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“En Pointe: The Ballet Blogathon” Begins Today!

Today, I am delighted to say, is the day to celebrate all things ballet in film! Co-host Michaela and I will be updating the posts as they arrive throughout the weekend. Her home page for this event can be found, here.

Just a quick reminder! Because of how popular the ballet blogathon proved to be, we added an extra day. The blogathon is now from August 4th-6th.

It has been wonderful to discover so many other fans of ballet and to discover just how often ballet has been the theme of film. It has helped me to appreciate that ballet is very much alive and well, with a well-founded presence on screen and stage.

 

 

Day 1

Realweegiemidget Reviews – Black Swan (2010)

Love Letters to Old Hollywood – Twelve Favorite Water Ballets from Esther Williams

Thoughts All Sorts – Ballerina (aka Leap!) (2016)

Caftan Woman – The Mad Genius (1931)

The Midnite Drive-In – White Nights (1985)

Taking Up Room – An American in Paris (1951) 

Wolffian Classics Movies Digest Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)

Movies Silently  – The Dancer’s Peril (1917)

Christina Wehner“The Jealous Lover” from A Story of Three Loves (1953)

Diary of a Movie Maniac – Dancers (1987)

Into the Writer Lea – Dance as a Means of Showing, Not Telling, Cinderella (1955)

Sat in Your Lap – On The Town (1949) and The Pirate (1948)

Silver Scenes – The Death of the Swan : The Unfinished Dance (1947) and Ballerina (1937)

Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie ReviewsLimelight (1952)

Day 2

Taking Up Room – Save the Last Dance (2001)

The Dream Book Blog – Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel (1932)

To 10 Film Lists – The Red Shoes (1948)

Lifesdailylessonsblog – The Song of Scheherazde (1947)

Love Letters to Old Hollywood – Shall We Dance (1937)

Cary Grant Won’t Eat You – The Fun of Center Stage (2000)

Pure Entertainment Preservation Society  – Hans Christian Andersen

Critica Retro – Never Let Me Go (1953)

Anybody Got a Match? – Silk Stockings (1957)

Day 3

Crimson KimonoExposed (1983)

Cinematic Scribblings – Red Shoes (1948)

Silver Scenes – Russian Ballet Films of the 1940s-1960s

Christina Wehner  “A Winter’s Tale” (2014)

The Wonderful World of Cinema – The Ballet Scenes from Les Uns et les Autres (1981)

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies – Never Let Me Go (1953)

Blogferatu – Black Swan (2010)

 
30 Comments

Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Movies

 

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The Dual Roles Blogathon: Day 2 Recap

Another marvelous day! I wanted to thank Ruth of Silver Screenings for co-hosting this blogathon with me and making it such a success (and for making the lovely posters). And thank you, everyone, for also making it a success!

mv5bmtg4mtk0mde4nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnze2mdgzmje-_v1_In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood shows how Elizabeth Montgomery played both Samantha and Serena in the show Bewitched.
dickersonMirco-Brewed Reviews 
gives us Beach Dickerson and the Fine Art of Getting Yourself Killed, Multiple Times, in Roger Corman’s Teenage Caveman (1958).

joevsvolcanoislandCary Grant Won’t Eat You covers Meg Ryan’s three roles in Meg Ryan’s Fate Foretold in Joe Versus the Volcano.

peter-sellers-as-dr-strangeloveSilver Screenings reviews Peter Seller’s in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

img_4919Champagne for Lunch shows how “2 Howard Keels are Better than 1” in Callaway Went Thataway. 

deadagain3Moon in Gemini covers Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh’s dual roles in Dead Again.

18453777-r_640_600-b_1_d6d6d6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxxThe Wonderful World of Cinema writes of Genevieve Bujold in Brian De Palma’s Obsession.

boris-dual-roleMikes Take on the Movies thrills and chills with good and evil Boris Karloff in The Black Room.

 
15 Comments

Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Movies

 

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Madame Curie (1943)

MV5BMjI4NzAwNDUwNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTA1MjkyMTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_After the phenomenal success of Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson earned an Academy Award for Best Actress), MGM re-teamed much of the cast for Madame Curie, a biopic of Marie Curie and her romance with husband/scientist Pierre Curie. The movie was inspired by the book Madame Curie: A Biography, written her daughter, Eve Curie. The role was originally intended for Irene Dunne in the late 1930s, then Greta Garbo. Finally, Greer Garson was given the role in 1943.

What I was surprised at was how much (reasonably) accurate science is incorporated into the movie. It is a blend of romance and scientific endeavor and apart from an excessively reverential tone, the film is surprisingly interesting and very sweet.

Marie Sklodowska (Greer Garson) is a Polish student studying in Paris in the 1890s. She’s an extraordinary dedicated and earnest student, brilliant in her work, and she is noticed by Professor Perot (Albert Basserman), who sets her up in a lab with Dr. Curie (Walter Pidgeon), a shy physicist who is at first concerned that having a woman in the lab will prove disruptive.

It is only disruptive in that Dr. Curie begins to fall in love with her and is dismayed that she intends to return to Poland and teach. He believes that she has so much to contribute to science that she ought to stay in Paris and continue her work. He also wants her to stay because he loves her, but it takes him a while to realize it.

He finally does propose, however, after having her down to his country home to meet his parents (Dame May Whitty and Henry Travers). Once married, she embarks on her doctoral work, investigating why pitchblende (ore filled with uranium and therefore radioactive) emits energy strong enough to act like light on a photographic plate. She soon discovers that once the uranium is removed from the ore – which she believes is the sole source of the radiation in the pitchblende – the ore is still radioactive. This brings her to the conclusion that there must be another, unknown and radioactive element and she and her husband set out to isolate and prove its existence.

90736-004-05FEA8C2The process of isolating the unknown element was unbelievably laborious and the film does a good job of demonstrating this. They dissolved the ore and selectively precipitated out the different elements, one element at a time, until only the radium remained. Now, you could just put your specimen of ore under a powerful x-ray machine and determine what elements are in it.

Eventually, they are able to prove the existence of radium, though the film skips their discovery of polonium (polonium is best known for being used to poison Alexander Litvineko, who had fled Russia and accused the Russian Federal Security Service of organizing a kind of coup so Putin could take power – ironic since Marie Curie named the element Polonium after her homeland, Poland, to underline the fact that Poland was not an independent country and was partly controlled by Russia).

It is a testament that the film never gets bogged down in excessive science and keeps things understandable, though it does occasionally get bogged down in too-reverential discourses on the importance of science. But what keeps the film relatable is the romance between Marie and Pierre.

Walter Pidgeon in particular brings a lot of warmth to the role and to the film. Greer Garson does well, but she is extremely earnest. She’s like George Eliot’s Dorothea Brooks and Dr. Lydgate combined. She has the saintliness and earnestness of Dorothea (she is even frequently lighted as though she were saint, with a warm glow of light on her face) and the scientific brilliance and dedication of Dr. Lydgate. But Pierre Curie, though equally brilliant, seems a bit more vulnerable, shy, devotedly in love with his wife and dedicated to working side-by-side with her. There is something so sweet in how he discovers that he no longer can imagine working or living without her. They manage the unique feat of being fully committed to their work and fully committed to each other (though as far as I can tell in the film, Pierre’s father is raising their children).

602508_origAnd although it is clear that Marie also loves Pierre, it is like she doesn’t fully appreciate it until after their discovery of radium. After the intense few years of work, now her pressing work has lifted she fully sees how much she loves him…only for tragedy to strike.

I had always heard that Marie Curie died as a result of her work, which gave me the impression that she died particularly young. In my ignorance, I was expecting the last bit of the film to be about her wasting away a martyr to her science, but actually she lived until she was 66, though the cause of her death is believed to be related to her lifelong exposure to radiation. But it was actually Pierre who died tragically young in a traffic accident (run over by a horse and cart) when he was only 47 and she 39.

The film is much more upbeat about science than films would be after the end of WWII. It is about overcoming obstacles, dreaming great things (“to catch a star on your fingertips”), wonderment, collaboration. In Madame Curie, she speaks about cures for cancer, that “science has great beauty and, with its great spiritual strength, will in time cleanse this world of its evils, its ignorance, its poverty, diseases, wars, and heartaches.” After the end of WWII, it was “what man has wrought” and fear of the atomic bomb and an ambivalent attitude about the double-edged sword of science.

Madame Curie doesn’t seem to be watched as often as some of Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon’s other films, but the chemistry is there and for a 1940s biopic, it’s quite detailed. They even reproduced scenes from pictures of the real Pierre and Marie Curie (their wedding day with their bikes, the clothes Marie Curie wore in the lab) and over all it has a more authentic feel than I am used to from MGM films.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 22, 2016 in Movies

 

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