turns out, I like some westerns

May 21, 2019



Last month I was sick in bed with a pretty bad case of bronchitis, and I was binging my way through fun frivolous '60s sex comedies (way more healing than chicken soup, if you ask me!) When I got to Made in Paris, a 1966 Ann-Margret vehicle co-starring Chad Everett, I made a sharp detour away from "any '60s comedy" and veered towards "exclusively Chad Everett." From that day on I've been consuming everything he made, and I do mean EVERYTHING.

Here I am, approximately a month later, the proud owner of Return of the Gunfighter (1967) and the complete series of The Dakotas. Did I watch Return of the Gunfighter with a grimace on my face, painfully plodding my way through a western for the sake of eye candy? No! I enjoyed it, and then I watched it TWICE. And was I dragged kicking and screaming into a screening of The Last Challenge (1967), Everett's western flick with Glenn Ford? Heck, no! I loved every minute of it and found myself on the edge of my seat by the nail-biting finale. I know somebody is going to supply a pretty well-deserved "I told you so!" but if I had realized how well-populated westerns are with beautiful, tanned, blue jean-bedecked actors I probably would have caved in to this genre a whole lot sooner.

Oh, and did I mention I also liked a war film? Yup, you heard it here first folks! I watched and was thoroughly entertained by First to Fight (1967) a movie about a WWII war hero (Everett) who experiences PTSD when he returns to the Pacific to fight again after spending time away from battle to sell war bonds on the home front. I definitely enjoyed the home front scenes more than the battle scenes, but darn it, I really liked this whole movie.



Anyway. I guess my whole point is that I think Chad Everett is the dreamboatiest dreamboat to ever dreamboat and I am having a super hard time thinking about anything else these days. If you need more evidence of his handsomeness, I made a ton of gifs on my giphy right here that you can swoon over, too! :)

An Ode to Rachel Devery

March 28, 2019



I was heartbroken to learn today that June Harding has passed away. Harding played the iconic Rachel Devery in The Trouble with Angels, a movie that has now been seen and cherished by at least three generations of young girls. My own mom saw it in theaters when she was 10 and shared it with me when I was even younger than that. I'm a childless 32 now, but I'm sure that countless women my age who grew up loving this film are now sharing it with their daughters, as well.

June Harding played Rachel with a tenderness, sweetness, and authenticity that perfectly complimented Hayley Mills' scheming Mary Clancy. Even though their plans were always hatched by Mary and willingly accompanied by Rachel, Rachel wasn't merely a stooge or a blind accomplice. She was a best friend doing what best friends do! She enjoyed being a part of a team, excited about whatever new adventure Mary might come up with. She was Mary's equal, her other half. And when Mary decides to join the order, Rachel's devastation doesn't just stem from feelings of betrayal. It's the sudden loss of that team, the end of their escapades as a devious duo.

June Harding poured so much into Rachel. It isn't just the physical comedy and displays of ineptitude -- her misadventures in sewing, her bungled sign of the cross, her clumsiness in the art studio, her messy charcoal work, her frenzied jump into the swimming pool -- but the way that she imbued meaningful scenes with layers of emotion. When she says "I'll miss you" after Mary has already walked away from her, or when she looks stabbed with hurt over Mary's announcement at graduation.

And June Harding's ability to convey unbridled joy was unmatched. Her happiness when she sees Mary after summer break, or when she decides to forgive Mary is absolutely infectious. Not every performer can make you feel the emotions that they're displaying onscreen -- weep when they're sad and grin when they're smiling, but June Harding had that in spades.

I hope that she knew what she meant to us. I hope she knew that when I reminisced about my childhood friends, I usually counted Mary and Rachel among them.

My Sunday in New York collection

February 27, 2019



I've been collecting Sunday in New York memorabilia for about ten years now and I thought it would be fun to round up everything and share it here!

Sunday in New York is my favorite movie. It's comfort food, the kind of movie I watch when I want to feel like I'm home. It makes me laugh more every time I watch it and even though I know other people love it too, my devotion makes me feel a certain level of ownership. It's MY movie. I just adore it. And I love surrounding myself with things that remind me of it.



If you look at the drawer units behind me in one of my outfit posts on my style blog here, and then look at those drawers in this photo it will give you some idea of the size of this poster. IT IS BIG. It's so big that I don't actually have room for it right now on my walls, but it was such a unique find that I couldn't pass it up for "someday" when I have a bigger living area.



This poster is slightly obscured in the photo by my hanging planter but it's a standard one sheet. I've moved this one around a lot but it's one of the only posters I own that has been on constant display since I got it in 2013.



This is a custom marquee art print where I added the Sunday in New York marquee details. I think it's such a fun way to pay homage to one of my favorite movies!



This still was a gift from my parents last Christmas. I had sent my mom a link to the ebay listing and then on Christmas morning it wasn't under the tree. Sometimes after Christmas I treat myself to a few things I might have wanted but didn't receive as a present (does anyone else do this?) and when I went on ebay, I found this was sold out! Boo! I tried to find another copy but nobody had one listed anymore.

Then about a week after Christmas a package came in the mail from Sweden and there it was! My mom had totally forgotten that she had ordered it, and it arrived late! I'm so happy I managed to get this one, I just think it's so beautiful!



I got this still at Larry Edmunds' book store in Hollywood at my first TCM Film Festival (where I saw Sunday in New York with Robert Osborne introducing it!) so this one is really special to me. I took the photo at a terrible angle so my xoxo frame is blocking the corner, but Rod Taylor is wearing one sneaker and one shoe, which is one of the funniest gags in the movie. I love that it's featured in this still!



This is my 45 record of the Sunday in New York score. I love this but I feel like without context Cliff Robertson looks like he's creeping in the doorway about to kill them, lol!



I've been searching for German versions of the Sunday in New York posters for ages (this one in particular) because they are so bold and I love the green title text with the heart over the "i" in "in"! It's one of my all-time favorite Sunday in New York finds. I hope someday the ebay gods will look kindly on me and let me find the matching one, as well.



For Christmas, Nikki got me this Yugoslavian version of the poster! I had never even seen this version before. I love how they added the cartoon drawings in the top corners, with the rowboat scene in the left corner and a very happy New York City on the right. For a while I've been thinking about getting a Sunday in New York themed tattoo at some point, and I think that happy city might be the perfect subtle nod to my favorite film.



I have a bunch of 8x10 stills running along the top of my ceiling and of course I have several from Sunday in New York! This one definitely captures Jane Fonda's awkwardness when Robert Culp bursts in to propose to her!



Two more stills from my collection. On the left, Jane Fonda is realizing her brother broke his "sacred honor" and on the right Cliff Robertson is dashing through the airport (actually LAX) to find Jo Morrow.



Another still featuring the shoe fiasco! Just looking at these stills brings a smile to my face since they are such perfect snapshots of the humor from the film.



In addition to the 45, I also have a 33 album of the film score from Sunday in New York. Since the movie sometimes feels like a feature length ad for Peter Nero I think it's especially appropriate that I have every version of the soundtrack possible, haha!



This is a press book for the movie. I need to actually devote a full post to this one with scans from the book, since there are a lot of press snippets, interviews, advertising suggestions, and small images of the American poster releases for the movie!



I have a binder filled with my extra stills that don't fit on my walls and these are the ones from my Sunday in New York collection. One of these days I would love to hang all of my stills grouped together, when I have more room.



These are contact sheets from a Sunday in New York photo shoot with Jane Fonda and Rod Taylor. I scanned all of them so you can view larger versions of all of the pictures on my movie scan blog here.



This was the first piece of Sunday in New York memorabilia that I ever purchased! It's a lobby card that I bought back in 2009 for like $5 and I can remember checking the mailbox anxiously every day waiting for it to arrive. It's one of my favorite scenes in the movie and I love Jane Fonda's expression! And I love the "suitable only for adults" sticker that a movie theater had placed on this at some point. It almost feels like real proof that this was really hanging in a theater where the movie originally played.



I think this might be my most unique find, an ad for TWA airlines that subtly plugs Sunday in New York. I think it's so fun since Cliff Robertson plays an airline pilot in the movie! The caption reads "Enjoy fine films such as the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Seven Arts production, 'Sunday in New York,' starring Cliff Robertson, Jane Fonda, Rod Taylor."



And finally, this button set that I made myself! I love making things that reflect my own super particular interests and I just had to have a Sunday in New York button set. Obviously I included the sneaker/shoe scene and some of my favorite quotes (the "two heads" one gets me every time!)

The Truffaut Happiness Challenge

February 02, 2019



"Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die." 

I've been thinking a lot lately about happiness. For most of my twenties, and now the first couple years of my thirties, I haven't been all that happy. Last year my therapist suggested that I read The Happiness Project, a book where a woman sets out to devote a year of her life to improving her outlook on life. The author is an incredibly privileged rich woman with a devoted husband and adorable kids, sooo, not super relatable. She had a few good suggestions (the ones that resonated the most with me were building collections, and making time for activities that you enjoy) but most of the book was focused on forming and maintaining human connections. And that's honestly just not for me. Whether it's in-person relationships or social media, I just feel out of place with people. Human relations fill me with self-doubt and confusion. People that I think of as friends usually think of me as merely an acquaintance. I constantly feel as if I am burdening others with my existence if I try to stay in touch. And whenever my brain tricks me into thinking I'm part of a tribe, I suddenly feel like an outsider. This is not a breeding ground for my happiness, it's part of the reason I'm unhappy to begin with. Personally, I need to look elsewhere.

Perhaps one of the only humans that I feel a real honest to goodness connection with has been dead for some thirty years. Through watching his movies, reading his writing, studying his biographies, I feel like I found a kindred spirit in François Truffaut. And so it should come as no surprise to me that the answer to happiness should be found in a paper he wrote in 1949. "Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die." He was an angsty 17 year old when he wrote this, although I very much doubt that he'd have rebuked the ritual at any point in his too-short life.

Last month I decided that I'd embark upon a Truffaut Challenge. Three films a day and three books a week seemed a little too voluminous for my work schedule, but I decided that at least one film a day and two books a week was much more achievable. And, of course, plenty of records of great music.

I'm a little over a week into my challenge so far and I can already say that it has helped me immensely. I feel so much more contended losing myself in works of literature and film. It's also had the unintended consequence of limiting my time on social media, thereby increasing my happiness even more. And I'm finding personal fulfillment in meeting the challenge -- each day there is a goal to accomplish, and it doesn't involve work or other people. As an illustrator, I am very hard on myself when it comes to my work and I suffer from crippling feelings of inadequacy. But by spending a hefty hunk of my day reading and watching movies, I'm happily appreciating the contributions of talented filmmakers and writers, rather than wading in a puddle of creative uncertainty.

I've also realized that three films a day and three books a week is actually more realistic than I initially thought. I devote at least a couple hours each day to listening to podcasts while I work at the computer - that could easily be switched out for movies (most likely re-watches since I prefer to give my complete and total attention to movies I'm seeing for the first time.) And surprisingly I finished 3 1/2 books this week after all. I also branched out when it came to "great music." Normally I would just play the same old itunes playlist that I have been listening to for the last few years, comprised mostly of songs by The Killers. But I branched out a little in two different directions -- I went on spotify and listened to some music that I hadn't heard before (and discovered I really like Florence and The Machine.) I also went back on itunes and played my 2011 and 2012 playlists, rediscovering some music that I hadn't listened to in 7 or 8 years.

Next week would have been Truffaut's 87th birthday, and I'm thinking I need to up the ante a bit and make this a Truffaut themed Truffaut challenge. Next week my daily movies will be made by Truffaut, and my books written by or about him. This routine has already improved my mood more than any self help book or pitiful attempts at human connection ever could -- I can only imagine how happy I'll be at the end of next week, after spending it enveloped in works produced by one of my favorite people.

Ten classic film actors and actresses from New Jersey

January 10, 2019



Jacqueline from Another Old Movie Blog came up with a fun game to name 10 actors or actresses from your home state (she hit the jackpot with Massachusetts, which is home to Bette Davis!) I thought it would be fun to play along, too! With the exception of the Chairman of the Board, the Pride of New Jersey, Mr. Frank Sinatra, I tried to do a little research and find New Jerseyans that I didn't know hailed from my own home state. So without further ado--

1. Frank Sinatra
2. Sterling Hayden
3. Eva Marie Saint
4. Sandra Dee
5. Connie Francis
6. John Forsythe
7. Joan Bennett 
8. Richard Conte
9. Norman Lloyd
10. Lee Van Cleef

The one I was most surprised about was Eva Marie Saint - for some reason I imagined she was from New England. She's just so refined (I honestly love my home state, but I wouldn't necessarily say we're all that refined here, ha!) Joan Bennett was New Jersey born, but her sister Constance was born in New York! And how fun that we in the Garden State can count the living cinematic icon Norman Lloyd among us, who was born 104 years ago in Jersey City!

And one more thing about Frank Sinatra, the main (and occasionally only) reason that I am so proud to call New Jersey home. I had the immense pleasure of taking a trip to Hoboken on the occasion of his centennial and it was one of the highlights of my life. I wrote about it a bit here.

If you want to join in the game, be sure to comment on Jacqueline's post right here!

The magic of A Little Princess (1995)

January 07, 2019



When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was A Little Princess. I saw it at the movies when it came out, I had a well-worn VHS copy, and my dad got me a giant subway-size poster to hang up in my bedroom. It's always been one of my dad's favorite movies as well, so when I saw that it was playing at The Film Society at Lincoln Center I got us tickets to see it on the big screen.

Going into this I KNEW I was going to cry-- I feel like anyone with half a heart would cry. But as someone who is very close with my dad, Sarah's relationship with her "Papa," and the agony that they go through when they're separated, stretches the walls of my heart, makes my throat tense up to stop an unavoidable weep. When she draws the chalk circle around her and Emily in the attic, when she sees her father but he doesn't recognize her, when he finally remembers, "Sarah!!!" Against my will, I get so emotional watching movies. I bite my cheek and dig my fingernails into my palm, trying so hard to fight it back. But movies are *meant* to move us. And while some films might tease us and trick us into feeling something with swells of music or a hearty serving of cheese, A Little Princess is so authentic, earnest, and pure that it actually felt wrong to try to throttle my tears.

I just felt so much, so intensely. This movie was such a big part of my childhood that I felt an overwhelming sadness that I'm not a kid anymore. I don't know if everyone experiences this or if it's a particular problem with me, but I loved being a child and sometimes I mourn for that part of my life being so finished, and so far removed from where I am now. I also felt the kind of nostaglia that makes you happy, remembering your own childhood with sweet fondness. When Sarah runs to spy on her toys to see if they've moved while she left the room, I instantly remembered doing that myself. I felt so much love for the connection that I have with my own dad, so much gratitude that I have a father who has always treated me like A Little Princess and ended up being one of my very best friends.

And I felt magic. I can't think of any other movie I have ever seen - Disney animations included - that conveyed the same sense of magic and enchantment and wonder. And it's such a tactile charm. When Sarah runs her fingers across the stitching on the pillow that Becky made for her, Sarah and Becky's quilted silk robes, the softness of the snow when Sarah spins around in the window, the plush slippers that Sarah leaves for Becky... these are beautiful, magical moments that feel real and tangible somehow. Even small directorial decisions like splitting moments up into three quick clips, or almost undetectable slowing of poignant scenes, adds to the feeling that the magic Sarah believes in is real and we're witnessing it for ourselves.

Seeing this at the movies again, 24 years after I saw it for the first time, was a moving and captivating experience, and one that made me realize I need to rekindle my childhood ability to see the magic in everyday life.