the year: 1944
the genre: musical
the cast: Judy Garland (Esther Smith); Margaret O’Brien (Tootie Smith); Mary Astor (Mrs. Anna Smith); Lucille Bremer (Rose Smith); Leon Ames (Mr. Alonzo Smith); Tom Drake (John Truett); Marjorie Main (Katie the maid); Harry Davenport (Grandpa)
the plot: St. Louis, 1903. The well-off Smith family has four beautiful daughters, including Rose, Esther, Agnes, and little Tootie. 17-year old Esther has fallen in love with John, the boy who has just moved in next door. The family is shocked when Mr. Smith reveals that he has been transferred to a nice position in New York, which means that the family has to leave St. Louis and will miss the St. Louis World’s Fair.
count: how many dolls Tootie buries in the backyard.
listen for: “Yes, and if the whole family is sitting here drinking in every word, she may be loathe to say the things a girl's compelled to say to get a proposal out of a man. If that man, unfortunately, is Warren Sheffield.”
check out: the piece of cake that Mr. Smith eats for Halloween dessert. It starts out flat and later grows into a wedge.
don’t miss: Esther’s backup date for the dance.
also listen for: “Dinner's at six-thirty, and if Katie wants to hand in her notice, she can reach me in the bathtub!”
did you know: Judy Garland scoffed at the idea of portraying yet another teenager (she was 21 when filming began) and wanted nothing to do with the film. Her mother even went to MGM chief Louis B. Mayer on her behalf. However, Vincente Minnelli convinced her to play the part of Esther Smith, and Judy later fell in love with the story. In her later years she considered it one of her favorite roles.
the year: 1965
the genre: comedy
the cast: Sandra Dee (Joan Howell); Bobby Darin (Tom Milford); Donald O’Connor (Harvey Granson); Nita Talbot (Audrey); Larry Storch (Luther); Leo G. Carroll (Mr. O’Shea, the pawnbroker)
the plot: Joan Howell, a pretty maid-for-hire, meets and begins dating wealthy New York City businessman Tom Milford. Embarrassed about taking him back to the tiny apartment she shares with her roommate Audrey, Joan takes Tom to a fancy apartment that she cleans on a daily basis not knowing that it's his place. Tom plays along with the charade despite not knowing who Joan really is, especially at the insistence of his friend Harvey – who is hiding his priceless paintings at Tom’s house so his wife’s divorce lawyers won’t include them in the alimony equation.
count: how many wing-ding parties are held in Mr. Milford’s apartment.
don’t miss: the supporting characters – Audrey, Audrey’s boyfriend Luther, and Mr. O’Shea.
check out: the bartenders. Slightly reminiscent of I’d Rather Be Rich.
listen for: “This is the girl who took my place.” “Well, what's she doing in my place?” “She won't let me in my place so I had to call your place my place.”
extra bonus points: if you can name the other two movies in which Darin and Dee co-starred.
the year: 1951
the genre: musical
the cast: Vera-Ellen (Janet Jones); David Niven (B. G. Bruno); Cesar Romero (John Frost); Diane Hart (Mae)
the plot: In Edinburgh, Scotland, beleaguered American theatrical producer Jack “Frosty” Frost convinces his creditors to give him two more days in which to come up with some money to pay for his latest show. Running late, chorus girl Janet Jones hitchhikes to the theater and is picked up by a friendly chauffeur driving the limousine owned by Scottish millionaire and greeting card giant, B.G. Bruno. When the chauffeur returns to the theater with Janet’s forgotten purse, rumors begin to circulate that she is Bruno's fiancée. Seeing an opportunity, Frosty give Janet the starring role and Madame Amanda, a French dressmaker presents Janet with some expensive clothes. The next day, Bruno, a unadventurous bachelor, receives Madame Amanda's bill and determines to investigate the matter himself. At the theater, Janet mistakes Bruno for Paul Tracy, a reporter who is scheduled to interview her but has not yet arrived, and bemused by the charming American, Bruno does not correct her. And so the fun begins.
count: how many backstage collisions occur between the chorus girl and Frosty.
don’t miss: what the B.G. stands for.
check out: how Mr. Bruno reprimands Dodds for giving Janet a ride.
listen for: “Well, that's where we met. On the pyramids. I mean... near the pyramids, just a little to the left.”
you can watch the movie in parts starting here. And I give you full authority to skip all of the songs - it's one of my new favorite movies WITHOUT the musical numbers. Besides, it's kind of fun to watch Vera-Ellen dance in "fast forward".
the year: 1954
the genre: drama
the cast: Jane Wyman (Helen Phillips); Rock Hudson (Bob Merrick); Agnes Moorhead (Nancy Ashford); Barbara Rush (Joyce Phillips); Otto Kruger (Edward Randolph)
the plot: When wealthy and spoiled Bob Merrick foolishly wrecks his speedboat and almost dies, the rescue team saves him at the last minute with a resuscitator borrowed from the home of a famous surgeon, Dr. Phillips, who lives nearby. Dr. Phillips himself has suffered an attack, and, with his equipment out on loan, dies before he can be revived. Phillips had helped many people, and when Merrick learns Phillips' secret, to give selflessly and in secret, he tries it in a ham-handed way. The guilt-ridden Bob clumsily tries to make amends by romancing the surgeon’s young widow, Helen, but only causes further tragedy: escaping his embrace, she is struck by a car and blinded. Having belatedly learned his lesson, Bob returns to the medical studies he dropped years before, and becomes a Nobel Prize-winning brain surgeon. When Helen falls into a coma, only one doctor has the expertise to operate and bring her out of it — and, as a side benefit, restore her sight.
don’t miss: the beach scene. It’s a 3 second “awwwwwwww.”
check out: the rich 50s cinematography.
listen for: “Once you find the way, you'll be bound. It will obsess you. but believe me, it will be a magnificent obsession.”
did you know: Jane Wyman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for MO.
the trailer can be found here.
extra bonus points: if you can name another movie in which Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman co-starred.