Monday, February 13, 2012

Classic Film Meme

I haven't been blogging about classic film lately thanks to the Muriels, but they're never far from my mind. Rachel over at The Girl with the White Parasol inadvertently clued me in on this Classic Film Quiz, originally authored by Rianna over at Frankly, My Dear, and it looks fun. I'm heading into low-content mode for a while, so this should tide me over for a bit. Without further ado...

1. Favorite Disney

This is tough. I could provide any number of answers to this one, from "The Skeleton Dance" to "The Brave Little Tailor" to Sleeping Beauty (and its magnificent Maleficent) to "Donald's Snow Fight" to Beauty and the Beast, but when it comes down to it, this is a toss-up between Dumbo and Pinocchio. Both of them represent Disney's animation studio at its absolute peak, and both of them are profoundly traumatic experiences if you see them at the right age. Ultimately, I probably come down on the side of Pinocchio, because it's art of a high order in addition to being a magnificent entertainment. There's the meticulous perfection of its animation, sure, which has never been equaled by anyone, but the art of Pinocchio stems from the existential terrors it provides. Pinocchio is the ultimate outsider, alone in a hostile world that doesn't even view him as human. I'm not a parent, so it doesn't stroke the nerve a parent might feel when watching a movie about an abducted child, but I can sympathize with it. The theme of transformation one finds in Pinocchio, on the other hand, has a deeply personal meaning to me, and when I was a child, I found myself wishing on stars with a kind of pathetic desperation once I had it into my head that the Blue Fairy might hold the key to the wrongness I felt about who I was. There was a certain shock of recognition when the boy robot in A.I. winds up praying to the Blue Fairy. I was that child, once. The terror for me was found in the nature of Pinocchio's transformation at Pleasure Island, which to my mind was what growing up would be. I was never overly affected by the film's diabolical "do good or it will wreck your parents" theme, but that might be because I had other things to contend with.

Note: the still is a production sketch by Gustaf Tenggren. I really dig a lot of the art behind Disney's movies.

2. Favorite film from 1939.

This is a toss-up between Stagecoach and Only Angels Have Wings, but I've written about both of these films at ridiculous length before, so we'll just leave it at that.

3. Favorite Carole Lombard Screwball role

I don't have a strong opinion on this one. The usual answer is either My Man Godfrey or To Be or Not To Be, and I love both of them, but I'll go with Twentieth Century because I'm a Howard Hawks fangirl.

4. Favorite off screen couple? (It's ok if it ended in divorce)

This is into the more gossipy areas of classic film love, which is SO not a part of my relationship with classic films. If I must, let's go with Hedy Lamar and George Antheil, mainly because I like having a cell phone.

5. Favorite pair of best friends? (i.e - Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck, etc.)

Another gossipy question. Let's go with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell. I remember seeing an interview with the two of them on TCM years ago and it was clear that THAT was a friendship.

6. Favorite actor with a mustache? (i.e: Charlie Chaplin, William Powell)

Does Groucho Marx count for this? I mean, I know that the 'stache was greasepaint and all...

7. Favorite blonde actress?

Ginger Rogers. Man, that girl could dance and crack wise. Followed closely by Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell, who were also world-class wisecrackers. I'm generally not a fan of blondes, actually, possibly because I look completely friggin' awful as a blonde myself. I'll sidestep the issue of whether or not Ingrid Bergman was a blonde. The correct answer to this is Catherine Deneuve, but I suspect that that's cheating a bit on the time frame.

8. Favorite pre-code?

Ah, a Sophie's Choice of a question here. I don't know that I could pick. Some candidates would be: King Kong, Frankenstein, Baby Face, Men in White, Call Her Savage, Wild Boys of the Road, and The Scarlet Empress. I just don't know.

9. Which studio would you have liked to join?

I don't even need to think about this one. United Artists without a doubt. I'd rather have control of my films. The major studios were ALL pretty awful, though I suppose that Warner Brothers was less awful (and politically progressive as opposed to MGM, which was horrid).

10. Favorite common on screen pairing that SHOULD have gotten married?

No opinion. I mean, it always weirds me out that Myrna Loy and William Powell weren't actually married, but I have no idea what they were like in real life, and that's the key, isn't it?

11. Favorite I Love Lucy episode?

Again, no opinion. Never watched it much.

12. Lucille Ball, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, and Greer Garson - which one do you like the best?

Oh, Ingrid Bergman, no doubt. Kate Hepburn may have been as good an actress, but Bergman made you feel things like no other actress in Hollywood. And, my god, she was gorgeous.

13. Shadowy film noir from the 1940's or splashy colorful musicals from the 1950's?

Film noir. Totally film noir. This should not come as a surprise to longtime readers of this blog. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with splashy musicals from the 1950s and Singin in the Rain and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes are two of the finest things on this Earth, but my own personality gravitates to noir.

14. Actor or actress with the best autograph (photo preferred)?

Hell if I know. I don't know what anyone's signature looks like.

15. A baby (or childhood or teenage) photo of either your favorite actress or actor (or both, if you'd like)?

Here's a childhood photo of Louise Brooks.

And here's a childhood photo of Ingrid Bergman, too.


Laura said...

"Oh, Ingrid Bergman, no doubt. Kate Hepburn may have been as good an actress, but Bergman made you feel things like no other actress in Hollywood. And, my god, she was gorgeous."

This. Exactly why I picked her. Though I was sorely tempted by Kate, too. Such a patrician loon.

Rianna said...

Thank you for participating in this! Nice answers. I remember watching Pinocchio as a little kid and always being fascinated by the scene when Pinocchio takes a puff of the cigar and his face turns red. Dumbo was a very traumatic experience for me, I cried my eyes out when Dumbo was separated from his mother. But hey, at least it had a happy ending! :)

You are very right when you say Ingrid makes you feel things, because she does! She was dramatic
and believable without overdoing it. (And incredibly gorgeous, too). That's why I love her.

Thanks once more :)

Vulnavia Morbius said...

Hi, Laura.

Yeah. Bergman's life was so interesting, too. I think she was able to bring that into her performances better than any other actress. I mean, Hepburn and Bette Davis were both phenomenal actresses, but I think both of them wore their techniques on their sleeves. You could catch them acting. Bergman was a LOT more naturalistic, even in extreme roles.

Hi, Rianna. Welcome! A lot of Disney movies are traumatic--Bambi's mom is the archetype for this, right? Dumbo has more of a sense of humor than Pinocchio, which almost tips the scales for me. I mean, I know all the words to "You Ever See an Elephant Fly", mainly because I had a Disney storybook album when I was a kid that had the song on it. I played it to death. I wish I still had all those records. I had some great ones.

Aubyn said...

That is quite a lovely Pinocchio still.

You guys are really making me feel the Ingrid love. Intelligent, lovely, emotional and yet somehow relatable

I kind of like that you are so disinterested in the gossipy questions.

Glad you decided to do the meme!