Helen Rose vs. Sarah Burton

Princess Grace Kelly in 1956 and Princess Kate Middleton in 2011

I don’t think I’m the only person who thought “Grace Kelly” right when I saw Kate Middleton in her wedding dress this morning during the Royal Wedding.  Both looked lovely in their timeless dresses. The dresses are similar with the lace sleeves, high collars and flowing skirt.

Grace Kelly’s dress was designed by Hollywood costume designer Helen Rose who also designed the wedding dresses for Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds.  Rose created costumes for movies like “Dangerous When Wet” (1953), “Father of the Bride” (1950), “The Harvey Girls” (1946) and “The Swan” (1956).

I love this style of gown and want sleeves whenever I get married too. Though I hate film remakes, I love to see fashion homages. I secretly hope that the designer had Grace Kelly in mind when the dress was created. Probably not though, but maybe!

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“Radio Waves” off the air forever

Norma Shearer helps "Radio Waves Over Hollywood" say goodbye. Doesn't she look sad?

You may have noticed a few Thursdays have come and gone with no exciting updates about the “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” show. 

Unfortunately, the show has ended and  sadly it wasn’t given the chance to have a season finale.

Two weeks ago, one of the computers in the radio station that runs the radio program we use got a virus. After a week, it still wasn’t fixed and all radio shows had been canceled.

I was able to record a couple of the shows, so I will be putting those videos up in the near future.  Sadly, I won’t be returning with my show in the fall because I am graduating on May 7.

I loved my show and enjoyed doing it. I want to thank all of you who listened in each week for my ramblings about classic film.  It was an exciting and relaxing run.

So in my best Lux Radio Cecil B. Demille impression: “Goodnight to you, from Hollywood.”

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It is finished: Happy Easter with religious movies

WordPress offers several awesome features for it’s users.  My favorite is “Site Stats” where you can see how many views you got that day, where they are coming from, links clicked and keywords searched that brought people to my blog.

Today when I looked at the site stats and keyword searches, I just shook my head.  One of the searches was “Is Easter biblical?” Why yes, yes it is. It’s the most important holiday in the Christian faith. Here are some of my favorite religious movies (as promised yesterday) that show this.

Barbara Stanwyck and David Manners in “Miracle Woman”

The Miracle Woman (1931): Barbara Stanwyck is the daughter of a minister whose fatal heart attack is caused by his ungrateful congregation.  Stanwyck loses her faith and takes up with a con man who hires her to heal the blind and crippled in his evangelical road shows.  A blind man (played by attractive David Manners) is about to commit suicide but stops when he hears The Miracle Woman on the radio.  Manners seeks her out and they fall in love, helping each other to restore their faith in God and humanity. This is actually one of my favorite Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Capra movies.  It has a really good story and several intense moments.

•One Foot in Heaven (1941): This movie takes place in America during the turn of the century until the 1940s. It isn’t set in Biblical times, but it shows the sacrifices a minister and his family makes for their parish and faith. From having to put up with roofs with 16 leaks, hand me downs from the women in the church and rumors about your children, Fredric March’s character and his wife Martha Scott never yield to the temptation of giving up the parish. “One Foot in Heaven” is a really heartwarming story and is actually one of my favorites. March’s character is human and does feel downtrodden by a greedy congregation, but he never completely loses sight of what is important.

The Song of Bernadette (1943): This movie isn’t based in Biblical times, but has to do with the sacrifices a French peasant girl sees a vision of the Virgin Mary. Officials think she is crazy, she gains followers in the town and the church denounces her. However, Bernadette (played by the beautiful Jennifer Jones) overcomes it all and becomes a nun. This isn’t directly related to Easter but is inspiring none the less.  Miss Jones won her Oscar for this movie and she did a wonderful job.

Ben-Hur, his mother and sister watch as Jesus carries the cross.

Ben-Hur (1959): This is an all around beautiful movie. Not just because of the elaborate sets, outstanding Technicolor and Charlton Heston’s good looks, but because of the over all message. The movie mainly focuses on the journey that begins when Juda Ben-Hur has the misfortune of being wrongly accused for murder. However,  Jesus has a large role in Ben-Hur’s journey. Jesus gives Ben-Hur water while he is on a chain with other prisoners and dying of thirst.  Later Ben-Hur has gained his high status again and sees Jesus being sentenced by Pontius Pilate. He watched as Jesus carries the cross and when Jesus stumbles, Ben-Hur tries to help him (which of course gets him in a bit of trouble). After Jesus dyes, there is a terrible storm (which symbolizes God’s anger). Ben-Hur’s mother and sister who were lepers, have their skin washed clean. The film is very moving and I don’t really see how either “Titanic” or “The Lord of the Rings” measures up Oscar wise (they both seem a bit frivolous in comparison).

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Jack Carson is the Easter bunny this year…

Since Easter is tomorrow, I wanted to do a post today and tomorrow. Today’s will be contemporary Easter in films complete with dying eggs, Easter bunnies and large bonnets. Tomorrow’s post will focus on the religious and Biblical aspect of the holiday.

Judy Garland and Fred Astaire posing for the photographers in “Easter Parade”

Easter Parade (1948): Who saw that coming?  This is probably the only feature film that isn’t set in Biblical times that prominately features Easter throughout the movie.  Though the movie really isn’t about Easter and its importance, it begins and ends with the holiday and the prominance of being featured in the newspaper while walking in the “Easter parade” in one’s Sunday best.  The actual film is about show business and how back stabbing dance partners can be when you are trying to hit it big with the Ziegfeld Follies.
This is a great favorite at my house. It has a wonderful cast, several funny scenes and one of the best musical soundtracks you can find. Below is a clip from the beginning of the movie featuring the songs “Happy Easter” and “Drum Crazy.” Unfortunately, Youtube didn’t have the famous “Easter Parade” scene at the end.

My Dream Is Yours  (1949): You may think: What? Isn’t this a Lee Bowman-Jack Carson-Doris Day remake of “Twenty Million Sweethearts”? Why yes, yes it is, but there is a VERY humorous scene where Doris Day’s son, Freddie has a dream the night before Easter. Doris and her soon to be boyfriend Jack Carson are dressed up like Easter bunnies and singing and dancing with Bugs Bunny. I really like this movie, Doris looks beautiful and the plot is a bit more serious than “Twenty Million Sweethearts.”  However,  singing like Easter rabbits is a bit silly. Before the dream, Freddie and Doris also dye Easter eggs, and that’s about all there is to the Easter references.

Other than those two films, there aren’t many films that focus a significant amount of time on Easter in contemporary time. I searched Easter as a keyword on IMDB, other films that feature the holiday are:
What Price Hollywood (1932): In this “A Star Is Born” take off, I think Constance Bennett’s husband either tries to commit suicide or dies on Easter, but I don’t remember clearly.
Holiday Inn (1942): This should come as no surprise. Bing sings Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade” song in the film that features every other holiday under the sun.
Peyton Place (1957): I think Allison goes to pick up Selena for Easter service, and Selena’s step-father was trying to make a move on her.

It’s disheartening that Easter is in so few films. I know Lent isn’t as exciting a holiday season as Advent, but Easter is a much more important holiday than Christmas. We will explore this more tomorrow in the Biblical representation of Easter in films.

Stay tuned for tomorrow!

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Classic film in music videos: “Rush Rush”

Rebel Without a Cause” is one of the quintessential tough guy, nice girl romances mixed in with lots of angsty, misunderstood teens. So Paula Abdul figured it would be a perfect topic for her music video  “Rush Rush” from 1991.

Interestingly enough, actor Keanu Reeves is in the video as the James Dean character, though he seems rather wimpy and passive compared to the James Dean’s Jim Stark.  Paula is of course the Natalie Wood character.

The video is sort of corny, but semi interesting since they do go through several of the famous scenes of “Rebel Without a Cause” such as the planetarium and the car race off the cliff.  The talking part towards the end is pretty funny. The beginning of this version of the video is supposed to be like the beginning of “Rebel Without a Cause.”

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Audrey Hepburn: The Sorority Girl’s Pin-Up

You may see this image on a daily basis if you go to college.

On a college campus you can’t miss the familiar outline of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) with her cigarette holder while wearing a long black gown on the back of a sorority T-shirt. And of course under that photo will be Chanel’s quote “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” (Though that is completely ironic, because Givenchy dressed Hepburn in most of her films).

If you don’t believe me, scroll through this blog that describes itself as a “celebration of Greek Life.” There are at least 4 posts about both Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel.

Sororities have taken the stylish, gamine star and are using her as their unofficial spokes person for the pay-for-your-friends groups.

Photoshopped Audrey Hepburn head on an ADPI body.

She is on their t-shirts, event fliers, posters in their dorm rooms, coffee cups, keychains and Facebooks. Miss Hepburn helps announce fall and spring recruitment, formals and bake sales they have to raise money for their charities. If Audrey Hepburn was a business, it would be one of the wealthiest companies in the United States.

Once in my photography class, I even heard a boy ask who Audrey Hepburn was and my friend Dominic Beamer responded, “You know, she’s that lady who is on the back of all of the sorority t-shirts.”

But why pick on Audrey Hepburn? At the start of her career, she was described as having enormous eyebrows, rat chewed bangs and horse teeth. Does that sound glamorous or sexy?

I think a large part is the Givenchy outfits in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”  Who can forget the black dress she wears in front of Tiffany’s, the pink party dress she wears when Fred dies or even her brown trench coat?  However, Givenchy also designed the clothes for “Sabrina“, “Charade” and “How to Steal a Million.” Why don’t we see an outline of Audrey in that crazy helmet hat from “How to Steal a Million” or the dress she wows the Lamarees with at the exclusive dinner party in “Sabrina.”

Audrey Hepburn was one of my first favorite actresses when my movie love began. My love with her started with “Sabrina” and then Funny Face.”  I eventually made my way around to “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.”

When I first saw it in the 8th grade I had no clue what was going on: Why is she getting arrested? Why did he give her $50 to go to the powder room? What is Patricia Neal’s deal?  Now that I’m older, I understand the drug and sexual references; “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” is covering some pretty serious stuff.  I often wonder if these girls who say it’s their favorite movie watch it for the glamour of Givenchy’s clothes and George Preppard’s good looks or if they have even seen it at all.  Are they looking at the deeper meaning that Truman Capote wrote about in his novel: a woman toying with the idea of bisexuality?  Audrey Hepburn even felt like she was miscast in the role.

An example of Audrey Hepburn on a T-shirt.

Audrey Hepburn was glamorous in the movies, but like most actresses, didn’t have a fabulous personal life.
•She hid in a cellar from the Nazi’s during World War 2. She and her mother lived in occupied Holland and were forced to eat tullip bulbs and grass. This is what lead to her eating disorder later on in life.
• She wanted to be a ballerina but was told that she was too tall.
• Audrey had a difficult time getting pregnant. She was pregnant at the start of the movie “The Unforgiven” but was thrown from the horse and suffered a miscarriage-along with a broken back.
• Audrey had two failed marriages: One with actor Mel Ferrer and another with Andrea Dotti who cheated on her.
• While filming “My Fair Lady,” Hepburn worked very hard learning the songs and desperately wanted to sing. In the end she was dubbed my Marnie Nixon. Hepburn later said she wouldn’t have agreed to the film had she known this.
• She was constantly self conscious about her flat chest, thinness and looks. She was very uncomfortable and unhappy during the movie “Funny Face” and wanted Mel Ferrer with her during all times.
• Robert Wolders lived with her at the end of her life….(I feel like he was someone who just swooned the older actresses and wanted their money).

Standard Coco Chanel quote

However, Audrey Hepburn also was a wonderful woman who had a love for gardens and spent the end of her life  doing work with UNICEF. She was also a great actress who won an Oscar for “Roman Holiday.” It’s a shame to me that she has her image defamed on brainless, comic sans-fonted sorority t-shirts.

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What’s in a name?

This morning I was at the gym and watching Turner Classic Movies.  “Comet Over Broadway” was on and Kay Francis and I suffered together, but in very different ways: I had the treadmill set to 7 incline and Kay Francis was watching her husband be convicted for killing a man.

Kay Francis and Ian Hunter in "Comet Over Broadway."

At this point, it donned on me that in the last year, I had never discussed how “Comet Over Hollywood” got it’s name.

In September 2009, Turner Classic Movies made the great Kay Francis the Star of the Month.  I’d seen Kay in movies before, but I had never had the opportunity to see her suffer like I did during that film festival. I had my mom tape all 40 movies they showed of hers and we watched them throughout the year until the following summer.

I originally made my blog in April 2009 on Blogger and it was titled “Living on Velvet” after another Kay Francis movie (another blogger had this same name so I changed mine). I was going to write about old movies and let the whole world know that they were superior.

But my posts were few, long and lame.

My first post ever was about the horrible Connie Stevens movie “Susan Slade.”  I did a play by play of the movie, tried to be witty and it took me three days to write it. Ridiculous. I wrote a few other forgettable posts on Blogger before I switched to WordPress (which I highly suggest.)

I wanted to change things up and be creative: No more 3,000 word movie reviews but now rantings about Katherine Hepburn and washing my hair with champagne.

And so “Comet Over Hollywood” was born.

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Classic film in daily life: Room and Work space

Back in November I said I was going to start writing short snippets detailing classic film in my daily life.  You may remember my post about writing a Media Ethics paper researching whites playing ethnic roles in films. 

As I finish up my last week of college classes forever, I wanted to show how classic film helped to decorate my college dorm room and my desk at our student newspaper office.

I even cleaned up my room for all of you 🙂

My room:

My desk area with Nancy Drew, White Cargo, West Side Story posters on top and Brandon Flowers, Betty Grable and Doris Day below. Also on the desk is a "White Christmas" photo, Robert Osborne bobble head and my desk top background is from "Since You Went Away"

My closer has photos of LIFE magazine photos above it, I tried to be clever and put actresses looking in mirrors on my mirror, Deanna Durbin and Esther Williams autographs on top of TV and Im watching the Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine in "The Guardsman"


More LIFE magazines over my bed

 I also have different film books lying around (I’m currently reading Betty Hutton’s “Backstage You Can Have”) and several VHS tapes and DVDs trying waiting to be watched. I didn’t add those because that seemed a bit much.

 My desk in The Johnsonian office:

My desk. Thats me on the desk top background with "I love Robert Osborne" written on the photo. As a joke each editor had their mug shot set as the background and something that defined them written about themselves.

Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Carmen Miranda and Betty Grable help me work.


Ruth Chatteron, Harry James, Don Ameche and Betty Grable also decorate my desk.

 Hope you enjoyed your little tour 🙂

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Weekend One-Hundred: Musicals 301-400

Betty Grable and June Haver in “The Dolly Sisters”

Several of you requested to see my musical list, this is the last of the musicals on the list-in the order I watched and recorded them.  This list goes from October 2007 to March 2010. Enjoy!

301.) Strike Up the Band (1940)
302.) You Can’t Run Away From It (1956)
303.) Follow the Boys (1963)
304.) Shipmates Forever (1935)
305.) Sweeny Todd (2007)
306.) Pot O’ Gold (1941)
307.) On the Avenue (1937)
308.) That Night in Rio (1941)
309.) My Wild Irish Rose (1947)
310.) The Gang’s All Here (1943)
311.) Road to Hong Kong (1962)
312.) The Pleasure Seekers (1964)
313.) Ice Follies of 1939 (1939)
314.) The Fabulous Dorsey’s (1947)
315.) Torch Song (1953)
316.) Blue Skies (1946)
317.) The Merry Widow (1934)
318.) Pajama Party (1964)
319.) Kid Nightingale (1939)
320.) My Sister Eileen (1955)
321.) Smilin’ Through (1941)
322.) Las Vegas Nights (1941)
323.) Reveille with Beverly (1943)
324.) Winter A-Go-Go (1965)
325.) So This is Love (1953)
326.) That’s Right, You’re Wrong (1939)
327.) Excuse My Dust (1951)
328.) Across the Universe (2007)
329.) Robin and His Seven Hoods (1964)
330.) Jam Session (1944)
331.) The Benny Goodman Story (1954)
332.) The Gene Krupa Story (1959)
333.) The Dolly Sisters (1945)
334.) Guys and Dolls (1954)
335.) Syncopation (1942)
336.) West Point Story (1950)
337.) Fun in Acapulco (1963)

“Li’l Abner”: One of the worst musicals I’ve ever seen

338.) Roustabout (1964)
339.) Stage Mother (1933)
340.) Viva Las Vegas (1964)
341.) The Great Caruso (1951)
342.) The Jazz Singer (1927)
343.) Interrupted Melody (1955)
344.) The Great Waltz (1938)
345.) A Song to Remember (1945)
346.) One Night of Love (1934)
347.) G.I. Blues (1960)
348.) George White’s Scandals (1945)
349.) Rose Marie (1954)
350.) An Alligator Named Daisy (1955)
351.) Li’l Abner (1958)
352.) A Star is Born (1954)
353.) Around the World (1943)
354.) Let Freedom Ring (1939)
355.) Chasing Rainbows (1930)
356.) Vagabond Lovers (1929)
357.) When Boys Meet Girls (1965)
358.) The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)
359.) The Gay Desperado (1936)
360.) Juke Box Rhythm (1959)
361.) Crooner (1932)
362.) Red, Hot and Blue (1949)
363.) Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)
364.) The Big City (1948)
365.) Marianne (1929)
366.) Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
367.) Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934)
368.) One Hour with You (1932)
369.) I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955)
370.) Artists and Models (1937)
371.) Grounds for Marriage (1951)
372.) I Married an Angel (1942)
373.) Slightly French (1947)
374.) New Moon (1940)
375.) Playmates (1941)
376.) You’ll Find Out (1940)
377.) Music in Manhattan (1944)
378.) Carolina Blues (1944)
379.) Cabin in the Sky (1943)
380.) Mad About Music (1938)
381.) Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)
382.) About Face (1952)
383.) Going Wild (1930)
384.) Rock, Rock, Rock (1956)
385. Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1931)
386.) Hot Heiress (1931)
387.) Daughter of Rosie O’Grady (1950)
388.) Sally (1929)
389.) Hearts Divided (1936)
390.) Time Square Lady (1935)
391.) Swing Fever (1943)
392.) Orchestra Wives (1942)
393.) Song of the Islands (1942)
394.) That Lady in Ermine (1948)
395.) She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952)
396.) Sunnyside Up (1929)
397.) Say One for Me (1959)
398.) Band Waggon (1940)
399.) Scrooge (1970)
400.) Coney Island (1943)

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Getting close to the end of “Radio Waves”

Gary Merrill and Bette Davis

“Radio  Waves Over Hollywood” will be streaming live Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m (Eastern time).

Sorry I haven’t been on the air. I was sick last week and had to also go home for an interview for the following morning.

Topics for April 14:
•Things I have learned from movies
•The worst movies I have ever seen
•Cliche themes in movies like “Romeo and Juliet” theme or “Cinderella” theme.
•Best Alfred Hitchcock scenes

So be sure to listen at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  live stream on www.winrfm.com (go to Listen Live) or  the old WINR website.

Call in at 803-323-2122, whether you know me or not, to contribute to the discussion.  I would love to hear from you!

And remember, non-Winthrop students can listen and call in too!

Also, if you listen to the “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” show, leave feedback for me in the comments area. Let me know what I need to work on or what you want to hear!

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