"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" ... Bogart, Shakespeare, The Maltese Falcon, Those Great Movies

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Captain Hook and Cyril Ritchard -- A Fond Tribute

If you are old enough to remember the wonderful 1960 television production of Peter Pan with Mary Martin as Peter and the fabulous Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook, you have probably remembered Cyril with great fondness.  Or perhaps you have been lucky enough to see the show some time over the years.  Cyril stole the show as the rather hapless leader of the dumbest bunch of pirates ever gathered.  He was flamboyant, funny as hell, and made his mark on my whole generation.  I ran across this picture of his wedding to his wife Madge in 1935.  I just had to share it.  Is Madge's dress magnificent or what?  And Cyril is the epitome of the dapper English gentleman.  The picture is a little bit fuzzy, but I just had to make it big enough to really showcase its beauty.

Cyril was an immensely popular and prolific stage star of musical comedies.  Because of the TV production of Peter Pan, the whole country was able to experience his charisma and great talent.  He was also the good friend of another figure who made his mark on my childhood, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.  Many may remember Bishop Sheen's popular TV show, which was top in the ratings for many years.  When Cyril died December 18, 1977 at age 80, Bishop Sheen celebrated his funeral Mass.

If you haven't seen him perform, I found one of his funniest numbers in Peter Pan to post here.  Whenever Captain Hook needed to think, he called his pirate band to inspire him with music.  They would ask:  "What tempo, Captain?"  He would reply:  "Tempo, Tempo, Tempo!" and decide.  This one is his ultimate, the hilarious waltz.  I hope it makes you laugh as much as I do, no matter how many times I see it.  My favorite line is Hook's angry response to disrespect:  "NO!  BI-CARBONATE OF SODA, NO!"

Cyril Ritchard -- nobody could top him as Captain Hook!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

And You Thought YOUR Boyfriend Was Bad!

Everybody has had one ... the boyfriend who turns out to be the biggest four-flushing, dirt-eating, woman-ogling, foul-mouthed, eats-with-his-mouth-open, bullying maroon who breaks up with you the day before Valentine's and then wants to get back together the next day.  Gentlemen readers, you are free to substitute the feminine gender and any similar characteristics ... it's only fair.  The movies are chock full of nasty boyfriends, so count yourselves lucky, girls, that you didn't try to date any of these guys.
(Spoilers are par for the course here, so continue at your own risk.)

Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson in Key Largo, 1948).

The ultimate gangster, Rocco has no conscience or love at all for the woman who has stuck with him for many years.  Gaye Dawn (Claire Trevor) is now an aging, alcoholic, former nightclub singer. She is pitiful, an abused woman who keeps coming back for more.  Rocco enjoys it a lot.  Oh, that horrendous scene in which Rocco forces her to stand and sing for her liquor!  Anybody with a heart can't watch that without wincing and feeling sick for this woman.  And then he welshes on his promise and won't give her a drink.  Thank heaven for Bogart, who not only gives Gaye her drink, but gives Rocco a bullet in the end.


Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift in The Heiress, 1949).

Every time I see this movie, my mind keeps repeating "How could he?  How could he?!"  Gorgeous, charming Morris, who makes rich, homely Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) blossom like a flower because she believes he loves her ... who can forget Catherine sitting in the parlor with her bags packed, waiting for Morris to come and get her so they can elope?  And he never comes ... her hopeful, loving face wilts and part of her dies forever.

Morris returns after Catherine inherits her money, with excuses and "the same old lies" says Catherine, after telling Morris to return that night and elope with her.  He returns, and in one of the most powerful endings ever, he hammers desperately at the bolted door while Catherine, now a strong woman, climbs the stairs and leaves him behind.  What woman wouldn't give her right middle finger to get that chance!  There are two separate camps of opinion about Morris.  Some believe he really did want to protect her from angering her father with an elopement and possibly losing her inheritance.  Others believe he was just a complete rat.  I'm with the rat pack.


Danny (Robert Montgomery in Night Must Fall, 1937).

Definitely cute, Danny may not seem to fit the category of boyfriend to Olivia (Rosalind Russell), but the chemistry is there and the sparks fly throughout this story of a pathological killer.  Charm exudes from Danny and everybody loves him ... except Olivia, who feels that Danny is a dangerous man even while she is attracted to him.  Robert Montgomery is just wonderful in this part, quite a departure at the time from his usual light comedy fare.  This guy is scary!

Mrs. Bramson (Dame May Whitty) is an annoying bully of a woman, but she believes Danny is like a son to her.  She doesn't deserve her fate at the hands of the sweet young man who comes home to finds her alone and scared, and seems to be comforting her with brandy and sweet talk.  She doesn't know that a pillow and Danny's strong hands will follow that drink.


Tom Stevens (Hugh Marlowe in The Day The Earth Stood Still, 1951).

The ultimate wormy guy, Tom somehow wriggled his way into Helen Benson's (Patricia Neal) life as her boyfriend.  Nothing really untoward had happened yet, although there were signs of jealous pique and controlling behavior.  However, when Klaatu and Gort arrived from space, Tom was unconcerned that he might be bringing doom to the planet Earth.  All he could think of was being a big man.  Helen pleads with him not to betray Klaatu, but all Tom could say is "You'll feel differently when you see my name in the papers."  "I feel differently now," she says.  Smart woman.

Obviously Klaatu (dreamy perfectly tailored Michael Rennie) would be a fabulous boyfriend, but even Gort would have been a better catch than Tom.


Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard in Gone With The Wind, 1939).

I hope I don't get too much hate mail for this one, but I've always thought Ashley was a major wimp and quite a tease to Scarlett.  She always gets the blame, but Ashley kept stringing her along all through the movie.  (He counts as a boyfriend since he squired Scarlett around before his marriage and didn't give up the job completely after that.)  Rhett was so right ... Ashley couldn't go all out one way or the other.  It's a good thing for him Melanie was so kind and understanding, or he would have had the door slammed in his face pretty quick.  I would have had more respect for him if he had just thrown Scarlett down in the mud at war-torn Tara and had  his way with her.  They would both have gotten it out of their system and life could go on...

Man up, Mr. Wilkes!  Do it, or don't do it, but bring it to some kind of climax already!


Bluto (Popeye cartoons, beginning 1933)

Everybody's favorite big bully, Bluto courted and abused Olive Oyl at every opportunity.  Popeye was always there to save her, but wait a minute ... is it possible that Olive was responsible to some degree?

Yep, there's old Olive fawning and simpering over big bad Bluto.  I just can't feel sorry for her ... in her case, she really asks for it!

The moral of all this is:  Listen to your Mom and Dad when they beg you to dump that guy!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Welcome To My Polar Pad

What movies shall I watch while Indianapolis temperatures dip to 15 below (real temperature!) and we get 10 feet of snow (well, one foot anyway)?  I can think of a few.....

This will be home sweet home for me ... I won't have gorgeous Dr. Zhivago to cuddle with, but my kitty Harriet loves to sit in my lap, so at least that will be warm.

I had to get candles and flashlight batteries -- so did everybody else in town.  We were all making the March of the Penguins to the drugstore.  Of course, if the power really does go out, so does the heat ... then my eyelids will freeze shut and candles and flashlights won't be any help.

 Dive!  Dive!  Not a good time to come up!  (Ice Station Zebra)  Hey, I bet my car will look like that!

 Jaws took a swim too far north...(I'll watch that one to remember summer heat).

The Thing of it is, I should have installed indoor plumbing...

I'll end with something really beautiful..  The Snowman makes cold and snow look fun.  And the superb song "Walking in the Air" always makes me feel fabulous, no matter what the weather.  Sung by England's St. Paul Cathedral choirboy Peter Auty with a piercing sweetness.

Happy shivering, everybody!