Film Friday – Sunday in New York

When a recently dumped young Jane Fonda comes to New York to visit her pilot brother on a Sunday, all kinds of virtue-shaking shenanigans ensue.

When Eileen (Fonda) has been dumped by her longtime boyfriend because she won’t sleep with him, she retreats to her older brother’s bachelor pad in the middle of New York to get some perspective. Sunday in New York is a 1963 comedy, based on a play by Norman Krasna, directed by Peter Tewksbury and starring Jane Fonda, Rod Taylor and Cliff Robertson. The soundtrack score, which has a pretty good deal of relevance within the story, was composed and performed by Peter Nero.

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Can it be, I Like Myself? Nope, I just like Gene Kelly.

Musical Magic…

The Comden and Green, MGM film It’s Always Fair Weather, bombed at the box office, and marked the end of the brilliant film partnership between Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, but the film has some truly endearing qualities and even earned Comden and Green an Oscar nom for original screenplay. Top of the film’s endearing list is, hands-down, this number in which Kelly’s character does a complete tap number on roller skates. It gives the “traveling time step” a whole new context, and allowed Kelly to choreograph to the new wide pan of Cinemascope with a gliding ease.

I recently found out that my mother has never seen this number and I simply can’t have that. So Mom, this is for you…

The only other Kelly number I love more than this (Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris are not included, because those films are in a whole different category of life,) is this number from Summer Stock…

In my humble opinion, both of these brilliant dance-on-film moments are ones to be studied, again and again, for their technique, their originality, but mostly for their exuberance, which is nothing less than inspiring.

Happy Dancing!

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Last Call Holiday Films: It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s the last few hours of 2016, so I saved the best holiday film for last – It’s a Wonderful Life.

It's a Wonderful Life

I always tell people that It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t really a holiday film – It’s good all year round, but the final scene does take place on Christmas Eve so I get that it get’s lumped into the holiday movie category. But in my opinion, this film is much more than that.

It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite Frank Capra film, it’s my favorite Jimmy Stewart film, and it’s my favorite classic film second only to Singin’ in the Rain. It tells the story of George Bailey (Stewart) who, despite having big dreams of travel and business, ends up staying in the same small town he grew up in. Viewing his life through the eyes of his guardian angel, we see all the key moments in his life that led to George’s current state of being. Time and time again, he puts his own desires aside in the name of helping his friends and family. Through his small business efforts, he keeps the tiny town of Bedford Falls from being monopolized by money-grubbing Mr. Potter, “the richest, and meanest man in town,” played to devilish perfection by the brilliant Lionel Barrymore. He makes sacrifices for everyone, and in the end, he feels like a failure, and completely worthless.

It's a Wonderful Life

Perhaps my favorite element of the film is George’s sweet relationship with his wife Mary, played by Donna Reed. She is the epitome of the perfect match for him, and in many ways, becomes his salvation.

It's a Wonderful Life

George is told by Mr. Potter that, with his life insurance policy, he’d be worth more dead than alive, and George is sent into a deep despair. He’s considering ending it all, when salvation comes in the form of his guardian angel – Clarence Oddbody, AS2 (angel second class.) In an effort to “earn his wings,” the humorously sweet Clarence (played by Henry Travers) shows George a world in which he had never been born so that he might see what a difference his life has made on so many others.

It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life

There are few films that get at the heart of the human experience so elegantly and honestly. Few films portray the struggle, the romance, and the disappointment of the average American. And few that so poignantly affirm the meaning of life and the true definition of success.

It's a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life was released in 1946, but amazingly, I think it especially relevant now. In our corrupt, consumer-driven society obsessed with wealth as the only earmark of success, I think the film’s message is vital. And if you want to watch one last “holiday film” before ringing in 2017, it doesn’t get any better than this one (they even finish the film singing Auld Lang Syne, so bonus!)

Watch It’s a Wonderful Life

Last Call Holiday Films: Holiday Affair

I’m halfway through my Last Call Holiday Film list, so I figured I’d throw in a wild card film – Holiday Affair.

Holiday Affair

I just watched this film for the first time this year and I cannot believe I never stumbled across it before. It’s really cute, and fits right in there with Miracle on 34th Street minus the Santa bit. It stars a charming Janet Leigh (I only have ever seen her in psycho, so seeing her play a smiling, delightful ingenue was a surprise) as a widow who finds herself torn between two men – a steadfast secure lawyer (Wendell Corey) and a funny, but dashing store clerk (Robert Mitchum.) 

What evolves is a fun, but complicated drama as Leigh works through her faithfulness to her late husband, her commitment to Corey, and her unexpected passion for Mitchum. Throw in her precocious six year old son, a toy train, and New York’s Central Park Zoo and you’ve got yourself a Holiday Affair.

Holiday Affair

Holiday Affair

Watch Holiday Affair

Last Call Holiday Films: The Bishop’s Wife

The Bishop's Wife

In all honesty, I think this film is somewhat weird. But it’s Carey Grant, so that makes up for things. The Bishop’s Wife is my second pick for a last-call holiday film because it’s a peculiar look into the lives of a dysfunctional faith-focused family that requires the help of  an angel to get things back on track… (This theme may turn up again!)

The story revolves around an Episcopal Bishop, played by David Niven, who has been working for months on the plans for an elaborate new cathedral which he hopes will be paid for primarily by a wealthy, stubborn widow. In the process, he slips into work-a-holic behaviors and stops giving his wife and child the attention they need and deserve, especially at Christmas time. Enter Dudley, (Carey Grant) an angel sent to wake Niven’s character to the reality that his family is more important than his work. He starts showing the Bishop’s wife Julia, played by Loretta Young, a fantastic time – ice skating, shopping, partaking in snowball fights – sparking jealousy in her husband, and a sudden realization he may be missing out.

The Bishop's Wife

The Bishop's Wife

Perhaps the best thing about this film is that it deals with religious side of Christmas in a completely relatable and non-preachy manner.  Factor in Carey Grant’s charm, played to perfection (mainly because he is perfect) and I mean, what’s not to love? What overlooked housewife wouldn’t be encouraged by Carey Grant’s delightful attention? That’s right, none.

The Bishop's WifeIf you’re looking for a slightly different holiday film, complete with a truly delightful ice-skating scene, then The Bishop’s Wife is what you want!

Watch The Bishop’s Wife


Last Call Holiday Films: Christmas in Connecticut

“All my life I promised myself a mink coat. You know, Felix, it’s very important to keep promises, especially to yourself.” – Elizabeth Lane

Christmas in Connecticut

As we just have a few more days of December (and 2016) I’ve decided to finish things off with a daily holiday film. Over the next 4 days, I’ll share my must-see last-call holiday films – You simply cannot end the holiday season without seeing them! First up: Christmas in Connecticut.

Christmas in Connecticut is a brilliant holiday film starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan in which a lifestyle magazine writer, who has lied about being the perfect housewife, must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.  Stanwyck’s character comes across like Martha Stewart in her column, but in reality she’s a single New Yorker, who can’t cook and lives in a one room apartment without even so much as a window sill.

Christmas in Connecticut

Farm-life shenanigans ensue when, for the sake of her job, she agrees to marry a dull architect who happens to have a farm in Connecticut. The stage is set, complete with a neighbor’s baby to pose as her own, and her good friend and master chef, Felix, by her side to handle the cooking. It seems like she just may pull off the facade, until she falls head over heels for the war hero, Morgan.

Christmas in Connecticut

I love how this film takes a completely unique turn on the holiday genre. It’s more wacky than warm and fuzzy. More hilarious than heartwarming. #ScrewballComedy. Plus it’s Barbara and can we all just agree right now, that woman is simply the best! She makes the undomestic, working woman of the 1940’s appear cool, when society probably wouldn’t have wanted it that way. I adore everything about her and her performance in this charming film!

Christmas in Connecticut

If you haven’t seen it, be sure to put this at the top of your “last call holiday film” watchlist!

Watch Christmas in Connecticut