Life Magazine’s website currently features a slide show of classic film stars as babies. The gallery includes photos of Humphrey Bogart (can you even imagine him being a kid?), Marlon Brando, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, and James Cagney, who was practicing his gangster face even in infancy.
A worthy competitor to Vivien Leigh in last week’s she-gets-the-best-costumes feature, Grace Kelly was born this day in 1929. Happy birthday, Grace!
For those of you who think this second post about Gossip Girl is two too many (*cough* Alix), hear me out. The powers at be at GG must love classic film because week after week, the episode titles are inspired by movies from the golden age of Hollywood.
Hi, Society (High Society): 1956 remake of The Philadelphia Story starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. You can read our review here.
Roman Holiday (Roman Holiday, 1953): Audrey Hepburn plays a princess who escapes royal life for a day, Gregory Peck is the newspaper reporter who accompanies her. Hepburn won the Best Actress Oscar for this performance.
The Magnificent Archibalds (The Magnificent Ambersons, 1942): An Orson Welles film about an upper class Midwestern family in the early 1900′s.
It’s A Wonderful Lie (It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946): James Stewart plays a man who is saved from committing suicide by his guardian angel. It’s the movie that’s always on tv during Christmas.
Gone With The Will (Gone With The Wind, 1939): My favorite all-time film. The film follows the life of headstrong southern belle Scarlett O’ Hara through the Civil War and its aftermath.
Southern Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Gentleman Prefer Blondes, 1953): Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell movie featuring the song “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”.
Enough About Eve (All About Eve, 1950): As we’ve said many times on this site: watch. this. movie. Bitingly clever script. Impeccable cast. And narration by Shere Khan (yes, from The Jungle Book).
The Lady Vanished (The Lady Vanishes, 1939): One of Alfred Hitchcock’s British films. Referenced by Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally with the line “You’re the most contemptible person I’ve ever met…”.
The Treasure of Serena Madre (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948): John Huston (Anjelica’s dad) directed this notable Humphrey Bogart film. The line “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges” in Blazing Saddles is a variation of one of the lines from this film.
Go ahead and sing the title of this post out loud, a la Dwight Shrute. But Ryan didn’t start this fire, Billy Joel did. Joel’s 1989 hit includes a whole lotta classic film references and we’re going through them one by one for those Gen Y’ers who know the song but wonder where the River Kwai is (in Thailand).
Doris Day – Wholesome singer and actress Doris Day starred in films such as Pillow Talk, That Touch of Mink, and Love Me or Leave Me. In Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), she performs the song “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”.
South Pacific – Rodgers & Hammerstein musical adapted to film in 1958. Neither of us have seen the musical or movie, so we’ll recommend Oklahoma! instead. Yeow!
Marilyn Monroe – I’m pretty sure we all know who MM is. She’s best known for her comedies, but also made a couple dramatic films including The Misfits (1961) which I highly recommend.
Brando – Marlon Brando is one of the most influential actors of all time. Famous classic films include A Streetcar Named Desire (“Stelllllla!!!”), On The Waterfront (“I coulda been a contender…”), and The Wild One (“What’re you rebelling against? / “Whaddya got?”). Famous modern films include The Godfather (“I”m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”) and Apocalypse Now (“The horror”). This EW article talks about how fascinating Brando is, on and off screen.
The King And I – Another Rodgers & Hammerstein musical-turned-film about a British schoolteacher who travels to Siam to tutor the royal family. Deborah Kerr (love her! even though it’s not her singing in this one) and Yul Brynner star.
James Dean – I’m sure we’re all familiar with Mr. Dean as well. In only 3 films (and one tragic accident), Dean became the quintessential rebel.
Princess Grace – Or, as she was pre-April ’56, Grace Kelly. Yes, as in the one Mika sang about. My favorite actress and an American style icon, you can read more about her in our birthday tribute.
Peyton Place – A 1957 film about the scandalous lives of small town inhabitants. Basically “One Tree Hill” in the 50′s.
Bridge On The River Kwai – Alix set me straight on this one. David Lean’s (read: lonnng) 1957 film was the top moneymaking film that year right ahead of Peyton Place. One of the greatest war films of all time, Bridge won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year.
Ben-Hur – A 1959 Biblical-times epic starring Charlton Heston. If you’re around our age, you probably know him as the guy who was president of the NRA during our youth. If you like chariot races, check this one out.
Psycho – Hitchcock’s most famous film boasts a handful of iconic elements: the shower scene, the Bates Motel, “mother”, screeching violins. The string cue is arguably the most replicated music cue ever, appearing in everything from “The Simpsons” to Finding Nemo.
Lawrence of Arabia – Peter O’Toole (remember that old guy with the super blue eyes who was nominated for Best Actor along side Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling in 2006? Him.) stars in this based on a true story epic about T.E. Lawrence and the Middle Eastern theatre during WWI. One of mine and Steven Spielberg’s favorites.
Reagan – Ronald Reagan was a movie actor before he became the 40th President of the United States. While not a major star, he did appear in well-known films like Dark Victory, King’s Row, and Knute Rockne, All American.
Happy birthday to my favorite actress, TCM’s Star of the Month, and winner of Anatomy Of A Classic’s Most Aptly Named Movie Star Award – Grace Kelly! While I’ll admit that there are more talented actresses in classic film, it’s her as a personality that I find so intriguing. In her films she played the cool, aloof, sultry blonde, always in control – captivating but unrelatable. In real life, she was warm and charmingly youthful. The blend of these two personas – let’s call them “sass” and “class” – coupled with her glamourous sense of style is what makes Grace unique.
Recommended viewing: High Society (1956) and To Catch A Thief (1955)
The difference in Grace Kelly the actress and Grace Kelly the person is remarkable, as evidenced in these two clips.
Starring: Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra
Modern-Day Counterpart: My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) – both have a strong, central female character with a lesson to learn and good use of music.