Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Epics: I, Claudius

Josef von Sternberg, Merle Oberon and Charles Laughton
In 1934, British scholar/writer Robert Graves published his best known and most successful work, the sweeping historical novel I, Claudius, written in the form of an autobiography by the Roman Emperor Claudius (10 B.C. - 54 A.D.). 40 years later this classic work would receive plaudits and a new audience in an entirely different medium.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

One of a Kind: Kay Thompson

Kay Thompson, born in St. Louis early in the 20th Century (1909 is the general consensus, but there is some disagreement), can be most easily be described as unique.

Eloise in Paris (1957)
On-screen she is remembered for her role as vibrant, sophisticated Maggie Prescott in Funny Face (1957), shown above, but Thompson was a woman of many talents: singer, composer, vocal coach, actress, comedienne, dancer, choreographer, author and clothing designer. She is perhaps best known today for the series of best-selling "Eloise" children's books she began writing in the mid-'50s about a precocious 6-year-old who lives at New York's Plaza Hotel.

Kay Thompson was born Catherine L. Fink, the daughter of a St. Louis jeweler...and she was always musical. She began her singing career straight out of college and by the time she was in her mid-20s she was working in radio as a singer and choral director. She toured with Fred Waring as a singer and arranger, and her group, The Kay Thompson Swing Choir, appeared in Manhattan Merry-Go-Round (1937).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Break out the champagne (again), the '55 Hitchcock...

Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief screens today at the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival. In celebration of the third annual greatest-classic-film-festival-in-the-world, I’m posting this new and improved version of a piece on To Catch a Thief that first appeared here on New Year’s Day 2011.

Traditionally, champagne is the drink du jour (or nuit) at New Year’s, and so champagne it shall be now. A bottle of ‘96 Dom Pérignon Rosé would be fitting, but I’m in the mood for something really special…an old favorite… Hitchcock’s distinctive ’55 vintage from the Cote d'Azur. To Catch a Thief (1955), a delectable “Hitchcock champagne,” boasts a rare combination of elegance and flair. Light-bodied with a smooth finish that lingers, it remains unmatched, though it has been imitated far and wide for decades.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Give 'Em the Old Pizzazz - Funny Face (1957)

Director Stanley Donen and actress Audrey Hepburn are being honored separately and together at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. The director, who will be making personal appearances at all screenings of his films, did some of his best work with the sublime Audrey as his leading lady. With a "happy birthday" to Stanley Donen who celebrates his 88th birthday today, this post is dedicated to them both...
Pizzazz! The very word came into being with Funny Face in 1957.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Celebrating the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood

Hollywood's legendary Grauman's Chinese Theatre

Just as Turner Classic Movies will pay on-air tribute to the films, talents and themes of the third annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood April 12 – 15, The Lady Eve’s Reel Life will also salute this year’s festival. From now until the 15th, TLE will feature posts and links to reviews of some of the 70+ film classics being shown in Hollywood and the end of this week.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Night is Still "Mad Men" Night

As the fourth installment (the 2 hour premiere covered two episodes) of Mad Men Season 5 approaches (see below for Episode 4 update), there are no signs of waning interest from its audience or the rapt media. In my travels through cyberspace over the past two weeks I've come upon a wide assortment of posts about the new season of this most intriguing series. Here is a sampling - click on titles for links...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Revisiting the "Youthquake"

Landon Jones coined the term “baby boomers” in his 1980 tome Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation, but, as the book's title indicates, the great horde born in the years following World War II was already distinguished as more than just a baby boom – it was the baby boom. In fact, boomers had been the subject of intense interest and considerable attention from the beginning; Dr. Benjamin Spock’s runaway best-seller, Baby and Child Care, was first published in 1946.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Meditation on Mad Men

 "...nostalgia. It's delicate...but Greek, nostalgia literally means 'the pain from an old wound.' It's a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone."

Creative director Don Draper, of the Sterling Cooper ad agency, is pitching his promotional concept to Kodak, a prospective client, for its new product, a wheel-like slide projector. As images of his own young family flash by, one by one, on a projection screen, he continues his inspired dream-spinning:

"This device isn't a spaceship. It's a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again."