Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Two Upcoming Events

First, Ashley is hosting a Little House party on her blog, A to Z.  NEXT WEEK!  I'm working on a guest post for her.  Looks like it's going to be a fun time :-)

And next month, I'll be participating in the second-annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts

This year, I'm going to be writing about my fave ep of classic Star Trek.  In case you aren't aware of this, 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the original series.  I intend to celebrate this anniversary in some different ways throughout the year (like I went ahead and bought the whole series on DVD).  Anyway, I'll be writing about "Court Martial." 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

January Period Drama Challenge Tag

Every month during the Period Drama Challenge, Miss Laurie will post a recap of the month, with links to everyone's entries and some questions to answer.  January's recap is here, along with links to all the reviews people posted during the first month.  Go check them out, if you haven't already!

1. What period dramas did you view in January? 

Cinderella (1914), We're No Angels (1955), and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

2. What is your favorite Charles Dickens film adaptation? 

Well, the awful truth is I haven't seen a whole lot of Dickens adaptations.  But I do love both The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) and the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol (1999) enough to own copies of them.

3. Would you rather visit Pemberley (Mr. Darcy's residence) or Downton Abbey (Crawley family residence)? Why? 

Pemberley!  Because I really like Jane Austen's books, but I don't care much about Downton Abbey. 

4. If you could be any character in a Jane Austen novel for a whole day who would you be and why would you want to be that character? 

Could I pick which day?  Because being Anne Elliot the day after Captain Wentworth proposed would be amazing and triumphant and delicious.

5. What period dramas are you looking forward to viewing in February 2016?

I'm planning to watch Shane (1953) and the Frank Langella version of The Mark of Zorro (1974), both of which will be rewatches.  I'm also hoping to watch Belle (2013) for the first time.  Beyond that, who knows?

(Alan Ladd and Van Heflin in Shane)

By the way, it's not too late to join the Period Drama Challenge!  If you haven't yet, and would like to, just visit Miss Laurie's blog, Old-Fashioned Charm, and leave a comment saying you're in :-)

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Classic Hollywood Issue of "Femnista" is out!

You might think I'd have a hard time deciding what to write about for an issue dedicated to Classic Hollywood, considering how nutty I am about classic movies, but it was actually easy :-)  I wrote about the films John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara made together, and why I love seeing them paired.  It's not just because, separately, they're my favorite actor and favorite actress, but because I really dig the way they played off each other.  To read more, go here or click below.

Other subjects covered in this issue include Sherlock Holmes, Audrey Hepburn, James Cagney, The Philadelphia Story, Mae West, Sorry Wrong Number, The Honeymooners, Judy Garland, East of Eden, and Norma Shearer...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

"The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938)

I really love this movie.  I didn't grow up with it, but I wish I had.  My sister-in-law gave it to me for my birthday a couple years after I got married, and I was super excited to finally get to see it!  It was one of the first DVDs we owned :-D  This is now one of my kids' favorite movies -- we've been watching it about once a month of late.

I love Robin Hood, and collect movies and books about him.  This is one of my top 3 favorite movie versions!  But only the Disney animated version from 1973 captures the same joyous, rollicking tone that this one has, which is so much a part of why I love both.  Lately, filmmakers and writers have been trying to make Robin Hood be Very Serious, but it never quite works (for me, anyway) because Robin himself is just such great fun.  (For more of my thoughts on lots of different Robin Hood movies, you can read my Femnista article from last summer here.)

Don't you love movies that start with a written-out prologue?  I certainly do.  Look at these beautiful opening title cards!

Yup, we've got the usual Robin Hood villains in this movie.  Prince John (Claude Rains):

Guy of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone):

And the Sheriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper):

We have the full complement of heroes too!  Robin Hood (Errol Flynn):

Little John (Alan Hale):

Will Scarlett (Patric Knowles):

And also Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette), Much (Herbert Mundin), and various and sundry other Merry Men, some of whom make excellent arm rests:

And, of course, we have Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland):

As you can see, Maid Marian starts out really friendly with Prince John.  In this version, she's not Robin's childhood sweetheart.  Rather, she's King Richard's royal ward, and a bit snobby about being a Norman.  We first meet up with her attending a sumptuous feast for Prince John at Guy of Gisborne's castle.

It's not long before Robin waltzes in uninvited.  He'd had a run-in with Gisborne earlier that day over a peasant killing this deer, and he's here to have a discussion with all the nobles about how cruel and unfair they've been lately.

He confronts Prince John, Guy of Gisborne, and the Sheriff of Nottingham...

...cracks lots of jokes at their expense...

...makes himself entirely at home...

...and generally shocks Lady Marian with his audacity.

His jokes don't last long, however.  He's actually here to be Serious, as you can see:

After some thrilling heroics, in which he single-handedly outfoxes a whole castle full of Normans...

...he and Much make their escape, and we get treated to some gorgeous cinematography:

This movie is out to hit all the beats you expect from a Robin Hood story.  So of course we have to have that confrontation with Little John on a log bridge.

And then we have to gather the unhappy peasantry to us under the greenwood tree.

And then we have to start waylaying rich people and collecting the ransom that's supposed to free King Richard from prison, but which of course, Prince John wants to use to make himself king for keeps.  During one of those waylayings, they capture Maid Marian, who you can see Does Not Like Robin Hood One Bit:

You know that's not going to last long.  I mean, Robin Hood is played by Errol Flynn, and she's played by Olivia de Havilland, and obviously they're going to end up together because That's How It Goes.


Next must come the great archery tournament, you know.  With plenty of joyous Technicolor spectacle!

Drink in all that color, would you?  Now, I mentioned that my kids love this movie.  How much?  Sarah says she wants me to make her Maid Marian's Archery Tournament Dress for Halloween this year.

(I don't blame her, do you?  It's suuuuuuuuch a pretty dress.  I kind of want one myself.  However, the question remains whether I'm capable of making such an intricate thing.)

Okay, obviously Robin Hood wins the tournament, even though he's disguised as a tinker.  I'm not sure what about this outfit says "tinker," but it's got such a nice, slouchy hat, don't you think?

Of course, everyone realizes he's Robin Hood once he wins, and various plot things happen that I'm not going to go into very much right now.  I'm going to skip over about half an hour so I don't spoil Absolutely Everything, and rejoin our hero here, where he's pretending he's Romeo and Maid Marian is Juliet:

Well, come on, you can't have de Havilland and Flynn in a movie without them making with the smoochies for a bit, right?  It's their third film together, and audiences would be very disappointed if we didn't have a passionate (yet Code-approvedly chaste) clinch or two.

Anyway, there's more plot stuff, and then toward the end, we get treated to some spectacular sets that incorporate gorgeous matte paintings

And then we have some more thrilling heroics.  It's hard to screen-cap such things because everyone is jumping around so heroically and thrillingly, I'm afraid, but I did manage to grab this moment between Gisborne and Robin.  I really love watching their duel because of course, Rathbone was an accomplished swordsman for reals, so he doesn't need a fencing double, which just... makes me grin.

And then we're all happy, because we should always all be happy at the end of a Robin Hood movie, right?  I mean except the bad guys, they should be unhappy, or at least feeling chastened and remorseful.  Or be dead, there's always that, too.

And that's the end of a joyous romp of a movie!

Now, I'm reviewing this for the Period Drama Challenge, so of course, that's not the end of my review.

Oh no, not the end at all!  Now 'tis time to share some more costumes.  I have no idea if this is at all like what people actually wore in England during the Middle Ages.  But I'm firmly convinced this is what they wanted to be wearing.  Feast your eyes, my friends!

This is the only one of Marian's outfits I'm not nuts about:

 Oh, and remember how I said my kids loooooooooove this movie?  This past Halloween, Tootie insisted I make her "Maid Marian's stripey dress that she wears when Robin Hood jumps off the thing and they all have a big, silly fight."  I didn't remember Marian EVER wearing a stripey dress.  At first, I thought she meant this one:

But nope!  She meant this one:

Now, Marian only wears that dress once, and we never see her full-length in it -- there are only 4 or 5 shots of her in this scene, and they're pretty short.  But Tootie remembered that dress.  And sure enough, Marian wears it when Robin Hood jumps off "the thing" and they all have "a big, silly fight."

Here's what I came up with:

She was super happy with it, and still wears it a ton, so yay!  I win!  Hee.

Is this movie family-friendly?  It is!  No bad words.  No more than a couple of sweet, mostly-turned-away-from-the-camera smooches and one moment where a bad guy grabs a servant girl and makes her sit on his lap, then bends over her like he's forcing a kiss on her, but nothing is shown and my kids have never commented on it.  There's obviously some violence involving bows and arrows, quarter staffs, and swords, but it's all very vague and stagey.