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There Once Was a Man From Nantucket…

True Classics is three years old! (!!!!!!!!) In the blogging racket, three years is an ETERNITY. I raise my bottle of Boone’s Farm to the entire True Classics crew: Brandie, Nikki, Carrie, and Sarah. Thanks for being amazing classic film ambassadors and all-around awesome-y!  To celebrate the occasion, the ladies are hosting a limerick contest! Below are my entries for the event.

 

With vision that’s doubled and blurry
She visits Doc Brent in a hurry
Her prognosis was bleak
She’d die in 12 weeks
He withheld though, to not make her worry

Inspired by Dark Victory (1939)

Why’d Ms. Timberlake stop to think?
She should’ve been in the pink!
Before they retired
Philip desired
To give her That Touch of Mink 

Inspired by That Touch of Mink (1962)

Sheriff Bart took the job no one wanted
The townspeople, their hatred was flaunted
With a tip of his hat
“Where the white women at?”
With his cunning and wit, he taunted

Inspired by Blazing Saddles (1974)

Macaulay was quite a swell guy
He stuttered  uh…uh well… I…
He’s the voice of doom
The drunk in the room
Sipping champagne and rye

Inspired by The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Alicia was loose and unfit
Uncle Sam, for she’d commit
With a tinge of hate
“Alex is my playmate”
Jealous, said Dev, “just skip it.”

Inspired by Notorious (1946)

 

Two “friends” named Randy and Cary
Many women they courted to marry
On the beach in their socks
Shorts tight on their cocks
Of women, claimed Hedda, they’re wary

Inspired by Hollywood tabloid trash and salacious “biographies”
(For the record: I love Hollywood tabloid trash and salacious “biographies”)

 

The man Kelly was known for his class
for women he bowed when he’d pass
When he yelled “Gotta Dance!”
All fell in a trance
Admiring his luscious firm ass

Inspired by Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
(and every other Gene Kelly performance)

 

Drew Struzan: Oeuvre

Courtesy of Titan Books
Courtesy of Titan Books

I have a confession: before snagging a copy of the book Oeuvre I thought “who in the world is Drew Struzan?” Once I opened the book, I immediately knew who he was. Chances are you know who he is too, even if you have never heard his name. Struzan is the mastermind behind some of the most popular and iconic movie posters ever created. He is a frequent collaborator with George Lucas, who penned a lovely foreword to Oeuvre. In addition to his working relationship with Lucas, Struzan is a favorite of directors Steven Spielberg, Guillermo Del Toro, and Frank Darabont.

It’s safe to say that Drew Struzan’s most popular work comes from three of the most beloved film series: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Back to the Future. An entire generation grew up with these images ingrained into the pop culture. In addition to those films, Struzan created artwork for the The Muppets series, Hook, The Goonies, E.T., Star Trek, and The Lord of the Rings, to name a few. His artistic talents are not limited to poster art. Struzan commissioned paintings for the United States Postal Service and their Legends of Hollywood series. His submissions include renditions of John Wayne, Lucille Ball, Edward G. Robinson, James Stewart, and Henry Fonda.

Drew Struzan: Oeuvre by Drew Struzan and his wife Dylan, features a lovely collection of some of his most popular pieces, in addition to an entire section dedicated to artwork from his personal collection. This book serves as a companion piece to the wildly popular The Art of Drew Struzan, which was released a couple years ago. There are no captions next to the artwork, instead there is a detailed index in the back of the book. For ease, I would rather those captions be next to the artwork, but I understand that it would potentially compromise the aesthetic of each image. I will admit that I am generally not a fan of this type of artwork, but when it is in the proper context, it is hard to find fault. I have fond memories of going to the movie theatre and seeing his posters hanging on the wall. They were larger than life! Oeuvre is a nice addition to any film lover’s library and may appeal to the Gen-X crowd.

Drew Struzan: Oeuvre
ISBN: 9780857685575
Titan Books
October 2011
314 pages

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of Drew Struzan: Oeuvre directly from the publisher Titan Books. I thank the publisher for the opportunity to review this book.

Wife vs. Secretary (1936)


Well dear, men are like that. So honorable and able and wise in some things, and just like naughty children in others. You wouldn’t blame a little boy for stealing a piece of candy if left alone in a room with a box full of it, would you?

I am ashamed to say that I haven’t watched many “new to me” classic films lately. I’ve been so incredibly exhausted that whenever I snag a spare moment I fall back on my tried and true favorites. Lots of Wyler, Wilder, and Hitchcock. Not a bad group to fall back on, but it’s not like me to go this long without discovering something new. Maybe I’m still bitter about losing everything on my DVR and that’s why I’ve been so unenthusiastic. Whatever the reason, my dry spell is over! I don’t know if I picked the best for my movie watching homecoming, but it feels good to be back regardless.

As you will come to realize, I have many favorite actors and actresses. Four of them are in this movie (well, one has a relatively small role. The horror!): Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, and a really young and adorable James Stewart. Wife vs. Secretary is a perfect example of the typical run of the mill studio production: top talent under contract forced to make 3 or 4 movies at a time and regurgitated story lines. Definitely not the most memorable film in terms of film quality or story, but memorable because of those involved.

I don’t think anyone would deny the incredible chemistry between Gable and Loy and especially between Gable and Harlow in all of the movies they made together. Wife vs. Secretary is no exception. Gable is Van Stanhope (V.S.), a successful publisher and devoted husband to Linda, played by Loy. Harlow is “Whitey”, Van’s secretary and go-to gal. V.S. and Whitey’s relationship is purely business. Linda acknowledges Whitey’s importance to V.S. and his business affairs and never shows any shred of jealousy. She even expresses gratitude at Whitey’s helpfulness…until V.S’s mother Mimi (May Robson) suggests her son and Whitey are having an affair. Linda scoffs at the idea until a series of suspicious circumstances leads her to question V.S.’s fidelity.

Although I enjoyed Wife vs. Secretary, I had no real investment in the story or the characters for that matter. Gable is charming, as he is in every role, but his performance falls flat. I don’t think it is his fault, but rather because of poor writing. Harlow, known for her more seductive roles, is actually playing against type for a change. According to comments made by Myrna Loy, Harlow desperately wanted to be taken more seriously and wanted to shake the loose lady image. As Whitey she accomplishes that, which is completely refreshing to see. It’s also sad because she had a long career ahead of her and it was tragically cut short. I’m torn about Myrna Loy’s character. I love the sex appeal she brings to the role. It’s not often we see a wife with sex appeal who is also faithful. However,  I do not love Loy as the weakling. I like my Loy to be sensible and independent. Doesn’t everyone? James Stewart has a minor role as Whitey’s dopey-eyed boyfriend Dave. He wants to marry her but does not support her choice to continue working once they are wed. Stewart’s performance is effective and there are glimpses of the grand actor we know and love today.

One thing I always love about Depression-era films is their portrayal of the wealthy and elite classes. At the beginning of the film, V.S. and Linda are celebrating their wedding anniversary. V.S. surprises Linda with a diamond bracelet inside her breakfast fish. 1) Who eats a whole damn trout for breakfast and 2)who puts ridiculously expensive jewels inside a fish to be discovered? Apparently Myrna Loy was not too fond of that scene and tried to have it removed from the film. I also love the solution to a dissolving marriage: Take an ocean voyage! Nothing like the slow boat to Europe to think about your life. I guess it’s to avoid the prying eyes of the gossip columns and the social set. I must remember that if my husband and I ever have marital problems, I should book a cruise immediately.