Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)

Maggie McNarmara, Dorothy McGuire, and Jean Peters star in this Academy Award nominated film about three American secretaries working abroad in Rome, Italy.

Charade (1963)

Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant star in this delightful romantic comedy involving spies and missing money. Set in Paris. Walter Matthau also makes an appearance as a CIA agent.

The Best of Everything (1959)

Original tagline: "These are the girls who want the best of everything...but often settle for a lot less!" Mid-century drama following the lives of three young career women living in New York City.

High Society (1956)

Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra star in this delightful musical comedy remake of the beloved classic The Philadelphia Story (1940).

Far From Heaven (2002)

Set against a spectacular autumn palette, Juilanne Moore, Dennis Quaid, and Dennis Haysbert star in this compelling drama which grapples with issues of race and homosexuality in conservative 1950s Connecticut.

Death In Venice (1971)

An aging German music composer sojourns to Venice in hopes of improving his health and finds himself enraptured by the beauty of a young adolescent boy. A visually mesmerizing film.

Cracks (2009)

Based on the novel of the same name, Eva Green stars as a young, charismatic teacher at an all-girls English boarding school.

Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)

Based on the true story of the Windmill Theatre in London, Judi Dench stars as a wealthy, eccentric widow who purchases a theatre and turns it into a somewhat Moulin Rouge-esque venue that featured nude performers.

Desk Set (1957)

The introduction of computer technology renders the reference jobs of three women potentially useless. Stars Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

Sylvia (2003)

A biopic of writer Sylvia Plath set in the 1950s starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig.

Howard's End (1992)

Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins and Helena Bonham Carter star in this E.M. Forster classic set in turn-of-the-century England.

December 7, 2011

Do Not Disturb (1965)

America's sweetheart and '60s silver screen darling Doris Day, now 87,  just came out with a new album entitled My Heart, her first in 17 years. The album is dedicated to her late son in his memory.[1] "These are the tunes that reflect my love of animals, my love for my son. They're the dearest things to my heart," she explains.[2]

I adore Doris Day and her films never fail to lift my spirits and make me laugh. My favorite quote about her was by Oscar Levant who famously quipped, "I'm so old, I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin!" This was a reference to the tendency of her characters to have been chaste, naive, clumsy and school-girlish, even in situations where they were married.

My favorite films of hers include The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), Pillow Talk (1959), It Happened to Jane (1959), and Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960) but I figured I'd pull out a lesser known film of hers to showcase here. Do Not Disturb (1965) takes it all across the pond to England, where married couple Janet (Day) and Mike Harper (Rod Taylor) must relocate after Mike's company transferred him to London.


November 30, 2011

The World of Suzie Wong (1960)

As I may have mentioned in the previous entry, I spent the latter half of this year begrudingly sequestered in Beijing, inhaling pollutants, dodging lawless bicyclists, and consuming foods of questionable safety. But what I neglected to admit was that even though I complained endlessly while there, two weeks back on this side of civility, I started to miss China. Like, a lot. Washbasins, barrels, man-made-lake sized volumes of miss. So much so that it looks like I’ll be moving back there in a few months and staying for a good portion of 2012.

In the meantime, I've been indulging in the newfound appreciation for my cultural heritage by hunting down films that feature China at its most stylish and among these include the undeniable 1960 Paramount classic The World of Suzie Wong.

The World of Suzie Wong is actually based on a 1957 book of the same name written by Richard Mason and has since been adapted into not only this hit film, but also a play and a ballet, and spawned various unofficial sequels. The storyline is as old as “the oldest profession” from which it draws its inspiration. Set in the 1950s, William Holden stars as the young Englishmen Robert Lomax who, after leaving the National Service, decides to temporarily squat in Hong Kong and try his hand at becoming an artist. He unwittingly takes up residence at a hotel/brothel and eventually falls in love with one of its most popular prostitutes, Suzie Wong (Nancy Kwan).

Now even though I've always loved this movie, it bears mentioning that my love for it comes with certain reservations, as the theme of "whore with the heart of gold" meeting a man of respectable status who thenceforth redeems her has never sat well with me, the same way that similar pictures such as Pretty Woman (1990), Moulin Rouge (2001), Mighty Aphrodite (1995), or even Pygmalion/My Fair Lady tend to leave a slight distaste in my mouth. But in lieu of hitting you with a longwinded feminist diatribe, I think it's better to just adhere to the purposes of this blog and focus on the costumes and art direction instead. And what glorious beauty lies in store for us on those fronts!


September 16, 2011

The Long Hot Summer (1958)

The Long Hot Summer was inspired by the short stories of William Faulkner, namely The Hamlet. Paul Newman stars as down-and-out wanderer Ben Quick with a contentious reputation as a fire-starter who chances upon two lovely young women, Clara Varner (Joanne Woodward) and her sister-in-law Eula (Lee Remick), and hitches a ride with them into the next town where he was hoping to find some work. It turns out that Clara's father Will Varner (Orson Welles) just happens to be the wealthiest man in that town and owns practically all the businesses in it. Ben manages to get in his good graces and ends up working on his plantation, much to the distrust of the shrewd Clara who is wary of strangers and suspects that Ben possesses ulterior motives. Inevitably, a tense romance blossoms between the devastatingly attractive stranger with a questionable past and the straight-laced Miss Goody-two-shoes. Oh, and Angela Lansbury is in this! As Will Varner's mistress! Marvelous.


January 13, 2011

Royal Wedding (1951)

This is a bit late in coming but in honor of the recent engagement of Prince William and his long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton, I thought I'd post about the film that immediately popped in my mind when I saw that #royalwedding became one of the top 10 trending tags on Twitter. The film is Royal Wedding, a sweet lil' picture made in 1951 starring Fred Astaire and Jane Powell as a brother-sister dancing duo who take their act to London in time for the royal wedding of Queen Elizabeth II to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.


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