While watching Marlene Dietrich’s sultry performance of “The Laziest Gal in Town” in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950 thriller,”Stage Fright”, I asked my husband if the song and performance seemed familiar. Because I’ve raised him right (on film history that is😎), he remarked, “of course, Madeline Kahn’s performance of “I’m Tired” in the Mel Brooks satirical Western comedy classic, “Blazing Saddles” (1974).
Marlene Dietrich “Laziest Gal in Town”
Madeline Kahn “I’m So Tired”
(Top) Marlene Dietrich (Bottom) Jane Wyman
I loved hearing his response because it’s the main reason I pen this post; for the history and appreciation of films. Understanding a writer or director’s references to past movies in theirs adds to the richness of the production. It helps young people comprehend that few things in life are original and imitation can be the sincerest form of flattery.
Sometimes the homage in a movie isn’t to a particular scene in a film but the music. I love Minions period but I especially enjoyed the “Minions” movie’s 1960’s soundtrack that made the perfect nod to James Bond type villains (“Minions”Scarlet Overkill) and the time period of the setting.
As a child of the ’60’s I remember turning to my husband in the theater saying, 99% of the people in here weren’t even born yet and I wonder if any of them appreciate the inclusion of the classic songs of this era.
The song is “Hair” from the iconic 1968 counter-culture and controversial stage and film production “Hair”
I’ve spent my lifetime watching and loving the cinema and have educated my children with a more sophisticated palette for black and white films and how they just don’t make them like that anymore.😊
Hundreds of full-length films were produced during the decade of the 1940s; during Hollywood’s Golden Age. The great actor Humphrey Bogart made his most memorable films in this decade. Frank Capra’s masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life and Orson Welles’s cinema genius production of Citizen Kane were released. The film noir genre was at its height. Alfred Hitchcock made his American debut with the film Rebecca and made many classics throughout the 1940s. (Wikipedia)
(Top) Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Marlon Brando (Middle) Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly (Bottom) Humphrey Bogart, Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable
Movie Stars of the 1940’s & 1950’s
Of course, I want you to visit my website as a source of reference material, but if you want to see these full-length gems for free, I recommend tuning into the Turner Classic Movies channel. They show everything from the great silent films, Chaplin, Buster Keaton, etc. through Hollywood’s “Golden Age”.
These classic films bring me great joy and I hope you’ll find a special place in your heart for them, too!
Anytime I feel I’m running on low energy I just channel Tina and my body can’t help but pulsate.
Today we celebrate Tina Turner’s 77th birthday and the life of an icon and true RockStar! I marvel at her eternal youth and vitality. I wanna be just like her when I grow up!
Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, is an acclaimed recording artist, dancer, actress, and author, whose career has spanned more than half a century, earning her widespread recognition and numerous awards.
Born and raised in Nutbush, Tennesse, she began her musical career in the mid-1950s as a featured singer with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, first recording in 1958 under the name “Little Ann.”
Anna Mae Bullock
Her introduction to the public as Tina Turner began in 1960 as a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Success followed with a string of notable hits credited to the duo, including “A Fool in Love”, “River Deep – Mountain High” (1966), “Proud Mary” (1971) and “Nutbush City Limits” (1973), a song which she herself wrote. (Wikipedia)
Ike & Tina Turner Revue – (Tina center)
Imitating Miss Tina was part of my childhood as my girlfriends and I would shake our booties whipping our hair and working it out with the ladies.
This is an early performance of the gift that is Miss Tina Turner!
In her autobiography, I, Tina, she revealed several instances of severe domestic abuse against her by Ike Turner prior to their 1976 split and subsequent 1978 divorce. Raised as a Baptist, she encountered faith with Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism in 1971, crediting the spiritual chant of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which Turner claims helped her to endure during difficult times. (Wikipedia)
This concert footage is part of Tina’s “comeback” tour after those early, disastrous years with Ike Turner. I wrote in a previous post about Tina’s life as portrayed by Angela Bassett in “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”and what a remarkable life Tina has endured.
Tina Turner (l) Angela Bassett (r) “What’s Love Got to Do With It”
She’s always been my idol since I was a child and after seeing Tina looking hot in this white leather outfit and her boundless energy I stopped boohooing about baby weight gained after my daughter and got my butt back into the gym.
Seeing her in concert was a night I’ll always treasure. That woman is all that and no one compares. If you haven’t had the pleasure.
After her divorce from Ike Turner, Tina rebuilt her career through live performances. In the early 1980s, she launched a major comeback with another string of hits, starting in 1983 with the single “Let’s Stay Together” followed by the 1984 release of her fifth solo album Private Dancer which became a worldwide success. “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, the lead single won three Grammy Awards including Record of the Year. (Wikipedia)
Her solo success continued with the multi-platinum albums Break Every Rule and Foreign Affair and with singles such as “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)”, “The Best” and “GoldenEye” for the James Bond film of the same name. “What’s Love Got to Do with It” was later used as the title of a loosely based biographical film adapted from her autobiography.
In addition to her musical career, Tina has also experienced success in films, including the role of Acid Queen in the 1975 rock musical “Tommy”, a starring role alongside Mel Gibson in the 1985 action film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and a cameo role in the 1993 film Last Action Hero. (Wikipedia)
Tina’s critically acclaimed role as “The Acid Queen” in The Who’s “Tommy” (1975) was outstanding! Still a classic today.
If you weren’t on acid, you sure felt like it!
One of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time, she has also been referred to as The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Tina has been called the most successful female Rock ‘n’ Roll artist, receiving eleven Grammy Awards, including eight competitive awards and three Grammy Hall of Fame awards.
Miss Turner has also sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in history. Her combined album and single sales total approximately 180 million copies worldwide, making her one of the biggest selling females in music history.
Her Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour became one of the highest selling ticketed shows of 2008–09. Rolling Stone ranked her no. 63 on their 100 greatest artists of all time and in 1991, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Wikipedia)
Tina Turner’s career has been a marvel to watch. Despite all odds, she brought herself up from Nutbush to the pentacle of success in music, film, and continues to be an inspirational figure.
Thank you, Tina, for uplifting my life and demonstrating that you can accomplish whatever you want with determination and faith. You are simply the best!
Today marks the start of the holiday season, but it doesn’t officially kick off for me until I’ve watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade and one of my favorite holiday films, Miracle on 34th Street (1947).
Until I see Santa arrive at the end of the parade there can be no Christmas Tree, tinsel, ornaments or stockings. This has been a tradition of mine since I was a kid. Without a doubt, Edmund Gwenn is Santa Claus. No matter what other films he’s made, each character turns into Kris Kringle. (he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) Gwenn played a cockney assassin in Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent in 1940, but all I could scream was “Santa, don’t throw that man off the ledge!”
Natalie Wood was precious as Susan, the precocious daughter of Maureen O’Hara (Doris) who doesn’t believe in fairy tales and attends a “progressive” school. Natalie Wood had an illustrious career until her death in 1981. She was able to make the transition from child star to ingenue starring opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Warren Beatty in Splendor in the Grass (1961). Known as a loving, giving person, as well as a star, she’s always had a special place in my heart.
Doris is cynical as a result of a bitter divorce so she’s raising her daughter to be practical and sensible. None of this believing in fairy tales and Santa crap. All was going well until Doris – the parade coordinator asks Kris to replace the drunken Santa originally set for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Kris is a big hit and becomes Macy’s official Santa resulting in a personal relationship with Doris and Susan.
Kris is an immediate influence teaching Susan it’s okay to pretend after she tells him the other kids don’t play with her because she won’t join in their game and act like a zoo animal.
The production took flack from the Catholic League of Decency because how dare you depict a divorced woman with a successful career and a young child as a “normal family.” Yep, 1940’s mentality and morality were hard at work.
Susan learning to act like a monkey!
Just as Doris is learning to have more faith in life and Susan is embracing imagination, Kris’s sanity is questioned and a legal battle ensues to prove that not only is he sane but the one and only Santa Claus. Fred (John Payne) who is Kris’s lawyer and Doris’s boyfriend, understands the importance of the spirit of Santa especially in the lives of Susan and Doris.
Kris is exonerated and Christmas day has arrived. Susan has asked for a very special present and is disappointed at the Christmas party to see it isn’t under the tree. Doris, in a refreshing change of heart, tells Susan she must have faith.
But, Santa Claus moves in mysterious ways and in the end teaches them both the true value of faith and miracles.
In essence, I’m just a big kid at heart. Just ask my alter ego Agnes from the Despicable Me films and my About page. I love her spirit and have long believed that honoring your “inner child” helps keep life fresh and can lend a “think outside the box” perspective in this messed up world in which we live.
I’ve been feeling extremely beat up lately dealing with the mess of politics and the overwhelming force of negativity surrounding this election so I decided to call on my “inner child” and connect with my Despicable Me buddies – the Minions! I can always count on them as a source of laughter and encouragement to stay positive in an often times troubling world.
Robert Vaughn was a cool, and debonair symbol of the 1960’s and will forever live on as the suave secret agent, Napoleon Solo. The iconic international spy tasked with saving the world on a weekly basis lost his battle with Acute Leukemia and died on Friday, November 11, 2016, in Danbury, Connecticut. He was 83.
Legacy of Robert Vaughn
Vaughn’s first film appearance was as an uncredited extra in “The Ten Commandments” (1956), playing a golden calf idolater also visible in a scene in a chariot behind that of Yul Brynner. His first credited movie role came the following year in the Western Hell’s Crossroads (1957), in which he played Bob Ford, the murderer of outlaw Jesse James.
Robert Vaughn, Paul Newman “The Young Philadelphians”
Robert Vaughn’s first notable appearance was his role as a man accused of murder in “The Young Philadelphians” (1959) staring Paul Newman and for which Vaughn received a nomination for both the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture. In his next role, he would portray the insecure gunman Lee in the Old West-style remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 Japanese masterpiece Seven Samurai, “The Magnificent Seven” (1960). (Wikipedia)
When The Man From U.N.C.L.E. ended, Vaughn landed a major role playing Chalmers, an ambitious California politician in the mega box office hit Bullitt (1968) starring and produced by screen legend, Steve McQueen; Vaughn was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role.
In 1978 he won a best supporting actor Emmy for his performance as a White House chief of staff in the miniseries “Washington: Behind Closed Doors.” (New York Times)
Robert Vaughn “The Magnificent Seven”
David McCallum, Vaughn, Leo G. Carroll
Steve McQueen and Vaughn “Bullitt”
However, the role he is most remembered and loved is Napoleon Solo, the dashing international spy for U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law Enforcement) Together with his laid back partner Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), the enigmatic Russian spy, he battled T.H.R.U.S.H. (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity), a super secret organization intent on achieving world domination.
From 1964 to 1968, in the thick of the Cold War, millions of Americas tuned in weekly to check out the wit and cool of the unlikely duo (American and Russian) as they foiled the various diabolical schemes of the colorful T.H.R.U.S.H. villains.
Robert Vaughn (Napoleon Solo) and David McCallum (Illya Kuryakin)
The show was an obvious parody of Ian Fleming’s James Bond films and Mr. Fleming actually served as an advisor, which probably lent more authenticity to the characters and storylines. He is also widely credited with coining the name Napoleon Solo.
Robert Francis Vaughn was born on Nov. 22, 1932, in New York City into a theatrically inclined household. His father, Gerald Walter Vaughn, was heard on radio series like “Gangbusters” and “Crime Doctor,” and his mother, the former Marcella Gaudel, appeared in a 1931 Broadway production of “Dracula.” The couple divorced when Mr. Vaughn was an infant and he moved with his mother to Minneapolis, where he was partly reared by grandparents.
He was encouraged by his mother to pursue acting, starting with having him (at the age of 5) learn the soliloquy, “To Be or Not to Be..” from Hamlet. In 1952 he headed to Hollywood studying theater arts at Los Angeles City College during the day while pursuing bit-parts.
Earning a master’s degree in theater, he received a Ph.D. in communications from the University of Southern California in 1970. In 1972, he published his dissertation as the book Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting. (Wikipedia)
He was known for hanging out at local Hollywood hot spots with the likes of Bette Davis and dated (a legend in her own right) actress Natalie Wood. After graduating from college in 1956, Mr. Vaughn signed with Columbia Pictures for $15,000 a role. However, his career was put on hold after he was drafted into the Army serving 18 months.
Robert Vaughn and Natalie Wood
Mr. Vaughn continued to work as an actor into his 80s. He appeared on the British television series “Hustle” from 2004 to 2012 and on another British show, “Coronation Street,” in 2012. He was seen on an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” last year.
Caitlin Vaughn, wife Linda Staab, and son Cassidy
Robert Vaughn is survived by wife, actress Linda Staab, whom he married in 1974 and a daughter, Caitlin Vaughn; a son, Cassidy; and two grandchildren.
He will always be a fond reminder of my childhood and the swinging ’60s. Those days are gone, but Napoleon Solo will forever live on.
Like Galaxy Quest was an homage to Star Trek, Mel Brooks off-the-wall comedy Spaceballs (1987) was a send-off of Star Wars. Its setting and characters parody the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as other sci-fi franchises including Star Trek, Alien, and the Planet of the Apes films.
The plot is set in a distant galaxy, planet Spaceball which has depleted its air supply, leaving its citizens reliant on a product called “Perri-Air.” (See, I told you off-the-wall)
In desperation, Spaceball’s leader President Skroob (Mel Brooks) orders the evil Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) to kidnap Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) of oxygen-rich Druidia and hold her hostage in exchange for air.
Rick Moranis (Dark Helmet)
But help arrives for the Princess in the form of renegade space pilot Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his half-man, half-dog partner, Barf (John Candy). (IMDb)
Spaceballs is a 1987 American science fiction parody film co-written, produced and directed by Mel Brooks. Starring Brooks, Bill Pullman, John Candy, and Rick Moranis, the film also features Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, and the voice of Joan Rivers as Dot Matrix. (Wikipedia)
John Candy, Joan Rivers (Dot), Daphne Zuniga, Bill Pullman
John Candy – Barf
The film was met with a mixed reception but I think it can be classified as a cult classic, definitely an off the-wall-classic.
Going back and researching this film I almost forgot the funniest scene that had me on the floor. When I first saw this I literally screamed! Which I’m sure had the cleaning lady a the Residence Inn, where I was staying, shaking her head. (This chick is nuts!)
OMG, that was hilarious!! Who would have thought you could turn that incredibly terrifying moment in Alien into this “spit your milk out” moment.
Once again, Rick Moranis is absolutely brilliant! Just looking at him in that ginormous helmet, you can’t help but crack-up. Portraying the embodiment of the “Napoleon complex” his action playing with his dolls is too precious.
IT WASN’T THE FIRST STAR WARS PARODY FILM.
Amateur filmmaker, Ernie Fosselius was so enamored with Star Wars in 1977 that he cobbled together a 12-minute short, Hardware Wars, which he shot for just $8,000 in an abandoned laundromat. It was even declared a “cute little film” by George Lucas.
LUCAS GAVE HIS (CONDITIONAL) BLESSING.
Based on Brooks not doing any merchandising. The Lucas people were just upset about one aspect of Spaceballs,” Brooks told Starlog in 1987. “They didn’t think it was fair for us to do a take-off and then merchandise the characters.”
BILL PULLMAN WAS BROOKS’ THIRD CHOICE.
According to Pullman, the actor—who had not yet had a starring role—was approached by Brooks only after Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks turned down the role of Lone Starr, the Han Solo-esque lead of the film. Pullman said that hiring Rick Moranis and John Candy freed Brooks up to cast a relative unknown.
BARF’S EARS UPSTAGED THE ACTORS.
John Candy, who played half-dog/half-man Barf, was usually trailed on-set by Effects artist Rick Lazzarini and the effects crew, who had to control both his tail and his ears. At one point, Lazzarini was told by Brooks that he didn’t “have to move the ears so much!” They were too active in scenes focused on other characters. (Candy, incidentally, performed with a 40-pound battery backpack strapped to him to control the animatronics.)
John Candy – Barf
So, if you’re looking for a good laugh and a total mind distraction, I recommend “Spaceballs” as the perfect gag-filled tonic.
I love quoting from my favorite movies. It’s like a secret language that only you and those who love that particular film can understand. The joy is one line can transport you back to that moment in time and creates an instant connection with fellow film lovers.
On a recent trip to visit family, watching the Michigan game and sharing stories, as usual, my cousin quipped, “the sheriff is near..” and we all broke out laughing visualizing the scene with Clevon Little from “Blazing Saddles”.
So, taking the secret language idea a little further, I decided to showcase some of my favorite monologues from some of my favorite films.
This was Ramis’ first feature film and was a major boost to Dangerfield’s film career; previously, he was known mostly for his stand-up comedy. Grossing nearly $40 million at the domestic box office (17th-highest of the year).
Caddyshack has garnered a large cult following and has been hailed by media outlets, such as Time and ESPN, as one of the funniest sports movies of all time. As of 2010, Caddyshack has been televised on the Golf Channel as one of its “Movies That Make the Cut.” (Wikipedia)
Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight
In 2000, Caddyshack was placed at number 71 on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) list of the 100 funniest American films. In 2005, a line from the movie was chosen by AFI for their list of the top 100 movie quotes from U.S. films.
‘”Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a
…It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”
On October 23, 2016, Bill Murray was the recipient of The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. From the stage of The John F. Kennedy Center, a star-studded lineup saluted the achievements of this brilliant comedic trailblazer.
There is no doubt that Gene Wilder was a brilliant writer and one of the funniest actors of our time. His role as Victor Frankenstein is a standout. His timing is perfect and this monologue is priceless.
Mel Brooks, Kenneth Mars, Marty Feldman, Gene Wilder, Teri Garr
The film is an affectionate parody of the classic horror film genre, in particular, the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein produced by Universal in the 1930s.
Brooks adapted the film into a musical of the same name which premiered in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre and ran from August 7 to September 1, 2007. The musical opened on Broadway at the Foxwoods Theatre (then the Hilton Theatre) on November 8, 2007, and closed on January 4, 2009.
It was nominated for three Tony Awards and starred Tony winner Roger Bart, two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster, Tony & Olivier winner Shuler Hensley, two-time Emmy winner Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), three-time Tony nominee Christopher Fitzgerald, and two-time Tony & Emmy winner Andrea Martin (Saturday Night Live veteran).
A critical favorite and box office smash, Young Frankenstein ranks No. 28 on Total Film magazine’s readers’ “List of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films of All Time”, No. 56 on Bravo TV’s list of the “100 Funniest Movies”, and No. 13 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 funniest American movies.
In 2003, it was deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the United States National Film Preservation Board, and selected for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry. On its 40th anniversary, Brooks considered it by far his finest (though not his funniest) film as a writer-director.
I still find myself holding my breath listening to Quint’s (Robert Shaw) story. His vivid recount of his nightmare of the death with his shipmates is absolutely riveting! Wow, one of the most frightening scenes in the film.
Now considered one of the greatest films ever made, Jaws was the prototypical summer blockbuster, with its release regarded as a watershed moment in motion picture history.
Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss
Jaws became the highest-grossing film of all time until the release of Star Wars (1977). It won several awards for its soundtrack and editing. In 2001, Jaws was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. (Wikipedia)
This classic won three Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Sound (Robert Hoyt, Roger Heman, Earl Madery and John Carter). It was also nominated for Best Picture, losing to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Spielberg greatly resented the fact that he was not nominated for Best Director. Along with the Oscar, John Williams’s score won the Grammy Award, the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and the Golden Globe Award. To her Academy Award, Verna Fields added the American Cinema Editors’ Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film.
This is the scene that not only features the memorable monologue but, introspection of just what it means. This reflection made the speech even more impactful for me. Stop and think about it.
Pulp Fiction is the 1994 American neo-noir crime black comedy film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, from a story by Tarantino and Roger Avary. Tarantino’s second feature film, it is iconic for its eclectic dialogue, ironic mix of humor and violence, nonlinear storyline, and a host of cinematic allusions and pop culture references.
Uma Thurman, John Travolta
The film was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture; Tarantino and Avary won for Best Original Screenplay. It was also awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. A major critical and commercial success, it revitalized the career of its leading man, John Travolta, who received an Academy Award nomination, as did co-stars Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman. (Wikipedia)
John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson
The music is as much a character in the movie as the actors. No film score was composed for Pulp Fiction; Quentin Tarantino instead used an eclectic assortment of surf music, rock and roll, soul, and pop songs.
Dick Dale’s rendition of “Misirlou” plays during the opening credits. Tarantino chose surf music as the basic musical style for the film, but not, he insists, because of its association with surfing culture: “To me, it sounds like rock and roll spaghetti Western music.” (Wikipedia)
The soundtrack album, Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction, was released along with the film in 1994. The album peaked on the Billboard 200 chart at number 21. The single, Urge Overkill’s cover of the Neil Diamond song “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon”, reached number 59.
The film has been called a “terminally hip postmodern collage” and in 2013, selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. (Wikipedia)
These are some of my top classic movie moments. In the Comments, let me know some of yours!