Feel Good Factor:
Chance of tears:
The Wizard of Oz is my favourite.film.of.all.time and so naturally I think Judy Garland is a GODDESS. I’m therefore ashamed to say that until last week, I had never seen her play anybody other than Dorothy Gale. I know, ridiculous. So I bought myself Meet Me In St Louis on DVD (which I really only knew about thanks to SATC) and, one day when I was tucked up in bed after having surgery, I put it on. And of course, it was wonderful! Oh, my desire to name my firstborn Judy is now stronger than ever (pleeeease Steve?).
Meet Me In St Louis was only made five years after The Wizard of Oz, but it’s incredible how much of a transformation Judy Garland has made. Although she was just 16 when she played Dorothy Gale, so it’s no wonder really that she looks so much more grown up in this. Never having seen her in anything else, I fully expected to watch the entire film thinking ‘where’s Toto, Dorothy?’ but I completely forgot who she was and just got sucked into the story, a testament to a great movie and a great actress if ever there was one! It’s no surprise that the film’s director Vincente Minelli fell in love with her on set. The only thing I will say is that her hair in this is DREADFUL! I found it quite distracting. I realise the film is set 110 years ago but I googled 1904 hairstyles and nobody looks as bad as this!
And don’t get me started on her outfits. Anyway, she is a delight to watch and her character Esther is of course awesome; confident, sassy and a little bit weird. Not unlike Dorothy, so thumbs up from me. The film is of course set in St Louis, at the time of the 1904 World’s Fair, and focuses on the middle-class Smith family. The first half of the film isn’t really about anything, as such, other than the love interests of the two eldest daughters Esther and Rose. Esther has the hots for the boy next door, whom she’s never actually met, and Esther is in a long distance relationship with a New York guy and spends most of the film waiting for him to propose to her. Everything is going relatively smoothly when Mr Smith announces he is accepting a job in New York and the family are to move away after Christmas. The daughters are devastated – they love St Louis – but there’s no changing their father’s mind. Or is there?
I’ve given this movie a ‘chance of tears factor’ of three out of five, mostly due to a scene where Judy Garland sings ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ to her sister Tootie. Margeret O’Brien who plays Tootie is PHENOMENAL. I love her. She’s only seven but completely steals every scene and she’s just adorable. During this song, she is sobbing over having to move away and Esther is trying to soothe her. It’s heartbreaking!
I’m not a huge fan of the title song, Meet Me in St Louis, but it is bloody catchy. It’s been in my head the whole time I’ve been writing this post. It wasn’t actually written for the film but was a popular song of the time about the World’s Fair.
You already know Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas but might be more familiar with the Frank Sinatra version. Well Judy’s rendition is indeed the original written especially for the movie.
Undoubtedly the most famous original track in the film is The Trolley Song (also covered by Frank Sinatra, that pesky copycat), which Esther sings about that boy next door. The lyrics are a bit ridiculous; ‘You tried to sing but couldn’t squeak, in fact you loved him so you couldn’t even speak,’ but you’ll totally want to sing along.
Don’t forget you can listen to all these songs on the Feel Good Film Club playlist on Spotify!
I’ve been meaning to start this series for a while now; bringing a little sunshine to everyone’s day with a particularly lovely film scene.
Today, I want to take a look at one of my favourite movie moments of all time, the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland. Since I was a kid, I’ve always inexplicably loved the shot of the Mad Hatter spreading butter and jam into the White Rabbit’s pocket watch – maybe it made me think of spreading icing on a cake, I’ve no idea. I just loved the splodging, squishing motion of it. Then a few years ago, one of my cousins told me that was his favourite bit too, so there must be something to it!
Alice: The white rabbit!
White Rabbit: Oh, I’m so late, I’m so very very late
Mad Hatter: Well, no wonder you’re late! Why, this clock is exactly two days slow.
White Rabbit: Two days slow?
Mad Hatter: Of course you’re late. Hahaha! My goodness we’ll have to look into this. A-ha! I see what’s wrong with it. Why, this watch is full of wheels!
White Rabbit: Oh, my good watch! Oh, my wheels! My springs! But- but- but- but, but- but- but…
Mad Hatter: Butter! Of course, we need some butter! Butter!
March Hare: Butter!
White Rabbit: But- but- butter?
Mad Hatter: Butter, oh, thank you, butter. Haha. Yes, that’s fine.
White Rabbit: Oh no no, no no no you’ll get crumbs in it!
Mad Hatter: Oh, this is the very best butter! What are you talking about?
March Hare: Tea?
Mad Hatter: Tea! Oh, I never thought of tea! Of course!
White Rabbit: No!
Mad Hatter: Tea!
White Rabbit: No! Not tea!
March Hare: Sugar?
Mad Hatter: Sugar. Two spoons, yes, two spoons. Thank you, yes.
White Rabbit: Oh, please be careful!
March Hare: Jam?
Mad Hatter: Jam! I forgot all about jam!
White Rabbit: No, no! Not jam!
March Hare: Mustard?
Mad Hatter: Mustard? Yes, mus… mustard? Don’t let’s be silly! Lemon, now that’s different.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the ENORMOUS pleasure of attending my first ever sing-along event. I know, how could I have avoided this phenomena for so long when musicals are practically my life? Crazy.
As you know, the last two Saturdays here at the Feel Good Film Club have been dedicated to the Grease 2 soundtrack. Well, my friend Emma and I bagged ourselves tickets to Amy Grimehouse‘s Grease 2 singalong night in Shoreditch (where else?) and it was SO MUCH FUN! We weren’t really sure what to expect, particularly when the event was billed as ‘sing along, quote along, fuck along,’ but were terribly excited to walk into a basement bar decked out like Rydell High with chairs facing two huge screens. The room was full of people in fancy dress; pink lady jackets, leather, garlands. One guy was even bandaged up ala Louis DiMucci in the bomb shelter. Shit, should we have made some sort of effort? Well we hadn’t so it was too late now.
After grabbing some wine to prepare us for whatever the ‘fuck along’ element might involve, we sat down to find a ‘Name That STI’ quiz sheet on our seats. I wasn’t completely sure of the connection with Grease 2; it is quite a sexy film what with a classroom full of teenagers singing about Reproduction and Louis trying to trick his girlfriend into shagging him before he joined the army and Paulette’s, well, just Paulette really. And actually, I’ve just looked to see what the family friendly Common Sense Media think parents ‘need to know’ about Grease 2:
Parents need to know that teens in this movie smoke, drink, and talk about sex constantly. One character tries to trick another into having sex. The movie is full of sexual innuendo and objectification of women. Michael tries to become what Stephanie wants, and risks his life with death-defying motorcycle jumps to do it. On the other hand, Stephanie is a strong female role model. She doesn’t give in to peer pressure and is in the process of figuring out who she is.
Yep, there sure is a lot going on there. But there certainly aren’t any sexually transmitted diseases in it, thank goodness. The sheet made us both feel a tad queasy (and for this reason I won’t post it here) and we ended up scoring a pathetic two out of ten.
There was a nice surprise waiting on our seats, though. Everybody got a Grease 2 song book to take away with them, which I thought was an awesome touch. I assumed we were supposed to use it as an aid while singing along to the film but it was far too dark in there to read anything. Then I realised that Emma and I were the only ones who didn’t already know every single word to every single song off by heart, and we didn’t want to give ourselves away by checking the lyric book so we just mumbled our way through.
Before the film started, there were a couple of games which thankfully called for volunteers; there was no forced participation! Two girls sitting behind us who were obviously ENORMOUS Grease 2 fans made up one team, while a couple of guys (including the man with a head bandage) represented the boys’ side. First there was another sex-themed activity, naturally, with each team having to identify parts of the male and female reproductive organs. Next they had to put a condom on a banana (or courgette, I can’t remember) while blindfolded. Unsurprisingly the boys won that one. Then, and this is the bit I am SO GLAD that I didn’t have to do, they were made to dance along to Cool Rider, complete with step ladder prop. Both teams did a very good job but the boys won it.
Part of me wanted to get on with it and start the film, particularly as I had to be in hospital at 7am the next morning for a bloomin’ operation and wanted to get some sleep, but the games were fun and, as I couldn’t drink much, helped us get in the mood.
Eventually the film started and that’s when we discovered how many hardcore fans were in attendance. They quoted along with every line, while Emma and I just sat quietly and waited for the songs we knew. Once those came along though we belted out the words with the best of them and it was crazy fun! Especially Reproduction.
There was a bit of a dance at the end once the film finished, and our host informed us that THE Maxwell Caulfield had tweeted to say he hoped the evening went well. How cool is that?
I will totally be going back to an Amy Grimehouse event and you should too!
That’s feminism folks, obviously. I can’t help but notice how frequently I find myself saying ‘Oh it’s such a great film, apart from all the sexism obviously!’ Well that’s ridiculous isn’t it – if a film is sexist it should be condemned, not celebrated. What am I doing promoting movies like Calamity Jane and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for goodness sake!
Look, I’m a woman and of course I feel very strongly that women should have equal rights to men. I think it’s UNBELIEVABLE that I have to work until April this year before I’ll earn as much as a man did in 2012. I’ve also been very conscious of antiquated traditions while planning my wedding and ummed and ahhed a heck of a lot over whether I should keep my last name. I’ve decided to take his as it’s a pretty good one (Holmes as in Sherlock, not bad eh) but never did I feel it was something I should or needed to do. I read an interview with a women recently who said she would keep her title as Dr rather than Mrs as she doesn’t think it’s right that a women must constantly declare her marital status and not a man. Well duh, who wouldn’t want to be called Dr? But I completely agree with her.
Except I’m a total hypocrite. I agree with her but I like the idea of being a Mrs. I like the idea of having my husband’s name, even though I don’t think I have to do it. Wait a minute Siobhan, what has this all got to do with films?! Ok, bear with me. I’ve been watching (and reviewing) a lot of older movies lately and it’s very rare to find one – particularly from the 40s or 50s – that contains no anti-feminist sentiment whatsoever. I already pointed out ‘A Woman’s Touch‘ in Calamity Jane, and the rapey storyline of Seven Brides for Seven Brides. It’s crazy, but my point is, I believe in a woman’s right to be equal to a man and the assumption that we’re not as good as men is a vile one, but honestly I find it ludicrous and downright laughable rather than offensive. I mean, these films were made several decades ago, back when this attitude was acceptable, so to judge and condemn them for their backward thinking would be pointless.
But here’s where my hypocritical hat goes on again. I do not feel that way when watching 50s movies about racism or homophobia. I find it impossible to watch In The Heat Of The Night, for example, and think ‘oh it’s alright, everybody was racist back then!’ And after sitting through five minutes of The Birth of a Nation, I can tell you I wasn’t feeling terribly sympathetic towards the KKK!
I’ve no idea why I let sexism in movies slide when I feel so strongly about other types of prejudice! Does anybody else do this?