Monday, September 26, 2016

Body Language: Louder Than Words

Last week I posted about Olivia de Havilland and her onscreen relationship with dashing Errol Flynn in the eight swashbuckling films they made together during the late 1930's and early '40's.
Flynn and wife Lili Damita
Although they portrayed romantic couples onscreen, a real-life love story never blossomed between them.
Flynn with wife Lili Damita
Flynn was married to French actress Lili Damita while he and Miss de Havilland were making pictures together. However, if he hadn't been, things probably would have turned out differently between them.
Flynn and wife Lily Damita
Both actors admit that they did have feelings for each other and that the chemistry was there. In doing a little research last week, I found pictures of Flynn with his wife, and others with him and Miss de Havilland in candid shots.
Flynn and de Havilland (not acting)

Take a look at the body language and tell me who he looks happier with.
Flynn and de Havilland (not acting)
Thanks for visiting and have a great week!
Flynn and de Havilland (not acting)

Monday, September 19, 2016

No Wicked Ways With Her

I just realized that Olivia de Havilland, the only surviving cast member of the 1939 classic movie Gone With the Wind (she played Melanie), recently turned 100. I looked her up on Wikipedia and learned an interesting tidbit. She made eight films with Australian heart-throb Errol Flynn, but despite their many pairings, fireworks between them never ignited. Here's why:

Although known as one of Hollywood's most exciting on-screen couples, de Havilland and Errol Flynn were never involved in a romantic relationship.Upon first meeting her at Warner Bros. in August 1935, Flynn was drawn to the 19-year-old actress with "warm brown eyes" and "extraordinary charm." In turn, de Havilland fell in love with him,but kept her feelings inside, later recalling, "He never guessed I had a crush on him ... it never occurred to me that he was smitten with me, too."

Flynn later wrote, "By the time we made The Charge of the Light Brigade, I was sure that I was in love with her." Flynn finally professed his love on March 12, 1937, at the Coronation Ball for King George VI at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where they slow danced together to "Sweet Leilani" at the hotel's Cocoanut Grove nightclub. "I was deeply affected by him," she later remembered, "It was impossible for me not to be." The evening ended on a sobering note, however, with de Havilland insisting that despite his separation from his wife Lili Damita, he needed to divorce her before their relationship could proceed. Flynn reunited with his wife later that year, and de Havilland never acted on her feelings for Flynn. 

I thought I'd read somewhere that she couldn't stand him. Guess I was wrong!

These are the films they appeared in together: 
Captain Blood (1935) 
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) 
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) 
Four's a Crowd (1938) 
Dodge City (1939) 
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) 
Santa Fe Trail (1940) 
They Died with Their Boots On (1941)

I haven't viewed all of them, but of the ones I have, I think I enjoyed Robin Hood best! Have you seen any of them?  If so, which are your favorites?  

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Goodbye, Gene Wilder

I was sad to learn of Gene Wilder's passing back on August 29. Whereas my husband remembers him for his portrayal of Willy Wonka, I remember him for his comedy.

When I was fourteen years old, I saw the movie Silver Streak. It was PG so I must have seen it with my parents. For the longest time, I remember it being one of the funniest movies I'd ever seen. It made such an impression on me as being funny that, nearly four decades later, I brought it home from the library for my kids to watch.

Okay, needless to say, it wasn't nearly as funny as I remember, my kids thought it was stupid, and all the sexual innuendo that went completely over my head at age fourteen, my teenagers caught! They asked me more than once, "And you really thought this would be appropriate for us to watch?" 

Kids are different nowadays and I'm older, but there's no denying that Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were quite the comic duo! They made four films together, Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Anther You. Silver Streak is the only one I've seen, and my all-time favorite scene from that movie is the shoe polish scene. That's where I laughed the most when I saw the movie as a kid.  Check out the excerpt below from Washington.post.com as Gene Wilder discusses his comic relationship with Pryor, as well as that infamous shoe polish scene!

Pryor “taught me how to improvise on camera,” Wilder said in 2005, a lesson that began on the first day of filming for “Silver Streak.”
“He said his first line, I say my first line, then this other line comes out of him,” Wilder recalled in a 2007 interview. “I had no idea where it came from. But I didn’t question it, I just responded naturally. I didn’t try to think of a clever line. … A great death trap for actors if you’re improvising is you say, ‘I’ll think of one that’s even funnier than that, or more clever than that.’ ”
Pryor would return to the script, and so would Wilder, and then Pryor would go off-script again and Wilder reacted with what made sense, "Everything we did together was like that," Wilder said.
By their third film, Wilder said in a 1989 interview, “we just get comfortable in the situation, or uncomfortable as it may be, and react to each other.” It just so happened people laughed at the result, Wilder added.

In one iconic scene, Wilder’s face is covered in shoe polish in an attempt to disguise himself as black. He’s listening to music, trying to jive-talk and, as it was initially written, a white man enters and thinks Wilder is black.
“It was the one scene that I was the most worried about, and I thought, well, if Richard doesn’t mind my putting on the shoe polish in order to pass as black, then it must be okay because he’s the teacher here,” Wilder recalled in 2005.
During the read-through, Pryor became “more and more morose,” Wilder recalled, and Pryor told him, “I’m going to hurt a lot of black people doing this scene.”
Pryor later explained the problem to Wilder: “You’re in there in the bathroom, in the men’s room, and you’re putting shoe polish on your face, and a white man comes in and he doesn’t think that it’s anything unusual because that’s how n–––––– behave, right?'”
Wilder asked Pryor to explain how the scene should go: “It should be a black man who comes in, who sees what you’re doing, knows right away that you’re white and doing this because you must be in some kind of trouble.’ And he says, ‘I don’t what your trouble is mister, but you got to keep with the music.’ “
The pair called the director and the scene was changed. 

I think my kids did laugh at that scene and we could agree that that part of the movie really was funny! Are you a Gene Wilder fan? If so, what's your favorite Gene Wilder movie?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Slow Cooker African Chicken Stew


I love African Chicken Stew! It's tasty and healthy. The combination of chicken, peanut butter and sweet potatoes is absolutely amazing! However, the recipe I usually use is made on top of the stove and takes a bit longer to prepare than I'd like. Searching the Internet, I found this one at Ready Set EatIt's for the crock pot, my all -time favorite appliance! A little bit of stove-top prep is involved, but  not nearly as much as my other recipe. Enjoy!
  • Slow Coker African Chicken Stew
  • Ingredients
  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in quarters
  • 1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can (10 oz each) Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
  • 1 pound (2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen bell pepper and onion strips (from 16-oz pkg)
Directions
  1. Spray inside of 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt over chicken. Add to skillet; cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in peanut butter, water, garlic powder and undrained tomatoes. Cook until mixture is blended and chicken is coated.
  2. Layer sweet potatoes and frozen vegetables in slow cooker. Top with chicken mixture. Cover; cook on LOW 7 to 9 hours or until chicken and vegetables are very tender. Gently stir to mix.
  3. Have you ever tasted African Chicken Stew?
  4. Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Lena vs. Ava in the Role of Show Boat's "Julie"

Lena Horne
One of my favorite movies from the Hollywood heyday of musicals is Show Boat, made in 1951, starring Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson.

The sultry Ava Gardner also starred as "Julie," the mixed race (mulatto) character.  However, before she was cast, the beautiful (African American) Lena Horne was considered.

While Lena Horne was employed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios (MGM), her appearances in movies were shot so that they could be cut easily from the films she appeared in. This was because MGM feared audiences of that time, especially those in the South, would not accept a beautiful black woman in romantic, non-menial roles.

This was probably the main reason she lost out on playing "Julie."  I remember seeing her on a talk show back in the '80s explaining how MGM's makeup department had come up with a foundation for her to wear as "Julie," called light Egyptian.  Shortly afterwards, however, Ava Gardner was the one being slathered with it and not her!

Ava Gardner
Ironically, Ava Gardner was one of Lena's closest off-screen friends.  She practiced for the role by singing to Horne's recordings of the songs, since Lena had already appeared in the "Show Boat" segment of Till the Clouds Roll By (1946).  In that, she had appeared as "Julie" singing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" (which was, as all her MGM appearances, shot in such a way that it could be easily edited out of the film).

Another irony for Lena is that she had been invited by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II themselves to play "Julie" in the 1946 Broadway revival of Show Boat, but had had to refuse because MGM would not release her from her contract.

Shortly after her death in 2010, Time Magazine provided a biography on what Lena Horne's film career could have looked like:

Gorgeous, gifted and preternaturally poised, the 24-year-old actress-singer came to Hollywood in 1941 and quickly became the first African-American movie star. She was a sensation in her first leading role, as the Congo goddess Tondelayo in MGM's White Cargo. She earned an Academy Award nomination as the light-skinned black girl passing for white in Elia Kazan's Pinky, then capped her first decade of stardom playing Julie and singing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" in the 1951 film Show Boat.

Those roles were eventually played by Hedy Lamarr, Jeanne Crain, and Ava Gardner, respectively.  It's a shame we'll never know what Lena Horne could have done with them!

Have you ever seen Show Boat? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 4/30/12