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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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.

Why 2015 will be a spectacular year

2015 is here guys! We’re all probably looking for holidays, short breaks and just nice things to do for the rest of the year to keep us smiling. This year has some great things in store for us Old Hollywood lovers. There’s also some marvellous stuff in store for all film, fashion and art lovers.

To give you a taste we’re going to run down what we’re looking forward to in 2015… Obviously not everything is here yet, some exciting things will pop up later this year.

Film/ Stage

I’m looking forward to Into The Woods. A mash up of fairytales, songs and an all star cast featuring Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp and James Corden the film is sure to be a hit. Anna Kendrick also returns in Pitch Perfect 2 later in the year.

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Katharine Hepburn at BFI Southbank are holding a month katharine-hepburn-portrait-001-00n-7xkof this brilliantly talented woman’s work. I was very excited when I found out about this! Films range from The Philadelphia Story and Adam’s Rib to A Woman Rebels and Stage Door with everything in-between. For the full list visit BFI You can also buy tickets here if you really, really need to. I might even see some of you there.

February also brings the Fifty Shades of Grey film which I hear millions of women are super excited for. Based on the book of the same name it features the very wonderful looking Jamie Dornan. With an 18 rating it’s definitely for the adult audiences. Prepare for sexiness, stalking, no romance, kinky fuckery and a very controlling rich man. It’s due out in the UK on 13th February with tickets available now from most cinemas.

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2015 sees a brilliant treat from director Maria Friedman who is bringing High Society to the London stage. Old Vic is going to be holding this swellegant, elegant party which will be kicking off on 30th April. As of yet no cast as been confirmed, can’t be long to wait though! Tickets are available here

Two films I probably don’t need to mention, but I’ll refresh your memories, are The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. Both look like sure hits this year.

Big Hero 6 is worth a mention for an animated film…

Exhibitions

V&A host a stunning looking exhibition of the late, great Alexander McQueen’s work and creative brilliance. Savage Beauty runs from 14th March to 19th July and will be well worth a visit as it’s the largest collection looking back at McQueen’s work in Europe.

Fans of Audrey Hepburn will be flocking to National Portrait Gallery this summer to see their Portrait of an Icon exhibition. NPG have a range of photographic portraits spanning Hepburn’s life. These include fashion, film and philanthropic based photos from a range of photographers.

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TV

There’s probably to much happening with TV shows to mention here but here’s a few that caught my eye and/or I enjoy watching.

Supernatural is celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year. It doesn’t feel like two minutes since we met demon hunter brothers Sam and Dean Winchester. Here’s to many more years on TV hunting demons, saving us from apocalypses, getting trapped in hell and singing and dancing for us.

 

Police show Blue Bloods reached it’s 100th show on 9th January. No small feat with the way shows get cut and cancelled these days. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic also celebrates it’s 100th episode later this year when season 5 airs.

37871045I’m excited to see Rizzoli & Isles return for Season 6 and Bitten for Season 2. Both are shows based on books so it’ll be interesting to see which direction they go in. A lot has happened in both series that’s nowhere close to the book so we can’t guess what’s going to happen next.

2015 seems to be Marvel’s year. New comics, Age of Ultron film and the premiere of the tv series Agent Carter. This started in US last week and I’m quite impressed with it. I’m so glad Hayley Atwell as stayed on as Agent Peggy Carter and remains kick ass and a true role model to women.

As shows begin others unfortunately end. This year sees Lost Girl end on season 5. I’ll be sad to see this sexy succubus go but I’m glad we get a proper ending especially after the ending we got on season 4. Bo, Kenzie, Lauren and Dyson we’ll miss you guys!

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We’ll keep you updated throughout the year on these and many more happenings in the world of movies, tv and exhibitions. Until then enjoy the vast array of spectacular big and indie films out this year and keep your eyes peeled for other great ways to pass the hours.

Well Did You Evah’s Guide To WWI Films

In this household we watch a lot of films. I have a love for war films but I tend to find that the majority I do watch are WWII based. With this week being special, it’s remembrance day on the 11th November in the Centenary year of the start of WWI, I thought It’d be a good idea to educate you in the world of World War I films. Here I’ll pick 5 of my favourites that are memorable, shocking, and very different from each other.

 

War Horse (2011)

WAR HORSEHow this film makes me sob every time I watch it. Poor horses. This film is directed by Steven Spielberg and is based on the Michael Morpurgo book of the same name. The story revolves around Albert, a Devon lad, who joins up the war just to find his horse who was sold to the cavalry to aid the military effort. He vows to find the horse no matter what. The film basically follows the horse around and we see different aspects of the war from the frontline to a small devastated family who come to be in possession of the horse. It’s a touching story because it leaves none of the brutality and scariness out of the war. You basically fear for the horse. You fear for Albert searching for his horse. It’s a war film that takes you on a journey and makes you think more about what you’re seeing.

Paths of Glory (1957)

Paths of Glory is such a great World War I film because it shows the so called coward best-paths-glory-1957side of the war. Again this is based on a book, Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb, and the film is directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film follows four French soldiers who refuse to follow orders to undertake a mission because it is a suicide mission. Set in black and white we see the gore and devastation of the war, especially from a French perspective. The men are tried for cowardice and are eventually executed by firing squad even though their Colonel has fought their side. Paths of Glory is a film that really needs paying attention to, the cinematography and story are fantastic with so many twists and lots of WWI politics involved.

Wings (1927)

Wings is a silent film that still maintains and shows all the drama involved with war. It’s kind of light hearted for a war film in that Clara Bow’s character is in a love triangle, the wings-1927-002-mary-david-and-jacktwo guys go off to war thinking they’ve both won her heart then she becomes an ambulance driver in the war and unintentionally meets one of the guys in Paris, France. As in all silent films the drama seems a lot more intense with the music. The acting is superb and the romantic storyline running along the war will make it a hit for a broader audience. The ending is quite emotional with a twist of fate. It doesn’t seem as realistic a war film in todays terms but you have to remember before the 1950’s they made films on what sold well.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

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I chose this one because it’s based on factual events and looks at T.E. Lawrence’s time in the Arabian Peninsula during WWI so is completely different to the fighting and side of war a lot of films depict. Lawrence of Arabia shows us a lot of customs and difficulties a Western man might face in Arabia during the first world war. The fighting bares no resemblance to what the front lines in Belgium were seeing and the military there appear to be doing something completely different to the military in Europe. Peter O’ Toole and Omar Sharif bring life to the characters they play yet manage to have a military seriousness to the end. A great film to watch to get a different perspective on the war

African Queen (1951)

Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn star in this brilliant film set at the beginning Hepburn_bogart_african_queenof WWI in German owned East Africa. Again this is a different side of the war. Hepburn plays a missionary and Bogart is the captain of the little boat, The African Queen, who brings in all the mail. War breaks out and they watch the Germans destroy the villages. Brilliantly Hepburn decides that the little boat can be modified into a torpedo boat to sink the big German gunboat that is blocking the river, and the way out. Fun ensues and the chemistry between Bogart and Hepburn makes the film enjoyable while still being a serious war film at the same time. The African Queen is a film that you can learn a lot from while smiling as well.

 

These are just five of the films that I love to watch and find entertaining, daunting and educational at the same time. War films can be scary but some can be fun and romantic so everyone can watch.

Just remember, what those brave men and women did for us will never be correctly or sufficiently shown in a film. All that can be done is recreations for us to watch, and ultimately, enjoy.

War Horse is on BBC One this Sunday 16th November at 8pm. 

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

Vivien Leigh; Classical Beauty and Style Icon

When we talk about fashion icons from the bygone era we automatically think of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. Vivien Leigh doesn’t seem to appear in the category. She doesn’t seem to appear in many categories applied to … Continue reading