem for me to say it, I enjoyed his performance in Murder, He Says much more than Cary Grant’s in the similarly zany dark comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace. Grant was too over-the-top for me in that one, but MacMurray hits just the right notes in this role. He’s as goofy and frantic as the part calls for him to be, but is also sane and normal enough to balance out the other nutty characters and their antics.

There are many times when I wish I could see a classic movie in a theater with an audience, and a movie like this one is definitely one of them. As amusing as Murder, He Says was, I’m sure it would’ve been even funnier with a crowd of others laughing along, too.

Fred MacMurray Friday

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Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert weren’t featured in TCM’s book, Leading Couples, but I think they should have been.  They complimented each other so well and had a great onscreen rapport.

The pair co-starred in seven movies over the course of fourteen years:  The Gilded Lily (1935), The Bride Came Home (1935), Maid of Salem (1937), No Time for Love (1943), Practically Yours (1944), The Egg and I (1947) and Family Honeymoon (1949).  I’ve seen all of these except Maid of Salem and Practically Yours, but today I’ll just talk about my two favorites.

The Gilded Lily (1935)

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Fred and Claudette are adorable in The Gilded Lily.  Their chemistry is apparent from the moment we seen them together for the first time.  In a scene reminiscent of Peter Warne teaching Ellie Andrews to dunk donuts and hitchhike in 1934’s It Happened One Night, MacMurray’s Peter Daws tells Colbert’s Marilyn David why popcorn is the best snack.

Are they cute or are they cute?  I love the way he runs back to the bench in his socks.

He’s a newspaperman, she’s a secretary, and they’re best friends.  Of course they’re made for each other too, but they don’t know it yet.  Their friendship is put to the test when Marilyn falls for an English nobleman, played by Ray Milland, and their lives are turned upside down in a crazy, unexpected way.

Which man will she choose, the reporter and best friend or the wealthy Englishman?  If you don’t know, you haven’t seen many romantic comedies!  It’s no wonder Paramount decided to keep pairing Colbert and MacMurray after The Gilded Lily.  They’re wonderful together in this very amusing, sweet movie.

No Time for Love (1943)

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MacMurray and Colbert went from sweet to sexy for 1943’s No Time for Love.  Colbert plays Katherine Grant, an artsy magazine photographer assigned to cover the digging and construction of a tunnel.

When she meets MacMurray’s strapping, brawling “sandhog” construction worker, Jim Ryan, she thinks he’s a brute.  She is also extremely turned on by him and can’t get him out of her mind.  Fred is surprisingly hunky in this movie.  Not quite as hunky as depicted in the movie poster, however! 

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Katherine dreams of Jim in a superhero suit, sweeping her up in his manly arms.  He is insulting and he drives her nuts, but she’s still hot and bothered about him all the time.  At one point Jim looks at Katherine and bluntly asks “Do you want me?”  The Code may not have allowed her to scream a lusty “Yes!” and jump on him, but you could tell she wanted to.

When Katherine inadvertently gets Jim suspended from his job, she takes him on as her assistant in order to make it up to him.  Of course they clash constantly and sparks fly between them.  But you know what they say, the love impulse in men (and women!) often reveals itself in terms of conflict.

There’s a lot of enjoyably silly slapstick in the movie too, like a scene in which Jim scuffles territorially with a bodybuilder Katherine is photographing, and another in which Katherine teaches a bunch of macho sandhogs how to play musical chairs.  It’s classic battle of the sexes stuff and it’s fun to watch two masters of romantic comedy at work.

Next week on Fred MacMurray Friday I hope to talk about a movie I haven’t watched yet, but am very excited to see – 1945’s slapstick dark comedy, Murder, He SaysIn the meantime, I’ll leave you with this new review of MacMurray’s most famous movie, Double Indemnity, from Steve Hayes – better known as Tired Old Queen at the Movies

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Hayes’ reviews, I highly recommend checking them out.  He discusses lots of great old films in a loving yet irreverent way, and he’s hilarious, too.

Fred MacMurray Friday

As I mentioned earlier this week, I thought it would be fun to devote Fridays in February to one of the most prolific and popular leading men of the 1930s and 1940s – Fred MacMurray.  His fame perhaps hasn’t lasted through the ensuing decades the way it has for some of his contemporaries, like Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda, which is a shame.  He was very talented, not to mention easy on the eyes in his younger days!

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Like a lot of people my age, for years my only knowledge of Fred MacMurray came from reruns of My Three Sons and from the Disney movies he made in the 1960s, like The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber.   Only in the past few years have I begun to realize what an interesting career he had before that, acting in a variety of movies with some of the greatest leading ladies of the Golden Age, among them frequent co-stars Barbara Stanwyck, Carole Lombard and Claudette Colbert.  When I saw Remember the Night for the first time, I was floored.  Who was this handsome, romantic, funny guy?  Who knew that wise, pipe-smoking father Steve Douglas used to be like that?  He was pretty dreamy!

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It seems MacMurray’s popularity is on the rise however, at least among devoted classic movie fans.  Quite a few of his films have been released on DVD recently and I see his name popping up frequently on other blogs.  I’m glad about that, because his work deserves the attention.  I, for one, am enjoying getting to know his movies, from the charming, witty roles in his early romantic comedies to the edgier parts he played in later movies like Double Indemnity and The Apartment.

To learn more about Fred MacMurray, I recommend checking out this great 2008 interview with his biographer, Charles Tranberg, on TCM’s Movie Morlocks blog.  Not only was MacMurray a multi-faceted talent, he was also one of the genuinely nice, decent men in Hollywood.  Maybe that’s one reason his fame hasn’t lasted.  Stars with more scandalous, dramatic personal lives tend to be more memorable, sad to say!

On with the first of our Fred MacMurray Friday movies, the thoroughly delightful 1935 romantic comedy Hands Across the Table, co-starring Carole Lombard and Ralph Bellamy, directed by Mitchell Leisen.

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Carole Lombard plays Regi Allen, a hotel manicurist who is determined to marry a rich man.  She grew up seeing what poverty did to her parents’ marriage, and she refuses to live the same kind of life.

One day she is called upon to manicure a wealthy hotel resident, Allen Macklyn, played by Ralph Bellamy.  Allen used to be an aviator, but a plane crash left him paralyzed and bitter.  Regi charms him, however, and soon he’s calling her for manicures whether he needs them or not, just to have her company.  They become good friends and Allen falls in love with Regi, though he hides that from her.  Instead he listens to her talk about her romantic prospects in the role of best friend and confidant.

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When Regi meets Theodore “Ted” Drew (Fred MacMurray), the son of a well-known family, she’s sure he’s the rich husband she’s been looking for.  After a hilarious episode in which she nervously gives him the worst, most painful manicure of all time, they go out together and have a fine time.  Later that evening, drunk, Ted admits that his family lost all their money in the 1929 crash and that he’s engaged to a wealthy girl.  Like Regi, his priority is to marry money, so they’re obviously not right for each other.

Regi is disappointed and upset, but she allows the drunken Ted to crash on her couch that night.  When he misses his boat to Bermuda the next morning (his future father-in-law paid for the ticket and he can’t afford to buy a new one for himself), he sticks around.  Over the days they spend living together, Regi and Ted get into crazy situations and have a good time.  They get to know and care about each other, and of course they fall in love. 

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But it’s not all zany comedy.  There are some truly romantic moments as well, particularly on the last night Ted and Regi spend together before he is set to leave and get married.  Those scenes have a lovely, quiet intimacy, as they try to convince themselves that their being in love with each other doesn’t matter, and that marrying for money is what they both really want to do.

There’s also some heartbreak involved when Regi’s friend, Allen, wants to propose to her.  Before he can give her the ring, he realizes she only sees him as a friend and is  crazy about Ted.  He gives up with good grace, but it’s still a little sad to see. If there’s one thing I’d change about the movie, it’d be making Allen more of a real corner in the triangle, instead of just the nice guy Regi doesn’t think of at all romantically.  It would’ve been refreshing to see that a disabled person was a genuine rival for Regi’s affections.

Ralph Bellamy is very appealing and loveable in his role.  I think this is the first movie I’ve seen in which I actually liked the Bellamy “other man” and almost wished the heroine would marry him instead!

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There’s an interesting article about the making of the movie on the TCM website.  Fred MacMurray was still new to comedy, so Carole Lombard worked with him a lot, trying to loosen him up.  The two of them had a great relationship.  He later said she was his favorite actress — he felt he owed a lot of his success to her.  From the TCM article:

Lombard, Leisen recalls, “worked as hard as I did to get that performance out of him [MacMurray]. She had none of what you might call ‘the star temperament’. She felt that all the others had to be good or it wouldn’t matter how good she was. She got right in there and pitched.” At one point, Lombard even sat on MacMurray’s chest, pounding on him and yelling, “Now Uncle Fred, you be funny or I’ll pluck your eyebrows out!” (Given Lombard’s well-known fondness for profanity, the actual quote was probably a lot more colorful than that.)

Carole Lombard was adorable!  The more I read about her the more it seems she was one of the loveliest, smartest, most hilarious and endearing actresses of the era.  She was just terrific, and she shines in this movie.

How cute are they?!

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Hands Across the Table is a great blending of the silly and the heartfelt, the sweet and the cynical.  I loved it.  The film is available in Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection and airs on TCM sometimes, too.  It’s a real treat of a movie and a nice example of Fred MacMurray’s early romantic comedies.

Ten North Frederick

I feel a little bad about making this the “All Gary Cooper, All the Time” blog! Not everybody is as crazy about him as I am, after all. Still, I can only motivate myself to write about the things I’m interested in at any particular moment, and right now I’m very focused on Cooper and his films. It’ll pass eventually, but for the time being the obsession continues.

I do plan to devote a post each Friday in February to another actor whose work was little known to me until fairly recently, but whom I’m enjoying more and more – Fred MacMurray. So even if you’re all Cooped out, there’s at least that to look forward to.  This Friday I’ll be writing about a charming, funny and very romantic 1935 movie starring MacMurray and the lovely Carole Lombard – Hands Across the Table.

In the meantime, back to Gary!

 Ten North Frederick (1958)

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Ten North Frederick has to be one of the saddest movies I’ve seen in a long time. The sadness is multi-layered too, since not only is the story itself a melancholy one, but a knowledge of Gary Cooper’s real life at this stage of his career hangs over everything and gives the film even more resonance.

Based on a novel by John O’Hara, Ten North Frederick tells the story of Joe Chapin (Cooper), a wealthy and prominent attorney with political goals he’s somewhat ambivalent about. His wife, Edith (Geraldine Fitzgerald), is the one with the real ambition. She is ruthless and calculating, pushing her husband relentlessly toward the future she wants for him. She’s also hard on their two teenaged children, Ann (Diane Varsi) and Joby (Ray Stricklyn), directing their lives so that the Chapins look like the picture-perfect family they need to be to make it big in politics.

Joe is weak and easily manipulated by his wife.  He loves his children and seems to be a decent man, but when Edith pressures him to handle things a certain way – either in politics or in their family – Joe complies.  Joe’s career begins to unravel when he follows Edith’s guidance and makes a play to become the nominee for lieutenant governor, a move which involves making a $100,000 “campaign contribution” to a corrupt party operative.

tennorthfrederickAt about this time Ann, with whom he has always had a very close, sweet relationship, rebels against her restrictive upbringing and gets pregnant by a trumpet player she picked up at a dance. Ann and the musician quickly marry, then just as quickly annul the marriage thanks to the Chapins’ interference. Ann has a miscarriage and runs away to New York, vowing never to return to her parents’ house again. Joe’s political ambitions are thwarted too, in large part because of the scandal in the family.

All of this causes the already cold Chapin marriage to fall apart even further. Edith tells Joe that she hates him , calling him a failure and admitting to a past affair.  Joe is stunned but resigned.  They’re both too old to do anything but carry on together, no matter how unhappy they may be.

When a business trip leads him to New York and what he hopes will be a reconciliation with his daughter, Joe is particularly vulnerable and lonely. Ann is not at home when he visits, but her kind, intelligent roommate Kate Drummond (Suzy Parker) is.  They spend the evening together – talking, dancing, and falling in love.  Despite their better judgment, the two are soon conducting a secret affair and hoping to marry.  Unfortunately their time together is brief, with convention and self-sacrifice getting in the way of a happy ending.

According to Cooper’s Women  (the veracity of which is clearly without question, ha!), Ten North Frederick was snidely referred to in Hollywood as The Gary Cooper Story because of its similarity to Cooper’s own recent history. While filming The Fountainhead in 1949, Cooper fell in love with his young co-star, Patricia Neal.  Their three year affair led him to separate from his wife and placed a strain on his relationship with his beloved daughter. In the end Neal and Cooper saw there was no future for them and went their separate ways, Gary returning to his wife and family, Patricia eventually marrying author Roald Dahl. Ten North Frederick’s story must have hit very close to home for Cooper.

cooper and fitzgeraldAs much as my preference is for Cooper’s movies of the ‘30s and ‘40s, when he was young, attractive and in his prime, there’s something so moving about his later performances. He gives us such a sense of resignation, loneliness and world-weariness in those films.  By that point Cooper’s looks had faded, his health was rapidly deteriorating, and his years as a serial philanderer had taken a toll on him and his family.  On screen, that’s all there in his eyes and in the way he moves. Coop thought all that Method stuff was a lot of hooey, but surely his real life experiences greatly affected his portrayal of Joe Chapin — a man who made mistakes, estranged those he loved the most, and experienced only a short period of happiness afterwards before succumbing to ill health.

Geraldine Fitzgerald is brilliant as Edith Chapin.  She’s an awful, icy woman, yet Fitzgerald  manages to demonstrate that without making her a one-dimensional or clichéd villain.  Diane Varsi and Ray Strycklyn are good as the Chapins’ children, who grow closer to each other because of their shared troubles.  They display a believably loving brother/sister bond throughout the film

Suzy Parker gives a touching performance as a young woman who sees the good and the kindness in Joe and can’Annex%20-%20Cooper,%20Gary%20(Ten%20North%20Frederick)_01t help falling in love with him, despite their age difference and the obstacles between them.  She’s also unbelievably beautiful, of course. Her character is “a photographic model,” and when they first meet Joe says he thinks he’s seen her on some magazine covers. I’m sure audiences must’ve chuckled when they heard that, since Parker was the most famous model of the 1950s and had been on the cover of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and many other magazines innumerable times.

Unlike the May/December romance in 1957’s Love in the Afternoon, I thought the relationship between the characters played by Parker and Cooper was believable and romantic.  It’s always been hard for me to see the fifty-something Cooper as carefree bachelor Frank Flanagan, flitting from woman to woman until he’s captured by the girlish Audrey Hepburn.  It’s much more believable to see him as Joe Chapin, a flawed but decent older man finding a brief moment of happiness with the young but womanly Kate.  Parker was even younger than Audrey Hepburn, but the age difference doesn’t feel so jarring to me.  The chemistry seems right and the two were physically well matched.  Suzy Parker was so tall and striking, and though Cooper wasn’t what he once was, he was still Gary Cooper, quite capable of making women weak in the knees when he wanted to.

Although the story is supposed to take place from 1940 to 1945, there’s no attempt to make it look or feel like that time period. Everyone’s clothing and hairstyles are pure late-‘50s, with the men in suits with the narrower lapels and ties that were then in style and women in cinched-waist, full-skirted New Look fashions and cute little cocktail hats. Other than mentions of Roosevelt’s reelection and Joby’s joining the army, the story felt very much like a 1950s one à la Douglas Sirk, with its themes of forbidden love, illicit sex, and the overbearing influence of a repressive, judgmental society.

Tracking this one down to watch took some doing!  I don’t recall seeing it on the TCM schedule lately, and the version someone has uploaded to YouTube is too low quality to bother watching.  I finally found it online through Comcast

I really wasn’t expecting much from the movie, but I ended up enjoying Ten North Frederick a lot.   It made me cry, and as Louis B. Mayer once said, “If a story makes me cry, I know it’s good.”  Like L.B., I’m a sucker for a well-made tearjerker!

Happy New Year!

Has it really been almost a year since I posted here?  I have such a hard time sticking with projects like this one.  I’ve been watching and loving classic movies for the past 12 months, of course, but the time and motivation to write about them have been hard to come by.

But it’s New Year’s resolution time and besides that I’m on a bit of a movie-watching spree right now, so it seems as good a time as any to make another attempt to keep the blog alive.  After all, I need somewhere to write about all the wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) things I’ve seen.

Not to mention somewhere to gush without shame about my newest movie star crush, Gary Cooper.  I’m completely obsessed with tracking down as many of his movies as I can find and watching them as soon as possible.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve seen: Morocco, Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Meet John Doe, Ball of Fire and Casanova Brown, all for the first time.

My DVR contains Sergeant York and The Pride of the Yankees, and Wedding Night is winging its way to me from Netflix as I type this.  I’ve also scoured the TCM listings for the next couple of months and have Along Came Jones, Friendly Persuasion, The Fountainhead, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Cowboy and the Lady to look forward to.

See what I mean?  When I get interested in something, I really get interested! I’d first seen and enjoyed High Noon and Love in the Afternoon years ago, because they co-starred Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn respectively, but neither of those movies made in the 1950s gave me a real clue as to how wonderful (and wonderful looking) Cooper had been in his younger days.

Then sometime last year I watched 1939’s Beau Geste on TCM and realized just what I’d been missing. The man was beautiful. Tall, gorgeous and very sexy. Thanks to the Christmas holidays I finally had time to immerse myself in some of the movies on my to-watch list and it was a lovely experience.  Not only was Gary Cooper easy on the eyes,  he was also an extremely charismatic, subtle, talented actor.  Stay tuned for lots of Coop chat in the coming days and weeks!

I also hope to write some more about Joel McCrea, having recently seen him in two fabulous movies (The Palm Beach Story and Foreign Correspondent) and one strange, disjointed film (Preston Sturges’s The Great Moment).  I can’t wait to write about those three, especially The Palm Beach Story, which is one of the best movies I’ve seen in ages.  It’s absolutely hilarious from start to finish.  Plus McCrea once again demonstrates the uber-hotness I first discovered in The More the Merrier.

Not that it’s all about the men!  I’ve also been delving into Claudette Colbert’s work quite a bit in recent weeks and having lots of fun getting to know her better.  The Gilded Lily, part of the newly released Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray Romantic Comedy Collection, was an especially entertaining trifle.  Colbert and MacMurray had great chemistry and were always fun to watch together.

So that’s some of what’s coming up here very soon.  I have no idea if anyone is even reading this blog anymore, it’s been so long, but I’m excited to give it another try.  There are few things I enjoy as much as rambling on and on about classic movies and movie stars.