‘Tis the Season Cinema: Holiday Inn

Here we are, closing in on the end of our ‘Tis The Season Cinema and I can’t even believe it.  How is it already almost Christmas?

If this is your first time here, Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs, and Katja_137 From Breath of Hallelujah and I have been watching Christmas movies and sharing our impressions of them.

This week Holiday Inn was on our list and, well, I sort of regret this pick. I hadn’t watched it in years and forgot about some aspects of it that make me even more uncomfortable this time around than they did in the past.

But, well, it’s been watched and now I have to share my impressions, but before I do, I do want to mention that while I did not include any movies about the birth of Jesus in the list of movies for this feature, I do have a couple of movies along those lines I watch each year and recommend as well. I’ll try to get a list of those together for next week but for now, I will mention that The Chosen has an amazing Christmas special on their app, which you can download onto your phone and send to your TV. You can also watch it on Peacock. It is called The Messengers: Christmas with The Chosen. It features an hour and a half of music and then a Christmas short that director/writer Dallas Jenkins made for his church and depicts the birth of Christ through the view of a disabled shepherd who saw the star that night. It is beautifully done.

The short presentation is also available on YouTube, which I discovered just before I hit “schedule” on this post:

Okay. On to Holiday Inn.

We begin with three performers – two men and a woman. The men are Fred Astaire (Ted) and Bing Crosby (Jim). The woman is Marjorie Reynolds (Lila) The woman is dating Bing but she’s fallen for Fred. Bing thinks she wants to retire with him to a farm in the country, but she breaks it to him that she no longer wants to be with him, or even retire, and instead plans to continue performing with Fred.

Ouch. Brutal start.

Well, that’s okay, because Bing wants to continue running his farm in the country and has decided to turn it into an inn.

In walks Linda (Virginia Dale) who wants to break into show business and who Jim hires to sing for him at his new inn. The inn will only be open on holidays throughout the year, hence the name Holiday Inn.

Of course, it is cold and snowy at the inn and it’s getting close to Christmas in the first part of the movie, and this sets the stage for the first movie performance of White Christmas, which you might remember me mentioning when I wrote about watching the movie White Christmas a couple of weeks ago.

This movie was first, the song was sung, and 12 years later they made White Christmas, which, incidentally, was filmed on the same set as Holiday Inn. That’s why both movies have a similar feel even though they are supposed to be different characters and stories.

While there are similarities between the movies (a duo of male performers and two women love interests, who also sing or perform in some way) there are also differences, and not only in the plot. Holiday Inn was originally released in black and white and White Christmas was always in color. We own a DVD collection that features a black-and-white or color version of the movie, but I chose to stick with the original. I don’t enjoy when they colorize black and white movies, which is why I will never watch a color version of It’s A Wonderful Life either. I tried once. It just felt all kinds of wrong.

The collection we have also features a copy of the soundtrack on CD. There are 12 tracks, all written by Irving Berlin, who, of course, wrote the songs for the movie – specifically White Christmas.

As the movie continues, Fred walks back into Bing’s life and once again tries to steal his dance partner and his love interest, which creates all kinds of drama once again.

There is one regrettable scene in this movie that I wish was not there. The scene involves blackface and while I understand the purpose of it in the plot of the movie (to hide a character from another character), blackface should never be used as a plot point or anything else. It’s offensive and rude. Still, I hate to see an entire movie tossed out over one scene. The song they sing does talk about how wonderful Abraham Lincoln was for freeing the slaves, but the way they do it – grooooan.

There are African American actors in the movie, and they participate in the blackface scene, also singing praises of Abraham Lincoln. So, what does that mean? I have no idea, other than there are no black actors playing main parts. They are servants and used for humor plot points for part of the movie and while they aren’t mocked or mistreated, it still makes me uncomfortable.

If I had to pick a favorite Christmas movie, it wouldn’t be this one, probably based partially on that scene. It was so cringe and it had been years since I saw it and forgot how bad it was. Incidentally, if you have ever watched this movie on ACM, they deleted the blackface scene and don’t have it in the showing they run each year. I also wouldn’t pick this one as a favorite because it’s not really focused on Christmas, other than Bing singing White Christmas.

If I had to pick a favorite Fred Astaire dance, though, it would be the firecracker one in this movie. It is insane and one of the coolest dances I’ve seen in a classic movie.

According to IMBD, “The firecracker dance sequence was added to the movie as a patriotic number, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, which took place during filming. The dance number required three days of rehearsal and took two days to film.  Fred Astaire did 38 takes of the number before he was satisfied with it. The crew members had to wear goggles during filming, because the sand from the firecrackers flew into their faces. Also, animation was added to make the firecracker “blasts” more dramatic. Later, Astaire’s shoes for the dance were auctioned off for $116,000 worth of war bonds.”

It is such a horrible shame that the dance sequence was put in a movie with an offensive blackface scene.

I apologized to Erin for suggesting this movie, telling her I really had forgotten how bad the scene was, even though I knew it was there. If you do choose to watch this movie, please skip over the blackface scene and you’ll be better off.

Up next in our lineup of Christmas movies is It’s A Wonderful Life, which should be a lot less uncomfortable to watch.

To finish out the ‘Tis the Cinema’ feature we will be watching two children’s shows, Charlie Brown Christmas and Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. I am hoping those two will be a lot more heartwarming.

Feel free to join in with us in watching the next film and shows and blogging about them. We share our blog posts on Thursdays unless life gets in the way and we have to change the day.

To catch up on Erin’s impression of the movie check out her blog. You can also check out Katja’s on her blog.

Classic movie impressions: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (with spoilers)

I have been exchanging classic movie suggestions with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs this summer and I think we are going to continue doing it into the fall because it has been a lot of fun and a nice distraction from life stressors.

Today I am discussing Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Erin is discussing my suggestion of The Philadelphia Story.

You can find Erin’s post HERE.

On to my impressions of Breakfast At Tiffany’s:

I think this is the first movie I watched at Erin’s suggestion that I really didn’t enjoy as much as I hoped I would. I didn’t completely hate it by any means. In fact, there were aspects of it I liked very much, but I did not love this movie and I think it was because of one very specific reason — Audrey Hepburn’s accent.

I feel awful saying that, since I have never actually had an issue with her accent, but in this movie, she was supposedly a girl from the South running away from her problems but he had some odd European accent the entire movie. I mean, she couldn’t at least fake a Southern accent? Isn’t that what actresses are supposed to do? Except for Kevin Costner in Robin Hood, of course. Har. Har. In all the reviews of this movie I saw, not one of them seemed to have an issue with her accent for this character, so I’m pretty sure this is just a “me problem.”

The whole back story for Audrey’s character in this movie just wasn’t believable at all because of her accent, but I am sure it was more believable in the book by Truman Capote that it was based on. He released the book in 1958.

The idea behind this movie is that Audrey is a free-spirited young woman living alone in New York City when she meets Paul, played by George Peppard (who would later star in the A-Team), a gigolo who gets paid to sleep with a married socialite, living in her apartment the next floor up from Audrey.  He is supposed to be a writer, but that avenue has dried up so he’s earning money by selling his body. I think we, as movie watchers, are supposed to see this as normal behavior in some ways, but also see that it isn’t what he wants for his life — to be used and dragged along with the promise of a publishing career someday.

Audrey has reinvented herself as Holly Golightly, changing her name from Lulamae and leaving behind an extremely odd and rather inappropriate upbringing.

The entire movie is essentially about her making a number of bad decisions in an effort to be on her own, yet at the same time not having to support herself. She is always looking for a situation where an older, richer man will take care of her and let her live her laid-back life where she imagines going to Tiffany’s jewelry store and buying whatever she wants for her breakfast, so to speak.

Honestly, I think Audrey’s character is a horrible brat, yet I don’t blame her for wanting to get away from the terrible situation she grew up in and I think that’s the point of the movie. She acts like a spoiled, selfish brat because she’s been traumatized. She’s not tied down to anything and she’s afraid to be because when she was tied down, she was told what to do at a very young age.

I really loved the end of the movie, but I won’t share it here in case someone reading this has never seen the movie  . . . . then again the movie is 61 years old this year and I did write a disclaimer in my headline that there would be spoilers so — [SPOILER ALERT ABOUT THE ENDING OF THE MOVIE AHEAD!!]

I love that at the end Holly realizes that Cat (which is her name for her cat, that she never really named because naming the cat would mean she has to commit to something and that is a very frightening idea for her based on her past childhood issues) is the one constant in her very unstable life. When she goes back to look for the cat – after she tosses him from a cab and tells him to get lost in the city – she also realizes that Paul is her other constant and she is ready to open herself up to at least a couple constants in her life.

This ending is not how the novel ends, however. In the book the reader is left with not actually knowing whatever happened with Holly

So it doesn’t sound like I totally hated Audrey’s portrayal of Holly, I do want to say that I loved how Audrey was so laissez-faire about life, even if that attitude was leading her into a life void of real love.

She reminded me a lot of a friend I had in college, except my friend wasn’t trying to run away from anything in her life, she was simply extremely laid back and casual about things. She was also a little bit ditzy and that could make her both aggravating and a blast to be friends with.

One quick warning too — this movie does contain an absolutely racist portrayal of an Asian person by Mickey Rooney. I didn’t even believe it was Mickey Rooney when my husband told me it was him.

The bottom line on Breakfast At Tiffany’s is that I do recommend it, even if I didn’t like that Audrey’s accent was not authentic.

Classic Movie Impressions: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I, have been exchanging classic movie suggestions this summer. This week I am talking about The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which she and her mom suggested for me, and she is talking about His Girl Friday, which I suggested for her.

I am so glad that Erin suggested this one. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would when I first heard about it.

The premise of this 1947 classic is rather simple. A widow, Mrs. Lucy Muir, wants to get away from her in-laws (a sister-in-law and mother-in-law) so she looks for a home to live in with her young daughter, Anna Muir, who is played by Natalie Wood. She finds a house that no one else seems to rent and later finds out it is because people believe that the home is haunted by a sea captain who owned the place and killed himself during a break from the sea.

The sea captain is played by Rex Harrison and the widow is played by Gene Tierney.

Not to give away too much but Lucy meets the ghost, and they form a friendship aimed at allowing Lucy to keep the home and not have to go back to live with her controlling in-laws. It will also allow the ghost, Captain Daniel Gregg (no, not Daniel Craig so no shirtless scenes here), to remain as a spirit around his home and keep it like it was when he was alive.

There are times during the movie that Lucy believes she has imagined the Captain and other times she is sure he is real. Sometimes even we as the viewer wonder if she is imagining him or not.

There is a terrible amount of sexual tension between the two, even though the captain is a ghost and there is no chance for a relationship between them.

I can’t deny that young Rex’s sex appeal just oozes from him as he starts to fall in love with Lucy, who he nicknames Lucia. I’ve always had the older Rex from My Fair Lady and Dr. Doolittle in my mind when I hear his name so to see him so young helps me understand why he became such a sought-after leading man in the 40s and 50s and beyond. I read in one article that he believed his character needed a beard in the movie but the studio fought it because they felt many women would want to see his handsome face. In the end, Rex won the fight.

The lighting and cinematography in the movie are very dramatic and set a romantic and rich mood.

An article on the Turner Classic Movies website describes Lucy and Daniel’s first meeting well:

The pools of lamplight and the soft, deep shadows create a rich atmosphere that evokes ghost story imagery but not menace. Rather, it is oddly welcoming and comforting and Bernard Herrmann’s score (one of his finest) is uneasy but curious rather than spooky. Harrison’s booming voice rises as she challenges him and then drops to a civil, at times admiring tone as they talk. Her courage impresses him and rather than scare her off, he comes to terms with his permanent houseguest: a co-existence that turns into a partnership and even something of an unspoken romance.

The movie does have quite a bit of humor in it but there is also an underlying sadness at times, especially since the Captain is a ghost and can’t truly be close to anyone.

The movie is based on a book by R.A. Dick.

“How unfortunate of a name,” I thought when I read this and after further research saw it was a pseudonym by an author named Josephine Leslie. She was an Irish writer who also wrote a book called The Devil and Mrs. Devine. I guess she had a theme going there with the titles. She did not write a third book in this vein, with her only other book being Light and Shade.

It was published in 1945 and made into a movie that was released in 1947, which is a pretty good turnaround to me.

The book and movie were also the basis for a sitcom, which ran for two years.

I won’t tell you what I thought of the ending, in case you haven’t seen it, but if you have seen it, let me know and maybe I can tell you in private. *wink*

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It was such a great pic from Erin and her mom. She and I haven’t discussed the next movies we recommend for each other or even if we will, so I’ll keep you posted there. It has been a fun experience either way!

This was a fun behind-the-scenes photo I found online.

Summer of Paul: Sweet Bird of Youth

I decided about a month ago that I would start watching Paul Newman movies for fun this summer. I started with Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, at the suggestion of Erin at Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs, and then stumbled on to a list of Paul Newman movies on a movie site to sort of guide me.

I have a lot of catching up to do on this list and hope to get to as many of them as possible through August. So far this summer, I have watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Long Hot Summer, Paris Blues, and Sweet Bird of Youth. In the past, I have watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Exodus.

Up this week will be The Rack and The Hustler. The Husband wants me to watch The Hustler with him this weekend.

Before the summer ends, I hope to get to:

Cool Hand Luke (which I watched once many years ago),

Somebody Up There Likes Me

Rachel Rachel (which he directed and stars his wife Joan)

The Color of Money


Nobody’s Fool

The Sting

The Verdict

And the documentary series about him and his wife, Joan Woodward:

The Last Movie Stars

The documentary is on HBO Max, but I will have to get a subscription to watch it because we were sharing a subscription with someone, and they got rid of their subscription. We will see what can be done, but, man, a subscription to HBO Max is expensive now! Maybe they will have a sale.

I have digressed quite a bit here because I had planned for this post to be about Sweet Bird of Youth, which I watched a couple of weeks ago. This is yet another movie that Paul was in that was based on a Tennessee Williams play. I didn’t realize that Paul had been in more than one movie based on Williams’ plays until I started watching his movies this summer.

I had never heard of Sweet Bird of Youth before and for a movie made in 1962, it was quite dark and heavy and also seemed ahead of its time somehow. The acting was absolutely stellar all the way around. The overall story was gritty and raw, focusing on some serious issues, at least one of which I don’t want to share because it will be a spoiler. A couple of the issues I can mention are alcoholism, drug (pot) use, promiscuity, domestic abuse, power-hungry politicians, greed, and nepotism.

Paul’s shirt was off quite a few times in this movie, which wasn’t a bad thing to me but did drive my son nuts because every time he walked in the room, there was a shirtless Paul Newman.

“Just go back to watching your movie with that shirtless guy,” he told me one day to avoid discussing his need to eat healthier food (or maybe it was about his need to clean his room. I lose track of our discussions now that he is a teenager).

In addition to Paul, the movie starred Ed Begley (wow. His performance made me want to reach through the screen and slap him! Dang!), Shirley Knight (she was stunning and so perfect in that part), Rip Torn (didn’t even recognize him, he was so young), Geraldine Page, and Madeline Sherwood.

Here is a small description of the movie I found online: “After unsuccessfully trying his luck in Hollywood, charming gigolo Chance Wayne (Paul Newman) wanders back to his hometown, accompanied by Alexandra Del Lago (Geraldine Page), a movie star on the wane. Chance quickly falls back into his old rut — he’s still smitten with his former sweetheart, Heavenly Finley (Shirley Knight), but her thuggish brother (Rip Torn) and her crooked politician father (Ed Begley) both hate him. When Alexandra leaves town, Chance is left with little more than trouble.”

I do recommend the movie, but I will warn you that it is not a happy Paul and some of the topics are a bit uncomfortable. I am not giving rankings to the movies I am watching but if I was, I’d give this one a five out of five.

Classic Movie Impressions: Blue Hawaii

I have been trading classic movie suggestions this summer with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs.

The movies we have given our impressions of so far have been

A Streetcar Named Desire

Cat on A Hot Tin Roof

The Thin Man

Double Indemnity

On her blog today, Erin is discussing To Catch A Thief, a favorite Hitchcock film of mine. I am going to be discussing Blue Hawaii, as the blog post title suggests.

When Erin suggested this movie, I was fine with it because I was sure it would be fun and if nothing else, the music would be good. Because my mom was always a huge fan of Elvis I knew quite a bit about him from a music stand point but I’ve only seen clips of his acting.

I do believe I saw part of this movie years ago. I expected it be a pretty big Cheese Fest, but I didn’t mind. With the way the world’s been lately, watching something light and cheesy is fine with me.

And yeah, there was some cheese to it, but it was also much better than I expected. Plus, Elvis’ voice on Can’t Help Falling in Love With You totally reminded me why so many people loved his singing and not just those swinging hips.

My mom was a huge Elvis fan when she was a teenager. She was raised by a strict, stereotypical Southern father who declared he would not have any of his daughters screaming about some boy swinging his hips. So one night when my mom and her sisters and their aunt (who is only a year older than my mom) were watching him on The Ed Sullivan Show, my mom said they tried to be very calm and not scream when he came on screen.

The bad thing was that her aunt grabbed my mom’s knee, and my mom can’t stand anyone to touch her knee because she’s very ticklish. She screamed when my aunt grabbed her knee, which brought my grandfather’s stern response of, “I will not have anyone screaming for that boy in my house!” My mom did her best to explain to him what had happened, but I’m not sure he believed her.

He must not have been too upset by my mom’s scream, though, because he took my mom and her sisters to see Elvis at a local high school at some point after he was on The Ed Sullivan Show. If you knew how my grandfather was back then, this would surprise you. I know it surprised me.

Anyhow, I digress. Blue Hawaii is a simple film about Elvis who returns to the island of Hawaii after serving in the military. His parents want him to work for his father in the pineapple business, but he wants to make it on his own, which, of course, causes tension. His quest for independence allows several opportunities for him to croon 14 different songs throughout the 1 hr 41 minute movie.

I wasn’t expecting Elvis to be a very good actor and he wasn’t stellar, but he also wasn’t that bad. He was certainly better than many of the actors of today. His long, dark eyelashes and pouty lips certainly didn’t hurt his appearance on screen.

This movie also stars Angela Lansbury as his mother. She portrays an over-the-top Southern mother who likes to remind everyone how rich they are. She’s also fairly racist, which is illuded to but not explicitly shown. She’s not a huge fan of her son’s girlfriend, a native girl who is bi-racial — part Hawaiian and part French. The suggestion is that one reason she’s not impressed with the girl is her background, but that’s only subtly suggested because the movie is very light for the most part. Plus, all of that is put aside as the movie moves on and the attitude of Elvis’ mother changes toward the girlfriend and his effort to make a way on his own.

Speaking of  his girlfriend in the movie (Joan Blackman), according to Express, which is a UK publication, Elvis fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. He met her in 1958, before they filmed Blue Hawaii, and chased her and begged her to be in the movie with him.

Joan said: When we first set eyes on each other (in 1957), there was a spark, a magic in the air… There was just that special something between us, sometimes so warm and wonderful you could almost reach out and touch it.”

In 1977 she told a magazine that she and Elvis had adjoining hotel rooms during the filming of the movie and essentially lived together for weeks. Of course Elvis was dating Priscilla at the time and she and Joan looked a lot alike.

I should add that this Express magazine site looks a bit like a gossip site, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

Back to the movie, because I have digressed again.

I loved the music and scenery in this movie. I wouldn’t say the movie is a super accurate portrayal of what Hawaii is really like, but it doesn’t mock the natives of the islands and instead brings the viewers attention to some of the more interesting aspects of the islands’ diverse cultures.

I will say that according to this movie, Hawaii is a place where bare-chested men always ride the seas in little boats with a guitar so they can sing. I’ve never been there before so for those of you who have — is this true?!

If you are looking for a deep plot, this movie is definitely not what you want to watch. It’s essentially one big concert movie with very little plot. That, however, is exactly what I needed last week when I watched it.

Have you ever seen Blue Hawaii? What did you think of it?

Classic Movie Impression: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (with spoilers)

Erin of Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I have been trading classic movie suggestions this summer.

So far I have watched A Streetcar Named Desire and she has watched Double Indemnity.

Last time Erin suggested Streetcar and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (this came about when we were discussing our old movie star crushes. Erin’s is Marlon Brando and mine is Paul Newman), and I chose Streetcar first, so I watched Cat On A Hot Tin Roof for this time around because I thought I had never seen it.

However, as I watched it, I remembered I had seen part of it before, and like before I did not exactly enjoy it but didn’t hate it. I liked it, but I did not enjoy it. I’m not sure if that makes sense. Before I launch into my thoughts about the movie, I will warn you that I will be offering some spoilers, so if this is a movie you have never watched, you might want to skip this particular post. Also, Erin watched The Thin Man, the first of the Thin Man movie series with William Powell and Myrna Lloyd for her post today.

Going back to my comments on not enjoying the film: it isn’t that I didn’t like the acting or the masterful storytelling based on Tennessee William’s play. What I didn’t enjoy was just how awful all the people in the movie and play are. They are all liars and cheaters, with maybe the exception of Brick, played by Paul Newman. Brick is a sad, lost man throughout the movie and he’s the only one I have sympathy for. The only one Brick is lying to is himself, according to some reviews of the play, which say Brick was actually gay and couldn’t face it. The movie, however, doesn’t lean toward that subject being the reason behind Brick’s constant bad mood, which angered Williams, Newman, and fans of the original play.

There is a lot of debate online about what Brick is so broken about, but it appears the confusion comes from the fact that the movie was changed from the original play.

In the play, Brick is supposedly so upset because he’s suppressing his homosexuality. This, however, is not the issue in the movie. In the movie, he’s upset because he ignored the calls of his close friend who cared about Brick (in a more romantic way) when Brick didn’t feel that way toward him and he’s also upset because his wife slept with the friend to try to prove that the friend was as good of a guy as Brick thought. She thought by proving that she could get Brick to love her more. The plan backfires and he ends up hating his wife.

One commenter on a forum said that in the play Brick may have been gay, but in the movie he is not. Another commenter said they felt that Brick was struggling with the fact his father did not love him, he had a close friend who died who loved Brick, but Brick didn’t love him back, and that he was ashamed of his failure at anything his father wanted him to succeed at.

To me, (good or bad) Williams seemed to have an obsession with characters being closeted gay people, most likely because that was his story. It’s understandable because a lot of writers share parts of themselves in their works.

Aside from Brick’s issues about his sexuality, there is also an underlying theme of the idea of love being something that can’t be shown in material items (“All I wanted was for you to love me,” Brick tells Big Daddy in the climactic scene. “I wanted a father, not a boss.”), what is real masculinity (Brick’s brother has fathered six children, Brick none), the idea of the patriarchal rule of the American south and American society in the 1950s, and the idea of people who want money and power even though they don’t really deserve it because they’re vindictive and focused on appearances more than anything.

Also, in the end, (as far as the movie goes) I do think there is a part of Brick who feels horrible for how he lashes out at his father (called Big Daddy) and reveals a horrible secret in the process and also how he has treated Maggie. There is a suggestion by some who have watched the play and movie that Brick finally decides to sleep with Maggie to give her the baby she wants not because he loves her but because he feels, in a way, he owes it to her, and I think that may be the case. As angry as he is at her and at himself, he shows in the movie version that he does have compassion for her and guilt for how he has treated her. She, however, is liar and simply a pretty pathetic person — hence the reference to her as a cat on a hot tin roof — she hangs in there no matter how hot it gets because she digs her claws in.

Overall this was a good movie and I’m glad Erin reminded me of it. It isn’t a movie I would watch over and over because some of the characters are just so unlikeable (Mae, Brick’s sister-in-law makes me want to reach through the screen and slap her, probably because I’ve known more than one woman like her in my lifetime) and because the subjects are so heavy. The wonderful acting more than makes up for the difficult subjects and characters, however, which is always the case with any movie based on Williams’ work —even if the theme of his play was changed to sanitize topics for the time frame the movie was made in.

If you would like to read more about the various interpretations of the play and movie versions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, you can read this article in The Guardian.

Classic movie impression: Streetcar Name Desire

Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I, are trading classic movies this summer. She gives me a suggestion and I give her one and then we will write a post with our impressions of the movie we watched.

This week I suggested Double Indemnity for Erin (because I kid you not, I was about to suggest Key Largo and she was already going to watch it. We think along the same lines sometimes and sometimes we are totally on the opposite side of things. It makes life interesting. *wink*) and she suggested Streetcar Named Desire from 1951.

I have watched a couple of scenes from Streetcar Named Desire (Stella! Stella!!) but had never watched the entire movie. Erin is a huge fan of the young Marlon Brando, which is why she suggested this one. It is, as she said and I agree, one of his best.

His character is not “the best” of course. In fact, Stanley Kowalski is a complete jerk and Brando pulls it off amazingly well. His acting is flawless which may be because he was also playing the character on Broadway when they decided to film the movie, which is based on a play by Tennessee Williams.

In fact, everyone in the film, from what I’ve read, with the exception of Vivian Leigh who plays Blanch Dubois, was from the original play. Leigh was added to add more star power to the movie.

Brando was so natural and real in this – it was like I was watching a reality TV show in some ways and that’s not a good thing.

Vivian Leigh was apparently good at playing flirtatious women because here she was yet again needing attention from men just like in Gone with the Wind, where she played Scarlet.

It was awful to watch everyone, especially Stanley and Blanche, manipulate those around them, mainly Stella who wasn’t an angel but was really caught in the middle most of the time. I don’t want to give away anything for someone who hasn’t seen the movie (though it is over 50 years old, others could be like me and have never watched it), but watching Blanche pretty much falls apart more and more as she can’t keep her façade up is heartbreaking to watch. She creepily reminds me of a family member by marriage. She’s told so many lies she doesn’t know what reality is anymore.

I read after I watched the movie that the message of the play and the movie was that Blanche and Stella were both victims of societal pressures placed on them by men’s idea of how women should be treated in postwar America. Huh. Okay, we can go with that but I also felt like the sisters didn’t have a very warm upbringing, maybe from abusive homes, so that made them look for love and security in all the wrong places — mainly with men. Stella seems to suffer from the same issues abused women suffer from, which is the fear to leave their abusive spouse for a few reasons, including the fact they think no one else will want them. In Stella’s case, she also fell for Stanley’s good looks and the dangerous edge to his personality.

Whatever the theme and whatever the issues of the women, the acting was superb and focusing on the acting helped take my mind off the sobering subject matter of the movie.

If you are among the few that have not seen the movie, I do recommend it, but be aware the subject matter is dark and you are constantly worrying about what bad is going to happen next. To distract yourself from the tough subjects, do what I did and focus on the acting instead.