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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

TCM's 31 Days of Oscar

After much sweat and tears trying to figure out Wordpress, I’ve decided to keep this blog right where it is until further notice. Sorry to all my followers and subscribers for my neglect.

Now, let’s get down to business. As you know Turner Classic Movies has kicked off their 31 days of Oscar! With today’s economic woes, what better comfort than to sit down on your couch with a bag of Doritos and watch Oscar winning classics? Enjoy this TCM montage of Oscar Winning Classics, and be sure to check the TCM schedule to watch or TiVo your favorite.

Oh, and btw be sure to visit JC’s randomshelf blog for his interview with none other than TCM’s Robert Osborne!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Classic TV: The Honeymooners & Tax Cheats

The funny Honeymooners clip below came to mind when I heard the day’s headliners. Honestly, I can’t believe all the BS I am hearing from so called intelligent and professional people, and their stupid “mistakes” on income tax returns. In this clip, you have two slobs (affectionately) worrying about a letter Ralph gets from the IRS. He goes into panic mode and hopes he didn’t forget to report the following (too funny, the little details we regular folk worry about):

1. A skinny Chicken
2. Interest from his sad savings account
3. Polka winnings
4. And lastly the horse with a clock in its stomach.

Well, if you are like me, we can identify with this. Here we are working, and middle class families terrified of the IRS. If we play the game these politicians have been playing lately, we’d be in jail! And the funny part is that we’d go to jail, or fined for as little as $1000. Both Thomas Daschle and Timothy Geithner get a “get out of jail” card, pat on the back, and a sweet gig to boot.

How can these men say this with a straight face? “I am deeply embarrassed and disappointed by the errors that required me to amend my tax returns,” Tom Daschle wrote to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). “I apologize for the errors and profoundly regret that you have had to devote time to them.” This from a man who made a $146,000 mistake on his taxes! This from a man who once said, “Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter.” Huh? The zenith in hypocrisy!

And to add insult to injury the Secretary of our Treasury Department, Timothy Geithner is another tax cheat, he did not pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for four years for some contracting job with the International Monetary Fund totaling to some $30,000. I watched some of the hearings and I just couldn’t believe how smug he looked as he explained his so called, stupidity and how it was Turbo Taxes’ fault! You try doing that citizen, and see if the IRS will eat this BS.

As for me, I will try do as Ralph in the clip does, stay “calm and cool,” and if ever I get audited by the IRS I will say as Ralph said to the IRS agent, “just like you to understand, that Ralph Kramden will never be accused of not putting a horse down with a clock in its stomach!” Integrity in Washington is dead, I am afraid.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Classic Movie: Virgin Spring/Innocence Lost

Have you ever had a life altering experience which created a crisis of faith? I have, and these experiences are what might draw you closer to God, or completely tear you away. This is the theme of Ingmar Bergman’s Oscar winning drama, “Virgin Spring,” (1959). The tragic, but touching story is based on a 13th century Swedish Ballad. It’s a story of revenge and redemption during the medieval times, a time when the world was torn between Paganism and Christianity. “Virgin Spring” is a story of a pious man (Max Von Sydow) whose world is turned upside down when his only child is raped and killed.

Herr Tore (Max Von Sydow) is a wealthy farmer married to Mareta (Birgitta Valberg) in Medieval-era Sweden. They have a beautiful teenage daughter, Karin (Birgitta Pettersson). Both parents practice Christianity in the strictest form, but give Karin a little slack. Karin as any teenager, in any era, wants her way and she cajoles her mother into letting her wear her best finery to deliver candles to the family’s church. The ride to the church will take an entire day. Although these are medieval times, as you watch Karin get dressed, and excited about her finery; you forget the time she is living in, and you can’t help to think, “Teenagers have always been teenagers no matter the era.” I thought it to be an interesting insight by Bergman.

On her way to the church she sings, and takes in all that is good and fine, she inhales all of God’s goodness. In all this goodness, and light, darkness creeps in. She is lured by three herdsmen, raped, and then killed. They later seek shelter from the cold at the victim’s farm. The Tore family takes them in, feeds them, and gives them a place to rest. In the film’s most unforgettable moment, one of the rapists offers Karin’s mother the blood stained finery Karin used on the day of her murder, as a payment for their hospitality. Karin’s mom just freezes and steps back as if almost to pass out; you can almost read her thoughts. She quickly tells her husband. Herr’s stern fa├žade disappears and he becomes anguished and confused. He exacts violent revenge on his guest, but that does not give him peace. Herr’s faith in a just and loving God is shaken; his whole world has fallen from under his feet. He feels there is no redemption for Karin or for him until he witnesses a miracle.

The movie will undoubtedly leave an impression on you. The focal point here is Herr, a pious man who did all things right, is shocked both by the tragedy that touched his life, and the sin he had to commit. But in the end learned, that for God there is no sin too great that he cannot forgive, and that sometimes bad things happen to good people, but a just and loving God will hold our hand through it all. Some may say that Tore’s faith was “medieval,” or “simple,” I say, it’s the faith we should all strive for.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pre-code Gangster Movie Will Crack You Up!

“A criminal is only as brave as his gun, you take his gun away and he's a coward just like anybody else.” Arthur Ferguson Jones – Played by Eddie G. Robinson in classic movie “The Whole Town's Talking.” I could go on forever about this wonderful comedy starring Jean Arthur and Eddie G. Robinson, but Bacall does not pay me enough.

Eddie G. plays dual roles in this 1935 comedy Pic. Eddie G. stars as a sheepish bookkeeper who looks just like a gangster also played by Robinson. Much of the comedy is provided by Jean Arthur who plays a tough, sassy 30's gal. She has more courage and spunk than all the men who work in her office.

When Jones, the bookkeeper gets mistakenly picked up by police as Mannion, the gangster, what follows is ten minutes of a funny frenzy of crazed reporters, police, and detectives trying to sort the whole thing out. When fingerprints did not match the killer, Jones is released with a special passport signed by the police chief identifying Jones as the bookkeeper. Eventually Robinson, the gangster figures the passport is a great get-out-of-jail-card and uses it regularly when on his crime sprees.

My favorite scene: when Jones, a shy guy who does not drink or smoke, gets loaded when his boss gives him a few drinks and some cigars. It was great fun to watch Eddie G. who can play just about anything, in this role. Arthur, who played Ms Clark, Jones' co-worker, is sort of the bookkeeper’s backbone and biggest cheerleader, sticking up for the poor innocent sap. I love a strong woman.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Classic Movie: Cause For Alarm!

“Cause For Alarm!” (1951) with Loretta Young and Barry Sullivan is a thriller and if you’ve never seen it, you should. Loretta plays doting housewife, Ellen Jones. Ellen married George Jones during WWII. When he returns from the war he is diagnosed with a heart condition and is relegated to the bed. He becomes temperamental and morose. He soon becomes delusional and accuses his wife of having an affair with his best friend, Dr Ranney Grahame. Unbeknownst to Ellen or Ranney, George is secretly writing a letter to the district attorney, accusing them both of plotting to kill him.

George’s moods worsen and despite this, Ellen delays in getting him any help. Poor thing was in total denial. She tries to appease him to only be treated worse than a dog by him. But she continues to try to make all things better by tending to him and isolating herself from others. He only wants her and no one else, and she complies. One morning, he pretends to feel better and asked her to prepare him lunch; she is elated just to see him feeling better and obliges him. He in turn continues his letter writing, and embellishes it with details that further incriminate Ellen. After lunch, George asks her to mail this letter, and she does, not knowing it was a letter that would put her behind bars for life.

George begins to argue with Ellen, accusing her of horrible things, and tells her what the letter had and to whom it was sent to. Ellen is aghast. He threatens to kill her and grabs a gun and Ellen pleads for her life. In the struggle, George has a heart attack and dies. Good riddens! For the rest of the movie Ellen is in a cat and mouse chase trying to intercept this incriminating letter. I won’t spoil the movie for you, so I won’t tell you the end.

The movie is a thriller. Loretta Young as the frightened and doting housewife is great. Those huge puppy dog eyes of hers want to make you cry when she does. She captured the women’s fear, and desperation like only Loretta could. Again, if you’ve not seen this one, you must.