31 Days of Oscars Blogathon 2015 (week 4: Pictures and Directors): William Wyler, Three Times Best Director Winner

William Wyler

William Wyler is someone we can call an Oscar Winner director. Well, after John Ford he is (with Frank Capra) the second movie director who has received the most Oscars. He won the award for a total of three of his films: Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives and Ben-Hur. These three movies were also awarded Best Picture. Today, for the fourth of The 31 Days of Oscars Blogathon 2015: Pictures and Directors, I decided to write about William Wyler and these three memorable films.

Mrs Miniver: 

Mrs Miniver

Mrs. Miniver was released in 1942 and it stars a bunch of incredible actors: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty, Henry Travers and Richard Ney. The story takes place in England during the beginning of the World War II. Kay Miniver (Greer Garson) is married to Clem Miniver (Walter Pidgeon) and they have three children: Vin (Richard Ney), Judy and Toby. This middle-class family lives in the little city of Balham. At the beginning of the film, Mrs. Miniver is back from town where she went to do some shopping. At the train station, Mr. Ballard (Henry Travers), who works at the train station, wants to show her something special. She accepts and he shows her a beautiful red rose that he had cultivated himself. As he admires Mrs Miniver he tells her that he wants to name this rose the Miniver rose and wants to present it to the annual village flower contest. Of course, Kay Miniver is honoured. The next day, Kay, Clem, Judy, and Toby go to the train station to welcome Vin who is back from university. During their lunch, Carol Beldon (Theresa Wright), Lady Beldon’s granddaughter, comes asks Mrs. Miniver to convince Mr. Ballard not to present the Miniver rose to the contest. As it is a beautiful rose, it may have chances to win and her grandmother, Lady Beldon (Dame May Whitty) has always won the contest and this is something very important for her. Carol says this very gently and without any bad intention. However, Vin opposes to her (not very politely), but she stays nice and sweet. Not a long time after, the two fall in love with each other and get married. Anyway, everything goes right for the Miniver and the people of Balham until the war explodes. England becomes a victim of the German bombings and the people of Balham have to survive in a climate of fear. Vin decides to enlist in the Royal British Air Force to protect his country.

Among the three William Wyler’s films that won the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Direction, Mrs. Miniver is my favourite one. It’s a truly fantastic and unforgettable picture. After he directed this film, William Wyler admitted that his first objective with it was to make a propaganda film. He was convinced that the USA should participate in the war against Nazism. So, with this film, he decided to show to the ordinary American citizens what their British equivalents were going through. The film was a success and had a good effect on American’s help for the British during the war. Also, Winston Churchill claimed that this film had done a lot for the war effort. Of course, when you first watch Mrs. Miniver, you don’t appreciate it as a propaganda film, but as a masterpiece. Well, there are many reasons why it deserved the Best Director (and Best Picture)’s Oscar. It’s first interesting to see a film, not only about war but also about how the ordinary people, those who were not on the front, were living the war. Indeed, in this film, we never see the English soldiers fighting on the front. This is how the sound dimension becomes very important in this film. It was brilliantly used in a way to show us how the war can be frightful. Of course, I’m thinking of this scene when Kay, Clem, Toby, and Judy are in their nuclear bunker and the German’s planes start throwing bombs on Balham. As they can’t go outside because they would be killed, they only hear the bombings and they don’t see them. That’s the same thing for the public because Wyler decided not to show us what was going on outside. So, we notice that to “hear” the war is even more terrifying than seeing it because we don’t know what to expect. Is it worst or less worst than what we are expecting? The next day, the Miniver are back to their house who has been seriously damaged by the bombings. However, life has to continue. With this film, Wyler did an amazing job with the actors’ direction. Greer Garson won the Oscar for Best Actress and Teresa Wright won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Both were truly remarkable and played their part with so much sensibility. The film also received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor (Walter Pidgeon), Best Supporting Actor (Henry Travers) and another for Best Supporting Actress Oscar (Dame May Whitty). Greer Garson didn’t like this film as she thought it wasn’t a good story. I always thought this was very strange as it is a fantastic film and as she gave a beautiful performance. This is the film that made me like Walter Pidgeon. I saw him before in How Green Was My Valley, but he didn’t impress me that much. He did with Mrs. Miniver. I like his beautiful deep voice. It makes me think of Gregory Peck’s voice. I love Teresa Wright since I saw her in Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock, 1938) and that’s the same for Dame May Whitty since I saw her in The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock, 1938). So, it was a real pleasure to see another film with them. Finally, Henry Travers gives us a very touching and humble performance. He is really lovable. In fact, all the actors and their characters are, even Lady Beldon! Well, with Mrs. Miniver, William Wyler made a movie that I’ll always keep in my heart. A brilliant, touching, beautiful and almost perfect film that, once you have seen it, you can forget it. It’s a movie that makes you understand another side of the war. It’s also a movie that grants a great regard to the importance of the family, a value that we tend to neglect, but that becomes very important in times of crisis like the war. Mrs. Miniver is a film that makes you live many emotions and always in a good way.

The Best Years of Our Lives 

The Best Years of Our Lives

The Best Years of Our Lives was released in 1946 and starred Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Harold Russell, Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo and Kathy O’Donnell. War is over. Al Stephenson (Fredric March), Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) and Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), three American soldiers (who had never met before) are going back home. They are traveling in the same plane as they had discovered they all come from the same place: Boone City. The three become friends. Their richest wish is to get back to a normal life with their family, but this won’t be easy. Homer has lost his two hands during the war and he has to face a family who doesn’t know how to handle the situation. He only wants them to treat him like a normal person. Al is happy to be back to his wife and kids, but he drinks a lot and Fred’s wife has lost interest in him has his new job is not very well-paid. Fred also falls in love with Peggy, Al’s daughter, but this is a difficult situation as he is already married. Back to their home, the three soldiers will live hard, but also good moments.

I always thought that The Best Year of Our Lives was a good complement to Mrs. Miniver. You know, Mrs, Minver tells us the story of ordinary citizens DURING the war and The Best Year of Our Lives tell us the story of three soldiers and their family AFTER the war. Of course, Mrs. Miniver takes place in England and The Best Years of Our Lives takes place in the United States. I haven’t seen many postwar films, but I’m sure this is one of the bests. It’s the kind of film that makes you say “WOW”, the kind of movie that makes you understand, just like Mrs. Miniver, another side of the war. The actors in this film are wonderful. Frederic March won the Oscar for Best Actor and Harold Russell won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. However, my favourite performance in this film was Dana Andrews’ one. We can see he did his job seriously and that he knew how to share many emotions. I think he is a very versatile actor. I also like the fact that he falls in love with Teresa Wright and vice versa. The two make a beautiful couple and they have a good chemistry together. Fredric March leads some funny scenes (because yes, there are some funny scenes!). I can think of the moment when he forgets to take off of his pyjamas to take his shower. William Wyler directed some beautiful and memorable scenes, some very powerful scenes. I can think of the moment when Omer decides to show to his lovely fiancée, Wilma (Kathy O’Donnell,  what it will be like to live with someone who has lost his arms. This scene proves us that she really loves him. Another scene I love is when Dana Andrews goes in that old defected warplane just to feel another time what it is like to be in this kind of plane. Of course, the ending is also unforgettable and I love the moments when a character gives a hug or a kiss to another character because this is done with so much love and it’s so beautiful. Also, a part we’ll never forget after watching this film is when each soldier, at the beginning, is arriving at their home. This is another great emotional moment. The Best Years of Our Lives is certainly one of the most wonderful films ever made. I think that this and Mrs. Miniver are two films that everybody should watch to understand what it was like to live the war out of the front. Now, I would like you to watch this beautiful fan-made trailer. If you haven’t seen The Best Years of Our Lives yet, I’m sure it will make you want to.

Ben-Hur

Ben Hur

Ben-Hur is a film released in 1959 and starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harrareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, and Kathy O’Donnell. This film received a great total of 11 Oscars (!) including Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Actor (Charlton Heston) and Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith). Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), a Jewish prince and rich merchant, lives in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century during the Roman Empire Era. His friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) comes to see him. He is now the new commandant of the Roman garrison. He asks his friend not to be part of the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire. Judah has to choose between his friendship for Messala and his loyalty to his people. Even if he is a pacifist, he chooses the loyalty. Then, Messala becomes his enemy. After an incident, Messala betrays his former friend and makes him a slave in the Roman galleys. Ben-Hur only wishes to recover his freedom and to get his revenge.

Ben-Hur is certainly the most well-known William Wyler’s film. I mean, everybody knows Ben-Hur, even those who don’t watch classic films or those who don’t know who is William Wyler. This is probably because of the horse race’s scene, one of the most famous scenes in cinema’s history. I must admit before I saw this film, I really didn’t know what to expect from this scene. I was saying to myself that it couldn’t be THAT iconic. Well, it was. It’s really the best scene of the film and one of the most remarkable work of filming and editing. For this scene, William Wyler chose the camera angles, but he left the details of its shooting to his second-unit directors Andrew Marton and Yakima Canutt. When he saw the result, Mrs Wyler said that this was “one of the greatest cinematic achievements” he had ever seen. Wyler supervised the editing of this scene. This might have been a tough job as there is a lot of action and movements in it. Well, this editing was a success and that’s what makes this horse race so thrilling. I remember, when I was watching the film, I didn’t want this scene to end has it was so well-made. Oh, I think it will be a good idea to watch it now.

With Ben-Hur, William Wyler (who was Jewish) wanted to make a movie “that would appeal to all religious faiths” (IMDB). I think he did a great job on this level. What’s also interesting is the fact that it was the remake of another film: Ben-Hur : A Tale of the Christ, a silent film directed by Fred Niblo in 1925. William Wyler and Henry Hathaway (another great movie director) actually worked on this film as the assistant directors. One more time, William Wyler did a great job with the actors in this film. Charlton Heston gives us a great performance for sure. However, I must admit I don’t really remember Hugh Griffith’s performance. I, unfortunately, didn’t have time to watch this 3h30 film very recently, so it’s less fresh in my memory. Ben-Hur is a great epic that had a good success. It cost $ 15 M to produce and it made around $ 150 M at that world Box Office only for the initial release. I must admit, it’s not my favourite William Wyler’s film, but it remains an excellent and worth watching one, especially for the horse race’s scene. William Wyler certainly did an amazing direction job. Finally, another thing I’ll never forget about Ben-Hur is the wonderful score composed by Miklós Rózsa. What would be this film without this grandiose music?

William Wyler is my third favourite movie director and it was a pleasure to write about three of his films. He received the Best Director Oscar for three of his films, but he was also nominated for 9 more: Dodsworth, Wuthering Heights, The Letter, The Little Foxes, The Heiress, Detective Story, Roman Holiday, Friendly Persuasion and The Collector. He really was one of the greatest movie directors in Hollywood. My favourite Wyler’s film is Roman Holiday. It’s also my 10th favourite movie of all times. Now, I would like you to watch my little video tribute I made in honour of William Wyler. Enjoy!

This was already my last contribution for The 31 Days of Oscars Blogathon. It was a real pleasure to participate in this very nice event! I hope I’ll be back next year for the occasion. And thanks to all the hosts for taking care of this blog event. Make sure to read the other entries written for this blogathon.

http://aurorasginjoint.com/2015/01/05/31-days-of-oscar-blogathon-2015/

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31 Days of Oscar Blogathon 2015 (Week 3: The Crafts) : My Fair Lady and the Outstanding Costumes of Cecil Beaton

Audrey Hepburn and Cecil Beaton on the set of My fair lady

Cecil Beaton is not only my favourite photographer, but he was also an incredible costume designer. He created the costumes of 14 movies: Kipps, Dangerous Moonlight, On Approval, The Young Mr. Pitt, Anna Karenina (1948), An Ideal Husband, Beware of Pity, Dandy DickThe Truth about WomenMajor Barbara, GigiThe Doctor’s Dilemma, My Fair Lady and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. He won the Oscar for Best Costume Design for Gigi and, not surprisingly, My Fair Lady. He also won the Oscar for Best Art Direction for My Fair Lady. The costumes in this film are some of the most incredible and creative ones I have ever seen on screen. Really, Mr. Beaton had a great imagination and knew perfectly how to go out of limits. For the third week’s subject of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon 2015 (The Crafts), I chose to write about these colourful and unforgettable costumes: their particularities, how they change and evolute in the film, how they accompany Liza Doolittle’s evolution, etc. I read on IMDB that, even if most of the credits for art direction and costume designing went to Beaton, Gene Allen (art director) said later that Beaton only designed the women’s costumes. Is that true or not? Whatever, let’s be honest, the most interesting costumes in this film are those worn by the ladies.

Audrey Hepburn and Cecil Beaton, My Fair Lady

My Faire Lady is a movie directed by George Cukor, released in 1964, and starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins, Stanley Holloway as Alfred P. Doolittle, Wilfrid Hyde-White as Colonel Hugh Pickering, Gladys Cooper as Mme Higgins, and Jeremy Brett as Freddy Eynsford-Hill. This 8 Oscar-winning film is a screen adaptation of a Broadway musical, itself based on the play by George Bernard  Shaw, Pygmalion. The story takes place in London during the beginning of the 20th century. Eliza Doolittle, a poor cockney flower seller, meets Professor Henry Higgins, an arrogant elocution teacher who laughs at her accent. She then asks him to help her improve her diction and way to talk. Higgins makes a bet with the Colonel Hugh Pickering (another phonetic expert) that he could transform Eliza into a great lady. Then, the lessons start for Eliza during 6 months until she’s ready to be part of the High Society.

Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison My Fair Lady

Well, let’s now focus on the main subject of this text: the costumes. It’s interesting to see how the costumes in My Faire Lady define the social classes. At the beginning, a group of rich people comes out of an opera. They are wearing very colourful costumes with many extravagant accessories, especially the ladies. They wear orange, red, purple, blue, golden, black dresses. They wear feathers in their hair, flowers, and large hats.  Then, the poor London working class is introduced. Their clothes are much more ordinary, more brown, grey or black and, overall, very simple. It’s in that type of clothes that Audrey Hepburn makes her first appearance in the story. She wears a beige dress with a green coat and a brown scarf. Her hair are disheveled and a black straw hat is placed on the top of her head. We can see those clothes are the ones of a poor lady, that she belongs to the lower London class. She makes money by selling violets. In the same scene, professor Higgins makes his entrance too. He wears a brown coat and a hat that makes him look like a detective. He’s taking notes in a notebook (he notes what Eliza is saying) and seems to know where everybody comes from. The colonel, who is in this scene too, also believes at first that he is a detective. Well, Higgins tells the crowd that he is a phonetic teacher. So, there we can see how the costumes deceive the spectator, but also the other characters of the films, on the identity of the one who is wearing them. Most of the time, professor Higgins wears brown or beige clothes, except during the ball scene where he wears a black tuxedo (like all the men in this scene) and during the scene that takes place in his mother’s house. There, his clothes are grey. What’s interesting about these brown clothes is the fact that the colour brown is also the colour of chocolate, something that Eliza loves. She loves chocolate and Higgins always tempts her with some. Brown also symbolizes the solidity. Indeed, Higgins seems to be a strong man. The colour grey can symbolize the solitude. Higgins is wearing grey clothes after Eliza has left him. What is also interesting about Higgin’s brown and beige clothes, it’s the fact that they fit with the colours of his house. That’s also the case for the maid clothes. 

Audrey Hepburn My Fair LadyRex Harrison My Fair Lady

What is especially interesting about this film is to see the evolution of Eliza’s clothes. As I said, when we first see her, she’s wearing rags, but when she decides to go see Higgins, we can see she tried to dress up the best she could. She’s wearing a large hat with big feathers on it, but her dress remains very sober. These clothes are more synonyms of “exaggeration” than “elegance”. Wearing a big hat doesn’t make you a classy lady and that’s perfectly shown in this scene. She somehow seems to wear a Halloween costume. Then, after she has taken her bath, she wears a simple, but pretty grey dress. It’s still a very simple dress, but the shape is more elegant. Her hair is also well combed. At this moment of the film, she hasn’t really improved her language yet. In this scene, her father comes to Higgins house and he first doesn’t recognize her daughter. During the Rain in Spain‘s scene, the first time Eliza speaks correctly, Audrey Hepburn wears a very pretty green dress, well adjusted to her waist. She wears a necklace (that’s the first time she’s wearing one in the film) and some little flowers are fixed on the dress. That’s the first moment of the film where she really seems happy. We also believe that’s when she falls in love with Higgins. She’s now ready to visit the high society.

Rex-and-Audrey-in-My-fair-LadyAudrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady

Audrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady

The moment where the costumes of the films are at their best is probably during the horse race’s scene. Here, all the ladies’ costumes are black and white, but the forms, the details, the big hats were created with so much creativity and are all very diversified. We can notice that the dresses are straight and very chic. The ladies are wearing pearls, feathers, lace, white flowers, and frills. We can also notice some striped dresses. Most of them are also holding an umbrella. In this scene, Eliza wears a real high society dress. This one is made of white lace and is decorated with black and white striped patches. She also wears a big hat with a big feather like all the ladies in the crowd. We can notice the presence of a red flower on her hat. This is a way to show that she is not perfectly compliant with this group. Remember, this first entrance in the high society is a fiasco. First, because she exaggerates too much her way of talking and then because her bad language habits eventually come back when shes shoot at a racehorse: “Come on, Dover! Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin’ arse!” In this scene, all the men wear the same grey suit except for professor Higgins as I said sooner.

Audrey Hepburn, My Fair LadyMy Fair Lady

During the ball scene, Eliza now really looks and act like a real lady. She wears a very simple, but wonderful shiny beige dress with diamonds on it, a large necklace made of the same precious stones, and a tiara also made of diamonds. She also wears long white gloves and has a complicated hairdo. To go out, she wears an elegant red coat. In this scene, she really looks like a princess or a duchess. Remember, she dances with the prince during this scene. She finally is a great lady. The other dresses in the ball scene are more colourful than the dresses during the horse race’s scene. However, these are pastel colours. The ladies are still wearing feathers and flowers in their hair, but also tiaras, like Eliza, instead of big hats. The men are all wearing black tuxedos and Higgins doesn’t make an exception. When he’s back home, this one is wearing a white scarf and he’s now very elegant.

Audrey Hepburn, My Fair LadyMy Fair Lady

After she has been disappointed by the professor who seems to not really care about her, Eliza leaves the house. In this scene, she wears a pink salmon skirt with a white shirt and a salmon jacket. She also wears a simple but elegant straw hat with pink flowers on it and a lilac ribbon and little white gloves. These are very simple traveling clothes, but they prove us that she knows now how to dress up and what kind of clothes she should wear depending on what she’s doing. With these clothes on, she decides to go back where she comes from, in the poor working class of London. Unfortunately, nobody recognizes her. That’s a sad moment. The final dress Audrey Hepburn wears in this film is a very vaporous candy pink dress. She also wears a very elegant hat of the same colour. There, she is very classy and knows perfectly how to act with high society people. She’s now part of their world. She became a real fair lady.

Audrey Hepburn, My Fair LadyAudrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady

So, as you can see, it’s very nice to see the progression of the costumes in this film. Cecil Beaton did a remarkable job and I really wonder where he found all these incredible ideas, especially for the costumes in the horse race’s scene! We can see some very extravagant costumes, but also some very elegant and refined ones. Audrey Hepburn was lucky to wear all these clothes! As Eva-Marie Saint says in North by Northwest, “patience is a virtue”, and I imagine you must have a good patience to design all these wonderful clothes. Cecil Beaton’s Oscar was very well-deserved. It rewards a long and hard work that participated brilliantly in the visual aspect of the film. It’s interesting to notice that there are not many close-ups in My Fair Lady. That’s was probably because they wanted us to see these wonderful costumes as much as possible. These next images are promotional pictures of Audrey Hepburn for the film. I believe they were taken by Cecil Beaton. An interesting thing about these pictures is the fact that these costumes are not wearing by Audrey Hepburn in the film, they were only used for the promotion. However, I’ve noticed that some of them are worn by extras in the film.

Audrey Hepburn, My Fair LadyAudrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady

Audrey Hepburn, My Fair LadyAudrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady

Audrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady

One more time, it was a pleasure to participate in the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Make sure to read the other entries!

http://aurorasginjoint.com/2015/01/05/31-days-of-oscar-blogathon-2015/

Cecil BeatonCecil Beaton

Some Like it Hot: Well, This Film Is Perfect!

Some Like it Hot

I said to myself the other day, that it would be intelligent to write a review of my favourite movie of all times. So, there it is, my Some Like it Hot‘s review, a movie that I can watch over and over always with a great pleasure. Before I saw this film, I had a feeling, just by watching the trailer, that it would maybe become one of my very favourite movies. And it did as you can see! For a long time,  I hesitate between this one, Forrest Gump and Bringing Up Baby as my #1, but now I’ve made my choice. 🙂 Some Like it Hot was directed by Billy Wilder in 1959

Where can I start? There’s so much to say about this film! Well, let’s being with a little summary, just to situate you a little.  Chicago 1929, during prohibition. A hearse is rolling over the streets of the city, but, soon, as the police cars are coming, we discover that this car is filled with gangsters. The gunshots start and the coffin is perforated. This one is full of bottles of Champagne. The hearse arrives at Mozzarella’s funeral parlour and the group of gangsters is welcomed by their chief, Spats Columbo (George Raft). Later, the police raids in this place. Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are two friends and two musicians who work in the “funeral” band. Joe plays the saxophone and Jerry plays the double bass. They succeed to escape from the police raid. Now, they have to find another job. Nellie (Joe’s girlfriend) decides to make a joke to them and tells them that a band is looking for a saxophone and a double bass. The two fellows are enchanted and relieved, but they soon discover that this is a band… for girls! Then, on Valentine’s Day, they witness a mass murder committed by Spats Colombo’s gang. Joe and Jerry have to run away, otherwise, they’ll be killed by the gangsters. So, they decide to apply for the famous girls’ band. Of course, this is a band only for ladies, so they’ll have to dress up as girls: they become Josephine and Daphné. The group is going to Florida. On the train, Joe and Gerry meet Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) who becomes a good friend. In Florida, Gerry makes the acquaintance of Osgood Fielding the Third (Joe E. Brown), a rich millionaire who has a yacht and who is desperately looking for a new wife (again!). Joe, who has fallen in love with Sugar, organizes a little “mise-en-scène” to conquer her. Everything seems to go well for the two fellows until Spats Colombo and his gang show up at the hotel…

Some Like it Hot

Being directed by Billy Wilder, one can expect that one of Some Like it Hot’s many qualities is its screenplay.  There are many creative and funny quotes that indeed makes it the best movie of all times. The moments that don’t make you laugh or simply smile are rare enough! I can say, without a doubt, that this is one of the films I can quote the best. In general, Billy Wilder’s films are always well-written and this one doesn’t make an exception to the rule. The story itself is well-settled and captivating. The movie starts with action: a group of gangsters in a hearse is pursued. Then, we discover that the coffin is filled with bottles of alcohol. This is Chicago during prohibition. We wonder what will happen next. The script,  based on a story by Robert Thoeren and Michael Logan, was written by I.A.L. Diamond and Billy Wilder. It even received an Oscar nomination.

I would like now to share some of my favourite quotes from the film:

1- Junior:  I guess some like it hot. I personally prefer classical music.

2- Jerry: Have I got things to tell you!

Joe: What happened?

Jerry: I’m engaged.

Joe: Congratulations. Who’s the lucky girl?

Jerry: I am!

3- Osgood: I am Osgood Fielding the third.

Daphne: I’m Cinderella the second.

4- Osgood: Well, nobody’s perfect!

5- Sweet Sue:  Beinstock, I ought to fire you!

Beinstock: Me? I’m the manager of the band, not the night watchman.

6- Sugar: Shell Oil Junior. He’s got millions, he’s got glasses, he’s got a yacht!

Joe: You don’t say.

Jerry: He’s not only got a yacht, he’s got a bicycle!

7- Sugar : [admiring a large fish trophy] What is it?

Junior: It’s a member of the herring family.

Sugar: A herring? Isn’t it amazing how they get those big fish into those little glass jars?

Junior: They shrink when they’re marinated.

8- Spat’s Henchman: Excuse me, ain’t I had the pleasure of meetin’ you two broads before?

Jerry: Oh, no. You must be thinking of two other broads.

Ok I have to stop! But there’s too much great lines in this film!

Another thing I love about this film is the casting. Tony Curtis fits perfectly the role of Joe/Josephine/Junior. How amazing it is to play, I should say, three different personalities (because it remains, after all, the same character ). When he is Junior, he kind of imitates Cary Grant’s voice, but this one said about it: “I don’t speak like that!” Well, that remains funny. Marilyn Monroe also did a great job as Sugar. I have to say, this is my second favourite performance by this actress after The Misfits. She’s sweet, funny, so lovable, and has a gorgeous smile. That’s hard and sad to believe that this was one of her last films. 😦 We can also see and hear her sing some songs. Her voice is so enjoyable. Dave Barry who plays  Beinstock, the band manager, is also a great addition to the lot. He always seems a little lost after Joe steals his suitcase and his glasses. Well, how can you be not funny with a name like  Beinstock… One of my favourite moments in the films is when Sweet Sue, the bandleader of “Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators”, shouts at him: “BEEEEINNNSTOCK!!” when she is angry. Sweet Sue was played by Joan Shawlee. George Raft plays a delicious villain: “Spats” Colombo, a Chicago gangster obsessed with his shoe spats. In this film, you’ll also have the chance to see Edward G. Robinson Jr. (yes, Edward G. Robinson’s son!) in a small role: The guy in the cake… But really, the actors who perfectly steals the show, my favourite ones in this film, are certainly Jack Lemmon and Joe E. Brown! And they make such a hilarious team together. The movie ends with an unforgettable dialogue between the two, and think of this moment when they are dancing the tango! This is really one of my favourite moments of the film. About Jack Lemmon, just when I see him in this film, even when he doesn’t say anything, I laugh or smile. How adorable and cute he is with these round and surprised eyes. He also had the voice of comedy. A voice you’ll always remember and who is always well chosen with the emotions he wants to share. The way he moves as a girl is also worth seeing. I love when he makes this little hand move after saying something. This is a real caricature because girls don’t really do that! 😛 Well, I must also say that the funniest scenes of the film are the ones with Jack Lemmon. The actor received an Oscar nomination for his performance in this film but, unfortunately, lost it to Charlton Heston for his performance in Ben-Hur (William Wyler, 1959). About Joe E. Brown, how can you forget that big smile, that look on his face when he sees the “girls” arriving at the hotel,  that “Zowie!”. Really, he was one of the funniest character actors.

Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis Some Like it HotJoe E. Brown and Tony Curtis Some Like it HotSome Like It Hot (1959)George Raft Some Like it Hot

Some Like It Hot also has one of those unforgettable scores: lively and entertaining. It includes songs like “Running Wild”, the iconic “I Want to Be Loved by You”, “By the Sea”, and more. The music in this film also sets the jazzy 20’s atmosphere of the film. You know, I can’t skip the opening titles because of the music. So jazzy and so hot! 😉 One of my favourite “music moments” of the film is the tango between Jerry/Daphné and Osgood. I also love the moment when Sugar sings “Running Wild” and the way Jerry/Daphné plays his double bass with too much enthusiasm! Anyway, let’s not forget that music is one of the most important themes of this film. What will Some Like it Hot be without this music?! Well, it just wouldn’t be the same movie.

I want to finish this review by talking to you about some of my favourite scenes and why they are. First, I can think of the party scene in the train compartment.  Daphne (Jerry) is sleeping and Sugar comes  to visit him and to thank him for having told Sweet Sue that the bottle of alcohol belonged to him (it was Sugar’s bottle, but she would have been kicked off the train if they would have surprised her drinking again). In this scene, Daphne proposes to Sugar to take a drink. But they are making some noise so the other girls wake up. The result: a party with 12 girls… and a man (poor Jerry!) in a little train compartment! Another of my favourite scenes is the tango scene. What makes this scene unforgetable are mostly Jack  Lemmon and Joe E. Brown’s facial expression while they are dancing. I also love the fact that Jerry sort of discovers a passion for this Argentinian dance. Following that, the scene when Jerry says to Joe that he is engaged to Osgood is priceless. The dialogues are so funny and also very zany. I’ll conclude with that scene where Nellie (Joe’s girlfriend) says to Joe and Jerry that a music band is looking for a saxophonist and a double bass player. Joe and Jerry are very happy. When they discover that this is, in fact, a band for girls and girls ONLY, Jerry’s reaction is the best. Of course, as many people I’m sure, I love the ending of this film, when Jerry decides to tell the truth to Osgood. There are many, many worthy mentioning scenes in this film, but I can’t name them all!

Some Like it Hot

Well, now you know some of the main reasons why Some Like it Hot is my favourite film. I could go on and on, but all good things must have to end. If you haven’t seen this wonderful film yet, please take a moment to. Really, you won’t regret it. All the people I know who have seen this film enjoyed it. If you’re sad and you’re in for a big laugh, this is the perfect movie. After all, Some Like it Hot was voted the best comedy of all times!

Some Like it hot

William Holden’s Films Marathon: Review & Feedback

William Holden

I’m happy to tell you that I have now finished my long William Holden’s films marathon. From Golden Boy to Fedora, I saw a total of 16 of his films. The only one I had seen before was Sunset Boulevard, as I try to mostly see new movies in my marathons. My introduction to this marathon was an episode of I Love Lucy where William Holden, as a guest star, plays his own role. This is really one of the funniest I Love Lucy‘s episodes I’ve seen so far. Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred are going to Hollywood. Lucy and Ethel can’t wait to see movie stars. In a restaurant, William Holden is sitting at the table next to them and Lucy can’t stop watching him. William, who is tired of having his privacy invaded, decides to teach a lesson to Lucy and does to her what she does to him: staring her without any discretion. The result is quite comical.

Now, let’s explore the movies, from 1939 to 1978, almost 40 years of Holden!

William Holden and Lucille Ball (I love Lucy)

Film 1: Golden Boy (Rouben Mamoulian, 1939)

Role: Joe Bonaparte

Barbara Stanwyck and William Holden Golden Boy

It’s the famous Barbara Stanwyck who insisted for William Holden to be part of this film. She was right to give him this chance because he didn’t really have the occasion to prove his potential as an actor of talent before starring in that film. See, Golden Boy is William Holden’s third’s film and his first film as a leading actor. The first twos are now are probably forgotten, but, even if Golden Boy is not his most famous film like Sunset Boulevard or The Bridge on the River Kwai, it’s this film that sort of put him on the map. It’s interesting to know that William Holden was sometimes called Bill Holden, but another of his nicknames was “Golden Boy”. When she received her honorary Oscar, Barbara Stanwyck thanked her late friend William Holden by calling him “my Golden Boy. In this movie, William Holden gives us a performance full of sensibility. He plays the part of Joe Bonaparte, a violinist who wants to be a boxing champing because it would assure him a better financial future. His father (brilliantly played by Lee J. Cobb) his opposed to this decision because he knows that his son is made for music and not for boxing. He knows that this will make him unhappy. Barbara Stanwyck is William Holden’s boxing agent (Adolphe Menjou)’s girlfriend who, at first, manipulates Joe so he won’t quit the boxing. But after a visit to Joe’s family house, she understands, like Joe’s father, that he is really made to be a musician. She also insists for him to continue what he really likes. Joe hates boxing, but in another way, it brings him money. So, in this movie full of hard decisions, William Holden plays his part with a lot of emotions and refinement. This scene where he plays the violin while closing his eyes is magically beautiful, for our eyes and for our ears. It touches me because I used to play violin when I was younger.

Film 2: Our Town ( Sam Wood, 1940)

Role: George Gibbs

Our Town

In this beautiful little film, William Holden plays, one more time, a sweet and touching character, but, this time, he seems more innocent than he is in Golden Boy, less “tough”. However, for his sensibility, George Gibbs can still make us think of Joe Bonapart in Golden Boy. In a sad scene where his father explains to him that his mother had to chop wood because he forgot to, William Holden, remorseful, cries quietly. This is, yes, a heartbreaking scene, but, in a way, it proves us that there are no such idiotic rule preventing men to cry.

Film 3: The Remarkable Andrew (Stuart Heisler, 1942)

Role: Andrew Long

The Remarkable Andrew

In this movie, I met a funny Bill Holden! Like Sabrina (that I have seen before), this is a comedy, but William Holden is even funnier here than he is in Sabrina. One more time, as he was very young, he plays a young man full of innocence and imagination. In The Remarkable Andrew, Holden is Andrew Long, a young accountant who finds a $1240 discrepancy in the city budget. His superior tries to explain this, but Andrew decides to pursue his little investigation and he is eventually blamed too for this mistake. Then, the spirit of Andrew Jackson, his historical idol, visits him accompanied by the spirits some other great men of American history and they try to help him. Of course, nobody except Andrew can see them, that’s where the power of imagination is brilliantly used. One of my favourite moments is when Jackson asks Andrew for a drink and he offers him some grape juice. That’s so cute.

Film 4: Dear Ruth (William D. Russell, 1947)

Role: Lieutenant William Seacroft

Dear Ruth

This is another comedy with a really funny William Holden, the funniest I must say. Even funnier than his character in The Remarkable Andrew. What’s make Bill amusing here, is his great passion for a girl he had never met before… Miriam Wilkins (Mona Freeman), a teenage girl who wants to help the world and fight for causes, has a soldier for a pen pal. However, she uses her sister Ruth’s signature in those letters that eventually becomes love letters. Everything becomes out of control when this soldier, William Seacroft (William Holden), decides to show up to Ruth’s place during a two-day leave. Ruth (Joan Caulfield) has to pretend, but she will have to tell him the truth sooner or later. William is really in love with her and all he wants to do is to marry her and be alone with her. Ruth is already engaged to another man, Albert Kummer (Billy De Wolfe). One of the best humoristic moment in Dear Ruth is when William kisses his Ruth. That’s passionate, but also full of indiscretions because he does it in front of everybody. Well, as we say, love is blind! This movie was an agreeable surprise!

Film 5: Apartment for Peggy ( George Seaton, 1948)

Role: Jason Taylor

Apartment for Peggy

This film was the first of four collaborations between Holden and Seaton. I must admit, as much as this was a beautiful film, I haven’t much to say about William Holden’s performance here. Not necessarily because he had a supporting role, but, even if his performance was right in this film, it wasn’t outstanding neither. Also, let’s admit that, in this film, Edmund Gwen, who plays the main character, steals the show.

Film 6: Miss Grant Takes Richmond (Lloyd Bacon, 1949)

Role: Dick Richmond

Miss Grant Takes Richmond

One more time, in this nice and easy comedy, William Holden gives us a good performance, but nothing extraordinary either. He was an excellent actor, but, here, he seems to respect what we told him to do without going out of his limits. Lucille Ball, who plays Dick’s secretary, steals the show here, really. However, I must say that his team work with Mrs. Ball seems to have worked pretty well. They are great together and it was nice to see them together in a movie after having watched this delightful I Love Lucy‘s episode.

Film 7: Father Is a Bachelor ( Aby Berlin and Norman Foster, 1950)

Role: Johnny Rutledge

Father is a Bachelor

This is far from being William Holden’s most famous film, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Well, I simply adored it! It’s now my second favourite Holden’s film after Sunset Boulevard. I wish more people will see it because it is a lovely and touching movie. It’s also what we call a beautiful family movie. Here, you will see William Holden singing! Unfortunately, it is not his real singing voice, but it remains fun to watch and listen. Johnny Rutledge (William Holden) is a carefree vagabond. One day, his employer Professor Mordecai Ford is put in jail so Johnny has to continue his road alone. In a small country town, he meets a young girl named May. She lives alone with her four brothers: January, February, March, and April. They are orphans. Quickly, the kids, especially May, fin a friend in Johnny, but also a father. Johnny who is, at first, not sure that this is a good idea, eventually sees himself taking care of them as if they were his real children. This movie is just so heartwarming. William Holden plays someone with a great heart who does everything, even steal, for these children. He hides tenderness behind his tough attitude, and it’s fantastic to see him as a kind person who takes care of those poor children. He really is a hero.

Film 8: Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

Role: Joe Gillis

William Holden Sunset Boulevard

As I just said, Sunset Boulevard is my favourite William Holden’s film. He gives us another memorable performance for which he received a Best Actor Oscar’s nomination. I think this movie is simply fascinating. I mean, everything is perfectly set. I love the narration in it and I think Holden did it brilliantly. He talks with a good fluidity and expresses himself very clearly. What I like about his acting is the way his behaviour is different depending on who he is talking to. With Betty, Joe is not the same person as he is with Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), the fallen actress. Bill’s acting in Sunset Boulevard is fine because it is thoughtful and nothing is exaggerated. We can feel he knew what he was doing. What is also fantastic about this film is the complicity between Holden and Nancy Olson. In the movie, Holden’s character, Joe Gillis, and Olson character, Betty Schafer, begin to write a screenplay together and they make a powerful duo. Unfortunately, because of Norma’s jealousy, the project doesn’t go very far, well, not for Joe. Believe it or not, this movie is one of the reasons that made me want to study screenwriting. It’s a movie about screenwriters, but it also has a brilliant screenplay, my favourite one more precisely. It won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Film 9: Born Yesterday (George Cukor, 1950)

Role: Paul Verrall

William Holden and Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday)

This was a very interesting movie and, once again, William Holden plays the role of someone who cares about other people. Billie Dawn (Judy Holliday) is engaged to Harry Brock, a rich man with a strange money business. Billie is not very intelligent and Harry takes the occasion and makes her responsible of his maneuvering. Unfortunately for him, Billie’s stupidity becomes very embarrassing for him and his business. So, he decides to ask Paul Verrall (William Holden), a brilliant journalism, to help Billie to be more cultivated. Unfortunately, this will go too far for Harry because Billie will become more intelligent than he would have wished and less docile too. Judy Holliday won the Best Actress Oscar for this role. William Holden was great too and he had a good chemistry with the actress. He plays the kindest man in this story.

Film 10: Boots Malone (William Dietrele, 1952)

Role: Boots Malone 

Boots Malone

The movie itself was ok, but not my favourite one. However, I liked William Holden’s performance in it. He plays the tough guy who also has a great heart. So, because of that, it was a touching movie. Some parts were a little long or repetitive, that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy the movie too much. I loved the ending tho.

Film 11: The Turning Point (William Dietrele, 1952)

Role: Jerry McKibbon

The Turning Point

Really, I don’t have much to say about this film either. When I watched it, it didn’t really captivate me. Not that it wasn’t good, but it was not the best noir I ever saw either. Holden was good, played his role rightly, but honestly, I remember more Edmond O’Brien’s performance. I have seen it since a less long time that Golden Boy, but I remember Golden Boy best as it was a movie that captivated me much more. Sometimes (euhm, often), my parents don’t remember a movie just after a week, well, for me it’s rare, but it was the case for this one.

Film 12: Stalag 17 (Billy Wilder, 1953)

Role: Sgt. J.J. Sefton

William Holden Stalag 17William Holden Oscar

What a great performance we have here! Well, so great that William won the Best Actor Oscar for it! This comedy tells the story of a group of American soldiers who are prisoners in a German war prison. Their objective is to escape by using many creative strategies, but, after two of the soldiers who tried to escape die, they suspect one of them to be an informant and Sergeant J.J Sefton (William Holden) is immediately accused. Of course, as we love Holden, we don’t want him to be guilty! This was a fantastic performance by him because he shares his character’s emotions rightly, without exaggerating anything. This was a TRUE performance, I believed in it. One more time, Billy Wilder directed him perfectly. What I also love about this performance, it’s that it’s a good one to see Holden’s versatility. Sometimes, Sefton is serious, sometimes he has a good sense of humour or is deliciously mocker. When Holden received his Oscar, his speech was the shortest speech in Academy Awards’ history. He simply said, “Thank you.” He hurried too much because TV broadcast had a strict cutoff time, but he explained after that he really wanted to thank the people he worked with, especially Billy Wilder. Poor Bill!

Film 13: The Proud and Profane (George Seaton, 1956)

Role:  Lt. Col. Colin Black

William Holden and Deborah Kerr (The Proud and Profane)

Honestly, it was strange to see William Holden with a moustache! Well, that doesn’t make him a bad actor either. In this film, the actor is enough different than he is in the other movies I had seen before. He plays someone that we don’t really like in the first place. However, his character has a good evolution through the events of the film. Here, the public will probably share Deborah Kerr’s emotion depending on Holden’s actions. He is hard to understand because sometimes he’s a real bastard, but sometimes he is quite lovable. It’s interesting to see that, in the 50’s, Holden really started to play in war movies like this one, Stalag 17 or The Bridge on the River Kwai. I was happy to see this film because Deborah Kerr gives us a brilliant performance. Her teamwork with Holden was also very interesting.

Film 14: The Devil’s Brigade (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1968)

Role:  Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick

The Devil's Brigade

As you can see, here I skipped 12 years of William Holden’s films. However, just like The Proud and Profane, this is also a war movie. It tells the true story of The Devil’s Brigade during the World War II. The American Lieutenant Colonel Robert T. Frederick (Holden) has the mission to form a commando force with both American and Canadian soldiers specialized in mountain combat. The first part of the film is the training and the second part is the combat between the Americans and the Germans in Italy. Really, I didn’t know what to expect from this film because I had never heard of it before. Honestly, I enjoyed it. It was interesting to see the difference between the American soldiers and the Canadian soldiers. At the beginning, they don’t really get along with each other, but they eventually become great pals and a real team. The music by Alex North is very good also. About Holden, I liked his performance because he plays someone calm and wise, someone who thinks before doing anything stupid. He is the real war hero of this picture. William Holden was older here, but this performance just makes me realized that he was talented at all ages.

Film 15: Breezy (Clint Eastwood, 1973)

Role: Frank Harmon

BreezyWilliam Holden and Clint Eastwood on the set of Breezy

Breezy is a beautiful and simple film directed by the one and only Clint Eastwood! I have only seen three of the movies he directed (BreezyThe Bridge of Madison County and Mystic River) and, really, I can say, without hesitation, that Breezy is my favourite one. Breezy ( Kay Lenz) is a young hippie who falls in love with a man in his forties played by Bill of course. Her love for him is so true that it makes you forget their age difference. Both actors give us a thoughtful performance and they make a beautiful couple together. One of my favourite scenes is when they go to the beach together, I also love those lines:

Frank: “Hello my love.”

Breezy: “Hello my life.”

I mean, who would like Holden to tell us “Hello my love” whatever his age?! After seeing three war movies, it was nice to see something different. It was nice to see Holden as someone more “ordinary”, closer to us. In this film, his relationship with a young girl can make us think a little about the one he has with Faye Dunaway’s character in Network.

Film 16: Fedora (Billy Wilder, 1978)

Role: Barry “Dutch” Detweiler

FEDORA

Wow! What a fantastic way to finish my marathon! One more time, this was another brilliant film directed by my second favourite movie director, the incredible Billy Wilder. This was also Holden’s last film under the direction of this movie director. In Fedora, Holden stars as Barry “Dutch” Detweiler, an independent producer and movie writer who learns the death of the famous actress Fedora. Then, he remembers his unsuccessful tentative to bring her back to screen two weeks ago. Meeting Fedora was difficult because she seemed to be trapped by the occupants of the isolated villa on a Greek island where she lives. But soon, Barry learns the truth about Fedora. Really, what I like about this film is the fact that it has many surprises.  I expected nothing about what happens. It’s captivating and you are avid to know what Barry will discover about Fedora. This movie makes me think a little of Sunset Boulevard as it is about a fallen actress. Holden was brilliant in it. His performance is strong, and it’s interesting to see how he makes his character reacts to the things he learns about Fedora. It was nice to compare my reactions to his reactions.

***

So, that was it for this famous William Holden’s films marathon. As you can see, I eliminated some films (The Lion, The Revengers, The Earthling and The Bridges at Toko-Ri), but don’t worry, I had seen The Bridges at Toko-Ri before and I will see the other ones another time. This is really just a question of time because I really have to start another marathon. As you can see, Network, Sabrina, Paris When it Sizzles, The Country Girl and The Bridge on the River Kwai were not on my list. The reason is just that I had seen these films before and, as I mentioned it before, I try to see new movies in my marathons. I would have liked to see Picnic and The Wild Bunch, but I couldn’t find them, so it will be for another time. Seeing William Holden’s on FIVE decades was a truly worthy experience. I made me realized what a versatile actor he was. Thanks to this marathon, I have now seen a total of 22 William Holden’s films! Really, he is a fantastic actor. To finish this text, I would like to do a personal top 10 of all the movies I have seen during this marathon. So here it goes:

1- Sunset Boulevard
2- Father is a Bachelor
3- Golden Boy
4- Dear Ruth
5- Breezy
6- Stalag 17
7- Fedora
8- The Remarkable Andrew
9- The Devil’s Brigade
10- Miss Grant Takes Richmond

Next week, the Dolores Hart’s films marathon will REALLY start. I promise!

William Holden

Buster Keaton Blogathon: It’s free and easy to love Free & Easy!

Free & Easy poster

Free & Easy is a 1930’s film, kind of a musical comedy, directed by Edward Sedgwick and starring Buster Keaton, Robert Montgomery, Anita Page and Trixie Friganza. It was Buster Keaton first talking picture and, unfortunately, it didn’t have a big success, and it’s not one of his most well-known films. In fact, his last success was The Cameraman (Edward Sedgwick, 1928). However, I have to admit that Free & Easy is one of my very favourite Buster Keaton’s films. I have seen it so many times and I never get tired of it. It’s just a very underrated film that deserves to be better-known. For the very first Buster Keaton Blogaton hosted by Silent-Ology, I’m going to share my love for this film. If you haven’t seen it, I hope my text will make you want to see it and if you have seen it, but didn’t like it, I hope you’ll give it another try! 

Anita Page and Buster Keaton

In Free & Easy, Buster Keaton plays the part of Elmer Butts, Miss Gopher City’s manager. Miss Gopher City’s name is Elvira Plunkett (played by the lovely Anita Page). Elmer, Elvira and her mother (who doesn’t like Elmer very much) are going to Hollywood to make Elvira a star. On the train, they meet the famous movie star Larry Mitchell (Robert Montgomery). He invites them to his film premiere and then invites Elvira and her mother to come visit the studio where he works. Here, they meet movie director Fred Niblo and Ma Plunckett only wishes he’ll make her dear Elvira a big movie star. However, things turn out differently. As a result, Elmer and Ma Plunckett will be part of the film, but not Elvira. She doesn’t mind because she feels like acting is not for her. Larry and Elvira will fall in love together, which is something difficult for Elmer who is also in love with Elvira.

 Trixie Friganza and Buster Keaton, Free & Easy

There are many reasons why I love this film. One of them is the very interesting casting. At first, there is our Buster Keaton in his first talking picture. Some people say he is not funny anymore when he talks. I can agree that he is less funny than in some of his early silent films but, for me, he remains amusing and unforgettable. If the talking pictures industry and the public would have given him a chance, he could have continued his career with the same success he had during the silent film eras. Then,  Anita Page plays the role of Elvira Plunkett. Anita Page was one of the big stars of the beginning of the talkies. In Free & Easy, she is just sweet. Trixie Friganza who plays the part of Ma Plunkett is not a very famous actress, but she is a great surprise in this film. She was a great character actress, funny, and with a strong personality. It is interesting to see Robert Montgomery in this type of film knowing that, about ten-fifteen years later he will play in some noirs such as Rage in Heaven or Lady in the Lake (that he also directed). These are the main actors of the film. But what’s even more interesting in this casting are the cameos by great Hollywood personality: Fred Niblo, William Haines, Lyonel Barrymore, Cecil B. DeMille, Dorothy Sebastian, Jackie Coogan, Karl Dane and more. It’s nice too see all these personalities together in the same picture. A game you can do when you watch this film is to find out as many Hollywood stars of the 20’s 30’s as you can!

Buster Keaton and Anita PageRobert Montgomery

 Trixie FriganzaFree & Easy

Of course, as I said, this was Buster Keaton first talking picture. In my opinion, he did it well. A very memorable moment is when he sings Free & Easy, the theme song of the film. I mean, what a treat to see Buster sings and dances! And he does it well, especially the dancing because we know that Buster Keaton was, at first, an actor of gesture, more than an actor of voice. However, his singing voice (and also his talking voice) is quite convincing and fits the character perfectly. As I said in the beginning of this text, this film is kind of a musical comedy. Let me explain that: it is, at first, a comedy, but “the movie in the movie”, the one Elmer Butts and Ma Plunkett are starring in, is a musical. However, there are not many songs. I think we should take the occasion to watch the Free & Easy song’s clip. That’s worth watching, believe me.

Talking pictures mean screenplay, and screenplay mean lines and dialogues. This is another aspect of the film I liked and that really makes me laugh at some points. Because the silent film era was coming to an end, Buster Keaton had to make the audience laugh by talking and not only by moving. There are some quotes in this film that I really love. Some of them are said by Buster Keaton, some other not, but whoever says them, the emotion is always convincing. Buster can talk with his voice, but also with his eyes, which is something important. Here are some examples of my favourite lines of the film:

1- Elmer: “Oh woe is me, the sqween has quooned.”

2- Ma Plunkett: “I never wanna see your face again, never!”

3- Elmer Butts: “Nice day…

Train Conductor: – Is it?

Elmer Butts:- No, I guess it’s not so good…”

4- Jackie Coogan: “And I want to thank Mr. Wright for having this opening, it’s such an opportune time, because I don’t have any school tomorrow.

5- William Haines: Sorry, I broke my autograph…

6- Ma: “Oh, I’m ashamed to show my face!

Elmer: – I don’t blame you….

Ma: – What’s that?!

Elmer: – Oh! I don’t blame you for being a little upset!”

Another thing I like about Buster Keaton in Free & Easy is the great chemistry he has with Anita Page. They are just so lovely together and we wish Elvira would understand that Elmer loves her, because that’s one of her imperfections: she is not very clever. Buster Keaton and Trixie Friganza also make a great pair of enemies. They hate each other, but we can see a sort of complicity between them as soon as they started acting together in the film. Talking about complicity, one of my favourite moments of the film is when Larry Mitchell and Elmer Butts discover they already knew each other before. They both come from Kansas and Larry lived in the same town Elmer’s aunt lived. Moments like that make us say “It’s a small world!”. Another fun thing about this scene is that Buster Keaton really came from Kansas!

Buster Keaton and Robert Montgomery, Free & EasyBuster-Keaton-and-Anita-Page-in-Free-and-Easy1930

Free & Easy is the kind of movie that, for some persons, sort of has to be seen it two or three times before being truly appreciated. I guess I make an exception to the rule, as it became a favourite after my very first viewing. Buster Keaton still makes me laugh and still gives us a great performance. I would like more people to see this film and understand why I love it so much. This is also one of Buster Keaton’s characters that I love the most. I mean, this Elmer is just the type of man I would like to be friend with. So, if you have nothing to do this weekend, take the occasion to watch or re-watch Free & Easy by saying to yourself that this is a great film.

Thanks to Silent-Ology for hosting this event! Make sure to read the other entries:

https://silentology.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/the-first-annual-buster-keaton-blogathon/

Buster Keaton and Anita Page