Tuesday, February 14, 2006

every little thing she does is magic

Well, today is that day. You know the one - Valentine's Day. The annual day where the men are separated from the boys; where you separate the paper Spiderman valentine cards in the homemade shoeboxes from the $10 giant cards with all the flowers. Yessir. This is a day for pros and amateurs alike, but only the strong will survive. Today at the shelf, we won't keep you long - just a couple of tips and valentines essentials and you can be on your way... to the local flower shop, 'cause you know you forgot.

-Animated Specials-
Shelfers know of our award (not really) winning coverage of the history of animated prime-time specials. Most of them appear around holidays and Valentine's is no exception. However, there weren't many. Here are the most well known.
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975)
This is the original, which is now available on DVD with two bonus specials, You're In Love Charlie Brown and It's Your First Kiss Charlie Brown. This is a great special that hasn't really seen the airwaves since sometime in the 1980s.
A Charlie Brown Valentine (2002) -
This is a more recent special presented by ABC in the tradition of It's Christmas-time Again, Charlie Brown, in other words- no central story, just a collection of strip-based vignettes. This was the first animated special after the passing of Charles Schulz. The DVD includes two other specials (which are actually better) There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown and Someday You'll Find Her.
Disney's Happy Valentine's Day Special (1980's) No longer presented or ever really debuted on VHS, this special was originally presented as a special episode of The Wonderful World of Disney. Essentially a show full of clips from Disney shorts and features about love. Included are scenes from Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmations, some Mickey and Minnie shorts and others. This was later packaged and broadcast as Mickey's Happy Valentine's. Disney made another Valentine's VHS called Mickey Loves Minnie.

-Abbreviated media round-up-
A shortened roundup today, and it's just as well, cause there ain't much in the way of classic releases. Nonetheless, you'll at least want to check the one gem in the bunch:
Young Mr. Lincoln: Henry Fonda stars as a young Abraham Lincoln in this fictionalized look at his days as an idealistic attorney. This Criterion collection release is rather expensive, but it's packed with extras.
On Turner Classic Movies: several great picks among the many films this month. Check for local times.
Feb 14th: The Band Wagon: A great musical with the erstwhile Fred Astaire and the lovely Cyd Charisse. The Sea Hawk: Wonderful swashbuckler starring Errol Flynn.
Feb 15th: White Heat: One of James Cagney's last gangster pictures is perhaps one of the best.
Feb 16th: The Road to Utopia: Bing and Bob and Dorothy. 'Nuff said.
Feb 17th: The Great Ziegfeld and My Man Godfrey: William Powell never disappoints and neither does Myrna Loy or Carole Lombard.
Feb 18th: Back to the Future: on TCM? Well, it is a classic.
Feb 19th: The Adventures of Robin Hood. The original popcorn movie.
Feb 20th: Libeled Lady: Spencer Tracy, William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Jean Harlow. Who can resist?

Hitchcock for Lovers-
Sure, you can look all over the internet and find top ten lists of most romantic TV couples, or Top romantic spots, or movies, but for our money nothing says Valentine's Day like Alfred Hitchcock. Oh- what's that? You don't believe me? Well look at some of these great Hitchcock movies that have not only thrills, but romance- and knock 'em dead lines. Just take a look at a mere five- these are some real lady killers!

Rebecca (1940):
"Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again..." is one of the most famous opening lines in classic films. Rebecca (starring Joan Fontaine and Lawrence Olivier), based on the famous Daphne Du Maurier novel, is the story of a young women who marries rich widower, Maxim de Winter. The second Mrs. de Winter is brought to his home, Manderley, where she comes under the watchful eyes of the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers has an obsessive fixation on de Winters first wife, Rebecca. Soon the first Mrs. de Winter discovers that Rebecca has a hold on everyone and everything at Manderley, and that her accidental drowning death, may not have been "accidental" at all.
Knock 'em dead line: Maxim de Winter: "I'm asking you to marry me, you little fool."

Suspicion (1941):
Ladies, think you've found out things about your hubby after the honeymoon, that he didn't exactly share with you before? Maybe he had a large Star Wars action figure collection that he dusted regularly, or a obsession with sports memorabilia? Consider yourself lucky. In Suspicion (again starring Joan Fontaine, and now Cary Grant), Lina Mc Laidlaw (Fontaine) meets Johnnie Asgarth (Grant) on a train and they wed shortly thereafter. Soon Lina discovers that not only does Johnnie have a gambling problem but also an unhealthly interest in untraceable poisons. A nice warm glass of milk before bed, my dear? A real departure for Grant, who up until now was mostly known for romantic comedy.
Knock 'em dead line: Johnnie: "Well, well. You're the first woman I've ever met who said yes when she meant yes."

Ok, maybe your spouse has asked you to do something different. You might feel a little weird at first, but you can always say no, right? What if your lover asked you to date a Nazi so he can watch? Uh- hold the phone. Notorious, with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, takes it that far. American Intelligence agent, T.R. Devlin (Grant) has discovered some Nazi's hiding out in Brazil right after World War II. Devlin finds the German-American daughter of a German traitor to the US and asks her to help him spy on her dad's old cronies. Devlin, rogue that he is, encourages Alicia (Bergman)to saddle up next to the leader Alexander Sebastian (Claude Raines) via his home and bedroom. One small problem tho'- Devil is falling in love with Alicia. Hmm...Complicated? Yeah.
Knock 'em dead line: Devlin: "Dry your eyes, baby; it's out of character."

Ever date that person who wouldn't stop talking about old girlfriends or boyfriends? Any of them want to make you over to look like their former flames? Well, here's a doozy for you. Vertigo (starring James Stewart and Kim Novak) is the story of former San Francisco cop Scottie Fergusen (Stewart), who left the force because of his overwhelming fear of heights. He meets with an old friend who hires him to follow his wife Madeleine (Novak) around and watch over her. The husband fears for his wife, who has been acting peculiar and slipping into trancelike states. Scottie follows her around and notices her obsession with a ancestor from the past who committed suicide. Scottie saves her from a suicide attempt, and the two fall in love. But it doesn't last long- Madeleine and Scottie go to an old Spanish mission and Madeleine races up a Bell tower and throws herself to her death. Scottie's vertigo cripples his ability to save her. Scottie becomes inconsolable, and thereafter begins to see Madeleine's image everywhere. Soon he finds a women, Judy, who looks just like her, except for her dress and hair color. He talks to her and soon she is enamoured of him. But Scottie doesn't stop there - he makes her change to look like Madeleine. Scottie just begins to discover that there are secrets involved that he never dreamed of. Deadly secrets. Veritgo is Hitchcock masterpiece.
Knock 'em dead line: Judy: "Couldn't you like me, just me the way I am? When we first started out, it was so good; w-we had fun. And... and then you started in on the clothes. Well, I'll wear the darn clothes if you want me to, if, if you'll just, just like me. "

North By Northwest(1959)
Surely when you come home late and smelling of alcohol, you could come up with a better excuse than someone is out to kill you because they thought you were someone else. Not Cary Grant. In North by Northwest, Grant plays ad exec Roger Thornhill, who is mistaken for a CIA agent, and is pursued by foreign agents hellbent on killing him. The bad guys frame Thornhill for a murder, and he becomes the most wanted man in America. While escaping via a train he meets the lovely Eve Kendall (played by Eva Marie Saint), who seems to want to help him, but then it appears she is the girlfriend of one of the foreign agents. With everyone after him, who can he trust? And can he trust this women, that he has already begun to fall for? This is one Hitch's best, and has some of the most infamously charged lines that got past the censors.
Knock 'em dead line: Eve: I'm a big girl.
Roger: Yes, and in all the right places, too.

See what I mean? So why don't you go out and buy your valentine something special and then pop in on these great flicks. After all, what's love without a little suspense?

Happy Valentine's Day to you Shelfers. Here's hoping you let the ones you love know you love 'em.

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere.


Christian Johnson said...

Or Hitchcock for Romantics:

Lady Vanishes
Stage Fright
To Catch a Thief
and naturally
North by Northwest (unless you've just watched the 7th Voyage of Sinbad because the score is remarkably similar in that "Danny Elfman" kind of way)

Christian Johnson said...

Okay, okay, you can include Notorious as well. I think you chose some interesting films to recommend, but I think that Valentine's Day Hitch recommendations should focus on the romantic comedy rather than thriller or romantic drama.

Suspicion has an awkward ending and isn't actually all that romantic, as you point out in your comments this is Cary breaking from norm.

Vertigo is pretty dark, as is Rebecca. I just think Valentine's Day movies should be something that makes the wife cuddle up to you in whistful delight. Last thing I want her wondering is if she can drink the milk I bring to her.

J.C. Loophole said...

Well, I see your point re: Hitch for Romantics, but Hitch was known for his macabre sense of humor - and I was poking a bit of fun in that same spirit. Therefore imagine Hitchcock coming up to the famous outline and reading that list with the accent and the droll almost teasing in a sinister sort of way sense of humor.
Speaking of the music.. Bernard Herrman was Hitch's composer on many film scores and spent a lot of time with Hitch. Once at Hitch's house they were discussing what line of work they would've like to have been in if not films. Hermann said he would probably have run an English pub. He then asked Hitch, who then just stood silent for a moment and then said, "A hanging judge."

pita said...

find this link:

J.C. Loophole said...

Thanks for link Pita. I'll have to plug it as next week's web pick in the media roundup. They have some great stuff.


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