Valentine Special – A tribute to the film-related influences that inspire ‘Hearts Want’

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Today is actually the only night where I don’t have somewhere to be this week which is a treat for me. So my hubby and I are going to get some takeout from one of our fave restaurants (most likely Thai) while my hubby treat us w/ some chocolate-dipped strawberries for dessert. #yum

I often post something romance-related on V-day, such as favorite unconventionally-romantic films, cinematic romances or favorite romantic couples. But for this year I thought, since my short film is an indie romance, why not share some of my film influences (whether it’s authors, filmmakers, talents or films) over the years. My short film is a subset of the feature screenplay of the same name. It centers on former lovers Lily & Jacques who reunite for a play by their drama teacher after seven years apart.

If you haven’t seen it yet, below is the teaser to my short film…

Jane Austen

This is no surprise at all to those who’ve read my blog regularly or follow my filmmaking journey. I mentioned in my the film’s crowdfunding campaign that the story is partly inspired by my favorite Austen novel, Persuasion.

There’s something so timeless about long lost love and second chances… and how the heart doesn’t always fully recover no matter how long time has passed.

A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman… He ought not. He does not.
– Captain Wentworth

Seven years has passed when Anne Elliot were reunited with Captain Wentworth, but he hasn’t forgiven the fact that she had broken their engagement. The agony of repressed feelings and fear of losing the ones they truly love is something so relatable even in modern society… and the fact that the story is told from Anne’s perspective, a woman, makes it all the more significantly poignant.

I love that in Persuasion, Anne pointed out to Wentworth’s friend Captain Harville that many literary works in that day were all written by men. ‘Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story’ Anne says. That’s all the more reason I wanted to tell Hearts Want from the woman’s perspective, who also has to own up to the decision she made seven years prior when she left the man she loved.

The beauty of Austen’s work is that they’re filled with wonderful, fully-formed female characters! Yes there are iconic men like Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth, but for me, it’s the inner strength of Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood that always inspire me. Their patience and endurance seems like a lost art in today’s world, but don’t let their demure demeanor fool you, nor mistake their perseverance for weakness. As I’ve mentioned in this post, Elinor loves ardently but she’s also fiercely realistic and principled, and she perseveres despite her emotional suffering. In essence, she is a survivor.


Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Though I don’t go to the theatre as much as I would have liked, I’ve always been fascinated by the world of theatre. I have seen Phantom of the Opera three times on stage, including the not-so-successful sequel Love Never Dies in Adelphi Theatre, London.

The critics panned this cinematic adaptation but I LOVE the lush visuals and sensuality of this POTO adaptation. There’s such a titillating mystery of love in a historic, vintage theatre. The setting of where a film is set can add so much to the atmosphere and mood of the film, especially in a romance. That’s part of the reason I set the love story of Hearts Want in a theatre and I insisted that we filmed it in 100+ year-old The Southern Theatre in Minneapolis. It may not look like it from the outside but the inside could’ve been an antique theatre somewhere in Europe.


Amma Assante’s Belle

As a fan of period dramas, I’ve seen a boat load of them, but it’s rare to see a strong woman of color at the center of the story. Belle is a historical romance set in 18th century England, so naturally it’s scandalous for a prominent figure in London society to take in a mixed-race girl as an adopted daughter.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw in ‘Belle’

I love that Belle is an intelligent, elegant and headstrong woman who isn’t afraid to speak her own mind. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is exquisite in the title role and her beauty definitely inspires my female protagonist Lily, who’s a mixed-race woman born in London.


Jane Eyre

True love is never easy. It doesn’t get more tumultuous than Jane & Rochester’s gothic romance. As the old adage says… “If you love someone set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were.” Easier said (or watched) than done, surely.

Every time I watched a Jane Eyre adaptations (the 1983 with Zelah Clarke & Timothy Dalton and 2006 version with Ruth Wilson & Toby Stephens are my personal faves), I’m always in awe of Jane’s resolve to stick to her principles.

Inspiration can truly come from many forms. I don’t usually listen to pop music, my car radio is always tuned to Classical MPR, so I often come across certain songs from YouTube. I remember seeing this music video of 1983 Jane Eyre set to a song called The Reason. I thought the lyrics about being sorry for the hurt one’s caused and wanting to start anew resonates with me so much… we all have made mistakes in the past, don’t we all wish we get a second chance to make things right?


Stanley Weber

Every writer needs a muse 😉 This dashing Frenchman isn’t exactly the first actor who’ve inspired me in my literary journey. A certain Scotsman actually inspired me to write a novel that I never got around to finishing.

But Stanley is the first actor who’ve inspired my first screenplay! It just so happens I had seen him in a British rom-com (Not Another Happy Ending) as I just started writing my script and I was instantly smitten.

Photo by Madame Figaro magazine

Yes, the tall, wavy-haired, blue-eyed actor is extremely easy on the eyes, but the more I learned about him, the more I was intrigued by his versatility as an actor (juggling theatre, tv and movies in his native France and beyond) as well as his zest for life. I’d think that people who has such a passion for life would just be as passionate about love when he falls for someone. The Parisian also seems like a free spirit with a voracious love for the ocean (hence the sailing scene in Hearts Want), motorbikes, and traveling. Heck even his Instagram photos are inspiring!

If I had a time machine, I’d transport myself to Théâtre de l’Atelier in Paris to see Stanley on stage in Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie. Interestingly enough, the play has a Minnesota roots as the protagonist is from St. Paul! There are similarities between the play’s male character Mat Burke to Hearts Want‘s Jacques, in fact, my feature script opens with a scene from this very play!

So yeah, thank you for the inspiration Stanley… he’s definitely my dream leading man if I ever get to make the full version of Hearts Want 😉

Casablanca/Roman Holiday

The ‘love is letting go’ theme is perhaps more beautiful to witness in the movies than to experience in real life. Few romances are as heart-wrenching as the love story of Rick and Ilsa set during WWII. The WWII-themed play at the beginning of Hearts Want‘s short was partly inspired by this film, though the leather bomber jacket Jacques’ sporting is directly inspired by Gregory Peck’s 12 O’Clock High.

Speaking of Mr. Peck, some of you might know I was at one time obsessed with him. In fact I still owned a bunch of his dvds. The one that gets played a ton is Roman Holiday, and that beautiful but bittersweet finale gets me every single time.

I’ve mentioned that exquisite scene in my tribute to Roman Holiday

Joe walking alone in the empty palace corridor as everyone has left, his steps echoing as he reluctantly leaves the building. As he passes the two guards, he still takes a glimpse towards the stage once more. Empty. The music swells up, forcing us to realize they’re never going to see each other again. Joe keeps on walking towards the camera and disappears, carrying the memory of that day in Rome that he too will cherish for as long as he lives. Best. Finale. Ev-er.


Her

I remember seeing this film on a nearly empty theatre at a press screening and I almost couldn’t move when the end credits rolled. It’s the story of a lonely writer dealing with an impending divorce who finds love when he least expects it. There’s such a captivating male vulnerability in Joaquin Phoenix’s soulful performance as he slowly but intensely falls for his AI Samantha (voiced brilliantly by Scarlett Johansson).

The euphoric joy and intense sadness he feels for Samantha is so palpable, it’s perhaps one of the most emotional love story I’ve ever seen. Just because the love story is not between two human beings doesn’t make it less emotional. Samantha said it best…

“Falling in love is a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a socially-acceptable form of insanity.”


Age of Innocence

I recall a review that says something about the spirit of the exquisite romantic pain depicted in this film. It’s certainly one of the most painfully-exquisite portrayal of unrequited love.

Newland Archer: You give me a first glimpse of a real life, and you ask me to carry on with a false one. No one can endure that.

Ellen Olenska: I’m enduring it.

This may not be a violent film from Scorsese in physical term, but it’s certainly a vicious one in terms of matters of the heart. Visually-ravishing as well as a visceral depiction of the agony of love. I guess I’m a sucker for tragic tale of impossible love, which has been done countless times, but few are as beautifully-crafted as this one.


Notting Hill

Last but not least… I have to include at least one rom-com and nobody does the genre as well as Richard Curtis! The Anglophile in me naturally gravitates towards the London scenery, which is practically a character in itself in the film! It really makes me want to set my story in England, though I ended up choosing a small seaside town south of London that has a prominent theatre Hearts Want, it’s called Chichester. There is one a similarity between Julia Roberts’ Anna Scott in that my protagonist Lily is a successful actress, but of course the circumstances of the story is completely different.

In any case, I thought the opening scene is the perfect introduction to the film’s protagonist and the world he lives in.


Ok so I don’t necessarily count Shakespeare as one of my major influences, despite having seen quite a number of his plays. But I’ve always admired playwrights, hence I have a playwright (Martin) as a prominent character in my feature script and Hearts Want is the name of his play that reunited Lily & Jacques.

The Bard certainly knows a thing or two about writing romances. As he says in A Midsummer Night’s Dream…

The course of true love never did run smooth.


Thoughts on these talents/films? What are some of your own film influences?

,,,

Valentine Special – A Dozen Cinematic Romances We LOVE

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

DozenRosesMy blog buddy Cindy Bruchman and I have been thinking about collaborating on a post and since V-day is around the corner, we decided on a topic about cinematic love stories that are dear to our hearts.

We’re talking about films that has a love story that we often revisit again and again because it touches us in a way that no other love stories did. It doesn’t even have to be a romantic film, as love stories can exist within a variety of genres.

So here are six picks from each of us… 

Cindy’s Picks:

The love stories in film which have lodged in my heart bear a similar theme. I have agonized with the characters and felt their pain. Yes, infatuation and adoration is quaint, but love is complicated. Dark. Painful. Unrequited. Denied. Disappointing. A conglomerate of emotions, it brings out the worst and best in you. I salute everyone who has experienced and survived love. It truly is all you need and what the world needs now.

Here are my favorite six films about love:

The Age of Innocence (1993)

Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel, The Age of Innocence, features Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer at their best.  For years, I contemplated why, oh why, didn’t Newland Archer claim Ellen Olenska for his own when he was finally free to do so? It took a couple of decades, but now I understand.

1. He was devoted to convention. Here the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” applies.

2. The beauty of her and their love was pure, avoiding time’s tarnishing power. In his mind, their love lived on in glorious perfection complete with reciprocating passion and submission. To resume would pop that vision he nurtured for decades. Oscar Wilde would have approved the ending.

The Painted Veil (2006)

Another satisfying adaptation, this W. Somerset Maugham’s tale of married couple, Kitty and Walter Fane, who travel great distances emotionally and physically, come together as companions and experience selfless love. It’s a film where feelings go backwards from discontent to liberation. The power of love and their “falling” is as beautiful as the film’s location in rural China.

West Side Story (1961)

This Romeo and Juliet version set in NYC is timeless. Jerome Robbins’s direction/choreography and Leonard Bernstein’s score have never been bested, and I doubt a picture will ever capture the energy and the dark side of love between ethnic rivals, the Jets and Sharks, as did the 1961 film version. Maria comes of age as the Puerto Rican sister whose brother is gang leader of the Sharks. By the film’s end, she is a woman who understands that the merging of two people with all its dimensions create a new entity. With the strength of two, life isn’t so scary anymore. God gives his glowing approval through the cross paneled window at the mock wedding. I love the simple harmony of this duet. And of course, the prophesy, “Only death can part us now.” Where’s my Kleenex?

Notorious (1946)

Oh, poor misunderstood, Frau Lieberman. Devlin, you idiot, taking so long to realize her love for you was true and you loved her back. This is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

I reckon it’s the musical score and the clifftop scene that makes me ache for Lizzie. Two lovers in denial eventually need a walk at dawn’s early light to come face to face and honor each other. Mr. Darcy is perfect. So is Keira Knightley. Did I mention the score?

The Notebook (2004)

Okay, I know it’s sentimental beyond belief, but it’s the James Garner and Gena Rowlands story that has me bawling, for at the end of your life, I predict all that matters is that your true love was there by your side. Even when dementia kicks in. I can’t imagine a more heartbreaking, yet fulfilling ending to a life than knowing one experienced that type of love. How proud one would feel knowing it!

My thanks to Ruth at Flixchatter for pairing up with me on Valentine’s Day. Love, love, love.


Ruth’s Picks

Romance at the movies are perhaps rosier than they are in real life. But the ones that often leave a lasting impression are the ones that love stories that aren’t the happy-ever-after variety. As Cindy said above, love is indeed complicated. But don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s not worth it. The struggle these couples go through moved me to tears, more so than a lot of other movie romances I’ve seen over the years. Some stories have such an enduring quality, and will likely be my lifetime favorites. Some of them are my picks of unconventional love stories I posted five years ago, but I had to include two films I saw last year, two VERY different love stories that has to overcome various barriers.

Sense & Sensibility

It’s no surprise to people who read this blog how much I adore this movie. Many of the main characters suffer for love, but none more so than Col. Brandon and Elinor, both are so tormented for their feelings for Edward and Marianne respectively. If there’s a love story that exemplifies 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 that’s often-quoted at weddings, it’d be THIS. Neither Brandon nor Elinor wallowed in self pity, and their love is patient, kind and not self-seeking. THIS scene is why Brandon is one of my favorite period drama heroes:

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There are many memorable quotes from the film but this one never fails to move me to tears whenever I watch that scene…

“…It is bewitching in the idea of one’s happiness entirely depending on one person”

A Walk in the Clouds

I know most of you probably scoff when you see Keanu Reeves as the lead but then you’d be missing out. Aside from all the bad ass sci-fi and action flicks, Reeves make for a pretty convincing romantic lead, too. Here he plays a soldier on the way home from war to be with his wife when he bumps (literally) into Victoria Aragorn on a bus, a woman who’s pregnant out of wedlock. Paul offers to pose as her husband after she tells him her traditional father would kill her if he knew her condition. There’s a warm chemistry between him and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, and there’s a palpable earnestness in Keanu that sweeps me off my feet. I doesn’t hurt that the film is set in the lush and romantic scenery of the Napa vineyards. Victoria aptly refers to it as ‘the clouds’ as it definitely gets you in head-in-the-clouds frame of mind.

Somewhere in Time

There’s a bit of the hopeless romantic in me and this fantastical time-travel love story gets me every time. It’s always best to have a box of tissue handy whenever I watch this film as it just moves me to my core. He’s most famous for playing Superman, and he shall always be my favorite in that role, but this one shows Christopher Reeve‘s also a capable romantic lead. Reeve’s a playwright who fell in love with a photo of a beautiful actress in the Grand Hotel gallery, he used a self-hypnosis method to transport himself to 1912. The way he looked at Jane Seymour always took my breath away, and you just ache for them to be together. John Barry’s sweeping score is as beautiful as it is haunting, practically woven into the plot that it’s impossible to separate the music from the movie. There’s not many film as unabashedly romantic as this one, its melancholic tone is part of its charm.

Belle

Oh how I love LOVE this film… it’s just sweepingly beautiful. One of the things I love about this film is the heartfelt love story that developed between Belle and her family’s vicar’s son, John Davinier. Gugu Mbatha-Raw‘s affecting performance is deeply moving that I long for her to find happiness she deserves. Both Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid have such a scorching chemistry that made for some breathless moments. The strict societal norm was made even more convoluted by the fact that Belle was a Black woman living in an upper class British society under Lord Mansfield’s care, so naturally that was a major hurdle for them.

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I love their passionate convictions and their longing for each other is heart-wrenching. That scene when John carefully touched Belle’s hand by the window… and that night when he suddenly pulled her close in the garden… oh be still my heart. At one point, John was so overcome with emotions that he yelled to Mansfield that he loves her, with every breath he breathes… it  I always feel a lump on my throat every time I watched it.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

It’s too bad this film was barely marketed as it’s a beautiful and poignantly-moving look at love and loss. I don’t want to give anything away but what I can say is how the film is grounded in realism and excellently portrayed by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. I could almost feel their heartache. Their agonizing pain was so unbearable that one of them resorted to drastic measures. But it’s also an affecting depiction of not giving up on love and the belief that it could overcome even a seemingly insurmountable grief. There is a scene of McAvoy alone in a long-abandoned apartment that moved me to tears and later joined by Chastain. The way they conveyed such deep emotional heartbreak felt so real and it made me think how I’d react if I were in their shoes. I pictured how my own friends would be in such a situation, that’s how involving the story was.

Roman Holiday

One of the best classic rom-coms ever, Roman Holiday just never gets old. I posted my 59 reasons I love this movie already, I love how it manages to be fluffy & playful but also deep & heart-wrenching. True love is transformative and sacrificial… Joe Bradley went from the rogue-ish, self-serving reporter to the sincere, compassionate, love-stricken man who no longer had it in him to sell the Princess story for his own gain.

A recent Thursday Movie Pick series was on the topic of unrequited love – and this is one of them that sprang up to mind.

RomanHolidayFinale
Source: Pinterest

Oh this finale gets me every single time. It’s absolute perfection in its depiction of unrequited love… Perfect in its elegant simplicity… quiet yet packs such an emotional punch. I don’t think I’ve ever loved Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck more than in this very scene, followed by THAT walk of Peck’s character… alone as everyone else’s left the building, there’s sadness in his eyes but you [hope] there’s a hint of contentment that he’s done the right thing.

 


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Hope you enjoyed our picks of cinematic love stories! Now tell us which movie romances left you breathless 😉

Life, Love and the Movies BLOGATHON

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It took me a while to finally get my entry done, and since today is my birthday, I figure it’s as good a time as any to post it now 😀

Thank you Nostra for creating another fun blogathon we can all take part in. Also thanks to Karamel Kinema for the awesome blogathon graphic. Now, the idea of the blogathon is to share our personal connection to movies by answering these questions below.

So without further ado, here’s my answers. I think those of you who’ve read this blog for a while already know about some of my answers 😉

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1. What was the first movie you saw in the cinema and what do you remember about that visit?

I’ve shared this on my Superman and Me post, so you guessed it, it was Superman: The Movie. It came to Indonesian cinema months later after it’s released in the US and I remember going to this rinky-dink cinema next to the house I grew up in. I couldn’t remember who I went with but needless to say, even at a wee age of four, I fell in love with Superman … AND the tall, dark and well, super Christopher Reeve. That’s quite a high bar that he set in terms of movie star crushes 😀

Ok, my hubby just showed me this video to me of this toddler’s reaction to Man of Steel‘s flying sequence. Ha! That must be how I have reacted seeing Christopher Reeve’s rescuing Lois in Metropolis!

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2. Are there any movies you have very strong memories of which are not because of the movie (for example something which happened at the time you were watching it)?

When I was a young teen my mom brought back three films from a European vacation and those were My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Gone with the Wind.

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I didn’t realize this until much later that each film had a strong female protagonist in it. Out of the three, GWTW perhaps left the most lasting impression as my mom had to pretty much translate a lot of the dialog for me and explained the history about the Civil War era, etc. I guess Hollywood movies served as my early intro to learning English and a bit about American culture as well.

3. Which movies had a big impact on you and changed a (small) part of your view on life?

Hmmm, tough question. I don’t know if there are specific ones but the three films above were inspiring to me as there are a lot of strong women in my own family as well. I think some eye-opening documentaries do change my outlook on certain things, i.e. The Cove discouraged me from ever going to a Sea World-type of places, and Gladiators Football doc about concussion made me think of American football in a whole new light.

4. Do you have any comfort movies which you return to because you are in a specific mood (for example if you are feeling down/nursing a heartbreak)?

The two movies I can always rely on to lift up my up are Return to Me and Sense & Sensibility (both the 1995 and the BBC 2008 version). Both have the kind of heart-warming story that inspires and entertain. Since it’s almost Valentine’s day, I highly recommend Return to Me as most of you probably haven’t seen it. It’s one of the few rom-coms I love, along with You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle & The Holiday that are made by female directors!

5. If a movie would be made about your life, what type of movie would it be and who would you like to portray you?

RashidaJonesWell considering there is barely any Asian actress who resembles me in Hollywood, I really can’t picture who could play me. Maybe Rashida Jones as she’s petite and has olive skin … of course we want someone far prettier than ourselves to play us right? 😉

I had quite a dramatic childhood – sent to a boarding school at the age of 7 for 5 years, then losing my mother on my 16th birthday are pretty unusual for any kid. Let’s just say I saw a lot of funerals growing up, as my uncle took his own life a few months after my mother’s passing, and my grandma (whom I lived with after my mom’s death) also died 3 years later. So needless to say, the movie wouldn’t be a rom-com ahah, maybe a dark comedy as there were times my family reminds me of something out of August: Osage County, ahah.

6. Which existing movie best represents you?

Hmmm, none from that I have seen. I have to think this through a bit and maybe update this post when I have the faintest idea, ahah.

7. If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would be the last movie you would want to see?

Ahah well I don’t want to be thinking about death on my birthday, even if it has happened before (see above). Last movie… maybe Amazing Grace, because it’s such a beautiful and inspiring story and one of those films I’d recommend people to see before they die.

8. If you can spend your life working in the film industry, what would you be and why? (you know, director, producer, actor, cinematographer, costume designer, sound designer etc?)

Ever since I was a kid, every time my teacher asked ‘what would you like to be when you grow up?‘ I always answered screenwriter. So I’m going to stick with that… or casting director would be a fun job as well I’d imagine.

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1. Did you ever have a first kiss with someone while at the cinema and if so which movie was playing?

Nope. I go to the cinema to watch a movie. Thankfully my husband feels the same way.

2. What is your favorite movie relationship and why?

I like the playful banter between Joe and Kathleen in You’ve Got Mail, but in terms of marriage in films, my favorite is between Paul & Julia Child in Julie & Julia as they’re so sweet and supportive to each other. I’m fortunate that I’ve found an equally supportive and sweet hubby in life, hence I dedicated this post to him.

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3. When did your love for movies start and how has it grown?

Film is in my blood as my late dad worked in the film industry before I was born, both as a screenwriter and director. He also did some poster art as well I believe. Though I credit my late mother because since they divorced when I was three, she was the one who introduced Hollywood films to me. I wasn’t that into movies in high school and college however, not sure why, but shortly before I started this blog, I started getting into it again and writing about film definitely fuels my passion for film.

4. If you have to choose one film to watch with your loved one, what would it be and why?

It’s either Captain America or The Rocketeer (both happen to be directed by Joe Johnston!) as we’re such a big fan of both films.

5. If you can choose one character from a movie to be your significant other who would it be and why?

Right of the bat I go with John Thornton from BBC North & South as he’s not only gorgeous but responsible and hard working. Even though he appears tough and even callous at times, he’s a big softie in the inside and he’s capable of loving a woman with all his heart.

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But in terms of feature film character, I’d go with superhero [hey why not right?]. Instead of Batman or even Superman, I’d choose Captain America/Steve Rogers because even with all that power and being THE first Avenger, he remains humble and a gentleman. Plus it’d be interesting to hear his retro stories from his pre-frozen days and helping him adapt to the new world.

6. What was the first movie that made you fall in in love with film and cinema?

I think this has been covered by a couple of earlier questions above (see #1 & #2 under Life). I think the Disney Princess movies also made me love film at an early age and appreciate the beauty in its creativity and power of escapism. Thankfully it didn’t skew my outlook on romance though, I knew even early on there’s no such thing as a Prince Charming.

7. How did your passion for movies turn you into a movie blogger?

Well, I’ve always been talking about movies in a very passionate way to my friends and co-workers that some of them urged me to just start a blog. But it didn’t take an assignment to help design a WordPress blog that finally push me to start one. This blog is the perfect outlet to combine my love for writing AND movies.

8. What is your favorite date from a movie?

I know I already said I wouldn’t have chosen Superman as my significant other, but if it were just for a couple of dates, nothing beats flying with the most powerful and gorgeous alien in the universe. So for the ultimate fantasy, I’d go with the Can you read my mind scene from Superman: The Movie, but in terms of something closer to earth, I’d go with Roman Holiday. Ok so it’s not a *date* per se but I’d love to explore a romantic city like Rome with a gorgeous creature like Gregory Peck as my date 😉

Well, that’s my answers! Click on the logo below to the main Blogathon Overview page.

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January 2014 Blind Spot: It Happened One Night (1934)

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Ok, it’s my first Blind Spot Film of the year. I don’t know why it took me so long to finally see this one, as it came highly recommended by so many people. The main draw for me here is to see Clark Gable in something other than Gone With the Wind as that’s the only film I’ve seen him in. It’s also the second Frank Capra film since It’s A Wonderful Life.

Now that I’ve seen the film, I noticed how similar the storyline is to Roman Holiday, but instead of a princess, the female protagonist is a spoiled heiress who’s running away from her father (Walter Connolly) who disapproves  her nuptial to a society aviator. Claudette Colbert has quite a spunk as Ellie Andrews, though I have to admit it took me a while to warm up to her as her character is such a brat. At one point her dad slaps her and she certainly had it coming. Ellie promptly jumps off her dad’s yacht and later catches a bus to New York City to return to her husband. And that’s where the ‘meet cute’ happens.

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Gable’s Peter Warne is an out-of-work newspaper reporter. He’s made quite an effort to secure the last seat on the bus, only to have it ‘stolen’ by Ellie. The bantering between these two are pretty amusing, though it’s obvious they’re attracted to one another. When Warne recognizes who she is, he offers her two choices, one of which is that he’d blow the whistle on her whereabouts to her father. Needless to say, Ellie is stuck with Peter until he can help her get to NYC. Seriously, there are worse things than being stuck with Clark Gable!

One of the main highlights is when Peter rents a small motel for the two of them. It’s quite risque for those days to show a man being shirtless, which apparently happens because Gable kept having trouble removing his undershirt whilst keeping the dialog going, so Capra decided to forgo it. Apparently the undergarment industry was largely affected by this when people stopped buying undershirt as it was deemed cool to not to wear one. That’s mind-boggling how much power Hollywood had back in the day.

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With a set of clothesline and a blanket, Peter builds the ‘walls of Jericho’ between the two beds, which was also Capra’s idea because Colbert refused to undress in front of the camera. The two also puts on quite a show in the morning when two detectives knocked on their door looking for Ellie. Pretending to be a bickering married couple, it was the perfect bonding experience as their adventure is just beginning. Though it’s a completely different role from Rhett Butler, Gable’s certainly got the swagger and charm intact.

Interesting how this film’s success undoubtedly brings about the rom-com trend. We’ve become tired of that genre these days, as most of them are neither romantic nor comedic. I think You’ve Got Mail is a wonderful contemporary rom-com that adhere to a similar pattern, with the characters start out disliking each other. The key I think is in the chemistry of the two actors, and the wit in the dialog. So even if everything else about the film seems out of date, the story still holds up and the dialog still brings a smile to one’s face.

[after Ellie stops a car by showing her leg]
Ellie: Aren’t you going to give me a little credit?
Peter: What for?
Ellie: I proved once and for all that the limb is mightier than the thumb.
Peter: Why didn’t you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars.
Ellie: Well, ooo, I’ll remember that when we need forty cars.

ItHappenedOneNight_Hitchhiking

The story itself is pretty predictable. I knew at the end Ellie and Peter are going to be together, but I was still surprised by how they finally got reunited. Ellie’s father played a huge role in bringing them together, which is interesting in and of itself to see a parental figure having such a big part in the love story. In the finale, ‘walls of Jericho’ shows up again but only from the outside of the motel where presumably Ellie and Peter are now married. The sound of trumpet is heard as the walls is coming down. There are plenty of innuendos throughout, some are less subtle than others, but in this day and age where borderline pornographic content becomes ‘normal’ at the movies, it’s nice to see something THIS wholesome for a change.

ItHappenedOneNight_GableColbertWhat strikes me about this movie is the lack of any kissing scene between the two leads. I’d think the Hayes Code allowed kissing scene at the time, as Colbert did kiss Jameson Thomas who played her husband King Westley, so it made me wonder if it’s because Gable and Colbert didn’t get along during filming. All of the promos like the image on the right that suggest any kind of kissing scenes between these two are so misleading, there’s an almost kiss when the were at a barn, but that’s about it. According to IMDb Trivia, seems that neither of them were fond of making the film and didn’t think much about it. So I guess its massive success (both artistically and financially) was as huge a surprise to them as to everyone else.

So did I love this movie? Yes I did, and I’m glad I finally watched it. At the same time, I’m not as enamored with it as I did with say, Roman Holiday and Casablanca. It’s interesting that both of those films didn’t quite have a happy ending, which actually makes it even more romantic. There is something so beguiling and heart-wrenching to see unrequited love played out on screen. Another thing for me is the character Ellie itself, which is not entirely sympathetic. I mean, her rich dad worships her and she pretty much gets everything she wants. Even Roman Holiday‘s Princess Ann is far less spoiled than Ellie. Yes, Colbert makes her character fun to watch, but she’s not exactly my favorite classic characters.

Overall though, this one deserves the ‘essential classic’ status. It’s the first screwball romantic comedy that no doubt becomes the template for ‘opposites attract’ types of storyline. Of course, very few have such staying power like this one.

four reels


This is the first entry to my 2014 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil at The Matinee, and continued by Dan Heaton at Public Transportation Snob .

Here’s my full Blindspot List.


What do you think of It Happened One Night? I’d love to hear what you think!

The Alphabet Movie Meme

AlphabetMovieMeme Boy it’s been a while since I did a movie meme, but this idea by Katy at the Drama Llama is just too fun to resist. Thanks Karamel Kinema for the awesome banner image. Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory what this meme is all about, so lets just get started.

Anticipating Movie of 2014

XMenDaysOfFuturePast

I was going to answer Interstellar but that Nolan movie isn’t out until November so I set my sight to something a bit closer that’s out in May. The trailer for X-Men Days of Future Past makes my head spins but it also gets me super psyched to see it!

Book Adaptation I’d Love To See

BookAdaptation_LoveWalkedIn

A couple of years ago I posted this list of books my pal Ted and I would like to see being adapted on screen. I haven’t read hardly any good book since (yes I wish I were a voracious reader) but out of those, I’d think this one would’ve been adapted by now. It’s an unusual love story in that it’s not just between a man and a woman, and it’s got a slight throwback to Hollywood’s golden era that I think would be cool to see on screen.

Celebrity I’d Most Like To Meet

Male

RA_Bafta_Closeup

I simply have to find out if Richard Armitage actually looks THIS perfect up close. He seems like an intelligent bloke, so I’m sure he’d make a fascinating company over coffee … and I wonder if I could ever beat him in a staring contest 😉

Female

CateBlanchett

I bow to the great Cate Blanchett. She is such a phenomenal actress whose beauty, intellect and immense talent makes her a modern screen legend.

Dream Director-Actor Pairing

Michael Mann and Tom Hiddleston

Mann_Hiddleston

I love Michael Mann’s cerebral thrillers. I’d love to see the exquisite Tom Hiddleston tackles something like Heat, The Insider or even playing a chilling baddie like Tom Cruise in Collateral. The versatile Brit can do anything, I’d love to see him display his range.

Essential Classic Film

Roman Holiday

RomanHoliday

It remains one of the most romantic and beautifully-shot film ever, starring two of my all time favorite movie couple. I’ve listed 59 reasons why it’s awesome. I’m sure I can come up with more.

Favorite Film Franchise

The Lord of the Rings

LOTR_trilogy

One of these days I have GOT to find time to watch the extended version. It’s nothing short of astonishing how Peter Jackson has brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s stupendous literary work to life.

Genre(s) I Watch The Most

Action Thriller and Period Drama

Action_PeriodDramaGenres

I think I watch these two genres as frequently. It should be no surprise that most of them have a British cast 😉

Hidden Gem

Dear Frankie

DearFrankie

There are many other movie gems I could recommend but I always go with this one as it was made with a itsy-bitsy budget, but the story, Scottish setting, and acting are all superb that I wish more people would see it.

Important Moment in My Film Life

FlixChatterLOGOMy passion for movies practically soars exponentially after I started blogging. Thanks to fellow cinephiles who inspire me every day and makes me love movies all the more!

Just Right for A Rainy Day

Sleepless in Seattle

SleeplessInSeattle

“It rains nine months of the year in Seattle.” Well if one day I move to Seattle, I’d be happy to still be watching this whilst I’m vegging out on the sofa. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie, Nora Ephron’s script is so brilliant that it kept this movie from being unbearably sappy. If only rom-coms today are half as good as this.

Kiddie Movie I Still Shamelessly Enjoy

Sleeping Beauty

SleepingBeautyBriarRose

I’ve loved this as a kid and Briar Rose/Aurora is my favorite Disney princess! Even to this day, before all the CGI technology in animation, the visuals are still amazingly beautiful, and the music based on Tchaikovsky’s ballet is equally enchanting.

Location I’d Most Like To Visit

RivendellMiddleEarth

No doubt it’d be Middle Earth, especially if Aragorn or Thorin would be willing to be my tour guide 😉

Marathons I Watched

Gregory Peck Movie Marathon

GregPeckDVDCase

Some of you likely remember when I was besotted by this Hollywood’s classic leading man. I blogged about some of ’em already, that’s perhaps the last extensive movie marathon I did, which was well worth the effort!

Netflix Movie I Actually Watched

I have Netflix Streaming which is one my the primary sources to rent movies from. This is the last one I rented as they’ve got quite a nice selections of documentaries. Clearly I’m fascinated by all things Middle Earth.

BeyondTheMovieLOTRdoc

One Movie I Saw In Theaters More Than Once

Idris_PacRim

I’ll go with the latest one I saw twice in the theater in 2013, and that’d be Pacific Rim. I’m not ashamed to say that I LOVE that movie, and really, when you’ve got exhilarating action, great music PLUS sexy Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost in his smashing black armored Jaeger suit, what’s not to love?

Preferred Place To Watch A Movie (Cinema or at home)

Either place is fine by me. As much as I love the comfort of watching films whilst vegging out on my sofa, some films are meant to be seen on the big screen. Unless of course I have a home cinema like THIS.

DreamHomeCinema

Quote that Inspires Me

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

SamFrodo_TwoTowers

Samwise Gamgee, is one of the most selfless and wisest movie characters ever brought on screen. The unsung hero of the LOTR trilogy always puts others first before his own. Apparently when Tolkien wrote him, he was inspired by the character of English soldiers he met during World War I.

Remakes (Friend or Foe?)

Generally speaking… foe. But not every remake is terrible. I actually like the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, Sydney Pollack’s Sabrina, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, James Mangold’s 3:10 To Yuma, just to name a few.

Ben-Hur1959

Heck, even one of my favorite films of all time, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a remake of the 1925 silent film with the same name.

Snack I Enjoy Most

Peanuts

FaveSnack_Peanuts

Twist(s) That Boggles My Mind

Sixth Sense & Unbreakable

SixthSense_Unbreakable_Finale

Whatever has happened to M. Night now, it doesn’t change the fact that Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, which he made back to back, are both phenomenal films. Both endings floored me, and it was such a great feeling when a film managed to surprise you in such a big way.

Unapologetic Fanperson For

Timothy Dalton

TimothyDalton

Dalton seems to have always marched to the beat of his own drum and I love him for it. He’s so criminally underrated and I’m front of the line in the Dalton-is-Best-Bond brigade. He’s obviously fantastic as a hero, byronic (Jane Eyre) or otherwise, but also as a villain (The Rocketeer).

Very Excited For Award Show Season?

Sure, why not. Bring. It. On.

Wish I Never Watched…

The Exorcist

TheExorcist

I really wish I hadn’t seen this. THAT face still haunts me to this day. I remember that after watching it in college, I asked my then boyfriend (now my hubby) to sleep in the living room as I didn’t dare to be alone in my apartment!!

XXX Movie I First Watched At A Young Age (R or NC-17!)

I don’t remember the name of it, as all I remember was that it has ‘Girl’ in it in the title. It could’ve been a foreign film as it was in black and white. I must’ve been only 11 or so, but that was the first time I saw full frontal nudity on screen!

Your latest movie-related obsession

Hmmm, does Richard Armitage count? He’s my latest obsession and he’s a movie actor so yeah, that’s my answer right now. My formerly-Gregory-Peck-filled Tumblr‘s been pretty much been taken over that beautiful man. Yes, I think I’m secretly moving up the rank in the Armitage Army 😉

ZZZ-Catchers (name a movie that has put you to sleep)

The Great Gatsby (1974)
GreatGatsby1974
Say what you will about the Baz Luhrmann’s film but at least it wasn’t boring! I was thinking of comparing this one to the contemporary version but I couldn’t even go through it! I finally turned it off after I dozed off a couple of times.

Well that’s my Alphabet Movie Meme, folks! Feel free to continue this movie meme (make sure you link back to Katy’s post). I’d love to see the answers you come up with!

31 Days Of Oscar – Spotlight on Hollywood’s Costume Queen Edith Head

31DaysOscar2013

This is my contribution to a mammoth blogathon event created by Paula (@Paula_Guthat) of Paula’s Cinema Club, Kellee (@IrishJayhawk66) of Outspoken and Freckled, and Aurora (@CitizenScreen) of Once Upon a Screen that coincides with Turner Classic Movies’ 31 Days of Oscar, February 1 to March 3, 2013. It’ll be a month filled with fabulous tales and screen wonders.

I’ve agreed to do a post on the famed costume designer Edith Head as I love fashion and movies. Seems like an easy subject right? Well, not quite. I found myself quite stumped as to where to start. I mean she has contributed to over a thousand films! But I’m going to attempt to enlighten myself with this post, and hopefully you’d learn a bit more about her in the process.

EdithHeadBanner

Edith Head (October 28, 1897 – October 24, 1981)

  • Born Edith Claire Posener in San Bernardino, California, the daughter of Jewish parents, Max Posener and Anna E. Levy.
  • Received a bachelor of arts degree in letters and sciences with honors in French from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1919 and earned a master of arts degree in romance languages from Stanford University in 1920.
  • Attended the Chouinard Art College where she met her husband, Charles Head, who was the brother of one of her Chouinard classmates, Betty Head. Though they got a divorce in 1936, she kept her maiden name to continued to be known professionally as Edith Head until her death.
  • Before she entered the film industry, she was a high school teacher of French and art looking for a way to supplement her income.
  • Famous for wearing “sunglasses” they actually weren’t sunglasses in the beginning, but blue glass lenses on regular frames. It was a common trick for Costume Designers to look through blue lenses to get a sense of how the clothing would read on black and white film. Instead of looking through a single lens monocle as was common, Head had blue lenses put in normal frames. Later, she replaced the lenses with regular tinted lenses. [per DailyMischief.com]
  • Edith Head died of Bone Marrow Diseases on October 24, 1981 in Los Angeles.

The petite (5’1″) Edith got her start at Paramount Pictures as a sketch artist when she was only 27 years old in 1924. Believe it or not, she actually borrowed another student’s sketches for her job interview (wonder what happened to that girl?). By 1927, she started working on silent films. She might even had a hand in the first Oscar-winning film Wings, though she was uncredited. By the 1930s, she had already established herself as one of the industry’s leading costume designers.

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I think her key to her success could be that she consulted extensively with the female stars she worked with. I think that’s surely a lesson every costume designer should take to heart. I mean, it’s a mutually beneficial process when you keep the person you’re designing for in mind to make sure the outfit or dress is flattering on their figure. What worked for spindly Audrey Hepburn certainly wouldn’t have worked for the voluptuous Sophia Loren. It’s no wonder Edith became the favorite of the 40s and 50s leading ladies, such as Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Sophia Loren, Barbara Stanwyck, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Natalie Wood, amongst others. They would personally requested to work with her so Paramount often had to ‘loan’ her out to other studios.

“A designer is only as good as the star who wears her clothes”
Edith Head

According to Encyclopedia.com, Edith described herself on one occasion as “a better politician than costume designer,” Head was expert at handling star temperament, preferring to yield ground on a neckline or dress length than engage in a battle of wills. The conservative, neutral-colored suits she perennially wore symbolized her willingness to suppress her individuality in the interests of her craft.

Edith_Hitchcock
Edith consulting with Hitchcock and Ingrid Bergman

She worked at Paramount for 43 years until she went to Universal Pictures in 1967, it’s perhaps no coincidence that her move was prompted by her extensive collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, who had also moved to Universal, in 1960.

I used to do sketches when I was growing up, so I LOVE looking at sketches like these I found on this Fashion Journal. Apparently she released a book called How to Dress for Success, published by Random House in 1967.

EdithHeadSketches


“You can have anything you want if you dress for it.”

– Edith Head

A Legendary Career

During her 44 years as head designer at Paramount, and additional 14 years at Universal, Head worked on a total of well over a thousand films. She won a record of eight Oscars for Best Costume Design out of 35 nominations (unrivaled to this day).

EdithHead_Oscars

Here are her Oscar-winning costumes:

The Heiress, 1949

Edith_TheHeiress

Samson and Delilah, 1950

Edith_SamsonDelilah

All About Eve, 1950

Edith_AllAboutEve

The story goes that the silk cocktail dress that Bette Davis’s Margo wears in the Eve’s famous party scene didn’t fit her, in fact it slipped off her shoulders, causing Edith to freak out right before the scene was supposed to be shot. But Ms Davis pulled off the neckline, shook a shoulder, and said, “Don’t you like it better like this anyway?” [per RookieMag.com]

A Place in the Sun, 1951

Edith_APlaceInTheSun

Roman Holiday, 1953

Edith_RomanHoliday

Sabrina, 1954

Edith_Sabrina

Although Edith Head won an Oscar for Best Costumes, most of Audrey Hepburn’s “Parisian” ensembles were, in fact, designed by Hubert de Givenchy and chosen by the star herself. However, since the outfits were actually made in Edith Head’s Paramount Studios costume department, some felt that doing so created enough of a technicality to nominate Head, instead of Givenchy. And, indeed, since she refused to have her name alongside Givenchy’s in the credits, she was given credit for the costumes, even though the Academy’s votes were obviously for Hepburn’s attire. Head did not refuse the Oscar, however.
[per Wikipedia]

The Facts of Life, 1960

Edith_FactsofLife

The Sting, 1973

Edith_TheSting

What a costume designer does is a cross between magic and camouflage. We create the illusion of changing the actors into what they are not. We ask the public to believe that every time they see a performer on the screen he’s become a different person.
– Edith Head

My personal five favorite Edith Head dresses

Picking just FIVE favorite Edith Head dresses are akin to Sophie’s Choice. So I’m not ranking these, I mean they are all equally exquisite, largely because of the elegant beauties who wore them. Edith certainly knew how to dress each woman in a way that they accentuate the best of her figure.

FaveEdithHeadDresses
Click on the image to see a larger version so you can see the details on these dresses
  1. Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina
    When I first beheld this amazingly beautiful dress I literally gasped. I mean the ornate details on the bodice and flowing skirt is nothing short of breathtaking.

  2. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
    The classic little black dress (LBD). Worn to perfection dress by Audrey Hepburn, it actually gave her a bit of curves to her extremely slender figure. I think the accessories here are key, the pearls, tiara, large black sunglasses, and of course, the right ‘tude, made this look eternally chic.

  3. Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun
    I actually haven’t seen this film yet but I came across this photo a while back and I did a double take. It’s not the kind of dress I’d ever have the courage to wear, but Liz Taylor had the figure and gracefulness to pull it off beautifully. The cluster of little flowers on her chest, fitted bodice that accentuate her teeny-tiny waist, and the full organza skirt… this is a fairy tale dress fit for a Disney princess!

  4. Grace Kelly’s in Rear Window
    I guess when you’re working with an unbelievable beauty like miss Kelly, anything you put on her would look amazing. But Edith’s dresses are often as gorgeous as those who wore them, and this one is definitely one of them. It’s a simple dress yet so incredibly striking… I love that Edith pared down the accessories so the dress became the focal point.

  5. Ann Baxter in All About Eve
    There are certainly a boat-load of gorgeous costumes in this film, but for some reason I love this simple one that most people probably don’t remember, favoring the one that Bette Davis wore when she said her famous line, ‘It’s gonna be a bumpy night.’ What I like about this one is how understated ans sweet it is, but that sheer neckline is just sublime. It accentuates Ann’s petite figure beautifully, and it’s interesting that in this sweet, demure dress, she displayed her most cunning scheme to Celeste Holm’s character. It’s an intriguing dichotomy.

“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.”
– Edith Head

Edith in Popular Culture

EdnaModeNot only did Edna created iconic gowns for Hollywood’s classic beauties, but she’s also got her own iconic look of her own with her round-rimmed glasses, short blunt cropped hair and full bangs and her ‘uniform’ of pencil skirt suit. She even made her mark in popular culture in The Incredibles, as Edna Mode, the fashion designer to the Supers, was based on Mrs. Head. [Another bit of trivia: she was voiced by director Brad Bird].

Edith became as big a star as the leading ladies she dressed. There’s even a play based on her which wrapped in L.A. in the Fall of 2010. A Conversation with Edith Head was brought to life by Susan Claassen — who bears a striking resemblance to the real life designer — in her one-woman show. See the ad below:

ConversationWithEdithHeadPlay

Edith was commemorated by a US 37 cents postage stamp, issued on February 25, 2003, depicting Ms Head at work.

Edith_PostageStamps

Check out this screen test of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, where Edith was interviewed on her process of creating the costumes for the film:

Books written by Edith:

  • With Jane Kesner Ardmore, The Dress Doctor, Boston, Massachusetts, 1959.
  • With Joe Hyams, How to Dress for Success, New York, 1967.
  • With Paddy Calistro, Edith Head’s Hollywood, New York, 1983.

There a Pinterest devoted to her sketches, see below:

Edith_holdingmanequins

I feel like I could never do Ms Head justice with my post. Having been reading all kinds of articles on her the past week, I’ve hugely admired her talents and work ethic and marveled on her beautiful costumes. Catherine Martin, the Oscar-winning costume designer for Moulin Rouge! whose work will be seen in the upcoming The Great Gatsby called Edith ‘the quintessential costume designer.’ Edith has become synonymous with fashion on film, and her amazing work left such a huge mark on Hollywood, more than any other person in her profession.

Per TCM.com, screen legend Bette Davis gave this eulogy at Edith’s funeral:

“A queen has left us, the queen of her profession. She will never be replaced. Her contribution to our industry in her field of design, her contribution to the taste of our town of Hollywood, her elegance as a person, her charms as a woman – none of us who worked with her will ever forgot. Goodbye, dear Edith. There will never be another you.”

What an icon… what a woman!


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I hope you’ve enjoyed this tribute.

Share your thoughts on Hollywood’s costume queen and feel free to share your own favorite Edith Head’s costumes.

Valentine Special – 59 Reasons I LOVE Roman Holiday!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

May love – romantic or otherwise – fills your heart and puts a smile on your face. Well, a movie that always makes me smile as well as tear up with heartache and joy at the same time is none other than William Wyler’s 1953 masterpiece rom-com Roman Holiday. And since I promised you here that I’d give a special tribute to this fine movie, well what could be a more fitting time than Valentine’s Day?

The number 59 isn’t exactly a random number, it was fifty nine years ago that this movie was released on September 2, 1953. Of course there are easily hundreds more reasons why I love this movie, but then I’d never be done with this post 😀 So without further ado, here we go:

1. Well you’ve got to start with the best part obviously… the cast…
23-year-old Audrey Hepburn in her first feature film role is exquisite. I have no words for her delicate beauty, she’s the epitome of graceful loveliness and magnetic charm. She has a perfect blend of innocence and regal aura that is just perfect for the role of the bored Princess Ann. I really can’t imagine anyone else playing this role.

2. Gregory Peck in his most delightfully playful role as the American journalist Joe Bradley. Despite not being the go-to-guy for rom-coms, I really think Gregory’s comic timing is far better than people gave him credit for. It’s a shame he wasn’t at least nominated for his role as I really think the film works so well because of the genius pairing of these two. Plus, despite all the dashing leading men Audrey’s been paired with in her time, I do believe the tall, dark and ridiculously handsome Gregory was perhaps the only one who could match her beauty.

3. The simple but immensely charming original story by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, too bad he was blacklisted by the studios as part of the Hollywood 10 that he couldn’t receive credit for it.

4. William Wyler’s direction… It’s amazing how different three of my favorite films of his are, Ben-Hur, The Big Country and this one couldn’t be more different from each other yet they are all masterpieces of their respective genres. Under a less-capable director, this simple story would not have been the masterpiece of timeless classic the way Roman Holiday is now.

5. Rome… By all means, Rome. This city is as much a character in this movie than the human cast. Even in black and white, it’s impossible not to be enchanted by the Eternal City. No wonder Rome’s tourism business still benefits from this movie with all kinds of Roman-Holiday city tours such as this one to various locations depicted here.

6. The witty script. No matter how charismatic and gorgeous the cast is, the movie just won’t have such an enduring quality without the sharp and memorable dialog.

Princess Ann: Do you have a silk nightgown with rosebuds?
Joe Bradley: I’m afraid you’re gonna have to rough it out tonight… in these [handing her his striped pajamas]. Sorry honey, I haven’t worn a nightgown in years!

7. Audrey’s regal look when she’s first introduced at the royal ball… hard to imagine she’s not an actual princess!

8. The whole scene of Princess Ann escaping her palace. If there is such a thing as comic suspense, then Wyler captures it beautifully. The cinematography captures all the wonderful detail of her palace’s interior, the Renaissance-style decor and that majestic bed, etc.

9. The opening scene at the Princess’ embassy when she is receiving guests. There’s so much humor even in this short scene, from the way the princess glance over at the announcer when he struggles to spit out an especially long and difficult foreign name, and when she lost one of her shoes under that giant dress!

10. Audrey’s adorable smile as she rides in the back of a delivery truck, waving giddily at a couple riding a Vespa.

11. Ann’s adorable state of wooziness. Audrey’s absolutely beguiling as she mumbles a poem and statements from her royal speeches…

What the world needs… is a return to sweetness and decency in the souls of its young men and… [dozes off again].

12. Joe’s chivalry as he offers to take a sleepy stranger back home and hearing Gregory utter some Italian words to the cab driver.

13. Gregory’s breathtaking good looks the moment he walks into the Roman Forum. I must say I breath a sigh every time I watch Audrey lean against Gregory’s strong shoulder 😀

14. The way Joe catches Ann just in time as she was about to fall over from the park bench.

15. The part where Joe takes her up to her apartment… the more I watch this movie, the more I find that the dialog free and subtle gestures during the quiet scenes are hilarious, such as the part at the apartment’s front entrance as Ann leans on Joe’s back and he leans back to straighten her and when Ann almost knocks on the wrong apartment door and Joe catches her just before her hand touches the door. It’s the small things like this that make this film so fun to watch over and over again.

16. Joe’s scene with his boss Henessy. I LOVE the way he lies up a storm and pretend that he’s already got the Princess interview in the can, Gregory’s comic timing here is just spot on, it comes out so natural that I wish he’d done more comedic roles. When he discovered just what the Princess look like from the newspaper, his facial expression is priceless!

I plan to enter her sick room disguised as a thermometer.
– Joe telling his boss of his plan on obtaining an exclusive interview with the Princess

17. Via Margutta 51. Even the address of Joe’s apartment has such a romantic ring to it.

18. Princess Ann asking Joe to undress her…

“I’ve never been alone with a man before, even with my dress on. With my dress off, it’s most unusual.” 😀

19. Audrey’s amusing wide-eyed expression as Ann wakes up, finding out she’s not in her room and that the man standing in front of her is NOT Dr. Bonnachoven…

20. … and her self-satisfied giggle following the wry Q&A with Joe as she realizes she’s broken every royal rule by spending the night in a male stranger’s apartment!

21. Audrey’s simple yet chic outfit, especially that long swing-y skirt that goes so well with her ankle-tie ballet flats. It’s the way she carries herself that make even the most ordinary outfit look so stylish and classy.

22. Ann’s darling haircut... only someone of Audrey’s beauty can pull off such a cut. I also love her Italian barber who’s so taken with her that he asks her out dancing afterwards.

23. Ann revealing her deepest wishes to Joe at Piazza di Spagna whilst eating Gelatto…

I’d like to do just whatever I like, the whole day long…

24. The lively music by George Auric… I love how perky and slightly mischievous-sounding it is as it’s playing during Ann’s first taste of freedom roaming around the city whilst Joe is secretly following her every trail.

25. The conversation at the sidewalk cafe as both Joe and Ann are lying profusely trying to cover up their true identity. Joe claims he’s a fertilizer salesman and Ann pretending she’s a student running away from school.

26. Eddie Albert as Irving Radovich, Joe’s carefree photographer friend… the way he secretly takes pictures of the Princess is fun to watch!

27. The not-so-courteous way Joe tries to hint at Irving about the Princess by spilling coffee on him, knocking him off his chair, etc. Gregory and Eddie has such a wonderful and effortless rapport, you totally believe they’ve been friends forever.

28. The riotous Vespa scene. It just never gets old… especially when Ann is behind the wheel with Joe riding behind her, wreaking havoc on the side streets.


29.
Princess Ann smoking her first cigarette… and nonchalantly quipped, ‘There’s nothing to it…” Who can’t relate to that rebellious streak we all had at one point of our lives?

30. The delightful spontaneity of the Mouth of Truth scene. As you can read on my trivia page, thanks to Gregory’s genius idea of not telling Audrey what he was about to do, that scene of Audrey screaming was done in one take!

31. Night of Dancing on the Tiber River… I love this whole setting, the lights, the orchestra music, the romantic vibe… I love the fact that it was shot on location with Italian extras instead of a closed set.

32. Gregory Peck in a pajama… ’nuff said.

33. The extremely conspicuous men in black hired to retrieve the Princess… funny how they all stick out like a sore thumb!

34. The dance scene…

Ann: Hello

Joe: Hello

And in that moment, they suddenly realize there might be something there…

35. Joe’s completely guilty manner when Ann compliments him for being so selfless. This is when subtlety is so key in Joe’s role and Gregory pulls it off time and again beautifully.

36. Irving taking pictures from behind the bar… the whole set-up of having Joe covering up the camera and movie just in the nick of time for Irving to take the picture.

37. The barber fixing Ann’s hair right in the middle of the dance.

38. The way Ann calls on Bradley to rescue her from the secret service squadron… followed by that jolly good fight scene between that got everyone at the party fighting the secret police. The part of Ann hitting an agent with a guitar is such a hoot and failing to take a shot of that priceless moment, Irving tells her to do it again…

Hit him again, Smithy!

39. Audrey and Gregory looking so darn bewitching even drenched from falling into the river, which leads to…

40.that impromptu first kiss… I’ve always wondered how long Joe’s been waiting to do that…

41. Joe’s world-weariness in contrast to Ann’s naivete… 

Life isn’t always what one likes, is it?

Perhaps it’s this very comment that made Ann seal her decision to follow her duty instead of carrying on a romance with the man she loves.

42. The transformation of Joe Bradley from the rogue-ish, self-serving reporter to the sincere, compassionate, love-stricken man that he’s no longer had it in him to sell the Princess story for his own gain.

43. The amazing view of the city from Joe Bradley’s apartment’s balcony. Apparently the apartment interior and spiral staircase were a studio set, but the courtyard is real and the view from the terrace was shot from one of those courtyard apartments. I wish I had remembered this when we went to Italy a few years ago so I could pay a visit.

44. Joe trying to steal a little girl’s camera. It’s such a silly moment set against one of the most popular Italian setting, the Trevi Fountain.

45. The not-so-chivalrous way Joe moves Ann over from the bed to the chaise… I couldn’t believe it when I saw it the first time, but given that he had no idea who she was at the time, I guess you couldn’t really blame him.

46. Despite the age difference, Joe and Ann’s courtship never feels creepy or inappropriate… there’s something so decent and sweet about the manner of their romance but yet the impact is just as heartfelt as contemporary love stories, if not more so.

47. The way Joe stops Ann and takes her into his embrace moments before he drives her home. There’s so much emotion going on in this scene… Ann stops him from telling the truth, it’s as if the truth no longer matters as she knew they couldn’t be together.

48. Close-ups of misty-eyed Gregory in the heart-rending finale… that’s really what the pause button is invented for 😉

49. Ann finally standing up for herself… refusing the milk and crackers her aide gives her in an assertive manner. The princess grows up in a matter of 24-hours and learn for the first time the joy and pain of falling in love.

50. The longing look as she gazes outside her palace’s bedroom window, and at the same time Joe is doing the same thing in his apartment just before his boss pays him a visit.

51. The no-fairy-tale ending. Though I very much want these two lovable creatures to end up together, I’m glad that the film ended the way it did. It’s a sobering reality that adds so much more meaning their short-but-sweet holiday together.

52. The Baroque bell tower that wakes Joe up the morning of the interview, and also looms in the background during the Gelatto-scene at the Spanish Steps… I love vintage clocks and this one was apparently built in the mid 1600.

53. The beautiful palace where Princess Ann holds the press junket… I love that shot of Joe and Irving amongst the crowd as Irving sarcastically quipped, “It ain’t much, but it’s home…”

54. The heart-rending finale. Joe walking alone in the empty palace corridor as everyone has left, his steps echoing as he reluctantly leaves the building. As he passes the two guards, he still takes a glimpse towards the stage once more. Empty. The music swells up, forcing us to realize they’re never going to see each other again. Joe keeps on walking towards the camera and disappears, carrying the memory of that day in Rome that he too will cherish for as long as he lives. Best. Finale. Ev-er.

55. Though filled with pathos, this scene was shot in the most stylish and artsy way. The glorious Palazzo Colonna and its wonderful paintings on its high walls inside Sala Grande Galleria did nothing to distract Joe from thinking of his lost love. Gregory looked like a fashion model in this last scene, beautiful beyond words. As someone who has seen dozens of his movies just in the last few months, I can easily say he never looked more dashing than in this movie and especially in this very scene. As I said in my tumblr post, in this movie Gregory did for suits what Cary Grant did for tuxedo.

56. Gregory’s undeniable chemistry with Hepburn. His eyes light up every time he looks at her… and a smile forms on his face almost instantaneously. It’s such a genuine rapport that clearly transcend beyond the movie as both became friends for life.

57. The way Wyler captures the every day sound and sights of the city… the market’s hustle bustle, the sound of traffic, people buzzing about, etc…. it adds so much charm to the already captivating scene of the Princess in the city.

58. The beautifully-scripted conversation of that tearful goodbye… tender and emotional without being overly schmaltzy.

Princess Ann: I have to leave you now. I’m going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you.
Joe Bradley: All right.
Princess Ann: I don’t know how to say goodbye. I can’t think of any words.
Joe Bradley: Don’t try.


59. And last but not least…. the timeless quality of Roman Holiday. This is one of those few movies with a great re-watchability factor. I’ve watched this so many times and manage to find something new to be enamored and enchanted by.


I hope you enjoy my tribute to this classic rom-com. I REALLY recommend this if you haven’t seen it already. Those who have, what’s YOUR favorite scene(s)?