Post #2: The Last Movie You Watched
I think the last movie I watched in its entirety was The Bishop’s Wife, which I watched with my mother a couple of days after Christmas. It’s become a holiday favorite of mine over the last 5 or 10 years. On New Year’s Eve, I caught the end of Saturday Night Fever (ringing out 2013) and the beginning of Spinal Tap (ringing in 2014). I thought those were amusing choices for New Years. I think this was on TBS, so a little nudge to them.
Another of my favorite movies:
We chose our cable provider pretty much entirely based on the fact that they include TCM in their basic cable package. I can thank TCM (and my frequent study of their upcoming broadcast schedule) for introducing me to many films that either I should have seen much sooner or that, for some reason, I might not have learned about otherwise. This favorite film, A Thousand Clowns, probably falls into both categories.
I love so much about this movie. I love the real black and white outdoor shots of the city in the mid-1960s. I love Jason Robards and his funny, heartbreaking performance. I love Barbara Harris. I’m crazy about the young Barry Gordon, who went on to do a lot of work in TV. I love the subtle and complicated nature of the story–at least, how I see the story.
In brief: Jason Robards plays an out-of-work comedy writer, Murray. He’s not trying terribly hard to get work–he seems to be enjoying winging it and having few responsibilities. He does have the care of his 12-year-old nephew (played by Barry Gordon), though he has never legally adopted said nephew. The two have some spirited banter, and Gordon’s character goes by a long assortment of names (settling mostly on Nick). Insert a couple of social workers, including Sandra (played by Barbara Harris). Sandra and Murray fall in love, and Sandra tries to get Murray to get work so that he won’t lose his nephew. Martin Balsam adds further depth as Murray’s brother-and-agent, Arnold–a performance for which he won an Oscar. Scenes with Gene Saks as Leo (Chuckles the Chipmunk) provide heightened comic relief late in the movie.
The film is based on Herb Gardner’s successful stage play, and it retains much of the feel of a stage production. In this case, I actually like that.
I have to update the dang version of WordPress I am running on this thing. Until I do, get a taste of A Thousand Clowns here.
A while back, my friend Rachel tagged me to do a 30 Days of Movies meme. I got tripped up on the very first day, when the meme asked me to name my favorite movie. The meme has stayed in the back of my mind for months, though, and I think I found a way that I can do it. So, here we go.
Post #1: Your Favorite Movie
So you can see how I got stopped before I even started, right? ONE favorite movie? No. I can’t do that. What I can do is give you one favorite movie in each of these 30 posts, along with the rest of the meme. That I can try to do.
Since the holidays are still visible in the rear view, I’ll start with an obvious choice about which I never seem to run out of things to say–It’s a Wonderful Life.
It's a Wonderful Life original movie poster
There’s a good chance you’ve already heard me talk about how I never really thought of this as a Christmas movie until maybe 15 years ago. I think I first saw a colorized version of it on television in the mid-1980s. At the time there were two versions–one in which Mary’s dress at the dance was blue and one in which it was yellow. We taped the movie to VHS, and I watched it over and over and over again.
You’ve also probably heard me talk (possibly even on this blog) about how I notice something new almost every time I see it, and I’ve seen it A LOT–probably well over 50 times.
Here are a few things I’ve been wanting to say about it:
There seems to be this popular urge to add on to the ending of the film. People want an angry mob to go after Potter and demand that he return the $8000 to the Building and Loan. I realize a lot of this is just humor, but I think some viewers really feel like there’s unfinished business and it bugs them. I disagree. Potter’s punishment is precisely that no one is terribly concerned with what happens to him. Potter has his money, and that is precious little consolation in this life. He is the poor man; George is the rich one. The film practically hands you that interpretation on a platter. The movie is about George and his journey. Potter just provides a foil.
Also, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they find the movie very dark. Perhaps if you go into it expecting a typical Christmas film, it does seem dark. To me, the dark parts (like the Potter character) only serve to add richness to the positive weight of the film–the dark is overruled or erased again and again by a more positive reality.
Most people probably agree that the cold months following Christmas and New Year’s can be a little bit of a letdown. But there are always good little moments. Here are some of mine so far in 2010.
One long weekend I finished up the Santa puzzle my mom gave me for Christmas in 2008. It was a lot of fun… a really good cozy winter activity. I think it looked better put together than it did in the picture on the box.
During our holiday visit to the farm, Ezra’s sister Abby introduced us to Bananagrams. It’s so completely up my alley–a word game, sort of like Scrabble and Boggle put together, but better (well, definitely better than Scrabble anyway). So on that long weekend I mentioned we gave Bananagrams to Amy and Doug for Christmas. Of course, we played several rounds.
Amy’s fabulous creation with the Bananagrams tiles… not a part of the actual game
And, of course, we had to get it for ourselves shortly after that.
I’m still going through my Christmas postcards. I promise to share more about them soon (take that as a “coming attractions” or a warning, as you wish).
I’ll finish up with some favorite odds and ends.
Red and yellow with flowers
This one looks (to me) like a round grenade.
Red with blue dots
Gold with pink dots
Silver, Red, and Green
Unsilvered lantern with pink and mica
This one is stamped West Germany.
Pink and white with mica
Silver striped lantern
I really love these last two.
Plaid with red and blue
Plaid with red and white
I found this one at an antique shop in Montreal.
I have a larger one very similar to this but in worse condition.
Santa on skis
Merry Christmas w/holly
Red Merry Christmas
Santa and stars
I promised the ornaments would keep on coming! I’m wishing now that I’d taken better photos of them. Ah well… maybe next year.
So! Onto the bells! My guess is that these are from the 40s or 50s.
This one looks a little older.
It has a clapper inside it, so it rings.
I am especially drawn to these ornaments, many of which I believe are from the 1930s, though some are probably newer.
1. Probably 30s
2. One side
2. Another side
3. Probably 30s. This is a recent addition to my collection.
4. Probably 30s.
5. 30s or 40s
7. Probably 30s
9. Most likely from the 1930s, this is one of my absolute favorite ornaments.
10. This one looks a bit newer.
12. Probably from the 1930s.
13. I love the translucent red glass of this one.
Most of these ornaments are much older–probably from the 1930s, possibly 1920s.
I just got another lovely silver pine cone ornament, but I haven’t photographed it yet. I like the lightly frosted pine cones a lot.
Grapes, berries, fruits
This next one might be a little newer. Note that the top is not as narrow as some of the others.
I’m not sure about this one. Cluster of berries?
Flowers, baskets of flowers, etc.
The top on this next one has definitely been replaced.
This one is tiny and would have likely been used on a feather tree.
While taking down our Christmas tree this past weekend, I decided to take pictures of my vintage ornaments before putting them away. Over the next several days (weeks?) I’ll be posting pictures and any info I feel like adding about my collection of vintage Christmas ornaments. I won’t post every single ornament, but I’ll include quite a few of them. I also hope to post more about my much bigger collection of vintage Christmas postcards, and I may get into some of my other collections and treasures as well (socks, books, music). But I’m starting off with what gave me the idea–the ornaments.
In general, I collect what I like. I’m not looking for the most valuable items or necessarily for a particular manufacturer or artist. Instead, I’m looking for what appeals to me–and in the case of vintage ornaments, they have to be genuinely old, not reproductions. I think most of my vintage ornaments are from the 1930s-1950s. Perhaps someone with a lot of knowledge in this area will come upon these posts and tell me more about what I’ve got (and also let me know if I have any misinformation).
Just because, I’ll start with the stripes. Some of these are a bit newer–50s and 60s. I’ll share some older ones in future posts. The clear–or unsilvered–ones may be from the 40s. The story goes that during WWII metals were needed for the war effort, so Christmas ornaments produced during this time were made with unsilvered glass.
This next one seems older. The glass is heavier and sort of frosted and it shows a different sort of wear.
This next one also seems older to me. It’s a bit smaller than many, and something about the glass and the way it’s worn makes me think it’s older.
I love the colors of the one below.
This morning I drove down to the post office to mail a package and to pick up my postcards. When I arrived home I found the cats in the kitchen batting around the tiniest little mouse you’ve ever seen. Eek. I am not the best for dealing with these things, but I couldn’t just let them bat it around all day. It’s under a box top, under a pile of phone books. Suki has given up but Edie is still going crazy. I know I shouldn’t leave it for Ezra to deal with, but…
The postcards… I’m just starting to look at them. The very first one I pulled out is colorful and in nice condition with a bell, holly (I love holly), and lots of gold. It’s in pretty nice condition, too. The kicker, though, is that it’s addressed to Spring Creek, PA, and it’s written in some other language that I can’t identify. This is gonna be fun.