never a dull moment

the year: 1968

the genre: suspense

the cast: Dick Van Dyke (Jack Albany); Dorothy Provine (Sally Inwood); Edward G. Robinson (Leo Joseph Smooth); Jack Elam (Ace Williams)

the plot: Second-rate actor Jack Albany finds himself mistaken for fiendish killer Ace Williams and whisked off to master gangster Leo Smooth's fortified mansion. He is forced to continue with the charade with all the rough-looking hoods around, even when he finds out he’s to play a deadly role in an art theft. At least there is lovely art teacher Sally who could become an ally - IF she ever believes his story.

count: how many electric appliances Sally has to turn on to blow the fuse.

don’t miss: "the umbrella of peace" Jack extends to the real Ace Williams.

check out: the movie theater marquees the car drives by when Jack is being taken to meet the Boss. You can see the names of several cast members, such as Henry Silva, starring in gangster pictures.

listen for: “You remind me of my Aunt Gladys. Poor Aunt Gladys!”


the major and the minor

the year: 1942

the genre: comedy

the cast: Ginger Rogers (Susan Applegate); Ray Milland (Major Kirby); Diana Lynn (Lucy Hill); Rita Johnson (Pamela Hill); Robert Benchley (Mr. Osborne)

the plot: Susan Applegate, tired of New York after one year and 25 jobs, decides to return to Iowa. Trouble is, when she saved money for the train fare home, she didn't allow for inflation. So the audacious Susan disguises herself as a 12-year-old (!) and travels for half fare. Found out by the conductors, she hides out in the compartment of Major Philip Kirby, a military school instructor. The growing attraction between Susan and Kirby is complicated by his conniving fiancee...and by the myopic Kirby continuing to think "Su-Su" is only 12!

count: the Veronica Lake look-alikes from Miss Shackleford's School.

don't miss: how the Nazi blitzkrieg by-passed the Maginot Line.

check out: Ginger Roger's mother Lela, as Mrs. Applegate.

listen for: "Must not!"


singin' in the rain

the year: 1952

the genre: musical

the cast: Gene Kelly (Don Lockwood); Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Seldon); Donald O'Connor (Cosmo Brown); Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont)

the plot: It's 1927: Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are the darlings of the silent silver screen. Offscreen, Don, aided by his happy-go-lucky friend and piano accompanist, Cosmo Brown, has to dodge Lina's romantic overtures, especially when he falls for chorus girl Kathy Selden. With the advent of sound in motion pictures, it is decided to turn Don and Lina's new film into a "talkie" and a musical at that. The only problem is Lina's voice, which words cannot describe. Kathy is brought on to dub her speaking and singing voice in secret, and Don's on top of the world - until Lina finds out...

count: the number of takes before R.F. pulls the rug (er, cord) out from under Lina.

don't miss: the diction lessons. Rrrrooooound tones.

check out: Cyd Charisse's role as the dancer in the Broadway Melody number. That role gave MGM the impetus to finally star her in pictures. Her next film was The Band Wagon (1953), starring Fred Astaire.

listen for: "People"? I ain't 'people.' I am a - 'a shimmering, glowing star in the cinema firmament.'"

also listen for: "Dignity. Always, dignity."

extra bonus points: if you can name the actress who played Zelda Zanders. She would later go on to star in The King and I and West Side Story.

did you know: Gene Kelly insulted Debbie Reynolds for not being able to dance. Fred Astaire, who was hanging around the studio, found her crying under a piano and helped her with her dancing.



In the 2006 film The Holiday (I don't recommend the entire movie, but if you want to see an edited, 30 minute version sometime, let me know), Eli Wallach's character Arthur Abbott (a retired Hollywood screenwriter) describes a meet-cute as:

"Say a man and a woman both need something to sleep in and both go to the same men's pajama department. The man says to the salesman, I just need bottoms, and the woman says, I just need a top. They look at each other and that's the meet-cute."

Here are a couple of my favorite meet-cutes:

It Happened One Night throws runaway heiress Ellie (Claudette Colbert) and world-weary ex-reporter Peter (Clark Gable) together in a dispute over the last seat on a bus.

In The Boatniks, Ensign Tom Garland (Robert Morse), a polite but remarkably clumsy fellow is transferred to a southern California marina area. His first encounter with Kate Fairchild (Stefanie Powers), who runs a local boat rental and sailing school, involves dumping an entire can of yellow paint all over her.

Jennifer Nelson (Doris Day) thinks Bruce Templeton (Rod Taylor) is a weirdo following her around - until she realizes that he is really her boss, in The Glass Bottom Boat.

And possibly my all-time favorite is from Return to Me. Bob Reuland finds an excuse to return to a restaurant in hopes of seeing the waitress he met during a discussion about "an imported Swiss water". When they finally (offically) meet, she's in her bathrobe and shower cap and he's been rooked into quite a game of poker.

What are some of your favorite meet-cutes?


el dorado

the year: 1966

the genre: western

the cast: John Wayne (Cole Thornton); Robert Mitchum (J.P. Harrah); James Caan (Alan Bourdillion Traherne ['Mississippi']); Ed Asner (Bart Jason)

the plot: Hired gunman Cole Thornton turns down a job with Bart Jason since it would mean having to fight his old friend, J.P. Harrah - sheriff of El Dorado. When Cole finds out the lawman is on the bottle and a top gunfighter is heading his way to help Bart, he returns to help the sheriff help a local ranching family, the MacDonalds, fight Bart, who is trying to steal their water rights. Along for the ride is the green gambler Mississippi, handy with a knife and armed with an impressive shotgun.

listen for: "Don't you think I could know a girl?"

don't miss: Johnny Diamond's "kill or cure" for drinking.

watch for: the montage of paintings that depict various scenes of cowboy life in the opening credits. The artist was Olaf Wieghorst, who appears in the film as the Gunsmith, Swede Larsen.

did you know: Oliver, the bartender shot by Sheriff J.P. Harrah is played by Robert Mitchum's brother John.

extra bonus points if you can name the author of the poem "El Dorado" that is quoted by Mississippi.


my man godfrey

the year: 1936

the genre: comedy

the cast: William Powell (Godfrey); Carole Lombard (Irene Bullock); Gail Patrick (Cornelia Bullock); Eugene Pallette (Alexander Bullock)

the plot: In the depths of the Depression, a party game brings dizzy socialite Irene Bullock to the city dump where she meets Godfrey, a "forgotten man". When he helps her beat her sister at the game, Irene hires him as family butler. Godfrey finds the Bullocks to be the epitome of the idle rich, and nutty as the proverbial fruitcake. Soon, the dramatizing Irene is in love with her 'protege'...who feels strongly that a romance between servant and employer is out of place, regardless of that servant's mysterious past...

check out: how Irene knows that Godfrey loves her.

don’t miss: Carlo’s monkey impression.

did you know: William Powell and Carole Lombard had been divorced for three years (but were still very good friends) when they made MMG. When Powell was offered the part of Godfrey he declared that the only actress right for the part of Irene was Lombard.

listen for: “All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people.”

also listen for: “You mustn't come between Irene and Godfrey. He's the first thing she's shown any affection for since her pomeranian died last summer.”

also listen for: “That’s a lovely bridge. Is it always there?”

extra bonus points: if you can name the character Eugene Pallette played in The Adventures of Robin Hood.