Saturday, January 31, 2009

Carefree (1938)

Watch this movie for the dancing. No matter the plot (which in this case is obnoxious but full of hilarity), Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire are worth watching. Fred Astaire can dance anywhere and while doing anything...

In Carefree Stephen (Ralph Bellamy) is dumped by his fiance Amanda (Ginger Rogers) and enlists the help of his good psychiatrist friend Tony (Fred Astaire) to convince her that she really does want to get married. Amanda dislikes Tony almost immediately after hearing his tape recorded diagnosis that she is a silly thoughtless female. While she eventually does agree to meet with him for analysis and help, she first spends some hilarious scenes insulting him while wearing great hats.

The fact that there is hypnosis involved in Amanda's treatments should be enough to draw even the non-dance lover to this movie.

Needless to say, much hilarity ensues, and Stephen does not necessarily get the help that he is looking for. Oh Ralph Bellamy.  Were you limited to a career in which you play the dopey guy who is left for a suave hero?  I have seen only three of your movies, so I just don't know.  But Irene Dunne preferred Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell preferred Cary Grant, and now Ginger Rogers prefers Fred Astaire.  To be fair, The Dunne and Russell characters had both been previously married to their Grant character co-stars, and you were a transition back to their marriages.  But Ginger Roger's Amanda treated you so poorly.  Wait... I have just learned ( that Ralph Bellamy won a Tony for his 1958 portrayal of FDR.  I feel a little better.

Two stars for golf dancing and hypnosis by dancing. I'm sure I will find other Rogers & Astaire movies to entertain me in the future. And now for more dancing...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sabrina (1954)

Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) has spent years pining for David Larabee (William Holden). Her father is the Larabee family's chauffeur, and Sabrina has grown up on the outskirts of the Larabees' expensive lives, watching David from trees as he seduces woman after woman.

Being sent away to Paris for chef school is so horrifying that Sabrina attempts suicide. Luckily she is rescued by Linus Larabee (Humphrey Bogart), David's very serious older brother, and goes off to chef school as planned.

When Sabrina returns from Paris she is finally sophisticated enough to catch the eye of David. But when David's new infatuation with Sabrina threatens an engagement that was designed to benefit the family business, Linus steps in to try to derail their relationship by... spending lots of time with Sabrina and leading her to believe he is falling in love with her.

Does Linus really love her? And does Sabrina love David?

I am giving this three stars, partly just because I was so thrilled not to hate it like I did the remake with Harrison Ford. There are moments when I found myself cringing, terrified that Sabrina would get her heart broken in horrible ways. Because even if things work out all right in the end, there are some ways you just shouldn't manipulate your heroine!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dangerous When Wet (1953)

Oh, a swimming musical. Why have I not been watching these?

The Higgins family is a family of swimmers. Every single morning Pa, Ma, Junior, Katie (Esther Williams), and Suzie jump up seemingly at the crack of dawn to do some laps in the local swimming hole.  And, it being a musical, they sing a wonderfully cheery song as they get ready to swim.  When Katie is spotted by a somewhat lecherous salesman one morning, the family ends up with the chance to swim in a race across the English Channel in order to promote his product.

Although the rest of the Higgins family deems the English Channel too cold, Katie continues to train.  One day, during a foggy training session she loses sight of her salesman coach in his rowboat and is pulled aboard the sailboat of the charming and dashing Andre (Fernando Lamas - who became Esther Williams's husband).

There are passionate looks, vows to stay away for the sake of the race, and several minor scandals.  On their first date Andre gives Katie a bikini as a gift!  Andre invites Katie over to his house to meet his mother, and his mother isn't there!  And she stays anyways!  And they go swimming together!

The movie even contains a dream sequence in which Katie swims with Tom and Jerry.

I searched and searched for a photo of the great goggles worn in the movie... no photo to be found. Just picture the most wonderful gigantic swim goggles imaginable... and then double their size. Oh how I want those goggles.

And then of course there is Katie's heroic swim.

Three stars. I would love to see this again. And bring on the Esther Williams movies. Are they all so wonderfully silly?

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Klaatu barada nikto.

A movie with a message. Will we Earthlings be able listen to Klaatu's message and change our violent ways so that we can escape destruction and join the galactic community? Ahhh, a movie that is able to deliver its message without showing us the slaughter of millions of people. Four stars. If you have seen the new version with Keanu, know that it is a VERY different movie, and you must go and see the original NOW.