High Society (1956)

60 years ago this week (17th July 1956) an amazing film was released. It’s the type of musical film that will probably always make it onto the greatest musical films and for very good reason. It is, in fact, one of my favourite musicals of all time. This film is High Society.

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I’m always shocked by how few people have ever heard of or seen this film because it brings some of the best actors and musicians of Old Hollywood together to portray a retelling of the very famous The Philadelphia Story. Now I’m not saying Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart didn’t do the original justice because they totally rocked the film but when you have the likes of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra together in a script that is funny and musically ingenious you know it’s going to be a film to talk about.

224265256413693233RDl7GbVXcIt’s always been a special film to me because it was Grace Kelly’s last ever film before she married Prince Rainier of Monaco and basically became a fairytale princess. In the film she plays a wealthy soon to be married socialite and yet we see her try to please her family and eventually go back to her ex-husband who she still loves. The film may be a musical comedy but the relationships and emotions involved in the film seem very normal.

The songs themselves tell a story and are very memorable, that’s why we named our blog after a High Society song. The song “Who Want’s to Be a Millionaire?” is sung by Sinatra and Celeste Holm and they make it a funny yet romantic song because they don’t want yachts or other expensive items they just want each other. The funnier thing is Sinatra’s character doesn’t even realise Holm has a crush on him.

You’ll also notice Louis Armstrong in the film with his band and how different his music is to the rest of the film. This brings a freshness because all his songs are fun and make you pay attention.

So what’s not to love? Excellent actors who may not have gotgrace-kelly-bing-crosby-frank-sinatra-high-society-1956 on in real life but have a great relationship on screen (Crosby kept his distance from Sinatra during production) A lovely vocal performance from Kelly and a great scene in French. Great songs and great musical talent to write and perform the songs which means the songs will be remembered more than the films.

Some musicals can become boring or not seem relevant to the time and we find them being consigned to the archives yet High Society as withstood society’s changes. It actually teaches us about love and relationships while reminding us of people’s standing in society and how we need to be our own person. 60 years on it’s still a watchable fun film that you’ll want to watch again and again.

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That Old Frank (Film) Magic

This is obviously a bit belated but I wanted this to be perfect.

 

tumblr_nzqc9riaOE1r0dj31o1_500On the 12th December the great Frank Sinatra turned 100. Everyone was jumping on the band wagon by playing his great songs and telling us stories about his less than perfect private life. I’ve actually heard someone say they don’t like the guy now they’ve heard some of the sordid tales from his Vegas and married days. Let me assure you these probably are true, there’s lots of other similar tales from friends, family and acquaintances, but this shouldn’t put you off his magnificent work whether it be his song writing, his singing or his acting.

His acting is where we come in. I could spend days talking about his music and his Rat Pack singing days. I could tell you tales of who he inspired, how he was one of the few celebrities of the time who basically needed the press to survive.tumblr_nz9e4vfjJR1r3rmj3o1_500

High Society (1956)

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Grace Kelly & Frank Sinatra

One of the first films I ever watched that starred Sinatra and, to this day, it is still one of my favourite films. Sinatra stars with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Celeste Holm in this fun musical based on The Philadelphia Story. Sinatra is Mike Connor the journalist who is picked to report on the wedding of socialite Tracy Lord. True love ensues for Connor and Holm’s character, Liz Imbrie, yet it’s fun to watch them get to this point. The film has some great songs, some classic funny moments and an all over light hearted feel.

Anchors Aweigh (1945)

One of the first films Sinatra did with Gene Kelly.tumblr_mg8uq2h4IO1qapcnno1_250 This is a great film where Clarence Doolittle (Sinatra) and Joe Brady (Kelly) are on 4 days shore leave in Hollywood. They go on a musical journey where Joe teaches Clarence to pick up girls and he eventually finds an aspiring actress (Kathryn Grayson) who is the love of his life. There’s a mix of animation with Kelly dancing with Jerry Mouse. There’s some excellent songs and it is a lovely story. You’ve probably heard of another sailor themed film, On The Town, featuring Sinatra and Kelly but this one is well worth a watch too.

Von Ryan’s Express (1965)

tumblr_mx3cqlhmkh1r3mh0to1_400.gifA Sinatra film that everyone should know about and one that’s a bit different to the others he was famous for. A war film in every sense the film is set in WWII and sees a group of allied soldiers try to escape by hijacking a train. Sinatra plays Joseph Ryan who is a US Air Corps pilot and gets taken to a concentration camp after being shot down. Here the film unfolds into a thrilling story of bravery and courage. Sinatra gives one of his best performances in this role. If you’ve read the book you’ll notice a few differences but I think you’ll agree they work perfectly in the film.

Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)

A true Rat Pack film, maybe not as famous as Ocean’s Eleven but this is still everything that made the Rat Pack films fun and enjoyable to watch. Sinatra truly made this film brilliant with a glittering cast and some memorable songs all done to the storyline of Robin Hood. Sinatra obviously has the leading role of Robbo and sees that fun, adventure and true spirit takes place in the ranks of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby and Peter Falk. It’s fun to watch while still teaching the meaning of Robin Hood.

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From Here to Eternity (1953)

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This film basically relaunched Sinatra’s film career and was nominated for and won many awards. It’s based on the book by James Jones and makes for the perfect movie. Sinatra, Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster play three US Army soldiers stationed in Hawaii months before Pearl Harbour. They each have their different problems and we learn a great deal about them throughout the film, as well as the jobs they do. Maggio (Sinatra) is a fun character and yet suffers terribly throughout the film. Sinatra, rightly so, won Best Supporting actor at the Oscars for his role.

Guys and Dolls (1955)

Where to start with the film. It’s based on thetumblr_n8aeofHfwt1sjmaqio1_500 Broadway musical but there are some differences most noticeably with there been extra songs written for the film. Sinatra plays gambler Nathan Detroit who’s finding it difficult to find somewhere to hold an illegal crap game because of the police. Then comes in Marlon Brando’s Sky Masterson and they bet on taking a girl out to dinner. Detroit also has to deal with his fiancé of 14 years wanting to tie the knot. The film is very upbeat and has some great romance to it. Sinatra fits the role of Detroit extremely well as if the part was made for him. If you’ve never seen it you’re missing one of the greatest musicals ever.

 

Frank Sinatra made films his own and brought so much emotion and drama to both the big and tv screen it’s a wonder his films aren’t more famous. He’ll always be remembered for his stunning vocals, even in films, but remember the guy won Academy Awards so he definitely did something right somewhere.

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Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole & Joan Fontaine

This week has been tough for Old Hollywood fans everywhere. Two of our beloved actresses and one actor have died in the same week. Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine are world famous and rightly so, they’ll be sorely missed.

Eleanor Parker- 26th June 1922- 9th December 2013

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Many people don’t realise who this lady is and you really should do. Parker is most famous for playing the Baroness in The Sound of Music. She was an actress that went against convention in the 1940’s and 50’s and this is why she doesn’t get the recognition of some actresses in that era. Parker wouldn’t be pigeonholed into playing one type of character, she wanted to play a variety and she was brilliant at it even if her own personality never shone through.

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Parker as the Baroness

Throughout her career she had ups and downs, as everyone does. She starred with some very well know actors such as Kirk Douglas, Julie Andrews and Errol Flynn. She was also nominated for three Academy Awards. When you watch any of her films you can see she worked hard at her roles and even went as far as to perfect a posh English accent in The Woman in White (1948). She starred in over 80 films and TV series throughout her career venturing into series like the original Hawaii Five-O and Murder, She Wrote. No matter what you films, TV series or stage productions you mention most people will only see her as the Baroness… and even then they don’t know her real name.

Peter O’Toole- 2nd August 1932- 14th December 2013

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Peter O’Toole. Fantastic Actor. Hellraiser. True Legend of the big screen. The guy who liked a few drinks too many. O’Toole was a man with many sides and yet each side defined his work and made it successful. In the 60’s he Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed became known as the Hellraisers and the name stuck.

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O’Toole & Hepburn in How to Steal a Million

O’Toole starred in many films that are still famous and well watched today. He played T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) he played opposite Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter (1968) and no one can forget his fun performance with Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966). He must have starred in close to one hundred films throughout his long career and officially retired last year with this statement: ”It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back.” Said in true O’Toole style. He is one of those unlucky actors never to have won the Best Actor Oscar even though he was nominated 8 times. The Academy Awards gave him an honorary one in 2003.

Peter O’Toole was great because of his commitment and love for the films he was in. Yes he had drink problems but like many of that era it helped his fame. He gave everything 100% and after his performance in Lawrence of Arabia everyone knew his career was destined for bigger things. He also has beautiful blue eyes which really didn’t hurt his chances in colour films.

Joan Fontaine- 22nd October 1917- 15th December 2013

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I was shocked when I heard of Fontaine’s death at 1am this morning. I honestly thought it was a hoax, it seemed too soon after O’Toole’s death to be real. It is however very real with reports from her family that she died in her sleep.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Fontaine’s sibling rivalry may, to some people, have made her more famous than her acting work did. I don’t believe this one bit. Joan Fontaine was born Joan de Havilland and is Olivia de Havilland’s younger sister. They’ve had a feud for over 50 years and I’m hoping they straightened it out before she passed away.

Fontaine was a well deserved Oscar winner winning in 1947 for To Each His Own. She impressed Alfred Hitchcock with her soft features and big frightened eyes and she starred in two of his films Suspicion and the film that made her famous, Rebecca, opposite Laurence Olivier. Fontaine starred in over 30 films with some of the most recognised stars and directors of the day. She was directed by Billy Wilder in The Emperor Waltz and Fritz Lang in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

She made each film her own and didn’t allow the famous men to take the spotlight off of her. She starred opposite Orson Welles, Bing Crosby and Cary Grant and yet never appeared phased or awestruck. She was a strong woman who knew what she wanted and turned her career into a competition with her sister. Fontaine was a graceful beauty that knew how to speak out in a world where that wasn’t the norm.

Hollywood and the rest of the world should mourn the loss of these three Old Hollywood giants. We’re slowly loosing an era that shaped the film industry we know today. The natural beauty of Parker and Fontaine will never be seen in the same way again and the confidence and skill of O’Toole was second to none.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all their families and we hope that you’ll watch one of their films just to prove to yourself the talent that as left the world.

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Clark Gable and Eleanor Parker in The King & Four Queens (1956)

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Joan Fontaine as Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca (1940)

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Peter O’Toole

Happy Birthday Ol Blue Eyes!

Frank Sinatra. He really needs no introduction. Good Ol Blue Eyes broke many a lady’s heart, even after his death. Multi talented, beautifully handsome and a bad boy for some of his life this man really was the best of … Continue reading

What’s with the name? And what are we about?

Hey!

This is a blog set up by me and my sister to showcase art, films and musicals that we love! We both have a love for the old and nostalgic so get set to see it here.

We’ll be reviewing art exhibitions we go to all over the country and maybe some worldwide because we do travel a bit. We’ll also try and let you know about anything interesting that’s happening in the art world and any film festivals etc.

Most importantly we’re here to have fun and hope you enjoy reading what we write!

And if you haven’t guessed Well Did You Evah! is a song from the musical High Society. We recommend you have a watch… Who’d turn down a musical with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm and Louis Armstrong in?

Do you have something to say? A film or exhibition you want the web to know about? Tell us! We’d love to hear from you!

Bye for now!