Gratitude of the Heart💝

The Wizard of Oz (1939) – “There’s No Place Like Home”

 

WIZARD_OF_OZ_ORIGINAL_POSTER_1939

Yes, it’s that time of year again with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and everyone running around like crazy, gearing up for the big day – Christmas! But, it seems every year when I read about shoppers nearly killing each other over a 12-pack of socks or the last $10 cashmere sweater; my heart sinks with the realization that too many of us forget what the holidays should be about; Gratitude.

To quote author Melody Beattie:

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” 

 

A classic film I think represents gratitude and appreciation for what we already have is, “The Wizard of Oz”; it’s overflowing with gratitude! Dorothy (Judy Garland) accompanied by her little dog Toto, leaves home seeking a better place, but her journey becomes a revelation of what home really means.

Dorothy and her compatriots – The Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), Tin Man (Jack Haley), and The Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) wishing to be more than they perceive themselves to be, learn to appreciate their unique gifts. The Great and Powerful Oz (Frank Morgan) realizes the blessing and value of truth and in this case, the truth truly does set him free.

 

 It all starts with a wish to be “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and results in unexpected consequences – the terror of being caught up in a twister, inadvertently dropping a house on the sister of the Wicked Witch of the West (oops) and inheriting both the wrath of said Witch (Margaret Hamilton) and a pair of coveted ruby slippers.

 

Sadly, “Over the Rainbow” doesn’t materialize into the idyllic place of which Dorothy sings, her personal vision quest. Dorothy’s longing for home dovetails with the desires of The Scarecrow, Tin man, and The Cowardly Lion. These three, also wishing for what they believe they don’t have – a brain, a heart, and courage – join the quest to the Emerald City to finally have their dreams realized through the power of the omnificent Wizard of Oz.

The trio’s perilous journey to get Dorothy home leads to the self-realization that they possessed the traits they sought all along and didn’t really need the wizard to bestow these attributes upon them.

Dorothy also learns a valuable lesson we all tend to forget, “there’s no place like home” and if we can’t find what we’re looking for there, then we won’t be able to find it anywhere. Home exists within us and it’s our outlook and attitude that dictates whether it’s a black and white existence filled with worries and that ole Gulch “heifer” or a technicolor world filled with musical munchkins and the love of three very special friends.

 

 

 

With Gratitude, we can appreciate and give thanks for the joys and blessings in our lives because the truth is we could be far worse off. My spiritual goal every day is to be mindful and thankful for the bounty which I’ve already received.

 

wizardofozhome

 

Always remember!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Gratitude and Miracles

 

thanksgiving2012

 

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!”

 

Edmund Gwenn

Miracle Kris

(September 26, 1877 – September 6, 1959)

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.

Natalie Wood

Miracle on i believe

(July 20, 1938 – November 29, 1981)

miracle DorisDoris 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.

Maureen O’Hara (August 17, 1920 – October 24, 2015)

 

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 to 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.

miracle susan at play

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.

John Payne (on left)

(May 23, 1912 – December 6, 1989)

miracle john

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.

miracle on faith

But, Santa Claus moves in mysterious ways and in the end teaches them both the true value of faith and miracles.

 

 miracle end

Here’s to Faith and Miracles!

Trading Places in Gratitude đŸ˜Ž

tradingplacesposter

“Trading Places” (1983)

 

iheartfilm is dedicating the month of November to the lesson of Gratitude in films; the quality of being thankful.

“Trading Places” (1983) is a tour de force example of Gratitude meets “walk a mile in my shoes!” Dan Aykroyd is (Louis Winthorpe III) the typical “privileged” ivy leaguer with a twist. He’s not as “top drawer” as he thinks and his life is truly in the hands of the callous Duke brothers – Mortimer ((Don Ameche) and Randolph (Ralph Bellamy).

His perfect world is turned upside down by the $1 bet by the brothers to settle the debate of nature vs nurture. Because we’ve got nothing better to do, let’s strip Louis of everything he knows and see if he’ll sink or float.

 

Trading-Placesbrothers

Randolph and Mortimer Duke

 

What better “brother” switch than with (Billy Ray Valentine) Eddie Murphy, the wily con man who sees the brothers straight up for what they are – numbers runners.

billyray

“Billy Ray”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The parable wouldn’t be complete without the lovely damsel in distress (but in this case with a plan for her own escape). One of my favorite actresses, Jamie Lee Curtis plays “Ophelia”, the classy hooker with a heart of gold.

 

Jamie Lee Curtis - Ophelia

Jamie Lee Curtis – “Ophelia”

 

 

denholmtrading

Denholm Elliott – “Coleman”

 

Louis’s butler/valet, “Coleman” (Denholm Elliott) is hilarious trying to juggle the Duke brothers’ sick plan.

 

louisjail

Louis’s abrupt experiment in poverty forces him to get his nose out of the air and think twice about judging people based solely on their socio/economic situation.

tradingplacesanta

 

 

After a stint in jail, being reduced to stuffing a whole salmon into his Santa suit (don’t ask, you have to see) and attempting to take his own life, he realizes how shallow his life has been. By coming together with Billy Ray, Coleman and Ophelia he finds out it’s friends and the love of a good woman that really counts.

An incredibly important life and Gratitude lesson!

tradingplacesgratitude

However, if you can get rich with your friends and give payback to those who’ve done you wrong (Dukes) go for it! 😎

 

“Looking good Billy Ray!”

 

 

Forrest Gump Gratitude đŸƒ

Forrest_Gump_poster

“Forrest Gump” (1994)

 

iheartfilm is dedicating the month of November to the lesson of Gratitude in films; the quality of being thankful.

 

“Run Forrest, Run!”

forrestgumprunning

Every time I think of the movie “Forrest Gump”, that’s the first quote I hear. Then, “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

 

forrestgumpchocolate

 

Quotes galore plus Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise) and Bubba (Mykelti Williamson). Love this movie!

Forrest Gump’s (Tom Hanks) life is a testimony to gratitude. He understands his challenges but is not hesitant to live his life to the fullest, including telling his childhood love, Jenny (Robin Wright) how he feels about her.

He gets it. Life gives you what you get, so don’t whine, go for it and make the most of your journey. Thank God for his mother, (Sally Field), she didn’t listen to what the”experts” had to say. She did whatever she had to do to provide Forrest with the foundation that he could do anything. With his braces, he had “magic” legs. Turn every so-called obstacle into an advantage. Once again, attitude is everything!

 

 

Forrest is a true inspiration and proof that with support and love we can overcome adversity. Love and compassion make the difference.

Mama, Jenny, Bubba, and Lieutenant Dan. Forrest loved and was deeply loved by those whose lives he touched.

forrestgumpallihavetosay

iheart Halloween!đŸ‘»

Image result for halloween

Halloween is my favorite holiday! It’s a day for self-expression. A day for fun and fantasy. A day for taking control of phobias and fears and turning your back on Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Where’s your power now Fred? Way to shut that mess down.

It’s also a day to indulge in all your favorite classic, creepy, monster, sci-fi horror films.

Therefore, in the spirit of Halloween, let’s pay homage to the original man of horror. The “Man of a Thousand Faces”- Lon Chaney.

 Man of a Thousand Faces – Lon Chaney

lon chaney man of a

Lon Chaney (April 1, 1883 – August 26, 1930), born Leonidas Frank Chaney

Born to deaf parents, Lon learned to express himself and communicate visually. He took his desire to become an actor and created an art form and space for himself that was revolutionary to the motion picture industry. His makeup artistry allowed him to transform and become grotesque characters in films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). He’s regarded as one of the most important character actors of the silent film era. (Wikipedia)

lon chaney headshot

The original “monster maker”, he would scout out the daily call sheets for a studio finding out what types of extras were needed for that day’s shoot. He created a make-up toolbox of possibilities for him to achieve the look and characterizations needed to be chosen for a role. This talent was the impetus for his unparalleled reputation in the burgeoning film industry.

 lon unknown poster

This flick is by far my favorite Lon Chaney! 

Chaney’s alliance with Director Tod Browning was inspired! Browning was into the macabre and best known for his films Dracula (1931) and the cult classic Freaks (1932) and Lon Chaney had the acting and makeup skills to realize any twisted character the director could come up with.

My favorite movie line is from their 1927 silent film The Unknown – “crack of your ass”. (okay, I can’t swear that’s what he said) But, seriously, as Alonzo the Armless, he threatened his co-star Joan Crawford with bodily harm if she did not bend to his will. Remember Grandma Klump from Eddie Murphy’s The Nutty Professor(1996)? “You might walk over, but you limpin’ back! “Chaney totally went there. Check it out:

Let’s talk about the level of twisted in this movie:

A word of advice, if you’ve got a thing about someone that’s all-consuming and you’d do anything to get with that person, forget about it!

Plot: This crazy man, Alonzo the Armless (Lon Chaney) has a knife-throwing act using only his feet and is in love with Nanon (Joan Crawford) who”can’t bear to be touched.” He has arms but pretends not to for his circus act and so Nanon will talk to him. When it’s discovered that he indeed has arms, he blackmails a low-rent surgeon to amputate them. Sick!

Nanon and Alonzo

lon and nanon

After his surgery, Alonzo returns to the circus and his knife throwing act. Hoping to rekindle his relationship, he strolls over to Nanon’s circus wagon to see his rival Malabar, the circus strongman, (Norman Kerry) with his hands all over his love. Holy crap, it’s on! Alonzo schemes to get his girl back by rigging the speed of Malabar’s horses in his act which will dislocate and sever his arms during the live circus performance.

Alonzo

lon feet

Alonzo’s sick plan is working until Nanon realizes what is happening and tries to stop the performance. And then boom! The”crack of your ass” line. As you saw in the clip, things didn’t really work out the way he saw it play out in his mind.

Malabar

lon malabar stretch

This documentary, The Many Faces of Lon Cheney, is a great biography for more in-depth background information and presents a great opportunity to discover your own Lon Chaney gem.

 

 

Lon Chaney is also the father of Lon Chaney, Jr who was best known for his role in Universal’s “The Wolfman” (1941). The Wolfman is part of the original Universal Monster Franchise including “Dracula” (1931), and “Frankenstein” (1931).

Lon Jr always lived in his father’s shadow and in later years he battled throat cancer and chronic heart disease among other ailments after decades of heavy drinking and smoking. In his final horror film, Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), directed by Al Adamson, he played Groton, Dr. Frankenstein’s mute henchman.

 Chaney’s career in movies and television spanned four decades, from 1931 to 1971.

Make sure to add Lon Chaney, Sr. and Jr. films to your Halloween lineup. Classics!

 Image result for halloween

Director’s Cut – The Little Shop Of Horrors (1986)đŸŽƒđŸŒ·

 

IN THEATERS OCT 29th, OCT 31st

 

Warner Bros. Entertainment Presents

 

Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut

Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut

 

Business is bad at Mushnick’s Flower shop. Shy Seymour and brave Audrey will soon be unemployed. That is until Seymour pricks his finger and a sickly little exotic plant gets its first taste of human blood. The plant spurts ten feet tall. As horticultural interest in “Audrey II” sprouts, Mushnick’s business takes off. But fresh blood must be found—and people start disappearing. Love and business bloom at a hilarious yet bloody cost. (Fathom Events)

I’m so excited to see one of my Halloween favorites back on the big screen. And, fascinated to see  Frank Oz’s restored original dark ending, staying true to the play.

 

 

“It will be very interesting to see if, in this new political and cultural climate, if there will be any association with that, with the plant. Let’s just say that,” says Oz. The original ending, he acknowledges, “may still be too dark for people, and I accept that.

It may not be as satisfying emotionally, and I accept that. But on the other hand, the reason  screenwriter Howard Ashman and I wanted it was that it is the Faustian legend. Seymour does have consequences for his actions. We needed to omit those consequences to keep the audience happy, which I agreed with, by the way. I think we had to do it. But now it will be very interesting to see.” (Yahoo Entertainment)

Fans will not want to miss Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut, which features the rarely-seen original ending and an exclusive introduction from Frank Oz.

Purchase Tickets here.

 

The 1986 Frank Oz film is a remake of the hit Broadway stage production which was a remake of the 1960 movie.

 

Image result for little shop of horrors

 

The original 1960 film was a  black comedy horror film directed by Detroit-born (my hometown) and celebrated B-movie legend, Roger Corman and written by Charles B. Griffith. The film is a farce about an inadequate florist’s assistant (Jonathan Haze) who cultivates a plant that feeds on human flesh and blood.

The film stars Jonathan Haze (Seymour), Jackie Joseph (Audrey), Mel Welles (Mr. Mushnick), and Dick Miller, all of whom had worked for Corman on previous films. Produced under the title “The Passionate People Eater”. It was a lot creepier and darker than either the 1986 film or Broadway production.

 

 

For a true Halloween treat, I highly recommend screening the original! Check out Jack Nicholson in one of his first film roles.

Check out this previous post for background and trivia on the Broadway stage production and the original 1960 film.

 

 

Image result for little shop of horrors

Happy Halloween!

Turn Your Back on Evil😈

Image result for a nightmare on elm street

I was thinking the other day, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays but, with the horrors I see every day on my television, I’m not sure I want to watch my top-pick scary movies this year to celebrate.  Funny thing is I’ve always looked at Halloween as an exercise and opportunity to face your fears and take control of how you deal with life.

In giving in to my apprehension, I was letting the nightmare in the White House affect my joy and alter my attitude and behavior. But, then I remembered the classic film “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and the leverage that Heather Langenkamp’s character (Nancy) discovered she had against Freddy Krueger when she turned her back on him. In that moment, he disappeared and she took back her power over her attitude and commitment to fighting his evil.

In my opinion, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is an allegory for our pent-up fears which prevent us from fighting through obstacles and taking ownership of our own happiness. Dreams are supposed to be representative of our true thoughts and understanding said dreams can help us understand what makes us tick.

 

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” is a 1984 American slasher film written and directed by Wes Craven, and the first film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The film stars Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Robert Englund, and Johnny Depp in his feature film debut. The plot revolves around four teenagers who are stalked and killed in their dreams (and thus killed in reality) by Freddy Krueger. The teenagers are unaware of the cause of this strange phenomenon, but their parents hold a dark secret from long ago. (Wikipedia)

Image result for a nightmare on elm street

Nancy confronting her mom.

Because Nancy’s mom ( Ronee Blakley) lives in a constant state of agitation over her part in the death of Freddy Krueger, she projects these feelings of anxiety on her daughter. She drinks heavily in an attempt to deal with her overwhelming sense of guilt and terror and even goes so far as to putting bars on the windows of the house to protect her daughter’s life.

When she eventually tells Nancy the truth about the legend of Freddy, Nancy understands her mom’s frenzy and Freddy’s desire to kill the children of those involved in his demise. Nancy decides to break through this paralyze by trying to save her friends, learning how to defend herself and eventually discovering the means to take away Freddy’s control over her, her friends, and by extension, her mom.

Image result for a nightmare on elm street

Freddy, Nancy

Nancy could have taken on her mom’s constant state of panic, but instead chose to break the cycle.

I’m taking Nancy’s lead and turning my back on the paralysis and dread that the malice in the White House has managed to wreak on our country and the world.

Image result for a nightmare on elm street

So, in the spirit of Halloween, the celebration has begun with decorations and the enjoyment of my choice best of the best as I turn my back on evil and continue the battle against a madness greater than any horror film I’ve ever seen.