Category Archives: Movies

The times, they have changed

Given my love of movies of a certain age (older than me!), I have to accept that some of the things seen as ‘fine’ back then, just look horrid now. In truth, I dont even have to go back that far for a prime example, there was a 1970’s TV series called ‘Love Thy Neighbour’, which at the time was designed to show off the racist attitude of one of the actors, when a West Indian couple moved in next door. In truth, the humour was probably pretty dodgy back then, but if people watched it now, with modern eyes, they’d probably want to burn all the tape of the program. Fine, now, it would probably be for the best, but back then, well, lets just say there were people, like myself, who found the attitudes to be horribly wrong, and there were others who just couldnt see what was wrong with his opinions!

There is a ‘much discussed’ silent movie dating from 1915, called Birth Of A Nation, that, to put it bluntly, shows the KKK in a good light. No, to modern eyes, that isnt good, and hopefully to some at least back then, they felt the same way about the matter, though I suspect the segregation that went on back then, less so. My personal view, the nature of the film, as it portrays, is ghastly, but its film history, that with modern eyes looks awful, but back then, things were different. I’d love to say the whole matter is solved, but as we’ve sadly seen too many examples of in the US recently, sadly there are a few ‘cavemen’ type who still think that is right. No, I’ve never seen the movie, so cant comment in a personal way.

But the one I have seen, that is now starting to cause a fuss, in a similar manner, is Gone With The Wind! Seriously, its a story of the American Civil War, set at a time when white people were in charge, and everyone else was treated with disdain, but…I’ve seen several reports of late of cinemas refusing to show it, because of what its about. I know, if the nature of it upsets you, dont go and see it, but seriously, its a film classic, and trying to stop others watching it, of their own free choice, seriously…? So leave the film be!

No, I agree, it would never be made now, because the times have changed, but back then…So yes, before you comment on these movies, or the Charlie Chan movies (where a white man dressed up as an oriental, rather than getting a Chinese actor for the part) as being horrible in modern eyes, just stop and think. Try, if possible to see them through the eyes of people who were around back in the 1930’s, or before, not through modern eyes. Or better, dont watch them, unless you can! Yes, they are horrible to modern eyes, but these were made 80 years ago, or more, when things were very different.

End of rant!

Video time. Well this isnt quite as old as Gone With The Wind, but its nearly as old as me!

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A Musical Moment?

Fine, as my only potential ideas for tonight, were politics, which is never a shrewd move, or making comments about the IQ of people from Brighouse, who travel by bus, lets go with a more pleasant, and surprising third option. Yes, a Clara Johnson moment!

For those with short memories, I did a past life regression a few years back, and discovered that I had been an actress in Hollywood, during the late 20’s, and 30’s. No, not the famous one, whose original name I’ve taken, but humble, bit part actress, Clara Johnson!

The annoying thing about bit part actresses back then, is they never got film credits. So, beyond one movie, working out which films she appeared in, impossible challenge! But yes, thats right, in 1937, she got a credit, albeit in an uncredited role, in a movie called Thin Ice.

I must admit, from what I’d discovered about her (not a great deal, but getting there slowly), I assumed she was a dancer in this. She might actually have been a dancer in this, as well as, or instead of, but look at all these uncredited musicians in the orchestra, trying to pretend they’re playing the music! Yes, all female!

So, is Clara in the band, is she one of the audience watching the show, or is she simply in another scene, who knows? Some day soon, I hope to get to watch the movie in full, but even then, its not likely I will truly know which one is her. Annoying, I guess, but at least I’ve now seen a bit of the movie that I know she’s in!

As always, at this moment, if anyone has any more details about Clara E Johnson, photos of her, can identify what she did in this movie, or knows anyone related to her, or even her married name, I’d love to know. Thanks in advance, I hope!

No popcorn at the movies

Right, a little bit of a mixed bundle tonight, catching up on various things, from the last few days.

Firstly, thankfully the issue with the picture has thankfully been sorted, yes, nothing more than a language issue, which a wonderful lady helped me to sort. So now, I suppose I’d better let you see the picture?

Birthday wishes

A real delight, to light up my birthday, don’t you think?

OK, the reason for no popcorn at the movies, nothing to do with them selling out of the stuff. No, in fact, what has virtually sold out for tonight, is seat tickets! Yes, pretty much, or indeed already is, a full house! So no, given that its quite a trek to Elland, especially on a Saturday night, I’m not going. A shame, as it would have been fun, but in reality, might be a lot easier on my old body by not going. Anyway, not a total loss. I went on You Tube, hoping to find the main one I was going for, the one with Jean Harlow in, ‘Bacon Grabbers’, and lo and behold, found it! Fine, watching it on a laptop is not the same as seeing it on a big screen, but its a good consolation. She only actually appears in the last couple of minutes, but its a good, classic, Laurel and Hardy slapstick comedy.

Fine, I’ll slip the videos in here, as this is what they refer to. Yes, videos, 2 of them, take your pick, or try both. The first is the obvious song, though I had never imagined that Kraftwerk would ever have turned their hands to something as silly as this. Sadly, no pictures, but couldnt find any group performances of this by anyone, so… OK, I found Crazy Frog, but you really dont want that!

The other, is a totally different song, from a totally different era, but probably more apt for me. No, I know nothing about the Fontane Sisters, beyond whats on Wikipedia, so dont ask! Active between 1941, and 1961, but no idea when in that period this was recorded. Most likely from ’48 onwards, but dont quote me on that!

Right, lastly, yesterday was signing on day at the Job Centre. In the middle of discussing my job applications, I was asked if I fancied actually working at the Job Centre. To be honest, even if I wasnt desperate, I would have said yes, as its the sort of ‘something different’ that I’d love to do. So anyway, to cut a long story short, I’ve applied, taken some tests, and now just have to wait and see what happens, I guess? Oh, and any prospective employers out there, I’m open to any full time job offer, thats legal! French maid might not be my dream job, but if the pay is decent, then yes, at the moment, I would! Kidding, I, err, think? Oh fine, I might be lousy at it, but it would be fun! Uniform would be, at least!

I think thats everything, for now at least, so…

Can I have my money back?

No, not literally, even if there is one twisting so and so out there that owes me, but anyway…No, that line gives away the video, and also is a potential clue to something I might go and see on Saturday night. Might, comes down more to travel issues, especially coming back, as the cost of getting to the movie, getting into the movie, and something to eat/drink (maybe?), could probably be done for about £15, or so. I know, but getting out, and having a good laugh, might help to keep me sane! Thats not to say that if someone wants to take me to Elland, or treat me, that I wouldnt say no!

What I’ve discovered, is that there is a delightful little cinema over Elland, called the Rex, very old fashioned look, but fitted with all the modern things you’d want in a cinema. But yes, you’ve probably guessed it, its not a modern movie that I’m thinking of going over there to see, oh no! What they’re showing on Saturday night, is 4 Laurel and Hardy movies. One full length one, 3 shorts, making up just over 2 hours of hilarious entertainment. So yes, I’m tempted to say “what the hell!” and go.

OK, what tempts me even more is that in one of the shorts, is some blonde, bit part actress, playing the wife of one of Stan, and Ollie’s comic victims. Yes, thats right, some unknown (well, she was at the time) named Jean Harlow! The movie, ‘Bacon Grabbers’, which is 20’s slang for a repo man, which is where the blog title, and the video come from. Thats right, I’ve never seen this one, so in that sense, its the one I’m going for, even if its not the main movie, and she’s probably in it for 3 minutes maximum! Still be fun to see the other 3, all the same.

Getting back “should” be fine, though obviously there are less buses around at that time of night, after the movies are finished. Metro convinces me that it can be done, and it is my birthday this week, so…I may well give it a go. And yes, getting out, and having a good laugh, might just do me the world of good, I guess? Oh, and fine, its another Harlow movie I can tick off my list lol! So?

The video, the late great, Gerry Rafferty, with what was pretty much his first solo performance as an artist. It wont keep you long, much as a 20 minute, silent movie would do!

One of those different job interviews

And not just because it was the complete opposite in style to the one I had on Monday either. I’ll be honest, I went in with no great expectations on it, expecting it to be more of the same, but hey, I was wrong, in the end, it was fun! Doesnt mean I’ll get the job, more on that shortly, but at least I managed to leave it behind, probably in a better frame of mind than when I went in, and thats very rare.

No clues, to start with that this would be anything out of the ordinary, just the standard application form, and… Then we went downstairs as a group, and were presented with a letter writing challenge (not a first, part of customer service job would involve writing letters/emails to clients, so… The thing is, I’d looked up a bit on the company in advance, so knew a bit about them. Snag was, the questions in the accompanying quiz were about the collections industry, not the company. I knew a few answers, guessed a few others, so we will see.

First interview (there were 2 guys, each doing their own thing) was standard enough, asking questions about what I’d done, what I could bring to the company, and all the other standard stuff. At the end of that, I was told the other guy would also be interviewing me, and I assumed that was where the dreaded competency stuff would kick in. Wrong!

I’ve heard tales of interviews out of the left field, but this was actually my first experience of one. Fine, it started off with an easy question for me, the perfect job. I decided to go left field in reply, so rather than astronaut, or mad scientist’s guinea pig, I went with a 1930’s actress. Original answer, which he seemed to enjoy. Fine, he fired back, asking me to describe the colour yellow, to a blind person. Well, I went in for things like the warmth of the sun, and a field of daffodils, and was told I’d done far better with an answer to this, than most.

So yes, scarily, I walked out of a job interview, feeling like I’d had a good time, despite the quiz. I may, or may not get the job of course, but for once, I wasnt frazzled when I left the interview, a rare event.

Today, at 8.40, I applied for a job in Halifax. Half an hour or so later, I’m being asked if I can go to a group interview in the morning. Yes, its a big company, so its going to be done in a more traditional (modern) way, and not fun. Then after I get back, the passport will go into an envelope, get taken to the post office up the road, and sent off recorded delivery. When I get return delivery, my passport will say I’m female, going by the name of Harlean Stephanie Carpenter. Yes, another special moment.

Tonight’s video. Well, it relates back to the first of those delightful ‘left field’ questions I got asked today, a real blast from the past!

Sunset Boulevard at Sunset Boulevard

Fine, I lie, strictly I saw it about 100 yards from Sunset Boulevard, but you could see, and hear the traffic on said street, so close enough. Mind, the section of said road featured in the film, is not the section in downtown Hollywood, but who’s counting?

As I’ve joked before, I dont seem to do films in a standard setting any more. A recent one was at Bradford Cathedral, and last night, on the roof of the Montalban Theatre, sat in a deck chair, wearing wireless earphones (classy ones too), with my feet on astro turf grass! A great experience especially as I was an equally short distance from Hollywood Boulevard on the other side.

Sunset Boulevard (1950), the movie, is one of those films that I suspect more people have heard about than seen. Before last night, that was certainly true for me. Yes, Gloria Swanson steals the show totally, as the crazed Norma Desmond, though the supporting cast is pretty decent too. Given the nature of her career, you could say she was playing herself, but given she was only about 4th option (Pickford, Negri, and Mae West supposedly turned down the part first), maybe thats not the case, but it was the feel I got. Some of the lines have gone into cinema lore, and its well worth seeing, I feel.

Alright, the down side for me. Yes, its on the rooftop, but I wasnt expecting to climb 5 flights of stairs to get there, nowadays! Beyond that, no there really werent any, beyond the old bones finding it hard work to get up from the deck chair afterwards. So much so, given there is a film I’ve seen before, and love, being shown there tomorrow night, I might go back. Lets just say the clue is in the video! 😉

But seriously, if anyone had told me that I’d be sat outside, on a roof, watching a 1950 film, in October, just wearing a dress, well…yes, it was nearly 100 degrees here again yesterday, though its calming down a little in the next few days. Fine, it will still be about 80, but…

Lastly, the video, not the original one, which I’ve used before somewhere, so found this live version

The interview, a drink, and some old friends

OK, lets try and catch up on things. I’ll own up to one issue with this, I cant for the life of me remember what I did Thursday. I know, blonde and all that, just calm compared to the other 3 days, so…Maybe I was time travelled back to the 30’s, to work in the movies as Jean, and they had to erase my memories afterwards (yes, I am joking, I think?), but anyway…

Wednesday was an early start for me, in the sense I had to leave here on the 10.00 bus. OK, fine, I can follow its progress online, and at some point it had got delayed, and only left about 10 past. As I say, the beauty is, I knew that, so had a few extra minutes here. Oh, I eventually let Jean Harlow influence me, and wore a white summer dress for the performance, some at least will get the connection.

The interview seemed to go fine, I had no idea the half hour was actually up until Alexia started winding things down, to be honest. Its garnered a few questions on Sqeeqee, so clearly a good number watched it at least. I think it went well, but I’ve had no comments on that line, nor any offers from generous benefactors, so who can tell? Fine, my lack of success has probably jaded me on such issues, so…

Afterwards, I headed to Universal Studios, not to make a movie, or to go in the adventure park, but for a bit of lunch. I then had 2 choices. I could either come back here, relax, and wait for the fan mail to come pouring in (ha ha), or I could travel out, and see a few more places. So, I did the latter. The Orange line of the metro doesnt have rails, or indeed a train. its a bus, but it doesnt travel on public roads. I went out to the Warner Centre, where maps were suggesting there was a shopping centre, so I thought I could have a coffee, or something, before heading home. OK, this is the shopping centre that the public forgot! Very few people, very few shops, so I gave up, and headed home the same way.

Thursday, as I say, if I ever remember what happened, I’ll let you know!

Yesterday, I started watching the play off game from Toronto, which started about 9.30 in the morning over here. My thought was that I would watch that, then head down into Hollywood, have a late lunch, and do a little sightseeing, before heading back here, to change into something vintage, and head for the Art Deco society cocktail soiree at Union Station. Fine, 14 innings, and about 5 hours later, the Toronto game ended. By which point, if I’d headed down town, I would barely have eaten, before I had to come back up here to change. So…I started watching the remains of the Kansas City game lol. I went with the blue summer dress, rather than anything more old fashioned, because it was very light, which was handy, given it was about 100 outside! Fine, its a 50’s look, but it was the most modern looking outfit by about 20 years! It was a lovely evening, but for 1 thing. Union Station lacks for air conditioning! Therefore, given the place was crowded, and the heat, oh my, it was hot.

You’ve noticed one thing, no main meal. So when I got back to Hollywood/Vine station, I went looking for somewhere quick (and hopefully cheap) to eat. I found a place called Feast, which fitted both roles, and was solidly filled by chicken, rice, and veg. Beyond the personal thing about firm veg, it was great for the price! Then, I walked it off, coming home.

Today was equally hot, I might add. (It was 99 earlier, now calmed down to 86, but this is after 7 pm!) Someone was booked on the Art Deco society guided walking tour of Hollywood Forever cemetery. Some of it was shaded, but unfortunately, most wasnt. Even with a bottle of drink, it was hot work, for over 2 hours! The tour was fascinating, and I now know a lot more of the history of LA, both in a movie, and business sense. Afterwards, I headed back into town, found somewhere indoors (and air conditioned) to eat, and took my time, allowing my feet to recover, and my body to cool down slightly!

One snag I’ve discovered over here, is that not all sites over here will take a UK credit card. They want a zip code in your billing address, I havent got one, so nothing happens. So I tried to get a movie ticket in person for tomorrow night, instead of online. I tried to explain this to the guy at the theatre, but he wasnt getting my message, and besides, their ticket office didnt open at weekends, so…! I came home, and tried my luck. Fortunately, its one of those sites where it does work. So tomorrow night, on a rooftop setting, I’m off to see Sunset Boulevard. Yes, the 1950 film, not the street, though the latter is not that far from the theatre! Given tomorrow night’s low is forecast at 70, I dont think I will get cold, even if I just wear a nice dress!

Further plans? Well, the same place is showing Breakfast At Tiffanys on Tuesday, so could well end up there. I know, a bit modern for me, but I’ll live. Yes, the Hepburn movie, not the music video from the 90’s! I also want to get to Pacific Palisades again, and Pasadena for the first. Beyond that, we will see?

Right, the video, before this hits 4 figures for words. You could say I met a few of these, from the movie past today

All we want, is equal rights

Right, just before we get to the main part of the blog, just one thing I want to mention. It was 30 years ago today, that Louise Brooks died, in Rochester. One thing is for sure, Louise wouldnt have wanted a lot of fuss made, so I’m not making any.

So, without wishing to sound too feminist, and all that, tonights piece is about equality for women. Thats right, equality, its all women actually ask for, not more as some seem to think the whole feminist society would suggest. And more, tonights piece is about one specific place of misogyny close to my heart, Hollywood.

I’ll be honest, before April I had no idea how skewed movie making in Hollywood was, pretty much because one thing of no major interest to me, is modern films, and the making of them. But at that time, and since, I’ve got to discover just how biased all the roles are towards men. No, not the acting roles, but everything else! Though of course most of these action movies seem to focus on men in the roles anyway. Just compare the gender split in super hero movies, for starters!

No, I’m not looking for work myself, though if offered the right form of work, I wouldnt say no, especially at present. But I met in April, a lot of marvellous women who just arent getting the fair break, because the ‘old boys club’ just gives all (or pretty much all) the work to men. Doesnt matter about quality of work, its jobs for the boys! No, I’m not saying get rid of them all, just give us girls a fair break! I know, they arent likely to read this, but at least I can get it off my chest, and the next time you go to the movies, take a look at the behind the scenes roles, and see how many are female. Believe me, it wont be many!

OK, rant over, and not a single bra burnt lol!

Other news, not much. Given that the job I was interviewed for on Thursday wanted me to start on Monday, and I havent heard anything, I guess I havent got it? I know, not hearing anything, what a surprise nowadays! At present all I have as possibles for next week is one role in the travel industry, who rang Thursday, while I was out, who asked when I was available, so I told them, but got no reply. I rang them Friday, got an answer machine, but she could have been off? Other than that at present, I’ve got 1 agency registration on Thursday, and a possible open evening at another the same evening. Beyond that, next weekend, all things permitting (miracle happening, or air fare going crazy), I’ll be doing more than just considering the options for 4 weeks away, I’ll be booking it. Yes, almost certainly Hollywood, no shock there. Who knows, I might even be the woman who gets that deserved break lol?

Right, the video. What women probably feel they are doing when trying to get important roles in Hollywood

Dinner At Eight (1933)

This posting is an added extra bonus for my readers, as part of the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon, wonderfully run by Movies Silently, Once Upon A Screen, and Silver Screenings. Well, fine, thats their Twitter tags, I know them by other names too, but for you…that will do.

So, in no great shock horror moment, I’ve picked a Harlow movie to review. To be honest, it was a toss up between this, and Bombshell (where Jean pretty much plays herself) for my choice, and Dinner At Eight won out, probably because of the closing line, at her expense.

Its said that MGM tossed a pile of stars at this movie, and it shows. 2 Barrymore’s amongst many, and of course, Jean Harlow. Funnily enough though, for me, its none of them that steal the movie, its Marie Dressler, as Carlotta, and Wallace Beery, as Packard who do that.

It is a Pre code movie, and it shows. In that half the characters are having illicit affairs, and just about everything else goes too. For those readers who dont know what I’m talking about, prior to 1934, things were a bit more “relaxed” as to what was permitted in movies, than was for the next 30 years or so. The other thing you can tell, is that its set in the Depression era, as most of the characters are either down on their luck, or heading that way.

Yes, most. The Packard’s are the newly rich, and I suspect not entirely in a lawful way, but anyway…Everyone else seems to be struggling with money, or loves, or…something! And irony, the 2 people who said dinner is being held for, go off elsewhere instead!

Jean, as Kitty, is sassy, tarty, and having a sly affair with her doctor. Beery, as her husband, makes the perfect foil for her. But one stands out amongst others, and that is Marie Dressler, as Carlotta, the down on her luck actress. She plays the part with relish, and of course, at the end, just before they go into dinner, shoots Kitty down in flames wonderfully. This is it!

There are tales that it was either added to the script at the last moment, and no one told Jean, to get a natural reaction. Equally that Dressler simply ad libbed the line into it, but I would be amazed if that was the case, given the way films were made back then.

The sad irony of this movie, is that Dressler makes a comment about death, and how even the young cant stop it coming, after a failed, drunk actor committed suicide. Why ironic? Well of course, as is well known, just 4 years later, the very young Jean Harlow was dead, at 26, due to kidney failure, which wasnt curable back then. But also, just 2 years after this movie was made, Dressler was dead too, from cancer, at the age of 65.

If you want to see an excellently cast, superb movie about life in the Depression era, then you should try to see this. Its not actually (at time of writing) available in full on You Tube, but it can be cheaply picked up at Amazon, or Ebay, and other places as well I’m sure.

Yes, there is crossover with Harlow, and Kitty, a character, to put it mildly. But if you want a light hearted biog of Jean Harlow, go watch Bombshell. Its not strictly true, but its a closer match than either of the films made about her in the 60’s. Of course, it doesnt include the end of her life, but anyway…

Lastly, the video. Well, the song has the perfect title, so…

And today is…

National Classic Movie Day, so I’m told.

I do think that just maybe we are getting to a point of overkill with these things to be honest, but as it is one with a special meaning for me, I’ll roll with it.

When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to watch the likes of ‘Gone With The Wind’, ‘Wizard Of Oz’ and ‘Casablanca’, and realise just what amazing movies they were. Yes, there were many others too, too numerous to mention, but they are pretty much 3 films that everyone has heard about, so…

Of course, in terms of personal classics, everyone has their own. Some of those films probably werent classics to most, but to the person who really matters, you, they are, and thats all that really counts!

A lot depends on your preference, I guess? Musicals, light comedy, war films, westerns, and so much more, all have their fans. As of course, do silent movies! In terms of personal tastes, both ‘Metropolis’ and Pandora’s Box’ get mentioned in such terms, though neither was wildly popular at the time they were made.

Of course, for many of my readers, their personal classics will be a lot more modern than mine! The only recent one that stands out for me in that sense, would be ‘Titanic’, but as you know, in terms of modern movies, I’m not a big fan.

Oh, and before you ask, no, I dont think Jean Harlow made a movie that would truly be regarded as a classic. She may well have done, had she lived a bit longer, and indeed there are tales that she had been asked to audition for the part of Scarlett O’Hara, but I have no idea how true that is. The one thing known, is that she was reading the book at the time of her death, and most suspect that was related. But given events, we will never know…

‘Dinner At Eight’ is probably her gem, but that is probably as much due to the supporting cast, as well as her personal skills. But believe me, if you get the chance, watch it. If not, try and find the segment of the closing lines, one of the greatest “put downs” of all time, hoisted on Jean!

So, unless its late in the day, as it is here, take a portion of your day, go watch a classic movie. After all, its the day to do so. Even if it is late in the day, and you havent seen one lately, spoil yourself.

Lastly, as always, the video. What were those great actors, and actresses, I ask you? Super stars, of course.