broadway melody of 1938

the year: 1937

the genre: musical

the cast: Robert Taylor (Steve Raleigh); Eleanor Powell (Sally Lee); George Murphy (Sonny Ledford); Buddy Ebsen (Peter Trot); Sophie Tucker (Alice Clayton); Judy Garland (Betty Clayton)

the plot: Steve Raleigh wants to produce a show on Broadway. He finds a backer, Herman Whipple and a leading lady, Sally Lee. But Caroline Whipple forces Steve to use a known star, not a newcomer. Sally purchases a horse she used to train when her parents had a farm before the depression and with two ex-vaudevillians, she trains it to win a race, providing the money Steve needs for his show.

don't miss: Peter Trot, the jockey.

listen for: "Is he deaf?" "Well, he was the last time when I asked him for a raise."

did you know: The song "Dear Mr. Gable" was a birthday present for Clark Gable's 36th birthday. Composer and arranger Roger Edens adapted the old song "You Made Me Love You" by James V. Monaco. It was sung at Gable's birthday party by a young Judy Garland. Producer Louis B. Mayer was so impressed by it, that he gave order to let Garland sing it again in the next great musical MGM was going to produce.


man of la mancha

the year: 1972

the genre: musical

the cast: Peter O'Toole (Don Quixote de la Mancha / Miguel de Cervantes / Alonso Quijana); Sophia Loren (Dulcinea / Aldonza); James Coco (Sancho Panza / Cervante's manservant)

the plot: In the sixteenth century, Miguel de Cervantes, poet, playwright, and part-time actor, has been arrested, together with his manservant, by the Spanish Inquisition. They are accused of presenting an entertainment offensive to the Inquisition. Inside the huge dungeon into which they have been cast, the other prisoners gang up on Cervantes and his manservant, and begin a mock trial, with the intention of stealing or burning his possessions. Cervantes wishes to desperately save a manuscript he carries with him and stages, with costumes, makeup, and the participation of the other prisoners, an unusual defense--the story of Don Quixote.

don't miss: the great songs. Knight of the Woeful Countenance? A single tear.

listen for: "I can hear the cuckoo singing in the cuckooberry tree." "If he says that that's a helmet, I suggest that you agree."

did you know: Peter O'Toole recorded his vocal tracks for the film, but realized that his own singing voice was not good enough for the requirements of the music, so he assisted in the search for a voice double.

you can watch the movie in parts, starting here.


more clouseau

And because there's so much Clouseau goodness out there:

And also here, here, and here.

And one of my all time favorites here.


a shot in the dark

the year: 1964

the genre: comedy

the cast: Peter Sellers (Jacques Clouseau); Elke Sommer (Maria Gambrelli); George Sanders (Benjamin Ballon); Herbert Lom (Charles Dreyfus); Graham Stark (Hercule LaJoy)

the plot: When rich M. Ballon's Spanish driver is found shot dead, Inspector Jacques Clouseau is the first official on the scene. All evidence suggests Maria Gambrelli, the maid, to be the murderer. But Clouseau, being attracted to the beautiful girl, is convinced that she is hiding something. He has her released from jail and tries to follow her secretly, but things don't work out the way the he hopes and people keep getting murdered - and each time Maria seems to be the killer.

did you know: the audience enjoyed the Inspector Closeau cartoon that played over the credits so much that the entire preview audience applauded and gave the cartoon a standing ovation, and the theater had to stop the movie until everyone settled again.

don't miss: the "synchronized watches" scene. Knowing the dialog was improvised makes it even funnier.

listen for: "Look at that! I've got Africa all over my hand."

extra bonus points: if you know the final body count (including crows).

also listen for: "And I submit, Inspector Ballon, that you arrived home, found Miguel with Maria Gambrelli, and killed him in a rit of fealous jage!"


guess who?

He was the first movie star to enter the service for World War II, joining a year before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was initially refused entry into the Air Force because he weighed 5 pounds less than the required 148 pounds, but he talked the recruitment officer into ignoring the test.

He graduated from Princeton with a degree in architecture.

When he won the Best Actor Oscar in 1940, he sent it to his father in Pennsylvania, who set it in his hardware shop. The trophy remained there for 25 years.

He played the accordion.

He never took an acting lesson, and felt that people could learn more when actually working rather than studying the craft.

While always gracious with his fans, he was always very protective of his privacy. A notable example of this occurred when a nervy family of tourists set up a picnic on his front lawn. He came out of his house and, without uttering a word, turned on the sprinklers.

His best friend was probably Henry Fonda, whom he met while at acting camp. After each married and settled down, their children noted that their favorite activity when not working seemed to be silently painting model airplanes together.


bedtime stories

the year: 2008

the genre: fantasy

the cast:Adam Sandler (Skeeter Bronson); Keri Russell (Jill); Guy Pearce (Kendall); Russell Brand (Mickey); Lucy Lawless (Aspen); Courtney Cox (Wendy)

the plot: hotel handyman Skeeter Bronson's life is changed forever when the bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to mysteriously come true. He attempts to take advantage of the phenomenon, incorporating his own aspirations into one outlandish tale after another, but it's the kids' unexpected contributions that turn Skeeter's life upside down.

don't miss: the "Hybrid Mules For Sale" (ha-ha!) on the tree, just before Skeeter is offered the Ferrari horse in the western story.

listen for: "What do ya got here, anyways? "Rainbow Alligator Saves the Wetlands"? Uh, no. "The Organic Squirrel Gets a Bike Helmet"? I'm not reading these Communist books to you guys!"

did you know: the bulldog shown in the movie is Adam Sandler's beloved pet, Motzaball.

also listen for: "By the way, um... I am, uh, legally obliged to tell you that I suffer from... sleep panic disorder."

extra bonus points: if you know how many movies Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider have been in together.

count: how many hamburgers Bugsy eats in one sitting.



the year: 2009

the plot: A young Carl Fredrickson meets a young adventurer girl named Ellie. They both dream of going to a Lost Land in South America. 70 years later, Ellie has died but Carl remembers the promise he made to her. When he is forced to go to a retirement home, Carl escapes by tying thousands of balloon to his home. Right after lifting off, he learns he isn't alone on his journey, since Russell, an 8-year old wilderness explorer, has inadvertently become a stowaway on the trip. Together, they embark on an adventure, where they encounter talking dogs, an evil villain and a rare bird named Kevin.

don't miss: Dug the dog. SQUIRREL!

listen for: "This is crazy. I finally meet my childhood hero and he's trying to kill us. What a joke." "Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, "I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead." Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."

did you know: as per Pixar tradition, John Ratzenberger once again provides a voice in the movie, making him the only actor to do a voice in every Pixar film.

extra bonus points: if you know which two movie stars serve as the inspiration for Carl Fredricksen's face and gruff personality.

also listen for: "Oh! Mr. Fredricksen! If we happen to get separated, use the wilderness explorer call: 'CA - CA! RAWRRR!'"

did you also know: all characters are based upon circles and rectangles, except for the villains who are triangles.



the year: 2007

the genre: musical

the cast: John Travolta (Edna Turnblad); Michelle Pfeiffer (Velma Von Tussle); Christopher Walken (Wilbur Turnblad); Amanda Bynes (Penny Pingleton); James Marsden (Corny Collins); Queen Latifah (Motormouth Maybelle); Brittany Snow (Amber Von Tussle); Zac Efron (Link Larkin); Elijah Kelley (Seaweed); Allison Janney (Prudy Pingleton); Nikki Blonsky (Tracy Turnblad)

the plot: Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager with all the right moves, is obsessed with the Corny Collins Show. Every day after school, she and her best friend Penny run home to watch the show and drool over Link Larkin, much to Tracy's mother Edna's dismay. After one of the stars of the show leaves, Corny Collins holds auditions to see who will be the new dancer. With the help of her friend Seaweed, Tracy makes it on the show, angering the evil dance queen Amber Von Tussle and her mother Velma. Tracy then decides that it's not fair that the black kids can only dance on the Corny Collins Show once a month, and with the help of Seaweed, Link, Penny, Motormouth Maybelle, her father and Edna, decides she's going to integrate the show.....without denting her 'do!

don't miss: Corny Collins.

did you know: most of the cast jokingly called "You Can't Stop the Beat" "you can't stop to breathe" because of its pace and fast-moving lyrics. Queen Latifah said she had no trouble singing a lot of words very quickly because of her background as a rapper.

listen for: "You two better brace yourselves for a whole lotta ugly comin' at you from a neverending parade of stupid." "So, you've met my mom?"

extra bonus points: if you know why it's cool that Ricki Lake plays one of the talent agents and Jerry Stiller plays Mr. Pinky.

also listen for: "I was just at home, practicing my new twist on The Twist, when I overheard it on the news. I can't believe Tracy savagely bludgeoned an Eagle Scout. That's just not like her."

even MORE extra bonus points: if you can name "The Nicest Kids in Town".

And my favorite scenes here and here.