The year 1939 was undoubtedly a big year in movie history. Movies such as Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Ninotchka, premiered in 1939 and continue to be talked about nearly eight decades later. But there’s another movie that came out that year. A timeless swashbuckler that takes you on an journey you’ll never forget and one that has also stood the test of time. Of course, I am referring to the swashbuckling adventure of Gunga Din.
I am not a crier. I am intensely passionate, easily moved, deeply emotional, and perceptive but I am not a crier. However there is one thing that has always been able to pull the tears out of me and that is art. And film is one of the arts that can start the waterworks for me. And it often does. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a sad scene or a tragic story to draw a tear. Sometimes it’s simply the beauty of a film or a joyful or triumphant moment in a story.
When I sat down to think about what film I wanted to cover for this blogathon I thought of several movies that make me cry no matter how many times I’ve seen them. I thought of It’s a Wonderful Life, Imitation of Life, Titanic, and even The Lion King. But there was another movie that came to mind that I recently watched and had a good cry over. But it may not be anything you would expect.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I and I’m honoring the day by looking at two of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.’s films about the Great War.
Mabel Normand is one of those names. Fans of early cinema know it well and are aware of its significance to both film history and women’s history. To casual film fans it might ring a bell but probably mostly in relation to Charlie Chaplin or to scandal. To the majority of people, (let’s face it, us early film fans aren’t as common as we wish) it is a name that doesn’t ring any bell at all. And isn’t that the awful truth for countless names of great women in history? This is my attempt to share with the world one of those great women who are all too often forgotten.
It is a well-known fact among movie fans that Buster Keaton is the Great Stoneface. The world could be falling to pieces all around him, comedy chaos ensuing, romance a-buzzing, and his face would remain stoic with an expression that says “to hell with it all.” And it is that very expression that makes us, as the audience, fall to pieces laughing. It is a component of his comedic genius that harkens back to his days on vaudeville as a child when he would perform his highly physical slapstick with a deadpan stare. He had mastered this look so well by such a young age that his father was even accused by some of child abuse for their family skits. But when Keaton entered the movies in 1917, he hadn’t yet established the Great Stoneface as his signature screen persona. In these shorts, he smiles, he laughs, and shows a wide variety of facial expressions. We see a Keaton that is just beginning to embark on one of the greatest comedy careers of the silent era. And it is that, along with the equally genius Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Al St. John, that makes the Keaton shorts of 1917 such a treat.
In 1930, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. told The New Movie Magazine the story of the life-changing moment that he realized he wanted to break free of the Fairbanks name.
I discovered the #PayClassicsForward Challenge on Aurora’s wonderful blog Once Upon a Screen (Click HERE to see the challenge!) and I thought it would be a fun challenge to take on this holiday season!
So here’s the challenge: There are 12 categories (in the same tradition as the 12 days of Christmas) that can literally be anything related to the movies. It’s all about creativity here which was a huge part of the fun! The idea is to spread the love of classic movies to others and particularly to those who are not already classic movie diehards like the rest of us. Therefore, if you are a serious classic movie fan, these movies probably won’t surprise you or be new to you. However, they are movies that I felt could be enjoyed by everybody, even by those who are not as accustomed to watching old movies.
My twelve topics were chosen pretty randomly so I wouldn’t dare you to try to make sense of it but I’ve tried to cover most genres and subjects to try to encompass all interests. I kept descriptions short and only posted one photo per film. I’ve also made sure that I chose titles that are easily available to watch. You can click each title and it will take you to the IMDb page if you are interested in more information on the film.
As TCM would say… Let’s Movie!