Thursday, July 21, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks #419: Female Bosses

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is "Female Bosses", something which wasn't particularly common in the sort of old movie that I normally blog about. The Production Code generally wanted women to stay in the home and be good mothers and housewives. But there were women who could certainly be considered bosses, although only one of my selections is in the traditional business sense:

Female (1933). Ruth Chatterton plays a woman who inherited her father's automobile company, and decided to run it herself, something she's very good at. So good that she doesn't have time for a serious romantic relationship. At least, not until she meets automotive engineer George Brent. Modern-day women will probably dislike the ending to this one.

This Woman Is Dangerous (1952). Joan Crawofrd plays the boss of a gang of criminals that pulls off high-value heists. Unfortunately, she's also going blind, and needs an operation that only specialist doctor Dennis Morgan can perform. So she drops out of sight (no pun intended) to get the surgery, not telling second-in-command David Brian. She falls in love with Morgan and decides to go straight, but Brian finds out where she is. It's the sort of over-the-top melodrama that Crawford was so good at doing in the 1950s, even if the movies aren't the highest quality.

The Virgin Queen (1955). Bette Davis plays one of the ultimate female bosses, Elizabeth I of England. This time, she's pursued by Sir Walter Raleigh (Richard Todd), who is looking for financing to undertake an expedition to the New World (remember, this is a good quarter century before Jamestown). Of course, there's all sorts of palace intrigue going on, and Raleigh complicates things by falling in love with one of Her Majesty's ladies-in-waiting (a young Joan Collins).

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks #417: Fairs

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. I'm back after a several-week hiatus, mostly because I looked at this week's theme, "Fairs", and realized that it wasn't going to be too difficult to find three movies that fit the theme, as opposed to say last week's TV theme of origin stories. (I'm not into comic book superheroes or movie/TV adaptations of them.) The only issue was whether or not I had used any of the movies before. With that in mind, here are my three selections:

State Fair (1933). You may know the Rogers and Hammerstein musical State Fair, but that wasn't original; in fact, it was written directly for the screen, being based on both the 1933 movie and the novel that preceded the movie. (There was another musical version in the early 1960s.) In this first movie version, Will Rogers, Fox's big star of folksy movies in the days before Variety wrote the "Stix Nix Hick Pix" headline, plays the patriarch of an Iowa family who head off to the state fair for the weekend. Daughter Janet Gaynor meets and falls in love with Lew Ayers; Norman Foster plays the son who falls in love with Sally Eilers. Victor Jory shows up at the beginning of his career, playing the ring toss barker running a crooked game.

So Long at the Fair (1950). Jean Simmons plays a young woman traveling to the Paris World's Fair together with her older brother. She wakes up the next morning to see the fair with her brother, only to find out that her brother is no longer in his hotel room, and there's no evidence that he was ever there, with nobody even willing to admit that the brother even existed. Dirk Bogarde plays an artist who is eventually able to offer Simmons some assistance; a very young Honor Blackman plays Bogarde's girlfriend.

Ministry of Fear (1944). Ray Milland gets out of a mental hospital in the middle of World War II England. He then goes to a village fair, where he wins a cake by guessing its weight. The only thing is, he wasn't supposed to be the winner, and the person who was supposed to win would really like the cake, which contains microfilm that a ring of spies wants for its own nefarious purposes. Milland has to flee to London and try to break the spy ring himself. Watch for Dan Duryea as the guy who wants the cake.