Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Please Don't Eat the Daisies

If you think this is going to be a review of the 1960 movie with Doris Day and David Niven then you are only partially right.

Left - Movie cast; Right - Apparently there was a TV show too (1965-1967)

I watched Please Don't Eat the Daisies last December and when I discovered a couple weeks ago that my library had the book it was based on, I decided to check it out.

The author and her book

Please Don't Eat the Daisies by Jean Kerr is HILARIOUS!!!! It's one of those books where you find yourself laughing out loud and end up reading in one sitting because you don't want to put it down. My favorite chapter was "How to decorate in one easy breakdown," where Kerr describes the process of redecorating one's home. I also greatly enjoyed the chapter "The Kerr-Hilton," which describes the house/monstrosity they bought. The only chapters that didn't seem to fit in were the ones titled "Don Brown's body" and "Toujours tristesse" - a play and short story respectively. However, it is always interesting to read fiction written by another person because it gives you a glimpse of another side of them that you may never have known existed.

Ok, now to the movie.

In writing the script for the movie starring Doris Day and David Niven, the writers took the four rambunctious boys, the crazy old house, the fact that everyone is writing a play, and that Mr. Kerr is a critic. However, the critics part is greatly built up, showing instead of telling, what it is like to be the wife of a drama critic. It also throws in a little marital discord in the form of an actress, played by Janis Paige. Reminiscent of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, the movie paints a vivid picture of what it's like to buy a fixer-upper. Doris Day, however, is able to transform this creaky castle into what could easily be a chic New York flat. She also finds the time to play the lead in the local town play, in addition to attending plays with her husband. Only Doris Day could do all of that and still look fresh as a daisy (pun intended).

I hope you get a chance to both read the book and watch the movie. They are both delightful and shouldn't be missed!

Click here to see pictures of the movie version of the Kerr home and here to see pictures of the actual home! Each version gets more and more ridiculous. The movie house appears twice as big as the real house and the TV show house even bigger!

Jean Kerr wtote several other books. I'm having my library get The Snake Has All the Lines, How I Got to be Perfect, and Penny Candy.

A note about the TV version:

I just started watching the first episode. The children are entirely too well behaved and Mr. Nash (his name in the show) is suddenly a hypochondriac!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Enduring Love of Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward

When one hears the words "Hollywood couple," several names come to mind: Bogie and Bacall, Gable and Lombard, Frank and Ava, Burton and Taylor. Of the four mentioned, two ended in an early death and the other two in divorce. None of them lasted for a significant amount of time. If I was to pick a Hollywood couple to use as "relationship goals," I would pick Paul and Joanne.

Hollywood marriages are almost always tumultuous and seldom make it past ten or sometimes even one! The ones that do last, however, are not because everything is rosy-dosy, but because the couple chooses to work at their marriage when an obstacle hits, instead of throwing in the towel at the first sign of trouble. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were one of these couples.
From the beginning, Paul and I had an advantage: we were good friends before we were lovers. I mean, we really liked each other. We could talk to each other. We could talk to each other, we could tell each other anything without fear of ridicule or rejection. There was trust.
Paul and Joanne first met while "making the rounds of agents" in the television industry.
Newman: I saw her coming out of the door at MCA, the theatrical agency, and I just thought, jeez, what an extraordinarily pretty girl. I had on my one suit - I had one seersucker suit, which I, you know, would wear all week and wash over the weekend. A button-down collar. A knit tie, a black knit tie. I said hello.
Woodward: He (Maynard Morris, agent at MCA) had discovered... me and he discovered Paul and he introduced us one day. I had been making the rounds and I was hot, sweaty, and my hair all stringy around my neck. He brought out a pretty-looking young man in a seersucker suit, all pretty like an Arrow Collar ad, and said, "This is Paul Newman," and I hated him on sight, but he was so funny and pretty and neat.

The two met again when they were both cast in the 1952 Broadway production of Picnic, later made into a movie starring William Holden and Kim Novak. Newman - who was married at the time and awaiting the birth of his second child with wife, Jacqueline Witte - was cast as Hal's (Holden's role in the movie, Ralph Meeker in the play) younger friend (played by newcomer Cliff Robertson in the movie). He was also the understudy for the role of Hal. Woodward was the understudy to both Madge (played by Novak in the film) and that of Madge's younger sister, Millie. Out of the play's 477 performances, Woodward went on 50 times.

Newman in Picnic

As both Newman and Woodward were understudies for the leads, they rehearsed a lot together. It was during this time that their friendship grew. "I'm going to get that one," a fellow actress recalled Woodward saying. However, over the next few years she dated other men and was even engaged three times - "All southern girls like to get engaged even when they aren't ready to get married."

After Picnic, both actors continued their work in television and broke into movies - Newman in such films as The Silver Chalice (1954), The Rack (1956), and his breakout film role as boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), and Woodward in Count Three and Pray (1955) and A Kiss Before Dying (1956). Woodward then starred in HER breakout film, The Three Faces of Eve (1957).

During these few years, Newman and his wife had a third child. However, with Newman spending so much time on his acting career, a rift had grown between them. Then, in 1957, Newman and Woodward were cast in The Long, Hot Summer (1958), a steamy romance set in sweltering Mississippi. While Woodward spurned Newman on-screen, off-screen they began secretly living together. By the time filming was over, Newman and his wife had divorced, leaving Newman free to pursue a relationship with Woodward.

Though both were initially wary of marriage - Newman with his failed first marriage and Woodward's parents had divorced when she was young - the two were married on January 29, 1958 at the El Rancho Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The usually private couple surprisingly allowed their marriage ceremony to be public. Plenty of photographs were taken, as well as video footage. Newman was 33 and Woodward was 28.

After a honeymoon first at a small Greenwich village and then London, the exciting news that Woodward had been nominated for her phenomenal performance in The Three Faces of Eve broke. When the night of the Academy Awards came, Newman and Woodward were the most glamorous couple in attendance (Woodward made her own gown). The couple presented the award for film editing, endearing themselves to the public with their seemingly spontaneous bantering.

When Woodward was announced as the winner for Best Actress, no one was more proud than Paul Newman, even though his performance the year before in Somebody Up There Likes Me had been overlooked for a nomination (to make up for it a friend had awarded Newman with a "Noscar"). You can watch Woodward's win here.

Newman and Woodward in a romantic mood at the Oscars.

With the success of The Long, Hot Summer, Newman and Woodward were cast in Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958), a film reminiscent of the screwball comedies of the 1930s. Light comedy proved to not really be their strong point, with only the love scenes coming across as believable.

In April of 1959, Woodward gave birth to their first child, daughter Elinor Teresa Newman. She was followed by Melissa Steward in 1961 and Claire Olivia in 1965.

Woodward during her first pregnancy:
I sit around and read cookbooks and sew and wait for Paul to come home. I love it.

Eight months after Elinor (Nell) was born, Woodward was back at work, making another film with her husband - From the Terrace (1960). This was followed by Paris Blues (1961), and A New Kind of Love (1963), Winning (1969), WUSA (1970), The Drowning Pool (1975), Harry & Son (1984), and Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990) for a total of ten films together. Newman also directed Woodward in Rachel, Rachel (1968), The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972) - which also starred their daughter Nell, The Shadow Box (1980 TV movie), Harry & Son (1984), and The Glass Menagerie (1987).

Newman and Woodward on What's My Line 11/8/59 (they come on at 17:45 - the best part is the very end)

Now, the Newman's life wasn't all perfect. They argued like every couple. They had their difficult moments, their sorrows. But what made them different then most movie star couples is that they didn't throw in the towel at the first hardship. They worked through the difficulty and kept going.

Newman and Woodward were married for 50 years, a rarity in the movie business. Newman died the following September (2008). Woodward is the fourth oldest Oscar winner still alive.

Sexiness wears thin after awhile and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that is a treat.
♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥
Fast Facts

Paul Newman:

Born) Jan. 26, 1935 in Cleveland Ohio
Full name) Paul Leonard Newman
Height) 5'9.5"
Nickname) King Cool, PL
Spouses) Jacqueline Witte (1949-1958)
                Joanne Woodward 1958-2008 (his death)
Children) 6
Died) Sept. 26, 2008 (lung cancer)

Joanne Woodward:

Born) Feb. 27, 1930 in Thomasville, Georgia
Full name) Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward
Height) 5'4"
Nickname) Joey
Spouse) Paul Newman 1958-2008 (his death)
Children) 3

The Newman's starred together in ten films:

The Long, Hot Summer (1958)
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958)
From the Terrace (1960) - Netflix
Paris Blues (1961)
Winning (1969)
WUSA (1970)
The Drowning Pool (1975)
Harry and Son (1985) - Newman directed also
Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990)
Beautiful fan video I found on Youtube. Song: "Everything" by Michael Bublé.

Photo Album:

Learn about their unique bed here.
Lovers. Linda Sunshine. 1992.
Paul and Joanne: A Biography of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein. 1998.
IMDb - Joanne Woodward
IMDb - Paul Newman 
This post is part of the Star-Studded Couple Blogathon hosted by me :)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Behind the Dress: Audrey Hepburn's "Princess in Disguise" outfit in "Roman Holiday"

Roman Holiday (1953) is one of my favorite movies. It has everything going for it: a great script, fantastic actors, gorgeous on-location shooting, and some of the best costumes in Hollywood history. In fact, not only did Roman Holiday garner a Best Actress Oscar for newcomer Audrey Hepburn, but it also won a Best Writing Award for the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo and the (still relatively young) Best Costume Award for Edith Head.

Multiple Award-Winning costume designer Edith Head was the first Hollywood designer to dress Audrey Hepburn, who was about to become a legendary icon. In the book Edith Head's Hollywood by Paddy Calistro with excerpts by Edith Head, Hepburn is described as the antigoddess, the "antithesis of anything that fit the sexy 1950s stereotype (Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor). She was skinny in an era of voluptuousness, flat when everyone else was round. Her neck was too long, her face too innocent.  By 1950s standards she was all wrong, yet she was about to enchant the world" (101).

Here are Head's words about meeting Audrey:
I was completely enchanted by her. She was intelligent and had a strong sense about fashion, but what impressed me most was her body. I knew she would be the perfect mannequin for anything I would make... when clothes are designed for art's sake you need a shapeless body to display them (102).
Here is a video of Edith Head talking about the process Hollywood designers go through when beginning to costume a film, including a personality test and wardrobe tests for Roman Holiday.

My favorite outfit from the film is the simple blouse and skirt Audrey wears to explore the city of Rome. But there's more behind the dress then you might think. Let's see how Edith went about designing it:
To create the contrast (from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne to Anya), I put her in funny little flat shoes, a gathered cotton skirt, and a plain blouse with the sleeves rolled up... Suddenly she is the kind of girl you wouldn't look at twice. It sounds easy to do, but it wasn't. Trying to make someone like Audrey, who has so much hauteur, look anything but chic is very difficult.
As you saw in the video above, she had to create an outfit that could be transformed on screen. Audrey goes from a buttoned-up proper girl to a carefree girl having a holiday.

Fun Fact: Simoa of Define Dancing told me that this dress was used as inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's dress in the Disney film.

Let's take a closer look at the costume itself.

Before and After

Another "before" shot with low pumps.

A good look at the sandals.
 The skirt is usually shown as light blue or tan when colorized.
I think it was tan, though I prefer light blue.
Scarf and blouse detail. The scarf is usually pictured as red and white.

This outfit is so iconic it was immortalized as a Barbie doll a few years ago. The Barbie has a new face mold and skinny body. I bought one - the face isn't quite as pretty as pictured here.

Actress Lily Collins channeled Hepburn in a photo shoot for Talter Magazine.

Hope you enjoyed this latest edition of Behind the Dress!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Star-Studded Couple Blogathon is Here!!!

It's here!!! The Star-Studded Couple Blogathon is here!!!

Below you will find not only the links to the entries, but the stories of how some of your favorite movie-star couples came to be. Long-lasting marriages and short ones, stormy ones and peaceful ones, well-known and not so well-known, they are all here!

I will update this page as the posts come in over the next few days. A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated!!! I can't wait to read all of the wonderful entries on these glamorous couples!!!

The Prince and the Flapper: The Romance of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Joan Crawford - Prince of Hollywood | A Blog Dedicated to Douglas Fairbanks Jr.


William Powell & Carole Lombard

The Profane Angel and Mr. Charles - The Flapper Dame

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - Old Hollywood Films

Paulette Goddard and Charlie Chaplin - Little Bits of Classics

Ronald Reagan & Jane Wyman - Back to Golden Days

The Whirlwind Love of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee - Cab Drivers and Coffee Pots (formerly Musings of an Introvert)

Frank and Ava: A Love Story - Critica Retro

Sammy Davis Jr. & May Britt - Dell of Movies

Tony Curtis & Janet Leigh - Moon in Gemini

The Enduring Love of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
Posts to look forward to...

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood: Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall Pictorial
Girls Do Film: Orson Welles & Rita Hayworth

I want to invite all of you to participate in the upcoming Olivia de Havilland Centenary Blogathon I am co-hosting with Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood