Jan / Feb 2016
BY CARISSA HORTON
omedy is not the first thing you think of when you hear the name James Cagney. At least I don’t. Gangster films, definitely, but comedy, nope. Which is what makes his few stints in comedic roles such gems! For the sake of space, I’m focusing only on three, although there’s a good chance he performed in more comedy roles than even I am aware. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) is a stunning cinematic masterpiece, alive with fairies and gnomes and people who aren’t fully aware that all of this magic is happening around them. And then you have a man named Bottom, in the fairy woods only by happenstance. Bottom gets cursed as a joke by the mischievous fairy Puck and ends up wearing the face of a donkey. Then he is wooed by the equally cursed fairy queen (because she does have better taste than donkey man). Bottom has never been so brilliantly performed as when James Cagney took on
the role. Anyone remotely familiar with Shakespeare’s play understands the vital importance of comedic timing for Bottom. Cagney takes the foolhardy Bottom and owns the role, mind, body, heart, and soul. Whether he’s wearing the donkey’s head or his own, Cagney achieves more chortles and snorts than anyone else in this star-studded spectacle of hilarity and humor. The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941) is another little gem costarring Cagney and Bette Davis, only this time there isn’t a fairy to be seen. Airplane pilot Steve Collins (Cagney) is hired to track down the female heir to the Winfield fortune and kidnap her before she marries a deadbeat band leader. Of course, it helps that he’s been hired by the girl’s father! Bette Davis’ character, Joan Winfield, will have none of it. Their plane crashes into the desert due to her antics, and Collins is left trying to keep a hold on a girl determined to have her own way. Throw in a ghost town, a race through an abandoned mine, and Cagney hooting and hollering with laughter as Bette Davis tries to get a decrepit motor car to start, and you’ve got a real winner. To be upfront, Cagney does sling Bette over his shoulder a time or two, slingshots a few pebbles at her derriere through jail bars where he’s been confined by the last living resident of the ghost town, and has to pluck cactus tines out of her. So some of the film is slapstick and rough, but hey, he’s not rubbing a grape fruit in a girl’s face and Steve Collins ends up falling head over heels in love with Joan Winfield, so it’s a win-win! One, Two, Three (1961) is proof of how far cinema had traveled by the 1960s and how much they could get away with. While this film is a whooping, hollering good time, it also never fully
addresses the fact that Cagney’s character, McNamara, has been cheating on his wife with various secretaries for at least a decade and she knows and lets him. McNamara and his family reside in West Berlin where he heads up the Coca-Cola bottling plant. All is fine and dandy until his boss from the southern US decides to send his darling daughter Scarlett Hazeltine (Pamela Tiffin) on a visit. Reading between the lines, she’s boy crazy and needs to be separated from her current love interest. McNamara never anticipated she would meet and fall in love with communist, Otto Ludwig Piffl, perfectly portrayed by the entertaining and adorable Horst Buchholz. Now McNamara is juggling his job, his family, his secretary, men from East Berlin who want to make a deal for Coca-Cola, and the starry-eyed Scarlett who’s determined to marry Otto. Oh, and did I mention that her father’s coming for a visit? This is one of the fastest paced films I have ever seen. You literally hold your breath from start to finish, and despite the moral ramifications, the occasional dose of 1960s innuendo, and McNamara’s stupid decision making, it’s one of my favorite comedies. Red Buttons, a renowned comedian of distinction, puts in a cameo appearance in a truly guffaw-worthy bit. While I enjoy Cagney in serious roles, I treasure his comedies because they’re just not something you’d expect from him. He lets loose, has the audience rolling in the aisles (at least if my personal reaction is any judge), and has fun. If you want to see a different side to him, each one of these delicious films will fill that need! ♥
IN THIS ISSUE: James Cagney Page 2 The Philadelphia Story Page 4 Audrey Hepburn Page 6 Sherlock Holmes Page 8 Mae West Page 10 Sorry Wrong Number Page 12 John Wayne & Maureen O’Hara Page 14 The Honeymooners Page 16 Judy Garland Page 18 East of Eden Page 20 Norma Shearer Page 22 Authors Page 24 © Charity’s Place 2016 No copyright infringement intended. All written content is original; it may not be reproduced without consent. Disclaimer: the opinions of the individual writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Charity’s Place or Femnista; the stories and entertainment mentioned are not always appropriate viewing for all ages. Visit charitysplace.com for future issues, information, movie reviews, and more.
lassic Hollywood in general refers to the period of the film industry that encompasses the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. During this time, many films were released that have become critically adored. “Classic” in this context signals both age and quality. The reason why this is true is fairly
easy to discern. By the decades mentioned above, film medium had existed long enough for the storytelling of a movie to begin to truly cohere technically and creatively into an art form. Now that filmmakers had a handle on the mechanics of what a film was they began to push forward with what it could do. Sometimes, this
simply meant seizing on a phenomenally written story and preserving talented actors performing that story at their peak. The Philadelphia Story is one example. Its writing is all the proof a viewer needs of what a classic film can be, given its dialogue, humor, and themes of class division.
BY RACHEL SEXTON
The Philadelphia Story was adapted from a play of the same name by Philip Barry, written in 1939. The film premiered in 1940 and starred Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, and Cary Grant directed by George Cukor. The story follows socialite Tracy Lord (Hepburn) as she prepares to get married for the second time. Her ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant), arrives a few days before the wedding with two guests who happen to be a reporter, Macaulay Connor (Stewart), and a photographer, Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey). Though she hates it, Tracy allows their presence for her wedding to stop a magazine exposé about her father. Complications ensue when Connor and Haven challenge Tracy’s beliefs about herself and her feelings for her fiancé. The script was adapted from the play by Donald Ogden Stewart, and the dialogue is of course the most conspicuous evidence it is a superb screenplay. Whether it all came from Barry’s play or Stewart wrote it himself, the fact remains that the spoken delights here are plentiful. Page after page could be filled with lines the characters say that are witty or even just well written. Haven compliments Imbrie at one point with “You’re a good number, Liz” and she comes back with “I just photograph well.” Tracy’s adolescent sister Dinah asks how she can postpone the wedding
and Tracy suggests “Get smallpox.” And of course, there is the famous and passionate encouragement Connor gives to Tracy during a drunken interlude: “You’ve got fires banked down in you, hearth fires and holocausts.” Writing like this barely happens anymore. And I haven’t even mentioned the verbal sparring between Tracy and Haven! This film definitely qualifies as a romantic comedy, with emphasis on the comedy. Humor can be found frequently in every scene, not just in the sharp one-liners. Physical gags pop up as well. Early on, Tracy takes a horseback ride with her fiancé and it is clear he has never been on a horse before. There is also a comical punch, and Tracy’s Uncle Willie is a booty-pinching womanizer. Connor gets a hilarious drunk scene as well, and it all makes the modern moviegoer marvel that such laughs can be achieved without the use of any gross bits or vulgar language. We aren’t used to that and it is refreshing. The effectiveness of the humor is just as strong, and a lot of people will probably prefer it. Honestly, just try to get through Connor asking Haven for a drink… from his own bottle of champagne!... without laughing. Good writing has more than dialogue and humor, though, and The Philadelphia Story offers it.
The exploration of the theme of class and divisions of wealth and privilege is integrated into the storytelling. The introduction of Connor and Liz into the Lord mansion cheerfully pokes at class differences. Connor has to take the time to explain to Tracy that he and Liz have artistic talents but must work for money. During this conversation, Connor comments about the scenery they are walking through, and Tracy casually says it’s “part of our place.” Her complaisance to the level of her family’s wealth shows how she must grow by the end of the story. There is also a lot of talk about how a person’s money is no indication of their worth— for either good or bad. The audience will probably enjoy the Portuguese proverb Connor quotes: “with the rich and mighty, always a little patience.” The Philadelphia Story is proof of what a classic film can be in many aspects, but certainly in the script, because it has humor, dialogue, and themes that thoroughly entertain. This story was adapted into the musical High Society in 1956 starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosy, and Frank Sinatra. How many classic films inspire another classic film? The old Hollywood period is called classic because when it reached it’s highest quality, it was one of the first times that happened. The Philadelphia Story is there at the top. ♥ 5
BY MARIANNA KAPLUN
he was a ballet dancer, but never danced in a ballet. She never studied acting yet became one of the most famous actresses in the world. The public loves her. People love her now, years after her death. They remember her not only for her films, but for her elegance, grace and charm. Audrey Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn was born on 4 May 1929
in Brussels, Belgium. Her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston (1889-1980), was a British subject born in Úžice, Bohemia. Her mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra (1900-1984), was a Dutch aristocrat and the daughter of Baron Aarnoud van Heemstra, who was mayor of Arnhem from 1910 to 1920, and served as Governor of Dutch Suriname from 1921 to 1928. Audrey spent her early childhood travelling between England, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Then came war. It was a very difficult time. The memory of those years never left her. When more than ten years later she was offered a part in The Diary of Anne Frank, she turned it down because, as she explained, “I couldn’t deal with it.” Audrey’s greatest love was music. She wanted to be a dancer. In 1948, Audrey and her mother moved to London. She went to a ballet school and worked hard. She had no time for boyfriends. One day the ballet school teacher told her, “I’m sorry, but you’ll never be a famous dancer. You’re too tall.” Audrey was sad, but then her life changed forever: she got a small part in a big musical. Three thousand girls tried to get the part, but the producers wanted Audrey. She quickly found jobs
in other musicals. Everybody liked the thin girl with a pretty face and wide smile. “I was not a great dancer,” Audrey said later. “I threw up my arms and smiled. That’s all.” When Audrey was twenty, she had small parts in several movies and during filming she met a famous novelist and screenwriter who wanted to find a girl for the Broadway musical of her book, Gigi. When she saw Audrey, she said. “She is Gigi! Half-woman, half-boy.” The role won Hepburn a Theatre World Award in 1952. The same year a Hollywood movie producer offered her the part of a princess in a big new movie, Roman Holiday. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and Audrey captured an Oscar for her portrayal of a modern-day princess rebelling against her royal obligations who explores Rome on her own. Audrey went on to star in a series of successful films, winning more Best Actress Oscar nominations. Not everyone considered her pretty, but people agreed she had charm and class. Her Roman Holiday director said: “She is not beautiful, but she gets to you.” She created what became known as “the Audrey Hepburn look.” Her clothes in several films were made by Hubert de Givenchy of Paris. He became her friend for life. “A woman does not wear a dress,” he said. “She lives in it.” Hepburn played serious roles (War and Peace, 1956) and musical leads (Funny Face, 1957
and My Fair Lady, 1964). But the most remembered role in her career is Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961). A young New York writer sponsored by a wealthy woman falls in love with a charming, impulsive, eccentric call girl next door, based on a story by Truman Capote. Her portrayal was nominated for the 1961 Academy Award for Best Actress and became an iconic character in American cinema. Considered her defining role, Hepburn’s high fashion style and sophistication as Holly Golightly became synonymous with her. She named the role “the jazziest of my career” yet admitted: “I’m an introvert. Playing the extroverted girl was the hardest thing I ever did.” The dress she wears during the opening credits is an icon of the 20th century and perhaps the most famous “little black dress” of all time. Her next successful role was in How to Steal a Million, a 1966 heist comedy directed by William Wyler. The daughter (Audrey) of a wealthy French art forger learns her father is in danger of being exposed as a crook. She decides to steal the family’s forged Cellini sculpture from a museum before experts can examine it and enlists a society burglar (Peter O’Toole) to help. The picture is set and was filmed in France, though the characters speak entirely in English. Hepburn starred in about 30 films, but always made it clear that family was more important for her than work. She was
married twice and had two sons. After her second son was born in 1970, she said: “I don’t want to make any more movies. I’m happy as a good wife and mother.” However, her second marriage ended in divorce—just like the first one. When older, she wanted to do something more important with her life. She remembered her early years, at the end of the war, when she was poor and decided to help poor children. She worked for the United Nations and was officially appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She visited the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world. When at home, she talked on television about her work. “I do my best,” she said simply. “I wish I could do more.” Audrey starred opposite Sean Connery in Robin and Marion before retiring again in 1988. In 1989 she had a small part as an angel in Steven Spielberg’s Always. Audrey’s last words in the movie are, “Do things for others.” She died January 20, 1993 at the age of 64. Her face still looks at us from posters and fashion magazines. Audrey was one of the few actresses who became a symbol of their time, whose look was imitated by thousands of girls. She became and stayed an ideal of elegance, glamour, charm, and grace. As one film critic said “In this cruel and imperfect world Audrey was living proof that God could still create perfection.” ♥
BY CHARITY BISHOP
ew literary figures are better known or loved than Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s consulting sleuth, occupant of 221B Baker Street. Since his first literary appearance in 1889, he continues to capture the devotion of millions through short stories, novels, radio plays, television series, and films. And during WWII, he inspired people by shedding his deerstalker to enter the modern age and deliver much needed hope worldwide. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce film adaptations have a mixed reception among Sherlockians; some object to removing Holmes from his natural setting and placing him in the modern age. However, the original Holmes is a modern man for his time. He conducts his affairs in Victorian London… in the Victorian age, written by a Victorian author. He was a contemporary hero, so his removal from that setting for a modern one is within canon. Not all the films are modern. Two, Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, are Victorian, with foggy London streets, gaslight, hansom cabs, and diabolical villains. The latter pits Holmes against his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty newly acquitted of murder, and delighted at putting a new game
afoot for Holmes. With glee, he informs his henchman that he intends to present Holmes with two crimes, one so common as to bore him, the other so unusual as to draw his attention from the first… wherein lies a crime so clever it will shock the empire. The script is dark and witty, with a particularly memorable line by Holmes: “You’ve a magnificent brain, Moriarty. I admire it. I admire it so much I’d like to present it pickled in alcohol to the London Medical Society.”
period it alters certain details. Even so, an allusion to Holmes’ drug habit slips in at the end, with Holmes calling out, as he strides from the room, “Watson… the needle!” much to his friend’s annoyance. It also delves into the spiritualism that preoccupied Doyle in the later years of his life, with a séance that unnerves everyone present. It has more suspense than most of the other fourteen films in the series.
Further cases range in interest and strength, Holmes tackling espionage for the government, His preoccupation with the case, stepping in to halt an ominous beginning with a young woman voice bringing terror to the certain of a airwaves, and death rescuing The nose of the sentence over damsels in police dog, although her brother’s distress. head, nearly Some films long and efficient, causes him to let end with points in only one Moriarty get a direction at a time. away unscathed, stirring while humor speech to —Sherlock Holmes intrudes in remind lesser moments. Holmes is so viewers that England’s bored one day he tries to find a greatest years are yet to note to dispense with flies, but come, for when the Watson solves the problem by darkness breaks the light simply swatting it. shines all the stronger. It is a sobering reminder This adaptation of Hound carries that while we watch these over the themes from the book, films from the comforts of along with a few new ones, and is our living room, the British faithful in many of its twists, saw them in darkened though to pass the censors of the theaters during the Blitz.
Holmes became, in their darkest hour, not only a symbol of their literary heritage, but a national emblem of courage. He fought and defeated the Nazis for them. He was able to transcend his own time to enter into the modern era and inspire hope to a generation. That is part of the timelessness of Holmes… his enduring legacy in how every few years he is born anew for younger viewers. Rathbone is a perfect Holmes in terms of appearance and bearing,
a passionate but dismissive man of awkward kindness. He is a loyal friend to Watson, despite his frequent frustration at his mental limitations (“Watson,” he says sadly at one point, “I’m afraid you’re an incorrigible bungler,” but softens it with a smile and the touch of a hand on his shoulder). Tragically, Watson is utilized for comedic relief rather than given intelligence. It is to highlight Holmes’ genius but is unnecessary. That is the greatest fault of this film series.
This Watson is not blessed with the brains God gave a mole rat, though Nigel Bruce does have a likability that transcends it. Though only one of many pairs of talented actors to portray these legends, they are certainly the longest big screen cinematic film franchise duo where the leads stay the same. James Bond gets a new face every decade, but Holmes and Watson, for many years, and for many fans, were always Rathbone and Bruce. ♥
BY SCARLETT GRANT
hen most people think of Classic Hollywood women, their minds drift to Monroe, Hepburn, Taylor or Kelly. Who they really should remember is Mae West. She was a quadruple threat, being an actor, singer, playwright and screenwriter. She also maintained a career spanning across seven decades. Throughout her long career, she encountered problems with censorship, and is considered one of the most controversial stars of her day. This did not seem to bother her though, as West famously stated “I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.” Mae West was born on 17th August 1893 in Brooklyn. The first crowd she performed for was at a church social when she was only five years old. By the time she was seven, she was performing in amateur shows. Her first professional performances began at fourteen when she entered the incredibly popular vaudeville scene. Like so many other famous stars, her career did not pick up immediately, one Broadway production she was in folded after only eight performances. But her luck soon picked up; when she was eighteen she was singled out in a review featured in the New York Times. The journalist wrote the “girl named Mae West, hitherto unknown, pleased by her grotesquerie and snappy way of singing and dancing.” Although she would not gain such exposure for another seven years,
West continued to persevere through the support her mother gave her, who honestly believed she could do anything. While still performing in theatre, West began writing plays under the name “Jane Mast.” Due to much of the content being deemed as immoral by the standards of the time, many plays were shut down before they opened. In some cases it involved the cast, including West, being arrested. Although sentenced for ten days imprisonment, she only served eight due to good behavior. It was reported that she had dined with the warden and his wife during her prison stint. Furthermore, the media attention surrounding these incidents resulted in many of her performances being completely sold out. The peak of her Broadway career was her 1928 play Diamond Lil, about a racy woman in the 1890s, which was a hit. Its popularity continued throughout West’s career and she revived it multiple times. Although approaching forty (and even now considered an unusual age to begin a film career), West was offered a contract with Paramount Pictures. She had brought back her Diamond Lil character to the 1933 film She Done Him Wrong. It was a hit and nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. Also, it is believed this film saved Paramount from bankruptcy. West later starred in five other films for Paramount, including the iconic I’m No
Angel (1933), which featured the oft misquoted line “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” and Klondike Annie (1935). However, after her 1937 film Every Day’s A Holiday bombed at the box office she was no longer associated with the studio. To add further insult to injury she was dubbed “Box Office Poison.” West later signed with Universal Pictures and starred in My Little Chickadee (1940) which gave her a moderate comeback. But, after the critical and box office failure of The Heat’s On (1943), West did not make another film for 27 years. West still remained active. She went back to what she did best, being a stage performer. One of the first performances she starred in was the successful Catherine Was Great (1944), a spoof of the Russian empress Catherine the Great. During the 1950s, West performed in her own Las Vegas show, with bodybuilders surrounding her as she sang. Her autobiography Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It was released in 1959. As expected, the book was a bestseller. In 1970, West made her return to cinema in Myra Breckinridge. The deliberately camp comedy was both a commercial and critical failure, but later achieved an audience within cult film circles. The final film West appeared in was Sextette (1978). Although she was determined, many noticed how she would
sometimes become disoriented and forgetful. In addition, her poor eyesight made navigating the set rather difficult. Shortly after the film’s release, she suffered two strokes, which left her paralyzed and she developed pneumonia. She died on 22nd November 1980 at 87 years old. The long and persistent career of Mae West has left a mark upon popular culture. This includes fellow stage writers and performers such as Cole Porter who referenced her in his classic musical Anything Goes (1934), as well as legendary surrealist artist Salvador Dali. He was so fascinated by her that he made an artwork in the shape of her lips, called Mae West Lips Sofa (1937). If you look carefully, you can also spot Mae West on the cover of the iconic 1967 Beatles album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (she’s on the top row). Her life displayed a dogged persistence. From her years fighting to the top on Broadway, to the rise and decline of her film career and even in her later years she did not allow her star to fade. Her determination also prevailed in that she would write and perform in her own productions, back in an era where women were often belittled into doing nothing. Finally, her famous controversies pushed the moral boundaries of the time making her a true trailblazer. This is all why Mae West is a true Classic Hollywood icon. ♥ 11
BY CAROL STARKEY
rowing up, I watched a lot of films with my mom. Shirley Temple, Indiana Jones, Knotts Landing, Titanic, The Quiet Man, John Wayne, Star Wars: we had eclectic taste. I liked sitting on her bed on the pillow next to her and falling in love with the things she enjoyed. I look back on some of the things we watched together, and while I may not choose to watch them anymore, they still hold a special place in my heart. One such film is Sorry, Wrong Number. The spoiled, rich Leona Stevenson is impatiently waiting for Henry, her husband, to come home. She’s called his office numerous times, with no answer on the other end. Again, she calls but this time overhears two men plotting to kill a woman at 11:15, right when the train whistle blows. She immediately calls the phone switchboard to find the source of the line she was patched into, but the women there are no help. Neither are the police; without specific details, there’s nothing they can do to help her. Impatient at not being taken seriously, she calls her father and explains the situation to him. He calms her down, but doesn’t really listen to her. Through flashbacks, we learn Leona’s
mother died during childbirth and her father has always given her everything she wanted. When Leona doesn’t get her way, she has panic attacks, and they grow worse over the years. She is now confined to her bed. As the night wears on, she grows frantic. She learns unsavory facts about Henry and the things he’s been involved in, until finally she learns that she is the target for the murder. Henry wants out of the family business and will do whatever it takes to escape. The atmosphere builds slowly. Leona changes gradually from a woman who knows what she wants (and expects to get it) to a woman afraid, lonely, lost. The actress, Barbara Stanwyck, had some gray hairs before assuming the role, and after production, had a head full of white hair. The movie is told primarily through flashbacks: Leona as a young woman; when she falls in love with her husband, a poor man her father hates; the frustrations she and Henry face as he tries to better himself only to be stopped multiple times by Leona’s father; the insecurity Leona faces as a rich woman married to a poor man—does he really love her, or is it just the money he craves? The men surrounding Leona
have each failed her in his own way: her father, afraid he will lose his daughter as he lost his wife, fears her panic attacks and gives her everything she wants, never teaching her self-denial or to fight fairly for what she wants. Her husband, afraid of Leona’s father and hating that he cannot have a life of his own, plots her murder. Even her doctor shows her no compassion as he delivers the news that her problems are in her head. The shining star in this movie, though is Leona. At the start, she’s a self-possessed woman. Not a hair is out of place, her night-gown is lovely, and her room is immaculate. But as the movie progresses and Leona’s unease becomes fear, we see the transformation on the outside as well. Her hair tumbles around her face, a glass of water is knocked to the floor, and she grows more haggard. She realizes Henry hasn’t been happy for some time and feels guilt. Near the end, she tries to reconcile with Henry, but it’s too late. His plan has already been set in motion and he is powerless to stop it. The movie builds relentlessly toward the end and the final phrase of the movie, “Sorry, wrong number” is the perfect ending. ♥
John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara’s Movies Together
BY RACHEL KOVACINY
lassic Hollywood boasted quite a few actor-actress duos that had such good chemistry, studio execs paired them again and again. Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Rock Hudson and Doris Day come to mind. But of all the classic on-screen matches, my favorite remains John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Now, this might have something to do with the fact that John Wayne is my favorite actor, and Maureen O’Hara is my favorite actress. So having them together onscreen would be a special treat for me even if they didn’t display both great chemistry and a wonderful camaraderie.
John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara both excelled at playing strong -willed, strong-minded characters who did not back down from a fight, who had to be definitively won, not simply wooed. In real life, they were good friends, which I find endearing. I suppose it’s that real-life friendship that made them appear so natural together onscreen.
In a 1974 speech, John Wayne joked, “I’ve been in more battles than Napoleon and more wars than Germany. I’ve captured Bataan, Corregidor, Fort Apache, and Maureen O’Hara.” 1 That’s part of what fascinates me—their characters were always almost military opponents as much as lovers. There’s a sense that their characters are excited to have found a worthy opponent at last, and it’s that worthiness that attracts them to each other, even though they spend more time battling than romancing. Wayne and O’Hara played opposite each other five times in just over twenty years, and I’d like to recap each of those films for you here. In Rio Grande (1950), hardnosed Cavalry officer Kirby Yorke is tasked with training a bunch of raw recruits, including his son, whom he hasn’t seen in many years. Yorke’s estranged wife Kathleen arrives to take their son away again because she thinks Yorke is being too hard on him. Kirby and Kathleen bicker and fight and slowly fall in love again despite an Indian uprising, a court-martial, and their own proud and stubborn natures. In The Quiet Man (1952), exprize fighter Sean Thornton returns to his ancestral homeland of Ireland to retire in peace. He soon falls in love with Mary Kate Danaher and marries her, despite the objections of her boorish brother. But when Sean refuses to fight her brother over an insult, Mary Kate declares
he’s not a real man after all and leaves him because she doesn’t know about the secrets he’d fled from back in America. The Wings of Eagles (1957) tells the true story of Navy pilot Frank ‘Spig’ Wead, who puts aviation above his marriage to Min, causing his personal life to decline until an accident paralyzes him, and he has to learn to live without the things he thought defined him. McLintock! (1963) is a loose adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew. Cattle baron G.W. McLintock has his hands full trying to deal with a headstrong daughter, his estranged wife, farmers, Indians, and dishonest government officials. He tries to keep everyone happy and peaceful, with comic results. And in Big Jake (1971), Jacob McCandles returns home after many years at the request of his estranged wife, who needs him to help find their kidnapped grandson. I’ve seen both Wayne and O’Hara in many, many movies, opposite many different stars. And while they could convincingly play love stories with others, their five movies together possess a special zing the others lack. I think it goes back to them finally having truly worth opponents, someone who forces them to be at their best in conversation, romance, argument, and everything else. The actors probably enjoyed acting opposite someone who would go toe-to-toe with them in
any scene, the competition forcing them to utilize all their talents instead of falling into predictable or routine acting. The question, then, is why am I so entranced by this pair of stars playing generally cross lovers? I think a lot of it is because I am stubborn and strong-willed, so I enjoy seeing characters similar to myself find someone who can challenge them and who enjoys matching wits and wills with them. Also, their real-life friendship shines through in these performances, making their characters’ affection for each other feel warm and genuine even when they’re disagreeing. Of the five films John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara co-starred in, my favorite is definitely The Quiet Man. It has the happiest ending for their characters as a couple, and the finest scenes between them overall as well. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys an unusual love story in a charming setting. ♥ 1: p. 139, Duke in His Own Words, by Editors of the Official John Wayne Magazine. Media Lab Books: NY, 2015.
hat is this?” I wondered, as I heard canned applause and laughter coming from the living room. At least, that’s how I remember the first time I wandered over to join my dad in watching an episode of The Honeymooners. Thus the comedy of Jackie Gleason (as Ralph Kramden), Audrey Meadows (as his wife Alice), Art Carney (as his neighbor, Ed Norton), and Joyce Randolph (as Ed’s wife Trixie) entered my life.
The Honeymooners, which grew out of sketches performed on The Jackie Gleason Show, revolves around the friendship of two neighbors, Ralph and Norton, and their relationships to their wives. (Alice and Trixie are best friends in their own right!) These are blue collar couples: Ralph drives a bus, and Norton is a sewer worker. (“Sub-supervisor in the sub-division of the department of subterranean sanitation, I just keep things moving along,” as he describes himself.) They live in tiny New York City apartments, back when people had iceboxes rather than refrigerators. Their marriages are not idealized: Ralph and Alice can hardly go a day without fighting loudly—possibly not even more
than half an hour. (How would we know?) Yet, it’s a cast of characters that is so successful together that they even outlived their own show: The Flintstones’ Fred and Wilma are modeled on Ralph and Alice! Their neighbors Barney and Betty Rubble are based off Norton and Trixie, too. The series was popular around the same time as the well-known I Love Lucy; Honeymooners ran from 1952 to ‘56. There are lots of parallels between the shows: zany schemes, unreasonable expectations, outrageous slapstick. And what would I Love Lucy be like without Fred and Ethel as next-door neighbors to Desi and Lucy? In the same way, The Honeymooners has Norton and Trixie as the “holler-out-thewindow-to-talk-to-them” upstairs neighbors to Ralph and Alice. And where would Lucy be without best friend Ethel for her co-conspirator, madly wrapping candies in a chocolate factory, or trying to spy on movie stars at a famous restaurant? In the same way, Ralph has his buddy Norton at his side: to shoot pool with, solve problems with, and, of course, to give terrible advice to. Of course, when doing those last two things, you might think Ralph would do better without
Norton. The character is a complete simpleton, but extremely loyal. He’s the guy who can’t seem to take a hint, and takes everything too literally. He’s clumsy and goofy, all gangly arms and legs. For me as a child, the whole point of the show was seeing what funny things Norton would do. In one episode, he’s utterly failing to reassure Ralph, who fears he has only six months to live. (Ed: “Doctors don’t know everything. I had a friend whose doctor told him he only had 6 months to live. Boy did he sure make a monkey out of that doctor!” Ralph: “Why… what happened?” Norton: “He lived 8 months!”) In another episode, Norton tries to help Ralph learn golf from a book. (In a small apartment. Using a pincushion for a golf ball.) The book instructs the reader to “address the ball.” Neither of the two men know quite what is meant. (I had no idea, myself, when I first heard it.) But after a moment, Norton has an idea. He borrows the golf club, steps up before the ball, looks down and calls out, “Hello, ball!” (Well - even having no idea, I knew it couldn’t be THAT!) Norton has so many of the memorable laugh lines. He is a sidekick who illustrates the saying, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”
BY VICTORIA WILLIAMS
Of course, a fellow like Ralph may not have the pick of the lot when it comes to friends. He often speaks with great confidence about things that he’s utterly wrong about. Like the time he advised Norton to deal with his wife interrupting their nights out by simply not coming home until later. If challenged, Norton was to inform her, “I’m the king of the castle, and you’re nothin’!” Ralph assures Norton that he did this with Alice, and it worked. Uncertainly, Norton queries, “So you say that to Alice... and then what happens?” Ralph’s response: “Never-mind; we’re talking about you, not me.” In addition to being a consistent provider of bad advice, Ralph is a nervous man with an incredibly short fuse. He’s almost a caricature: constantly roaring at his wife or his friends to get his way. On the plus side, when he knows he’s in the wrong (and when he’s caught) he is instantly sheepish and subdued. And when is he more sheepish and subdued then when Alice is about to figure out that one of his schemes failed, or that he is guilty of something foolish? (provoking a fight at the Nortons for example with his “king of the castle” suggestion.) Alice prides herself on her competence... she
is an expert on Ralph’s moods, how long they last, and how to cajole him. She is no role model, though. With her arms crossed or with her hands on her hips, she stands against him in fight after fight, regularly lashing out with an acerbic comment. “A man may work from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done” was a saying written for her use. Another time, mid-fight, Ralph insists what must happen, and she replies, “Over my dead body!” (Ralph, of course, retorts, “Don’t tempt me.”) This is a TV couple famous for their fights.
not a place to turn to for life advice—for marriage, or giving advice to friends, or about how exciting would it be if you thought a get-rich-quick scheme would actually work. But enjoy the comedy as over-the -top slapstick, because human nature is crazy and humans are foolish. Especially enjoy Norton’s zaniness, and make sure to repeat “Hello, ball!” at least a hundred times to the friend or family member you watch that episode with, and make them burst out laughing. (Actually, that last one’s just if you’re like me and my sister.) ♥
The Honeymooners is definitely 17
BY VERONICA LEIGH
Always be a firstrate version of yourself, rather than a second-rate version of somebody else! —Judy Garland
e all have an idea of who Judy Garland was. For some, she is the girl wearing a blue gingham dress who skipped her way down the Yellow Brick Road in ruby slippers. For others, she is the queen of the musicals in old Hollywood. Still more remember her as the one who brought back vaudeville in the 1950’s and had one-woman shows that became her bread and butter. Alas, it is her problems with substance abuse, multiple marriages and erratic behavior that most remember her by. We tend to forget Judy the person, who wanted nothing more than to love and be loved. Born Frances Ethel Gumm to vaudevillian parents, nicknamed Baby, she was almost destined from the start to become great. Her parents ran a theater and formed an act starring their two elder daughters. At age two, Baby made her stage debut on a Christmas Eve program singing Jingle Bells. The love affair between young entertainer and audience bloomed. From then on, the three Gumm sisters performed kiddie acts in and around Minnesota. The family left the Midwest for Hollywood, to perhaps try to usher their girls into showbiz. There were parties and radio spots, even name changes from Gumm to Garland, from Baby to Judy, but not until one fateful audition at MetroGoldwyn-Mayer did things begin to turn around for Judy.
In Old Hollywood, actors and actresses were under contract to studios. Judy was no different. At the tender age of twelve she signed herself over and became the property of MGM. Stardom didn’t come quickly, in fact, it came rather slow for her. Often cast as the little ugly duckling in whatever movie MGM had in mind for her, she felt out of place. You had to be Shirley Temple or Greta Garbo… there was no in between. To try and alter her appearance, the studio doctors prescribed diet and pep pills to boost her metabolism, which began a battle with drugs that would last a lifetime. Judy’s chance of a lifetime came when she was offered the role of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. That was a stepping-stone into the public eye and she became America’s sweetheart. What followed was a successful sixteen year cache of movies, public appearances, promotional acts and radio spots that took its toll on her. Between that and the pills, by her late twenties it was causing her troubles. Not only did it affect her work, it affected her personal life and her relationships. By 1950, she was emotionally and physically unable to work, and her contract with MGM was terminated. Hollywood considered her unreliable and wouldn’t hire her. In the typical Judy fashion, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made her return
to the stage. She had shows at the London Pallidium and Carnegie Hall; she would make and break records. At fortyseven, having worked her whole life, she died of an overdose… however her spirit refused to die. Somewhere along the line, there is a disconnect between Judy the person and Judy the legend. We have forgotten that she loved to write poetry and published short stories when she was young. She could play the piano but never did so in public because it was her own private pleasure. Judy was one of the first actresses to perform for the USO and visit the military during WWII. Her children were her life; nothing made her happier than to be a mother to Liza, Lorna and Joe. Although initially dissuading her children from the entertainment industry due to her struggles, when Liza chose that as her profession, Judy was her biggest supporter. Her two younger children would perform on occasion with her in her shows. Judy was an avid storyteller and liked nothing better than to laugh and make people laugh. It’s been said that Judy Garland had lived more in her 47 years than most 100 year olds do. Her indomitable spirit continues to live on to this day, in her children, her films and songs, and in the hearts of her fans. ♥
BY CARISSA HORTON
irector Elia Kazen had the magic touch in 1950s Hollywood, even with the “red scare” of communism that threatened to knock him out of play. So many brilliant, award-winning films were brought to life at his hand: On the Waterfront, Baby Doll, Splendor in the Grass, A Streetcar Named Desire, and, of course, East of Eden. A film awash with dark intensity and silent, desperate passions, East of Eden is one of Kazan’s finest cinematic triumphs. The story of Cal Trask (James Dean) resonates even today. Brimming with confused emotions, Cal is a dreamer no one understands, not even the father, Adam (Raymond Massey), that he so desperately seeks to please. Cal and Adam are as different from night and day. Cal’s emotional outbursts and his angry, brooding silences only serve to confound Adam, driving the wedge farther between them. Cal is desperate for someone to understand him, to love him. That’s all he really wants—the love of his father who has always favored his brother Aron (Richard Davalos). The entirety of Cal’s existence is caught up in earning his father’s love, the father who is never able to fully give it despite being such a generous, kind man.
Cal is left drifting, frustrated at how bad he is compared to Aron, the perfect son and brother. Only after Cal meets the mother he assumed had died, does he realize where his badness comes from, as if being bad is something you can inherit. Restlessness has nothing to do with being bad or good, but Cal can’t realize that because no one in his life realizes it. There is something so lost about people like Cal. People who ache to be loved, so much that it eats them up from the inside. They will stop at nothing to garner the affection they desperately crave. For Cal, love is more important to him than food, air, or anything else we can imagine or desire. Cal is cold, full of repressed fury and angst.
switch places in terms of emotionalism and detachment. The carefree Aron grows morose and angry while the melancholy Cal discovers a modicum of joy and self-worth. In the end, the one more loyal to the other is not Aron, the choir boy of goodness, but Cal, the black sheep. It is the truly good people in the world who can hurt us the most if they try. And it is Cal who survives the horrible truth of his origin where Aron falls apart when ugly truth confronts his perfect life.
Then the girl his brother loves, Abra (Julie Harris), extends compassion and friendship to him, even though he scares her. Cal’s loneliness holds greater sway over Abra than her fear, so she reaches out to him because she must. She’s always looked sideways at him, slightly afraid yet compelled towards him. Is it the agonized glint in his eye? The carefree laugh he can give when he isn’t feeling pressure to fake being something he isn’t? Whatever the reason, Abra’s gentle spirit cannot stand by and watch someone suffer, even though she knows it might end her relationship with Aron.
Stories like East of Eden cannot end happily, but they aren’t mean to end that way. They’re meant to make us pause and consider the lessons learned. Cal felt he couldn’t be himself. He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t as unswervingly good as Aron. It’s called sin nature, and Aron has it too, as does Adam, and Abra. She is courageous in her admission of, “I guess I don’t know what is good and what’s bad. I mean, Aron is so good… and I’m not. Not good enough for Aron anyway. Because sometimes when I’m with him, well Aron likes to talk about our being in love and think about it, and that’s all right... well, maybe I don’t know what love is exactly. I know love is good the way Aron says, but it’s more than that, it’s got to be.” Like Abra, I don’t even know fully what’s good or bad because I know myself and the struggles that roil around inside of me sometimes.
The closer Cal comes to release and fulfillment, the more reserved Aron becomes. They
No one in this story can fit into the cookie cutter version of goodness presented in East of
Eden. It’s impossible to be that kind of good because it stems out of our own attempts instead of a spiritual, heart change. Being good is not a lack of darkness but an overwhelming abundance of light. Cal will always feel a pull of darkness inside him, but he can push back if he has something to push back with. That’s what is lacking in his life, a real, genuine reason to be good. Not to please his father or to Abra, but something beyond them. Though fulfillment in East of Eden is finally brought about by Cal reconciling with his father, in real life, that hole inside can only be filled with one thing: God. A burdensome, brewing emptiness inside consumes not only the person who carries it, but also everyone else. And no amount of human love can ever fill that type of hole. I know because I’ve been there. The very real struggle to plug that hole is what draws me to stories like East of Eden because it reminds me how very desperately we all need Christ, whether we admit it or not. Once you have Him, it’s okay if you falter and misstep and are good one day and bad the next because Christ is there to pick you up and put you back on your narrow road, offering unrelenting forgiveness. To this day, East of Eden remains one of my favorite films because it handles so many different struggles and fears, all in one setting, with a stellar cast headed by James Dean whose life was snuffed out too early. ♥
BY JAIME LILA DONOVAN
orma Shearer (August 10, 1902-June 12, 1983) was born to a wealthy family in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Around World War I her family lost their fortune. Certain sources say she was born in 1900 and others claim she was born in 1904. Many actresses in Hollywood’s Golden Age lied about their age and backgrounds so they could get a foot in the door in Hollywood.
Eventually she landed modeling jobs and a few small acting roles. Shearer first started appearing in movies in the early Roaring Twenties. It was an exciting time to be alive, especially because there were many cultural, social, and artistic events and changes around the world. Art deco and jazz music were popular, patriotism was encouraged, and flappers challenged the roles of women in society.
Shearer’s mother decided to take her and her sister Athole to New York City for a new start, leaving her husband and son behind. Shearer was a child model and won a beauty contest when she was 14. Her mother had high hopes that she could restore their family fortune.
Society became industrialized as people left farms for cities, women won the right to vote, and there was a widespread of technology among the masses such as telephones, movies, air conditioning, refrigerators, cars, etc. Norma was even in a movie that paid homage to the changing times, she was cast uncredited in The Flapper, and eventually after a few years in New York City, she was invited to come to Hollywood to do a screen test. She had to retake it, since the first one was a disaster. She blamed the strong lights on making her cross-eyed. Even after the retake, it still took some time to find a leading role. Norma was able to secure a contract at Metro-GoldwynMayer (MGM).
In New York City, Shearer was rejected by Ziegfeld’s Follies by Ziegfeld himself for having “stubby” legs and looking cross eyed. She was turned down by D.W. Griffith for similar reasons. She eventually decided to get help from Dr. William Bates, who had some controversial theories on treating unaligned eyes and bad vision. Even to this day many doctors don’t agree with his methods. He gave Norma a series of eye exercises that she believed helped her in her acting career.
Her brother Douglas visited them and decided to remain in Hollywood. He was also able to
secure a job at MGM in the sound department. Douglas helped Norma transition from silent to “talkie” films. When talkies became popular many famous A-list actors and actresses didn’t have the voices to make a successful transition, so Douglas prepared his sister so she would sound good when she spoke into a microphone. In 1925 her career took off and once she married MGM studio head Irving Thalberg in 1927, he gave her a pick of roles, co-stars, directors, and helped her avoid being typecast. He guided her career. She was nicknamed “The First Lady of MGM” and was one of the top actresses along with Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. Up until 1934, Norma made a lot of films; some like The Divorcee were considered risqué. It deals with infidelity on both parties, scheming, and finally divorce. These movies are Pre-Code. Many Roman Catholics and Protestants found the Pre-Code films offensive and organized boycotts. Sometimes the boycotts didn’t work as they made people want to see the films even more. In 1934 there was an enforcement for films to have morals called the Motion Picture Production Code. This was supposed to take out sexual
innuendo, profanity, violence, promiscuity, infidelity, and anything else considered degenerate out of films.
However, Raft’s wife wouldn’t allow a divorce and Norma was pressured by a studio head to end the affair and move on.
I do understand why many Americans were upset with PreCode films because when you see infidelities, divorce, and drug use consistently in movies and TV shows, it seems like Hollywood studios want to normalize it. Some of the Pre-Code movies showed characters profiting from their evil. At the same time when Hollywood wanted to address social issues on screen and not normalize them, they sometimes couldn’t due to the censorship of the production code. The production code had both good and bad consequences.
She eventually did move on and found a former ski instructor, Martin Arrougé; she was married to him until her death. Today, Norma is remembered for Marie Antoinette (1938) and The Women (1939). She’s also remembered for Pre-Code films like The Divorcee and Smilin’
Through. Not all of Norma’s precode films were scandalous, Smilin’ Through (1932) deals with ex-lovers reunited after the war. It’s a bittersweet drama. Toward the end of her life, Shearer retreated from the Hollywood social scene and led a more private life. Shearer has both a Canadian and Hollywood Walk of Fame and has enjoyed a revival to new generations on Turner Classic Movies. ♥
Norma enjoyed a thriving film career throughout the twenties and thirties. She had two children with Thalberg. In 1936, he passed away and even though she was financially comfortable Norma decided to continue acting. She turned down leads for Gone with the Wind and Mrs. Miniver. She decided to make Marie Antoinette (1938) and The Women (1939). In 1942 her film Her Cardboard Lover flopped. Norma never made any statements about retiring but she decided to take an early retirement. After Thalberg, Norma dated and even had an affair with a married George Raft. 23
Carissa Horton spends her working hours at Compassion International whose tagline reads “Releasing Children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” She is an avid crafter, a prolific blogger on Musings of an Introvert about all things literary and film-based, and dreams of getting her stories published. Carol Starkley has a husband, three daughters, three cats, five fish, and a hamster. She’s also a Christian Blogger. Charity Bishop is fanatical about history and loves to bore her friends with it. Her free time is spent writing novels & movie reviews, blogging, and personality typing fictional characters on tumblr. Jaime Donovan is a Christian and a university student. She loves to read, draw, write, and has a blog. Marianna Kaplun was born in Moscow. She is a philologist specializing in Ancient Russian drama and theatre. She’s also a film and television critic by calling and librarian by profession. You can find her essays on her Facebook page and on Lumiere. She also blogs in English and Russian. Rachel Sexton is from Ohio. She loves her parents and her dog Lily. She has to have acting, film, reading, and dance in her life. She is described as quiet
and her biggest vice is cupcakes. Her hobby is editing fan videos. Rachel Kovaciny passes the time by writing, reading, baking, watching movies, crocheting, blogging, and homeschooling her three children. Her least favorite activities are house-cleaning and wearing shoes, and she’s been known to go to great lengths to avoid both. She blogs about books, and also has a personal blog that talks about movies and other important things. Scarlett Grant is going to be graduating university this year, she is half scared and excited to be entering the real world. In addition to being an amateur history buff she is also interested in music, film and writing.
Veronica Leigh is an aspiring novelist, who lives in Indiana with her family and six furbabies. Her obsessions range from Jane Austen to the Holocaust to Once Upon a Time. She has published two short autobiographical pieces and hopes to see more in print. She also lurks on her blog. Victoria Williams is a Christian woman who loves reading, teaching math, and watching people grow. Her obsessions include the Gospel, loving the weak, peacemaking, crosscultural ministry, storytelling, nerdy conversations with friends, and coffee. She also blogs.
Young people gifted with supernatural abilities for a divine purpose encounter all manner of conflict and spiritual awakening in this terrific new book series by Femnista editor Charity Bishop. A haunted assassinâ€™s academy, a would-benun, an army of ghosts, and Napoleon Bonaparte feature in Ravenswolde Purchase at Amazon
A family curse, a band of Romani, the famous Dr. Joseph Bell, and Jack the Ripper feature in The Giftsnatcher Purchase at Amazon
A cleric with a closet full of weapons, a mysterious aunt she has never heard of, a villainous neighbor, and a cunning cat feature in Thornewicke Purchase at Amazon
A diabolical past, a possessed house, a secret organization, and the RMS Titanic feature in The Secret in Belfast Purchase at Amazon
Due to intense themes and violence, the series is recommended for ages 13+. 25
Coming April 1st!
Need a suggestion? The Women of the Bible History of Biblical Events Saints Martyrs The Church Spiritual Growth Film/TV: AD Barabbas Ben-Hur The Bible David Exodus The Final Inquiry Noah The Nativity The Passion of the Christ The Prince of Egypt
“Keeping the Faith” Bible Stories, Martyrs, Christianity Promised: Joan of Arc, Perpetua, Moses, Lydia, Augustine, One Night With the King, Peter & Paul.
WANT TO CONTRIBUTE? Claim your topic before someone else does! firstname.lastname@example.org May/June: When Worlds Collide Relationships forged across social boundaries (romances between two separate classes, marriages beneath one’s station, and situations in which racial divides are breached).