Category: classic film

classic film film diary general discussion

The Mysterious Mrs. Danvers: Queer Subtext in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca

This post is part of the Queer Film Blogathon currently being hosted by Caroline at Garbo Laughs to celebrate gay pride month. The aim of the blogathon is to examine films that feature “lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or otherwise non-heterosexual, non-gender-binary depictions or personages in film.” For an overview of queer film theory, click here.

The film I’d like to focus on is David O. Selznick’s adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca (1940). Many scholars of queer film theory have written of the relationship between Manderley’s mysterious and frightening Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) and the ghostly but ever-present Rebecca. Rhona J. Berenstien notes that the horror genre is “a primary arena for sexualities and practices that fall outside the purview of patriarchal culture, and the subgeneric tropes of the unseen, the ghost and the haunted house…Portraying lesbians as ghosts in Hollywood movies is, then, directly linked to cultural attitudes and anxieties about homosexuality. The lesbian is a paradoxical figure; she is an invisible–yet representational–threat.”

Continue reading

classic film laurence olivier

Favorite Films of 1939: Wuthering Heights

Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights

When I originally signed on to participate in the CMBA Films of 1939 Blogathon, I was really hoping I’d get a chance to write about William Wyler’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights. But it turned out someone else had already chosen to write about this film. Therefore, I decided to wait until after the blogathon finished to get my two cents in about what is not only one of my favorite films of 1939, but what might just be my favorite film, period.

Let me give you a little back story. I read Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights for my AP English class during my senior year in high school and admittedly hated it. This was followed by  screening of the 1992 film version starring Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes, and I hated that, too. Then one day a couple of years down the road, I caught the 1939 version on TCM and the rest, as they say, is history.

Continue reading

classic film

CMBA Movies of 1939 Blogathon: Q Planes

Laurence Olivier and Valerie Hobson in Q Planes

Released just months before England declared war on Germany in 1939, Q Planes (Clouds Over Europe) is a cross between a spy thriller and a comedy, and is a precursor to the strongly nationalistic, anti-German films that would reach their zenith in Britain during the war years. The film was helmed by American director Tim Whelan (Sidewalks of London and co-director of The Thief of Bagdad) who was then in Britain working for Alexander Korda at Denham Studios.

Q Planes was the second film Laurence Olivier did with Whelan. The first was the delightful romantic comedy The Divorce of Lady X co-starring Merle Oberon, which had been filmed in Technicolor. I actually prefer The Divorce of Lady X on the whole, as it gives Olivier more to do with his character. This is not to say that Q Planes was bad, however. It was actually rather funny. Olivier plays Tony McVane, a test pilot who falls for an undercover journalist named Kay (Valerie Hobson) who is investigating a series of plane disappearances off the coast of England. The planes happen to be disappearing from the factory McVane works for. Investigating the mystery is Kay’s older brother Major Hammond, “an easy-going alcoholic” Scotland Yard secret service agent played to perfection by one of Olivier’s real life friends, Ralph Richardson. McVane and Hammond team up to solve the mystery of the missing planes. When McVane decided to go on one last test mission, his plane is shot down by German spies and he and his crew are taken captive. Onboard the enemy ship, McVane discovers that the same fate has befallen all of the other test pilots that have gone missing. They quickly form together to defeat the Germans (complete with really fake fight sequences and McVane firing a machine gun at his enemies) before being rescued by Hammond who commissions the Navy to help.

Ralph Richardson, Valerie Hobson and Laurence Olivier in Q Planes

Richardson gives what is by far the best and most interesting performance in the film. His Major Hammond is the quintessential British detective who has a string of cliche sayings such as “I say, old boy,” and “Good show, good show.” Although the script was penned by famous screenwriter Ian Dalrymple, Whelan apparently encouraged his actors to improvise their lines. What results is some fabulously heated and hilarious exchanges, particularly between Olivier and Hobson, who are paired as the romantic team.

Laurence Olivier in Q Planes

This was the last film Olivier starred in before going to Hollywood to film Wuthering Heights for Samuel Goldwyn and his character and performance are reflective of those he would play in various modern-dress propaganda films upon his return to England in 1940. I think he was quite good in light comedy, and it’s a shame he didn’t appear more often in this genre.

Overall, I think Olivier, Richardson and Hobson all starred in better films, but Q Planes is worth a look if you’d like to get a taste of British cinema in the 1930s. It’s also worth a look if you enjoy Laurence Olivier looking smoking hot. Just saying!

classic film

CMBA Movies of 1939 Blogathon: The Wizard of Oz

wizard of oz ruby slippers

“There’s no place like home.”

The Classic Movie Blog Association is hosting a Films of 1939 Blogathon this weekend. Being the classic film nerd that I am, I couldn’t not participate in this one. Some of my favorite films of all time were released in 1939, and over the next two days I’ll be talking about a few of them right here at So sit back, relax, and enjoy. And definitely head over to the CMBA (linked above) to check out the other entries!

There are certain films that stick with us throughout our lives. Films that we fall in love with as a child and remember just as fondly years down the road. These films are ones we find ourselves reaching for on a rainy day, or when we feel nostalgic about the past and want to recapture something of the lost magic of childhood. These are tried and true classics, no matter how old the film itself is.

Continue reading

classic film general discussion link love lists

Stylish Bloggers and Classic Film Link Love

Carley from The Kitty Packard Pictorial has bestowed a Stylish Blogger Award upon!  This came as a pleasant surprise because I only recently discovered the wonders of the Kitty Packard Pictorial during the fabulous blog-a-thon Carley hosted to honor Jean Harlow’s 100th birthday and the recent publication of  Mark A. Viera’s new book Harlow in Hollywood. Carley is really knowledgeable about classic films and her blog is so fun to read! Definitely recommended.

The rules are that I have to list 7 facts about me and pass the award on to 7 other stylish (i.e. totally fabulous) blogs. So, here are 7 things about me that may or may not be interesting:

1.  I miss California. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in London and plan to stay here for a while after my programme, but the coming of spring makes me nostalgic for balmy weather and the beach (and legit Mexican food!). I also miss my cat Coco, but I know she’s happy living at my parents’ house. No matter where I may roam, I’ll always be a California girl at heart.

Continue reading