And the winner is....

February 28, 2009


Thank you so much to everyone who entered! I'll probably do another one on my sixth month anniversary.... but don't forget that if you can't wait that long, all of my prints are in my etsy stores 24 hours a day, seven days a week... They are $10 each, buy 2 get 1 free with free First Class Mail shipping. Sorry for the plug! But what's a starving artist to do? :)

casey-- please drop me a line at

ps. dont'cha just adore the Breakfast at Tiffany's eye mask?! And please excuse the messy hair-- It's 4am, and I tend to have a bed head even in the hours before I actually hit the sack :)

Jean Arthur and Fatty Arbuckle

I did two paintings tonight, Jean Arthur and Fatty Arbuckle. More exciting? My one month anniversary contest is over as of two hours ago! I'll be picking the winner and posting it when I am finished with this!!!! Yay!
Here are the two newest paintings. You can read my previous post on Jean Arthur by clicking on the link under her portrait.

Fatty Arbuckle

Mary Astor

February 27, 2009

If you haven't seen much of Mary Astor yet, there are three films that will cement her status in your mind as one of the greatest actresses ever: The Maltese Falcon (and if you haven't seen this yet, come on already!) Dodsworth and The Great Lie.

I'm not even going to talk about The Maltese Falcon because everything that could be said is already floating out there on the internet somewhere.

But Dodsworth and The Great Lie. She plays almost polar opposites in these films. In Dodsworth, she is understated, subtle, refined, natural, and sweet. In The Great Lie, she is bold, brash, dramatic, and selfish. If ever there was an actress who could play two ends of the spectrum to unbelivable heights, Mary Astor was that actress.

Dodsworth is probably in my top ten, and Mary Astor's performance definitely nudged it into that sacred slot. She plays such a multifaceted character; dignified and spunky, aging and young; pretty and plain. She manages to do so much with what is really a supporting role, it is astounding.

The painting is 8"x8" acrylic on canvas

Audrey Hepburn and How to Steal a Million

Not long after my 13th birthday, I was sitting on the couch in my living room when my mom switched the channel to AMC, which, at the time, was the only classic movie station available through our cable provider. Except for watching a few of them when I was little, I didn't have much interest in classic films at the time. But I decided to sit with her and watch AMC for the duration of whatever film happened to be playing.

That film was How to Steal a Million, and it changed my life.

A lot of people who like Audrey Hepburn or classic films often overlook this movie, so I'm actually glad that it was my introduction to the wonderful world of vintage cinema; I have a unique appreciation for it, and quite a large chunk of space is reserved for it in my heart. It's actually funny that I've turned into someone who typically avoids movies made after the 1950's, when my first foray into classic film was from 1966.... Anyway, I hope that this little review might encourage you to give it a try (if you haven't already fallen in love with it by now!)

When the movie begins, a masterpiece from the famous Bonnet art collection is up for auction. After fetching an awesome sum, Bonnet returns home to an irritated daughter (Audrey Hepburn) who is upset that, once again, her father sold one of his master forgeries to the public. What follows is a thrilling, brilliant comedy, filled with the kind of edge-of-your-seat suspense typically reserved for Hitchcock thrillers.... no murder, no killers, no espionage... just suspense, comedy, and romance.

Now putting aside for the moment how quick paced, witty and impressive the story is--one could easily be lured into watching How to Steal a Million simply by seeing who stars. Audrey Hepburn. Peter O'Toole. Charles Boyer. Eli Wallach. Hugh Griffith. Frenand Gravey. (very surprised that he was in this film, as the most recent picture of his I'd seen was made in the 1930's) Doesn't the cast alone make you want to go watch it? It should.

Audrey Hepburn amazes me in every film. I tend to like her less popular films, like this one, Paris When it Sizzles and Wait Until Dark. She's wonderful in Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany's (which I admit is among my favorites) but sometimes I think her icon status in the popular films overshadows her acting ability. In this film, she's just a joy to watch because she acts so well. You kind of forget that she's Audrey Hepburn, which is hard to do when you're watching Breakfast at Tiffany's, n'est-ce pas?

This November will be 10 years since I discovered this film. Since then, I guess it would be an understatement to say that classic film has consumed my life. But I'm oh-so glad.

What movies got you started on classic film? Was it one particular film or gradual?

The painting is 8"x8" acrylic on canvas
Remember: Everyone has until Midnight EST Feb. 27 to enter the One Month Anniversary Free Print Drawing! Just say "count me in" or something like that in the comments. Here is who has entered so far, if I missed you please let me know! caseykoester, peggy, Mina, Graciebird, Pink Dahlia, Betty Boogie, Millie, DKoren, vivienne strauss, Lauren, John Hayes, Linda Crispell, Raquelle, Nicole, Cullen Gallagher, Sarah, Desiree and Genevieve.

Louise Brooks, James Cagney & Clara Bow

February 26, 2009

You may remember that last week I posted two paintings, one of Joan Blondell and one of Bette Davis/Joan Bennett. They were originally 12"x12" acrylic on canvas, and I was going to do a whole boatload of them... until I realized that 12"x12" canvases do not fit in my scanner, have gone way up in price since the last time I stockpiled, and will take up more room when I do my outdoor art shows, which start in two months.

Sooo.... I am starting the pop art old movie star painting series from scratch. These are now 8"x8", acrylic on canvas. I did three over the last two days (sorry for no post yesterday.. I've had some personal problems) and I'll have tons more coming in the future (I ordered 80 canvases!) including a new Joan Blondell, and a new Bette Davis that will hopefully look more like her this time. Maybe I'll throw in a Joan Bennett portrait too ;)

So here are the first three! I already wrote posts to go with these faces, so I put the links to the posts under each painting... enjoy!!

(actually I didn't write anything yet on the It Girl, this is just a link to my sketch)
By the way... is anyone else a little unnerved about the new followers widget? It's so big, ugly and obtrusive... and it seems very poorly designed and uneven. I have a feeling that it will become quite the pet peeve very soon....
Remember: Everyone has until Feb. 27 to enter the One Month Anniversary Free Print Drawing! Just say "count me in" or something like that in the comments. Here is who has entered so far, if I missed you please let me know! caseykoester, peggy, Mina, Graciebird, Pink Dahlia, Betty Boogie, Millie, DKoren, vivienne strauss, Lauren, John Hayes, Linda Crispell and Raquelle.

Born Yesterday - William Holden is amused by Judy Holliday's reading glasses

February 23, 2009

Before I start my actual post, I'd first like to apologize to any fans of William Holden-- I don't know what possessed me to try and draw him at this weird angle and it did not come out the way I planned! Alas, I will not rest until I have successfully captured his handsome face on paper-- I will attempt it again very soon.

Now... on to Born Yesterday. This is now one of my all-time favorite films. I've always liked it, but after re-watching it last week I was absolutetly enchanted with the story, the moral of the story, and the characters of Billie Dawn (Judy Holliday) and Paul Verrall (William Holden). The movie is about a rough-edged tycoon, Harry Brock, (Broderick Crawford) who goes to Washington DC to buy up some companies and Congressmen. At his first meeting with a DC judge, he's embarressed by the stupidity and gracelessness of his mistress, Billie Dawn. So he hires Paul Verrall, a journalist, to smarten her up. If I could marry a movie character, I seriously think it would be Paul Verrall.

You can probably imagine, even if you've never seen the movie, how this plot unfolds. Hmm.... choosing between a ruthless brash Broderick Crawford or a thoughtful handsome William Holden? Decisions, decisions...

But underneath the love triangle-angle there is a deep message about business, American ideals, corruption and knowledge. One of my favorite scenes in the entire movie takes place at a museum. Billie expresses her confusion with an essay that Paul assigned her to read, "After Visiting the Tomb of Napoleon" by Robert J. Ingersoll." Here is their exchange:
Paul: (quoting Ingersoll) "and I said I would rather have been a French peasant and worn wooden shoes. I would rather have lived in a hut with a vine growing over the door, and the grapes growing purple in the kisses of the autumn sun. I would rather have been that poor peasant with my loving wife by my side, knitting as the day died out of the sky---with my children upon my knee and their arms about me---I would rather have been that man and gone down to the tongue less silence of the dreamless dust than to have been that imperial impersonation of force and murder, known as Napoleon the Great."

Billie: ...[Harry] probably never heard of Napoleon

Paul: What's worse, he probably never heard of a peasant.

Isn't that just marvelous? It says so much in so few words.

I could go on for hours quoting this movie, because I think it was so beautifully written and has such an important message. I'm a sucker for message films.
Remember: Everyone has until Feb. 27 to enter the One Month Anniversary Free Print Drawing! Just say "count me in" or something like that in the comments. Here is who has entered so far, if I missed you please let me know! caseykoester, peggy, Mina, Graciebird, Pink Dahlia, Betty Boogie, Millie, DKoren and vivienne strauss.

One Month Anniversary!!!

February 21, 2009

Yay! Silents and Talkies' one month anniversary!!

I have two fun "thank you's" to all of you incredibly sweet people who have been following my blog!

First-- I am having a random drawing for one free print, redeemable in either of my etsy stores, or! If you'd like to enter, just say so in a comment. Entires are welcome for one week, and then I'll blindfold myself and pull a name out of a hat :)

Second-- Once a month I'd like to have one of you write a guest-post for my blog! We all have our favorite actors and actresses, and so we are all authorities on certain people, and novices on others. There are tons of people I'd love to draw, but can't really write a substantial post to go with the sketch. For instance, Raquelle- you know an awful lot more about Robert Mitchum and NORMA SHEARER than I do! Millie- You know more about Bobby Darin than I do! So here is the deal: if anyone is interested in writing a post, just e-mail me, and I'll do a sketch to go with your post. As my "thank you" for sharing your classic film knowledge and enriching my blog, I'll send you a free mini print of my sketch that corresponds with your post (if you want it... you could always choose a different one!)

I'm so happy that I have so many blogger friends who share my passion for classic film. It was only after I created this blog that I realized how many of you are out there! I've had so much fun discovering and reading your blogs, and this is the very least I can do to thank you for for your friendship, and support as I took my first leap into that strange and wonderful world of blogging!

I'd especially like to thank Vivienne, who suggested that I start a blog in the first place. There'd be no first anniversary without you :) Thanks so much!!!

Movie Posters

I had to design two movie posters for my Photoshop class, and I chose Adam's Rib, using one of my sketches that I did last week. We had to use all of the same basic elements in two separate posters-- in my case this includes the drawing, the photo of them back to back, the scales of justice with the gender symbols, and the text.

I was pretty smitten with the final products and had to post them :)

I'll be posting my regular post in about an hour or so--- make sure you read it because I have fun one month Silents and Talkies anniversary news!!

James Cagney

February 20, 2009

I am a huge James Cagney fan, so I will try very hard to contain the gushing and make this a straightforward post.

In showbusiness, triple threat is usually defined as singing-dancing-acting. Many people don't realize that Cagney was a triple threat. He could act, dance, and, yes, sing. It was definitely a talk-singing a la Rex Harrison, but it was entertaining and melodic. Well, he was actually better than Rex Harrison. He could carry a tune, he just didn't seem to vary the pitch at all. Anyway, my point is that the tough gangster crime-pic icon was actually a lot more talented than most people give him credit for. He won an Oscar for his performance in Yankee Doodle Dandy, the movie where he showed his triple threat talent. In the part of George M. Cohan, Cagney danced, sang and acted his way into the hearts of moviegoers in a way they had never seen him before. It has become sort of cliche, but the deathbed scene where he says "my mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you" brings me to tears every time I see it-- even after I've watched it over 20 times already.

Virginia Mayo once remarked that Cagney deserved an Oscar for his performance in White Heat, but that the Academy would never give an Oscar for a gangster picture. I completely agree with her. Yankee Doodle Dandy was not Cagney's only outstanding performance. Just about every movie he made should have been considered for an Oscar. Even in his very first starring role, in The Public Enemy, Cagney gives a stand out performance, filled with the vigor, energy and quick fire dialogue that he became famous for.

Although he and Bette Davis were both assigned to this film as punishment, and both hated the movie, who can resist their sparring, wittiness and comedic flair in The Bride Came C.O.D.? I really wish Cagney had made more comedies because this film shows how adept he was in the genre. Another lighthearted Cagney film that I love is The Strawberry Blonde. I originally saw One Sunday Afternoon, the previous version with Gary Cooper and Fay Wray, before seeing this version with James Cagney and Rita Hayworth. The real attraction in the film is actually Olivia DeHavilland, who plays a really feisty, bold turn of the century girl.

Finally, one of my favorite Cagney movies: The Picture Snatcher. It's one of the few really, really good 1930's hidden gems that's actually on DVD. I just watched it again recently and was reminded of how brilliant James Cagney is when he's playing in really fast paced movies. It's part comedy, part drama, part gangster picture, part racy-precode. Fans of the always wonderful Ralph Bellamy will be thrilled to know that he has a large part in the movie. Genevieve over at Classic Film Oasis just wrote a great bio of Ralph Bellamy- you can read it here.

So I hope I did okay without gushing all over the place. Friday is the one month anniversary of my blog, so I am going to have some special stuff in my next post- make sure you come back Saturday morning and take a peek!
(I always post these in the wee small hours of the morning, so even though it's actually Friday already, I'm considering THIS post as Thursday night, and my NEXT post will be Friday night- the 1 month anniversary...)

Clara Bow

February 18, 2009

Description will be posted tomorrow-- I'm too tired and exhausted to write one tonight. A brief summary though: Go watch one of Clara Bow's films. She's a delightful star.

Joan Blondell

February 16, 2009

This is the painting that I was working on last night-- I ended up having to replace the background on the computer after I scanned it because the scanner couldn't capture the right color. But this is exactly what it looks like in person, now.

I wrote at length about Joan Blondell in an earlier post, but this time I'd just like to alert all non-TCM viewers to the fact that a new Joan Blondell movie is being released on DVD next month. She isn't quite the star, her role is more secondary, but it's a very good film and I highly recommend renting it as soon as it comes out. The movie is Other Men's Women, and the stars are actually Mary Astor and Regis Toomey. I had so much fun watching Regis Toomey in a starring role, since in the 40's he usually was relegated to small bit parts, albeit very memorable ones.

Joan is one of the few pre-code actresses that actually has a substantial number of films on DVD. But it's really only a small percentage of the films that she made at the time. I feel like I'm becoming obsessed with the DVD-availability thing. I just think its rotten that so many, many great movies are NOT on DVD, and yet - some examples - Saw V and Hellboy II were released onto DVD only months after they left theaters. I counted over 30 Joan Blondell movies made before 1938 that are not on DVD. Over 30!

My main concern is that these films are unvailable to people who don't have Turner Classic Movies. I think 9 out of every 10 movies I watch on that channel are fantastic, and everyone who wants to see them should be able to. It's a whole world of great art and entertainment, and it's just a darn shame that it's so hidden.

Proof that I did actually work today

No daily sketch today because I was working on a painting from one of my earlier sketches of Joan Blondell. It's actually done, but since it's wet I can't put it in the scanner.
There's the obligatory painting snacks- pretzels with hummus and grapefruit juice--I don't think I could paint without these. Also underneath the canvas is a new tablecloth for painting that I just made out of an old skirt and clear packing tape.

The painting of Joan Blondell will be scanned when I wake up, and I'll write a little post about it then. In the meantime, you can look at what I wrote about her when I did the original sketch. Just click here...
By the way, to make up for the fact that this is a pretty boring post-- I am really hooked on a new Bing Crosby boxset that I just got, especially the first disc which is all his very early music. Specifically-- Red Sails in the Sunset, Stardust, I Apologize and Sweet Leilani. They're all available on itunes, and HIGHLY recommended by moi! Come on, only 99 cents a song! Just try one :) What is everyone else hooked on? Any old stuff?

Bogie & Bacall : Happy Valentine's Day!

February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

I loved hearing everyone's favorite Tracy/Hepburn films in my last post! It was so much fun to read the comments :) My favorite Bogie/Bacall movie is The Big Sleep-- one of my favorite scenes in any movie ever is Lauren Bacall singing in the nightclub... "and her tears flowed like wine, yes her tears flowed like wine. She's a real sad tomato. She's a busted valentine..." appropriate for today? I guess so!

Please feel free to post your favorite Bogie/Bacall movies in the comments again! Can't wait to hear what everyone thinks :)

Tracy and Hepburn: Happy Valentines Day!

February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

I love this classic couple, and the movies they made together. Even though I love older movies, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is probably my favorite that they made together. What's your favorite? Post in the comments :)

Next up: Bogie & Bacall

Celia Johnson & British Cinema

February 11, 2009

One of my greatest film loves is British cinema. I curse the PAL/NTSC problem everytime I get in a British movie mood (which is almost always.) I adore just about every British star, but my absolute favorites are John Mills (his daughter is Hayley Mills of Disney fame- and my idol when I was a little girl) Trevor Howard, Robert Newton and (I think I have mentioned him before) the wonderful Alastair Sim.

And Dame Celia Johnson. Have you seen Brief Encounter? It has to be one of the best movies ever made. Whenever I am in a sad funk, I usually take one of two routes in my picture-watching habits. One route is a really happy silly romantic comedy that cheers me up (see: The Awful Truth and Sunday in New York) or I decide to sink deeper into sadness and watch a tearjerker. (see: My Foolish Heart and Brief Encounter) Brief Encounter is the story of two middle class people, each happily married and going about their usual routines--and then they fall in love. It's one of those movies where you are rooting for the illicit lovers to give up their spouses and run away together. (At least that's how I feel-- I also usually root for the gangster and not the 'coppers' in crime movies) One of my favorite things about this movie is Celia Johnson. She didn't actually make too many movies, which is incredibly unfortunate for anyone who enjoys watching good acting.

Brief Encounter is the most famous of her films, but I just watched another one recently that was really cute. It's called The Captain's Paradise (it is on DVD) and it stars Alec Guiness, Yvonne DeCarlo (pre-Munsters) and Celia Johnson. The movie itself struck me as a little so-so, but Celia Johnson's performance was stellar. She looks like she's having so much fun in her part, and plays her character perfectly. I was so excited when it premiered on TCM last year. (I didn't know it was on DVD at the time) Celia Johnson only made a handful of movies, and of those only a spoonful are on DVD. For years I've wanted to see The Astonished Heart, but, alas, it is only available in PAL format. The movie was written by and co-stars Noel Coward, one of my favorite playwrights, so I am waiting with baited breath for the day when it is finally released on DVD or played on TCM.

I noticed I haven't been very clear or concise in my post tonight (and I don't think my sketch is my best work either).... please forgive me. I decided to go back to school 2 years after I left college, and I was not prepared at all for how much time the classes would consume. Balancing work, school and cooking meals is not as easy as I thought it would be, and I think that the lack of sleep is starting to wear on me! Unfortunately, this also means it is showing in my posts, and so please bear with me.... Hopefully I'll be used to this soon, get some rest, and be a tad bit more coherent in the very near future :)

Bette Davis

February 10, 2009

I know that I already drew Bette Davis, and there are hundreds of movie stars I still haven't drawn, but I had to come back to Bette tonight. I'm on a bit of a Bette Davis kick right now. I just watched The Girl from 10th Avenue, Front Page Woman, The Petrified Forest, and then topped it all off with a nice dose of Old Aquanitance. Bette isn't my all-time favorite actress (that honor goes to Barbara Stanwyck who, yes, I have drawn but haven't posted yet because my sketches never actually resemble her) but she is really high up on the list.

Have you seen Dark Victory? When my mom and I are feeling in need of a break from life's woes, we have all-out scrapbooking movie weekends. We stay up until the wee small hours and watch movie after movie after movie (getting very little scrapbooking done because we are usually so engrossed in the telly) and every single time we do this, Bette Davis is usually the main attraction. We've cried over Dark Victory a gazillion times now. Next weekend we are going to practice this mother-daughter ritual, and I have some real good tearjerkers lined up just for the occasion. Dark Victory? Check! Mr. Skeffington? Check! (By the way, isn't Claude Rains an absolute darling in this movie?) Now Voyager? Check!! The Bride Came C.O.D.? Check (not a tearjerker, but one I really like) I'm also renting The Old Maid from Netflix, which I've never seen and absoutely can't wait to!

So after watching a steady stream of her films over the last week, and in anticipation of my Bette festival awaiting me this weekend, I just had to do another sketch.

Ann Sothern, again...

I said last week that I wasn't happy with my portrait of Ann Sothern and was determined to try again----

Here is my second attempt. I think it looks much more like her, albeit a little stylized.

Veronica Lake & Sullivans Travels

February 09, 2009

Veronica Lake co-starred in one of my all-time favorite movies. It's not just any movie, it is seriously in my top five, has been there for years, and it will take something very, very extraordinary to knock it off of its throne.

The movie is Sullivan's Travels. I love it for a gazillion different reasons, but the one that I tend to blabber about the most whenever anyone asks me, is that this movie proves why movies are important. I wrote a paper about Sullivan's Travels and why it is so important for my entrance essay when I applied to the New School for film/media studies. It's not exceptionally long, but I hope you will take a look at the essay. If you've seen the movie, I hope it will give you a new perspective, and if you haven't seen it, I hope it will encourage you to!


I’ve always had a soft spot reserved in my heart for depression-era message yarns. You know the movies- the ones with bread lines, chain gangs and a not-so subtle message about the fragile state of the nation in 1930’s America. I have, and always will, consider them to be admirable pictures that depicted a stark, realistic picture of an America on the brink.

When I first sat down to watch “Sullivan’s Travels” I thought it would be one of those pictures. The movie begins in Hollywood, where director John L. Sullivan, famous for his light comedies and annual musical extravaganzas, decides to embark on a more important movie about human anguish. “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou” will be his ultimate masterpiece. He hatches a plan to go undercover as a hobo to learn firsthand what it’s like to suffer. This decision sets him on a journey where he ultimately learns that sometimes all a person has is a light comedy or a musical extravaganza, or Mickey Mouse.

There are so many, many things about this movie that touched me, and changed my perception of movies and their importance in American life. Director Preston Sturges was known for his comedies, and this picture was advertised as such. But behind the comedic mask, this film also teaches us about oppression and poverty. Throughout the film, Sullivan encounters homeless families, desperation, starvation and hopelessness. Towards the end of the movie, after an unfortunate series of events, Sullivan finds himself in a southern prison camp, holed up most of the week in a sweat box. His only comfort is the one night when the prisoners are led to an African American church, where the prisoners join the congregation in watching cartoons and comedies. Sturges’ brilliant, subtle juxtaposition of the long-oppressed African Americans welcoming fellow oppressed peoples into their place of worship is one of the most powerful moments in the movie.

I’ve always enjoyed comedies, but until seeing this movie I never realized their importantance. Ever since the first moving picture made its way onto the big screen, different audiences have sought different things from the movie-watching experience. Yes, many people wanted to see a realistic depiction of life, in all its gloom and sorrow. But perhaps most importantly, many people have sought refuge from normal life by going to the movies. During the depression, audiences flocked to see frivolous movies, cartoons and adventure pictures. That these films held the power to cheer up a disheartened and depressed public is reason enough to consider them some of the most important films ever made.

For years I’ve often thought that if I had to narrow down my thousands-long list of favorite movies to only four or five, Sullivan’s Travels would always top my list. It isn’t just that it’s a great film, it is an important film. In this one motion picture, a moviegoer will learn about poverty, the brutal southern prison system in the early 20th century, the oppression of African Americans, and, of course, the importance of comedy.

Linda Darnell

February 07, 2009

I'm a big fan of My Darling Clementine, I just watched Fallen Angel and I have Unfaithfully Yours sitting unopened in its Netflix envelope on my desk... but outside of these films, I am not too familiar with the work of Linda Darnell. I've loved her performances in the few films I've seen, though, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing more.

Movie suggestions are very much welcome :)

Louise Brooks

February 06, 2009

This is the second in my tiny series of Louise Brooks drawings. It is black prismacolor marker on white sketch paper mounted on black cardstock. You can see the other drawing and the corresponding blog post by clicking on the label "Louise Brooks"....

By the way, if this post looks a little different it's because I was posting all of my other pictures through flickr and it wouldn't work today.... technology can be very annoying!

Ann Sothern

February 05, 2009

I am so frustrated I could scream! Another great actress with practically no movies on DVD!!! And every one of my favorite Ann Sothern movies is among the unreleased. Seriously, if I had the money I would just pay to have all these movies released on DVD. It's a crime that they are just floating out there somewhere in oblivion, occasionally resurrected by TCM, and then sent back to oblivion again. Errr!

Anyway, you can see Ann Sothern in a few good movies on DVD, including Brother Orchid with Edward G. Robinson and one of her later movies, The Best Man, where she plays a slightly annoying woman at a political convention. It's fun to see her transition from leading lady to character actress, though!

What you can't see is her amazing work in the 1930's where she was a Grade A comedienne. I just watched a movie on TCM starring her and Gene Raymond and I have mentally added it to my top 20 movie list. It had great co-stars (Eric Blore, Erik Rhodes and Helen Broderick) and I whole-heartedly believe that it was written for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers before Ann Sothern and Gene Raymond were signed on to star. I have nothing to back this up except for my complete belief whilst watching the movie that it was a Fred and Ginger musical without Fred, Ginger and music.

Anyhow.... once the DVD Gods finally get around to releasing her films for public viewing, please rent every one of them and enjoy to your hearts content! Until then, I guess I'll just convince myself to be happy that at least a few of her films are available....

PS. I am only 90% satisfied with this portrait, so sometime in the near future I'll be drawing Ann Sothern again to capture her likeness more accurately. Just a heads up!

Jack Lemmon

February 04, 2009

I have knack for falling in love with films that a) have no fans in the world except me, or b) were considered stains on the careers of otherwise wonderful filmmakers. Case in point: The Notorious Landlady. Apparently Jack Lemmon said that he didn't understand the script at all, and that years later he caught a rerun of the movie and still had no idea what any of his dialogue meant. So of course, I simply adore this movie. (Along with other "flops" like Paris When it Sizzles and Mademoiselle Fifi)

I saw it for the first time last year during a Kim Novak marathon on TCM’s Summer Under the Stars salute. I thought "Fred Astaire, Jack Lemmon and Kim Novak? I've got to see it!" Since then I've watched it about five times, and I love it more with each viewing. The movie takes place in London, and the plot centers around an American state department worker who takes up residence in a flat owned by (you guessed it) "the notorious landlady." Granted, this movie isn't for everyone. It has about a gazillion twists and turns so you have to stay on your toes (not the kind of movie to, say, knit-eat-blog-and-watch... It's a sit down and watch it and do nothing else kind of movie) It also takes quick jumps from farce to mystery to silent movie parody to drama. But it's all of these unique qualities that make the movie so special. There really is no other film quite like it, and that is why I love it so much. Oh yeah, and it is out-of-this-world funny, suspenseful, well acted, well written, and it has a decidedly British flair for an American movie.

Now, if you haven't seen it, or if you caught it on TV once and want to see it again, you might run into a little trouble here: the only place I could find it in stock was ($18.99). It's not available on Netflix, and Amazon only has 2 used copies for the same price. And TCM doesn't have it scheduled to play again in the next 4 months. I've been trying hard to avoid recommending movies that can't be easily found on DVD, but of all the Jack Lemmon movies out there, this really is my favorite and I just had to write about it.

If you're feeling sour about the availability of this movie but still in the mood for Lemmon, then I will suggest my second favorite which is on DVD. I think I mentioned this movie in my Judy Holliday post- It Should Happen To You. It was actually Jack Lemmon's film debut, and I think one of his best movies.

On the off chance that you do get a chance to see The Notorious Landlady, I really hope you like it as much as I do.

Superior Scribbler Award

February 03, 2009

Jacqueline at Another Old Movie Blog just received the Superior Scribbler Award and graciously awarded me as well. I am incredibly honored, especially since my blog isn't even a month old.

Here are the rules:

1. Name five other Superior Scribblers to receive this award.
2. Link to the author and name of the blog that gave you the award.
3. Include this LINK which explains the award.
4. Click on the award at the bottom of the link and add your name to the bottom of the list.
5. Post the rules.

I have so many favorite blogs now it is hard for me to narrow it down to 5! But here goes...

First to Genevieve at Classic Film Oasis, a self described "poor college student with a passion for classic film" - this is for your wonderful blog from a fellow poor college student with a passion for classic film :)

I also would like to pass on the award to C.K. Dexter Haven at Hollywood Dreamland for his delightful rare pictures and in-depth blog posts.

Next, Hollywood Heyday. I love reading the Hollywood headlines- Tallulah denies engagement to Joel McCrea? You don't say!

Another award to Ginger at Asleep in New York. A few reasons: 1) I love the way Ginger writes. 2) I had seen the movie Fallen Angel about 2 years ago and didn't like it. After reading Ginger's review I gave it another shot and adored it. 3) Dana Andrews.

And last but not least, to Mille at ClassicForever. I love that she has such enthusiasm for classic film, and anyone whose favorite Audrey Hepburn movie is How to Steal a Million is wonderful in my book :)

Congratulations to the five blogs I just listed, and thanks to everyone who has read my blog or commented these last few weeks. I'm so glad that I've found people who love classic movies as much as I do! And thanks again Jacqueline! If I could, I'd give the award to you, too!

Judy Holliday

February 02, 2009

Yay! I just looked and all three of my favorite Judy Holliday movies are on DVD. They are: Born Yesterday, Bells Are Ringing and It Should Happen To You. Born Yesterday is even available for instant play on Netflix.

It seems like Americans tend to immortalize the stars who die young- we all remember Rudolph Valentino, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow. But someone very important was left off of this list. Her picture isn't silkscreened on t-shirts, her movies aren't standard fare for anyone intersted in old films, her name isn't a symbol of American super-stardom. But Judy Holliday was a star, and unfortunately she did die young. Judy Holliday made only 9 films- and even in that short film career, she won an Oscar for her portrayal of Bille Dawn in Born Yesterday, beating Bette Davis in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd! She often played screwy blondes. A lot of Judy Holliday biographies call her roles "dumb blonde" roles, but I think it was more "screwy" or "goofy." Take for instance her character in It Should Happen To You. She plays a woman who thinks she can become famous by painting her name on a billboard, and she takes off her shoes whenever she needs to think deep. It's not a dumb role, just sort of screwy.

Her character in Bells Are Ringing (which was written for her by her friends Betty Comden and Adolph Green) is a telephone answering service operator who gets too involved in the lives of her clients. It's so much fun to watch this, because Comden and Green based the character on the personality of Judy Holliday. She is a sweet, well-meaning, altogether friendly woman who just wants to make everybody happy. It's also sad, though, because it was her last film. A few years later, Judy Holliday died from cancer. She was only 43 years old when she passed away.

Judy Holliday's films have stood the test of time, and I wish so badly that she had remained as popular as someone like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. So many people have missed out on her comedic brilliance and her genius (she actually did have a genius IQ!) because time has neglected to remember her.

Do yourself a favor and rent one of the movies I listed above. Born Yesterday co-stars William Holden, Bells Are Ringing co-stars Dean Martin and It Should Happen to You co-stars Jack Lemmon in his film debut!

Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffanys

February 01, 2009

Update: I re-did this drawing, so I had to delete the earlier post.

Audrey Hepburn is the one who got me started on classic films, and so her and her movies hold a very special place in my heart. I had just turned 13 when I first saw "How to Steal a Million"- it was in December and I was starting my winter break from school. I had my dad take me to Hollywood Video (a local sort of Blockbuster chain that has since been Netflixed out of existence) and I rented about six of her movies to watch over my break. I went to the library and took out her biography, and her life story inspired me to volunteer for UNICEF. Practically overnight I was a different person. I discovered Frank Sinatra music and ditched my Britney Spears CDs the following February and ever since then it has been nothing but old music and old movies for me.

So now that my "how I discovered classic flim" story has been posted to my blog, next time you see an Audrey Hepburn drawing on Silents and Talkies, you can be assured that I will talk more about her and the movie than my own vintage taste conversion :)

Prismacolor black marker on sketch paper

Earlier Sketch of Audrey Hepburn

This is another sketch I did a few weeks ago of Audrey Hepburn. This one is from How to Steal a Million, my favorite of her films, and, as I said earlier- the one that got me hooked on classic movies!

It's on DVD and you can download it in itunes for your ipod, so there's no excuse not to watch it :)