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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Happy Birthday Blonde Bombshell Jean Harlow

105 years ago the actress Harlean Carpenter was born. She would go on to become the well loved actress Jean Harlow

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In this stunningly beautiful actresses short life the public saw her rise from the ashes of critically unsuccessful films to staring opposite the greats such as Clark Gable and Spencer Tracey. She had friendships people envied, a career that remained strong when the Depression set in and mega stars like Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford were waning and she can be credited with being the inspiration behind Marilyn Monroe’s trademark hair.

Harlow was known for her catching laugh and versatility to act tumblr_nn27itkJhG1qe4ru4o1_500in any film she wanted to. This made her a much wanted icon in Hollywood and made her the type of woman people wanted to be. She swapped regularly from serious to comedy films and it’s this genre she’s probably best known for.
In her 10 year film career she made 36 films and was mostly recognised on and off the screen for her peroxide blonde hair making her one of the first blonde bombshells to grace the screen. Before this you’ll typically note most of the lead actresses had dark hair.

Of course there was the bad moments, like in any Hollywood stars life. Harlow was married three times, the longest lasting for 2 years. She found the love of her life with William Powell but sadly before they could ever be married she became ill with kidney failure which resulted in her death at the age 0f 26. There are plenty of rumours surrounding her death the most famous being that she died of a result of peroxide poisoning.

All her films are worth watching. She was a great actress that even when ill managed to get the films finished and premiered to great success. Even her last film Saratoga was finished well with body doubles when she died during shooting.

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Jean Harlow would be remembered forever for being the blonde bombshell that paved the way for change in Hollywood. She became the first actress to grace the cover of Life magazine and she would always be famous for her grace and poise on and off the screen.

 

Quite possibly one of the best on screen partnerships ever.

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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Want to live in a former home of Katharine Hepburn? Well here’s your chance!

Over the weekend I was told the fantastic news that the house that Hepburn lived in when she first moved to Hollywood in 1932 is up for sale. It’s a must have for us die hard fans and it would interest those who have a liking for the supernatural because she supposedly moved out because ghosts took to moving the furniture. That makes a great selling point.

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Anyways anything with links to the great actress is well worth a look at and at $7.39 million you could have a piece of history.

Another great actor once lived there too… Frankenstein himself, Boris Karloff, lived here for a while and I’ve read somewhere that he may have planted the roses. I’d love to casually point that out to friends at my garden party.

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It’s definitely a lot of money for us mere mortals but with 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms a huge square footage and a massive garden (with swimming pool) I’m sure we can arrange something.

All we’d have to fight about is which Hepburn film to screen first.

Happy New Year!

Hello dear followers, Old Hollywood Lovers and people who accidentally got to this page!

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We at Well Did You Evah would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year for 2015. Here’s hoping you get good things coming your way, find love and inspiration when you most need it and make new promises while keeping the old.

Don’t lose your love for the old as the old is coming back to make us smile. Yes we’ve lost a few of our beloved stars but 2015 marks the beginning of some big 100th birthdays. 2015 also brings with it some great art exhibitions, West End shows, films and other pretty tempting things that we want to tell you about.

Go forth and make 2015 the best year you’ve ever had!

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Happy Birthday Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco!

Actress. Mother. Philanthropist. Style Icon. Princess of Monaco.

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Today would have been Grace Kelly’s 85th Birthday. She was as famous an actress as she was a Princess and will always be remembered for her fashion choices, very private private life and for her leading roles opposite some very famous leading men. When she gave up acting to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco Hollywood and her fans literally mourned the loss of such an amazing and dedicated actress but we would soon see her as  the perfect Princess. She took all her duties in her stride, put her family first and became world known in her charity work.

We would then mourn her again, when aged 52, she died after a car crash. Many she had worked with throughout her life would attend her funeral including Princess Diana, Cary Grant and James Stewart who read a eulogy.

Grace, you gave us such delicate yet strong performances that showed us what a strong woman you were and what strong women we could be. You’re remembered even today for your fashion style and your beautiful hairstyle. You charmed audiences and the likes of James Stewart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra and all the other men you acted opposite. Not many other women retired from acting and had Alfred Hitchcock trying to persuade them back into the business.

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We leave you with a humorous clip from Grace’s last ever film, released in 1956, High Society.

Birthday Double: Olivia de Havilland & Leslie Caron

This year we bring you a special beginning to July. We celebrate two Hollywood legends birthdays and they’re both still alive! Happy Birthday to Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Caron!

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Both ladies have brought their own achievements to old Hollywood and are true Hollywood actresses in every sense of the phrase.

 

Olivia de Havilland

Olivia_de_Havilland_stillBorn in Tokyo, Japan on 1st July 1916 de Havilland has lived through it all. She broke into Hollywood early on and is famous for starring opposite Errol Flynn in eight films including The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), having a public off screen feud with her sister, Joan Fontaine, but she’s probably most famous for playing Melanie Hamilton in Southern epic Gone With the Wind (1939) with Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Her acting shows how versatile she was and her attitude fits in perfectly with the era of films she was in.  All her big films will be remembered forever as will her supposed romantic ties to Flynn. De Havilland won many awards during her long stage career including two Academy Awards. She also won a court case about how long you could be signed to a certain producer for, even today this is known as the de Havilland Law. She is an actress and woman who will always be remembered for her work, her long life and what she has done for the movie industry as a whole.

Happy 98th Birthday Olivia!

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Leslie Caron

leslie-caron-and-gigi-galleryCaron was born in Seine, France on 1st July 1931. Her first film role was in An American In Paris starring opposite Gene Kelly. It was Kelly that managed to get her into the big films which shot her to stardom. Caron is a well known dancer and singer and is one of only a few actresses to have danced with the likes of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev. Her most famous role is probably that of her playing Gigi in the 1958 version of Gigi. Her portrayal of a young woman learning to be a courtesan is fun and care free in Minelli’s version of the film. The addition of her lovely singing and dancing makes it a brilliant performance.

Caron has had a long and wonderful career with a mixture of musicals, dramas and tv work. The awards she has won are well deserved and we can only thank Gene Kelly for seeing her talent all those years ago at Ballet des Champs Elysees.

Happy 83rd Birthday Leslie!

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It’s great to be able to write a post about one actor from the Golden era still alive to celebrate their birthday but two is magical in our book. Enjoy your birthday’s ladies while we enjoy celebrating by enjoying your films.

The Best of Eli Wallach

MV5BMTc2NjEwOTQ4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODk3NDc3._V1_SX214_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Every so often we find a actor who can fit into every genre and basically looks and feels comfortable in every role they have ever starred in. Eli Wallach is one of those greats. Many people today probably don’t have a clue who he is but he has a very recognisable face and voice. Sadly it was announce today that he had passed away aged 98. That’s another of the Great Hollywood stars gone and not surprisingly the numbers are dwindling. Wallach’s career spanned decades and in these decades he starred with some of the all time greats but most importantly he starred in many films opposite his wife Anne Jackson.

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Wallach was a great method actor and had roles in many films and tv series so I’ve decided to mix things up a bit. Here are my favourite Eli Wallach moments, some may not be expected.

 

The Misfits (1961)

Wallach plays Clark Gable’s best friend in this film and gives a great performance which is often overlooked because it was Gable and Marilyn Monroe’s last ever film.

Here Guido (Wallach) tries to persuade Roslyn (Monroe) to leave Gay (Gable) for him.

 

Nurse Jackie (S01E03, “Chicken Soup”)

Only in one episode but plays a very memorable character, Bernard Zimberg. Wallach certainly proves his acting skills cross over perfectly into a medical drama. To me this is one of the clips I remember most from Season 1. Sorry for the quality

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)

The film starring Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach. It’s a cowboy film about bounty hunters. I decided upon the trailer because of the iconic accents and theme tune. Who can resist?

 

Murder, She Wrote (S04E13 “A Very Good Year For Murder”)

eli-wallachAgain only in one episode and even to this day I can tell you, without looking, which character he is and what happens in the episode. Billy Zane also makes a guest appearance. Wallach plays a wealthy 75 year old, the family have a birthday party and luckily Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) is invited because someone ends up dead. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a clip but if you live in the UK re-runs are always on of this classic series.

 

Eli Wallach will be missed by the entire world and he should be proud of the work he has left behind. His memorable voice, style and looks will live on.

“As an actor I’ve played more bandits, thieves, killers, warlords, molesters, and Mafiosi than you could shake a stick at.”
~ Eli Wallach

 

Happy Birthday Woman of the Year Katharine Hepburn!

Katharine_hepburn_woman_of_the_year_croppedOn this day in 1907 Katharine Houghton Hepburn was born in Connecticut. She would grow up to be one of Hollywood’s best loved actresses. She spoke out for what she believed in and was headstrong and independent throughout her entire life. She made tough decisions when it came to her relationship with Spencer Tracy yet we all loved her for it and they made a perfect couple. She still holds the record for the most nominations in the Academy Awards for Best Actress; 4 nominations.

 

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Cary Grant wears a skirt in protest at Hepburn wearing trousers.

Hepburn’s films are legendary and the genres she crosses means there’s something for everyone. She shone over every genre making her a real multi talented lady. For women she made it cool for us to wear trousers, back in the day this was a big thing. She also had spectacular cheekbones. I’ve always said I want her personality and cheekbones. During her life she kept her private life as private as she could and shunned the limelight and glamour that was associated with it.

 

The majority of her films have her starring as a strong woman, even in the time when she wasn’t such a box office success. We see the strong willed Hepburn in her first film with Spencer Tracey, Woman of the Year (1942). This is a great light hearted comedy that shows off the delightful chemistry between Hepburn and Tracy while showing Hepburn, who plays a journalist, as a woman who can’t cook, gives orders and basically lives, eats and breathes work. Domestic goddess she is not.

This is just one of Katharine’s big films. Others to take a look at are:

  • Bringing Up Baby (1938) Starring Cary Grant
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940) Starring James Stewart and Cary Grant
  • Adam’s Rib (1949) Starring Spencer Tracy
  • The African Queen (1951) Starring Humphrey Bogart

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It’s really fair to say at 107 years old Katharine Hepburn is still being remembered by the cinema and Hollywood lovers of the world. She managed to stay afloat in a cutthroat business when others went under and starred with the late greats. Her life was a Hollywood story in real life which made her films and relationships memorable.

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Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn

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