31 Days of Oscar Blogathon – Day 3!

UPDATED: Our final day of the 31 Days Of Oscar Blogathon, with a fresh crop of bloggers to cap off our event!

Paula's Cinema Club

The truth of the matter is that while Hollywood admires people who win Oscars, it employs people who make money, and to be able to do one does not necessarily mean you can do the other.
— George Sanders

george-and-zsazsa-oscar-night-1951-600w George Sanders and Zsa Zsa Gabor on Oscar night, 1951. Sanders won Best Supporting Actor for his work as Addison DeWitt in ALL ABOUT EVE.

Today is the third and final day of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, our annual exploration of the phenomenon that is the Academy Awards, still the pinnacle of achievement in the film world. I’m keeping this introduction brief in order to avoid the dreaded wrap-up music, but be sure to check out Day 1, hosted by Aurora at Once Upon A Screen, and Day 2, hosted by Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled. It has been my honor to share five years of Oscar…

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#31DaysOfOscar Blogathon – Day 1

Co-host Aurora of Once Upon A Screen kicks off our first day of 31 DAYS OF OSCAR BLOGATHON!

Once upon a screen...

Today we begin the three-day roll-call from Oscars past and present. Day 1 brings you music, a legendary movie and TV actress, an epic and Henry Fonda among other things. Not too shabby a way to kick things off in our fifth consecutive 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon.

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Thanks to the bloggers who’re participating in this year’s celebration and to all those who’ll visit. Of course I must also thank Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club for allowing me to co-host once again. They’re true blue and enjoyable partners in crime.

Before we get to the first day’s entries you might want to read the original announcement post for specifics. Also, be sure to tune in to TCM all month for their alphabetized 31 Days of Oscar marathon, which makes it easy to find favorites or yet-to-be-seen gems. And of course, tune in the 89th…

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Fifth Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Day 3

The final day of the WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON was hosted by our wonderful co-host Paula… Enjoy!!

Paula's Cinema Club

wacNow in its fifth fabulous year, the What A Character! Blogathon celebrates those actors whose faces you know but whose names you may not. I’m your hostess for the Day 3 offerings. Be sure to also check out Day 1, hosted by Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled and Day 2, hosted by Aurora at Once Upon A Screen. It’s been my pleasure to work with these two dames to shed some light on the names below the title. And now, on with the today’s show…

  • Blogferatu presents a “grossly oversimplified horror overview” of John Carradine‘s career from the ’40s to the ’80s. “And not just any horror movies, but some of his schlockier moments.”
  • Cliff at Immortal Ephemera explores the sometimes sketchy biography of Stanley Fields, who “had a voice that matched his face. Either could have been raked over gravel.”
  • Aurora at Once Upon…

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WHAT A CHARACTER! 2016 – Day Two

I pass the hosting baton of the 5th annual WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON to my fellow co-hostess-with-the-mostess Aurora of ONCE UPON A SCREEN for day two! (Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club up next on Sunday for day three…)

Once upon a screen...

I’m thrilled to be hosting Day Two of the 2016 What A Character! Blogathon. This is the fifth consecutive year that I co-host this tribute to the lesser known players that enriched so many movies. As you probably know my co-hosts are the fabulous Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled who kicked things off with Day One and Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club who hosts the third and final day tomorrow. As always, I’m honored to be in cahoots with these two ladies.

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If you want a refresher on the back story for the What a Character! Blogathon take a look at the Announcement post, which includes the entire list of participants and chosen character actors. Otherwise I’m getting to the main course of this entry, the tributes to memorable supporting players. Let me just say one more thing – as I read the submissions from the first two days of this event it…

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Clara Bow is “IT”(1927)

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Elinor Glyn’s novel “It” may be a different story than the film adaption, but the concept of “It” remains the same. What exactly is “It”? To claim it simply meant sex or sex appeal is selling it short. According to Clarence Badger’s/Josef von Sternberg’s IT (1927), “Self-confidence and indifference as to whether you are pleasing or not – and something in you that gives the impression that you are not all cold. That’s ‘It’!”

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To be more specific, “It” was sex appeal enhanced with this description and the film’s star Clara Bow was ‘It’ in spades. She was the definition of the ‘It girl’ and it defined her for her entire career.

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In the film, Clara Bow portrays the beautiful, young, department store clerk, Betty Lou Spence who exudes an air of confidence and a bubbly zest for life. Betty has her sights set on the boss and son of the company, Cyrus Waltham (Antonio Moreno). But it’s his pal Monty (William Austin) that first sets his sights on her. Monty has read about a new book by Elinor Glyn referring to “It.” He discussed his intentions of finding a girl with “It” with his friend Cyrus as they walk the sales floor. Monty sees Betty and knows he’s discovered ‘It’! He asks her out and she insists on going to the fanciest restaurant in town, The Ritz.

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There’s a charming scene when she prepares her limited wardrobe for this event. Her friend helps her transform her basic black dress with a lace collar (appropriate for work but not The Ritz) into a cocktail dress. Later at dinner, she takes joy in adapting to high-end society life. She spies her conquest, Cyrus Waltham, who is seated at a nearby table along with his steady date. Playfully, she offers Monty a wishbone and with her winning end of the bone she prophetically claims, “I am going to get my wish” as she looks over sensually at Waltham.

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Cyrus’s date, blue blood Adela Van Norman (Jacqueline Gadsdon) is guarded because she assumes she will be Mrs. Waltham someday. Author Elinor Glyn (playing herself) walks in. Cyrus motions her over and asks her to explain “It” from her novel creating all the buzz (see her definition above.) Adela, completely lacking in ‘It,’ should be worried by now. Betty strategically forces a ‘bump in’ with Cyrus  in the lobby. The flirting and attraction is immediate and strong. Betty makes a bet with him that he won’t recognize her the next time he sees her. He takes the bet assuming his draw to her would make that impossible.

The next day at work, Betty is calling out a dishonest shopper, who chronically returns items she’s worn for six months then returns. Her manager sends her up to Cyrus’s office to be scolded. He finally looks up and serendipitously realizes he’s just lost their bet from the night before. She suggests a date at the beach “Fun House” (Coney Island?) will square their deal.

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After a delightful evening of fun, Cyrus sneaks in a kiss as he drops her off at her place. She slaps him for his presumptive action, “so you’re a Minute Man! The minute you know a girl you think you can kiss her!” She takes her stuffed toy souvenir and marches into her building. But inside she playfully smiles as she happily ponders her evening. She’s hooked and so is he.

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Later on, trouble has exploded back at her apartment. Betty shares a place with her friend and her friend’s little baby. But some meddling neighbors are trying to take her baby away from her. Her friend has been ill and unable to work so they assume she has no means to take care of the baby. The entire neighborhood rushes to the scene, including a young reporter (Gary Cooper) who takes notes as the drama unfolds. Betty and Monty arrive in time for Betty to claim the baby is her own to protect her friend.

Monty is alarmed to discover Betty is a fatherless mother. He shows up the next day to reveal the bad news to Cyrus with the newspaper article in hand. Not fully satisfied,  the snooping ladies arrive at Waltham’s office to confirm her employment. Monty acknowledges that the fatherless mother is the same as his target of affections, Betty. Cyrus is crushed. When bonus checks are passed out to staff, Cyrus is unable to even look at her face.

She sneaks a moment alone in his office. She flirts but is surprised by the cooler response. Assuming he’s upset by her slap, he instead offers a “left-hand arrangment” of bling and other materialistic offerings. She’s justifiably and visibly upset. He says, “I’m crazy about you, isn’t that enough?” She barks back, “is that what men like you call love?” Her pride prompts her to quit her job.

Monty later arrives at her place with enormous baskets of flowers and edible treats. “I’ve come to forgive you,” he proclaims. In a few exchanges the whole baby’s rightful mother confusion is cleared up. They laugh it off and Monty mentions that he told Cyrus the wrong baby story. Betty’s furious that Cyrus never gave her benefit of the doubt.

She forces Monty to take her as his mysterious ‘plus one’ on Cyrus’s yacht cruise. (Along with buying her a whole new wardrobe appropriate to high seas with high society.) Thirsty for payback, she plans to use her ‘It skills’ to manipulate Cyrus into proposing to her just to laugh in his face in rejection.

On board, Monty is visibly nervous and distressed in being placed in this awkward scene that is soon to unfold. Cyrus senses something is up. Monty only divulges, “I feel so low old chap that I could get on stilts and walk under a dachshund.” Then his mystery date enters the room on cue. Cyrus is a conflicted mix of excitement and pain in seeing her.

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Betty plays the part well. She acts coy knowing she has Cyrus’s full attention. Adela recognizes this woman looks familiar but can’t place her as the socialite she pretends to be. Regardless, she knows she’s a direct threat. And the games continue.

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In a moment alone, Betty gives him a look. She has him in her hooks now. He proposes on the spot. She laughs in his face and walks off. Immediately, she cries with regret. The payback didn’t feel as funny or sweet as she planned. She loves him.

Meanwhile, Monty breaks his secret to Cyrus, explaining the whole baby mix-up.  He runs after her, leaving Monty at the ship’s helm. Distracted Monty collides the boat with another. Both Adela and Betty go flying off the deck and into the waters.

Despite all that expensive education and breeding, somehow swim lessons were not covered because Adela appears to be struggling to swim or stay afloat. Betty attempts to rescue her. Adela’s jealousy bubbles up just as she repeatedly tries to push Betty underwater. Street smart Betty knocks Adela out cold then holds her head up. Let’s face it, it’s much easier to save a swimmer when they’re not busy trying to drown you.

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The fellas finally join the party: Cyrus swimming with a life-preserver and Monty in a row-boat. Adela is pulled into Monty’s boat so Cyrus can swim after Betty. She swims off stating she’s “going home.” Cyrus pursues and catches up with her at the hoisted anchor. They embrace in a kiss. As defeated and deflated Adela looks on, she knows she’s been licked. And Monty looks on to Adela announcing that they, the ‘non-Its’ should stick together.

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IT (1927) is a fun, sweet little romantic comedy. The premise and central characterization reminds me of Colleen Moore in William A Seiter’s WHY BE GOOD? (1929). The supporting cast does a fine job, especially William Austin as Monty with his heavy eye liner and comedic expressions. Or, at least that’s all it would be if it were not for Clara Bow. Wise casting placed Bow as THE flapper girl of the Jazz Age who embodied her era. In addition to a rocketing rise to mega stardom after this film’s performance, Bow also has the distinction of starring in the first ever Oscar winning Best Picture,  William A Wellman’s WINGS (1927), released the same year.

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Clara Bow’s real life was a complete nightmare. To say someone has “daddy issues” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. So to see her perform with such illuminating energy, such radiant beauty, confidence, and well… “It” is even more impressive. From everything we know about Clara Bow’s personal life (the tragic details need to be detailed in another post), she was likely happiest throwing herself into her work. And it shows.

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circa 1925: American silent film actress Clara Bow (1905 – 1965), the original ‘It girl’, gives a wink and a smile for the camera. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This post was written expressly for the SEX! (now that I have your attention) Blogathon, hosted by Movie Movie Blog Blog June 19-21, 2016. Look back to each day’s list of bloggers for sexy contributions. I chose to write about Clara Bow in IT because not only did her performance define sex for that entire era, and launched her career to mega star status, the film describes sex in a way that seems applicable to any era. Yet only the rare examples could compete with Bow’s level of on-screen self-assured confidence, effervescent presence and sexual magnetism in the decades following her reign.

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Love is Served Up in WIMBLEDON (2004)

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I’m not a huge sports nut. I’m what could be described as selectively passionate. I could care less about football. European or American. I couldn’t tell you when the NBA season is. But there are a couple of sports and a few teams I follow and cheer with vigor. University of Kansas Men’s Basketball (aka the Jayhawks, hence my twitter moniker @IrishJayhawk66), the Kansas City Royals in the MLB, and tennis. Anything and anyone tennis. It’s the only sport I can honestly say I enjoy playing it as much as I do watching it.

And for a film fanatic, I look for any tennis references on the big screen, classic or modern. It’s not a common theme, to be certain. Almost rare, actually. So I’m grateful for Hitchcock’s apparent love for the game. But that’s for another discussion. There is one film that does a marvelous job of tackling the sport of tennis head-on and it’s wrapped up in a nice film with a fine cast, a bit schmaltzy in formula but manages to churn out a cute little RomCom. While clearly a romantic comedy, it stays on the main theme of tennis rather adeptly, and balances subplots and a variety of supporting characters to keep it interesting.

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Paul Bettany, that charming tall, and slim Brit that you may know as the voice in Tony Stark’s head for you Marvel fans, plays our main character Peter Colt. Once ranked 11th in the world is now 119th, and owner of a few cool champion titles, but never quite made it TRULY big time, Peter finds himself dragging his tired game off to his last Wimbledon where he intends to announce his retirement as a pro. The future of grudgingly charming the catty, mature ladies of leisure in tennis skirts at the local tennis club as their new Tennis Director awaits his fate.

His career path isn’t his only source of pessimism and trouble. Back home, his parents are constantly bickering and his brother is a rather weaselly fellow, portrayed by one of my favorite actors of this generation, James McAvoy. When he’s not at home in his cycling gear watching porn he’s at the bookie because he prefers to bet against and profit from his brother’s loses at every turn. And because it’s cutie McAvoy, we don’t hate him, we simply don’t trust him. Like you might with your own little brother.

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But life isn’t a total downer for Peter. When he arrives at his hotel, there’s a room mix-up and he walks into a fresh-from-the-shower, naked Kirsten Dunst as Lizzie. They meet again later on the practice courts. Sparks fly as a forward and frank Lizzie makes a play for the self-deprecating and charming Peter. I should warn you now that I’m not generally much of a fan of snaggle-toothed Dunst. Her performance is a bit flat or perhaps its my bias but despite that, I very much enjoy her character as the American tennis pro who knows what she wants and boldly and unapologetically goes after it.

At one point as Peter Colt is entering the third round of Wimbledon, he is challenged with facing his long-time practice partner and friend, Dieter (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Side note: I really liked Peter’s friendship with his practice partner who happens to be gay, as is another female player. But they do a good job of inclusion while not playing up these characters in some stereotypical, unnatural, over the top tone.

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Lizzie advises him that he has to choose whether to play him like a friend or an opponent in a Grand Slam. “You practice together, you travel together, you practically live together. Do you really have what it takes to close out a friend in the third round of Wimbledon? Because that is killing. It’s a bullet to the heart. That’s what’s tough about this game. There’s a winner and there’s a loser. And tomorrow, one of you is going to be a loser.”Peter wins.

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She prefers to keep their relationship casual and purely physical. Peter finds himself falling for her and it appears his unexpected successes on the court (he never expected to make it past the first round) may be a result of being inspired by his growing affections for Lizzy. Meanwhile, Lizzie’s dad aka her micromanaging coach, portrayed by Sam Neill sporting an American accent, approaches Peter to tell him to back off. He worries Peter will be a distraction.

Back at the hotel, Peter’s agent Ronnie (Jon Favreau) shows up out of the blue, after dropping Peter like a hot brick over a year ago, now that Peter’s winning. To make matters more complicated, Peter’s agent also represents several other players. Enter American tennis pro, Jake Hammond. He’s the sort of cocky, arrogant prick we love to hate. Plus he keeps trying to make moves on Lizzie that she’s been rebuffing before Peter was even in the picture. As a predictable formula would follow, a public confrontation is displayed at a party for the top players as a rejected Hammond insults Lizzie in front of Peter. Colt punches him to the ground and the two love birds escape the paparazzi as dad, left behind at the party, calls out after his daughter.

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Carl and his wanker friends

The two drive to Peter’s seaside hometown where he grew up to his flat. The flat looks like a place Peter rarely visits from all his years of traveling in tournaments across the world. However, his wanker of a brother Carl has made himself at home already, along with his tacky, low brow friends. Peter kicks them out but Carl sells out his brother yet again by leaking a photo and their secret whereabouts to the press, which leads to their romantic escape being cut short by Lizzie’s father’s unexpected visit.

Not being able to keep away, Peter sneaks into Lizzie’s room one night before a big match. She loses the next morning and is out of the tournament. Lizzie bitterly blames Peter for her defeat, “The only thing you fell in love with this week was winning…. Love means nothing in tennis. Zero. It only means you lose.” Sore loser, Lizzie.

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After overcoming many obstacles, Peter has found himself facing Hammond in the finals. But does Peter have what it takes? He’s playing at his very best of his entire career, on what will be his last competitive match as a pro, and yet tennis seems to suddenly mean a great deal less to him than love from Lizzie.

That’s the interesting thing about the sport of tennis. It’s SUCH a mental game. I realize in every sport there’s the balance for the athlete of their own physicality and their confidence to win. But tennis is a game where you are almost more competitive with yourself than with your opponent. In team sports like basketball, football, etc, there’s more focus on the process of individuals coming together as a whole unit, like a collection of parts in a finely tuned machine. Not in tennis. A tennis player stands alone. Ace or choke, win or lose, the tennis player often finds themselves relying upon their own inner dialogue, with no coach nor cheerleaders on the sidelines.

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This film does an excellent job of capturing that. We often see Peter having inner conflicts via inner dialogue as he stands at the baseline. And while I found this extremely pleasing to see all the references that only a tennis player and a tennis fan could fully appreciate, there’s plenty of entertainment served up for folks whose only tennis knowledge is, “that’s where that McEnroe fella that would yell a lot, right?” (And I was happy to see Johnny Mac, Chris Evert and Mary Carillo make cameos, too.)

There’s something to love here for everyone though, for fans of… tennis, British humor, romantic comedies (including a two week comet blazing across the sky is a metaphor of the fire of their romance) and frankly it’s just a sweet little story that even classic film fans can appreciate and should be your next guilty pleasure this summer.

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*This post was my contribution to the Athletes In Film Blogathon, hosted by Once Upon A Screen and Wide Screen World, June 4-5th, 2016. Check out their blog sites for the full list of participants. Great reading to kick off this summer. I’ll end on a few images of other tennis moments and references captured via Hollywood…

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[Old Hollywood had a love affair with tennis so why more films were not made about tennis is beyond me…]

Annette & Frankie’s BEACH PARTY Ice Cream Social

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When I heard Fritzi of Movies Silently had this cool idea for an Ice Cream Social themed blogathon, serving up some sweet treats to kick off the summer, I was on board. Surf board, that is. According to Fritzi, the idea is to review a movie, post an article or share a recipe that has a sunny plot or has the power to cheer you up when you’re feeling down. She also encouraged us to write an article sharing happy movie memories, classic movie humor, and/or share an ice cream/frozen dessert/summer sweet recipe based on a star or film.

So when I noticed that William Asher’s BEACH PARTY (1963) was in the Roger Corman guest programmer line-up of AIP films this week on Turner Classic Movies, all those childhood memories flashed before me of cooling down hot summer days at my grandparents’ lake house by watching beach party and surfer flicks as ice cream and Bombpops melted down my sticky hands. Seemed appropriate to this blogathon to share a sweet treat or two, inspired by Frankie and Annette, along with all the kookiest surfer kids (plus cameos of September screen legends) in those silly, nonsensical films.

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[For an overview of the cultural influences of all five of the American International Pictures’ “Beach Party”movies, including BEACH PARTY (1963), click HERE.]

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When I think of Annette Funicello, three things pop in my head: her Disney Mousketeer days, her “beach party” roles, singing with her helmet of hair-sprayed do and perfectly tailored bikinis, and Skippy peanut butter ads. Let’s serve up an ice cream sandwich with creamy peanut butter that even Annette would approve…

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Peanutty Ice-Cream Sandwiches:

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter or margarine
2 cups quick-cooking oats, uncooked
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
3 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
1 cup coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
Preparation
Prep: 20 Minutes
Cook: 5 Minutes
Bake: 11 Minutes
Freeze: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in oats and next 7 ingredients. Drop oat mixture by tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread each dollop of cookie batter to form a 3-inch circle.

Bake at 350° for 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are golden. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Swirl peanut butter into softened ice cream. Freeze 30 minutes. Scoop ice cream evenly on flat sides of half of cookies; top with remaining cookies, flat sides down. Roll sides of sandwiches in coarsely chopped peanuts. Place in plastic or wax paper sandwich bags, and freeze at least 1 hour.

Note: Do not substitute a greased baking sheet for parchment paper. Cookies will slide and tear.


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For a yummy treat to cool down Annette (“Dolores” in BEACH PARTY) after chasing charming Bob Cummings (“Professor Robert Orwell Sutwell”) sporting his Tiki hat as she attempts to make Frankie (aka “Frankie”) jealous, this cool dessert should do the trick…

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RASBERRY ICE BOX CAKE:

Ingredients
24 graham crackers, crushed
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 (6 ounce) package raspberry flavored Jell-O(R) mix
1 cup boiling water
 15 ounces frozen raspberries
20 large marshmallows
1/3 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Mix graham cracker wafer crumbs, butter and brown sugar until well combined. Set aside 1/4 cup of this mixture for a topping and press the remainder into one 9×13 inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Dissolve raspberry gelatin in the boiling water and add the frozen raspberries, stirring until melted. Chill until partially set and spread on wafer base.
Melt marshmallows with the milk. When cool, fold in whipped cream and spread on top of raspberry mixture. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Chill for 3-4 hours before serving.

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*This post was my contribution to Movies Silently’s Classic Movie Ice Cream Social (a blogathon of cheer!), taking place May 20-23, 2016. There’s a sweet list of scrumptious bloggers on the menu of participants so scoop ’em out!

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31 Days of Oscar, Week 3: THE CRAFTS

31 Days Of Oscar co-host Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club takes the hosting helm in our 3rd week with CRAFTS!

Paula's Cinema Club

bonnie-sketch-small-500wWe’re now just past the halfway point of both Turner Classic Movies channel’s Academy Awards tribute, 31 DAYS OF OSCAR, and the 31 DAYS OF OSCAR Blogathon, hosted annually by myself here at Paula’s Cinema Club, Kellee of Outspoken and Freckled, and Aurora at Once Upon A Screen.

31-Days-2016-02This week we salute the less renowned, but nonetheless essential, disciplines of movie-making…THE CRAFTS. Those who practice them are below the title in billing yet are decidedly indispensable to the overall effect of a film. Check out the fabulous Week 3 posts after the jump!

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#31DaysOfOscar Blogathon THE ACTORS!

This first week we launched the ACTORS week of the 31 DAYS OF OSCAR Blogathon. Our lovely co-host Aurora takes the helm for this week…

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Once Upon a Screen is honored to host the inaugural entry for this year’s 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon with tributes to THE ACTORS!

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To review the complete roster and topic details for the 2016 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon be sure to visit the original announcement.  There is a lot to look forward to as the 31 Days heat up so stay tuned to Outspoken & Freckled, Paula’s Cinema Club as well as this blog as we commemorate bloggers who honor Oscar through the years.  And since this event was inspired by TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar festival I must insist you tune in and watch Oscar-winning movies scheduled by actor connections through March 2nd.

Blog roll call:

– we’re starting this year’s event with a short list of distinction so I’ll get right to it.

The nominees for Best Submission by a Blogger dedicated to THE ACTORS! are…

Old Hollywood Films with a delicious look…

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Oscar Winner, Tom Hanks

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Oscar winning actor, Tom Hanks. He’s the ‘every man’ man who sometimes finds himself in extraordinary situations. Depending upon when you first discovered this seemingly regular guy who isn’t so ordinary in his career, you may think of him as a young Shakespearian thespian, a comic, a high energy screwball, a passionate WW2 hobbiest, a family man, a devoted husband, a philanthropist, an entertainer, or a deeply moving Oscar-winning actor. As for me, I first discovered him as the silly yet charasmatic young man so desperate to secure affordable housing he was willing to dress up as a woman.

Now before I proceed, I must provide the disclaimer that this Hollywood actor is also the only man alive I’ve proclaimed would be my ideal Hollywood star husband. Dead? Well that goes to Cary Grant, of course. So please forgive my bias if this comes across slightly as a school-girl crush, won’t you? Not sure if my husband has just yet.

Born Thomas Jeffrey Hanks in Concord, California on July 9, 1956, he was raised by his father and older siblings after his parents divorced when he was five. It was during college at California State University at Sacramento that he began studying dramatic arts and took on Shakesperian summer stock in both Ohio and Sacramento. He even won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actor in 1978, for his portrayal of Proteus in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. But before long, he was bit hard enough by the thespian bug to drop out of college and move to the big apple to audition for the small and big screen.

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After a small role in the slasher film HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE (1980), Hanks landed the part as one of two ad execs who dress in drag in order to live in an all-female residence. While the silly sitcom only lasted a couple of seasons, “BOSOM BUDDIES” (1980-1982) highlighted Tom Hanks’ magnetic personality and energy. He also found guest spots in a variety of popular sitcoms during the early 80s. Ron Howard recalled Hanks from working together on “HAPPY DAYS” (1974-1984) and suggested him to audition for a supporting role in his directorial debut film, SPLASH (1984), a romantic comedy about a mermaid. Instead, that role went to John Candy and Tom landed the lead opposite Daryl Hannah. It was a big success and so was Hanks.

Now that Tom was becoming a household name, he secured leads in a string of films that decade, comedies and a few dramas. It wasn’t until Penny Marshall’s BIG (1988), that he truly hit it big. His performance earned him his first Oscar nomination for Actor. The late 80s and early 90s was a very busy time for Tom Hanks’ film career. Some hits, some misses. But I’d like to focus on two films in particular, Jonathan Demme’s PHILADELPHIA (1993) and Robert Zemeckis’ FORREST GUMP (1994).

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It’s not only a rare privelege to be nominated and win an Oscar, but to win more than one? It’s a special accomplishment in the craft of acting that even the most famous actors of all-time can rarely boast the claim. How about two consecutive Oscar wins for Best Actor? Now that’s like winning the mega Powerball with all the stars aligned in your favor. But that’s exactly what Hanks did with those two films and he was only the second actor ever to do so. The first actor to earn this unique distinction was Spencer Tracy, who won back-to-back for CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (1937) then BOYS TOWN (1938).

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PHILADELPHIA (1993) marked a dramatic turn in Tom’s career. He went through a dramatic physical transformation to reflect the story of a man struggling for his life and his rights, inside and outside the courtroom. Hanks is Andrew Beckett, a highly successful attorney suing his company for wrongful dismissal. Beckett is battling AIDS in the workplace at a time few facts are commonly known and much paranoid hysteria spreads like wildfire. It doesn’t help that his defense attorney (Denzel Washington as Joe Miller) is battling his own prejudices of homophobia.

On the surface, it seems obvious that this is a courtroom drama about social injustice. About the tragic wrongs of hateful bigotry that can destroy a life, especially as he’s struggling to keep it. Washington’s performance is authentic and terrific. Miller becomes transformed in the process. The experience opens his eyes. Hanks is incredibly moving as Beckett. He embodies the soul of this man so that we look deeply into his beauty, love, anguish and fears. We see below the surface of the physical transformation to who this man truly is underneath his weakening, fading exterior.

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The next year brought his second consecutive Oscar for an enormously popular character with FORREST GUMP (1994). This is the story of a low-IQ man who overcomes unusual obstacles and odds of mental, physical and otherwise yet comes out ridiculously successful. On the surface this film seems to show how a man with no advantages or assets turns out to be the most unrealistically lucky man on the planet. But at the heart of this film is a message of pure optimism (a life message of which I’m a firm believer) but it also centers on love and friendship that Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump shares generously with those lucky enough to cross his path. In the end, Gump is a man whom no one believes in and repeatedly turns their backs on, yet he ultimately teaches them life’s greatest lessons of love and hope.

It’s hard not to like and to root for Forrest. Much of the charm of this iconic character is must be attributed to the on-screen and off-screen charm of Tom Hanks. It’s hard-pressed to think of another actor who would make a better Gump. This lovable role could only be portrayed by an actor who would bring the right amount of humanity, kindness and a humbled charisma. Over the top would be insulting and unlikable. Too subtle and there’s no spark. Hanks was the perfect man to bring the integrity needed for Forrest. We trust him. And it earned him the Oscar. Again.

The nineties were good to Tom. In the mix of his duo Oscar wins, he also starred in other popular films such as A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992), SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993), APOLLO 13 (1995), his directorial and screen-writing debut in THAT THING YOU DO! (1996), his beginning of a beautiful friendship/movie collaborations with Steven Speilberg in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998), THE GREEN MILE (1999) and both THE TOY STORY (1995) and TOY STORY 2 (1999).

He ushered in the new century with continued successes in his acting career with CAST AWAY (2000), CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (2002), THE POLAR EXPRESS (2004), CARS (2006), THE DA VINCI CODE (2006), TOY STORY 3 (2010), CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013), SAVING MR. BANKS (2013), and the recently six Oscars nominated BRIDGE OF SPIES (2015). These highlights of incredibly successful films is not even the complete list of his work. What’s also impressive is the long list of his producing and directing work. You can see the full list of his TV and film acting, writing, producing, directing and voice work here.

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Tom Hanks is no slouch; likely one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood. He’s also known for his marriage to former co-star Rita Wilson. Although his second marriage (married to Samantha Lewes from 1978-1987), Tom and Rita have been married for twenty eight years. Which in modern Hollywood terms, is practically a miracle. All the more reason to adore Tom Hanks, too. Hanks on hard work being the key to a successful marriage: “It’s just as hard . . . staying happily married as it is doing movies.”

He’s also a bit of a history buff, especially of the WW2 era which is evident in his work. Hanks: “I am a lay historian by nature. I seek out an empirical reflection of what truth is. I sort of want dates and motivations and I want the whole story. But I’ve always felt, unconsciously, that all human history is that connection from person to person to person, event to event to event, and from idea to idea.” 

Some have compared this highly likable actor to classic actors like Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart. Although his style is very different from each of those iconic leading men, Hanks also has a terrifically goofy comedic nature which he taps into for some roles, but I can see the parallel. Like the stars of classic Hollywood we love, Tom Hanks is the man we implicitly trust. There’s an underlying hint of humility. He’s the very approachable, regular guy we see in ourselves. Or wish we did.

Hanks: “I love what I do for a living, it’s the greatest job in the world, but you have to survive an awful lot of attention that you don’t truly deserve and you have to live up to your professional responsibilities and I’m always trying to balance that with what is really important.”

Look for more work to come for Hanks in A HOLOGRAM FOR A KING (2016), THE CIRCLE (2016), SULLY (2016), INFERNO (2016), TOY STORY 4 (2017) and as producer on the highly anticipated MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (2016). He may be humble about his work: “Some people go to bed at night thinking, “That was a good day.” I am one of those who worries and asks, “How did I screw up today?” Don’t worry, Tom. You did good. REAL good.

This tribute to the Oscar-winning acting talents of Tom Hanks is part of the 31 DAYS OF OSCAR BLOGATHON, hosted by Aurora of ONCE UPON A SCREEN, Paula of PAULA’S CINEMA CLUB and me. Look for the Acting week contributors on Aurora’s site this weekend. Next week’s theme is all about Oscar Snubs, hosted at OUTSPOKEN & FRECKLED by yours truly. Don’t forget Crafts Week kicks off the third weekend, hosted by Paula. For the final week, Aurora and I bring it all in with Best Pictures and Directors. Enjoy all these marvelous bloggers!

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