How Classic Films Influence my Life


Theresa over at CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch is hosting the highly anticipated Free For All Blogathon where the participants have the occasion to write about…anything! Anything related to films of course. I’ve always wanted to write a piece on what it is to be a classic film addict. How it has an impact on my everyday life. And this blogging event seemed to be the perfect occasion! This should be a fun post, so I hope you’ll be entertained and be able to relate to some of the content!


It seems to me, that being a classic film fan, is a full-time job. A lot of how I organise my life depends on it. For example, the birthdays are crucial. I always hope I won’t be working on November 12 or on August 29, because I don’t want my Grace Kelly day or Ingrid Bergman day to be spoiled! Some people think it’s weird to celebrate a movie star birthday (especially those who are dead), but shouldn’t we honour the ones we love? And those birthday celebrations are always a lot of fun and a good excuse to watch a ton of films! But not just that! No, I start the tradition to cook Katharine Hepburn’s brownies on May 12 (except when I was traveling like it was the case last May and will also be the case next May). Or, I have to eat ice cream in honour of Ingrid Bergman on her birthday. You know, all sort of things like that. Ooooh and now there’s Bill Holden centenary coming up soon! Exciting!

Loving classic films is also a synonym of “meeting new people”. For example, before I joined those classic movie groups on Facebook I use to tell myself that I’ll only have people I know in real life as Facebook friends, but once I’ve accepted one that I didn’t know, well then it just started a chain reaction and got pretty much out of hands! No regrets of course (except a few weirdos)! I even had the chance to meet some of them in real life and it has always been a pleasant experience. Anyway, it’s always nice to meet people, even if it’s just on the internet, with whom you share common interests. I have real-life friends of course, but they aren’t as passionate about classic films as I am. Luckily, I made some of them watch classics and the positive reactions were generally more present than the negative ones. So, that’s a relief and a sign that I can, after all, enjoy classics with pretty much anybody from my close entourage, as long as this person is curious enough!

James Stewart and Henry Fonda, best friends

To love classic films is also to be inspired by its movie stars! As I’ve once stated in this article, the elegance of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly inspires me for the way I dress (with the material I have, which is not Edith Head or Givenchy gowns, unfortunately). Bette Davis inspires confidence. So, when I need it, I sort of pretend I’m Bette Davis and superior to everybody. Some Arthur Kennedy’s characters inspire patience. I also have the tendency to be very by-the-book, which is not necessarily a good thing, but, in another way, I’m very independent. Katharine Hepburn’s quote “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun” inspires me to let it go a little and it tells myself that there’s nothing wrong with a bit of rebellion once in a while! And if we mention the animal stars, well, I always told myself that, if I had a cat one day, I’ll call him Baby and if I had a dog, I’ll call him George, just like in Bringing Up Baby! Ok, I’ll stick to a cat, because I don’t think I could afford and train a leopard!

These are just a few examples, of course, but I could probably go on if I’ll dig a bit more in my mind.

To love classic films, but like very OLD classics, it’s also to have a favourite 19th-century movie. Yes, yes! Mine is The Waterer Watered by the Lumière Brothers. Well, my sense of humour is obviously quite attracted by what’s considered to be the first comedy of cinema history! And at the time, people didn’t need to take hours to introduce a gag! I remember a teacher showing it to us in class and I burst into laughs as if it was the funniest thing ever. Ok, it’s not, but I think it’s precisely the spontaneity of this very short comedy that makes me laugh. Anyway, it’s probably the kind of thing that would make me laugh if I’ll witness it in real life.

As a classic film lover, I also ruin myself, buying way too many DVDs and I don’t know where to put them anymore. But no regrets as it’s nice to have a big movie collection! I always ruin myself with plane tickets because movies make me travel! In San Francisco, I saw The Maltese Falcon + Hitchcock movie locations: Family Plot, The Birds, but, must of all, Vertigo! In Vienna I saw The Third Man movie locations, in Los Angeles I saw Blade Runner, Pretty Woman, Sunset Boulevard, and maybe more movie locations, plus Paramount studios! In Seville, I saw The Plaza de España and the Alfonso XIII hotel where scenes from Lawrence of Arabia where shot. And, next may, I’m going to England and, as I love British cinema, I hope I’ll see many British movie locations and places where movie stars lived! So, watching classic films is just an extraordinary tool to enrich your culture!

Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville
Plaza de España

Being a classic films lover also makes me a weird and somehow misunderstood person. *dramatic music*  I mean, apart from celebrating dead peoples’ birthday. Indeed, if I say to someone I don’t have time for some thing,  this can be a synonym of “I have a blogathon to finish”. Hey! I take these seriously you know, and blogging has only brought me goods, so I don’t see why I should neglect it. I pratically only go to the movies to see classic film. So, moral of the story, I haven’t seen any of the Oscar nominated movies…oupsy! But knowing myself, I will probably see some of them, but after the Oscar ceremony. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t snub modern movies! I just don’t have the tendency to watch them when they have just been released. Except if it’s a movie I was waiting for a long time, such as Toy Story 4 which release date is ALWAYS postponed. Grrr! I work in a movie theatre and I can go see movies for free, but they don’t show American movie. So, obviously, the modern movies I saw in theatre are generally French-Canadian, or French from France movies.


To continue with the weird stuff, I once tried to do this Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Years technique to sperate the egg white from the yolk. You know, with a strainer. Conclusion: it doesn’t work. But it’s funny to pretend you’re Katharine Hepburn for a minute. And talking about cooking, I recently did some popovers just because Amy March in Little Women loves them so much. Yeah, just for that. It was good.

And to list a few brief last things:

As a classic film addict I

  • Have way too many film soundtrack on my iPod
  • Get annoyed by people who say “I don’t like black and white movies” Blablabla…
  • Wonder if I’ll see all the films I want to see in a lifetime…
  • Am in love with many already dead movie stars. That’s the tragedy of classic film addicts.


And I probably forgot something, but to love classic films is an endless passion!

And if you want to read how I discover classic films, just click here!

A big thanks to Theresa for hosting this fun blogathon!

You can read the other entries here.

See you!



Amy March: Elizabeth Taylor vs. Joan Bennett

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Yesterday, February 27, marked the birthday of two excellent classic actresses: the glamorous Elizabeth Taylor and the enigmatic Joan Bennett. But this is not the only common point these two ladies share. Indeed, they starred together in today’s birthday boy, Vincente Minnelli’s classics Father of the Bride and its sequel, Father’s Little Dividend as mother and daughter. They also both played the role of Amy March in two different adaptations of Little Women: the 1933’s George Cukor one for Joan Bennett and the 1949’s Mervyn Leroy one for Elizabeth Taylor.


My friend Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is hosting, for the first time, the Elizabeth Taylor Blogathon. I’ll be precisely comparing Liz and Joan’s portrayals of Amy March for the occasion. This, I believe, would be a brilliant way to celebrate both actresses. And, to tell you the truth, when I subscribed with this subject, I actually didn’t remember they were born on the same day! Well, coincidences like that are always fun.



Little Women is an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 19th century literary classic of the same name. The story takes place in Concord, Massachusetts during the American Civil War. Dr. March is at the front while his wife and four daughters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are staying home and live their everyday life, dealing with the difficulties brought by the war. The sister all have very different personalities, but they complete each other perfectly and share a beautiful friendship.

Amy March is the youngest sibling. She is very coquette and has a strong personality, just like her sister Jo, but in a very different way. Amy’s passion is art and she loves to draw and paint. She is the artist of the family. Amy March is always dressed pretty and has curly golden hair.



I must admit, to me, Joan Bennett was the perfect Amy March. Her delicate figure and porcelain doll face embodied the ideal look for the role. She also gives her character the right personality, the one we should imagine while reading the books. But Liz turned out to be an agreeable surprise! I don’t think blonde hair suits her as well as it does to Joan, but that’s just a detail. Her facial features and bone structure, however, seemed right. It might seem irrelevant to judge an casting choice base on the physical appearance, but the March sisters are characters that we want to picture perfectly in our head and that sees more credible if they are faithful to Louisa May Alcott’s description.

I think both Joan and Elizabeth shows different strenghts in their interpretations of Amy March. The postitive aspect of this is that they aren’t simple pale copies of each other. Amy March is young and well-mannered. Joan Bennett emodies the youthfullness of Amy to perfection and his credibe. Elizabeth Taylor, has a way of speaking that gives Amy this almost charicatural elegance. Indeed, her voice is clear and her words are perfectly calculated.

Despite her flaws and selfishness, Amy March is able of compassion, especially in times of crisis. By watching the two films, I feel like Joan Bennett embodied this emotion in a better way than Elizabeth Taylor. Or maybe not in a better way, but in a more obvious way. But, when I think about it, this maybe isn’t really the actress fault. It’s due to the way the book adaptation was made, despite the two movies being very similar. On another side, I felt her flaws were better embodied by Elizabeth Taylor. I read the book once when I was 11 or 12. So, that was 10 years ago and I obviously don’t remember everything about it. But, on the internet, Amy March is always described as “the sister that we love to hate.” Honestly, Joan Bennett didn’t really make me feel that. I don’t hate Amy March’s Liz Taylor either, far from it, but, in connection to what we previously said, her portrayal of Amy March is maybe more accurate.

So yes, both actresses bring out different traits of Amy March’s personality.

Amy March is the sister that makes me laugh the most after Jo. In the 1933’s version, I always have to watch, at least twice, the scene where Amy and Jo practice Jo’s play. Joan Bennett makes me laugh SO MUCH in this scene. I think Liz Taylor’s Amy March finds her funny side in her mannerisms and the way she pronounces those complicated made-up words. The sight of her sleeping with a clothespin on her nose in pretty comical too! Amy March has a complex with her nose and this is obviously better illustrated by Liz’s March.

Lastly, in this scene where Amy March comes back from Europe and is now married to Laurie Laurence, both Liz and Joan gives the right elegance to their character. Indeed, in both films, we know perfectly that Amy March is now a new person and, most of all, a better one. Both actresses are at the top of their elegance!

My favourite Amy March is still Joan Bennett’s one, but both she and Liz Taylor give beautiful justice to Louisa May Alcott’s character!


Many thanks to Crystal for hosting this blogathon!

Don’t forget to read the other entries:

The Elizabeth Taylor Blogathon


Happy heavenly birthday again Liz and Joan!

PS: If you wish to read a more complete review of 1933’s Little Women, please click here!



My Family on Television: Les Filles de Caleb (1990-1991)

©Virginie Pronovost, 2012. All rights reserved

Ok, we’ll talk a bit about my family. Shall we?

When Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films announced that she’ll be hosting a blogathon dedicated to the world of television, I had the idea to discuss one of Quebec’s most famous tv show: Les Filles de Caleb. The direct translation would be Caleb’s Daughters.


Les Filles de Caleb was a mini-series of 20 episodes that was based on Arlette Cousture’s bestseller Les Filles de Caleb: le chant du coq. Émilie Bordeleau (Marina Orsini) is the central character. She comes from the village of St-Stanislas-de-Champlain in Mauricie, Quebec. Her father is Caleb Bordeleau and her mother, Celina Bordeleau. She has numerous brothers and sisters, like most people living in the countryside at the time. In her late teens, Émilie becomes a teacher at the little school “l’école du Bourdais” in the near village of St-Tite. She has to impose her authority since some of the students are barely younger than her. There, Émilie meets the handsome Oliva Pronovost (Roy Dupuis) who doesn’t seem very motivated by the school but who turns out to be quite interesting and you can guess what happens… Yes, they fall in love with each other! The Bordeleau family and the Pronovost family become close and Émilie and Ovila eventually marry. The young woman has to give up her teaching job to consecrate her life to motherhood. Hey, that was life at the time! She and Ovila have numerous children together including Blanche, born in a snowstorm. Ovila and Émilie’s relationship is difficult since Ovila is someone who needs a lot of liberty, who doesn’t like farm work and has some problems with alcohol. Les Filles de Caleb is a series full of adventures and misadventures. Yes, it shows you how life could be hard during the late 19th century and the early 20th century, but it also shows you how people from the countryside could be friendly with each other and supportive. Even today it’s still like this!


Les Filles de Caleb was broadcast on Radio-Canada television between 1990 and 1991, and on CBC television under the name of Emilie. In France, it was a huge success as well and was known as Émilie, la passion d’une vie.

Les Filles de Caleb is not a purely fictional movie as it tells the real life-story of these characters. The author of the book, Arlette Cousture, was herself the daughter of Blanche Pronovost and the granddaughter of Émilie Bordeleau. If the first book of the series, “Le chant du coq”, turns around the life of Émilie, her second one “Le cri de l’oie blanche” is mostly focused on Blanche’s life. This one was also adapted into a television show called Blanche, but I believe it didn’t have as much success as Les Filles de Caleb. I myself have watched the first episode and didn’t continue as I didn’t really get into it. Maybe I’ll give it another chance eventually. The book was good tho, but not as exciting as the first one!


Author Arlette Cousture

Now, you might wonder why I’ll talk about my family. Well, as you might know, my last name is Pronovost… and all the Pronovost are related! It’s a big family coming from the region of Mauricie. And because of this, a few anecdotes concerning the link between me and the tv show are worth mentioning.

1- As much as I can remember, I think Ovila Pronovost was the cousin of my great-grandfather, which will also make him a distant cousin of mine. I guess that’s because of him if we love outdoors in our family haha! The man loved nature.

2- My late grandfather was born in the village of St-Tite (like Ovila and his family) in 1910 and went to the little school where Emily taught. Well, at the time, she wasn’t teaching there anymore as she was already married. There even is a Pronovost Road in St-Tite! Today, the village is also famous for its Western Festival.

Emilie’s school today. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved


The house where my grandfather was born in 1910. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved
A covered bridge in the village of St-Tite. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved
Pronovost Road! ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved

3- We have a country house at St-Stanislas-de-Champlain where Émilie was born. This is a centenary old house that was given to us by my grandfather’s cousin, Stella Brunelle, who was a nurse and died at the very young age of 104! We have good genes. The house where Émilie was born and where her family lived is on the other side of the Batiscan river. Émilie died in the house that is just in front of ours, on the other side of the street! Surely Stella knew her, despite being younger. She is buried in the village’s cemetery.

The village of St-Stanislas-de-Champlain in 1905
The village of St-Stanislas today. The grey house on the corner is the one where Emilie passed away. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved
Caleb Bordeleau’s house where Emilie was born and spent her childhood
Emilie’s grave in the St-Stanislas’s cemetary

As I’ve mentioned in my article on Buster Keaton’s The Blacksmith, Stella Brunelle was the daughter of St-Stanislas’s blacksmith and we still have one of the account books where Caleb’s name is written! In the television show, we don’t see any scenes of Caleb or his family going to the smithy, but I believe it was mentioned in the novel.

The blacksmith! ©Famille Pronovost. All rights reserved
Stella’s house with the smithy in the background. ©Famille Pronovost. All rights reserved
The smithy today. ©Virginie Pronovost. All rights reserved

Émilie and Olivia married each other at St-Stanislas’s church.

St-Stanislas’s church, a long time ago!

The television show wasn’t shot on location, however. It’s in the village of St-Jean-des-Piles in Mauricie that is was filmed. After the shooting, the set was moved in the sector of Grand-Mère and what was known as Émilies’s Village was recreated and became a popular attraction for people to visit the sets. Unfortunately, the recreated village doesn’t exist anymore BUT you can still come to St-Stanislas or St-Tite to see the real locations! And people at the time knew it. Actually, a lot of tourists came in “St-Stan” in the 90s (before I was born) and would stop at our house to see the smithy. We even had people from France! Well, it’s true that our house with the blacksmith, the barn, and the large site is a beautiful location. 😉



Emilie’s Village, a touristic attraction in the 90s


Stella’s house when she lived there. ©Famille Pronovost. All rights reserved

Our country house today. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2010. All rights reserved
Stella’s father with his friend Joe Breaker in front of the barn. ©Famille Pronovost. All rights reserved
The barn today. ©Virginie Pronovost. All rights reserved.


If La Petite Vie was Quebec’s most successful sitcom, Les Filles de Caleb was the most successful television drama. And, as mentioned on imdb, it was one of the highest rated show in Quebec when it was broadcast. I think the main quality of it is that it aged well. Even today, it appeals to a lot of people. It tells the story of rural Quebec but, as it is more a love story more than a historical drama, it’s the kind of television show that can be appreciated and understood anywhere. The story of Émilie and Ovila marked the imaginary of Quebec and, still today, people remember them well. And having Pronovost as a last name can create fun situations! For example, in my last year of high school, my French teacher was a huge fan of actor Roy Dupuis who portrays Ovila in the television show. It was the beginning of the year and I asked her a question which she answered, but she couldn’t remember my last name.

Me: “Ah, Pronovost”

My teacher: Ah! Like Ovila Pronovost!”

And this is far from being the only time it happened to me. By the way, you don’t pronounce the “s” and the “t” at the end of Pronovost!





The cast of Les Filles de Caleb was composed of Marina Orsini (Émilie), Roy Dupuis (Ovila), Germain Houde (Caleb Bordeleau), Johanne-Marie Tremblay (Célina Bordeleau), Véronique Le Flaguais (Félicité Pronovost), Pierre Curzi (Dosithée Pronovost), and Patrick Goyette (Ovide Pronovost – one of Ovila’s brothers). As they were very young when the series was made, that’s pretty much what put Marina Orsini and Roy Dupuis on the map. And with the success it had, it certainly gave them a name. I believe the whole cast was great in their respective roles. Marina Orsini gave the necessary strength of character to Émilie. Roy Dupuis was perfect to incarnate the mysterious and seducer Ovila Pronovost. The two actors looked beautiful together and made that passionate love story highly believable. Pierre Curzi and Germain Houde both played fathers with a lot of humour and always had a great chemistry with the other characters. Veronique Le Flaguais and Johanne-Marie Tremblay knew how to be maternal, but strong women, which I think was necessary when you lived the hard life of the countryside and had to raise a bunch of kids! And Patrick Goyette as Ovide made an interesting contrast with Roy Dupuis as the jealous but more down to earth brother. Of course, there are many more actors and characters in the show, but these are the main ones.



Pierre Curzi as Dosithée Pronovost and Véronique Le Flaguais as Félicitée Pronovost



Patrick Goyette as Ovide Pronovost

Actually, I think the only problem with the cast is that Roy Dupuis was much more handsome than the real Ovila Pronovost! But who cares? It is so agreeable for the eyes to watch the sexy (and talented Roy Dupuis! 😉 One of our most praised actors here in Quebec!

Even if Les Filles de Caleb lasted only 20 episodes, a lot is going on and definitely makes us wish it would last longer. It is a real adventure truffled with breathtaking,  heartbreaking and overall beautiful moments. I don’t know if you can find it with English subtitles somewhere, but if yes, I highly recommend you to watch it! It’s that kind of tv show that, once you started it, you can stop! It’s addictive like that.

You know what? Now I truly feel like watching it again! I think a little Filles de Caleb marathon is in order!


This article was written for The Small Screen Blogathon hosted by Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. It was a pleasure for me to participate! Thanks Maddy!

Make sure to check the other entries as well!

The Small Screen Blogathon

See you!