July 17th, 2016


Movie Critique 2016 – 05/01/2016: The Philadelphia Story

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: For those laughs you can find in marriage, romance and love this is one movie that pulls no stops and yet bring you back to ground.

I came across this movie first time when I was reading the 2013 book Veiled Revenge (Ninth installment in the Crime of Fashion Mystery series) by Ellen Byerrum (My review of the book is here. In one scene Lacey's friend Miguel comments "Let me look at you, darling. My, we're very Philadelphia Story today, aren't we?" to her late-1930s garden party dress. The dress was a pale yellow voile over a cream-colored slip. The original belt was long gone, but she had substituted a green ribbon at the waist. The style was all in the details - the covered buttons, the lace cuffs, and the small decorative lace pockets high on the bust.

All that description made me wonder what this movie Philadelphia Story was about and so I ended up watching it, exactly how I had promised earlier in my review of the book, Veiled Revenge. Here is my take on this funny movie - The Philadelphia Story.

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic-comedy movie that has been now selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1995. A charming romantic comedy having a quadrangle love plot between C. K. Dexter Haven (portrayed by Cary Grant), Tracy Samantha Lord (portrayed by Katherine Hepburn), George Kittredge (portrayed by John Howard) and Macaulay "Mike" Connor (portrayed by James Stewart).

Tracy - wealthy Main Line Philadelphia socialite - and Dexter - her childhood friend and sweetheart - get divorced as Dexter doesn't meet upto her standards. Two years later Tracy gets ready to be married to George Kittredge - one of the most eligible bachelors. However Dexter is enlisted to cover the wedding by his ex-boss Sydney Kidd - a publisher for gossip magazine Spy.

Aiding Dexter are Mike Connor - Reporter for Spy - and Liz Imbrie - a photographer who he plants in the house as Tracy's brother's friends.

Reluctantly Tracy accepts them to stay in the house and cover the wedding as she did not want her father's affairs to be publicized. And thus begins the comedy of love, marriage and romance - where Dexter is trying to win Tracy back, while Tracy is more than marginally attracted to Mike, confused even though she is all set to marry George and George being rocked with his mixed feelings as well.

The time when movies about romance, marriage and remarriage were famous, this comes out with an old port but in a new bottle. Even though big names like Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart and Cary Grant are on the screen, John Howard kept his own very well leaving for himself a mark to remember by. Three men vying for one woman being the central plot doesn’t get any harm with the sub-plots that are weaved in. Katherine Hepburn has really beautiful outfits - be it flowing dresses or business like skirts or even a swimsuit.

She looks the part. Virginia Weidler portraying the role of Dinah Lord, sister to Tracy was absolutely delightful to watch.

Who will win whom at the end is something one have to watch this rollercoaster ride and find for yourself. It's worth the time. Its on youtube so go ahead and click that link to have a fun comedy of marriage.

Movie Critique 2016 – 05/02/2016: Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 2.5 / 5
Recommendation: Despite the rating, it's an easy movie and worth watching to feel the pull of those childhood memories that you might have forgotten.

May 2nd marked 85 years of the books Nancy Drew Mysteries. She had first appeared in The Secret of the Old Clock published in 1930 under the open name of Carolyn Keene - a varied number of authors contributed to the series under this pen name. Although she was first created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer. In the original series she is a 16 years old girl, so If she was a real person she would be 96 years old. As the years changed the stories and the characters were built around the change in culture and tastes of people. In recent books the technology has also been added to suit the 21st century lifestyle.

I grew up reading these books and had spent a lot of my pocket money on them as a kid. But had never seen any movies based off the books until I came to U.S. The first movie I had seen was the 2002 movie simply titled Nancy Drew and was portrayed by Maggie Lawson. Although a weak plot with weaker characters, the movie was ok to watch. But later I found an entire TV series titled Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries on Netflix but were originally aired from 1977 to 1979 on ABC. It was an interesting series - with cross-overs between both mystery series characters which I was not much fan of but the series was good enough. Then I found four movies on Youtube by Warner Brothers in 1938 and 1939 in which Bonita Granville portrayed as Nancy Drew. Here is review of one of the four movies by Warner Brothers.

Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase was the second book originally published in 1930 but the movie was made in 1939 by Warner Brothers. The plot revolves around Trumbull Sisters and of course Nancy Drew. The Trumbull Sisters are ready to donate their mansion to a children's hospital. But the only caveat is they had two more weeks to live under the roof according to their father's will before the deed happens. However strange things start happening - a robbery of miscellaneous items like stamps, hair clips, etc. and then the Trumbull's chauffeur Phillips is found dead. Police considers it as a suicide but Nancy is convinced that it is a murder and starts her own investigation. The story continues in how Nancy unravels the mystery.

Although it was a good attempt I was disappointed by the way Nancy Drew was portrayed. She was shown as frazzled, with a high pitched voice and a lot less braver than what I had imagined of her when I read the books. Would have loved to see her more poised as well. Also the plot of the movie was a lot different than the book. They even changed the name of her boyfriend Ned to Ted. Despite the differences and downs it still is a decent movie for those lazy days.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Check out how the ice is being delivered in this vintage episode.

2) And the camera - oh so ancient that I only see in old movies now. Interesting how much technology changed in 77 years.