prince john in ‘the adventures of robin hood’ (1938)

This post is a late entry to The Claude Rains Blogathon.

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The most vivid cinematic image from my childhood is found in ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ (1938).  It comes from a scene near the beginning of the movie when Prince John (Claude Rains) and Sir Guy of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone) toast their bright future as masters of England and Prince John accidentally spills some wine.  It drips to the floor, looking very much like blood and Prince John turns to Gisborne with a crafty look of glee on his face.

I believe two things made this scene stick out in my mind: the blood-like wine (in all that glorious Technicolor) and Claude Rains’ complete embodiment of the dastardly Prince John.  Because he is dastardly.

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I’ve seen Claude Rains in several films over the years, but his role as Prince John in ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ is far and away my favorite role of his.  He’s so slick, conniving, and utterly fun to watch as the biggest baddie on the screen (not even Basil Rathbone can steal the show here – a rare feat).  ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ was a huge part of my childhood and, to me, Claude Rains simply is Prince John.  His ability to turn from charming to chilling is just…wow.  Love it.  Good villains are the best.

Take, for instance, another scene near the beginning of the film where Prince John is enjoying a dinner party at Gisborne’s hall.  He’s his usual princely, courteous self.  Bits of humor and wit spark off of him.  But once he announces at he’s kicked out the rightful regent of England and intends to rule in Richard’s place, the mood turns dark and Claude Rains goes from suave to defensive in a moment.  It’s great acting.  I really dig it.

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Or consider how stone cold (yet affable) he is when sentencing Maid Marian to death?

Of course, Prince John gets his comeuppance at the end and Robin Hood triumphs, but Claude Rains put in an excellent performance while the fun lasted.  He did a brilliant job of portraying Prince John – one that I hope to enjoy for years to come.

Have you ever seen ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ (1938)?  What’s your favorite Claude Rains’ role?

Eva

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my favorite composers #3 – Dimitri Tiomkin

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Whenever I watch the opening credits to a movie and see that Dimitri Tiomkin did the music, I grin to myself because I know that I’m in for a treat, soundtrack-wise.  Even if the movie is garbage, his score is sure to be wonderful. 

Tiomkin composed the music for some of my favorite classic films.  I believe his best-known work was what he did for ‘High Noon’ (1952).  Love how he reworks the main theme to fit a variety of moods, situations, and scenes; listen to the soundtrack suite and you’ll see what I mean.

Two other favorite movies of mine are ‘Rio Bravo’ (1959) and ‘Friendly Persuasion’ (1956) and Tiomkin outdid himself on the scores for both.  ‘Rio Bravo’ has a particularly chilling bit of music called ‘El Degüello’ – according to the film it’s the song that the Mexicans played day and night as they laid seige to the Alamo.  According to Wikipedia, the song used in ‘Rio Bravo’ wasn’t the actual song played at the Alamo (instead, it was composed by Tiomkin) but it’s still chillingly well-employed within the film’s context.

And then there’s ‘Friendly Persuasion’, which has some toe-tapping dance music that I love. (I couldn’t find a video on Youtube so you’ll just have to take my word for it.)

Have you heard of Dimitri Tiomkin (or heard any of his work)?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

P.S. The reason there was no read-along post for The Outsiders yesterday was because I always write the post on Saturday and schedule it for Sunday but last Saturday was turned upside-down because of some plumbing issues in our home.  So…yeah.  This coming Sunday will have a read-along post, though.

would you rather: classic movie edition

This post is part of Cordy’s “Month of Classics” blog party.

~Would you rather dance with Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly?~

Gene Kelly, hands down.  After all, he was my very first celebrity crush.

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~Would you rather star opposite Cary Grant or Gregory Peck?~

Is this even a question?  I mean, besides the fact that Gregory Peck is a million times more handsome than Cary Grant (IMO), I just like Gregory Peck better as an actor. (Wayyyy better.)

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~Would you rather be serenaded by Howard Keel or Bing Crosby?~

Neither, thank you.  But especially not Howard Keel.

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This character is a big part of why I don’t like Howard Keel.

~Would you rather share an airplane ride with Danny Kaye or Donald O’Connor?~

Donald O’Conner!  Danny Kaye gets on my nerves sometimes and from all I’ve read about Donald O’Conner he seems like a really great guy (not saying that Danny Kaye’s not, though).

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~What classic movie outfit would you steal?~ (No you cannot say all of them! ;))

Ann’s “wandering around Rome” ensemble. ❤

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Complete with gelato and flower.

~Would you rather be cast in a classic noir film or a classic western?~

CLASSIC WESTERN CLASSIC WESTERN CLASSIC WESTERN.  Noirs are okay and there are a few of them I love but they’re a little too much like mysteries for my taste.  Westerns on the other hand… #myhappyplace

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Guess how many followers I have right now? (!!!!!)

~Would you rather go on a shopping spree with Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly?~

I hate shopping for clothes, but I’d probably go with Audrey Hepburn.  Grace Kelly and her style seem almost…unattainable.

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~Would you rather solve a mystery with William Powell or Myrna Loy?~

Haven’t seen enough of either of them to say.

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~Would you rather imitate Jimmy Stewart’s voice in front of Jimmy Stewart, or imitate Maureen O’Hara’s “temper” in front of Maureen O’Hara?~

*moans*  Neither.  Neither is good.  I’m literally cringing right now just thinking of doing either (but especially imitating Jimmy Stewart).  I can’t choose.

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Eva

william holden as major kendall in ‘the horse soldiers’ (1959)

This blog post is part of the Third Golden Boy Blogathon: A William Holden Centenary Celebration.

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‘The Horse Soldiers’ (1959) is a John Wayne film, but from the very first time I watched it, my attention was focused on another actor: William Holden as the compassionate, brave, and wonderful Major Henry Kendall.  It’s the one Holden role where I love and appreciate him wholeheartedly, and while I wasn’t quick enough to put ‘The Horse Soldiers’ down for last year’s blogathon, I was this year (obviously).

So.  To set the stage.  ‘The Horse Soldiers’ is a movie about some sort of suicide mission that John Wayne’s character, Colonel Marlowe, has to undertake along with a bunch of his men.  I’m not sure of all the details, but suffice to say that it’s Dangerous and Serious.  While Marlowe and his brother officers discuss the ins and outs of said mission, a quiet, unassuming man walks into camp and asks to be directed to the officers’ meeting.

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Just a few moments after joining the officers, Kendall already has a problem (a big problem) because Colonel Marlowe clearly has it in for him.  It’s nothing personal, really.  You see, Kendall is a surgeon.  And Marlowe hates surgeons, hates the entire medical profession, for reasons that aren’t explained until much later but you can kind of guess it’s something to do with his family because…what else?  Anyway, yeah, Kendall’s in a big situation because Marlowe outranks him and, y’know, he’s played by John Wayne who can be truly terrifying in a bad mood.  Kendall, however, doesn’t back down (he’s to accompany Marlowe & Company on their trek) and basically gives as good as he gets.  (In a later scene, when Marlowe states gruffly that any wounded will be left to the clemency of the enemy, Kendall inquiries “Including yourself?” with a little smile on his face.)

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Ever since Doc2 became my favorite character on Combat!, amazing doctors, surgeons, and nurses have cropped up throughout fiction and I’ve liked/loved each and every one.  John Watson, Julia Hoffman, Tiberius Lucius Justinianus…the list goes on and on and Kendall is definitely high on it.  There’s something about how doctors put the needs of others before their own and are so courageous and awesome and skilled. (I understand not all doctors/nurses/other medical personnel are so perfect.  But still.)

Anyway, to return to the story, the troop (is it a troop or some other military body?) sets out to a rousing chorus of ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again’ which makes me snicker.  Because, you know, that whole scene in ‘Stalag 17’.  It cracks me up. (Not the bit in ‘Stalag 17’, which is actually chill-worthy and NOT in a good way.  Just…the connection.  And I just over-explained that wayyy too much.)  ANYWAY.  They march along (or ride along, because they’re horse soldiers) and when they stop for rest, a soldier comes up to Kendall and informs him that there’s a woman giving birth in a nearby cabin and the family would like a doctor’s help.  Of course Kendall goes to help them and ends up delivering a healthy baby, just before Marlowe orders Kendall to never help civilians again during his tenure as an army surgeon and places him under officer’s arrest.

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“You’re an officer in the Union army, under oath,” Marlowe says.  “I took an older oath before that one,” Kendall answers. (Awesome dialogue is awesome.  And awesome characters are even better!)

Stuff happens and the troop ends up at the home of Miss Hannah Hunter, a Southern belle who loathes Yankees but does an admirable acting job, what with inviting Marlowe and his officers (including Kendall) to dine with her.  Everyone’s rather besotted with her, expect Marlowe and Kendall, but it’s Kendall who’s actually suspicious of Hannah – Marlowe is just grumpy overall.  Those suspicions turn out to be on point and the troop ends up having to take Hannah and her maid along with them.

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This post is getting long, so I’ll just list a few more things that make Kendall that much more awesome.

~He doesn’t fall in love with Hannah, so there isn’t a stupid love triangle.  And he does end up respecting her a lot as she changes and matures.  Which is awesome.  They work well together, as doctor and nurse.

~Kendall has a friend in the Confederate army who’s really cool and he still acknowledges/talks to his friend even though Marlowe looks askance at fraternizing with the enemy.

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~He works so hard to keep the troop healthy and together and it’s horrible when that one soldier has to have an amputation because he didn’t listen to what Kendall told him. (Even worse when the same soldier dies soon after.)

~Kendall puts up with a LOT from Marlowe before he finally snaps.  And it’s rather frightening in an epic way when he does break. (Marlowe was a total jerk in the scene when it happens, by the way.)

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~And, finally, the thing that made me truly love Kendall the very first time I watched ‘The Horse Soldiers’: he stays behind with the wounded men when Marlowe and what remains of the troop escape to freedom.  Kendall could have gotten away and left the wounded to the Confederate army, but he stayed behind to do all he could for the men in his care.  “Medicine’s where you find it,” he says to Marlowe.  “Even in Andersonville.”

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William Holden portrayed Major Kendall with a warmth, seriousness, and steadiness that I don’t another actor could have pulled off in such a perfect way (Glenn Ford may have managed it, but maybe not).  It’s the one of the only truly likable roles I’ve seen Holden play and one that I’m sure will remain my favorite of all his films.

Eva

classic movies to watch with little ones

I have three little brothers whose ages range from 5 to 10.  As expected, they’re a real handful and sometimes the only way to settle them down is to let them watch a movie or a couple episodes of a favorite TV show.  While we have a rather large collection of animated films in our basement, sometimes I prefer to not let them rot their brain with ‘Thomas & Friends’…but most of the other movies we own are ‘old’ (pre-1970s).  Thankfully, there are some classic films that my little brothers genuinely enjoy and I thought I’d list them in this post so if any of you have younger siblings, you can benefit as well.

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The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – Daring heroes, beautiful maidens, plenty of swashbuckling action, and all in glorious Technicolor.  What’s not to love?  I’ve yet to meet a little boy who didn’t love Robin Hood.

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The Magnificent Seven (1960) – Now, this was the recommendation of my ten-year-old brother – I’m not sure how much the two youngest like it, because there’s relatively little action.  But still.  Mag7 is my favorite movie of all time, so I had to include it on this list.

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Room for One More (1952) – One (mostly) common denominator of the classic films that my little brothers enjoy is that they usually include children their age.  ‘Room for One More’ has plenty of kids who misbehave (always a fascinating thing for my brothers, for whatever reason) and it’s a favorite in our house.

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The Sound of Music (1964) – More children…  And the songs are classics for a reason.

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Singin’ in the Rain (1952) –  As you may have guessed, my whole family loves musicals, and that includes my younger siblings.  There’s something about the energetic songs, colorful dance numbers, and heightened reality of musicals that appeals to most children.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) – So much action and excitement!  I remember seeing this when I was very young indeed and some scenes, like where the cannibals are electrocuted, left such an impression on me. (Not always an entirely good impression, though.)  I’d also say that almost any live-action Disney film from the fifties/sixties is great for children (except ‘The Great Locomotive Chase’, which scarred me so badly as a child).

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The Proud Rebel (1958) – I asked my little brothers to give me movies that I could add to this post and Ethan (who’s 7) said, “Oh!  That movie where the boy is deaf and then when his dad’s about to get shot, he yells.”  At first, I was a little stymied, but I ended up realizing what movie he was talking about.  And he’s right.  ‘The Proud Rebel’ is a great movie for little ones (there’s a young boy and a dog).

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The Court Jester (1956) – Danny Kaye silliness.  Need I say more?

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959) – Another Jules Verne adaption that stars James Mason!  Only this time, he’s a good guy and the film wasn’t put out by Disney.  It’s very fun and colorful and entertaining, though.  It’s a movie my older siblings and I watched all the time when we were younger and we still quote it frequently.

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So, yes, that’s my list.  Do let me know if your little siblings love any of these!

(Also, a note on old TV shows: my little brothers love Combat!, Rat Patrol, F Troop, Get Smart, and Gilligan’s Island.  So classic television is another great viewing option.)

Eva

teens and classic movies

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So, apparently there’s a big thing going on right now about how Millennials don’t watch enough classic films and that they should and, basically, it’s making a lot of Millennials who do watch the classics angry.  The issue was first brought to my attention through this post and I skimmed through a couple other articles online about the same thing.

And it got me thinking.  If this is how older generations view the Millennials’ relationship with classic movies, than what about my generation (iGen)?  Because the thing is, I love and adore classic films and these stereotypes frustrate me. (I’ve been practically living and breathing Do Hard Things for the past few weeks, so my feelings about this are stronger than usual.)

Additional added remark: most of the Best Picture Oscar winners I have seen were pre-1970.  Just saying.

Also, there are my little brothers (ages 5, almost 7, and 10) who defy even my expectations and genuinely enjoy several oldies.  ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, ‘Room for One More’, ‘Swiss Family Robinson’, ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’, ‘The Music Man’ – basically, a bunch of musicals and old live-action Disney films, but STILL.  I think it’s awesome. (And when my youngest brother was four, he sat through ‘The Ten Commandments’ tolerably well and actually enjoyed it, I think.)

In conclusion, some Millennials and iGen-ers only watch newer films.  Some mostly watch older films.  Some (like me) embrace a mix of the two.  Everybody’s different and I don’t think anyone should be shamed or left out simply because they’d rather watch ‘The Avengers’ (2012) than ‘Gone With the Wind’ (1939).  Or vice-versa.

Eva

notorious VS. casablanca

This blog post is part of The 3rd Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon.  Check out the other entries here.

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Ingrid Bergman is one of my favorite actresses – her beauty, accent, talent, and height all combine to make her one of the most striking women on Hollywood’s silver screen.  I’ve only seen her in four or five films, but she’s impressed me in every single one.  Today, I wanted to compare two of her most famous films – Notorious and Casablanca.  Both movies were made around the same time, both star Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains, and…um, that’s good enough for me to write a comparison post (seriously, though, I’ve considered comparing The Lorax and The Giver just because of their similar themes – plus, Taylor Swift’s in both).

Anyway.  Enough rambling.

// The Story //

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I’m horrible at plot summaries.

Notorious: A German-American woman is recruited by the US government to spy on…other spies?  Not entirely sure what Alex is, actually.  Anyway, the woman, Alicia (Bergman), falls in love with her handler, Devlin (Cary Grant), but things become chaotic when Alicia marries one of the enemy.

Casablanca: Talk about a ‘tale as old as time’.  The story of Casablanca is known around the world.  Rick owns a cafe in Casablanca.  Everyone comes to it over the course of the story and the romances, intrigues, political plot points, etc., etc. make for an addictive cinematic experience.

// The Heroine //

HEROINE

Because they’re both played by Ingrid Bergman.

Notorious: Alicia Huberman (later Alicia Sebastian) is a wonderful heroine.  Though her father was a member of the Nazi party, she herself is a loyal American on the side of truth, liberty, and justice.  However, she ends up having to lie constantly to her husband, her liberty is curtailed when Alex finds out who she really is, and there’s no justice in the way Devlin treats her throughout the movie (until the very end).  Yet she rises above all this to emerge as one of the most memorable Hitchcock leading ladies of all his films.

Casablanca: Most people view Casablanca as a ‘Humphrey Bogart picture’ and I have to say that that’s true.  He’s the main character and the moral centre of the entire thing, but without Ilsa, there would be no story.  From the moment she walks into Rick’s cafe until the moment she leaves on the plane to Lisbon, she is constantly in Rick’s – and our – mind.  She is the catalyst of the entire story (well, the letters of transit play a big role, but they’re more a MacGuffin than anything) and a great character in her own right.

// The Hero //

HERO

Because they’re both awesome.

Notorious: As I’ve mentioned before, Devlin is one of the only Cary Grant characters I like.  And he’s a jerk for most of the film!  Like, a serious jerk.  I can never quite figure out if he loves Alicia at the beginning – at least, as much as she loves him – but by the time she marries Alex, you know he does.  And he’s so very heroic in rescuing Alicia at the end. ❤

Casablanca: Rick is one of the most famous heroes (or is he an anti-hero?) in the history of film.  He’s hard and bitter and cynical at first – but not without reason.  The bit in the cafe at night where he’s drinking and talking to himself/Sam along with the part where Ilsa leaves him at the train station…always give me a huge lump in my throat and an ache in my heart.  He does an incredibly awesome, brave thing at the end as well and that’s mostly what defines him as a great hero, even though he doesn’t get the girl.

// The Love Triangle //

TRIANGLE

Because they’re required in every great story.

Notorious: Alicia, Devlin, and Alex.  The scenes with all three of them are so tense, no matter what’s going on.  Alex gets jealous easily because he’s so much older than Alicia and, come on, it’s obvious that she and Devlin are in love.  It really is.

Casablanca: Ilsa, Rick, and Laszlo.  May I just say that I really like Laszlo?  He grows on me with every viewing.  Anyway, this love triangle is unique because the story ends with the girl still with the same guy she was with at the beginning (that’s sounded so awkward, but you get the idea).

// The Villains //

VILLAINS

Because they’re crafty and clever and I dig villains.

Notorious: Besides Alex, there’s also his creepy mom and his creepy Nazi friends.  Alex is a sympathetic villain, almost, because you can kinda tell that he really does care for Alicia (until he discovers she’s a spy, that is).  But his mom is distrustful of her daughter-in-law right from the start.  And those Nazi friends are diabolical.

Casablanca: Does Captain Renault count as a villain?  Not really, I don’t think.  And Major Strasser is just…there.  Doesn’t do much, truth be told.

// Ending //

ENDING

Because both are perfect.

Notorious: Mannnnn.  I LOVE the ending to this film.  Devlin rescuing Alicia and finally admitting that he loves her and then “Alex, come inside.  We want to talk to you.” (not an exact quote, but still) *shivers*  So great.  Hitchcock really knows how to end a movie (except for The Birds – that was just weird).

Casablanca: Who doesn’t know the ending to Casablanca?  Even if you’ve never watched it, over half of the most iconic quotes are found in the last ten minutes or so.  “Hill of beans”, “usual suspects”, “looking at you, kid” (okay, that one was said earlier on), and “always have Paris”, “beautiful friendship”…so quotable.  And the ending is majorly tearjerking as well.

// Overall //

OVERALL

Both Notorious and Casablanca are outstanding examples of film-making at its very best.  But Casablanca is my second favorite movie of all time, so it kind of wins by default, right?  Notorious is still one of my top favorites, though. (And Ingrid Bergman is a luminous presence in both films.)

Which of these two films do you like best?

Eva