December 2015: A Wrap-Up

This month was busy for me, especially with the holidays, so I didn’t get to as many movies as I wanted but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t watch some great things in the month of December!

86d8a66044f04f3db34760c0c15a675b

Blogathons: This month I took part in the Try It You’ll Like It Blogathon hosted by Sister Celluloid and Movies Silently.  This was a great event that had bloggers write about what films they thought were the perfect gateway for non-classic film lovers.  I chose THE PALM BEACH STORY, a movie that I showed to my husband and one that he actually laughed out loud during!

agent-carter

Agent Carter: OK, I realize that this is not a classic film per se.  However, this month I watched Season One of Agent Carter (Season 2 starts on January 19th at 9PM EST on ABC) and I absolutely loved it!  Not only is it a fantastically written and acted show, but Peggy Carter is such a rich and vibrant character that I found myself wishing there were more movies, television shows, books, pretty much anything about her because I just loved the character so much!  You don’t need to be a fan of Captain America or comics to enjoy this show, though of course there are references and in-jokes for those who are, just a fan of 1940s style action and adventure as well as one incredibly smart and courageous woman.  Agent Carter not only deals with the effects of World War II, the return of men to the workforce,  and the struggle of women for equality in said workforce, but it also name drops classic film stars like nobody’s business!    This is a show that deserves a wider audience and I think that the classic film community is just the group of people to do it!

Fathom Events: This month I was lucky enough to win tickets from Classic Movie Hub to the Fathom Event Screening of Miracle On 34th Street.  My husband and I had an afternoon date to the theater and, along with about twenty other people, had a wonderful time watching a Christmas classic!

layout-6

Twelve Classics for 2016: I did not manage to complete my list from last year but that hasn’t stopped me from joining The Blindspot Series for 2016!  This time I decided to pick some truly classic classics that I have not seen yet.  You can check out my list here and please, don’t judge me too harshly!

Classic Film Blogger Shout-Out: This month I want to spotlight Aaron of Criterion Blues.  Aaron is a terrific blogger who writes about all things Criterion!  He also co-hosts a terrific Criterion themed podcast!  And in case you missed it, he was part of the triumvirate that hosted the hugely successful Criterion Blogathon last month.  Be sure to go over to Criterion Blues and check him out!

carol2bfor2banother2bchristmas2b1

Favorite Film Discovery of the Month: A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS.  This was a new Christmas movie for me but it was a major revelation when I saw it.  Seemingly even more timely today than when it was first broadcast, A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS was rescued from obscurity by TCM and hopefully will begin to find a wider audience.  It certainly deserves one.


In case you are curious, you can find my other monthly wrap-ups here!

 

Watching With Warner: BREAKFAST FOR TWO (1937)

Let me list some names for you.  Barbara Stanwyck, Herbert Marshall, Glenda Farrell, and ERIC BLORE!  Intrigued?  Too good to be true, you say?  Not at all!  In fact this amazing cast can be found in BREAKFAST FOR TWO from the Warner Archive.

6b9b796a338ffdf049234518a46eef3b

Morning comes to the apartment of rich playboy, Jonathan Blair (Herbert Marshall), and the staff goes about their daily routines.  Jonathan’s valet, Butch (Eric Blore), enters the master suite and is surprised to find that there is a strange woman (Barbara Stanwyck) in the shower and his employer is sleeping on the couch with various party favors tucked around him.  It seems that Jonathan had too much of a good time the night before and he needed to be escorted home by the mystery woman exiting the bathroom.  She is prevented from leaving by Jonathan’s massive dog and so has no choice but to accept his invitation to get to know him better.  The two sit down for breakfast while Jonathan tries to remember the events of the previous evening.  The pair are progressing marvelously, much to Butch’s delight, and it is quite obvious that the young woman is smitten with Jonathan.  Their stroll down memory lane is interrupted by the arrival of Jonathan’s girlfriend, actress Carol Wallace (Glenda Farrell).  The mystery woman takes this as her cue to exit, leaving Jonathan scrambling after her.

After breakfast, and seeing Carol safely out the door, Jonathan begins trying to find out the identity of the mystery women.  He is interrupted by the arrival of his company’s banker who is supposed to be bringing with him Jonathan’s monthly check.  This month is different and Jonathan’s banker informs him that due to his absentee managerial style, the family shipping company has decided to revoke his paychecks and find a new owner.  It is at this point that the phone rings and a man on the other end demands to know where Mr. Ransom’s niece is as she was seen leaving a party with Jonathan.  Using this piece of information Jonathan has flowers sent to Ms. Valentine Ransom, right before he completely freaks out due to the fact that he now has no money.

Valentine meanwhile has arrived back at her hotel room and is preparing to get on a train back to her home in Texas.  She is also receiving an earful about the true nature of Mr. Jonathan Blair from her own banker, along with her guardian.  It is at this moment that the flowers arrive, along with a charmingly worded note, and Valentine’s anger begins to fade.  In fact she has decided that she is going to marry Jonathan and in order to do that she has to start by taking over his company.

breakfastfortwo-stanwyck-marshall

This screwball comedy is a lesser known one but still a film that is charming, witty, and fun.  Clocking in at a brisk sixty-eight minutes, this gender reversed “Taming of the Shrew” is really quite enjoyable.  Barbara Stanwyck’s Valentine, her first role after winning the Oscar for STELLA DALLAS, is not your traditional scheming heiress.  She falls for Jonathan but she wants him to make something of himself, without relying on her or anyone else to do it.  She sets about making him miserable but doing so because she cares for him and she wants him to become the man she believes he can be.  While the troupe of the woman tricking a man into falling in love with her is nothing new, in BREAKFAST FOR TWO it is given a far more intelligent spin allowing Barbara Stanwyck to have good reason to climb into the boxing ring with Herbert Marshall, as well as run circles around him in the office.  This was her first true screwball role and she is magnificent in it.  Showing all the talent and charisma that made her a star, as well as a flair for physical gags and comedic timing that would go on to serve her well in such films as THE LADY EVE and THE MAD MISS MANTON.

honey-kennedy-barbara-stanwyck-breakfast-for-two

Herbert Marshall is great as the immature playboy.  It is a nice callback to his role in TROUBLE IN PARADISE, except now he is the rich mark being taken for a ride.  He does a great bit with ventriloquism and his reactions to Glenda Farrell’s less than bright Carol are just hysterical.  He also leaps into the comedic fray with complete abandon and seems to be enjoying himself immensely.  Also, his mammoth Great Dane companion steals several scenes often just by lying down.

Let’s also take a moment to appreciate the supporting characters.  Eric Blore is of course fantastic as the put-upon Butch.  As soon as Eric Blore comes on screen you can’t help but smile and know that you are in good hands.  Donald Meek shows up as a long suffering Justice of the Peace who practically has a nervous breakdown before the end of the film.  Glenda Farrell doesn’t have enough scenes in this film, in my opinion, because her ditzy performance as Carol is a highlight.

With a cast that I would happily watch sit around and read the dictionary to each other, BREAKFAST FOR TWO is a fun screwball comedy from RKO that deserves to be better known.  If you get a chance to see it definitely make an effort to!

 

Twelve Classics for 2016

Recently, Kristina of Speakeasy and Andy of Journeys in Darkness and Light both posted their lists of twelve classic films that they plan to watch in 2016 for The Blindspot Series.  I did make a list of ten classics that I wanted to watch in 2015 last year and I only managed to watch four.  So naturally I thought making a list of twelve was a great idea and I decided I would join the challenge.  Hopefully I can stick to the one a month plan and complete this list!  When making my picks I tried to find films that are so classic that I was a little ashamed that I hadn’t seen them yet.

layout-6

Here is my list!

  • Night of the Hunter (1955)
  • The Red Shoes (1948)
  • All About Eve (1950)
  • Seven Samurai (1954)
  • 12 Angry Men (1957)
  • Sunrise (1927)
  • Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953)
  • Rashomon (1950)
  • The Public Enemy (1931)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • Gilda (1946)
  • The Lady Eve (1941)

Hopefully you won’t judge me too harshly for not having seen these truly classic classics yet!  I’m excited to get into more movies and try to increase my classic film knowledge in 2016.

Here are some other films that I would like to watch this year…

Why Be Good? (1929)

Rififi (1955)

The Uninvited (1944)

Mrs. Miniver (1942)

High and Low (1963)

Tokyo Story (1953)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Bombshell (1933)

All That Heaven Allows (1955)

Criss Cross (1949)

Beauty and the Beast (1946)

The Gold Rush (1925)

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Yojimbo (1961)


What are you planning to watch in 2016?

 

A Christmas Miracle! Seeing MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

Earlier this week I was extremely surprised and thrilled to learn that I had won a pair of tickets to see MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET in the theater!  This Christmas miracle came to me courtesy of Annemarie of Classic Movie Hub, a highly awesome site which you should check out, who held the contest and TCM/Fathom Events who is hosting the event at several screenings this week all over the country.  I was very excited for two reasons.  One, going to see a movie in the theater because when is that not exciting?  And two, my husband was going to join me and he had never seen MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET before!

600full-miracle-on-34th-street-screenshot

So the day dawned and grandparents arrived to babysit, my husband and I drove to the theater and made our way past everyone going to see Star Wars to find our seats.  I had expected our theater to be pretty empty, as I figured pretty much everyone else would be going to see Star Wars instead.  I was pleasantly surprised when we walked in behind two young men in their twenties to find that we would be seeing this film with about twenty other patrons.  The movie goers ranged in age from grandparents, to parents, to teens/young adults, all the way to one little girl who was so young her Mom had to read the on-screen letter to her.

I’ll be honest, I get a little nervous when I go to see a classic film in the theater.  When I see other people coming in I wonder if they are going to enjoy and appreciate the film they are going to see or if they will make fun of it or find it boring.  I needn’t have worried.  As soon as the lights went down and Robert Osborne appeared, everyone stopped talking.  In fact no one talked during the movie at all, even the little girl stayed in her seat only whispering to her mother on occasion.  I love classic films and I know that they are not always the popular choice when it comes to the masses.  But it was such a wonderful experience, sitting in a theater with a group of people and hearing everyone laugh aloud at the same jokes.  When Maureen O’Hara and John Payne kissed the whole theater went “Awww”.  And went it was all over and the words “The End” came on screen the whole audience broke into spontaneous and vigorous applause.

20121121_still-from-miracle-on-34th-street_33

This was a terrific experience and one that I won’t soon forget.  It was a great way to kick off Christmas week and I left the theater with a big smile.  And my husband?  He rated it 5 out of 5.


Thanks again to Annemarie for holding the contest!  And thanks to TCM and Fathom Events for having such a great Christmas screening!

Spending Time With Turner Classic Movies: A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS (1964)

Hard to believe that there are only eight days until Christmas.  This year has been much more hectic than last year, when I was able to watch several Christmas themed movies by this point, what with the holiday hosting/planning, gift buying and wrapping, Santa picture taking, decorating, etc.  That being said, I still am intending on watching at least a few more Christmas movies if I can manage it.  But here at last is my first Christmas film of the season and it really struck me.

carol-for-another-christmas-19

Daniel Grudge (Sterling Hayden) is spending his Christmas Eve as he always does, alone and in the dark.  He is interrupted by the arrival of his nephew, Fred (Ben Gazzara), who is angry at his uncle for stopping an international exchange of professors from the United States and Poland.  Grudge tells Fred to stop being such a bleeding-heart and begins to extoll the virtues of isolation and neutrality.  Grudge not only wants to stay out of all conflicts and keep on his own “side of the fence”, but he also wants to build up armor, defenses, and bombs in order to make sure that the rest of the world knows that the United States can not only destroy them but they can do it faster and better than anyone else.  Fred is horrified at this speech and calls Grudge on what he believes is the true reason for his uncle’s bitterness.  It was on this very night in 1944 that Grudge’s son Marley was killed in action overseas.

Grudge freely admits that he is still angry over the loss of his son and wonders why Fred would still want to be involved with other people and other countries after seeing what that involvement got Marley.  Fred just shakes his head and takes his leave.  With his nephew gone, Grudge begins to see flashes of his dead son and hear music playing in his long empty room.  When he opens the door to investigate, he finds himself on the deck of a transport ship.  A soldier approaches him and introduces himself as The Ghost of Christmas Past (Steve Lawrence).  The vessel is a World War I troopship returning with the bodies of the many dead, not all from the United States but all sons of mothers and fathers.  The Ghost of Christmas Past will share with Grudge the need for international powers to “keep talking” because “when the talking stops the fighting starts”.  Grudge remains unconvinced until the Ghost of Christmas Past takes him back to the day where he visited a makeshift hospital in Japan, after the bomb fell.

carol2bfor2banother2bchristmas2b1

Moving on, Grudge is confronted by The Ghost of Christmas Present (Pat Hingle) and a table covered in food.  The Ghost beckons him over and offers him some of the bounty, before flicking a switch and illuminating a barbed wire fence nearby.  On the other side of the fence are numerous “displaced people”, each homeless and hungry, huddling together for warmth.  Grudge is sickened by this and demands to know how the Ghost can eat with all these hungry people nearby.  In response the Ghost asks Grudge how HE can eat, as there are always hungry and homeless people in the world needing help even if you can’t see them.  He begins to give Grudge statistics and numbers of just how many people in the world are homeless, sick, and needy.  Before too long, Grudge can take no more and rushes away.

b1484370924058ed85d8d69515d379a6

He comes into a ruined town square, surrounded by rubble and destruction.  It is here that he finds the Ghost of Christmas Future.  The Ghost tells Grudge that he is in his own hometown at some date in the future.  Some time before nations stopped talking to each other and others began dropping out of the United Nations.  Before too long information became clouded and suspicions rose, leading to the dropping of several nuclear bombs.  What remains now are the few members of humanity who survived.  While Grudge and the Ghost watch these people gather into the center of the rubble and celebrate the entrance of their leader, the Imperial Me (Peter Sellers).  These people value selfishness and isolation, and the Imperial Me has come forth to declare war on the other surviving members of humanity “over yonder and across the river” who want to band together against their common problems.  Grudge is already highly disturbed by what he sees until a man comes forward he recognizes.  This is Grudge’s butler Charles (Percy Rodrigues) and he has decided to speak to try and convince the mob to have dignity, decency, and respect once again.

carolanotherchristmastitlecard

A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS was written by Rod Serling at a time when the world seemed to be at its worst.  The threat of nuclear destruction felt ever present and the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy hung over the nation.  Shot at the Michael Myerberg Studios in New York City, A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS was to air as part of a series supporting the United Nations.  Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, this special aired on December 28, 1964 and not again for forty-eight years when TCM showed it in 2012.

Many people have said that while A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS is a must-see film, it is too much a product of its time and must be viewed in that historical context.  I could not disagree more.  A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS is just as important and relevant to the state of the world today as it was in 1964.  We still live in an age where nuclear war is a real and terrible possibility.  We still live in a world where we are confronted by the senseless deaths of sons and daughters in fights that we don’t always agree with.  We still live in a world where people want to close out those who don’t match up with their own sensibilities.  Especially in light of recent events in Syria, in Paris, in California, in the race for the Presidential Nomination, this television special from 1964 is not only important but it is needed.  Watching it in 2015 I could not help but feel that these important issues being raised in 1964 were still in dire need of being talked about.

A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS should be a part of everyone’s holiday viewing no matter where you live, no matter what part of the world you are in, no matter what religion you practice.  While it is based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, it is not just a Christmas story…it is a call for peace and goodwill for all men.  We still live in a world where we need to encourage ourselves, our neighbors, and our leaders to “keep talking”.  I am so grateful that TCM pulled this film from obscurity an brought it back into the public eye.  But since there are many people in the world who do not get TCM and because there is no DVD copy available, though I sincerely hope that someone will put one out soon (hint hint TCM), here is a copy that I found on YouTube.  Please take some time out this holiday and watch it.  I think that you will find it just as startling and relevant as I did.

Watching With Warner: CRACK-UP (1946)

What if I told you that I just watched a film noir that turned into a murder mystery?  What if I told you that said noir starred Pat O’Brien, Claire Trevor, and Herbert Marshall?  And what if I told you that this noir/murder mystery centered around the world of art and art forgery?  Impossible, you say!  But no!  It is true!  It can all be seen in CRACK-UP from 1946.

crackup

The Manhattan Museum has been closed up for the night and a policeman is going his rounds when he is confronted by a strange sight.  A man, clearly delirious, has smashed a window and is now attempting to destroy a statue.  The policeman confronts and struggles with the man before subduing him.  Initially believing the man to be drunk the police and the museum board, led by one Dr. Lowell (Ray Collins), bring the man back to Dr. Lowell’s house to recuperate.  The man is George Steele (Pat O’Brien), art expert and lecturer at the museum who has just been released from military service.  Dr. Lowell deduces that George is not drunk but ill, and George furthers this idea by insisting to the police lieutenant that he has just been in a train accident.  Police Lieutenant Cochrane informs George that there have been no train accidents reported and that his mother was never taken to the hospital.  Dr. Lowell believes that George’s experiences in the military might be affecting his memory and so asks him to relate everything that he can remember leading up to that night in the museum.  George begins his tale…

11

After giving a rather inflammatory lecture to a group of art lovers in the museum, George is receiving a dressing down by museum director Barton. The director feels that George’s lectures are far too explosive and is also annoyed by George’s promise to use an X-Ray machine to show his lecture goers how art forgeries are detected by using the recently exhibited Dürer’s Adoration of the Kings as an example.  Irritated by his boss’ closed minded behavior George runs into his girlfriend Terry Cordell (Claire Trevor) and her new friend Traybin (Herbert Marshall).  George and Terry head out for a date and drink and just as George begins to relax and enjoy himself, he receives an urgent phone call telling him that he mother has taken ill and has been taken to the hospital.  George hurries off to the train station, promising to call Terry in the morning.  Once there he gets his ticket and rushes to catch the train, almost running into a man half carrying another seemingly very drunk man.  Onboard George settles in and stares out the window.  To his horror he sees a train coming towards them, almost as if by design, and then colliding.

66279139

Back in the present day George concludes his story by saying that after the train crash he suddenly found himself back at the museum.  Traybin, who has accompanied Terry to Dr. Lowell’s, excuses himself and asks Cochrane to follow him into the hall.  Once there Traybin, who is an English art expert, requests that Cochrane lets George go but have him tailed.  Cochrane agrees and George is released, but not before being fired by Barton.  Upon returning to his apartment, George, Terry, and Traybin find that it has been ransacked.  George confides to Terry that he worries that he is suffering from post-traumatic stress and she urges him to forget the events of that night.  But George can’t do that and he resolves to piece together just what happened to him.

8169674267_9b3efc1c2e

The next evening he boards the commuter train and finds that no one on board remembers seeing him.  Discouraged, he gets off at a station and asks the clerk there if he saw anything strange.  The clerk recalls seeing three men, two men helping one man who appeared to be very drunk, and George realizes that the third man must have been him.  He hurries back to the museum to inform his friend, and museum employee, Stevenson.  Stevenson has even more news as he has heard that Barton just got word that a Thomas Gainsborough recently lost at sea was in fact a fake.  George realizes that there must be another forgery currently in the museum and gets Stevenson to agree to help him get into the museum vaults later that night.  But when George returns to the museum to meet Stevenson he finds his friend dead and himself the prime suspect.

I bought CRACK-UP during the Black Friday sale at Warner Archive sole due to the cast and the fact that the plot started off with, “I’ve been in a train crash!” “There was no train crash!”.  Very THE LADY VANISHES.  I found that this was a really fun and intriguing mystery, a wholly unique take on the film noir.  As I said, there were moments that reminded me of THE LADY VANISHES and other elements of Hitchcock which gave the story an interesting and imaginative flair.  The story begins with George trying to figure out what happened on the train but quickly evolves into a murder mystery and caper movie.  This is not to say that it disregards its noir roots, on the contrary.  George is not only the everyman fighting against corruption but CRACK-UP addresses upfront the affects that post-traumatic stress had on the minds of the men suffering from it.

Pat O’Brien is quite good in this.  He is usually a loud tough guy but here he is much quieter and reserved, giving hints at the wounded and injured man below.  He even speaks in a softer register making George someone that you have to pay attention to.  This was a completely different role than what I was used to seeing him in and I have to say that he did a really great job.  He is well supported by Claire Trevor, who portrays Terry as a woman who loves her man and will do whatever he needs in order to help him.  And Herbert Marshall…well, he just needs to show up doesn’t he?

herbertmarshallincrack-up1946

CRACK-UP is a noir that is different and one that takes creative chances in its attempt to tell a story.  It is not quite like any other noir I have seen but it is definitely one that I will watch again, and one that deserves more recognition and appreciation!

The Try It, You’ll Like It! Blogathon: THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942)

This post is part of the Try It, You’ll Like It! Blogathon hosted by Movies Silently and Sister Celluloid.  Be sure to check out the other entries here!

sis-tryityoulllikeit-blogathon-4

Let’s be honest.  If you are a classic film fan the chances are good that you have at least one person in your life who is less than excited at the prospect of watching one of your “old movies” with you.  For me that person would have to be my husband.  God love him he tries, he really does, but he just can’t quite muster up the same enthusiasm as I do when I put in a DVD and Barbara Stanwyck comes on screen.  I’ve been trying to convert him, slowly, and I have found some films that he has enjoyed.  Recently, we watched THE PALM BEACH STORY and in my opinion it is a terrific movie to use when introducing non-fans to classic films.

the-palm-beach-story-1942-claudette-colbert-783626

First, a brief summary of the film.  Tom (Joel McCrea) and Gerry (Claudette Colbert) are a married couple in New York City.  They are also currently in a bit of financial difficulty especially as their landlord is showing new tenants their apartment.  Gerry happens to be home during one such tour and takes refuge in a shower.  She is discovered there by a funny little old man who calls himself “The Weinie King”.  When Gerry explains that the reason the landlord is showing their apartment is because they have no money to pay the rent, the Weinie King gives her a large sum of money for no other reason than to annoy his wife.  And the fact that Gerry happens to be a lovely girl with a nice voice.  Gerry gratefully takes the money and gives the old man a kiss on the cheek.

Tom meanwhile is at the office making a sales pitch.  He is trying to convince a potential investor that his idea for a new kind of airport is an idea worth putting some money behind.  When he gets a very excited phone call from Gerry, who is trying to tell him what happened with the Weinie King, he barely has time to listen.  Gerry agrees to tell him everything that night and then hurries out to put the new money to good use.  When Tom arrives home later he is shocked to find that Gerry has paid all the bills and the rent, as well as bought herself a new dress and now she wants to take him out to dinner and theater with the money left over.  Tom is suspicious of this man who came into the house and gave his wife money and wanted nothing in return.  Gerry is slightly offended by this but not for the reasons you might think.  She has been trying for some time to use all of her talents to help Tom get ahead in the world and every time he becomes jealous and ruins things.  Over dinner that evening Gerry, who has had a bit to drink, tells Tom that she firmly believes that while she still loves him it would be in his best interest if she was to leave him.  She is only holding him back and since he won’t accept her help, leaving is the only way she can ensure that Tom’s career will be successful.  Tom dismisses this notion as foolish but even after they return to their apartment, Gerry is insistent that she is leaving him.  But some caring and helpful unzipping of a difficult zipper stop this conversation from going any farther.

screen-shot-2013-07-31-at-4-35-18-pm

Morning comes and while Tom slumbers peacefully, Gerry tearfully writes him a note.  In it she explains that she was perfectly serious last night, that in spite of how much she still loves him she is leaving him so that he will finally be the success he deserves to be.  Unfortunately, Gerry is not super stealthy when leaving the note and Tom wakes up in time to see her leaving.  He gives chase and the two eventually end up at the train station.  Having no money of her own, Gerry must resort to using her feminine wiles and finds success in a traveling group of men who call themselves The Ale and Quail Club.  She waves goodbye to Tom as the train pulls away from the station.  Tom decides to follow Gerry’s train and meet her when she arrives in Florida some time later.  By the time he finds her things have changed.  Gerry is no longer part of The Ale and Quail Club, but she is accompanied by a young man (Rudy Vallee) who happens to be a millionaire and who has bought her an entire wardrobe, and his wife introducing him as Captain McGlue to a very forward woman (Mary Astor) with a boyfriend named Toto.

the-palm-beach-story-mary-astor

THE PALM BEACH STORY is crazy, zany Preston Sturgess goodness.  It is just fun!  And that is what makes it such a great first film for non-classic film lovers.  Comedy is perhaps the easiest genre to take when trying a new kind of film, book, or television show.  Humor is a universal value and something we all can enjoy.  It sets people at ease, perhaps making them feel less pressured to do anything more than enjoy the film they are about to see.  Comedies don’t have to be dissected or discussed, although they can be certainly, they really only need to be enjoyed and it doesn’t get much better than Preston Sturges.

Too often people think of classic films as slow, clunky, and boring.  These are three words that will never be used to describe THE PALM BEACH STORY or Preston Sturges.  With THE PALM BEACH STORY, Sturges is at the top of his game and throws himself and the audience into the zany story with reckless abandon.  The story, the characters, and the jokes come fast and furious and with such enthusiasm that we can’t help but get swept up in it.  Have a friend who says that old movies are dull?  Show him this movie and stand back!  The comedy makes the transition easier, the ability to forget that the film being watched is over sixty years old simpler, and the preconceived notions of classic films seem foolish.  This is an old movie that doesn’t feel like an “old movie” and this is because Sturges has crafted such a clever, funny, and enjoyable comedy that it has become timeless.  In case you are still on the fence about whether or not THE PALM BEACH STORY is a great film to show a novice fan, here are three reasons why you should courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

So back to the night I showed THE PALM BEACH STORY to my husband.  He liked it.  He really liked it.  He laughed.  Out loud.  Several times.  And days later he would look at me and say “Nitz Toto!” and start laughing.  I don’t think you can ask for a better review than that, do you?