Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Cocoanut Grove

Earlier today my sister and I were talking of a movie short that is on the "The Gay Divorcee" DVD. It is a wonderful short called "Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove". There are many different stars is this film. I love things like this!

This got me thinking about the Cocoanut Grove. That used to be the place for old Hollywood to go. Looking through old movie magazines, you'll see many photos of the stars dining and dancing there. A while back I read up a little bit about the Cocoanut Grove.

The Cocoanut Grove was built with The Ambassador Hotel in Hollywood in 1921. As I said it was quite the hot spot for the big names in Hollywood. That would have been such a wonderful sight to see! The Cocoanut Grove along with The Ambassador Hotel continued to host the stars for decades, until in 1988 when it closed its doors for good. There were many movies filmed in the Ambassador Hotel and the Cocoanut Grove after its closing. You can see The Cocoanut Grove in "The Mask" with Jim Carey, it is the Coco Bongo nightclub.

In 2001, the Los Angeles School district bought the property holding the Hotel and the Grove. In 2006 the Ambassador Hotel was torn down to make room for three schools. They were planning to keep The Cocoanut Grove and use it for part of the school, but then in 2007 it was torn down because they didn't think that it would hold up in an earthquake.

It makes me so furious to know that so many old Hollywood landmarks have been torn down. I've been to Hollywood a few times and I love to visit all of the classic spots. I would love to have seen The Cocoanut Grove, especially in its heyday! I'm glad that there are some short films out there that capture it the way it needs to be remembered.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gary Cooper Stamp

Many of you might be interested in the new Gary Cooper stamp. This is the 15th stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series. I wish I didn't miss most of the other stamps that they put out. Hopefully I won't miss any more! I need to make sure to stop by the post office as soon as possible to pick up a sheet. I still haven't purchased the Bette Davis one either. I'd better hurry up! To purchase online, click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Celebrating The Wizard of OZ

Last night was the 70th anniversary Hi-Def showing of "The Wizard of Oz". I took my three year old (who is an Oz addict) with me to see this wonderful film. I was very pleased with this event!

First of all, there was an introduction by the wonderful Robert Osborne. I shouldn't have been too surprised at this, what could be better than Mr. Osborne making an entrance before the film? Following his introduction, they showed "To Oz: The Making of The Wizard of Oz". This documentary is not a new one. It actually is already in the previous DVD's, but it was still fun to see the history before we watched the movie.

Second, I could not believe the clarity and brightness of the color! The picture was so vivid. I noticed colors in this showing that I have not seen the millions of times I have watched it before. It really was like I was watching "The Wizard of Oz" for the first time again.

The only thing that I would say negative about this event, is that there was only one showing. I understand theaters have one time showings of events, but I think that "The Wizard of Oz" should have gotten another night at least.

I am so extremely happy that I was able to attend this amazing event. I hope that there will be more nights like this for other classic films. "Gone with the Wind" would be a good one too. This year is its 70th anniversary, so why not?

The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition) will be available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray on September 29. There are many extras in this set, more so than any previous set. The enhanced color in this version is worth the purchase!

To pre-order, click here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Learning About Sylvia Sidney

I have known about Sylvia Sidney for a while now, but I have not yet done any reading about her. Some things that I have learned recently have really surprised me. For example, she acted in movies until 1996 in "Mars Attacks", and in television until 1998. I had no idea that this beautiful woman in the 1930's played the grandmother in "Mars Attacks"! I haven't seen that movie for several years, but I remember the character. I plan on doing a lot of research on her, so prepare to read a post later down the road on Sylvia Sidney!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Best Gangster? Poll results.

The poll results are in for your favorite gangster. The winner is.....James Cagney! He won with 60% of the votes, followed by George Raft with 40%. I have to admit James Cagney is my favorite movie gangster too.

"The Public Enemy" (1931) is Cagney's most famous gangster film. It is probably my favorite gangster film of all! It's ending is so terrible that I can't help but be shocked every time I watch it. If you have not seen this film yet, rent it this week! It's fabulous!!

James Cagney also was very good in musicals too! After watching "The Public Enemy", that might be hard to believe. We all remember him in 1942's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" playing George M. Cohan. I also enjoyed him in the wonderful Busby Berkeley film, "Footlight Parade" (1933). He was such a wonderful, versatile actor. This post is making me want to watch his movies this week. I'm sure my husband won't mind, he's one of his favorites too!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Betty Grable Collection: Where is Volume 2??

I love watching Betty Grable movies! I know they are usually very predictable, but they are so much fun, and very entertaining. I have the Betty Grable Collection Volume One, and have had it for quite a long time. So, when should we expect Volume two???? If there wasn't suppose to be a Volume 2, then why put Volume 1 on the box set? I am starting to get a little impatient. I hope that Twentieth Century Fox is busy getting ready the next set of Betty Grable films. There aren't enough of her films available right now on DVD, and I want more!! Please, please, please, more Betty Grable!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ruth Chatterton

One actress that I have been introduced to in recent years is Ruth Chatterton. Today, she is largely forgotten by the mass audience. Very few of her movies are available right now. I am very grateful for the one that are, because otherwise I would have never seen her.

I first saw Ruth Chatterton in the Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume two. She starred in the movie "Female" along with her husband George Brent. Since then, I have only seen a few more, but they are movies that I have thoroughly enjoyed. She is best known for the film "Dodsworth". This film I have yet to see. I do have a hold on it at our library though.

Ruth Chatterton was born December 24, 1893 in New York City. She started out acting early on in school productions, then shortly after moving to a stock company. Leaving school at age 14, she pursued her dream of acting. She worked as a chorus girl, then latter getting better parts until she found herself on Broadway, quickly becoming a leading lady. Later Ruth moved to California, not to go into the movies, but to star on stage. She was discovered by the actor Emil Jannings who talked her into taking a part in his next film. At age 35, she made her film debut in "Sins of the Fathers" (1928). There she continued to be a star in movies until 1938, when she retired from film altogether. Ruth returned to the stage, and in the late 40's and into the 50's made many appearances on television. She retired from acting in 1953 and became a successful writer. Ruth's marriages include actors Ralph Forbes and George Brent. Her last husband was Barry Thomson, whom she married in 1942, and was happily married to until his death in 1960. In 1961 she suffered a brain hemorrhage and died at the age of 67.

Ruth Chatterton was a star in her day. In the old movie magazines that I have there are many things written about her, fans considered her one of the best. Though there are a few tributes to Ruth Chatterton online, there is still not one website dedicated only to her. She should not be forgotten in our modern day. Instead, we should remember and watch the wonderful films she made, and try our best to keep her memory alive.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Claudette Colbert!

Today, Sunday September 13, would have been Claudette Colbert's 106 birthday. She is one of my favorite actresses of all time. This week to honor her birthday, I think that we all should watch one of her wonderful films. Maybe I'll have a marathon... who knows. Happy Birthday Claudette!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ma and Pa Kettle: Why Not?

A couple of weeks ago I was on the Turner Classic Movies Message Boards. I visit them often, and it's rather fun to join or just read discussions on classic films. If you are ever there, my screen name is HarlowFan (big surprise). Anyways, I stumbled onto a discussion about Augusts Summer Under the Stars series. Somebody was complaining about the line-up for the month and somehow got going on which movies are classics and which are not. I am pretty broad minded about classic films, and consider any old movie a classic movie. I understand not all are "classics" in the true sense of the word, but they're all classic to me.

Eventually this discussion turned to the Ma and Pa Kettle series. Much was said against them and how they are awful movies that are not classics. Other people defended these movies, and soon it was apparent many people love this classic duo.

The characters Ma and Pa Kettle (played by Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride) were first brought to screen in the 1947 film "The Egg and I". This picture starred Claudette Colbert and Fred Macmurray. Ma and Pa Kettle were a side story in this film, but made a great impact. So much, that there were seven more Ma and Pa Kettle movies made!

So why not Ma and Pa Kettle??? These films are so much fun. The humor is wonderful and all of the zany characters are hilarious! They have brought so much joy to many people over the years, and hopefully for many more to come! I know everyone has an opinion, so if they don't like Ma and Pa, they don't have to watch them. I for one will continue to watch these wonderful films as long as I live, and any other classic movie that might not be considered a "classic". Hurray for Ma and Pa Kettle!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Piece of the Stars

There are a series of cards put out by Donruss which are devoted to classic film actors and actresses. These are the Donruss Americana cards. There are many diffrent variations of these, but you can take a look and some of them on the Donruss website, or search for them on ebay.

Donruss started issuing these collectors cards in 2007, and have offered a new collection each year since. The best way to get exactly the card you want is to go strait to ebay.

My favorite are the Hollywood Legends Materials cards. These cards have a swatch of clothing actually worn by the star on the card. Donruss is a reliable trading card company, so you can trust that they are the real thing. Also, if they weren't the real thing, Donruss would have quite a big lawsuit on their hands!

There are only so many of these cards made, and on different scales. For instance..

Hollywood Legends Materials Super Stars: 25 or less were made

Hollywood Legends Materials Golden Era: 50 or less were made

Hollywood Legends Materials Silver Screen: 100 or less were made

Hollywood Legends Materials: 350 or less were made

You can also find other variations, but the Hollywood Legends Materials are the best! In my collection there are, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Mae West, Mary Pickford, and others. I love them all!!! Most are from the 2007 collection, but I also have a couple of 2008. I have not purchased any 2009. I bought them quite a while back, and recently I have noticed that the value for the ones I own has increased substantially. That makes me very happy that I bought them when I did!

I'm sure that some of you have seen these, but I really wanted to post about them because they're so fabulous!!! Just think, you can own a piece of clothing from your favorite star!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Choosing a good star biography

I love to read biographies on actors and actresses from the golden age of film. You can transport yourself into the 30's or 40's and live in Hollywood for a few moments. You can also go behind the scenes of old Hollywood, and see how everything worked, and how the actors lived. Yes, I really love biographies!

Although, it can be very difficult to find a good star biography. There are many books out there about classic movie stars. Most of the good ones sadly are out of print, but they are still available through the library or used book stores. In this day and age you can find almost anything online, such as on ebay or amazon. But how do you know whether the biography you want to read is a credible one or not?

A couple of years ago a bought two biographies. One was one the life of Joan Crawford, and the other about Rudolph Valentino. I thought that these would be so much fun to read, but I was soon very disappointed. These books were written my an author named David Brett. While I was reading the Joan Crawford biography I wondered if what he was writing was the truth or did he just make up the story as he went. After I finished this book I started the Rudolph Valentino biography. I didn't even get half was through this book and I had to stop. It was full of so much garbage that I know was not a part of Valentino's life. I was so disappointed that I bought these awful books. Later on I was online reading about David Brett and I found out that he his definitely not a credible author. He gets most of his information from other books known to be trash. Sadly, he has written many biographies. His most recent is a book on Jean Harlow. From what I hear, this book has many mistakes. So I will let you know now, do not ever buy a biography by David Brett!

The best way to find a credible author of biographies is to research the author. Amazon is a great place to read a lot of feedback from people who have already read the books. If you find a book you'd like to read, first go there and read the reviews. You should quickly find out whether it is a good book or not. Most of the people leaving the reviews on these biographies are true classic movie fans, that know what their talking about.

I am currently reading "Not the Girl Next Door". A biography on Joan Crawford written by Charlotte Chandler. This book has been wonderfully reviewed by many people, including a book of the month spot at Turner Classics. After this I will read a Mae West biography written by the same author.

Don't stop reading the movie star biographies! Just be careful about who the author is. There are many wonderful authors out there who want to do these actors justice.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Top Ten Musical Favorites

To finish up this series of my top favorites. Here is a list of my top ten favorite musicals. If you haven't seen some of these films that I have listed this week, I hope you can see them soon!

1. Singin' in the Rain (1951)

2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

3. Top Hat (1935)

4. Swing Time (1936)

5. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

6. 42nd Street (1933)

7. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

8. The Band Wagon (1953)

9. You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

10. Mother Wore Tights (1947)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Top Ten Drama Favorites

Earlier this week I gave you my top ten favorite comedies. Now, I have for you my top ten favorite dramas of all time. Stay tuned for my favorite musicals!

1. Gone With The Wind ( 1939)

2. Now, Voyager (1942)

3. Since You Went Away (1944)

4. A Star is Born (1937)

5. Casablanca (1942)

6. Laura (1944)

7. Grand Hotel (1932)

8. An Affair to Remember (1957)

9. Leave Her to Heaven (1946)

10. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)