THE GRETA GARBO BLOGATHON IS HERE

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After months of waiting in anticipation, I’m elated to say that the Greta Garbo Blogathon has now arrived. At last the beautiful, enigmatic actress with the luminous screen presence who carried with her an air of mystery will finally be given the credit that she deserves.

From now until Thursday an array of prolific bloggers will be putting the legendary Greta Garbo back in the spotlight with my blogathon. A big thank you to all participants. I look forward to reading your entries.

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THE GRETA GARBO BLOGATHON ENTRIES:

Love Letters To Old Hollywood kicks things off with her delightful post titled, Portraits Of Greta Garbo.

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Maddy Loves Her Classic Films showcases Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel ( 1932 )

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The Stop Button joins the party with Greta Garbo’s final film, Two Faced Woman ( 1941 )

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Taking Up Room brings us a delightful post about the time she visited Greta Garbo at Grand Hotel ( 1932 )

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Silver Screenings pens an excellent article on one of Greta Garbo’s most famous films, Camille ( 1936 )

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For her second post, Taking Up Room presents us with an excellent post on Ninotchka ( 1939 )

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Wolffian Classic Movies Digest joins the party with a fabulous article about Greta Garbo’s performance in Camille ( 1936 ) 

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ANNOUNCING THE ELIZABETH TAYLOR BLOGATHON

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When I was growing up, one distinguishable figure that sprang to mind at the mention of classic cinema was Dame Elizabeth Taylor. A luminous beauty with trademark violet eyes, Taylor enchanted millions worldwide with her unrivaled talents and humanitarian work that would ultimately catapult her to super-stardom.

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Dame Elizabeth Taylor made her star-studded debut in this world on February 27th, 1932. To celebrate the birthday of this iconic legend and her ingenious trail of artistry, I’m hosting a blogathon dedicated to the actress whose glorified presence became a cinematic attraction.

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THE RULES:

1. Here are some ground rules to follow. Bloggers are welcome to write about any topic regarding Elizabeth Taylor’s life and career. There are a wealth of subjects to choose from. You could write about her marriage to Richard Burton, or her marriages in general ( she married eight times ). You could write about her humanitarian work or Taylor as a fashion icon. Anything is up for grabs. If you have a topic in mind but not sure whether it’s suitable, just run it by me. The only thing I ask is that there be no more than two duplicates, so act fast.

2. The blogathon will take place on February 25th – 27th, 2018 to coincide with Elizabeth’s 86th birthday.

3. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my blog, along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: crystalkalyana@yahoo.com. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover. Once you get confirmation, please choose one of the banners and advertise it on your blog. I look forward to seeing you all in February to celebrate the very beautiful Elizabeth Taylor.

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ROSTER WITH THE LIST OF PARTICIPATING BLOGS:

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Elizabeth Taylor’s Humanitarian Work & Elephant Walk ( 1954 )

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof ( 1958 )

Elizabeth Nelson: Guest post at In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Elizabeth Taylor & Michael Wilding.

Portraits By Jenni: A Date With Judy ( 1948 )

The Story Enthusiast: National Velvet ( 1944 )

The Wonderful World Of Cinema: Topic to be decided.

Musings Of A Classic Film Addict: The V.I.P.s ( 1963 )

Taking Up Room: Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair With Jewelry, Cynthia ( 1947 ) & Father’s Little Dividend ( 1951 )

Cinematic Scribblings: A Place In The Sun ( 1951 )

Anybody Got A Match? Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton.

Serendipitous Anachronisms:  A Little Night Music ( 1977 )

Caftan Woman: The Mirror Crack’d ( 1980 )

Real Weedgie Midget Reviews: Elizabeth Taylor in X, Y and Zee ( 1972 )

The Dream Book Blog: Between Friends ( 1983 )

Love Letters To Old Hollywood: Julia Misbehaves ( 1948 )

The Stop Button: Giant ( 1956 )

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest: Elizabeth Taylor Tribute.

Vinnie H Movie Reviews: Suddenly, Last Summer ( 1959 )

Karavansara: The Taming Of The Shrew ( 1967 )

Critica Retro: There Is One Born Every Minute ( 1942 )

I Found It At The Movies: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf ( 1966 )

No Nonsense With Nuwan Sen: Elizabeth Taylor & Mike Todd & Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton.

Pure Entertainment Preservation Society: Life With Father ( 1947 )

Lauren Champkin: The Mirror Crack’d ( 1980 )

BRINGING UP BABY ( 1938 )

“Now, don’t lose your temper.”

“My dear young lady, I’m not losing my temper. I’m merely trying to play some golf!”

“Well you choose the funniest places; this is a parking-lot.”

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In a story of madcap misadventures, we are introduced to a tame leopard, a bone stealing dog, an eccentric Paleontologist, and a frivolous heiress, who are along for a turbulent ride of puzzling obstacles, heir-brained schemes, and unprecedented laughter.

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Audiences worldwide are invited to join this maniacal team on their journey of unfathomable events and enigmatic situations in 1938’s, Bringing Up Baby, a film that reunites Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant for the second time in their career.

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Bringing Up Baby is a masterpiece of the screwball repertoire, and one that is considered a treasure in cinematic history. Directed by Howard Hawks, and written for the screen by Dudley Nichols and Hagar Wilde, the film was based on a short story that appeared in the 1937 edition of Collier’s magazine. To read Wilde’s story, please click here.

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The film adaptation of Bringing Up Baby may have never materialized if it weren’t for Howard Hawks, who had to search around for a new project after his initial idea had failed. Originally, Hawks had his heart set on filming Rudyard Kipling’s, Gunga Din. He had signed a contract with RKO in March 1937 for his work on the film, which had been in pre-production since the previous fall, but when Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Franchot Tone couldn’t be borrowed due to other work commitments, the film was delayed, forcing Hawks to find another assignment.

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The answer to his unquestionable search came in April 1937, when he read the story of Bringing Up Baby that was featured in that years Collier magazine. The story was bursting with hilarity, and it was that rich in humor that the movie going public would be able to elude the struggles and hardships from the Great Depression while they become immersed in the whimsical life that was being led on screen. Howard Hawks saw great potential in the article, and was adamant about bringing it to the screen.

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In June 1937, RKO purchased the screen rights for $1,004, and shortly after, Hawks began collaborating with Hagar Wilde on the films structure and development. Many aspects were altered, and parts of the films story-line didn’t parallel with Wilde’s original story. In Wilde’s article, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant’s characters were engaged to be married, and while Grant’s, David Huxley is a scientist involved in the construction of a dinosaur in the film, his profession is not visibly known in Wilde’s feature.

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Dudley Nichols, who was best known for his work with John Ford, was hired to write the screenplay. The films comedic elements and character development were left to the deft hands of Hagar Wilde, while the anatomy of the story was handled by Nichols. By the summer of 1937, Hawks along with two other writers had completed the script, which consisted of 202 pages. A few months later, they began co-authoring the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film, Carefree. 

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“Now it isn’t that I don’t like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I’m strangely drawn toward you, but – well, there haven’t been any quiet moments.”

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Despite the fact that the film was loosely based on the short story by Hagar Wilde, the developmental stage of Bringing Up Baby proved to be very tedious. The script underwent several changes. Different scene suggestions were scrapped due to the disagreement between the writers. Wilde was sometimes incensed about the films constant detouring away from his original story, while Nichols wanted to add different scenarios. At one stage an elaborate Mack Sennett inspired pie fight was added, but it was soon removed when Hawks considered it unnecessary.

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Katharine Hepburn was a star of the highest magnitude. She had already received an Academy Award for her performance in Morning Glory ( 1933 ), and even though it was still the early days of her career, she had become accustomed to starring alongside the most prominent figures to grace the silver screen, but by 1937, Hepburn’s career was floundering. The films she was being cast in were critical failures at the box office and were not bringing in a considerable profit. Her most successful picture from this period was Stage Door, which was nominated for an Oscar. However, it was not the triumphant hit that RKO had been hoping for.

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For years, RKO had been trying to resurrect Hepburn’s waning popularity. A glimpse of Katharine at the beginning of her career show an ambitious actress with great potential. When turmoil struck, the image of Hepburn gradually morphed into a picture of a struggling star who was yearning for consummation. The studio thought that Bringing Up Baby would rescue Hepburn from destruction, but instead, the film was deemed unsuccessful, resulting in Katharine Hepburn being labeled “Box Office Poison”.

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Katharine Hepburn’s status at the box office may have been diminishing, but she still proved time and time again that she was an actress with considerate depth and promise. Dudley Nichols was well aware of her capabilities, and wanted her for the female lead in Bringing Up Baby. The script was written specifically for her, and the role of Susan Vance was designed to closely mirror her personality. However, the RKO studio moguls had other ideas. They had their doubts as to whether Hepburn was competent enough to handle a Screwball comedy. They were also concerned about her declining popularity at the box office. Initially, they were campaigning for Carole Lombard to play Susan Vance. Lombard who was known for her inimitable prowess in the genre was sure to make the film a popular success, but Nichols remained adamant about casting Hepburn. Eventually, RKO agreed, and Katharine Hepburn was assigned the role of the flighty heiress.

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Finding the perfect actor to play David Huxley was even more challenging. This seemed to be an endless journey into Hollywood’s constellation of male dominating talent that ended in constant disagreement. Howard Hawks wanted Harold Lloyd or Ronald Colman, but this caused a major dispute with Pandro S. Berman, who offered the role to Robert Montgomery, Fredric March, and Ray Milland. When all three stars rejected, Hawks friend, Howard Hughes saved them from the perplexing entanglement by suggesting Cary Grant, who had just finished shooting the 1937 Screwball Comedy, The Awful Truth. 

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Cary Grant was a highly extolled actor who would go on to have a long and varied career full of triumphant achievements and prosperity. At the time, Grant was celebrating the success of The Awful Truth, and had just landed a non exclusive, four picture deal with RKO for $50,000 per film. Even though Grant was set to attain all the bonuses Hepburn was receiving, he was apprehensive about playing a scholarly intellectual character who inhabited an air of eccentricity. After spending two weeks wavering, Grant finally accepted to play the part.

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“There is a leopard on your roof and it’s my leopard and I have to get it and to get it I have to sing.”

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Despite his initial hesitations with the part, Cary Grant soon realized that within each passing day he was becoming more and more enthusiastic. Howard Hawks taught him to look at things in a positive frame of mind by promising to coach him throughout the film. His main source of inspiration during this period was Harold Lloyd whose look he was trying to achieve. In fact, Grant’s character, David Huxley is a mirroring image of Lloyd with his horn-rimmed glasses that made Lloyd such a distinguishable figure in cinematic history.

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In addition to Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, Bringing Up Baby is famous for its stellar ensemble cast. Howard Hawks insisted that prominent players fill out the supporting roles. Charlie Ruggles, who had a successful career on stage and film was on loan from Paramount Pictures to play the role of Major Horace Applegate. Barry Fitzgerald, who would go on to become one of Hollywood’s most beloved character actors was assigned the role of Aloysius Gogarty, the gardener, while the Australian born actress, May Robson was hired to play Susan’s aunt, Elizabeth Carlton Random. Even Baby and George were portrayed by animal acting veterans. Skippy, AKA, Asta, the famous Wire Fox Terrier who charmed audiences worldwide in an array of movies, including The Thin Man films, in which he was best known for, was signed up to play George, Mrs. Random’s dog, and Nissa, the leopard, who had worked in films for eight years was cast to play, Baby. Originally, the story required a panther, but when the task of finding a panther proved to be erroneous, Baby was changed to a leopard, and because Nissa was already trained, she was immediately hired.

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Once the financial aspects for the production were completed, the filming process was set to proceed. On September 23rd, 1937, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant walked into RKO studios, and were ready to start what was to be a two month shoot, but what ended up being a lengthy assignment that almost lasted for four months. Although most of the time was spent on location at Arthur Ranch in the San Francisco Valley for the scenes at Aunt Elizabeth’s Connecticut estate, the cameras started rolling at Susan’s New York apartment, which was shot on the RKO back-lot. By early October, the cast and crew had moved onto Bel Air Country Club for the golf course scenes, where David and Susan first crossed paths.

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From the start, Bringing Up Baby was plagued by turbulent altercations. The dilemmas that fueled the development and pre-production stage had succeeded in causing havoc on the movie set. To begin with, Hepburn had trouble adjusting to her role, and was constantly critical of her comic abilities. As a result, she had a tendency to overact, and when she essayed her character to overplay her funniness, Hawks arranged for Walter Catlett to coach her. Hepburn learned a great deal from Catlett, and became the instrumental force behind him attaining the role of Constable Slocum in the film.

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Despite his initial uncertainties about taking on the role, Cary Grant transcended all his expectations and found himself excelling in the screwball comedy genre. The mastermind behind Grant’s success is Howard Hughes who meticulously coached him to find every nuance in his character. After a while, Grant was assisting with the use of props, and was coming up with ideas for different set pieces, which he would bring to the set every morning to rehearse with.

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The only obstacles that Cary Grant encountered during the filming of Bringing Up Baby was trying to overcome his fears of the leopard. He had tried so hard to vanquish his terror, but failed at every attempt. For his scenes with Baby, a stand-in was mainly used to play out the scene for him. On her part, Katharine Hepburn displayed no signs of being terrified. She relished her time with Nissa, and to play upon his fear, Hepburn reportedly found pleasure in throwing a toy leopard through the roof of Grant’s dressing room. In her autobiography, Hepburn said of the incident, “He was out of there like lightning.” On one particular occasion, Nissa lunged at Hepburn when she was required to twirl around in her skirt for a scene, but was controlled by her trainer, Olga Celeste, who would immediately crack her whip each time Nissa was misbehaving.

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After months of disruptions, the filming of Bringing Up Baby officially came to a close on January 6th, 1938 when they completed the scenes outside Mr. Peabody’s house. For a vehicle that was initially intended to be a short production shot on a low budget, the film was $330,000  more than the estimated price, and was forty days over schedule. RKO producers were not impressed with the finished property, and addressed all the concerns that was burdening them. They also expressed their displeasure in the on-screen appearance of the two stars. Despite their constant display of vexation, Bringing Up Baby passed the Motion Picture Production Code, and cost $1,096,796.23.

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The nutty escapades of an erratic paleontologist and a maniacal heroine was a chimerical tale that was guaranteed to enchant audiences, but unfortunately, the film was a dramatic flop on its release. Frank S. Nugent from the New York Times left a scathing review saying the film was “derivative and cliché-ridden, a rehash of dozens of other screwball comedies of the period. He went on to state that Hepburn’s performance was “breathless, senseless, and terribly, terribly fatiguing. If you’ve never been to the movies, Bringing Up Baby will be new to you – a zany-ridden product of the goofy-farce school. But who hasn’t been to the movies?”. On the other hand, Bringing Up Baby managed to survive on the positivity that did circulate. Otis Ferguson from The New York Republic gave a fine analysis by lending emphasis on the films comic rhythm and Hawks masterful direction. As time progressed however, Bringing Up Baby has grown in popularity, and is now considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.

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THE PLOT

In this delightful tale set in the idyllic world that everyone dreams of visiting, love runs wild for the two protagonists. We are first introduced to David Huxley ( Cary Grant ), a highly intellectual but eccentric paleontologist, who is involved in the construction of a Brontosaurus, and is in need of the last intercostal clavicle to complete the project.

For David, things couldn’t be better. He is engaged to marry his stuffy secretary, Alice Swallow ( Virginia Walker ), who believes that his work is the foundation of their marriage. He is also elated that the bone he acquires for his assignment has been found. Adding to the positive perspective that he has on life is the fact that he is closely being considered for the $1 million from Mrs. Carleton Random that he needs for the project. But when he meets the bothersome and scatterbrained heiress, Susan Vance ( Katharine Hepburn ), he is thrust into the throes of destruction, and becomes entangled on a roller-coaster of misadventures.

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Bringing Up Baby is a whimsical account that delves into the illusion of reality, and what many people wish was an authentic analysis of their own life. Susan Vance is a person that everyone aspires to be. She is free-spirited, effervescent, strong-willed, and often times uncompromising with a positive reflection on life. She is not afraid to pursue her dreams and chase after what she wants, even if her target comes in the form of a handsome paleontologist with a scientific approach to life. That young man happens to be David Huxley whose plans are immediately thrown out of orbit as soon he encounters Susan during his golf game with Mr. Peabody.

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In hindsight, Susan rescues David from a tumultuous marriage that would have ended in debris. Alice Swallow is an impertinent woman whose saturnine approach to life makes her incapable of love. She doesn’t see David as being the object of her affections. She is only interested in his career. While David yearns for a honeymoon and children, the only thing on the horizon for Alice is work.

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“Now once and for all, David, *nothing* must interfere with your work. Our marriage must entail no domestic entanglements of any kind.”

“You mean… you mean…”

“I mean of *any* kind, David.”

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Susan is aware of David’s elopement to Alice, but she does everything in her power to prevent it. These plans that Susan has for David can easily jeopardize the chances of him receiving the $1 million endowment from Mrs. Random, who happens to be Susan’s aunt, but for Susan this doesn’t appear to be a problem. Hilarious results follow when because of Susan, David is trapped in Connecticut and becomes the victim of a wide array of outlandish pranks and unusual circumstances.

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The films rapid transformation from box-office failure to a celebrated cinematic staple is something that film enthusiasts find mystifying. Back in 1938, audiences looked at Bringing Up Baby from a different viewpoint. They saw it as an unbearably silly and archaic production that was made when the screwball comedy was a declining genre. If it was made a few years earlier the films reception could have been more successful. As the years progressed however, the films popularity has soared dramatically, and even today Bringing Up Baby continues to evoke positivity among modern movie-goers.

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Despite the films poor status rating at the box-office, Katharine Hepburn often reflected back on all the joyous occasions that were spent on set. In Bringing Up Baby, Hepburn was evidently in her element. She savored all her moments where she got to be adventuress, and later stated that she enjoyed the scene that had her fearlessly climbing into the leopards cage. Whatever stunt she had to perform, Katharine enthusiastically embraced the challenge.

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The prolific efforts from the background team all helped to propel Bringing Up Baby to the highest pinnacle. The masterful cinematography by Russell Metty encompassed all visual elements and aided the film to success, while Roy Webb’s musical aspects assisted in making the production achieve greatness. Difficulties were initially faced when trying to attain the rights for using the song, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, but eventually everything was cleared, and the use of the song left audiences marveling.

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The screen duo of Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant may not be as celebratory as Katharine’s storybook romance and on-screen relationship with Spencer Tracy, but in their four film collaboration, the two gloriefied audiences with their intense comic delivery and unrivaled talent. Bringing Up Baby is solid proof that Hepburn and Grant were a team that could not be surpassed.

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TRIVIA:

The scene in which Susan’s dress is ripped was inspired by something that happened to Cary Grant. He was at the Roxy Theater one night and his pants zipper was down when it caught on the back of a woman’s dress. Grant impulsively followed her. When he told this story to Howard Hawks, Hawks loved it and put it into the film.

David’s response to Aunt Elizabeth asking him why he is wearing a woman’s dressing gown (“Because I just went gay all of a sudden!”) is considered by many film historians to be the first use of the word “gay” in its roughly modern sense (as opposed to its original meaning of “happy, carefree”) in an American studio film. Among homosexuals, the word first came into its current use during the 1920s or possibly even earlier, though it was not popularly known as a slang term for homosexuality until the late 1960s. The line was not in the original shooting script for the film; it was an ad lib from Cary Grant himself. It’s more like Grant meant to use the term in the common usage of time., Where it meant happy, or in a party mood.

After a bad start, Howard Hawks grew to respect Katharine Hepburn tremendously for her comic timing, ad-libbing skills and physical control. He would tell the press, “She has an amazing body – like a boxer. It’s hard for her to make a wrong turn. She’s always in perfect balance. She has that beautiful coordination that allows you to stop and make a turn and never fall off balance. This gives her an amazing sense of timing. I’ve never seen a girl that had that odd rhythm and control.”

Near the end of filming, Katharine Hepburn‘s name appeared in a trade ad placed by the Independent Theatre Owners Association at the top of a list of performers they considered “box-office poison.” Also on the list were Joan CrawfordGreta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. The publicity about Hepburn’s lack of popularity did little to help the film at the box office.

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CAST:

Katharine Hepburn: Born, Katharine Houghton Hepburn on May 12th, 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut. Died: June 29th, 2003 in Fenwick, Connecticut. Aged: 96.

Cary Grant: Born, Archibald Alexander Leach on January 18th, 1904 in Bristol, England. Died: November 29th, 1986 in Davenport, Iowa. Aged 82.

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This post was written for the Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy Blogathon, hosted by yours truly from In The Good Old Days Of Classic HollywoodTo read the other articles from the event, please click here.

 

 

 

 

ROBIN WILLIAMS COOKS UP A STORM IN “MRS. DOUBTFIRE” ( 1993 )

“For me, comedy starts as a spew, a kind of explosion, and then you sculpt it from there, if at all. It comes out of a deeper, darker side. Maybe it comes from anger, because I’m outraged by cruel absurdities, the hypocrisy that exists everywhere, even within yourself, where it’s hardest to see.”

( Robin Williams )

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An unprecedented comedic genius who epitomized humor in modern cinema with his natural wit, superlative talents, and boundless energy, Robin Williams brought happiness into the lives of millions worldwide by excelling in making people laugh.

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In today’s Hollywood where manufactured stars seem to adorn our screens, Robin Williams was as authentic as they come. His originality combined with his effervescent and fun-loving nature transformed him into a beloved cultural icon who is adored by generations.

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In every performance he delivered, Robin Williams gives viewers a glimpse into the window of his genius. One role that really transcended his talents is that of Daniel Hillard in the 1993 film, Mrs. Doubtfire, in which he played a devoted father who disguises himself as a elderly female housekeeper, so he can spend time with his children.

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From the moment Mrs. Doubtfire was first conceived, the film acquired all the right ingredients for success. The idea originated when Anne Fine’s award winning novel, Madame Doubtfire was published in 1987. Six years later, Fine’s imaginary tale was brought to life on screen with Robin Williams playing the central protagonist. Screen writers, Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon wrote the screen play while Legendary film maker, Chris Columbus directed with the accelerator on full speed. Joining the fellow crew members were Robin, his wife, Marsha Garces Williams and Mark Radcliffe who occupied the producers chair.

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The magic was initially set to unfold in Chicago, but because the city already had a lease with two other television productions during that time, San Francisco became the residence of the Hillard family. The setting was a Victorian style stately and commodious mansion situated at 2640 Steiner Street. A large number of scenes were shot at the home, providing us viewers with a virtual tour of the luxurious dwelling. However, it has been stated that the interior shots were filmed in a Bay Area warehouse. In addition to the Hillard’s grandiose property, audiences are also given a birds eye view of San Francisco when Mrs. Doubtfire is seen venturing around the city with the children.

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In the years proceeding the release of Mrs. Doubtfire, the Steiner Street residence has become an iconic landmark for tourists, but when Robin Williams died in 2014, the Hillard mansion immediately transformed into an impromptu memorial. On the day the news leaked out, hundreds of fans gathered outside the house, paying tribute to the actor who broke the silence with his laughter.

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The image of Robin Williams dressed as Euphegenia Doubtfire is eternally etched in the hearts of millions worldwide, but before he played everyone’s favorite English housekeeper, Williams had charted many different territories, and succeeded at whatever avenue he followed. We were first introduced to this phenomenal human-being when he arrived on Hollywood soil as Mork, the wacky alien in the famed American sitcom, Mork & Mindy. When the actor became an household name, his status ascended, and soon his presence would be gracing cherished films such as, Dead Poets Society, Jumanji, Good Morning Vietnam, Patch Adams, and Good Will Hunting. 

“Did you ever wish you could sometimes freeze frame a moment in your day, look at it and say “this is not my life”?

As strange as it may seem, Mrs. Doubtfire garnered mixed reviews and was a moderate success on its release. Compared to other cross-dressing vehicles like Tootsie ( 1982 ) and Some Like It Hot ( 1959 ), the film hardly made an impression. David Ansen from Newsweek wrote, “I’ve rarely laughed at a movie so much that I generally disliked.”. Janet Maslin from The New York Times stated, “The dress, the mask and Mrs. Doubtfire’s gentility are inherently limiting, but nothing holds Mr. Williams back when he’s on a roll. Brian Lowry from Variety had a slightly different opinion, and paid emphasis on the positive aspects of the movie when he said, “Although overly sappy in places and probably twenty minutes too long, this Robin Williams-in-drag vehicle provides the comic a slick surface for doing his shtick, within a story possessing broad family appeal.”. As the years progressed, Mrs. Doubtfire soared in popularity, and is now considered to be one of the greatest productions to adorn cinema screens.

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Despite the constant panning of the movie, the film industry and Hollywood studio moguls viewed the film as a distinguishable feature that was equipped with efficacious additives. They also seen Robin Williams as the perfect condiment to any production. Ultimately, Mrs. Doubtfire triumphed. Robin Williams attained the Golden Globe for his performance, while the film won for Best Picture and Best Makeup. For his role, Robin Williams spent up to three or four hours in the make up chair. You can watch a video about the makeup process here.

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With the success of Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams was trying to adjust to the whirlwind of fame, which had largely impacted his life. He couldn’t leave his home without being confronted by a deluge of autograph seekers or photographers, who kept springing questions on to him. What he needed was a break away from the cameras. When the stress of movie making began to take it’s toll, he packed up his family and embarked on a journey to Italy, where they stayed in a luxurious villa. In Italy, Robin was free to be himself. He could spend time with his children and explore the countryside without encountering a barrage of photographers.

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Adding to his worries were the difficulties that he was enmeshed in back on the home front. Fueling these altercations were the strains that came with preparation and moving. In the months prior to their Italy vacation, Robin and his wife, Marsha were getting ready to finalize their move to a 12,000-foot estate overlooking the San Francisco Bay. By the time they had relocated to their new residence, Marsha had become the instrumental force behind a lot of Robin’s career moves. She served as her husbands protector and managed to rescue him from the turbulence that dominated the film industry.

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While Marsha was often commended for the tremendous support she had given her husband, some people looked at their working relationship through a different light. To these individuals, Marsha embodied all the characteristics of a pushy Hollywood wife. What they didn’t understand is that Robin considered Marsha to be the power behind his consummation. Along with his wife, Robin founded the Blue Wolf Production Company, and together they assisted each other in project canvassing and script analyzing. Not long after the establishment, Mrs. Doubtfire was born.

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THE PLOT

In a role that best defines the comedienne, Robin Williams portrays Daniel Hillard, an amiable but eccentric voice actor and devoted father to three children, Lydia, Chris, and Natalie. When a surprise birthday party for his son creates havoc, his wife, Miranda ( Sally Field ) files for divorce. Having just left his job, Daniel is granted visitation rights every Saturday while Miranda is given sole custody of the children.

To further complicate matters, Miranda puts out an ad for a housekeeper to watch over the children when they arrive home from school. Daniel, who has just secured a position at a local television station, feels that Miranda is depriving him of his own children, and manipulates her plans by altering the advertisement, so other interested prospects can’t inquire about the job. Possessed with an air of eccentricity, Daniel relies on his creative flair for voice impersonating to save him from the exigencies of not seeing his children, and disguises himself as a Scottish nanny named Euphegenia Doubtfire then applies for the position. Much to his surprise, Miranda is impressed with the maid, and Mrs. Doubtfire is immediately hired.

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THE FOOD IN MRS. DOUBTFIRE

Food plays a pivotal role all through out the movie. As Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel is forced to expose himself to duties that he once considered to be menial tasks. When he was married to Miranda, Daniel never carried out any household chores, and usually failed at anything that required him to be serious, but now that Daniel has landed the job of housekeeper, he must cook, clean and perform other tasks that has been assigned.

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At first, the idea of honing his domestic skills seem impossible to Daniel, but with sheer determination and compassion, he knows that he can succeed. His first attempt at cooking dinner as Mrs. Doubtfire turns disastrous when he burns the hollandaise sauce, drops a pot of potatoes in boiling water on the floor, and burns and destroys another pot while trying to prepare food. Just when things are already hilariously out of hand, more problems arise when his silicon body suit catches fire as he leans over the stove to try and salvage the curdling hollandaise sauce. In a state of panic, he calls Valenti’s to get dinner delivered, and pays the driver $135 for food and damaged goods. Surprisingly, his chaotic mess goes undiscovered. Instead, Miranda and the children are elated when they enter the formal dining area and find the room decked out lavishly with candles, fancy cutlery, and the plates creatively adorned with pasta, shrimp and carrots, which they believe were cooked by Mrs. Doubtfire.

“Look at this! My first day as a woman and I’m getting hot flashes.”

In due time Daniel is able to morph himself from an amateur cook to a capable chef, who enjoys preparing meals for his family. His sudden burst of inspiration is drawn from Julia Child, the prominent chef whose introductory to French cuisine had a large impact on American households. After attaining tips and different meal ideas by watching Child’s episodes, Mrs. Doubtfire is able to cook crayfish for the family, and when he has the children on a Saturday afternoon, he makes spaghetti bolognese, and astonishes Miranda with his newfound talents.

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In order to dress as Mrs. Doubtfire, and to spend time with his children, there is a price that Daniel must pay. Miranda has been seeing Stu Dunmeyer ( Pierce Brosnan ), who is pursuing a relationship with her. When Stu arranges a birthday dinner for Miranda at Bridges Restaurant, perplexing dilemmas ensue. Because Mrs. Doubtfire is considered to be part of the family, Miranda asks her to join them at the restaurant. The set of problems emerge when Daniel tries to postpone a dinner date with the station’s CEO, Jonathan Lundy at the same restaurant on the same night. Trouble starts to brew when he is unable to change the appointment, which leaves Daniel with a difficult decision to make.

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Daniel is entangled in a confounding cobweb. He wants to attend Miranda’s birthday function, but he also wants to have dinner with Jonathon Lundy. With whatever decision he makes, he knows he will run into a challenge. After being thrust into the throes of danger, it will be hard to elude the mess that he would likely get himself into. However, he decides to take a risk by rotating in and out of the Mrs. Doubtfire costume to be present at both engagements.

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From the moment he enters the restaurant, Daniel is treading in dangerous waters, but before any obstacles occur, hilarious results begin to proceed when Daniel gets slightly intoxicated and starts making mistakes, which he succeeds in covering up. Perhaps the funniest moment of the entire movie happens towards the end of the famous Bridges Restaurant scene when Stu Dunmeyer orders dinner. Allergic to spicy food or anything that contains pepper, Stu requests that his Jambalaya be brought out very mild. Daniel however, decides to take revenge on Stu. As he exits the bathrooms after changing into his Mrs. Doubtfire costume, he invades the kitchen and picks up a bottle that reads “Hot Cayenne Pepper”, and pours most of the contents of the bottle into Stu’s Jambalaya, causing him to choke at the first mouthful.

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Anyone who is familiar with Mrs. Doubtfire would know that the movie is just not about food. This is a film that explores a crucial subject matter. Divorce, separation, and custody battles are a common thing that happens everyday in the world. As is the case with many real life scenarios, Miranda is the one who gains sole custody of the children. Daniel as we know is a devoted father who loves his children, and would not be able to endure the pain of being without them, but because he is unemployed and living in an unsuitable residence, he is only allowed visitation rights once a week.

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 Mrs. Doubtfire is a cinematic treasure. In addition to the touching and poignant story is Donald McAlpine’s masterful cinematography, and the glorious music score by Howard Shore. Adding to these redeeming features is the stellar cast. Robin Williams was a tremendously gifted actor with his own scripted brand of comic artistry. His performance as Euphegenia Doubtfire is solid proof of his acting ability that could not be surpassed.

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Robin Williams preached hilarity, and taught people how to overcome the misfortunes through comedy. But sadly for Robin, life itself was a villain. Behind all that laughter lived a tormented soul who spent years trying to defeat the demons that would ultimately lead to tragedy. On August 11, 2014, the movie industry died when everybody’s favorite funny man committed suicide at his Paradise Cay home.

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Rest In Eternal Peace Robin Williams. The laughter may have stopped, but audiences worldwide will still continue to follow your ingenious trail of artistry that you left behind.

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TRIVIA:

Talk of a sequel began in 2003, with a script being written by Bonnie HuntRobin Williamswas set to return in disguise as an old nanny like in the first movie. Due to problems with the script, re-writing began in early 2006 as Robin was allegedly unhappy with the plot. The film was expected to be released in late 2007, but following further script problems, the sequel was declared “scrapped” in mid 2006. The sequel’s story was originally said to involve Williams, as Mrs. Doubtfire, moving close to his daughter’s college, so he could keep an eye on her. Serious discussions regarding the sequel re-ignited in April 2014, with an announcement that Robin Williams and Chris Columbus would be teaming up with Fox 2000 to produce the sequel. Williams’ sudden death just four months later ultimately sealed the project’s fate once and for all. No one replaced him either.

Robin Williams used much of his real childhood nanny to characterize Mrs. Doubtfire. When British tabloids found this out, they went looking for his former nanny. They found his real nanny, “Lolly”, in a Michigan nursing home, and the reporters and photographers flocked to the little town to get an interview with her. Lolly balked at the attention and downplayed her impressive role. (The reporter found out Lolly had in fact been a nanny to other Hollywood celebrities, including Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Waggoner.) As a result, the local newspaper ran a story of Lolly with the heading “The Real Mrs. Doubtfire”.

Chris Columbus was amazed how far Robin Williams took his performance. First, he played each scene as scripted two to three times, and then was allowed to improvise, or “playing” as Williams called it. Columbus allowed Williams a lot of improvisation, because that was where the film’s funniest material came from; in fact, Columbus called it magical at times.

Robin Williams would walk around San Francisco as Mrs. Doubtfire to see if he could get away with it. On one occasion, he visited a sex shop to buy a large dildo and other toys.

Mrs. Doubtfire marked the film debut of Mara Wilson.

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CAST:

Robin Williams: Born, Robin McLauren Williams on July 21st, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois. Died: August 11th, 2014 in Paradise Cay, California. Aged 63. Cause of death: Suicide by hanging.

Sally Field: Born, Sally Margaret Field on November 6th, 1946 in Pasadena, California.

Pierce Brosnan: Born, May 16th, 1953 in Drogheda, Republic of Ireland.

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This post was written for the Food In Film Blogathon, hosted by, Silver Screenings SpeakeasyTo read the other posts from the event, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IVY ( 1947 ) : GUEST POST BY ELIZABETH NELSON

ivyMany years ago my husband was learning to play the piano and somewhere along the line acquired a book of sheet music by Hoagy Carmichael. One of the songs in the songbook was “Ivy.” At the top of the page it said “Theme of the Universal International Picture “Ivy” starring Joan Fontaine. Well I had never heard of this film but this was pre-internet so did not have an easy way to find it. Cut to two years ago and my husband and I were attending Noir City Chicago and lo and behold they were showing Lodger,” another of the so-called gaslight or gothic noirs written by Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes,

 

Almost exactly ten years after playing the “Damsel in Distress” 1937, Joan Fontaine appears as the damsel, Ivy Lexton, who causes distress for three different men; her husband, Jervis Lexton, played by Richard Ney, her lover she has grown disenchanted with, Roger Gretorex played by Patric Knowles, and the wealthy man she sets her sights on, Miles Rushworth, played by Herbert Marshall. Joan Fontaine’s own mother, Lilian Fontaine, plays the mother of Miles Rushworth’s fiance.

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Joan Fontaine is at her most dazzlingly beautiful and beguiling in this film. She is often photographed in close up and wears exquisite Edwardian clothing and hats designed by Orry-Kelly. It’s easy to see why the three men fall under her spell. Ivy is amoral when it comes to her desire for wealth and beauty and in some ways behaves as an automaton as if she is as powerless as in a Greek tragedy. Even the set decorations designed by Richard Riedel and Russell Gausman overseen by producer and art director William Cameron Menzies, with its neoclassical garlands and amphoras on the walls like Wedge-wood evokes the Greek amphitheater.

Coincidentally the haunting harpsichord motif that signals when Ivy is about to do something regrettable is composed by Daniele Amfitheatrof. I think this film is the first time I have heard harpsichord music used in this way. The score is beautiful, and airs from the song “Ivy” signal when Ivy Lexton is happy.

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There are three key scenes which are enhanced by the cinematography of Russell Metty, who creates a sense of foreboding with lowering skies and clouds, light and darkness in corners and corridors. The first scene is the one in which Ivy visits a spiritualist at the beginning of the film. The shots are close up and claustrophobic. The harpsichord motif is introduced and the fate of Ivy is set in motion. The second scene takes place on the shores of Dover where a group of curiosity seekers are waiting to see the results of the 1909 Channel flight contest. The wind is blowing and the clouds are ominous when Miles Rushmore appears in his automobile and takes notice of Mrs. Lexton, Ivy. The third scene takes place at a house party. Roger Gretorex, Ivy’s lover, corners her in a gazebo and while emotions are flaring, a huge fireworks display illuminates their figures against the dark cloudy sky.

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I have tried to avoid giving any spoilers by describing the plot in detail because this film is best watched without prior knowledge for maximum suspense. Suffice it to say you will be bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by “Ivy.”

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This fantastic post was written by Elizabeth Nelson for the Joan Fontaine Centenary Blogathon. This is the first guest post for In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood, and what a wonderful contribution it is. Thank you Elizabeth for taking part.

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THE JOAN FONTAINE CENTENARY BLOGATHON IS HERE

 

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This Sunday, October 22nd, is a special day for classic film enthusiasts worldwide. The legendary actress, Joan Fontaine would be celebrating her 100th centenary. For the occasion, my friend Virginie from The Wonderful World Of Cinema and myself from, In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood are hosting a blogathon in her honor.

A big thank you to those who have taken the time to participate. We both look forward to reading your entries.

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THE JOAN FONTAINE CENTENARY BLOGATHON ENTRIES:

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films shares her delightful tribute dedicated to Joan Fontaine

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Caftan Woman talks about Joan Fontaine in the 1948 film, Kiss The Blood Off My Hands

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Wide Screen World joins the party with his review on The Bigamist ( 1953 )

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Taking Up Room provides us with an engaging entry on Joan Fontaine’s 1943 masterpiece, Jane Eyre 

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A Shroud Of Thoughts pens an engaging and informative article on Frenchman’s Creek ( 1944 )

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Elizabeth Nelson: Guest post at In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood joins us with an excellent article on Ivy ( 1947 )

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Real Weedgie Midget Reviews talks about Joan’s performance in One Step Beyond, an episode from The Visitor.

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Pure Entertainment Preservation Society joins us with a delightful article on The Empire Waltz ( 1948 )

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Love Letters To Old Hollywood provides us with a detailed account on the 1948 film, You Gotta Stay Happy

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Critica Retro presents us with a thoroughly engaging article on The Bigamist ( 1953 )

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Portraits By Jenni joins the party with an intriguing article on Ivanhoe ( 1952 )

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The Dream Book Blog talks about how Joan Fontaine and Joseph Cotten escape reality in September Affair ( 1950 )

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Moon In Gemini delivers a great post on Joan Fontaine in Born To Be Bad ( 1950 )

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Cinema Cities joins the party with an excellent article on Joan’s films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca ( 1940 ) and Suspicion ( 1941 )

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My co-host Virginie from The Wonderful World Of Cinema pens a delightful tribute post to Joan. You can read her article here.

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THE SPENCER TRACY AND KATHARINE HEPBURN BLOGATHON IS HERE

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Anyone who knows me would know that I am a devoted fan of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and have always marveled over the level of talent that both stars exuded. When my fellow Kate enthusiast, Margaret Perry asked me if I would do the hosting duties for this years blogathon, I was euphoric, and approached the assignment with absolute gusto.

It’s been three months since I announced this great blogathon, which showcases the masterful dexterity of Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy, her frequent co-star and love interest. As time progressed, an array of bloggers registered, and during the course of the next few days, these prolific writers will be celebrating the life and careers of both stars who continue to leave an indelible mark on cinematic history.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate, and I look forward to reading your entries.

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THE SPENCER TRACY AND KATHARINE HEPBURN BLOGATHON ENTRIES:

The Wonderful World Of Cinema explores a memorable piece of Spencer Tracy’ career before Katharine Hepburn entered the picture, with her delightful article on Libeled Lady ( 1936 )

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Silver Screenings expresses her love for Katharine Hepburn in a written letter to the exceptional actress who exceeded her expectations. You can view her post on the Great Kate here.

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Love Letters To Old Hollywood goes on a vacation with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant with her exceptional post on their third film together, Holiday ( 1938 )

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Cinematic Scribblings visits Kate’s Academy Award winning performance in The Lion In Winter ( 1968 )

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Maddy Loves Her Classic Films tells us what happens when Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn work as opposing lawyers in Adam’s Rib ( 1949 )

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Taking Up Room explains why Spencer Tracy is the shining figure in Boys Town ( 1938 )

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Karavansara tells us why Katharine Hepburn’ performance shouldn’t go unnoticed in, The Iron Petticoat ( 1956 )

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The Story Enthusiast delves into the background and history of Katharine’ first film with Cary Grant, Sylvia Scarlett ( 1935 )

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The Stop Button reminisces about the time when Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy sent sparks flying in Desk Set ( 1957 )

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Sat In Your Lap revisits Spencer Tracy’ role, where he endured the disastrous 1906 earthquake in San Francisco ( 1936 ) 

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For her second post, Taking Up Room talks about the sequel to “Boys Town”, Men Of Boys Town ( 1941 )

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The Diary Of A Movie Maniac tells us why Katharine Hepburn is an absolute delight in Love Among The Ruins ( 1975 )

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A Shroud Of Thoughts joins us with Spencer Tracy in Bad Day At Black Rock ( 1955 )

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For her second post, Love Letters To Old Hollywood reminisces about the time when Katharine Hepburn first met and fell in love with Spencer Tracy in Woman Of The Year ( 1942 )

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Vinnie H Movie Reviews goes on a memorable journey with Kate & Bogie on The African Queen ( 1951 )

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The Dream Book Blog sings the praises of Kate’s stellar performance in Long Day’s Journey Into Night ( 1962 )

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The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog talks about Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in State Of The Union ( 1948 )

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The Divine Miss. Hepburn joins Kate and Cary on their fun misadventures in Bringing Up Baby ( 1938 )

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Cinema Monolith discusses Spencer Tracy’ performance in The Seventh Cross ( 1944 )

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Blogferatu delves into the horror aspects of Katharine’ film, Suddenly, Last Summer ( 1959 )

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For her third post, Taking Up Room takes us back to Katharine’ roots as a sports enthusiast in Pat And Mike ( 1952 )

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Real Weedgie Midget Reviews visits Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond ( 1981 )

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I found It At The Movies joins the party with an engaging article on Spencer Tracy’ performance in Bad Day At Block Rock ( 1955 )

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Moon In Gemini delivers the delightful news that Spencer Tracy’ daughter is getting married in Father Of The Bride ( 1950 )

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Wolffian Classic Movies Digest revisits one of Tracy & Hepburn’s most underrated movies, Keeper Of The Flame ( 1943 )

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Prince Of Hollywood joins us with Katharine’s first Oscar winning performance in Morning Glory ( 1933 )

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Pure Entertainment Preservation Society reflects on her memorable vacation with Kate and Cary in Holiday ( 1938 )

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Anybody Got A Match? tells us about the screen-pairing of Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis in 20,000 Years In Sing Sing ( 1932 )

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Hometowns To Hollywood takes us on a journey back to Spencer Tracy’s early years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Le Cinema Dreams provides us with a delightful analysis on Spencer Tracy’s role in The Actress ( 1953 )

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For her fourth entry, Taking Up Room delivers Katharine’s heartfelt tribute to Spencer Tracy with her engaging article on The Spencer Tracy Legacy, Hosted By Katharine Hepburn ( 1986 )

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For her fourth entry, Vinnie H Movie Reviews talks about Spencer Tracy in Broken Lance ( 1954 )

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DB Movies Blog provides us with a fantastic article on the film that resurrected Kate’s career, The Philadelphia Story ( 1940 )

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The Flapper Dame joins the party with an engrossing article on the performances of Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable & Myrna Loy in The Test Pilot ( 1938 )

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Critica Retro gives a fine analysis on Kate’s touching & poignant tribute to Spence in The Spencer Tracy Legacy, Hosted by Katharine Hepburn. 

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Life With Books & Movies reminisces about his time with Kate and Henry On Golden Pond ( 1981 )

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Lauren Champkin joins us with her article on Spencer’s spectacular film, Father Of The Bride ( 1950 )

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For her second post, Pure Entertainment Preservation Society pens a delightful article on the first of the nine Tracy & Hepburn films, Woman Of The Year ( 1942 )

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And to finish off the blogathon, I deliver to you all an article on my second favorite movie, Bringing Up Baby ( 1938 )

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