Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Must-See Movie: Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk (1959)
One of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, this movie sparked the Doris Day/Rock Hudson/Tony Randall trio that would be followed by two other hit comedies.

Doris Day plays a single working woman named Jan Morrow who lives in a nice apartment in Manhattan. Her only problem is that she shares a partyline with a playboy-slash-songwriter Brad Allen, played by Rock Hudson. She often picks up her phone to make a call and hears Allen crooning the same love song to a different woman. "You are my inspiration...(fill in the name of any woman)."

Incensed after many attempts to notify him of his rudeness, Day goes to the phone company to ask for her own number. It is explained to her that if this was an emergency, she'd jump to the top of the list. Perhaps if she were to get pregnant she would get her own line sooner. Day replies that she is not married, so of course she can't just go and get pregnant! (I heart 1959!)

Day goes back to deal with Hudson herself, making an agreement that they each use a half hour of phone time. Hudson breaks the rule almost immediately, not caring if he offends the "frigid" other half of the partyline.

Monday, September 26, 2016

All Hail the Bloody Mary!

I was blessed a while ago to receive a copy of Bloody Marys from author Judy Bennett, and have just had the time to write about it!

Bloody Marys: Sanguine Solutions for a Slew of Situations includes over 40 Bloody Mary recipes, but Bennett offers more than that... she also provides vintage photographs, trivia, insight, and myths, and tons of humor.

And the insight is not limited to mixology.  For example, Bennett writes, "Despite what the police and your dad tell you, a person is never more vulnerable than when sitting in the pumpty-up chair of a new hairdresser."  SO TRUE.

And next to the Bloody Mary recipe "I've Decided to Go Back to College" (that includes some tasty ingredients like hot sauce and a pepperoncini garnish) there is career advice.  "Try to remember what you wanted to be when you grew up, and see if that career path has the same appeal now."

If you notice, I'm not sharing any complete recipes here. BECAUSE YOU SHOULD BUY THIS BOOK!  Yes, my goal is to try every one of the 45 Bloody Mary recipes.  But just sitting and reading the book (sans cocktail) was equally entertaining.  All there's left to do is raise a glass to the Bloody Mary Manager, Judy Bennett!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Must-See Movie: Best Foot Forward

Best Foot Forward (1943)
A cadet at Winsocki Military Academy named Bud (Tommy Dix) sends an invitation to movie star Lucille Ball (as herself) to come to Winsocki's big dance. Ball's publicity-hungry agent Jack O'Riley (William Gaxton) convinces her to go in order to boost her career. Complications arise when Bud's girlfriend Helen (Virginia Weidler) unexpectedly shows up; she knows there is a dance that weekend and she wants to surprise him.

The real 40's slapstick unfolds when Bud asks Ball to pretend to be Helen, mostly because of the strict screening of the school that all guests must be pre-registered.

A subplot involves blind date (and hard up) Nancy (Nancy Walker), and her premiere role is hilarious.  But it's all a pretty straight-forward movie with some brief shining moments from supporting cast members Walker, Dix, Weidler, June Allyson, and Gloria DeHaven. Unfortunately, Ball's performance comes off as snobby and pretentious.  Yes, it's supposed to be a parody of herself, but not really a flattering one.

So why is this a "Must-See Movie"?  Two words: Harry James.  Not only does James execute rousing renditions of big band favorites like "Two O'Clock Jump," he demonstrates his true musical mastery with "The Flight of the Bumblebee."  (And if you can do that song with your fingers moving as fast as he does, well then I tip my proverbial hat to you as well!) Watch this, and see how seriously James takes his performance!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Va Va Voom" Star of the Day: Harry James

Harry James
Taken from the official Harry James website:
Harry Haag James was born in 1916 in Albany, Georgia, in the United States. He learned the trumpet from his father, a circus bandleader. James decided to pursue a professional career in music after winning a state high-school trumpet competition.

Harry began to perform with several dance bands, including that of Ben Pollack's popular group. The flawless, technically outstanding trumpeter played for several years with the Benny Goodman Band before forming his own band in 1939 with a gifted but little known vocalist, Frank Sinatra.

During the golden era of the big bands, Harry recorded a number of hits, including "I've Heard That Song Before," from the motion picture Youth on Parade (1942), "You Made Me Love You" (1941), the number-one instrumental hit "Sleepy Lagoon" (1942), "I Had the Craziest Dream" (1943), "You'll Never Know" and his theme song, "Ciribiribin." His band helped launch the careers of many pop music stars of the World War II era, including Frank Sinatra and Helen Forrest.  Ed. note: Doris Day sang with him on one of the greatest albums ever, "Young Man With a Horn," which was the soundtrack for the movie of the same name.

Friday, September 16, 2016


"The secret of staying young is to live honestly, 
eat slowly, and lie about your age."
-- Lucille Ball

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cocktail Recipe Du Jour: The B&B (and B)

If you've ever watched the Mel Brooks classic "High Anxiety" (like I have) and were captured by the 70's portrayal of the piano bar and cocktail scene (like I was), you'll appreciate this.  

In the 1977 film that pays homage to Hitchcock classics, psychiatrist Dr. Thorndyke (Brooks) suffers from "high anxiety" (a.k.a. vertigo).  One of his patients is a mystery that he is trying to unravel.  The patient's daughter Victoria is trying to assist him in his findings, so of course they meet at a piano bar to discuss matters.  Cut to the piano bar where we find Thorndyke and Victoria sitting by the piano, and a waiter is bringing them drinks.  "Here you have a B&B," he says, handing the drink to Thorndyke, "and you had the B and B and B," he finishes, handing Victoria her drink.

So what is a B&B, you ask?  Glad you asked.

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Va Va Voom" Star of the Day: Ava Gardner

This is an updated version of a previous post.
Ava Gardner
Beautiful, shining star of the MGM studio, Ava was born in 1922.  She was the youngest of 7 children living on a cotton and tobacco farm in the rural southern town of Smithfield, North Carolina.

Her show business beginning began just as simply.  Her brother-in-law, a professional photographer took her photo in 1941 and displayed it at his studio.  A theater clerk saw her photo and told the photographer that she oughta' be in pictures, and the in-laws sent her information and photo immediately to MGM.

According to reports, when Gardner first arrived at the studio and did a screen test, Louis B. Mayer said "She can't sing. She can't act. She can't talk. She's terrific. Sign her." She got a 7-year contract with MGM.  The studio worked with her to remove her Carolina drawl and teach her to act.  Soon she had been in several films with little to no notice, but was gaining experience on set.  It wasn't until 1946 in the film "The Killers" that Ava rose her to sex symbol status and made her a big star.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Good Things To Eat

Not "Delicious," not "Great," just Good.  I'm sure there's a sequel cookbook out there that then lists alternative recipes called BAD Things To Eat, but I'm glad I came across this small, aged cookbook at an estate sale.

Maybe back in 1936, when this was published, you just didn't get all that excited about food.  It was more a means to an end. You're hungry. You need to eat. Here's some stuff. It's cheap. It's easy. Period.

Monday, September 05, 2016

"Va Va Voom" Star of the Day

Grace Kelly
Today let us highlight the Princess of Monaco.

Grace struck out on her own after high school, heading to New York's bright lights to try her luck. Grace worked as a model but made her acting debut on Broadway in 1949. She also had a brief stint in television. Not content with the work in New York, Grace moved to Southern California for the more prestigious part of acting -- motion pictures.

In 1951, she appeared in her first film Fourteen Hours when she was 22. It was a small part, but a start nonetheless. The following year she landed the role of Amy Kane in High Noon, a western starring Gary Cooper and Lloyd Bridges which turned out to be very popular. In 1953, Grace appeared in only one film, but it was another popular one, Mogambo. The film was a jungle drama in which fellow cast members, Clark Gable and Ava Gardner turned in masterful performances. It was also one of the best films ever released by MGM.

Friday, September 02, 2016