Monday Binge-Worthy TV ~ Soap! #television #billycrystal #soap #soapopera

Monday Movie Rundown BannerI thought this week instead of the movie rundown, I’d switch over to the small screen for a week. I’ve never been very good at binge watching, but there are some shows that have to be binged. I’ll pepper a few more in from time to time, but the first binge-worthy show is Soap!

I love soap operas. Even though they’re over the top and somewhat silly at times, that’s what makes them fun. How far out can the story line go? How far fetched? Then there’s the concept of going from the plausible to the completely impossible.

Soap! manages to encapsulate all the fun of the soap operas, while keeping the sheer impossibility and improbability. The characters are funny, have moments of intelligence and not so much, but they’ve always got heart.

I think my favorite characters are Mary and Jodie. For all of her insecurities and foibles, Mary Campbell never stops trying. She overcame alcoholism, had an alien baby…oh and has a step-son with a doll. She never loses her sense of humor or realism. Then there’s Jodie. I loved him, too. He’s trying to find his place. He’s gay, but his heart leads him in different directions. Oh, and he becomes a father.

For the late 1970s, this is pretty advanced stuff. Yes there are the quintessential horrible jokes and the comments that would never get past the censors these days, but if you take the show in the context of its time, it’s a riot. I loved every moment. The only thing I wish? There would’ve been more episodes!!

 

 

Book Review ~ Celebrity Feuds!: The Cattiest Rows, Spats, and Tiffs Ever Recorded by Boze Hadleigh

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FEUD

Celebrity Feuds! dishes the dirt with in-depth stories of every word uttered, letter written, or fist swung from the cantankerous stars’ first calamitous encounters to their deathbed declarations. Exposing the shocking tactics of the most bitter rivals in the entertainment industry and the vindictive, unseen ire of our favorite stars, this book reveals Hollywood with all its claws bared.

I love reading books about arguments. Why? Because I’m not the one arguing. Heh, heh. That said, this one was a tad of an eye-opener. I knew about some of the feuds, but not all. I’d heard all about the Bette Davis-Joan Crawford one. Who hasn’t? There’s even a television series about it. But like the TV show, this isn’t the last word on their disagreement. They didn’t hate each other, but didn’t love each other, either. It was still neat to read about it. Then there was the series of disagreements between Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty. Hey, siblings fight, too.

This isn’t the most informative book. There are spots that are rather glossed over, but if you want an afternoon read about many people in Old Hollywood, then this is a good bet. If you’re wanting to know more than surface stuff about the players, then keep looking.

The Purple Diaries: Mary Astor and the Most Sensational Hollywood Scandal of the 1930s by Joseph Egan

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DIARIESOne of Hollywood s first scandals was nearly its last.
1936 looked like it would be a great year for the movie industry. With the economy picking up after the Great Depression, Americans everywhere were sitting in the dark watching the stars and few stars shined as brightly as one of America’s most enduring screen favorites, Mary Astor.

But Astor’s story wasn’t a happy one. She was born poor, and at the first sign that she could earn money, her parents grabbed the reins and the checks. Widowed at twenty-four, Mary Astor was looking for stability when she met and wed Dr. Franklyn Thorpe. But the marriage was rocky from the start; both were unfaithful, but they did not divorce until after Mary Astor gave birth to little Marylyn Thorpe.

What followed was a custody battle that pushed The Spanish Civil War and Hitler’s 1936 Olympic Games off of the front pages all over America. Astor and Thorpe were both ruthless in their fight to gain custody of their daughter, but Thorpe held a trump card: the diaries that Mary Astor had been keeping for years. In these diaries, Astor detailed her own affairs as well as the myriad dalliances of some of Hollywood’s biggest names. The studio heads, longtime controllers of public perception, were desperate to keep such juicy details from leaking.

With the complete support of the Astor family, including unlimited access to the photographs and memorabilia of Mary Astor’s estate, The Purples Diaries is a look at Hollywood s Golden Age as it has never been seen before, as Egan spins a wildly absorbing yarn about a scandal that threatened to bring down the dream factory known as Hollywood.

I never knew the lengths to which Mary Astor had to fight in order to gain custody of her daughter. If nothing else, this book put into perspective just how crazy the press can be and certainly was back in the 1930s when this story took place.

Mary Astor was a lot stronger than she looked. I remember her from the Maltese Falcon, but not many other films. Seeing her as a human, not just a star, like she’s portrayed in this book was a real eye-opener. She wanted what was best for her daughter. I commend her for that.

Gravy, though, the amount of publicity for the proceedings and how much the press fixated on Astor being a single parent. To modern ears and eyes, this seems silly, but back in the day it was scandalous. I can’t imagine the stress, struggle and strain she went through.

The author had a way with words, drawing me right into the story. Of course, I had to know what would happen. The photos only tell half of the story and I needed to know if the little girl ended up with her mother or father.

One thing this book put into perspective for me was the struggle to find the right parent and for the parents to behave in order to gain custody. Having never been through such a fight, I never realized just how much of a play it can be.

If you’re looking for a book that’s long on story and has heart, despite the courtroom antics, then this might be the one for you. If you love old Hollywood and want a better understanding of the stars at the time or the real struggles they went through, then this might hit the mark.

@MeganSlayer ‘s Wednesday Book Review ~ The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd by Michelle Morgan

Every so often, I’ll post about books I’ve read. Mostly these aren’t in my writing genre. Why? Everyone needs a break and to read for pleasure. This is one of those reviews. I’m a sucker for old Hollywood bios and this one was no different.

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A beloBLONDEved film comedienne who worked alongside the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and dozens of others, Thelma Todd was a rare Golden Age star who successfully crossed over from silent films to talkies. This authoritative new biography traces Todd’s life from a vivacious little girl who tried to assuage her parents’ grief over her brother’s death, to an aspiring teacher turned reluctant beauty queen, to an outspoken movie starlet and restaurateur.

Increasingly disenchanted with Hollywood, in 1934 Todd opened Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Café, a hot spot that attracted fans, tourists, and celebrities. Despite success in film and business, privately the beautiful actress was having a difficult year–receiving disturbing threats from a stranger known as the Ace and having her home ransacked–when she was found dead in a garage near her café. An inquest concluded that her death, at age just twenty-nine, was accidental, but in a thorough new investigation that draws on interviews, photographs, documents, and extortion notes–much of these not previously available to the public–Michelle Morgan offers a compelling new theory, suggesting the sequence of events on the night of her death and arguing what many people have long suspected: that Thelma was murdered.

But by whom?

The suspects include Thelma’s movie-director lover, her would-be-gangster ex-husband, and the thugs who were pressuring her to install gaming tables in her popular café–including a new, never-before-named mobster. This fresh examination on the eightieth anniversary of the star’s death is sure to interest any fan of Thelma Todd, of Hollywood’s Golden Age, or of gripping real-life murder mysteries.

I’ve always loved the work of Thelma Todd. She’s a riot on screen and one of the gems Hollywood didn’t get to use nearly enough. When I saw this biography was available, I had to read it.

The author did her homework on Todd. I not only loved Todd more, I respected her as a person and businesswoman. Oh, sure. She had her moments, but who doesn’t?

The writing flowed well. Once I started the book, I couldn’t put it down. Nope. I had to know how it would end–okay, I knew…, but I wanted to see how the author put her spin on telling the tale.

My one quibble with the book was the author’s tendency to add speculation into the writing. No one knows exactly how Todd died. There are theories and she did suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning, but how she got there…it seemed like the author spent more time wondering than finding more information. Still, it was a good read and I’m glad I did.

Monday Movie Review ~ Florence Foster Jenkins by @MeganSlayer

Monday Movie Rundown Banner I’ve wanted to see Florence Foster Jenkins since it came out, but I hadn’t had the chance. Once I saw it was out on DVD, well, I jumped at the opportunity to check it out.

I’d learned about the story of Florence Foster Jenkins from Mysteries at the Museum. She was a remarkable woman.

In this version of her life, she’s presented as a force of nature. She’s already sick and any sort of excitement isn’t good for her, but she’s determined to become a singing star. Her husband starts her out on the road to stardom by teaming her up with a pianist who’d rather play Carnegie Hall than behind an older woman warbling.

I’ve always loved Meryl Streep. I mean, the woman can act. There were times, though, in this story that I felt like I was watching Meryl Streep PLAY Florence. She didn’t disappear into the role as much as I’d thought she would. Still, I was entranced by her.

Hugh Grant, though, seemed to have played the part, but not all the way. I could see him as the dashing younger husband and there were moments I didn’t like him at all. But I kept seeing Hugh Grant, not Florence’s younger husband.

But the movie was worth the watch. I rooted for the blonde who initially laughed at Florence, because she redeems herself. Plus, Florence HEADLINED at Carnegie Hall. How awesome was that?

Maybe Florence wasn’t the great songstress she believed herself to be, but she tried and that’s more than a lot of people can admit. Beautiful backgrounds and a lovely story, this is a movie not to be missed.

Monday Movie Rundown on Sunday ~ Absolutely Fabulous with @MeganSlayer

Monday Movie Rundown BannerI do love movies and I love a good escapist movie. This week’s movie review concerns Absolutely Fabulous, the movie. I’ve been a fan of the television show since the beginning. Edina and Patsy crack me up. This movie was no different. It’s funny.

Okay, so it’s rather escapist. I mean, think about it. I don’t know too many people who rub elbows with Stella McCartney, let alone have her throw a brick through their window.  So I knew going in this was going to be a silly movie. Some of the lengths Edina and Patsy go through in order to get from point A to point B are ridiculous, but when are they not supposed to be?

Was this a great feat of cinematography? No, but I didn’t expect award-winning. Are the characters a little old to be acting like teenagers? Probably, but what else would Edina and Patsy do? Were the cameos great? Absolutely.

If you want a movie that’s short on plot and requires you just go there with the characters, something that will make you laugh, then this might be the movie for you.

The Movie Run-down with @MeganSlayer #movies #reviews

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It’s not Monday, but it is time for the Movie Run-down. I haven’t had the chance to do one in a while and it’s just time. I had plenty of opportunities to catch some flicks and I’d like to share my thoughts on them with you.

Nightmare Alley – Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell and Coleen Gray – this is a film noir with carnivals and sideshows. Tyrone Power plays a mentalist who starts out as an assistant to Blondell’s character, but in an attempt to get rid of her husband, Power accidentally poisons him  to death. This accident weighs on Power throughout the rest of the movie. He gets to the heights of fame and sinks to the depths of depression. It’s a gritty movie and not one to be taken lightly. Power is handsome, then scary and a little unhinged. Worth the viewing at least once.

Hello My Name is Doris – Sally Field, Max Greenfield – At first, I thought this would be a feel-good, fun movie with quirkiness. Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely moments of fun and quirkiness. There are feel-good moments, too. But it’s more than that. The colors start out bland, but become a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds. I love how Sally Field’s character, Doris, grows through the movie. Little by little, she grows into herself, despite being over 55. I laughed – especially during the concert scene and her different fantasties – cried a few times and will be purchasing my own copy. This was definitely worth the watch.

Young Frankenstein – Gene Wilder, Teri Garr, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman and Peter Boyle, directed by Mel Brooks – If you’ve never seen this movie…you should. It’s funny, heartwarming and a little unhinged. The actors chosen are dead-on. Wilder is manic and tender at the same time. Garr personifies the innocent and well-meaning assistant. Feldman shines as Igor. He’s my favorite character and has some of the best lines. Add in Kahn, Leachman and Boyle…it’s just a great movie. Funny and with some of the greatest lines, this is one not to miss.

What did you watch this past week? Something fun? Exciting? Scary? It’s October, so I’m looking for some good Halloween movies. Give me suggestions!