Classic horror movie brooches

September 29, 2015

It's funny, I started Silents & Talkies as a place to share classic movie art but here I am six years later feeling guilty for wanting to share art here? I've just come to think of this as more of a writing-only kind of blog for some reason.

Anyway! I did a set of brooches inspired by 1930's horror movies and thought it would be sacrilegious if I didn't share it here, too. If you've been following my blog for a while you know that my favorite movies to watch in October are the creepy two-strip technicolor films from the 30's, like Doctor X and The Mystery of the Wax Museum. There's something about Lionel Atwill and an eerie green film tint that just screams "Halloween!" to me! And I have nothing against modern horror, but give me Bela Lugosi, atmospheric fog, cobweb-covered sets and I'm a happy camper.

My classic horror scream brooch was loosely inspired by Fay Wray (it would have been completed inspired by her if my drawing had actually looked more like her when it was finished, haha! I will never stop struggling with getting faces right.) 

The vampire brooch was inspired by Luna from Mark of the Vampire (this has one of the best horror movie endings, in my opinion) I'm so smitten with how that one came out! :D

Obviously the bride of Frankenstein brooch is Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein, and then the graveyard brooch is kind of a composite of every eerie cemetery scene in every scary 30's movie. That one is probably my favorite, since I think it really captures the atmosphere that makes me loves these films so much.

All of the brooches are available in my shop, here. I think I might do prints or a notecard set soon, too, but the brooches take longer to make so I wanted to get them in the shop early to make sure they can ship in time for Halloween :)

no one ever called me darling before

September 24, 2015

Now, Voyager is a film I've revisited so many times over the last decade that I could probably shut my eyes and see the film flicker across my closed eyelids, frame for frame. It's a movie that I come back to time and time again when I'm feeling a certain sadness about life and loneliness because, like Charlotte Vale, no one ever called me darling before.

When I was 22 the film gave me a sense of hope. I, too, could blossom into a new woman and go out into the world and find a Paul Henreid to buy me perfume and camellias. Now I'm getting closer to 30. I'm having a very difficult time with it, to be honest. Even typing the words "I'm getting closer to 30" is rough. I may not have bushy eyebrows and an overbearing mother but I'm seeing more and more of myself in the Aunt Charlotte who needed to lose 20 pounds of weight and 100 pounds of anxiety. I'm not sure what it is about my impending milestone that feels like a deadline to me, but there it is -- after the big 3-0 it's spinsterhood or bust.

I have a tendency to write more about my relationship to movies than the movies themselves, but movies have that effect on me. It's hard to separate my thoughts about Now, Voyager from the feelings the movie arouses in me. Almost every movie that I love has some emotional tug on me, whether it's tied to the experience of seeing the film (who I saw it with, what was happening in my life the first time I watched it) or to the content and how it speaks to me personally. Quite frankly even Sunday in New York originally sparked my interest because it was about a girl who had been a virgin a little longer than everyone else. It's since become my favorite movie for other reasons but that initial kinship that I felt with Jane Fonda's character will always be present when I re-watch it.

And so it is with Now, Voyager. The feelings I had as a 16 year old, as a 20 year old, as a 25 year old watching this movie resurface whenever I hear the familiar strains of Max Steiner's score. I can remember feeling hopeful, and then I can remember when that hope started to fade. I've always been kind of cynical about love, but movies that once left me smiling stupidly as the credits rolled by now leave me feeling world-weary and selfish. The last time I watched Now, Voyager I snarkily wondered "Why can't *I* have that?," slightly jealous that Charlotte broke out of her silver cocoon while I was still trapped in mine.

But then I wonder, why is it that this one single element of movies is the one thing I deserve in my life (and everyone else deserves, too.) I don't expect to have Brigitte Bardot's hair or Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe. I accept those things as unattainable and enjoy their films anyway. I'd love to work on the set of a tv show like TGS on 30 Rock, but I know that it's not realistic for me. Even when people in movies travel or have picnics in the park I think "well doesn't that seem nice" but I don't resent the characters for doing something I'm not. So why is it that the absence of love in my life makes it difficult for me to see love in movies?

Honestly all of these thoughts were swirling through my mind before the credits even started on Now, Voyager earlier tonight. I've been feeling very blue about my upcoming birthday (I'm actually turning 29, I'm just obsessed with 30 lurking on the horizon) and words like "death, alone, mortality" have been dominating my thoughts. Perfect time to watch Now, Voyager, I figured. Either it would restore my faith in love or I could commiserate with pre-makeover Bette Davis. Win/Win.

So do I have hope now that someday things will magically change and all of my worrying during my 20's that I'd end up alone would be for naught? No. At this point I've pretty much abandoned any dreams I might have had that I'll find someone. I'm not even kidding, I can't even fathom a future in which I'm not on my own. I can't imagine someone telling me they love me.

However, I also saw in Charlotte an independent woman who decided to live her life to the fullest even if she couldn't have Jerry. She threw herself into working on the new addition to the sanitarium and hosted parties at her house. Even before she went back to Cascade and discovered Tina was there, she had broken off her engagement and was more than prepared to lead a fulfilling life alone.

Movies speak to us when we need to hear them. They tell us things that resonate based on where we are in our lives, and they comfort us when we need comforting. Now, Voyager has been there for me since I was 15 years old, lying in bed trying not to cry because I was about to turn 16 the next day and I still hadn't been kissed. It was there when I was 23, feeling alone and in desperate need of some hope. When I was 26 and starting to lose faith that love would find me, I felt a kindred spirit in Spinster Aunt Charlotte. And now, at *GULP* almost 30, I found comfort in Charlotte's warm embrace of solitude.

I'm still going to have days where I'm blue about life and love -- it's pretty much inescapable. And I'm sure I'll still turn to Now, Voyager to help me through it. No one has ever called me darling before, but movies have provided me so much love and understanding over the years that they're basically my boyfriend.

Don't let's ask for love, Jerry. We have the movies.

Emoji Spoiler Alert: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

September 10, 2015

Since my favorite pastime is wasting time, I decided to illustrate the plot of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in emoji. I had way more fun doing this than I probably should have, but that's kind of the whole point of wasting time, isn't it? And maybe it isn't really a waste at all if you decide to turn it into a blog post. That legitimizes the time spent on a project, at least a tiny bit, right?

Anyway, if you've seen the movie hopefully this will give you a little chuckle. I don't think it *really* spoils anything if you still haven't seen it, since it's kind of cryptic, but maybe if you were on the fence you'll be like "well now I NEED to find out how a goat, bread, and toilets factor into this cold war spy movie!"

Hopefully this will turn into a little series here (assuming I don't totally abandon it like I have 90% of my other series ideas) I really want to do one for Dr. Zhivago next, but be forewarned it'll probably just be a lot of snowflakes and broken hearts...


September 08, 2015

I just watched L'Alliance, a French film from 1971 starring Anna Karina. Initially I wasn't planning on writing anything about it, I only wanted to share this one screenshot that I took. I liked the dialogue, Anna Karina's face is always cool, and the screenshot itself seemed like one of those movie moments that could easily become a "this scene just GETS ME" screencap that I turn into my facebook cover photo.

But then I was talking to my dad about the movie and the more I explained the plot the more I realized I actually really liked it and maybe I had more to say than I originally thought. Maybe the movie meant more to me than social networking wallpaper.

The film begins with a marriage broker trying to find a wife for a peculiar man, played by Jean-Claude Carrière, who seems way more interested in his future wife's real estate holdings than her personality or appearance. She can be dull or exciting, blonde or brunette, but if she doesn't have a closet (or at least a closed off extra room) then he's looking elsewhere. In Anna Karina he finally finds the square footage he's been waiting for. They marry immediately.

They seem sort of happy at first. Her new husband is really preoccupied with insects on their honeymoon, but that's to be expected of any newlywed, right?

Once they get back to the enormous apartment, he starts setting up his Veterinary practice and obsessing over a locked closet that houses a bunch of old junk, a fishing pole, and some very large slippers. He becomes tormented by those slippers, constantly trying to figure out whose large feet once slipped inside of them. They have dinner guests and he literally puts his foot next to the man's shoe to see if it's the right size. What even. He starts recording verbal diary entries documenting his wife's every move (she goes shopping every day but she never buys anything? What is she hiding??) and, of course, the case of the very large slippers.

Meanwhile the house is becoming a miniature zoo with monkeys, birds, lizards and rodents taking up every square inch of the sizable apartment. The maid is growing concerned that the animals are going to attack her somehow, they seem to be getting more and more agitated by the day. The animals make for a really awesome backdrop to this psychological thriller. The still silence that is the hallmark of any nighttime scene in this genre is punctuated by creepy bird calls or the sounds of little claws clanging on cages.

The movie is very Gaslight, if both parties were Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. I mean, they both seem like they're driving each other insane AND they both seem like they're going insane. It's ridiculously well done and super eerie. And **SPOILER ALERT** it is actually building up to an ending that has literally NOTHING to do with the drama that preceded it. But I think that's the point. **SERIOUSLY I AM TOTALLY SPOILING THE ENDING NOW SO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK** The film ends with the animals going absolutely haywire. The maid finally quits, sure that the animals are about to form a revolt, and Anna Karina runs to her husband to find out what's going on. I was positive that there was going to be some kind of off the wall kooky explanation - he was actually an alien, or the animals were aliens, or he had devised some kind of serum from insect blood that would make animals into his slaves, maybe? - but the animals are actually sensing something cataclysmic is about to happen. Husband and wife share their first and only moment of trust, they embrace, and an atomic bomb wipes out civilization. Bugs crawl away from the debris, the only survivors of man's holocaust.

*STILL SPOILERS* In retrospect, the ending was foreshadowed a few times in the movie. During their honeymoon she remarks that her father used to kick anthills and then laugh at all the ants scrambling around their broken home. She always wondered if there was someone out there waiting to kick us, and laugh as our own world fell to pieces. Later on, a scientist comes to visit and explains that humans will likely be wiped out soon and that the only creature to survive atomic blasts are insects.

I don't know what the author (It's Jean-Claude Carrière -- the actor who played the husband, by the way. Awesome little piece of trivia right there) intended by this ending, but what I took away from the film was how everyday life, with all of its little human dramas, could come to a screeching halt. Sort of like the ending of Fail Safe, nuclear annihilation ends day to day life in a heartbeat. We aren't meant to find out who owned the slippers or where Anna Karina went shopping. We don't get a conclusion to the story wrapped up neatly and tied with a ribbon because nuclear winter is the conclusion to everything. It doesn't care about the fate of this twisted couple, so we don't get to care either. *END SPOILERS*

All in all, I think it was a very interesting, thought provoking movie that I'll probably have on my mind for quite a while. It's also beautifully filmed and Anna Karina and Jean-Claude Carrière are excellent in their strange, compelling and complex roles. I had a hard time finding a copy but if you can get your hands on one I'd definitely recommend it. Just be prepared (if you avoided my spoilers) that it's not a conventional thriller.

Anna Karina's character often came home from shopping trips empty-handed. I cannot relate. Anna Karina's character went to the cinema alone. She is my spirit animal.

Modesty Blaise and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and watching movies alone

August 23, 2015

I just re-watched Modesty Blaise (somehow it had been years since the last time I saw it, YEARS!!) and I was reminded of how visually awesome it is. I've seen this countless times and honestly I still don't have much of a clue what's going on with the plot (seriously, no clue whatsoever) but Monica Vitti and Dirk Bogarde play, respectively, *the* most epic heroine and villain that it's fascinating to just sit back and watch regardless of what's actually going on with the story. The whole movie is very gif-able but on this particular viewing I was super smitten with this little scene and had to make a gif from it:

I always have a chronic yearning to watch this movie percolating under the surface of my daily thoughts ("which potato product should I make for breakfast/lunch/dinner? ... *whispering voice in the back of my mind* mooddeessttyyy bbllaaiiissee ...") but today that yearning morphed into an urge and I had to see it. It's definitely related to my infatuation with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the 60's spy movie that came out last week. Like almost everything else in my life that I end up loving, I was originally coerced into watching it by Millie (who, by the way, wrote a super fantastic post about MFU that you should really be reading instead of this.)

I saw it last Friday and then I spent the last seven days aching to see it again. I planned on going with my mom and Grandmom ("Grandmom would love this! We should take her to go see it!" she exclaimed, trying to mask her quiet desperation.) Ultimately they both backed out on me, so I went alone. Which is actually really okay, because to be honest I like seeing movies by myself more than with friends or family. Is that weird? I feel like in our culture, movie consumption (at least in a theater) is generally considered to be a group event. We read books alone, listen to music alone, watch television alone, but movies are supposed to be a communal activity. We should have someone who can discuss the movie afterwards and help us not look like a loser beforehand. But there's something so awfully freeing about sitting in the darkness alone and not caring what your fellow movie-goers think of your reactions. I don't generally cry during movies, but I have an awful habit of smiling - like a giant, ear to ear grin - when I'm enjoying a film, and I get very self conscious about it when I'm part of a group. So tonight when I watched The Man From U.N.C.L.E. alone (although technically surrounded by about 50 senior citizens) I could grin til my face ached and it was heaven.

Why was I grinning so much, you ask? Because this movie is so darn awesome. It's based on the tv show of the same name, in which an American spy and a Russian spy are forced to work together during the cold war. Henry Cavill plays the American, Napoleon Solo, and Armie Hammer plays the Russian, Illya Kuryakin. It has a fantastic soundtrack, very 60's-esque split screens and giant yellow lettering. It's fun, suspenseful (even on the second go-around), action-packed, SUPER stylish and incredibly sleek. Oh yeah, and I'm definitely in love with Armie Hammer's character in this movie. His Illya Kuryakin shot straight up to the top of my "fictional men that I'd love to marry" list (other notable husbands include Paul Verrall from Born Yesterday, Longfellow Deeds from Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and Robert Gold from Darling, in case you were curious)

Long story short (actually, I think this post is too long for me to say that at this point) you should really go see The Man From U.N.C.L.E. If you like classic films from the 60's, spy movies, 60's fashion (OMG the fashion in this movie, I die!), handsome guys and spunky girls, you'll like this movie. I promise. Pinky swear! Just go see it!

Now let's circle back to Modesty Blaise real quick, because this post clearly isn't long enough yet.

I got back home after MFU, simultaneously energized from getting to see it again and despondent that I didn't have it on DVD yet. I have a very obsessive personality when it comes to media, I love listening to the same song on repeat for weeks or watching reruns of the same tv show (not the same episode though, in my defense) every night for years (hi there, 30 Rock!) and I'm the same way with movies. Rather than seeking the help I probably really need, I decided I had to do something to fill that gaping "I need to watch this as many times as humanly possible" hole in my heart.

Modesty Blaise is a fun 60's spy comedy with a very vague plot, spectacular outfits, insane dialogue (Dirk Bogarde really gets the best lines in this, and his over the top delivery is side-splitting hilarious. "Tor-cha!") and wacky randomness like sudden hair color changes or fishes swimming in giant champagne glasses. I think it tends to get a bad wrap because of the confusing plot, but many a great film makes absolutely no sense. Between you and me, I'd rather watch and not understand Modesty Blaise than watch and not understand 2001: A Space Odyssey. What is the floating space baby??

Wow, this is the most disjointed post ever. Ahh! When I started writing this I really did have a good plan for weaving all of these threads together, but .. not so much anymore. I'll just sum things up now before this gets any longer:

1. Go see The Man From U.N.C.L.E. You won't be disappointed.
2. Feel free to crush on Napoleon Solo. Illya is taken. MINE.
3. Also watch Modesty Blaise. Expect lots of cool, very little sense.
4. Seeing movies alone is fun!
5. Writing posts at 2am might not be a great idea for me anymore.
6. Floating space baby is creepy.

"Her womb was a torture chamber of mother love"

August 09, 2015

Last week Millie and Casey were here for a visit! We took plenty of goofy photos *and* we went into New York for a double feature at The Film Forum. As part of their True Crime series they were showing the Bradford Dillman movie Compulsion (one of the main reasons Millie picked this particular week to visit) and The Girl on the Red Velvet Swing.

Compulsion was an amazing film. The Girl on the Red Velvet Swing was... interesting. It's a 1955 movie starring Joan Collins, Ray Milland and Farley Granger that (not super accurately) depicts the true story of Stanford White's murder. Stanford White was a famous New York architect who had an affair with Evelyn Nesbit before she married her insanely jealous psychopathic husband. Here is the reaction shot we took after we got out of the movie:

If you're interested in learning why we look so horrified, we also filmed this little video for you explaining why the movie scarred us for life and where exactly the line "her womb was a torture chamber of mother love" factored into the story. I'm not making this up.

Bonus! If you start this video en route to Princeton Junction from the Spring Street parking garage, this video will help you with directions *and* you'll have a fun discussion about a terrifying movie to listen to while you're on your way!

Classic film book challenge: L'Avventura

July 17, 2015

I'm participating in Raquel's Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge and for my second book I read the BFI Film Classics book on L'Avventura, written by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith.

When I signed up for the summer reading challenge I started browsing on Amazon, and I stumbled upon the BFI Film Classics series. They have dozens and dozens of books each dedicated to a single movie. In this book the author tackles the public reception to the film, the production background, the meaning, the casting, and the legacy. If all of the BFI books are this comprehensive and riveting then I'm definitely going to be purchasing more of them in the future!

If you've seen L'Avventura, then you'll probably agree that reading an in-depth analysis will help with your understanding of the film. That's not to say that it's too complicated or too confusing to wrap your brain around without any assistance. It's an enjoyable movie on its own, but additional insight can only strengthen your grasp on the deep meaning lurking under the simple surface. The author does a wonderful job of explaining how this movie came to be and what exactly Antonioni was trying to tell us in the story. I particularly loved his observation about Antonioni's work in general, that he isn't a realist or a moralist. "His films are reflections on, rather than of, the world. It is this which makes him.. an essentially modern artist." In L'Avventura there is a rawness that isn't present in a lot of films that predate it, but at the same time it has an otherworldly quality that plucks it from reality. It doesn't straddle the line between gritty realism and cinematic confections, it hovers above them in some nether world of its own.

One thing that I felt was lacking in the book was any real effort to tackle the symbolism, something that I personally tend to overlook unless I already know what I'm looking for. And even then, I might know it's there, but I don't always know what it means. I also would have loved some discussion about the dialogue, which is one of my favorite things about the movie. Words are few and far between but when they're spoken they are always poignant and riddled with multiple meanings. "I have never understood the islands. With all that water around them, poor things ..."  Don't you wish people spoke like that in real life? I do.

One word of warning if you're planning on reading the book - make sure you've seen La Notte and L'Eclisse beforehand. The author makes a ton of comparisons and they'll fly right over your head if you've never seen the other films. He also makes mention of Red Desert, Blow-Up, and Zabriskie Point, but only in passing.

Overall I really enjoyed the book and I feel like it helped strengthen my understanding of the movie and the climate in which it was created. I'm looking forward to reading more BFI Classics. They're almost like 100 page classic film blog posts in book form!

Finally, this isn't really related to the book so much as the movie, but I had to share it. The scene in which Monica Vitti is waiting outside and men start slowly swarming around her reminds me so much of The Birds. I was hoping that the author might address L'Avventura's effect on other filmmakers (did Hitchcock see this movie? I feel like this HAD to be an inspiration for The Birds) but he didn't, which left me googling "L'Avventura The Birds" as soon as I had finished, hoping someone else might have pieced something together. And lo and behold, I found this video. It's chilling, isn't it?

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, or How I saw Gary Cooper's face on the big screen and my heart nearly exploded

July 08, 2015

The Garden Theater in Princeton has been playing classic movies as part of their Hollywood Summer Nights series, and this week they showed Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. I was looking forward to this screening for a very long time (I think I've had it marked on my calendar for at least two months) and it was everything I hoped for and more.

First of all, let's just get this out of the way first -- Gary Cooper. HIS FACE. OH MY GOD HIS FACE. It's just so perfect. I seriously wanted to yell "PAUSE!" and just sit there in the darkness staring at his face a little while longer (okay, that sounded way creepier than I meant it to be?) but he is just so pretttttyyyy. (I've clearly forsaken any intentions I ever had about this being a serious film blog.) And his expressions are so darn cute. Like in the scene when he first takes Jean Arthur out to dinner and watches as the violinist serenades her -- I died. They had to move my body out of the aisle after the movie was over so that rest of my row could get out. Because I actually died from the cuteness. And then when (SPOILER) he finds out that Jean Arthur was the one writing the mean articles about him, and his broken heart is etched all over his beautiful face, but he smiles just a little bit to try to retain some dignity... man oh man. (END SPOILER)

Ok, done talking about Gary Cooper's face. Moving on...

Wearing my Gary Cooper fan club button, of course

Obviously, Gary Cooper is one of my favorite things about this movie. But I also love every single other thing about it. Jean Arthur is perfection and all of the supporting characters were perfectly cast. And then there's Frank Capra and Robert Riskin, possibly my favorite director/writer duo of all time. Like any good Capra film, there are quite a few messages sprinkled (or doused) throughout, but my favorite is that we should all treat each other with kindness. Longfellow Deeds is a well-meaning, sweet, good man who gets bullied and picked on and taunted from every direction. And he just can't wrap his brain around why. Like Longfellow, I cannot understand why human beings can't just be nice to each other. I don't get it when it comes to war, I don't get it when it comes to schoolyard bullying. I just don't understand intentional meanness. Two of my favorite quotes from Longfellow Deeds --

"What puzzles me is why people seem to get so much pleasure out of... hurting each other? Why don't they try liking each other once in a while?"

"It's easy to make fun of somebody if you don't care how much you hurt 'em. I think your poems are swell, Mr. Brookfield... but I'm disappointed in you. I must look funny to you... but maybe if you went to Mandrake Falls you'd look just as funny to us... only nobody would laugh at you and make you feel ridiculous... because that wouldn't be good manners."

Another message that the film drives home is that we should help out our fellow man. The movie begins with Longfellow Deeds inheriting 20 million dollars and being shuffled off to New York City where he's expected to spend a good deal of that money on things like the opera and an arsenal of lawyers. After suffering countless humiliations and dealing with some pretty intense pangs of homesickness, Longfellow decides to donate the bulk of his fortune to buy land for farmers who could use a helping hand. The fact that he wants to help people less fortunate, rather than shower himself in luxuries and supply his wealthy lawyers with a steady stream of funding, means he simply MUST be insane.

After taking the stand at his insanity trial, the judge remarks that not only is Longfellow Deeds sane, but he's the sanest man who ever set foot in that courtroom. I'd venture to say, he's one of the sanest characters in film history. His notions about what's right and wrong are common sense, but the world seems to view common sense as heresy. That's the thing about a Capra film -- at the end goodness and love will always win. John Doe doesn't jump off the building, Longfellow Deeds isn't sent to a mental institution, and Anthony P. Kirby realizes that you really can't take it with you. I wish that was the world we lived in, I wish it so badly.

I'll end with one last quote from Longfellow, explaining at his trial why he wanted to give his money away to people who needed it more than he did --

"It's like I'm out in a big boat, and I see one fellow in a rowboat who's tired of rowing and wants a free ride, and another fellow who's drowning. Who would you expect me to rescue? Mr. Cedar - who's just tired of rowing and wants a free ride? Or those men out there who are drowning? Any ten year old child will give you the answer to that."

God I love that quote. (And Gary Cooper's face...)

Classic film book challenge: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

I'm participating in Raquel's Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge and for my first book I decided to read The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R.A. Dick, the novel that inspired one of my favorite movies.

I really enjoyed this book a lot. There were a few sizable plot discrepancies between the book and the movie, which I'll get to in a minute, but for the most part it felt like I was reading a beloved film. I could hear Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison's voices and picture the atmospheric Gull cottage as I turned each page. The movie always leaves me with a palpable sense of mystery, romance and serenity and the book inspired the same feelings. I would highly recommend it, whether you're a fan of the 1947 movie or not.

Before I continue, this is not going to be a spoiler-free post, so if you aren't familiar with the plot (either from the book or the movie) here's your warning to stop reading this post and go watch the movie or read the book first.

There were a couple pretty big differences between the book and the movie, but (with one exception) I don't feel like they changed the overall feeling or direction of the story. First of all, in the book Anna has two children - Cyril and Anna. Cyril is an old-fashioned stick-in-the-mud who takes after his father's side of the family. If you've seen the movie, you know that Lucy Muir's in-laws are the last people you'd ever want your children to take after! His character was very unlikeable and it's understandable that they decided to cut him entirely out of the story when they made the movie. At one point in the book, Captain Gregg needles Lucy into admitting that she doesn't even like her own son. Not really fodder for a 40's romance film, right?

Another major difference is in the mystic qualities of Captain Gregg. In the book, he cannot materialize but instead speaks to Lucy through her mind. He can also speak to other living persons who are open enough to hear him. He can travel with Lucy wherever she goes (as he does in the movie) but he is also all-knowing. He's aware of her children's thoughts, and can seemingly predict the future. He sometimes speaks about the afterlife, which is probably the only part of the book that I didn't really enjoy. It was very convoluted and while I get that it was supposed to be shrouded in mystery it ended up coming across instead like a half-formed idea. I'm glad that for the film they decided that calling him a "ghost" was a good enough explanation for why a dead guy could talk to and fall in love with Gene Tierney.

The last big difference came about when Lucy met Miles, George Sanders' character in the movie. While the basic circumstances remain the same -- he romances her and then she finds out that he was already married -- the details are wildly different. They meet outside, not at the publisher's, when Miles rescues Lucy's dog. They bond rather quickly and before you know it, Miles is asking Lucy to abandon her children and come away with him. He comes across as mildly smarmy in the movie but in the book he's downright gross. It also kind of bothered me that Lucy would even give his offer a moments thought -- throughout the entire book she is a strong-willed, level-headed woman but here she legitimately contemplates leaving her children with her horrible in-laws and running away with this first class cad. The fact that she would take his demands into consideration (instead of seeing them as a flashing warning sign that he was a big giant heap of trouble) was so much more heartbreaking than the eventual discovery that he was married.

There are other little differences here and there -- Blood and Swash comes into the story much later than it does in the film, and the adorable cook Martha doesn't move in until Lucy is already an empty-nester. Overall though it seemed like the screenwriters mostly shifted around the chapters, deleted a child here and a dog there, and that was about it. It's very similar, even a lot of my favorite lines from the movie came straight from the book! I particularly love when Lucy's sister-in-law says, "You want me to go - don't deny it - you want to be rid of your own husband's sister - don't deny it, I say." and Lucy replies calmly, "I am not denying it." Priceless!!

If you're a fan of the movie, you should definitely consider reading the book. It instantly transports you into the world of the film and for that reason alone it's worth many re-reads. If you haven't seen the movie yet, it's also a wonderful book on its own. Lucy is a very strong female protagonist (albeit not the best judge of character when it comes to smooth-talking dog rescuers) and the book actually has a lot of interesting observations about morality, religion and living a fulfilled life of solitude. I'm very glad I read it, and now I want to go watch the movie for the bazillionth time!

Can YOU name every single Hayley Mills movie? Didn't think so! With Kate and Millie

July 05, 2015

In February I got to go visit the one, the only, the Millie in her beloved glorious Washington. While I was there we decided to film a little extremely long video. In it, we tried to name every Alfred Hitchcock movie, every Frank Sinatra movie and every Hayley Mills movie. We did much better with Hitch than Hayley, and kind of mostly okay with Frank. It's a shame we weren't filming when we had breakfast in the morning because we started off with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant and did SO GOOD.You'll have to just take my word for it.

I actually finished editing this the week I got home but, being the queen of procrastination that I am, obviously didn't get around to actually sharing it until now, four months later. Oops! I should warn you that it's incredibly lengthy and me and Millie both agree that Casey is probably going to be the only person who watches the whole thing all the way through (thank you Casey!) but we had a ton of fun shooting it and hopefully we can shoot another one when Millie comes to visit me in my not-quite-as-beloved state of New Jersey later this year!

Before I go, can I just say how insanely crazily wonderful it is that I met Millie through classic film blogging over six years ago (How has it been that long?!?!?!) and back then I never would have imagined that we'd get to do this. My love-hate relationship with the internet will always be leaning slightly more towards love if only because of the amazing friendships it has given me. Thanks, internet!