Monday, March 9, 2009

The Grass is Greener (1960)

Oh, Cary Grant. Here he is, Victor, an English lord, living in a castle with his wife Hillary (Deborah Kerr). They have opened up their castle for tours in order to raise some money. When the rich American Charles (Robert Mitchum) wanders into the couple's private rooms, he says many creepy personal things to Hillary, causing her to fall immediately and inexplicably in love with him. An affair begins. Victor, well aware of his wife's feelings, encourages Hillary to go off to London where Charles is. Victor believes the only way for him to get Hillary back is to let her have her fling and then realize where her heart belongs.

The movie is full of infidelity and calm, lordly conversations. When Victor invites Charles to come and stay at the castle after Hillary's week long London trip draws to a close, Hillary and Charles quickly realize that Victor knows all. And that he knows that they know that he knows... Needless to say, hilarity ensues.

Two stars, because who doesn't love a good duel?

And because I own it... I will mostly likely see it again. The goal is to someday own all the Cary Grant movies I can get my hands on, whether I love them or hate them. According to there are at least 72.

Anchors Aweigh (1945)

So disappointing. Especially when I was so excited to see it... Yet somehow this movie won an Oscar for it's musical score AND was nominated for best picture. Fascinating. I am giving it one star for good singing. I suppose I will probably watch it again, because I own the Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra box set, but Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On The Town will get many more viewings than this one.

Joe (Gene Kelly) and Clarence (Frank Sinatra) are on a four day leave from the navy. As usual, Kelly plays the womanizer and Sinatra plays his naive but adorable follower. Joe is trying to meet up with a mysterious Lola to make the most of his four days on shore, but is foiled first by Clarence following him to try to learn how to get a girl and second by a little boy (Donald Martin) who has run away from home to join the navy. Joe and Clarence are roped into bringing the boy home, where they meet Aunt Susan... the love interest.

Clarence asks for Joe's help to woo Aunt Susan, but of course another woman falls for Clarence, and Joe falls for Aunt Susan. I feel I can write that without giving anything away. This is a very predictable movie. Along with all the wooing, Joe and Clarence have promised Susan a singing audition they can't actually get for her, and the little boy becomes completely attached to Joe. Despite the fact that this movie won an Oscar for its score, I can't seem to remember any of the songs. There is a conductor, Jose Iturbe, who makes an appearance as himself in the movie... so I remember there was some good music...

Fun Science Fiction Fact: David was all excited that the little boy is played by Dean Stockwell, Al from Quantum Leap. We spent a little while rewinding trying to recognize his face.

Also please note that this is the second movie I have seen so far this year in which an actor cavorts with Jerry the mouse.
Gene Kelly just had to get a really odd dance sequence into this movie somewhere.

Monday, March 2, 2009

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

When we first meet Lou (Mae West) she is wearing a hat that looks like a giant Wooly Bear caterpillar. She is crass, she likes to invite men to "come up and see me anytime," and all the men want her. And she gives people the scariest looks.

This movie has it all: a saloon, an omnibus, giant hats, puffy petticoats, a whole lot of crooks, a very young Cary Grant with lots of eye make-up, and hard to understand accents. Lou sings in a saloon. She's having an affair with the owner, but Chick, a dangerous crook in prison, thinks she's waiting for him. Lou seems vaguely interested in every man who crosses her path, but she is becoming especially interested in Captain Cummings (CG), the mission director from next door. He's a different sort of man. Why he has any interest in Lou is more confusing. But he does.

When Chick breaks out of prison we get to worry momentarily about who Chick will knock off for revenge.   And we also wonder what has happened to the sweet young woman who tried to kill herself in the saloon because of a failed love affair. Last time we saw her the lady crook Rita was asking her, "Can you sing and dance? Have you ever heard of the Barbary Coast?" And who and where is the Hawk, a new detective in town everyone is worried about? And what do these crooks do? After 49 minutes I still wasn't sure what they were all trying to pull off. Lucky for me, someone else had more of an attention span for this movie and was able to decipher the intricacies of the plot:

Anyways, once I understood the plot points I'd missed, I was able to enjoy it when Rita caught her man assistant giving her diamond brooch to Lou and declaring his love...
...leading to more drama.

But do I really believe a Cary Grant character would fall for a Mae West character? Sorry. One star for brave hat wearing and drama. But I don't think I can give more stars to a movie that couldn't hold my attention or belief. Sorry again.