We’re crazy about C.R.A.Z.Y.

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8 years before he made his debut in Hollywood with Dallas Buyers Club and 12 years before he won an Emmy Award for Big Little Lies, Jean-Marc Vallée released what is, for me, one of the best French-Canadian films ever made: C.R.A.Z.Y. Dallas Buyers Club, The Young Victoria, and Wild were great but, in my opinion, never surpassed the quality of this film I’m going to talk to you about.

Honestly, there are so many great things to say about this film. I wouldn’t know where to start. C.R.A.Z.Y. is that type of film that makes me proud of our French-Canadian movie industry and that gives it a good reputation. You might have heard of it or even saw it as, on its released, it gained not only a national recognition but also an international one. The film represented Canada for the Best Foreign language Film Oscar, but unfortunately wasn’t selected as a finalist for the competition.

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On the right, Vallée witn actors Michel Côté (left) and Marc-André Grondin (centre)

When Vallée’s masterpiece was released in 2005, I was only 9 or 10 so didn’t immediately saw it as it deals with themes you don’t necessarily understand at that age. But I remember my parents seeing it at the movie theatre and saying it was great. So, I eventually see it with them and my sister a few years later and I was in awe. It eventually became my favourite French-language Canadian film and it surely is in my top five movies of the 21st centenary. You see, C.R.A.Z.Y. is a perfect national movie as it deals with our local culture but there’s also something about it that makes it internationally accessible. It’s the kind of story that could happen in many places.

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But what is it about? C.R.A.Z.Y is a coming of age drama telling the story of young Zachary “Zac” Beaulieu (Marc André Grondin), born on Christmas and who has to deal with a sexual identity crisis. The film takes place in Quebec during the 60s, 70s and the beginning of the 80s. Zachary is the 4th one of a family of five children. As a child, he and his father (Michel Côté) share a beautiful complicity. He is his hero. But when Zach starts revealing a non-masculine side and a possible homosexuality, war is declared. His father doesn’t accept it so things between them aren’t the same anymore. However, has Zach wants to get his father’s love back, or, should I say his complicity (because his father doesn’t stop loving him despite everything), he himself has difficulty to accept his sexual orientation. But everyone has a breaking point… Luckily, in times of crisis, Zac’s mother (Danielle Proulx), a wonderful woman, is always here to support him.

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Aside from being a truly “crazy” film (in the good sense of the term), C.R.A.Z.Y., stands for two things: Zac’s father, Gervais, is a fan of Patsy Cline and her song “Crazy”. Also, the letters that form the words are the first letters of Zac and his brother’s names: Christian (Maxime Tremblay), the nerd who reads anything, including ketchup bottles and cereal boxes; Raymond (Pierre-Luc Brillant), the rebel and junky, Zac’s “worst enemy”; Antoine (Alex Gravel), the athlete; Zachary; and Yvan (Gabriel Lalancette), the youngest one.

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C.R.A.Z.Y. was praised for his realistic representation of a middle-class family of 60s-70s Quebec. The quality of this film also resides in the fact that it is an highly creative movie. After all, Jean-Marc Vallée spent between 5 and 10 years writing it with co-writer François Boulay (who’s personal memories of growing-up inspired the story). So, the result couldn’t be mediocre.

We first have to take a look at the varied characters and their incredible performers.

C.R.A.Z.Y. is the film that put Marc-André Grondin on the map of Quebecois cinema. At the time the film was made, he was 20-21, which is Zac’s age at the end of the film. His portrayal of Zac is one that can allow many viewers to identify with him. The role is complex, so probably wasn’t an easy one to play. It’s a character that constantly changes and tries desperately to find himself in order to “fit” in a particular environment. Zac’s knows moments of joy, anger, sadness, hate, and happiness. A certain versatility for such a role was necessary and Marc-André Grondin did it with brio.

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Michel Côté who plays the boy’s father, Gervais, probably is one of the main reasons why I love this film. I think I can say that he is my favourite Quebecois actor. He is known as one of our best stage and on-screen actors. Playing the role of Gervais Beaulieu implies putting himself in the skin of someone with whom he didn’t necessarily share the ideologies. Côté has an incredible charism which he transmitted perfectly to his character. Because Gervais Beaulieu is the type of man that owns a place when he’s in it. His character knows also different moments of complex emotions and the clash between his and Zac’s ones creates amazing fireworks. What I love about Michel Côté also is his very natural acting game and that’s a quality we can find in many local actors here in Quebec. I work in a movie theatre and Michel Côté sometimes attends special events there such as Q & A for the promotion of his films or, as I’ve been told, sometimes just come to see a movie! I haven’t seen him yet (I started working there in late August) but if I ever do, I will probably faint.

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Danielle Proulx who plays Zach’s mother is an actress I first knew thanks to the children television show Cornemuse. Every kid from my generation know this program. Danielle also was part of the distribution of Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar, which was nominated at the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film. Laurianne Beaulieu is one of the most beautiful characters of the film. Quebec uses to be a very Catholic place but it began to change precisely in the 60s with the venue of new ideologies and the Quiet Revolution. Mrs. Beaulieu is a strong believer, but her acceptance of her son’s sexual orientation sort of incarnates that clash of culture and ideologies that Quebec knew in the 60s and 70s. The complicity she has with her son is strong and different from the one he has with his father. You see, Zac can never fear to lost his mother’s love. This would simply be impossible. To her, Zach is very special as he was born the same day has Jesus. Danielle Proulx touches our heart infinitely with her protrayal of Mrs. Beaulieu. She shows, yes, a sensibility, but also an incredible strength. She is a woman of the Revolution.

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Of course, all the other actors in this film are incredible as well, but I decided to focus on the three main ones, otherwise, this text would be way too long! Interesting fact: young Zachary Beaulieu was played by Jean-Marc Vallées son, Émile, who showed a great potential as a child actor.

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Jean-Marc and Émile Vallée on the set of the film

Music is one of the most important elements of C.R.A.Z.Y. As a matter of fact, $ 600 000 CAD were invested in the music only as many the music rights had to be obtained. Jean-Marc Vallée even had to cut his own salary for it. The music truly defines the atmosphere of the film and any great music lover would be amazed by the choice of the songs from legendary artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Pink Floyd, and more.

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Jean-Marc Vallée knew perfectly how to include the songs to the story and really made them “part of” the film. Some of the best scenes are the ones where the music takes a lot of space.

From the first minutes of the film, you know it won’t be an ordinary one. It all starts with Elvis. Images of a baby (Zac) in his mother’s tummy are shown to us. It’s first almost silent and, slowly, we start hearing Elvis’s singing “Santa Claus Is Back in Town”. We then move to the next scene where the Beaulieu’s are celebrating Christmas’s Eve until Mrs. Beaulieu’s waters breaks and the family has to head to the hospital for Zac’s birth.

If Zach and his father share a common interest, it’s certainly is their passion for music. They both have different music tastes (being from different generations), different but all great. Gervais Beaulieu not only his a fan of Patsy Cline but also of French singer Charles Aznavour. Every Christmas, he traditionally to sing his beautiful song “Emmenez-Moi”, which is probably the song we hear the most often in the film.

If I can identify myself to Zac, it’s thanks to his obvious love for David Bowie who also is my idol. We LOVE Zach’s bedroom as it is decorated with posters of the singer and iconic vinyl records such as Space Oddity, Aladdin Sane, and Diamond Dogs are part of his music collection. The “Space Oddity” scene is one of the most iconic of the film and is a glorious moment. I’ll let you watch it:

Zach also loves Pink Floyd and, as you saw in the previous video, his bedroom is beautifully decorated with The Dark Side of the Moon colour prism. Zac’s transition from childhood to teenagehood is brilliantly made with “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”.

So many great songs are part of this film, but I’ll finish this musical discussion with another of the film’s most glorious moment: the “Sympathy for the Devil”‘s moment. Zac puts The Rolling Stones’ album and we transit to the church where he attends the Midnight Mass with his family. The song continues to play in Zac’s head but, suddenly, everybody starts being part of it, including the priest. This is a very fantasist moment as it surely only happens in Zac’s mine, but we love it.

Here are both “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Sympathy for the Devil” scenes!

So, as you realize, C.R.A.Z.Y. wouldn’t be the same without this impressive soundtrack. The film doesn’t contain any original music, but it honestly doesn’t need any. It’s interesting to know that Zac’s look in the 80s is inspired by Sex Pistols’ singer Sid Vicious, and his brother’s Raymond’s look is somehow inspired by Jim Morrison’s one and… his lifestyle too… for better, but especially for worst.

As I mentioned before, C.R.A.Z.Y. screenplay is the result of many years of work and the result is this breathtaking product that is given to us. The story is, of course, developed on 21 years (with times ellipse) and never a faux-pas is committed. The film, yes, contains a dramatic tone, but you’ll also find many comedic elements. It’s that variety of styles that makes it the type of movie everybody loves. Surely, Zac is at the center of the story, but Vallée and Boulay were brilliant enough to give a complete background and to the secondary characters. Of Zac’s brothers, Raymond probably is the one we know the most about and his presence has an important influence on the course of the story.

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The film also contains some lines that define perfectly its thematic and the relation between the characters, but also between the characters and the society they live in.  The best dialogue probably being:

Zachary Beaulieu: I want to be like everyone else.

Madame Chose: Thank God, you never will.

 

As Ingrid Bergman once said, “Be yourself, the world worship the original.”

C.R.A.Z.Y. was mostly filmed in Montreal and its area, but it’s a film that also makes us travel as Zac’s goes to Jerusalem, which has always been one of his mother’s most cherished dreams. However, for security reasons, the scenes had to be shot in Morroco. This part of the film is quite short but is an important transition in Zac’s life. It allows us to see some beautiful desertic spaces and cities.

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But the film also makes us travel in the Quebec of the 20th century with yes, the music, the way of life, but also the costumes that can make people of this generation say: “Oh, I remember when  I used dressed like that!”

Finally, The film also has to be praised for its effective editing. I always thought the transition between some of the scenes was brilliantly made, as well as the choice of camera shots. There is an appreciated continuity and a visual dynamism that keeps us at the edge of our seats. And the whole thing is beautifully shaped with a top-notch cinematography.

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C.R.A.Z.Y. was THE film of the year here in Quebec in 2005. It won no less than 14 Jutra Awards, plus two special awards for the same ceremony. I sort of feel bad for the other films that were nominated that year haha. But what can I say? Sometimes, you just can’t surpass supreme quality!

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There aren’t enough words to express the excellency of C.R.A.Z.Y., but I hope this review convinced you to see it as soon as possible if you haven’t. Meanwhile, take a look at the entertaining trailer. Not the best visual quality, but there are English subtitles!

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I wrote this article for the always fun O Canada Blogathon hosted by the ever-enthusiastic Ruth from Silver Screenings and Kristina from Speakeasy. I want to thank both ladies for honouring my native country via this great event!

Don’t miss the other entries:

O Canada Day 1

O Canada Day 2

O Canada Day 3

See you!
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Top of the World: My Ultimate Top 100 Favourite Actresses

Here it is! Finally! Almost two years after having published my top 100 favourite actors (which already has to be updated, I’ve finally decided to do the same with my favourite actresses! This was not an easy task!

These choices are VERY subjective, so I’ll ask you to respect them. It’s a list of my own favourite. So please, no “If I were you I would…” Well, you are not me, so…

I did a first list of most of the actresses I liked and there was over 130! So, I obviously had to delete many of them.

I also gave myself a rule: to only include an actress if I had seen at least to of her movies. That’s why you won’t see Greta Garbo on this list (sorry folks, I’ve only seen Ninotchka!)

This said, if you don’t see your favourite actress on the list there are x reasons:

1- She was in the top 130ish and unfortunately wasn’t included to the final top 100.

2- I have only seen one of her films, or maybe none at all!

3- Maybe I just don’t like her. I don’t love everybody, I’m not Jesus!

You’ll see that I’m not the type of person who “follows” crowds and sometimes have unconventional tastes (which I think is actually cool). So, it’s possible that a certain actress that everybody loves is not on the list. And hey, I have my guilty pleasures too! But (and this is an objective statement) I think most of them are fine actresses.

Ok, enough! Here we go!

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100. Patricia Neal (Favourite performance: Helen Benson in The Day the Earth Stood Still)

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99. Catherine Deneuve (Favourite performance: Miriam Blaylock in The Hunger)

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98. Karen Black (Favourite performance: Fran in Family Plot)

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97. Katy Jurado (Favourite performance: Helen Ramírez in High Noon)

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96. Sylvia Sidney (Favourite performance: Drina Gordon in Dead End)

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95. Maidie Norman (Favourite performance: Elvira Stitt in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?)

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94. Nancy Olson (Favourite performance: Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard)

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93. Julie Andrews (Favourite performance: Maria in The Sound of Music)

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92. Tippi Hedren (Favourite performance: Melanie Daniels in The Birds)

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91. Theresa Harris (Favourite performance: Chico in Baby Face)

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90. Jean Hagen (Favourite performance: Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain)

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89. Paulette Goddard (Favourite performance: Ellen Peterson “The Gamin” in Modern Times)

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88. Ethel Barrymore (Favourite performance: Miss Spinney in Portrait of Jennie)

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87. Jean Kent (Favourite performance: Janet Halliday in Please, Turn Over)

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86. Constance Bennett (Favourite performance:  Marion Kerby in Topper)

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85. Sandra Dee (Favourite performance: Evelyn Leslie in Until They Sail)

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84. Liv Ullmann (Favourite performance: Elizabeth Vogler in Persona)

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83. Jeanne Moreau (Favourite performance: Julie Kohler in La Mariée était en noir)

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82. Veronica Lake (Favourite performance: Jennifer in I Married a Witch)

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81. Genevieve Bujold (Favourite performance: Denise Marshall in Earthquake)

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80. Lilli Palmer (Favourite performance: Clytie Devine in A Girl Must Live)

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79. Valentina Cortese (Favourite performance: Séverine in La Nuit Américaine)

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78. Geena Davis (Favourite performance: Thelma Dickinson in Thelma & Louise)

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77. Rosanna Arquette (Favourite performance: Lucy in The Linguini Incident)

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76. Jennifer Jones (Favourite performance: Jennie Appleton in Portrait of Jennie)

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75. Rita Moreno (Favourite performance: Anita in West Side Story)

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74. Katharine Ross (Favourite performance: Elaine Robinson The Graduate)

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73. Ruth Hussey (Favourite performance: Elizabeth Imbrie in The Philadelphia Story)

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72. Bessie Love (Favourite performance: Hank Mahoney in The Broadway Melody)

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71. Jessica Tandy (Favourite performance: Ninny Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes)

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70. Lucille Ball (Favourite performance: Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy)

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69. Marion Davies (Favourite performance: Mabel O’Dare in Cain & Mabel)

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68. Aline MacMahon (Favourite performance: Trixie Lorraine in Gold Diggers of 1933)

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67. Rita Hayworth (Favourite performance: Anne Shankland in Separate Tables)

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66. Dame May Whitty (Favourite performance: Miss Froy in The Lady Vanishes)

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65. Kathy Bates (Favourite performance: Annie Wilkes in Misery)

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64. Jessica Lange (Favourite performance: “Angelique”, the angel of death in All That Jazz)

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63. Ruth Donnelly (Favourite performance: Liz in Autumn Leaves)

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62. Virginia Weidler (Favourite performance: Dinah Lord in The Philadelphia Story)

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61. Nova Pilbeam (Favourite performance: Erica Burgoyne in Young & Innocent)

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60. Natalie Portman (Favourite performance:  Nina Sayers in Black Swan)

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59. Joan Crawford (Favourite performance: Mildred Pierce in Mildred Pierce)

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58. Debbie Reynolds (Favourite performance: Lilith Prescott in How the West Was Won)

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57. Billie Burke (Favourite performance: Millicent Jordan in Dinner at Eight)

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56. Bette Davis (Favourite performance: Margot Channing in All About Eve)

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55. Isabella Rossellini (Favourite performance: Lady Helen Port-Huntley in The Saddest Music in the World)

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54. Jane Wyman (Favourite performance: Marcy Lewis in Three Guys Named Mike)

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53. Miriam Hopkins (Favourite performance:  Lavinia Penniman in The Heiress)

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52. Joan Blondell (Favourite performance: Mabel Anderson in Dames)

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51. Phyllis Calvert (Favourite performance: Clarissa in The Man in Grey)

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50. Celeste Holme (Favourite performance: Karen Richards in All About Eve)

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49. Helen Hayes (Favourite performance:  Ada Quonsett in Airport)

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48. Shelley Winters (Favourite performance: Belle Rosen in The Poseidon Adventure)

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47. Irene Dunne (Favourite performance:  Lucy Warriner in The Awful Truth)

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46. Greer Garson (Favourite performance: Kay Miniver in Mrs. Miniver)

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45. Gladys Cooper (Favourite performance: Beatrice Lacy in Rebecca)

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44. Una Merkel (Favourite performance: Lorraine Fleming in 42nd Street)

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43. Jodie Foster (Favourite performance: Clarice Starling in  The Silence of the Lambs)

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42. Jacqueline Bisset (Favourite performance: Julie Baker in La Nuit Américaine)

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41. Susan Sarandon (Favourite performance: Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking)

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40. Jean Harlow (Favourite performance: Gladys Benton in Libeled Lady)

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39. Patricia Roc (Favourite performance: Caroline in The Wicked Lady)

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38. Cate Blanchett (Favourite performance: Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator)

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37. Hattie McDaniel (Favourite performance: Mammy in Gone With the Wind)

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36. Barbara Bel Geddes (Favourite performance: Marjorie Wood in Vertigo)

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35. Diane Keaton (Favourite performance: Annie Hall in Annie Hall)

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34. Vera Miles (Favourite performance: Rose Balestrero in The Wrong Man)

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33. Faye Dunaway (Favourite performance: Bonnie Parker in Bonnie & Clyde)

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32. Natalie Wood (Favourite performance: Wilma Dean “Deanie” Loomis in Splendor in the Grass)

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31. Dorothy McGuire (Favourite performance: Helen in The Spiral Staircase)

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30. Elizabeth Taylor (Favourite performance: Catherine Holly in Suddenly, Last Summer)

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29. Lillian Gish (Favourite performance: Rachel Cooper in The Night of the Hunter)

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28. Shirley MacLaine (Favourite performance: Jennifer Rogers in The Trouble With Harry)

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27. Jean Arthur (Favourite performance: Clarissa Saunders in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)

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26. Marilyn Monroe (Favourite performance: Sugar “Kane” Kowalczyk in Some Like It Hot)

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25. Dolores Hart (Favourite performance: Donna Stuart in Come Fly With Me)

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24. Ginger Rogers (Favourite performance: Ann Lowell  in 42nd Street)

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23. Thelma Ritter (Favourite performance:  Stella in Rear Window)

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22. Jessie Royce Landis (Favourite performance: Jessie Stevens in To Catch a Thief)

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21. Teresa Wright (Favourite performance: Charlotte Newton in Shadow of a Doubt)

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20. Marlene Dietrich (Favourite performance: Christine Vole in Witness for the Prosecution)

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19. Donna Reed (Favourite performance: Lorene in From Here to Eternity)

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18. Anne Bancroft (Favourite performance:  Anne Sullivan in The Miracle Worker)

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17. Elsa Lanchester (Favourite performance: Miss Plimsoll in Witness for the Prosecution)

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16. Doris Day (Favourite performance: Josephine “Jo” Conway McKenna in The Man Who Knew Too Much)

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15. Agnes Moorehead (Favourite performance: Queen Maria Dominika in The Swan)

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14. Claire Trevor (Favourite performance: Helen Brent in Born to Kill)

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13. Carole Lombard (Favourite performance:  Maria Tura in To Be or Not to Be)

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12. Myrna Loy (Favourite performance: Milly Stephenson in The Best Years of Our Lives)

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11. Deborah Kerr (Favourite performance: Miss Giddens in The Innocents)

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10. Joan Bennett (Favourite performance: Katherine ‘Kitty’ March in Scarlet Street)

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9. Barbara Stanwyck (Favourite performance: Lily Powers in Baby Face)

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8. Anne Baxter (Favourite performance: Lucy in The Magnificent Ambersons)

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7. Olivia de Havilland (Favourite performance: Catherine Slopper in The Heiress)

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6. Vivien Leigh (Favourite performance: Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind)

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5. Katharine Hepburn (Favourite performance:  Josephine “Jo” March in Little Women)

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4. Margaret Lockwood (Favourite performance: Hesther Shaw in The Man in Grey)

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3. Jean Simmons (Favourite performance: Varinia in Spartacus)

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2. Joan Fontaine (Favourite performance: 2nd Mrs. De Winter in Rebecca)

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  1. Audrey Hepburn (Favourite performance: Princess Ann in Roman Holiday), Grace Kelly (Favourite performance: Margot Wendice Dial M for Murder) and Ingrid Bergman (Favourite performance: Dr. Constance Petersen in Spellbound)!

YES! Yes, I have three favourite actresses as number one. I love them all equally and for very different reasons. I cannot choose! That’s why I created another blog dedicated to them!

Of course, this is the type of list that can change next week, but I think this gave you a good preview of my acting tastes.

Who are your favourite actresses? 🙂

 

Announcing the Third Golden Boy Blogathon: A William Holden Centenary Celebration

Next April, we will celebrate the wonderful William Holden’s centenary. And, as you know, I’m a big fan of him and want to make things big for the occasion.

So, I invite you all to participate The Third Golden Boy Blogathon: A William Holden Centenary Celebration! This year, things will be different as I join forces with my blogger friends Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood and Emily from The Flapper Dame. Who said millennials didn’t like “old” actors. 😉 Anyway, I am so honoured these fine ladies accepted to help with for this event!

Here are the steps and rules for you if you want to participate in the blogathon:

1- Choose a subject. It can be anything related to William Holden, but don’t forget that our objective is to honour him.

  • Because we want as many participants as possible for this special edition of the blogathon, we will allow duplicates, but not more than two people on the same subject!
  • We allow you to write a maximum of two entries.

2- Please submit your subject here in the comments or on Emily‘s blog or Michaela‘s. Tell us your topic, the name of your blog, plus its URL.

3- Once your subject is confirmed, grab one of these beautiful banners and include it on your blog in order to help us promote the blogathon. These were designed by Michaela and we LOVE them!

Golden Boy banner_Stalag 17

Golden Boy banner_Sabrina

Golden Boy banner_Holden in color

Golden Boy banner_Holden in black and white

Golden Boy banner_Country Girl

Golden Boy banner_Picnic

Golden Boy banner_Golden Boy

4- The blogathon will start on April 15 and will end on April 17, 2018. Michaela will host the first day (15), Emily will host the second day, and I’ll host the last one (17). Please, make sure to have your entries ready on time!

5- On the blogathon dates, each one of us will update a new post where you will be able to submit your entry.

Please help us spread the word about the blogathon. Talk about it to your blogger friends, share it on various social media, etc. We want to have as many participants as possible. Golden Holden deserves this honour!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

***

To guide you… Subjects already claimed twice

  • Sabrina (1954)
  • Picnic (1955)
  • Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  • Stalag 17 (1953)
  • Paris When It Sizzles (1964)

Here are the participating blogs and their subjects!

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We are all very impatient for this event to start! For some entertainment, I invite you to watch my fun video trailer announcing Bill’s centenary.

See you in April!


– If you are interesting to make a donation to the William Holden Wildlife Foundation fund created by Stephanie Powers in 1982, please click here. This can be another way to please our golden boy!