February...love is in the air this month and Wandering Through The Shelves loves this time of the year for movies. I am certain Hallmark will throw up all kinds of flicks starring whoever as they fall in love with another person ending up in each other's arms after much consternation. Yup, sounds like a typical love life. They will never show a man and woman meeting at a bar, getting it on and, the next morning, he makes her breakfast before saying,"So long Olive. I'll call you." "My name is Alice," she replies before he shuts the door on her face. Ahhhh love. Anyway, here are my 3 picks...
1. DESTRY RIDES AGAIN-1939
You have James Stewart as a young man(Destry) come to this derelict and corrupt town to become sheriff and create a more peaceful atmosphere. Little does he know how corrupt it is and little do the townsfolk know how good this sheriff is. He may not want to wear his gun but that doesn't mean he doesn't get his point across even when he meets the grand Frenchy, played by Marlene Dietrich. He has a soft spot for Ms. Frenchy but she is with Corrupt Kent (no relation to Clark) and uses her wiles on Stewart not thinking he might know more than she realizes. This is Stewart's first western and Dietrich came back from being called "Box-Office poison" to win many accolades as the trampy Frenchy. She also sang 2 of her, now, signature tunes, "See What The Boys In The Backroom Will Have" and "You've Got That Look" that she would sing in her later cabaret acts. When she saw Stewart, the sex hungry Dietrich wanted him and tried everything but nothing seemed to work because he seemed to have his head stuck in the Flash Gordon comics so she made a life size replica of Flash for him and showed it in his dressing room...where she showed him even more. They had quite the affair and, apparently, she became pregnant but, without him knowing, had an abortion and that was that. On another note, the cat fight between her and Una Merkel was not choreographed. Marlene and Una got together and decided to not use any fists but everything else was fair game. The fight was done in one take but they both were quite bruised up. It is a fun-filled comedy with dramatic overtones and worth seeing.
2. I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE-1949
I finally saw this film a couple of years back and, it was and is, delightful. It stars Cary Grant as Henri, a Frenchman(yeah, disregard this as Grant is as French as I am as pure as the driven slush) who must bring in Schindler, a lens maker. He is assigned with an American Lieutenant, Catherine, to be his driver as he is not allowed to drive any army vehicles. They know each other from previous clashes and are not amused that they must travel together on a motorcycle with a sidecar no less. Needless to say, they find their inner amore for each other and wish to be together but what will the army do to interfere. I love Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan is a pleasure. I wish more people would know about Ann Sheridan because she was quite famous in the day. I will say that Cary Grant makes the most unconvincing woman I have ever seen but that is nearer the end of the film which is ok. It's a good laugh with great shots of Germany etc.. right after the war plus the language that the army uses gives us a feel for how it was back then. D.P. (I grew up hearing that term from my dad and my mom would call herself that and laugh) means Displaced Persons for people who come from another country. I was surprised that many people, my age, have no clue what that meant.
3. THE BANDWAGON-1953
I could show a trailer from this film but who doesn't want to see Cyd Charisse slink her way around Fred Astaire. This gal had legs for ages and exuded sensuality in her dancing. Just note that Fred was 54 when he dances all his numbers. Yes, (sorry Shady), this is a musical but, along with "Singing In The Rain", it can stand on its own as a funny comedy. It stars Fred Astaire as a, once famous, now forgotten song and dance man who comes to NYC to meet up with his old pals, played by Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray. They are writing a show and want him to star in it and have the great Jeffrey Cordova (played so well by the British song and dance man, Jack Buchanan) direct it. They also want Gabrielle Gerard(Charisse), the famous ballerina, to be his love interest in the show. Of course, the 2 leads don't hit it off when her snobbish looks at Fred get the better of him as he claims she is too tall and has no understanding of Broadway since she is a ballerina. The 2 begin to gel when they decide to take a carriage ride and dance in central park (that makes me swoon) but everyone is concerned about Cordoba's flair for the too dramatic. Buchanan plays his role so well as a Jose Ferrer meets Orson Welles ego character that he is a highlight in the film. At the time the film was made Jose Ferrer had several shows on Broadway directing and starring in them and Orson is known to be ...well...Orson. Even the director, Vincente Minelli makes fun of his former film, The Pirate, when he stages the "Faust" scene. I love the backstory that Oscar was being too Oscar berating Nanette any chance he got until she told him off in every expletive she could muster to the cheers of everyone on set. Oscar behaved after that. A very funny, musical film that is worth seeing. Can you imagine dancing like Fred at 54 years old? Yikes!!
Madeline Kahn as Lily Von Schtupp from "Blazing Saddles"..a hilarious take on Marlene Dietrich. Brilliant!