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Entries in Old Hollywood (96)

Sunday
Jan112015

"Excuuuuuuuze me, will ya, I'm talking to him!"

Walter: Now, look Bruce. You persuade Hildy to do the story and you can write out a nice fat insurance policy for me. 

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the premiere of Howard Hawks classic His Girl Friday (1940). Here's a double sided bitchy moment to savor in which Walter Burns has dangled an insurance policy carrot for Bruce, who doesn't bite but Hildy does, eyeing the green while milking Walter for a bigger payday. Walter feigns objection, while egging Hildy on...

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Friday
Jan092015

Centennial Beauties: Anita & Fernando

Today marks the 100th birthday of two extremely beautiful screen stars of yore, Anita Louise and Fernando Lamas. Anita, born in New York City in 1915 played Titania, Queen of the Fairies in Midsummer Nights Dream (the film that brought Olivia de Havilland into our worlds), when she was just twenty, long before La Pfeiffer got around to shimmering in similarly gauzy long haired Titania fashion in 1999. [More...]

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Friday
Jan022015

MGM's Into the Woods (1949)

I don't know who made this time-travel brilliance or I would credit their awesomeness (please citizens o' the internet, credit your artwork!) but I got it from the New York Theater website and found it highly amusing. What if Into the Woods had been made by MGM circa 40 years before Stephen Sondheim wrote it!

If you're having trouble reading it the credits go like so...

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Wednesday
Dec312014

A Year with Kate: Epilogue

Epilogue - In which we rank films, learn Life Lessons, climb Mount Hepburn, and wrap this up with the party it deserves!


Happy New Year, everybody! Before 2014 and A Year With Kate officially end, I wanted to give us all a proper send off. If Kate got 9 more years after she retired in 1994, consider this our own ride into the sunset, complete with gifs, gifts, and thank yous.

At the beginning of A Year With Kate, I set some unofficial goals. The most obvious was to watch all 52 films chronologically. In order to do this, I started building a stack of research that I dubbed “Mount Hepburn.” It changed size and content a bit thanks to library deadlines and a lot of late nights on ebay. To the right is a picture of Mount Hepburn at present, having outgrown my table and moved to the floor. It stands just about 3 feet tall. (I actually bought another Katharine Hepburn biography after taking this picture because I do not know how to stop.)

My second goal was to better understand a movie star that I loved. This happened in a way I didn't expect. Week by week, we watched each of Katharine Hepburn’s films add to her star image like pieces in a puzzle. She developed from prickly unformed actress in the 1930s, to glamorous star in the 1940s, to "spinster" and great actress in the 1950s, to living legend in the 1960s. From the 1970s on, Katharine Hepburn the star slowly eclipsed Katharine Hepburn the woman. Watching and writing every week, I discovered that it was that myth of Hepburn that I'd initially fallen in love with, not the person. There's nothing wrong with that. We need myths to look up to. Even after Katharine Hepburn passed away in 2003, her myth lives on. It inspires actresses, audiences, and occasionally a series like this.

As for that Major Life Lesson I was supposed to learn should Hollywood ever decide to buy the movie rights: I actually did learn something life-changing this year. Watching Katharine Hepburn age like good wine over 62 years, I learned about time. Life is short, but life is very large, too. With help and determination, you have the potential to fill your life extraordinary things. You might make mistakes. You might make Spitfire. But think of how much more there still is for you to do. That’s a pretty incredible thing, the depth of a life. I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what else I can do with mine.

Speaking of which, as a thank you to the amazing TFE community, and in answer to those of you who’ve asked: A YEAR WITH KATE IS BECOMING A BOOK!

 

A Year With Kate the book will expand on the series, with full entries on every film, updated Box Office charts, and even some fun trivia and lists. We're kicking around a few different ideas for how best to get A Year With Kate into your hands and onto your e-readers, but know that it will happen in 2015. For now, you can sign up for email updates using this form (Facebook account not required).

Last, but not least, here is my Top 10 List. Please note that this is a carefully thought through list based on months of research and personal bias. I tried to take into consideration career placement, iconic status, acting skill, and just plain fun. Post your list in the comments below!

Anne Marie’s Top 10 Katharine Hepburn Movies

1. Long Day’s Journey Into Night

2. The Philadelphia Story

3. The Lion in Winter

4. Bringing Up Baby

5. Suddenly, Last Summer

6. Woman of the Year

7. Little Women

8. Holiday

9. Alice Adams

10. Morning Glory & Stage Door

Thank all of you lovely readers for watching the movies when you could, commenting even when you couldn’t, and providing insight, humor, and conversation every week. You made 2014 a truly life-changing year. Here’s to 2015, and the possibilities ahead.

Wednesday
Dec242014

A Year with Kate: One Christmas (1994)

Episode 52 of 52: In which we say a fond farewell to Kate.

How, from where we started, did we ever reach this Christmas?

After 52 weeks, 62 years, and over 90 hours of movie-watching, we have arrived at the end of Katharine Hepburn’s career, and likewise the end of A Year With Kate. Never when I started this series did I believe that it would grow as it has. My intention when we began was simply to honor an actress I loved. From that humble beginning, A Year With Kate evolved into a series on celebrity and stardom, a box office tracker, a promoter of hair-brained hair theories and balloon puns, a Hollywood history blog, and above all a forum for everyone from superfans to newcomers to celebrate and debate classic movies.

There is so much to say (including many thank yous), so this last goodbye is being split into two. Next week we’ll have time for us. Today, appropriately enough on Christmas Eve, we will toast Katharine Hepburn with her final film, One Christmas.

Cocktails, conclusions, and a Christmas wish after the jump.

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Wednesday
Dec032014

A Year with Kate: The Man Upstairs (1992)

Episode 49 of 52: In which Katharine Hepburn, octogenarian and Academy Award-winning legend, wrestles a convict and wins.

“You’re too old not to be interesting,” Ryan O’Neal tells Katharine Hepburn midway through The Man Upstairs. As the 1980s rolled into the 1990s, that certainly turned out to be the case for Kate. The formerly private star was now the subject of documentaries, interviews, and the 1990 Kennedy Centers Honors. When she released her autobiography Me: Stories of My Life in 1992, it would have been fair to say that Kate was the busiest recluse in the business.

By this time, there had been so many biographies, interviews, and fictionalizations of her life--of which The Man Upstairs would prove to be another example--so Katharine Hepburn’s autobiography was her chance to set her life in stone once and for all. Told in Hepburn’s typical forthright, conversational style, Me: Stories From My Life may not be the most linear (or truthful) autobiography, but it is a fascinating character study nonetheless.

With all of this energy being put into the performance of being Katharine Hepburn (in book form and the accompanying TV special All About Me), Kate had precious little to devote to actual film projects, which may explain the underwhelming quality of The Man Upstairs. Our own Kate plays Victoria, a misanthrope living alone with only her maid and relations for company. Her life is shaken when an inept escaped convict named Mooney (Ryan O’Neal) takes up not-so-secret residence in her attic.

Kate takes great joy throughout the movie in alternately snapping and smiling at her costars. (She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her efforts.) O’Neal matches her in energy, but his oily charms slide into a whine too often. Because this is a holiday TV movie, the convict and the hermit become bosom friends, and he teaches her the true meaning of Christmas. The film is overall pretty formulaic, but it does give 85-year-old Kate the opportunity to smack 51-year-old Ryan O’Neal with her cane and wrestle a gun away from him. It’s the little things that make these movies, y'know?

And stay down!

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