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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ernst Lubitsch, , Golden Age films, , , , , , , Shop Around the Corner, , summertime, Van Johnson   

    SUMMER SHORTS 

    Tomorrow is the first official day of smelly armpits season (unless, of course, you live in the southern hemisphere of earth — or in any hemisphere of Ur-anus, where, they say, it stinks the year round). To greet the season, I’m saluting summer with a look back at several good old summer films (and I mean films that actually have “summer” in the title).

    It’s unthinkable that there’s no unstinkable way of sweating as I wrack my brain composing a fulsome introduction to each movie, so I’ll make do with a minimum of b.s. (background setting) preceding each clip….then sum(mer) it all up with bonus b.s. at post’s end.

    First we have SUMMERTIME (1955), starring Katherine Hepburn as a spinster vacationing in Venice. After meeting and being attracted to shop owner Rossano Brazzi in his antiques store, they unexpectedly encounter each other again in this scene:

    Next: IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949) starring Judy Garland & Van Johnson as lonelyhearts pen pals in a musical remake of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940), directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Jimmy Stewart. Here is the trailer:

    Last we have SUMMER AND SMOKE (1961), a film adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, neither of which I have seen, but which I include here because its title serves as a “Perfect!” lead-in to this anecdote told by the late actor Tony Randall (and which relates back to the first of our films):

    David Lean, one of the world’s finest directors, is a meticulous and fastidious craftsman, compulsive and uncompromising about getting things exactly the way he wants them. There is a scene in Summertime in which the [female] owner of a Venetian pensione arranges a tryst with a young American guest at night on the terrace of the pensione. Lean put the couple in two high-backed wicker chairs that completely envelope them,  placed with their backs to the camera so that all the lens could see were her left hand holding his right hand and puffs of white smoke from their cigarettes curling above the backs of the chairs. The brief scene, which could have been shot with any two people sitting in the chairs and the voices of the couple dubbed in later, took an entire night and a carton of cigarettes to film. Lean made the two actors do it over and over. Just as dawn was about to break, Lean finally got a shot that satisfied him.
    “Perfect! Perfect!” Lean exclaimed enthusiastically. “The puffs were perfect!”

    It seems we’ve come to the end  — but where, you might ask, is the promised “bonus b.s.”? Will you settle for the bonus without the b.s.? Here is the trailer for the aforementioned THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, directed by that master of “the Lubitsch touch” of happy memory to Golden Age film buffs:

     

     

     
    • Ricardo 12:51 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Apropos of nearly nothing, I noticed the other day that “Wet Hot American Summer” was available on Netflix, Sr. Muse. If that doesn’t make you want to subscribe, whatever will?

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:39 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        “Wet Hot American Summer’ sounds too cerebral for my tastes, Ricardo, but thanks anyway for the heads up.

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    • linnetmoss 6:55 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I do love “The Shop Around the Corner”! When I hear about “Summertime,” I always think of the story that Hepburn fell into a Venetian canal and got a terrible ear infection. It may be a beautiful city, but the water is icky!

      Liked by 2 people

    • calmkate 7:27 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I remember that cane chair smoking scene well 🙂
      need to work on your bs …

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:32 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Linnet, I appreciate your comment. Perhaps I should should have noted in my post that SUMMERTIME was filmed on location in Venice. Here is the scene in which Hepburn falls into the canal:

      Like

    • Garfield Hug 7:51 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Lol!! “Season of smelly armpits!!” 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:11 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Perhaps you’ve heard of the old phrase, “It’s the pits!” — it originally referred to stinky armpits, then came to metaphorically mean anything that stinks. And that’s my trivia lesson for today!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 5:37 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      We can’t have summer without..

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:39 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Don. For those who may wonder who is the singer with the beautiful soprano voice, her name is Harolyn (not a typo) Blackwell.

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    • D. Wallace Peach 6:32 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I haven’t seen any of your Summertime movies. I liked Hepburn as a kid and should pick that one up. I fell into a canal in Holland, so I can relate. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:51 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Diana, no doubt your fall into the canal in Holland was no Dutch treat (except perhaps to a few juvenile bystanders who may have thought it was funny), but I’m sure you will find Kathryn Hepburn and SUMMERTIME to be a treat. Enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

    • BroadBlogs 1:09 am on June 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      And from what I’m reading about climate change we could have smelly armpits a lot longer. Unfortunately accompanied by widespread heat alerts and drought in the west.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:28 am on June 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      You’re right — climate change is the pits!

      Like

    • RMW 12:53 pm on June 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Summertime is one of my all-time favorite movies (I do have quite a few on my list). The romance between Hepburn and Brazzi left so much to the imagination, making it even more “romantic.” I can’t imagine either actor being willing to bare it all in front of the camera! Thank heavens…

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 8:07 pm on July 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Ernst Lubitsch, , funniest films, , , Nobody's Perfect, ,   

    NOBODY’S PERFECT AGAIN 

    Among my favorite books are biographies or autobiographies of long-admired writers, directors, actors, musicians and vocalists. One of the most interesting and intelligent bios I’ve read is that of director Billy Wilder. Yes, I’m finally done reading NOBODY’S PERFECT, of which I wrote a piece on June 22 and promised to write a review when I finished it. My take? Imperfection was never more worth recommending.

    Unlike some biographers, author Charlotte Chandler knew the subject of her book personally and well (for almost 30 years). Her first book, HELLO, I MUST BE GOING, was a best-seller about — who else — Groucho Marx. She has also profiled Mae West, Tennessee Williams and Alfred Hitchcock, among others, is on the board of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and is active in film preservation. So the lady knows — and loves — what she is doing.

    Perhaps the best thing about this bio is that after reading it, you feel as if you know the real Billy Wilder. For example, he learned early on not to shoot excess footage because the more you gave the studio (Universal) to play with, the more they could recut the picture in ways he disliked. It was his movie, and with careful planning and tight shooting, he did his damnedest to give them no choice.

    One also gets a feel for the man in his views of other directors, telling Ms. Chandler: “I admired Preston Sturges. He was a writer who became a director, and he had respect for words. His work was his life. He would have worked free. The last time I saw him was in Paris. He was sitting in an outdoor café. Old friends would stop and have something with him, and they’d pick up the check. It seemed he was hard up. He’d had a great life, but it didn’t end up great. He didn’t know how to write a third act for his own life.”

    Another director he admired was Ernst Lubitsch, of whom he speaks in this clip:

    Let’s close with a quote from one of Ms. Chandler’s last interviews with him in Dec. 1999: “I don’t like to look back. You could drown in what-ifs, especially if you make it past ninety, which I have. If you’re going to say , ‘What if?’ you might as well save it for something like, ‘What if Hitler had been a girl?’
    “At ninety-four, there aren’t many goals to work for except longevity. Maybe trying to make it to a hundred as long as my mind is good, and I look forward to each day.”
    “I could never imagine myself being old. An old man was someone who was forty, then fifty, then sixty. When I was a young man in Vienna, if someone had offered me a deal to guarantee I’d make seventy, I’d have grabbed it. Seventy would’ve sounded pretty good to me.”
    “At ninety-four, it’s not long enough. It seems short. Too bad. But it has to end sometime.”

    For Billy Wilder, it ended March 27, 2002, leaving behind a legacy of 21 Academy Award nominations and five films on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 funniest films, including #1: SOME LIKE IT HOT. I like it any way he made it.

     
    • Joseph Nebus 10:55 pm on July 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It’s interesting seeing directors come down on either side of whether to shoot only exactly what they expect they’ll need, or to shoot everything they might imaginably need so they can extract what’s best. (Kubrick’s the poster boy for that side of things.) Each side is so perfectly reasonable about it, is the baffling part.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 6:32 am on July 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent observation. And with a director like Orson Welles, it apparently didn’t make any difference what he shot – he blamed studios for doing whatever they pleased with his pictures regardless.

      Like

    • arekhill1 7:02 am on July 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, I’m starting to long for the live-forever pill myself. They’ve already invented the boner pill. It’s the next logical step.

      Like

    • mistermuse 12:32 pm on July 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That would complete the Holy Trinity of pills: the live-forever, the boner, and the stupid pill. Hopefully, the stupid pill takers won’t find out about the live-forever pill, although it seems like they’ve been taking it forever.

      Like

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