Friday, May 25, 2012

Feeling Nostalgic - A Look at Five Hollywood Classics


This is as bitchy as Old Hollywood gets. Just throw in a diva like Bette Davis and 'the girl next door', Anne Baxter and watch everything unravel. 
This film tells the story of Theatre legend, Margo (Davis) and the not so innocent Eve (Baxter) who aspires to be an actress just like Margo. There's a sweet appearance made by Marilyn Monroe in one of her first roles and George Sanders plays a main part as the conspiring Addison DeWitt who you will recognise from Hitchcock's Rebecca
This film is really fabulous and you'll find yourself rubbing your hands together and laughing a devilish laugh when it all gets really bitchy in the second half. I enjoyed this so much I decided to watch it again the next day. Watch it now!


This film will really shock and disturb you. I was surprised at the reaction it gave me as a person living in the 21st Century that it made me wonder how people in 1950 reacted to it. 
It's story portrays an out of work actress (Gloria Swanson) confined to her decaying Hollywood mansion reflecting on her life as a silent actress and dreaming of making her return to the big screen. When a struggling script writer (William Holden) finds himself at her doorstep he is soon talking with her about script ideas and before he knows it, has moved in with her and becomes her toyboy (so to speak).
This is a really sad story. Gloria Swanson is absolutely terrifying as the crazy old actress rotting away and holding on to something that will never be revived. 
Her final words in the film are an absolute classic and I knew them as soon as she was saying them because they have been referenced at least a dozen times in popular culture. 
This dark and very real story will stay with you for days. 


Another old time Hollywood actress; Joan Crawford. I have always been dying to see a film starring Crawford after seeing the film Mommy Dearest, based on the book by her adopted daughter that portrays her as a cruel mother. In this film she definitely isn't a cruel mother but she is somewhat pathetic and sad. 
Crawford plays Mildred Pierce, a woman whose husband has just left her, leaving her with two daughters and mountains of debt. Her ungrateful daughter Veda (Miriam Ellis) longs to be wealthy and surrounded by other wealthy people living the life of a socialite. Mildred stops at nothing to achieve this wealthy lifestyle for her by working as a waitress and then going on to open her own restaurant chain, but Veda is never satisfied.
Ok, Veda is an ungrateful, spoilt, bitch! You just feel like slapping her and telling her to piss off! But you also feel like shaking Mildred & telling her to stop trying to please her daughter so much. 
Joan Crawford is an unbelievably great actress and went on to receive an Oscar for her performance, which is well deserved. This is such a great film and it also contains a little bit of a murder mystery, which I love! 
I'm also now interested in seeing the recent mini-series done of this but starring Kate Winslet in Crawford's role and Evan Rachel Wood (errrrgh) as Veda. 


This is the film that created a beautiful friendship between the very stunning, Elizabeth Taylor and oh so handsome, Montgomery Clift. 
The story follows the very mixed up George Eastman (Clift) who arrives to town hoping to work at his rich uncle's business. There he meets Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters) who he becomes romantically involved with despite being informed by his cousin not to get involved with co-workers. After he knocks up Alice he soon loses interest and begins to fall for the beautiful and wealthy, Angela Vickers (Taylor) who he quickly becomes romantic with. But what will he do with Alice now that he loves Angela?!?!
Montgomery Clift is well known for being a great method actor during his time, often compared to Marlon Brando. He is so brilliant as this troubled young man who doesn't want to do the wrong thing but often finds himself in the wrong situation. Elizabeth Taylor is absolutely beautiful in this! And I was not surprised to find out that Edith Head did all the costumes for the film, because Elizabeth wears some truly stunning gowns. 
This is a great Hollywood story told through some truly great Hollywood actors/actresses. 


Three names, Gregory Peck; Ingrid Bergman; Alfred Hitchcock. I mean you already know this is going to be a great film just from that! I had to save this Alfred Hitchcock classic for last because, well, isn't it obvious? I am Hitchcock obsessed! 
This is an interesting film in that it is mainly about psychology and tells the story of a psychologist who falls in love with a crazy man. Of course she falls in love with him before she knows he's crazy but is so in love with him that she is determined to cure him. 
This film has some really great moments including a scene where Gregory Peck's character is recalling a dream he had (A totally trippy scene that makes you think it came out of a David Lynch film).
Gregory Peck is so damn handsome in this even if he does have the crazy eyes every now and again. And Ingrid Bergman is just beautiful! I absolutely adored her in this. She was such a great Hitchock leading lady in his films from the 1940s period (Notorious being a noteworthy mention). 
Highly recommended viewing!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why I Think You Should See Coppola's Dracula

I have never been into films/stories that are based on fictional monsters like the werewolf, frankenstein and vampires. But when you find out that the 1992 film Dracula was directed by the one & only Francis Ford Coppola, you begin to wonder if you have been living under a rock for the past 20 years. Not only that it also stars Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder among many others.
So if that hasn't convinced you to watch Coppola's adaptation of Bram Stoker's famous story, then let me share with you why I think you should see it.

Okay firstly, it's so bad it's good!
There are so many cringe-worthy moments in this film that I'm sure a fair share of people would turn it off before it even reaches the halfway point or just laugh the whole way through. But I should inform you this was all intentional on Coppola's behalf! For this film he wanted it to be all done old school, this means no crazy new special effects done through computers just the old fashioned way using mirrors and other techniques to create wacky effects. There is also no on location filming, it was all done in a Hollywood studio. This gives it a feeling of old style films which I think is really awesome. You also have Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder attempting British accents but only failing in the end, which is highly amusing.

Anthony Hopkins as Professor Van Helsing is hilarious!
So many one liners and awkward moments from Hopkins. He is perfect as the Professor informing a bunch of idiots what Dracula is and what Dracula has turned the character Lucy in to. Lucy is another hilarious character who is nowhere near subtle when it comes to seducing a number of men in the room. And on that note, this film is incredibly raunchy. Dracula has a way with women that makes them breathe heavily, reveal their breasts and touch themselves. It's very sexy but also extremely over the top (but in this case, that's what makes this film so spectacular).

The costumes, make-up and sets are visually amazing!
Lucy's wedding dress was by far my most favourite costume in the entire film (pictured above). The settings are very old english and gothic (very true to the period in which the story is set). My friend Meredith loved the look of the film so much that she is determined to throw a Dracula themed party. It's the perfect excuse to light heaps of candles, drink red wine and wear over-the-top outfits.

Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula really has so much to offer. I hope that what I have listed above is inspiration enough to go see this spectacular piece of cinema whether you're a hater of vampire stories or not. If you don't have access to the film you could always watch the hilarious Halloween episode from season five of The Simpsons where they do a spoof of the film featuring Mr Burns as Dracula.