Laying down on my Nans carpet, elbows on the floor and staring up at this amazing box, which delivered me to anywhere I wanted to go, in any time, place and with many different people. This is when my passion for film first started. My Nan and Grandad can name almost every star from the golden age of film and their love of film rubbed off on my mum and then onto me. Sunday’s on BBC 2 or Channel 4 used to mean a double matinee of Hollywood film. Never did the saying “they don’t make them like they used to” become more true.
I could reel off a giant list of great stars from that era but that would mean writing pages and pages. The same can’t be said about today’s group although their are still some amazing actors out there. Stars like Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Jodie Foster and Denzel Washington are names that come to mind in the modern era. I think the stars I really enjoyed as a kid were either the strong heroic kind or the amazing dancers. I really don’t think films like Ben Hur or Spartacus can ever be beaten. I think this was the reason for my lack of enthusiasm for the film Gladiator when it came out.
When you see the premier’s from the 1960s it’s almost like the stars glow which gave them a real aura. Music and dance was common and although there were films with real grit and edge, the majority allowed you to escape from all that. Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly left me quite bewildered. Singing in the rain still has to be up there with my favourites. Gene Kelly brought a real masculinity and energy to his dancing at a time when dancing was probably seen as quite feminine. Fred Astaire brought elegance with his partnership with Ginger Rogers and great skill on his own. My favourite sequence has to be from Easter Parade called Drum Crazy.
There is also the romantic side of film, films like From Here to Eternity. A film which mixed the fantasy of love with the desperation and sadness of war. I think this is Sinatras best performance, which was really edgy and almost devil like. Montgomery brought a sadness to his character, maybe a reflection of his own life. Donna Reed is almost unrecognizable from Its a Wonderful Life, playing a prostitute in this film.
There were the strong female characters who could take on any man. This is surprising considering it was a time when women generally stayed at home. Actresses like Catherine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were not to be messed with. The women were sexy and oozed appeal without revealing or showing too much, sometimes it was just a look. The romances were passionate, lasting and filled with ups and downs.The moment when the man looked into the ladies eyes before kissing often left you holding your breath. This in an era when generally actors were well covered and sex was insinuated rather than shown. I think this shows that sex and nudity are not always necessary in film. The moment before James Stewart kisses Donna Reed in Its a Wonderful Life springs to mind.
It’s a wonderful life is my favourite film of all time! The story, the acting and the feel good factor from the depiction of human generosity and good winning over bad makes me smile. My second favourite is Kind Hearts and Coronets with Alex Guineas and Dennis price Starring. This is a very dark comedy about murder, which brings me to laugh out loud. Alec Guiness was an amazing actor and pulled off a great number of roles, but the true star was Dennis price. His performance was effortless, subtle and restrained and his speech about Sibella will always be in my mind.
” I’d say that you were the perfect combination of imperfections. I’d say that your nose was just a little too short, your mouth just a little too wide. But yours was a face that a man could see in his dreams for the whole of his life. I’d say that you were vain, selfish, cruel, deceitful. I’d say that you were… Sibella.”
This blog is to share my love of film with you and to share views and opinions. Films good or bad always strike you with ideas and emotions. They help you to escape or meet reality, they also share your memories both good and bad. They make you laugh and cry, make you angry, show the difference between right and wrong as well as teaching you human history by opening you up to the world. Film is an amazing gift.