Musical Monday: Holiday in Mexico (1946)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

holiday4This week’s musical:
Holiday In Mexico” (1946)– Musical #119

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
George Sidney

Starring:
Jane Powell, Walter Pidgeon, Roddy McDowall, Ilona Massey, Hugo Haas, William ‘Bill’ Phillips, Helene Stanley, Linda Christian (uncredited), Grady Sutton (uncredited)
As themselves: Jose Iturbi, Xavier Cugat, Amparo Iturbi, Jose Iturbi’s grandchildren: Tonia Hero and Teresa Hero

Plot:
Christine (Powell) lives in Mexico with her father Jeffrey Evans (Pidgeon), who is the United States Ambassador to Mexico. Jeffrey is a single parent to Christine, who dotes on her father and tries to be the lady of the house and manage her father’s affairs. She is constantly quarreling with her boyfriend Stanley (McDowall), who is the son of the English ambassador. When Jeffrey meets an old flame, singer Toni Karpathy (Massey), Christine feels replaced. To console herself, she decides that she’s in love with piano player Jose Iturbi (who plays himself).

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Musical Monday: Nancy Goes to Rio (1950)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

nancy goes to rioThis week’s musical:
Nancy Goes to Rio (1940)– Musical #59

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Robert Z. Leonard

Starring:
Jane Powell, Ann Sothern, Barry Sullivan, Carmen Miranda, Louis Calhern, Scotty Beckett, Hans Conreid, Fortunio Bonanova

Plot:
Francis Elliott (Sothern) is a famous stage star and her teenage daughter Nancy (Powell) wants to follow in her footsteps. Along with wanting the same part in an exciting new play, mother and daughter both fall in love with the same man, Paul Berten (Sullivan).

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Musical Monday- Academy Award Winner: Seven Brides and Seven Brothers (1954)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

seven-brides-for-seven-brothersThis week’s musical:
“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954)– Musical #4

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Stanley Donen

Starring:
Jane Powell, Howard Keel, Russ Tamblyn, Jeff Richards, Tommy Rall, Julie Newmar, Ruta Lee, Ian Wolfe, Marc Platt, Matt Mattox, Jacques d’Amboise, Nancy Kilgas, Betty Carr, Virginia Gibson, Norma Doggett

Plot:
Set in 1850 in the backwoods of Oregon, Adam Pontipee (Keel) heads to the city looking for a wife. He finds Milly (Powell), who agrees to marry him. Little does Milly know that Adam is one of seven brothers and she is more of a glorified housekeeper than a wife. She tries to refine the brothers-encouraging bathing and teaching them how to read and dance. They are all eager to find wives of their own and decide to use the story of Romans kidnapping the Sabine women as an example.

Adam (Keel) and his new bride Milly (Powell) who has no idea what she's in for.

Adam (Keel) and his new bride Milly (Powell) who has no idea what she’s in for.

Milly (Powell) inspects the hands of the usually dirty Pontipee brothers before heading to a barn raising social

Milly (Powell) inspects the hands of the usually dirty Pontipee brothers before heading to a barn raising social

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Musical Monday: Small Town Girl (1953)

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It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

b70-14305This week’s musical:
“Small Town Girl” (1953)– Musical #76

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
László Kardos

Starring:
Jane Powell, Farley Granger, Ann Miller, Fay Wray, Billie Burke, S.Z. Sakall, Bobby Van, Robert Keith, Robert Hyatt, Chill Wills (uncredited)
Themselves: Nat King Cole

Plot:
Judge Kimbell (Keith) throws big city hot shot Rick Livingston (Granger) in jail for going 80 miles per mile in a small town with his Broadway girlfriend Lisa Bellmount (Miller). The judge’s daughter Cindy (Powell) ends up falling for Rick.

Trivia:
-Nicholas Brodszky and Leo Robin were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for the song “My Flaming Heart.”
-Dances choreographed by Busby Berkeley.
-Ann Miller’s “I’ve Gotta Heart That Beat” performance has 86 instruments up through the floor and the musicians are hidden beneath the floor, according to The Rough Guide to Film Musicals by David Parkinson
-Musical director is André Previn.
-Costumes by Helen Rose.

Highlights:
-Nat King Cole’s appearance and performance
-Ann Miller’s “I’ve Gotta Hear that Beat” number
-Bobby Van’s exhausting 3 minute jump through town.

Notable Songs:
-I’ve Gotta Hear that Beat performed by Ann Miller tap dancing and hands coming out of the floor playing drums and holding saxophones, clarinets and violins.
-My Flaming Heart performed by Nat King Cole

My review:
“Small Town Girl” is a fun, colorful musical with an outstand cast. However, of Jane Powell’s MGM films, this is not her best. The storyline isn’t a bad one and it has some cute, humorous moments, but I prefer other Powell films such as “Luxury Liner” and “Holiday in Mexico.”

Farley Granger plays the arrogant, rich playboy well but is a poor romantic match for Powell.

While Jane Powell is known for her beautiful, operatic voice, she doesn’t have many notable songs or musical numbers. The real stand out musical numbers come from the supporting cast of Ann Miller, Bobby Van and an appearance from singer Nat King Cole as himself.

Ann Miller’s Busby Berkeley choreographed “Gotta Hear That Beat that Beat” is a visually amazing piece. The number is complete with Miller’s high speed tap dancing feet and instruments being played by bodiless hands.

A second impressive, though exhausting, number is Bobby Van jumping through his small town. While this is quite a feat, it also makes my knees hurt just watching him bound down the street, shaking hands and jumping across hedges.

Also, while Van’s jumping is interesting, his character is fairly annoying.

For Nat King Cole fans, you also have the opportunity to see the velvet voice singer during a nightclub scene, which is a real treat.

The film has a terrific supporting supporting cast with Robert Keith and Fay Wray as Powell’s parents, Billie Burke as Farley Granger’s mother, and S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall as Van’s father. You also get the comical Chill Wills as the jailer.

Once big stars of the 1930s Burke and Wray seem wasted in this film as they both have less than 10 or 15 minutes of screen time.

For me, Robert Keith and Cuddles Sakall provided the most comedic entertainment and were honestly my favorite part of this film.

While I enjoy “Small Town Girl,” but I wouldn’t suggest it as a “must see,” unless you are a huge fan of any of the stars in this movie.

Publicity photo of Farley Granger, Jane Powell and Bobby Van for "Small Town Girl."

Publicity photo of Farley Granger, Jane Powell and Bobby Van for “Small Town Girl.”

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Review: Meet Me in St. Louis (1959) CBS TV Special

It’s difficult to improve on perfection.

While this two-hour CBS 1959 TV Special may not be a remake, it pales when compared to the original.

The first “television special of 1959” was an adaptation of  the 1944 film “Meet Me In St. Louis” starring Judy Garland, Mary Astor, Leon Ames, Margaret O’Brien, Marjorie Main, Tom Drake and Lucille Bremer.

(L) Judy Garland and Tom Drake in the 1944 "Meet Me in St. Louis." (R) Jane Powell and Tab Hunter reprising their roles in a 1959 TV Special.

(L) Judy Garland and Tom Drake in the 1944 “Meet Me in St. Louis.” (R) Jane Powell and Tab Hunter reprising their roles in a 1959 TV Special.

Adapted from short stories written by Sally Benson, the story follows the Smith family who lives in St. Louis. The story begins in the Summer of 1903 and is broken into segments: Summer, Fall of 1903 with Halloween, Winter of 1903 with Christmas and Summer again in 1904. The story ends as the family goes to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

The lead, Esther, falls in love with the boy next door named John Truitt and the oldest sister Rose is a flirt who likes older men. The younger daughters Tootie and Agnes cause mischief.

The main conflict in the story is when the father announces the family has to move to New York for his job.

In the film, Garland plays Esther and Bremer plays Rose. O’Brien plays Tootie, and Ames and Astor are the parents. Tom Drake plays John Truitt, Marjorie Main is Katie the Maid, and Davenport plays Grandpa.

The 1944 film has a steller cast, but the 1959 cast is equally impressive:

Jane Powell as Esther, Jeanne Crain as Rose, Patty Duke as Tootie, Tab Hunter as John Truitt, Myrna Loy as Mrs. Anna Smith, Walter Pidgeon as Mr. Alanzo Smith, Reta Shaw as Katie the Maid, Ed Wynn as Grandpa and Kelly Brown as Lon Smith.

Many of the scenes and lines are similar to the 1944 film, if not identical, but there are some subtle differences in the film and the TV version:

-In the 1944 version, the brother Lon doesn’t have a great deal of screen time. The TV special version of the “Skip to My Lou” number at Lon’s going away party is much more elaborate. Lon becomes the star of the show. He leaps and jumps over girls. The number almost comes across more like the Barn Raising from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” than a carefree, casual dance at a party.

-In the 1959 version, Esther’s whole family ribs her about her crush on John Truitt, and Mom even helps her pick out a hat suitable for “catching a man.” I found this pretty hokey. And who’s Mom would really do that?

-The iconic “Trolley Song” number from the 1944 film is obviously shot while the singers are on the trolley and the trolley is (supposedly) moving. The teenagers are riding the trolley to the swamp to see what progress has been made on what will be the 1904 World’s Fair grounds. In the 1959 version, the singers and dancers aren’t actually on the trolley for the majority of the song. However, I’m sure this had to do with limitations of a television studio. Also in the TV special Esther isn’t as surprised when John Truitt arrives on the trolley, they had a date to go to the swamp together.

Tab Hunter and Jane Powell in the trolley song (yes this is about how the quality is.

Tab Hunter and Jane Powell in the trolley song (yes this is about how the quality is.

-Unlike the 1944 version, we see the characters at the swamp in the television special. It’s fun but not entirely necessary. During their time at the swamp, Hunter sings “Boys and Girls Like You and Me” which was dropped from the 1944 print.

-In the Halloween scene, Tootie said John Truitt “tried to kill her” and Ether goes and hits him (and later apologizes when she learns the truth) to defend her little sister. In the 1959 version, Hunter sings “When Did This Feeling Begin” after this scene- giving John Truitt’s character two songs in the special. Truitt doesn’t sing at all in the film.

-After Esther sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” in the film- Tootie goes berserk and knocks down snowmen in the backyard. On TV, Tootie digs up her “dead” dolls from the backyard.  Mother comes to comfort her rather than Esther.

-The TV Special ends with the family walking off the porch to go to the World’s Fair, rather than them actually going to the fair like in the film. Again, this probably had to do with television limitations.

While I love every actor in the 1959 TV Special something is just severally lacking.

Jane Powell sings "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" to Patty Duke.

Jane Powell sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to Patty Duke.

Jane Powell is one of my favorite actresses of all time, but let’s face it, she just isn’t Judy Garland. Comparing the two is really like trying to compare apples and oranges.

Garland brought a bit more sass and warmth to the role, while Powell could have easily been doing a continuation of her awkward, coming-of-age character in “Two Weeks with Love.”

Powell and Garland have very different singing styles, but they are equally pleasant. Hearing songs like “The Boy Next Door” and “The Trolley Song” sung more operatically is a bit different if you are used to hearing the songs performed the way Garland does.

Myrna Loy is another one of my favorites, but I didn’t care for her as the mother in this special. Maybe it was the script, but she was a bit dreamy and sweet. Mary Astor’s role was more of a strong mother, in my opinion.

Jeanne Crain’s Rose was less snooty than Lucille Bremer. Though it might be unbelievable, Patty Duke’s Tootie was sometimes as annoying or worse than Margaret O’Brien’s. Mainly because Duke would flat out screech, like how “John Truitt tried to kill” her. O’Brien’s specialty was tears rather than screaming.

I think the only casting I flat out disagreed with was Tab Hunter, who was an odd John Truitt to me. However, I don’t have any other suggestions for a “Boy Next Door” type in 1959.

The one actor I loved the most in the TV role was Walter Pidgeon. He has a fatherly warmth but is also a good curmudgeon.

With top-notch actors in the roles, I’m not sure what fell flat for me with the TV special. It wasn’t bad or terrible, just different.

The 1944 film is charming, colorful, nostalgic and poignant. It makes you laugh, sigh, cry and you don’t want the film to end. I wasn’t sad when the 1959 special ended. I was maybe even slightly relieved. The story was again reused in 1966 non-musical television pilot starring Shelley Fabares as Esther, Celeste Holm as Mrs. Anna Smith and Morgan Brittany as Agnes.

While I wouldn’t call the CBS “Meet Me in St. Louis” a remake, it didn’t improve upon what was already in place. With a new cast, adding extra songs and originally deleted scenes, you just can’t improve on perfection.

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Musical Monday: “A Date with Judy” (1948)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

dateThis week’s musical:
A Date with Judy” (1948) –Musical Monday #105

Studio:
MGM

Director:
Richard Thorpe

Starring:
Jane Powell, Elizabeth Taylor, Wallace Beery, Robert Stack, Selena Royale, Carmen Miranda, Leon Ames, Xavier Cugat, Scotty Beckett

Plot:
Best friends Judy (Powell) and Carol (Taylor) both have a crush on a college aged soda jerk (Stack). While planning her parent’s (Royal, Beery) anniversary party, Judy and Carol fear that Mr. Foster is having an affair with a Latin dancer (Miranda), who is really teaching him rumba lessons to surprise his wife.

Trivia:
-The movie was based on a radio series with the same name.
-The songs “It’s a Most Unusual Day” and “Judaline” debuted in this movie.
-Carmen Miranda’s song “Cuanto la Gusta” was one of her favorite songs. The album reached number 12 on the Billboard charts.
-After this film, Robert Stack was supposed to make a musical remake of the Marion Davies film “Peg O’ My Heart,” that never materialized, according to John Fricke’s book “Judy: A Legendary Film Career.”
-Jane Powell and Elizabeth Taylor were around the same age in this film. Powell said in her TCM Private Screenings Interview that she was a bit jealous that Taylor was dressed in more mature costumes and got to wear green eye shadow.
-This film followed Taylor’s demure roles in “Cynthia” and “Life With Father” and made her more of a “vamp” and a woman. Her next film would be as a sophisticated young engaged woman in “Julia Misbehaves,” according to “How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood” by William J. Mann.
-Elizabeth Taylor is dubbed by Jean McLaren.

Jane Powell and Elizabeth Taylor in "A Date with Judy" (1948)

Jane Powell and Elizabeth Taylor in “A Date with Judy” (1948)

Highlights:
-Wallace Beery trying to dance the rumba.

Notable Songs:
-“It’s a Most Unusual Day” sung by Jane Powell
This song is my favorite in the whole film. It’s light, it’s cheery and fun.
-“Judaline” sung by Jane Powell, Scotty Becket and a quartet
Another fun song. Not serious but light and cute.
-“Love is Where You Find it” sung by Jane Powell
It demonstrates Jane Powell’s excellent singing abilities. Confusion over if she or Kathryn Grayson sung it first on film.

My Review:
This is my favorite Jane Powell movie, as well as one of my all-time favorite films. I recall once in high school when I came home upset about something. I turned on this movie and all of my cares were forgotten- that is the effect “A Date with Judy” has on it’s audience.
It may be frothy and light, but it’s happy. Jane Powell is as adorable as ever and the Technicolor is awesome.
The film has a top notch cast including musical performances from Carmen Miranda and Latin bandleader Xavier Cugat.

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Musical Monday: “Two Weeks with Love” (1950)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

two weeksThis week’s musical:
Two Weeks With Love” (1950)-Musical #71

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Ray Rowland

Starring:
Jane Powell, Ricardo Montalban, Ann Harding, Louis Calhern, Debbie Reynolds, Carleton Carpenter, Phyllis Kirk, Tommy Retting, Gary Gray

Plot:
In the early 1900s, the Robinson family takes their annual summer vacation to Kissimee in the Catskills. It’s a coming of age story as 17-year-old Patti (Powell) is ready to grow up and wear corsets and date men but her mother (Harding) and father (Calhern) still thinks she is too young. That summer a handsome young Cuban named Demi (Montalban) visits the resort. While Patti swoons, her older friend Valerie (Kirk) works to keep Demi’s attention on her. In the background, Patti’s younger teenage sister Melba (Reynolds) has a crush on Billy (Carpenter) who is chasing Patti.

Patti's rival Valerie is always making it hard for Patti and Demi to be alone. (Kirk, Montalban, Powell) (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen Cap by Jessica P.)

Patti’s rival Valerie is always making it hard for Patti and Demi to be alone. (Kirk, Montalban, Powell) (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen Cap by Jessica P.)

Trivia:
-Debbie Reynolds wrote in her memoir “Unsinkable,” that her mother packed her lunch of ground up bologna and pickle juice sandwiches every day. Louis Calhern’s lunches were prepared for him by the studio, but he usually traded with Debbie for her sandwiches.

Famous stars in the 1930s, Ann Harding and Louis Calhern play Horatio and Katherine Robinson in "Two Weeks with Love." (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen Cap by Jessica P.)

Famous stars in the 1930s, Ann Harding and Louis Calhern play Horatio and Katherine Robinson in “Two Weeks with Love.” (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen Cap by Jessica P.)

-Jane Powell says this is one of her favorite movies, according to her autobiography “The Girl Next Door and How She Grew.”
“I loved making ‘Two Weeks with Love’ because it was a very special experience,” Powell wrote in her book. “The cast was so wonderful, I feel happy even now when I think about the film.”
-Debbie Reynolds plays the French horn during the song “That’s How I Love You.” Whether she is really playing the horn in the film or not, Reynolds played the French horn in high school.
-Louis Calhern once said he was miscast as playing the father of Debbie Reynolds and Jane Powell. “Me, with my long nose, and being as tall as I am, playing the father of two little button noses like Janie and Debbie,” Powell quoted in her book.
-Phyllis Kirk’s third movie.
-Debbie Reynolds fourth movie.
-The hotel where the family is staying in “Two Weeks with Love” is the same hotel in the first scene of “Annie Get Your Gun” (1951).
-The dances in the film were choreographed by Busby Berkeley, who was known for his kaleidoscope shots in 1930s films such as “42nd Street.”

Highlights:

Patti's mischievous little brothers hide fireworks under their bed, and father (Calhern) accidentally lights a fuse. (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen cap by Jessica P.)

Patti’s mischievous little brothers hide fireworks under their bed, and father (Calhern) accidentally lights a fuse. (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen cap by Jessica P.)

-The two youngest boys hide hundreds of firecrackers under their bed. They accidentally get lit when their father unknowingly lights it with his cigar. Chaos ensues.
-Powell has a few dream sequences where she imagines Montalban is fawning over her. Both are hilarious and adorable. One is when she is alone in a canoe. She imagines he proposes to her and he tells her that she is full of “latent fire” and then is outraged that she doesn’t wear a corset.
-The second dream sequence is Powell glamorously dressed in only a corset, hat and umbrella. Everyone at the hotel is admiring her. Then, everyone’s outfits turn to royal wear and Montalban and Carpenter have a sword fight over Powell. Powell sings “My Hero” as she waltzes with Montalban.
-Calhern tries to help Powell and buys her a corset in the film, not knowing what he’s buying, he gets a surgical corset. During a dance with Montalban, it locks.

Patti (Powell) dreams of being a grown up lady who wears a corset in this dream sequence. (Comet Over Hollywood/Screen Cap by Jessica P.)

Patti (Powell) dreams of being a grown up lady who wears a corset in this dream sequence. (Comet Over Hollywood/Screen Cap by Jessica P.)

Notable Songs:
-“Abba Dabba Honeymoon” sung by Debbie Reynolds and Carleton Carpenter. This is the most notable song in the movie. Carpenter and Reynolds fast, energetic singing style is what makes it memorable. The song made the Hit Parade and Reynolds and Carleton went on tour to promote the song and the film.

-“By the Light of the Silvery Moon” sung by Ann Harding and Louis Calhern. They don’t have great voices but it’s a very sweet moment.
-“My Hero” sung by Jane Powell during the corset dream sequence.

Patti (Powell) dances the tango with Demi (Montalban) in the resort's talent show. (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen Cap by Jessica Pickens)

Patti (Powell) dances the tango with Demi (Montalban) in the resort’s talent show. (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen Cap by Jessica Pickens)

My Review:
Two Weeks With Love” is a joy to watch. It has an excellent cast, is fun and colorful with it’s Technicolor. But not only is it lighthearted, it’s hilarious. There are so many jokes in the movie that keep me laughing, keeping it charming and witty. It’s wonderful to see Ann Harding and Louis Calhern later in their career if you know them more from their 1930s role. In the 1930s, Harding usually played intellectual women with lose morals and Calhern played cads with gun. But later in their career, they fill the role of loving parents perfectly. Jane Powell was an established star by now and is 21 in the film, and is delightful as always. In her first major role, Debbie Reynolds energy and enthusiasm that made her famous is already shining. If you haven’t seen “Two Weeks with Love,” I highly suggest it. It may not be as famous as other 1950s MGM films, but you will remember it once you watch it.

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Actress beauty tip #20: Jane Powell exercises

This is the twentieth installment of the monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

Jane Powell in 1954. Had a great figure then and still does!

Since the holidays are over  (no more sweets and heavy foods to slow me down) I’m ready to start exercising even more.

From past posts, many of you know I’m partial to Jane Fonda exercises, along with contemporary workouts like Jillian Michaels.  But recently I’ve been trying to find new exercises.

Keeping in tune with my 1980s Jane Fonda workouts, I’ve had my eye on an exercise tape actress and singer Jane Powell released in 1986 called “Jane Powell’s Fight Back With Fitness.” After letting it sit in Ebay watch list for months, I finally bought it last week for $6.

Jane Powell’s 1986 workout video

The exercises are for people with arthritis. I knew this when I bought the tape, but I still was interested in watching the tape and figured some of the exercises could still work for me.

Well….I was a little wrong.

The first 24 minutes of the video is breathing and stretching and the last 22 minutes consist of some floor work.

I mainly just watched the warm up portion because the exercises weren’t really for me. For example, some of the exercises involve touching each finger to your thumb, or breathing deeply and stretching your arms up to open your ribcage.

While I didn’t participate the whole time, I could tell that these would actually be very good exercises for someone with joint problems.

I did join in for leg and stomach exercises during the 22 minutes of floor work. While Jane Powell only did five slow reps, I would pause the tape and do several more.

Aside from exercises that weren’t appropriate for my physical level, it was a really fun work out tape.

Jane Powell in her 1986 video.

Jane is adorable and sometimes counts in a sing songy voice, so we get just a taste of her operatic voice. She wears a bright, sunny yellow leotard and is very sweet to the people exercising with her-understand their limitations and complimenting them the whole time.

To review: For those who are looking for an exercise video to get ripped and toned, this isn’t for you. But for a film fan who wants to see one of their favorite musical stars in another medium, it is a lot of fun.

Jane Powell is 57 in this video and looks wonderful-and looks great today as well!  I think it’s good that she did a workout video taking into consideration that some people aren’t able to do more strenuous exercises.

Check back for February’s beauty tip!

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Fashion in Films blogathon: I guess I’m easily influenced

Old movies have influenced my life in many ways, fashion is one of them.

When my classic film love started to really kick up in the middle school, I noticed fashion the most in the movies.  I always looked for the fashion designers during the credits and became familiar with Givenchy, Edith Head, Helen Rose, Walter Plunkett and Irene.

I even went through a period of time where I drew clothing for paper dolls based off costumes that Rosemary Clooney wore in “White Christmas” or Elizabeth Taylor wore in “Father of the Bride.”

All throughout high school I always wanted to buy vintage clothing, but my mom said it was too risky, “What if it doesn’t fit/is dirty/torn?”

Once I got to college and became VERY friendly with Ebay and started spending a lot of my free time…and money searching and bidding on vintage clothing. My constant Ebay purchases even became a bit of a joke with my friends.

All of my vintage clothing buys have been dictated by fashions I’ve seen in film.  Below are a few photos of some of my vintage clothing buys along with what inspired them: 

Donna Reed in peasant style clothing from LIFE.

Peasant Style: In the 1940s, Latin style outfits were all the rage as a result of the Good Neighbor Policy that the United States had with South American countries.  I’ve always been a big fan of the fashion during this era.  Actresses like Hedy Lamarr in “Tortilla Flat”, Jane Powell “Holiday in Mexico”, Shirley Temple and Jennifer Jones in “Since You Went Away” and Rita Hayworth in “The Loves of Carmen” (just to name a few) can all be spotted wearing peasant blouses and espadrilles.  I bought this outfit over the summer-its taken a long time to find an affordable set-so I could try to resemble some of my favorite 1940s stars.

Barbara Stanwyck in a plaid coat

Masculine Plaid Coats: Another style I’ve spotted alot in 1940s films are women in masculine-like plaid coats.  I first was drawn to this style when I saw Esther Williams in a red and green plaid coat looking beautiful and bright in Technicolor.  Last Christmas I found a Pendleton Wool jacket on Vintage Vixen and wanted it so I could look like Esther Williams.  Other actresses who wore masculine, outdoors coats like this are Barbara Stanwyck, Ginger Rogers or Margaret Sullivan.

Jane Powell in a formal.

Teenage Formals: I doubt I’m the only one who drools of the formals actresses wear in films.  I love all the evening gowns that actresses wear, but I have a certain fondness for teen formals in films. I love the dress that Elizabeth Taylor tromps through the mud in at the end of “Cynthia”, the adorable white and blue dress Jane Powell sings “It’s a Most Unusual Day” in during “Date with Judy” or the formals Ann Rutherford wears as Polly Benedict in Andy Hardy films.  Unfortunately, in today’s fashion culture, there aren’t many opportunities to wear formal gowns like they did in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.  But I couldn’t resist this yellow satin gown on Ebay. I’ll admit, I’ve only worn it for posing in photos, but maybe one day I can wear it out.

Sandra Dee in a see-through frothy cocktail dress.

Chiffon Cocktail dress: Chiffon, ruffled cocktail dresses seemed to be all the rage in the 1960s. I have seen Ann-Margret, Deborah Kerr, Eleanor Parker, Dina Merrill and Kim Novak in this style of gown-unfortunately I couldn’t find photos of any of these.  Sandra Dee’s dress is similar to mine but doesnt have a V-ruffled neck line. I was looking for a dress on Ebay to wear to my cousin’s wedding last September and found this Lili Diamond dress from the 1960s. This usually isn’t my style (if you can’t tell I really like 1940s fashions) but it was a good price so I bought it. It’s ended up being one of my best Ebay buys and I’ve worn it several times. It’s light, comfortable and flattering.

Hedy Lamarr in “Algiers” (1938) wearing a turban

 Turbans: It seems like every actress in the 1940s can be spotted wearing a turban at least once. Lana Turner in “Post Man Always Rings Twice”, Ginger Rogers “Tales of Manhattan” and Gloria Swanson are just a few.  In Hedy Lamarr’s autobiography “Ecstasy and Me” she credits herself with making turbans a fad. Her character in “Algiers” called for an exotic, aloof style so she and the costume designer thought of this look for her. After this, turbans became all the rage, according to Lamarr’s book.  Though several of my family members and friends think I’m nuts, I’ve always been a BIG fan of turbans. I have even worn this out in public several times (along with a vintage mink hat I own). It’s really unfortunate that hats aren’t part of every day wear anymore, but don’t let that stop you from wearing them!

Hedy Lamarr in “White Cargo” (1942)

Tribal: This isn’t a vintage dress, but I’ll admit that I bought it to look like Tondelayo in “White Cargo.” Hedy Lamarr said she felt ridiculous in the role of an over-sexed half cast, according to her autobiography. Regardless, Hedy looks amazing and so I wanted to buy a dress that had that same look.

Espadrilles and Spectator pumps

 Shoes:  I actually don’t have a large variety of shoes-it pretty much consists of 4 different colors of the same pair of flats. But I bought these spectator pumps after seeing so many of favorite actresses wearing them. When Teresa Wright flees Joseph Cotton in “Shadow of the Doubt” and gets cornered in a pub, her shoes are the first thing I noticed. I also love Espadrilles popular during the 1940s-I was fortunate that Old Navy decided to sell this style in Spring 2011.

When it comes to dressing like your favorite stars, beware. Ebay is my drug of vintage clothing choice, but I’m cheap and don’t like to spend more than $30 or $40 dollars. Be careful of people claiming something is 1940s, but is really a 1980s replica. Another great vintage clothing resource is Vintage Vixen. They are friendly, have quick shipping and the most reasonably priced vintage clothing website.

**Thanks to my mom for being patient and helping me take all of these photos today 🙂 **

This blog post is a contribution to Hollywood Revue’s Fashion in Film Blogathon!

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Star Collector

anita
Anita Page in the 1920’s. At one point she had more fan mail than Greta Garbo.

Not only am I old-fashioned in my movie tastes, but I am also pretty passe as a movie fan.

I write fan mail.

You may be thinking, “Who does that anymore?” A surprising amount do continue to write to stars like Debbie Reynolds, Tony Curtis and Elizabeth Taylor. No one writes the stars of today, though, like Angelina Jolie, Orlando Bloom or Jennifer Aniston. Why is this? Because they won’t answer…that is if you can even find an address to write to.

I get my fan mail addresses from an autograph database called StarTiger.com. On the website you can search virtually any movie star, singer or sports player. Each star has their own profile page. On this page there is a list of addresses that you can contact them.

Users comments on the address and rate them with success ratings on if they received an autograph, how fast it was returned or they note if they got an answer at all. There are messages boards for each address where autograph hunters tell what they sent (such as a self-addressed, stamped envelope with two 4×6 photos) and what they got back (such as they signed one picture and left the other unsigned).

I discovered Star Tiger in 8th grade in 2003 for keyboarding class where we were practicing our letter writing skills by writing to famous people. At the time the website was known as Star Archives and was free (users now have to pay a monthly fee). While the rest of my class chose famous rappers like 50 cent and actresses like Sandra Bullock, 14-year-old Jessica Pickens of course chose Doris Day.

This was the first of many fan letters I ever wrote. I wrote to Doris about how much I loved her movies, how she brightened my day and that I used her as a role model to try to keep a sunny disposition. A few weeks after sending off the letter, I was the only student in the class to receive an autographed picture and a nice letter from Ms. Day inviting me to donate money towards her animal foundation.

After this I made lists of stars I wanted to write. Since then I have sent off fan letters twice; sophomore year of high school sophomore year of college.

Unfortunately, there are mournful times when I have to cross a name off a list when a star dies. Some instances have been with June Allyson in July 2006, Cyd Charisse in June 2008 and Kathryn Grayson in February 2010.

Writing fan letters to 70, 80 and 90-year-old movie stars might seem greedy. I will admit that part of it is selfish. I want autographs and to be part of that classic film culture and era, but that isn’t all of it. I want classic stars to know that they are still thought about. That their films are still watched, that they are still loved and a young lady in Greenville, S.C. really looks up to them.

I am showing that I appreciate the stars with my fan mail. The classic actors also show that they appreciate me by responding with autographs. Classic film actors REALIZE that they way they became movie stars is through their fans watching their movies and reading about them in the fan magazines.

Joan Crawford might have a bad reputation from that book of lies “Mommy Dearest” by Christine Crawford. However, Crawford knew she was famous because of her fans and answered each piece of fan mail personally, according to Divas the Site.

Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford signing autographs. Photo taken by Clarence Sinclair Bull in 1933

I’ve also read accounts of people who have seen stars like Van Johnson or Walter Pidgeon who happily stop and sign autographs.
Van
Van Johnson with fans.

Fans used to confuse Lana Turner and Betty Grable, and when either was approached and mistaken for the other, they would sign autographs with the other’s name rather than getting angry and yelling at the fans.

Grable lana
Betty Grable and Lana Turner sometimes were confused because of their platinum locks.

It’s hard for movie viewers of today to hear things like this while the movie stars of today are not as accomodating. In fact they are the opposite. They run from autograph seekers, scream if you call them the wrong name and do not answer fan mail.

Today’s celebrities need to realize that they would be nothing without their fans.

Autographs in order that they were recieved:

1. Doris Day (My first autograph in 8th grade)

doris2

2. Deanna Durbin

3. Esther Williams

4. June Allyson (signed notecard. I was going to send a letter with a picture but she died before I got the chance)

5. Vera Miles, along with a nice note

Vera Picture Vera Letter

6. Annette Funicello (One of my favorites. She signed it herself, which was a great surprise and treat because since she has MS I had heard her husband signed them)

Annette

7. Joan Fontaine

8. Lauren Bacall

9. Ann Blyth

10. Jane Powell

11. Joan Leslie (so sweet and added cardboard to back her picture)

12. Elizabeth Taylor

13. Paul Newman (shortly before his death)

Paul

14. Shirley Temple- sent 2 pictures; one young and one teenaged signed both.
Shirley young Shirley old

15. Van Johnson- again shortly before his death

16. Debbie Reynolds

17. Julie Andrews- pre-signed. I have read she is the worst person for autographs

18. Maureen O’Hara- A real treat and a hard person to contact. Autograph came from Ireland!

Maureen

19. Audrey Totter

20. Doris Day- I wrote her again.

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