Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Directed By: Robert Mulligan
Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, and Brock Peters
As promised, I am starting a review series on my top ten classic films. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is my favorite film for so many reasons. I love the story, can identify with Scout (the character through whose eyes the story is told), and I get a warm sense of nostalgia from the moment that the first notes of that beautiful score begin to play. The entire opening sequence sets the pace for the film, lazy and a little disturbing...innocent yet mysterious. All of us who have grown up in suburban America have felt that sense of curiosity about our neighbors, a curiosity that inevitably becomes suspicion somewhere along the way.
The plot is well known, thanks to the wonderful book by Harper Lee on which the film is based. Scout and Jem are motherless children growing up in the depression era South. Their father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer with a strong sense of morale and a solid reputation in the community. Amid an atmosphere of racism and poverty, he maintains a noble spirit of generosity that he firmly attempts to instill in his children. When he is called upon to defend a black man charged with the rape of a white woman, never once does he balk at the prejudicial backlash that will undoubtedly affect he and his family. He simply chooses to do the right thing, knowing that his client is innocent and accepting all the baggage that entails. Over the course of the summer, as the trial unfolds and his children come of age emotionally, he deals wiht the consequences of that decision. In the meantime, Scout and Jem make a friend, Dill, who shares their love of mystery. The three children become intent on catching a glimpse of Boo Radley, a reclusive neighbor whose quiet life has become fodder for town gossip.
Gregory Peck was born to play the role of Atticus Finch and in doing so, creates one of the 'superheroes' of film history. Never once do we feel that the role is forced or morally heavy handed. Mary Badham is a phenomenal recreation of the novel's heroine, Scout. She is a natural actress with a gift for dialogue. There are no weak performances in the film, but these two definitely make the largest impact. Additionally, Brock Peters as Tom Robinson and a very young Robert Duvall, as the reclusive Boo Radley, deliver beautiful supporting roles. The direction by Mulligan is monumentally great and never struggles with its subject matter. The feel of those hot, sticky days in Macon Georgia stays with you throughout the meat of the film, never relying on stereotypical elements to fuel the atmosphere of the South. The mood is organic in nature, slipping easily from tender moments of family life to suspenseful moments of tension without missing a beat. In addition, there are a few scenes that are so beautifully constructed, I never fail to shed tears even after multiple viewings. I won't spoil it by revealing these moments, but there is no doubt that the gorgeous score along with the perfect way in which these elements are brought to life, can be blamed for that reaction.
Needless to say, I feel that this movie is a 'must-see' for people of all ages. There are moments your children will love, as well as those sentimental segments that the adults will value. To say that it's a quintessential 'family film' is an understatement. To say that it's a great movie, would likewise feel like a tepid way of describing what I feel is the best film ever made.
My rating: 10/10 (But you probably knew that.)
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
For a while now I've been intending to try the above style, worn by the lovely Lolita Haze. My bangs were growing out so it took me some time to get to it. But one of the primary reasons I wanted to give it a shot was so I could finally try Lolita's 'set' of choice, perming rods. I sent her a variety of emails to make sure I got it right and unfortunately I lost the following setting pattern until just yesterday! So here is the cute little setting diagram that she sent:
Anyway, at her suggestion I purchased a couple of packs of the peach colored rods (as available at Sally's Beauty Supply) and I also purchased a pack of the purple ones, which are slightly smaller. Since I had misplaced the setting diagram, I rolled my hair in a haphazard manner, making sure to keep the rollers around ear level, so as to eliminate the inevitable volume at the crown of my hair. Since my hair is longer, I had to alter the style somewhat based on the size of my resulting curls. I didn't use a setting solution, just water, but I can honestly say the curls were really impressive and I can see this becoming one of my favorite sets as well.
The sales lady at Sally's had incorrectly informed me that 'you can't use these rods w/out end papers'. Not true, but I can see what she means. If you have layers, it's a bit difficult to wrap the hair around the roller since the hard plastic is slippery and the hair doesn't grip it. End papers would come in handy here but moistening hair a bit will also make this easier. The longer length of the rollers is likewise useful since larger swatches of hair can be rolled at once. All in all, I'd say the 'trial run' of perming rods was a success. I could have stood to use smaller ones, to achieve the tighter curl I wanted, but that's another story for another time.
Monday, November 22, 2010
On a recent video, I mentioned that 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was my favorite film. This spawned a few questions from viewers as to what my favorite classic films were, a topic that I hadnt really thought to address here. I actually had constructed a list of my 'Top 100' films a long time ago, having grown up with a chronic 'list-making' tendency that I can't deny. The full list can be seen on my movie blog, but today I'll be posting my top ten films before 1965, as well as a brief reason why I love them so much. Look for detailed reviews of these ten films, in future editions of 'Movie Review Monday'.
Top Ten Classic Films:
1. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Not one wasted scene or stilted performance. It's a 'hero' movie, in every sense.
2. You Can't Take It With You (1938)
The best of 'feel good' flicks, this is the first of Frank Capra's films to appear in my top films. I am proud to have introduced this movie to quite a few people and all of them now love it and watch it semi-yearly with me. We move the furniture and sprawl out on the living room floor, enjoying the warmth. And we eat 'YCTIWY' food, taffy and popcorn balls namely-we skip the wieners and saur kraut. But it's a great time and I'll never stop doing it.
3. Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Another Frank Capra classic, this one also stars Jimmy Stewart-in my favorite performance of his. My pick for the best movie of 1939, it is one of Capra's greatest movies and also his most moving. Though I do not claim to be a patriotic person by any stretch of the imagination, I have such respect and admiration for Jefferson Smith.
4. All About Eve (1950)
Truly, does it get any better than this? Can dialogue be any more brilliant, quick, quotable? Can acting be more accomplished on ALL counts? Was Bette Davis not the best actress of her time? Did Marilyn Monroe ever look so good or deliver such great lines ('I can't yell 'oh butler' can I? Somebody's NAME might be Butler.')? Has theater life ever been handled so deftly before or since? The answer is a resounding NO on all counts. Absolutely one of the best movies of all time, hands down. Period.
5. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
A thriller that still remains 'thrilling', even by today's standards. But the crowning glory, the shining star, the thing that puts this movie where it is on my countdown is the performance of Angela Lansbury as Mrs Johnny Iselin, Raymond's vindictive and controlling mother. She is astonishing-there's just no other word for it. Every time she's on the screen, I'm vastly uncomfortable-still, after many viewings. Lansbury takes the tenacity of this character and runs with it, pulling off what is probably the best supporting performance by a female in history. Her final scene is my favorite of the film and by far the most powerful as it uncovers some unthinkable plot twists and contains some gripping dialogue.
6. The Great Escape (1963)
Although the subject matter has been handled with more depth and realism since, 'The Great Escape' succeeds on a different plane. It is a perfect balance of comedy and drama...and did I mention Steve McQueen?
7. Gigi (1958)
My favorite musicl of all time, 'Gigi' is also a gorgeous example of film-making and a fabulous character study. Aunt Alicia is my favorite!
'Great kings do not give the expensive jewels...I think it's because they don't feel they have to.'
8. On the Waterfront (1954)
Some of the most powerful scenes ever filmed were created by blacklisted director, Elia Kazaan. He is a phenomenon of filmmaking, in spite of the obvious controversy. This movie is no exception and in my opinion, it is the best of his films. It speaks volumes in its relatively short run time and truly makes an impression when it comes to standing up for what is good and right in a corrupt society.
9. Goodby Mr Chips (1939)
Though tragedy strikes with gut-wreching force in this film, we never stop feeling genuinely warm over this transformation of Donat's character. He becomes an icon of Brookfield school and an icon of cinema itself. The end is one of the most affective scenes ever, in my mind, and never fails to move me. And there is no doubt that it is Donat on which the whole feat hangs. I can't praise him or this wonderful movie enough.
10. Singin in the Rain (1952)
This popular movie is more than just that title number. It's also great ensemble acting (principally by O'Connor and Hagen as the two comic leads), gorgeous technicolor dance productions that carry over seamlessly into the solid storyline, brilliant 20's costuming, and hilariously infectious writing.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Boots are always a staple of cold weather fashion and I, for one, am a huge fan! The problem is, most stores offer such generic examples of the footwear. If I see one more pair of Sherpa lined clunkers or pointy toed high heeled numbers zipped up over skinny jeans...I SWEAR! Not that I never wear jeans with boots in the winter...I have a pair of 18-eye Doc Martens that I bought in 1994 that I still wear on hikes and such. They have served me well. But currently, I seldom wear jeans so I've been in the market for a pair of great boots that suit vintage dresses, skirts, high waisted pants, and swing coats-while still looking feminine.
Look no further than Modcloth, ladies! I love their boot selection for several reasons. First, they have a wide variety of styles that are both unique and interesting. Secondly, they carry a range of prices to suit just about every budget.
And thirdly (and this-pardon the pun-is the 'kicker'), so many of their boots will look lovely with your vintage inspired duds! (Incidentally, I also love the little feature they include on the boot's page, suggesting other wardrobe ideas from their site that will go nicely with that item. Since, as we all know, Modcloth clothes are fabulous too!)
If you are into wearing dresses and a-line skirts, don't let the cold weather stop you! Slip on a pair of opaque tights and a coordinating ankle boot, for a sophisticated look that still keeps you warm. If you're wearing an outfit that is largely neutral, patterned tights can give you some extra flair as well!
Taller boots look great with most vintage dresses, as long as the style is slim fitting and keeps the shape of your legs in focus. Try them with a lovely princess seamed coat, scarf, and fur lined cap for some lovely drama on an average work day.
And since I am currently without a perfect pair of boots myself, here is a picture of the GORGEOUS Ulrika (stylista extraordinaire) showing a pair of lace up boots off to their best advantage!
So don't hesitate to click on that link at the right and 'get the boot' for yourself!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
In addition to my love for vintage styling, I also love to cook and vintage recipes are so fun to recreate! This recipe is an old family favorite: Lemon Ice Box Pie.
My grandmother and mother are not the most culinary people, but my grandmother Haleen was amazingly good at this dessert. Her recipe was very simple. I added a few touches of my own to dress it up a little and incorporate my passion for whipped cream.
This is a simple dessert that doesnt require any baking and works well for any time of year. Some would argue that it is most seasonable in the warmer months, but the freshness of lemon is certainly appreciated with the richness of holiday meals as well. It adds a lightness that offsets the heavy meats and casseroles so common during this time of year.
1 prepared graham cracker crust
1 can condensed milk
3 lemons, to yield 1/4 c. juice
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup whipping cream, whipped with 2 T. sugar
Step One: Zest lemons, using the fine side of a kitchen grater.
Step Two: Juice lemons, being careful to remove any seeds.
Step Three: Combine lemon juice, egg yolks, and one can condensed milk in mixer bowl.
Step Four: Pour into prepared crust, lined with vanilla wafers.
Step Five: Place into refrigerator to set...about two hours, preferably overnight.
Step Six: Whip cream, add to top of pie. Refrigerate again, to allow ingredients to set again.
Step Seven: Sprinkle with reserved lemon zest. Serve with a glass of cold milk.
Video Tutorial available here:
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Iam super excited to introduce all of you to a brand new sponsor here on my site, 'Candy Violet'. Candy Violet is a one stop shop for unique and vintage inspired goodies, from simple petticoats to elaborate wedding attire. The site is beautiful to look at and easy to navigate, making it the kind of store you wish you could experience in person.
As Vivian says, it's more like the type of boutique you could expect to find 'back in the day', when what we now term 'vintage style' was what everyone expected to find in their local shops. Her pieces are all gorgeously constructed and designed to flatter the female shape, while offering unique touches you won't see anywhere else.
I love the authentic look of her dresses, particularly. The above full skirted number, for instance, reminds me a lot of that gorgeous brocade dress that Eva Marie Saint wore in the Hitchcock film, 'North by Northwest'. Not to be overlooked are also the gorgeous capes and jackets offered in the store. This faux fur piece will undoubtedly turn heads at formal winter events:
In addition, there are a variety of unique accessories available-from jewelry and hats to bags and belts. The shop even has a great selection of Besame' Cosmetics (one of my all time favorite brands) there for the choosing! Needless to say, everything you need for a glamorous Bombshell look is right there in one place.
Please check out Vivian's site by clicking on the tab to the right, in the sponsor column. Also, don't miss her gorgeous blog, where she discusses her design endeavors and style sense.