Friday, February 12, 2016

Rock and Jane

I had previously seen the original Magnificent Obsession starring Robert Taylor and Irene Dunne which I liked. I decided to finally watch the remake starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson which I loved. I then decided to seek out the next movie they did together called All that Heaven Allows.

Sigh. Both films were directed by Douglas Sirk. From the movies I have seen of his, Sirk has a beautiful, empathic way he directs his actors and gets the script to come alive on film. He is defintely from my point of view an Actor's Director. His movies are colorful and heartfelt.

In Magnificent Obsession(1954), Rock Hudson plays playboy Bob Merrick. He is rich, handsome and self involved. One day, his act of having fun causes an accident which has the only resusciator in the county to be used on him, while meanwhile a beloved doctor who needed it as well ends up dying. That doctor turns out to be the husband of Jane Wyman's character Helen Phillips. In a meaner twist of fate, Bob ends up at the doctor's clinic. There he finally finds out Dr. Phillips death happened indirectly because of him. Bob, upset, leaves the hospital and winds up being picked up half sick by, you guessed it, Helen Phillips. He becomes infauted with Helen, that infatuation leads to love. Now, I'm leaving out major plot points here, because to tell you anymore will ruin it for you. The term Magnificent Obsession has a double meaning which you find out at the end.

What made the film for me was the chemistry between Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. The push and pull which eventually leads to love was wonderful to watch. I totally believed them and could feel the energy between them on screen. I have to add extra note to the wonderful Agnes Moorehead, who plays Helen's friend. She is great in this. Agnes Moorehead is famous for her role of Endora in Bewitched. She was so good in this film, that I'm sure that is why she cast again with Jane and Rock, for what I call their reunion film, All that Heaven Allows.

All that Heaven Allows (1955) is a different film. We have Rock and Jane again playing lovers again with a different angst this time. Jane Wyman plays Cary Scott, a widow, who falls the younger and less socially affluent gardener, Ron Kirby. Agnes Moorehead plays her sympathetic Sara. This time the stakes are higher than Magnificent Obsession. What remains the same is Douglas Sirk's beautiful direction and that brimming chemistry between Rock and Jane. To the point, when people keep pointing out the age difference between them, I hardly notice it. All I see is two people desperately in love with each other. There was a homage remake to All that Heaven Allows called Far From Heaven starring Julianne Moore, which is good, on it's own merit.

Ideally, I say watch these movies on two consecutive days. Or if you want to be daring back to back. They are old fashioned melodramatic romantic movies. If you have never seen neither movie, you are in for a treat. For my Romantic movies fans, it is perfect to watch. For me, Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman are my new classic movie couple. I wish they had did more movies together.

You can watch Magnificent Obsession here
And All that Heaven Allows here


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Do you know June Richmond?

I was on you tube the other day when I found this gem. June Richmond was a pretty plump jazz singer from Chicago. She was one of the first African American singers to sing with an all white band: Jimmy Dorsey's Orchestra. She passed away at the early age 47 of a heart attack. Turn up your speakers and come back with me to the 40's with June. Enjoy.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Keep Dreaming...

Happy Monday, my friends. I found this lovely short film about a deaf black girl who dreams of dancing. Really sweet. Enjoy.

Tamara_Film from Jason Marino on Vimeo.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Love Affair vs. An Affair to Remember

I am dedicating Fridays, the day of Venus to love this month.To kick off this Friday Love Day post I'm going to wade into an decades old romantic debate: Love Affair or Affair to Remember. Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne vs. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr
I adore Love Affair (1939) starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne. They starred in three movies together and I they are wonderful on screen together. I wrote about their special chemistry together here. To be fair to Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, they also starred in three movies together,too.

Finally, I got to see 1957's Affair To Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Both versions were directed and co-written by Leo McCarey. I read online that originally McCarey wrote the male lead with Cary Grant in mind. And wanted Cary and Irene do do it together. (Irene Dunne and Cary Grant also starred in three movies together.) The movie is beautiful to look at in all that glorious color. There are expanded scenes in this version especially with their unlucky previous mates.

The story is the same though the male names was changed. Michel Marney/Nickie Ferrante, international playboy is set to marry a rich American heriess. On the translatic voyage he meets Terry Mckay, an American use to the good life ,aka Pink Champagne, with her rich boyfriend. Unexpectedly, the two fall in love. One of my favorite moments is when Terry meets Michel/Nickie's grandmother. In both versions, that scene is sweet. As they arrive in NY, they decide to meet in six months at the Empire State Building while they get free of their respective past loves and learn to make money on their own. Now, I won't spoil it by telling you what happened. Of course, Affair to Remember is heavily referenced in Sleepless in Seattle.

For me, I prefer Irene Dunne's Terry McKay than Deborah Kerr's take on the role. Irene gives a bit sparkle and winsomeness that I adore. And Irene Dunne really sang her parts, She has a beautiful voice. Deborah's Terry is more refined. Deborah Kerr's strength is in potraying regal and elegant ladies. She still does a fine job as Terry. The real match up is Charles Boyer vs. Cary Grant. They both do well. Cary Grant reported that he preferred Charles Boyer's version better than his own. I have to agree. I don't think the expanded parts help the 1957 movie. There are songs in the first ones about wishing that Irene Dunne sang that echoed the love story better than the songs used in the 1957 version. As much as I like suave Cary Grant, I do have a tender penchant for my dreamy Charles Boyer.

If I had saw Affair to Remember first, perhaps I feel more loyal to it than Love Affair. The truth is this all a personal preference. If you have never seen either versions. I see Love Affair first then Affair to Remember. So you can compare with yourself. I'm not forgetting the most recent version. Yes, done in 1994 starring Annette Benning and Warren Beatty. I still have yet to see it. When I do, I will report back.

An Affair to Remember is on Netflix now. Love Affair you can watch here.

If you want to spend a few hours lost in the world of transatlantic voyages, pink champagne and passionate love then these movies are for you.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Do you know Ann Lowe?

With the style of fashion that ran through her family for at least three generation, Ann Lowe became a trailblazer for African American Fashion Designers. She designed dresses for the rich and the famous. Her most famous creation the wedding gown for Jacqueline Kennedy.

Here Ann sits elegantly with one of this lovely sky blue and black lace dress being modeled behind her.

This lovely gown exclusively made for a debutante.

This dress is my favorite. It is the same dress shown above with Ann. I love to pair this dress with long elegant white gloves, it would be smashing!

This elegant dress still looks fresh today.

Another sweet debutante ball dress.

This confection of a dress was worn by Jacqueline Bouvier on her wedding to future president John F. Kennedy.

Ann is reported to have said she was motivated by two things: her love of fashion and to show African American fashion designers can create beautiful clothes too.

If you want to know more about Ann Lowe, here is a book here called The Threads of Time The Fabric Of History: Profiles Of African American Dressmakers And Designers from 1850 - Present by Rosemary Reed E.Miller


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Books and February

Happy February. Here is Jake to say hello and welcome you to this great month. This month is going to be posts dedicated to Black History Month and Romantic Movies. February is also special since it's my mom's birthday month too. Her birthday is this week.

I like to start with sharing a few of Jacob's favorite books. I wanted to search out books of kids that looked like Jake. Thankfully, there are more books for children of all races to read and identify with. These are some of Jake's favorites. If you are looking for books for African American boys around 2-5, here are a great place to start. (They can also be for African American girls too.)

A sweet book for bedtime.

This is one of the first books one of his teachers used to help Jake with his speech. It's a long time favorite.

I've been taking Jake to the library since he was baby. This is a sweet book to encourage that love of books and libraries.

This is a great book to teach our children to love the beautiful shades of blackness we come in.

The classic book by Jack Ezra Keats. Perfect for the Wintertime.

These are just sampling of books we read with Jacob. If you have any favorite children books that feature African American, Latino, Native American, Asian children,please share in the comments.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Happy Friday

Hey, it's Friday. Time to let loose, have fun and smile...

Go on and jump for Joy. Jump for all the great things that are here in your life; and, all the amazing, beautiful, spectacular things that are coming your way. Yay!!!

If you feel like taking a walk on the wild side this weekend, never turn down a ride from these two Dames. Adventure, fun and danger to be had for all...

Have a great weekend. See you right back here on Monday.