If it’s Sunday, breakout the hankies!

Cinema sign

Melodrama Sunday Movie Classics

In a previous post I talked about maybe being a little anal about the rules for Saturday and Sunday afternoon movie watching. I shared my rules for Saturday afternoon movie viewing which is B-horror and science fiction. I also shared 3 of my favorite flicks. The Blob (1958), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and The Tingler (1959). (hope you check ’em out)

So, for Part 2 I’m showcasing Sunday and my criteria for some great classic melodrama.

I love melodramas because they can be so over the top and cathartic (think movie therapy) and there’s no better day to indulge than on a lazy Sunday, vegging on the couch, better yet if it’s a rainy day.

According to dictionary.com:

Melodrama – Exaggerated and emotional or sentimental, sensational or sensationalized: over dramatic.

Bette Davis is my favorite Melodrama Diva! Talk about emotional and dramatic, she had those attitudes down pat. With her I find myself either talking back to my TV screen or weeping. (this is why rain helps) So, let’s find out about “The First Lady of the American Screen:

Bette Davis

Bette Davis color

 Ruth Elizabeth Davis (April 5, 1908 – October 6, 1989) known as Bette Davis

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Ms. Davis is regarded as one of the greatest actors in cinema history. Bette Davis was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice. She was also the first person to receive 10 Academy Award nominations for acting, and was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. With more than 100 films, television and theater roles to her credit, in 1999, Davis placed second on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female stars of all time.

Bette was known for her no-nonsense, no-holds barred personality and wasn’t afraid to take on unsympathetic character roles. In the RKO film Of Human Bondage (1934), she played such a character as Mildred, the cruel and vicious waitress.  A film adaptation of the 1915 novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. This melodramatic adaptation about a crippled doctor’s destructive and compulsive passion for this coarse waitress was advertised with the tagline on one of its posters: “The Love That Lifted a Man to Paradise…and Hurled Him Back to Earth Again.”

In her 1st major, critically acclaimed part she insisted on looking hideous to depict the ravages of the disease tuberculosis on the human body. She wasn’t nominated for an Oscar but so impressed fellow artists that they insisted she be a write-in on the ballot.


Bette as “Mildred” in Of Human Bondage 1934

A little bit of Mildred’s charm:

 Let’s take a look at her 10 Oscar nominations and 2 wins:

  • 1935: Won for Dangerous, as a self-destructive, alcoholic actress (really a make-up for not winning Of Human Bondage)


  • 1938: Won for Jezebel, as a self absorbed 1850’s southern belle whose insistence on wearing a red-dress to a formal affair (white = chaste) brings scandal and disapproval. Her man “Pres” Henry Fonda was too through with her.


  • 1939: Nominated for Dark Victory, as Judith Traherne, an impetuous, terminally ill Long Island socialite. (yes that’s Bette with a drunken Ronald Reagan) Big time tear-jerker! – Bette’s favorite!  


  • 1940: Nominated for The Letter, as a low-down, adulterous murderer who has absolutely no remorse for blowing her lover away. However, karma is a bitch.


  • 1941: Nominated for The Little Foxes, as Southern aristocrat Regina Giddens – that girl put the cold in cold-blooded.  


  •  1942: Nominated for Now, Voyager, as Charlotte Vale – a dowdy, overweight, spinster, abused by her mother but fights back and achieves a starling transformation in body and spirit. An incredible performance! My absolute favorite Bette Davis role! 

Charlotte on the edge of a well deserved nervous breakdown:


Charlotte’s journey:


  • 1944: Nominated for Mr. Skeffington, as Fanny Skeffington, a woman so conceited that she tries to steal her daughter’s boyfriend, loses her looks after an illness but still has the nerve to treat her husband like dirt and still believe she can have any man – no way. In the end she learns the hard way that “a woman is beautiful when she’s loved and only then.” (too bad it’s after her husband goes blind in a concentration camp)


  • 1950: Nominated for All About Eve, as Margo Channing  an insecure Broadway star challenged by the younger, conniving Eve – “Fasten your seat-belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”  It was selected in 1990 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and was among the first 50 films to be registered.

  • 1952: Nominated for The Star, as Maggie, a washed-up actress trying to revive her career. Notably, at this time in Bette Davis’ career, she was struggling for roles despite her body of work. Bette’s ego was blamed.


  • 1962: Nominated for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, as the demented Baby Jane Hudson who tortures and terrorizes her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford)  Much like their real life rivalry. This role renewed her success and paved the way for other deranged characters in such films as: Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) and The Nanny (1965)


Bette continued to perform in film and on television in the 70’s and 80’s. In 1983 at the age of 75 she had a mastectomy as a result of breast cancer. Nine days later she suffered a stroke. Despite her failing health she continued to work until her death in 1989.

This is an in-depth retrospect of “The First Lady of the American Screen”

Enjoy! Don’t forget to bring your hankie.


Master of Suspense?

Master of Suspense

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock  (August 13, 1899 – April 29,  1980)

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock aka “Master of Suspense” was a British born director known for his mastery of the suspense and psychological thriller.  He was an innovator using film editing (cuts) as the basis to construct a film. He poked, stabbed and forced us to face our fears, obsessions and compulsions.

Hitch is one of my favorite directors because of his fearlessness. He used a voyeuristic style and cuts to let you see inside the heads of his leading characters. Rear Window (1954) is a classic example of his style as the audience becomes the voyeur along with James Stewart’s character. We go along with Hitch and peer through the windows of Stewart’s neighbors and cross a line we otherwise wouldn’t.

In Psycho (1960) we peer through the peephole with “Norman Bates” (Anthony Perkins) and end up rooting for this very troubled individual. Not allowing patrons to enter the theater after Psycho started was a great gimmick. His most fearless move was what occurred in the first 45 minutes of the film. Now that’s risk and genius!

In 1992, the US Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Now, meet Hitchcock as he takes us through the Bates Motel and the events that occurred. This is Sir Alfred in all his shocking glory.

Although Hitchcock is legendary for his film editing genius, Rope (1948 ) proved to be his ultimate experiment. Instead of using film editing, he would shoot the movie in one long sequence. Stopping only to change the camera role. Like filming a play. Each role of camera film holds about 10-12 minutes of film.

The set was insane with flying walls and furniture. Jimmy Stewart once remarked about placing his drink on a table, turning back around and not only was the drink gone but the table it was sitting on. Everyone had to be on their mark and not drop a line because if anything went wrong they had to do everything  all over again. Hitchcock said the film just about killed him!

A Little Hitchcock History:

His first directing assignment, Number 13, began in 1922 but unfortunately wasn’t finished due to financial issues. His big break came in 1927 with the completion of his thriller The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog.  The plot revolved around a search for a Jack the Ripper type of serial killer and mistaken identity. Hitchcock’s first thriller is ripe with mood and the German Expressionist influence. A taste of things to come in Hitch’s repertoire, it was a commercial and critical success.


Hitchcock’s tenth film, Blackmail was released in 1929 and considered Britain’s first talkie. It also starts his usage of landmarks as a tradition and appears in the longest cameo of all his films.


The 39 Steps (1935) is widely considered the best of Hitchcock’s early films and made him a star in the U.S.  It also branded Hitch’s obsession with the cold blonde, sophisticated leading lady which Grace Kelly would come to epitomize. Then there’s the infamous “MacGuffin.”  A reoccurring plot device that actually had no real significance to the story-line. A decoy. Just another Hitch thing.

The 39 Steps

Alfred Hitchcock’s films were produced in Britain until in 1939. When David O. Selznick signed him to a seven year contract, Hitch relocated to the United States with his wife Alma Reville (his closest collaborator) and his daughter Patricia Hitchcock.

Alma Reville was an accomplished director, writer, editor and producer in Britain before she met Hitch while working  at Paramount‘sFamous Players-Lasky studio in London, during the early 1920s. Patricia Hitchcock appeared in several of her dad’s films including: Psycho, Strangers on a Train and Stage Fright.

Rebecca (1940) was Hitchcock’s first American film. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director but did not win. In fact, although nominated five times, he would never be afforded that honor.

Alfred Hitchcock  became an American citizen in 1956 and was a multiple nominee and winner of a number of prestigious awards. Hithcock was the recipient of  two Golden Globes, eight Laurel Awards, and five lifetime achievement awards including the first BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award.

Hitchcock received a knighthood in 1980 when he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.

What’s your quintessential Hitchcock film?

  • Stage Fright (1950)
  • Saboteur (1942)
  • Strangers on a Train (1951)
  • The Birds (1963)
  • Spellbound (1945)
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  • Rebecca (1940)
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940)
  • The 39 Steps (1935)
  • Rope (1948)
  • Vertigo (1958)

Not here? Voice Your choice in the comments.

Check out Alfred Hitchcock’s substantial catalog.

The quintessential “Master of Suspense.”

Robin Williams – A Tribute



Robin Mork

 Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

In honor of the 1 year anniversary of Robin Williams passing, my original post tribute.

My heart was deeply saddened by the news of  Robin Williams’ passing.  Even though we’d never met, the news hit like losing an old friend.  He made me laugh in ways and places that were utterly unique and hilarious!  Listening to tributes not just from Hollywood but from my own friends, it’s stunning how his genius and sincerity as a human being reached beyond the stratosphere.  His true gift was being able to listen, internalize and transform his energy into a non-stop series of humor and insights that no one has ever done before.  I’ve followed his career from the beginning in the late 1970’s with his stand-up routines.  His first TV performance as “Mork” from Ork on Happy Days resulted in his own series Mork and Mindy in 1978.  His subsequent films and stand-up performances were the ultimate proof of his unlimited talents and abilities.

In celebration of his genius and the man, here are some of my favorite Robin Williams moments:


Thanks so much Robin for all the joy, laughter and love you shared with us all.

Rest In Peace