My Favorite Color

I remember seeing this and laughing out loud:

Ditto. I wish I knew the origins of my fatal attraction towards redheads. Was it first-grade crush Judy Hickman, who wouldn’t let me kiss her all the way through fifth grade, when I left the school, my longing forever unrequited? Or was it flame-haired teacher Miss Cooke, who set my boyish heart aflutter every time she came to school with her gorgeous red tresses flowing down over her shoulders instead of being tied up in the normal stern bun?

I have no idea. Nor do I wish to examine it in too close a detail now, because I’m old and it’s too late. So here are a few who have caught me over the years:

…and to prove my point:

And just in case you’re think I’m stuck in the past — an altogether fair observation in most cases — here are a couple of youngins:

Priceless, every single one of them. Feel free to add your favorite gingers in Comments.

Dramatis personae, from the top:

Amy Adams
Kate Walsh
Julianne Moore
Jill St. John
Ann-Margret (again, because Ann-Margret)
Karen Gillan (who turned the TV show Doctor Who into Doctor Who?)
Nicola Roberts (of the pop band Girls Aloud)

Sophisticated Comedy

Reader Harry F. writes:

“In your rant about horrible modern movies, you mention the ‘sophisticated comedies’ of Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder. Can you suggest some for me to watch? (I want recommendations because if they’re that good, I’d rather buy the DVD, but if I’m going to buy them, I don’t want to risk getting a dud.)”

Okay… no pressure there. Before I go any further, though I’d like to set some parameters first.

In the traditional sense, “comedy” is not just that scenario which which makes you laugh out loud (although, of course, it can). Mostly, comedy involves situations that are not thrilling or dangerous, or even life-threatening. The best example of comedy writing, by the way, is that of the various P.G. Wodehouse stories, which place its characters into situations that seem ridiculous to the reader, but which are taken very seriously by the characters themselves — which is part of the comedy.

If you think of comedy as amusing, therefore, then most of what follows will make more sense.

But while I’m going there, let’s broaden the scope of movie comedy to beyond Lubitsch and Wilder, and include others just as good or better. I’m going to confine myself mostly to the b&w movies, because nowadays everybody seems to have their favorite color movie comedies*, and the oldies need to get their due. (Note that I’m leaving out comedies like those of the Marx Brothers and Chaplin, because everybody knows about them and in any case, their comedy is often too broad for my taste. I’m also going to leave out the better-known comedies of the era like the Astaire/Rogers movies, because everyone knows them — and if you don’t, this would be the time to remedy that shameful omission).

If you want a better idea of my suggested movies’ plots, look them up on Wikipedia or IMDB. Here goes.

The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941) starring Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck — quite possibly the greatest comedy ever filmed. I cannot count how many times I’ve watched this movie, and every time I get the same enjoyment that I did from the very first viewing.

If you get your hands on no others of my recommendations, get this one.

Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932) starring Kay Francis and Miriam Hopkins — each of the ladies has impeccable comic timing and the pre-Hays Office repartee is wonderfully saucy.

Love In The Afternoon (Billy Wilder, 1957) starring Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn — the ending had to be rewritten because the Hays Office thought the original was immoral. ‘Nuff said.

And it’s much better than Wilder’s most famous comedy, Some Like It Hot.

A Royal Scandal (Ernst Lubitsch, 1945) starring Tallulah Bankhead and Anne Baxter — Catherine The Great’s love life, as portrayed by Tallulah. Word is that the best scenes involved Ms. Bankhead’s improv of the dialogue, the language bluer than the Pacific Ocean. Had it been filmed in 1932, it would have fitted in with today’s movies. Because it was filmed in 1945, though, the improvised dialogue was all cut out. Still funny, though, because Lubitsch.

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (Ernst Lubitsch, 1935) starring Gary Cooper and Claudette Colbert — serial marriages, divorce, alimony and mistaken identity, oh my. How I love this movie.

Bachelor Mother (Garson Kanin, 1939) starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven — Ginger in a non-dancing role, and Niven at his not-so imperturbable best. Viewed in contemporary terms, the plot is ridiculous; back then, it was very serious — which is why it gets the comedy treatment.

All these are just the ones which come to mind first; I’ll post more later as I think of them.

And next weekend there’s going to be a spinoff from this post, brought to mind by some of the pictures.

*Blazing Saddles is not a comedy, it’s a farce — in so many ways.

Back Then

Before I was born — hell, before my father was born — women dressed in the fashion of the day without regard to what it actually looked like. (Yeah, not much has changed.) Here’s one example, from the Roaring Twenties:

Of course, while that was what women wore in public, in private was a whole ‘nother story, as they say. Here, for your delectation, is a series of pictures of some of the Ziegfeld Girls of the era — most of whom were physically tiny, by the way — dressed (or rather, partly-dressed) in some private fashions.

This all came about when I was looking for some reference pics for a novel I’m working on — I needed to describe how a female character dressed back in the day, and suddenly, as so often happens on Teh Intarwebz, I ended up looking at these.

I’ll get back to the research any day, now…

Dramatis personae, from the top:
Adrienne Ames
Jean Ackerman
Olive Brady
Madge Bellamy
Lillian Bond

Class And Beauty

I think it was a year ago when some friends and I were talking about movies, actors and so on, and the question was asked: “If you were going to produce a movie which needed Grace Kelly as your female star, which modern-day actress could you cast in that role?” (Lest we forget, here are a couple pics of Grace Kelly as a reminder.)

And try as we may, we couldn’t think of an actress who could portray that quiet, classy elegance and beauty.

I had forgotten Sela Ward. We all had.

I think she would be perfect… or did I miss someone else? Thoughts and suggestions in Comments.

A Round Of Applause

…for French beauty Catherine Deneuve, who (along with some other sensible women) recently called out the “#MeToo” movement for being a bunch of joyless scolds:

“This expedited justice already has its victims, men prevented from practicing their profession as punishment, forced to resign, etc., while the only thing they did wrong was touching a knee, trying to steal a kiss, or speaking about ‘intimate’ things at a work dinner, or sending messages with sexual connotations to a woman whose feelings were not mutual.”

Read the whole thing, because the Womyns, as is their wont, have accused her of being Literally Worse Than Hitler or something.

But because it’s Sunday, I won’t dwell on the unpleasantness. Instead, let us revel in Mlle. Deneuve’s past:

…and my all-time favorite pic of Catherine:

Fully clothed, and as sexy as hell.

Groucho’s Moustache

It’s all Phil Collins’s fault.

Perhaps I should explain myself.

Phil has a daughter named Lily who is a fashion model, and an extraordinarily beautiful girl she is, too:

However, she is distinguishable from most other girls by her signature feature, those thick, glossy eyebrows. And if there’s one thing we know about the fashion business, it’s that they slavishly copy anything that could be called “trendy” or “in” or whatever term they use to justify lemming behavior.

Yesterday I was riding on London’s Tube system, and across from me were sitting two girls of exquisite beauty — had they not been fuller-figured than the norm [2,000-word rant on the Anorexia Look deleted], I would have thought they were models. (I’d like to show a pic, but nowadays if you take an unsolicited photo of a woman, the next thing that happens will be you finding yourself spreadeagled on the ground while protesting to an unsympathetic audience of the fuzz that you’re not a stalker.)

However, both said beautiful Tube girls were (in my mind anyway) disfigured by having painted their eyebrows thicker — grotesquely so, like this:

…and in so doing, they’d transformed themselves into caricatures of Greek peasant women.

And forgive me, but the Greek peasant woman look doesn’t go well with blonde hair.

I would suggest that younger women take a pass on this particular trend, no matter how many fashion mags suggest that the simian look is the latest hot thing. What looks natural on Lily Collins looks freakish on everybody else — because no matter how good you think you look, all we see is that you’ve done a Groucho on your eyebrows (and hence the title of this post):

Of course, nobody’s going to listen to me. I just hope Phil Collins is satisfied.