About Judy

I'm a 56-year-old film fan from Suffolk in England. My other passions include classic literature and costume dramas.

Raoul Walsh and James Cagney’s 4 Films Together

Raoul Walsh and James Cagney

Raoul Walsh and James Cagney

This is my contribution to the Symbiotic Collaborations blogathon, being hosted by CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch. Please take a look at the other postings, which all focus on collaborations between a director and star.

Both Raoul Walsh and James Cagney are known for their quality of toughness, so it’s no surprise that two of the four movies they made together are famous gangster films. But both director and actor were also interested in focusing on character and, beyond the action sequences,  their films also contain equally powerful scenes bringing out the vulnerability of the heroes/villains played by Cagney. I can’t look at every aspect of all four films here, so am concentrating on this theme. I’ve also put a separate bit about some of the films’ endings at the end, including pictures.

Continue reading

There’s Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk, 1956)

This is my contribution to the Remembering Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon, being organised by Crystal at The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Please do visit and look at the other pieces about one of the all-time greatest film stars.

there's always tomorrow 7It’s a black and white film full of shadows, with Barbara Stanwyck as the woman tempting Fred MacMurray to abandon his virtuous life. Another leading noir actress, Joan Bennett, also stars. But Douglas Sirk’s domestic melodrama There’s Always Tomorrow is worlds away from  Double Indemnity, and Stanwyck’s character here is no femme fatale – or not consciously so. However, her effect on the life of MacMurray’s character could prove to be nearly as devastating as it was in the earlier film.

I have some problems with attitudes woven into this film, which will become clear during my review, but I still find it compelling, as with all the “emotion pictures” by Sirk that I’ve seen so far. And Stanwyck is just as riveting to watch as always, giving depth to a character whose motivation isn’t always clear. This is the second time she had played an outsider returning home in a Sirk film, after the earlier All I Desire, also in black and white.

It’s also one of four films she and MacMurray made together, all very different. After enjoying Double Indemnity, the great Christmas romantic comedy Remember the Night and this one, I’ve only got The Moonlighter still to go. There’s Always Tomorrow was their last time together, though, and that gives an extra poignancy to the film, since they are cast as a couple reunited after years apart.

Continue reading

Sinatra blogathon thanks – and Happy Christmas!

Frank at ChristmasAfter catching up with all  the wonderful contributions to the Sinatra blogathon, I must again thank everyone who took part, and Emily of The Vintage Cameo for all her work in co-hosting and organising. You’ve all been fantastic! I also want to wish everyone visiting my blog a Happy Christmas.

If you missed any of the postings, here are the links:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

And here’s a link to the master list.

I’m now inspired to watch a lot more of Sinatra’s films, so will be catching up with some of those I’ve never seen over the coming weeks and then returning to read the relevant postings again!

 

Meet Danny Wilson (Joseph Pevney, 1951)

This is my second contribution to the Sinatra Centennial Blogathon, which I’m hosting together with Emily from The Vintage Cameo. Emily is hosting the last two days of this event, so please head over to her site to see the latest postings.  My first contribution was Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

Meet Danny Wilson 1It’s not one of Frank Sinatra’s better-known films, and was released as his career was heading for the rocks in the early 1950s. Yet Meet Danny Wilson, an uneven melodrama laced with music and comedy,  contains some of his finest singing, and also gives hints of the acting triumphs which were to come. Made in black-and-white, this film was produced on a low budget and is admittedly no masterpiece, but all the same I really enjoyed it and found it a great way to celebrate his centennial.

In particular, he gives an absolutely spellbinding performance of She’s Funny That Way. The film is also interesting to watch because there are quite a few echoes of Sinatra’s real life, something which was commented on at the time. The film is available on DVD in the UK/region 2, from Eureka, but looks as  if it is harder to get hold of for those of you in the US. The UK DVD, which I own, has pretty good picture quality, but no extras except for the original trailer.

Continue reading

Sinatra Centennial Blogathon Day 2 Round-up

SinatraCentennial-SQWelcome to day 2 of the Sinatra Centennial Blogathon!  We’ve had a fantastic selection of postings today, so congratulations to all! Also, here are links to the Day 1 round-up in case you missed it, and the master list of blogs taking part.

Thanks so much to everyone who is joining in this 100th birthday celebration for Frank Sinatra – to all the wonderful bloggers posting their contributions, to everyone reading and commenting and to my amazing co-host Emily of The Vintage Cameo.

Emily is hosting tomorrow and Sunday, so she will include any contributions which were too late for me to get into today’s round-up. You can either leave a comment at her blog or as a comment to this posting, or tweet me at @MovieClassicsWP and/or Emily @vintagecameos. It would be great if you could use the hashtag #Sinatrablogathon.Again, thanks to everyone!

Continue reading

Sinatra Centennial Blogathon Day 1 round-up

SinatraCentennial-VT

Happy 100th Birthday, Francis Albert Sinatra! The Sinatra Centennial Blogathon is here, running from December 10 to 13. I’m hosting the first two days, Thursday and Friday, here at Movie Classics, before Emily at The Vintage Cameo takes over  for the 100th birthday itself, Saturday, and Sunday.

If you’re taking part, please let us know when your postings go up, so we can spread the word! Either leave a comment on this posting or you can tweet us at @MovieClassicsWP and/or @vintagecameos – or email me at cstmdrama@gmail.com. If you’re tweeting, it would be great if you could use the hashtag #Sinatrablogathon.

Here is a round-up of the first day’s postings, which cover a great variety of films and themes, with many thanks to all the wonderful bloggers taking part. And thanks so much to everyone who is supporting this event! Also, here’s a link to the master list of blogs taking part. If you have put up a post but were too late for today’s round-up, please leave a comment and I’ll add you into tomorrow’s posting.

Continue reading

Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby

Frank and Bing

Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank

This piece is my first contribution to the Sinatra Centennial blogathon, which I’m proudly co-hosting with Emily at The Vintage Cameo. I’m also hoping to put a second piece up before the event ends on Sunday!

They might have only co-starred in two movies, but Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby loom large in each other’s legend. Sinatra took inspiration to start out on his singing career from Crosby’s success, while Bing jokingly spoofed Frank on film. Although best-known as singers, both were also Oscar-winning actors. They appeared together on radio and TV over the years, most famously in the TV special Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank, which has recently been resurrected – and is perfect festive viewing for Sinatra’s Centennial.

According to a biography of the young Sinatra I read a few years ago, Frank: The Making of a Legend by James Kaplan, the young Frank had a picture of Bing on his wall and wore the style of cap favoured by his idol. Once Sinatra started to make a name for himself as a singer and followed Crosby into films, comparisons were soon being made between the two.

Continue reading

Sinatra Centennial Blogathon – it’s almost here!

The Sinatra Centennial blogathon is almost upon us! It will run from tomorrow, Thursday, December 10, through to Sunday, December 13. I’m hosting the first two days here at Movie Classics, and Emily at The Vintage Cameo will be taking over for Saturday (the birthday itself!) and Sunday.

SinatraCentennial-SQ

I’ll put up a posting tomorrow morning and please leave a comment with details of your posting when it’s up, or you can email me at cstmdrama@gmail.com  if you prefer. Alternatively, you can tweet me at @MovieClassicsWP and/or Emily at @vintagecameos. If you’re tweeting about your post, it would be great if you could use a #Sinatrablogathon hashtag.

Here’s a link to the blogathon announcement with the full list of those taking part. We haven’t allocated days in the end, so it’s up to you when to post.

Looking forward to it, and so glad you can join us!

What a Character – Zeffie Tilbury

This is my contribution to the What a Character blogathon. Please do visit and look at the other contributions.

Zeffie Tilbury 3

Zeffie Tilbury as Grandma in The Grapes of Wrath

Zeffie Tilbury appeared in more than 70 films, came from a famous theatrical family and had a long stage career before making her film debut at the age of 54. So I’ve been surprised to see how hard it is to find much information about this grand old lady of film and theatre. Admittedly, many of her movie parts were small and uncredited – but she also played a number of major roles.

The first time I really noticed her was in Desire (1936), directed by Frank Borzage and starring Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper.  Tilbury, who was then in her 70s, plays an elderly conwoman going under the name Aunt Olga, and urging on Dietrich’s character to press ahead with her efforts to con Cooper. She makes a memorable entrance, heading for the booze and admitting in her aristocratic English voice that she is just out of jail. There aren’t many actors who can hold their own with Dietrich on camera, let alone steal a scene, but I’d say Tilbury manages to do it on this occasion.

Continue reading

The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mark Robson, 1954)

This is my contribution to The Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon, hosted by The Wonderful World of Cinema blog. Please visit and take a look at the other postings.

Title: BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI, THE • Pers: HOLDEN, WILLIAM / KELLY, GRACE • Year: 1955 • Dir: ROBSON, MARK • Ref: BRI019AT • Credit: [ PARAMOUNT / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]

William Holden and Grace Kelly

After watching this powerful and haunting Korean war film, I belatedly realised it wasn’t really a good choice for a Grace Kelly blogathon. Kelly’s screen time is all too limited and her part doesn’t give her much scope as an actress. However, her character, Nancy, is important, giving a glimpse of the life that the reluctant  hero, her husband Harry Brubaker (William Holden) has been wrenched away from.

Based on a book by James Michener, whose work also inspired South Pacific, this film has hints of the musical’s mood of disillusion over war. Despite being released only a short time after the end of the Korean War, and made with the co-operation of the US Navy, it isn’t the gung-ho propaganda piece I was half-expecting. The movie pays tribute to the courage of the individuals caught up in the conflict, but suggests that many of them didn’t really know why they were there. Although there are many exciting and stirring scenes, which won the film an Oscar for best special effects, they are often undercut by the sadness and weariness of the central character. This element gives this glossy action picture a surprisingly downbeat feeling at times.

Continue reading