Tag Archives: Films

Bees and Bliss

I found my bliss. Ollie Hofnoodle’s Haven of Bliss that is.  If you have seen A Christmas Story by Jean Shepard this is another film written by him that is very funny. What I love about it is that is epitomizes an era in American life of the middle class family. This is about Ralphie and his family when he is a teenager looking for his first job. His father still has his nose to the grindstone and wants nothing more than to get away for his annual 2 week summer vacation at a resort on Clear Lake. There are hilarious parts about Ralph’s first job, how the family dog “Fuzzhead” runs away, and the “epic car trip” on the way to the lake. Their family car is loaded up to the roof with all the comforts of home they want to bring to the vacation cabin. This was when a family typically had one family car. Shepard describes the mother’s lot in life, quite accurately I thought, when he says she never got to taste her food warm because she was constantly waiting on the rest of the family during mealtime.

There is one scene where the family is on the road and they recall how when then got to a certain place there was this bee that would come into the car and harass them. They wonder if the bee could still be there. The father says that’s ridiculous. Well, you guessed it, the bee shows up and the next scene is the whole family running down the road.

Writer’s Quote Wednesday-A Valentine of Beautiful Words and Music

” I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”

–Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was a beloved Chilean poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He wrote in green ink which was his symbol for desire and hope.

The Beautiful and Romantic Music of Bernard Herrmann

Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) was a composer who wrote the scores for many famous films. He wrote the scores for the Orson Welles films Citizen Kane,The Magnificent Ambersons and  the score for Jane Eyre (1944) that starred Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles. I like this version of Jane Eyre the best.

Hermann wrote the scores for 7 Alfred Hitchcock films including Vertigo. The Love Scene music from Vertigo was used in the more recent film The Artist. I thought it was very wrong that Bernard Herrmann was not mentioned in the credits of this film. When I heard the music I recognized it right away as being originally part of the score for Vertigo.

Here via Roberto Mastrosimone on You Tube is Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Philharmonic performing  Bernard Hermann’s Scene D’Amour from Vertigo:

Vertigo_1958_trailer_embrace  Kim Novak and James Stewart in Vertigo



Sequel of To Kill A Mockingbird

I read on Salon.com this morning that a sequel to the novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee will be released this summer. The title of the new book is, “Go Set a Watchman.” Harper Lee, who is now 88 years old, is quoted in the Salon article. This is her first novel in 50 years. Ms. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

One of my favorite films of all time, based on the book,  is “To Kill A Mockingbird,” starring Gregory Peck. It has a whole cast of wonderful actors including Brock Peters, Robert Duvall, Alice Ghostley and many more. Mary Badham and Phillip Alford play the children Scout and Jem.  The screenplay is by Horton Foote and music by Elmer Bernstein.

We have our own copy of the DVD and have watched it over and over. I think the story is still pertinent today. It is about racial prejudice and prejudice against people who are mentally ill. It about standing up for what is right even when many people around you are against you. It is told through the eyes of the little girl Scout. I love her relationship with her brother Jem and all their adventures with their visiting summer friend Dill. There is some mystery in the story surrounding their neighbor Boo Radley who is shut away in his house except for his nighttime forays where he leaves little gifts in the hollow of a tree for the children.

I am very interested in reading this new book. It is about Scout as an adult. You can read more about it in the Salon article. It states that Harper Lee wrote this book before she wrote “To Kill A Mockingbird” and the novel was just discovered last Fall.  I suspect it will be made into a film sometime in the future.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Today, November 11, is Veterans Day in the US. It is when we remember the veterans of our wars. It is too bad we have so many wars to remember but we can not forget the men and women who fought in them even if we hate to remember the wars.

I have noted that many of the British bloggers are remembering Armistice Day. My husband always reminds me that Veterans Day was originally remembered here for when WWI ended as well.

Just recently we watched one of our classic DVDs All Quiet on the Western Front. It was based on a book by the same title written by Erich Maria Remarque. The film was the winner of the 1930 Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director. This was before my time but I have been aware of this film for quite a while.

Even though this film was made  long ago it still has a universal appeal and message. The setting is WWI but it could apply to any time and place.

It is about a young man and his friends who are caught up in the nationalistic fervor of their country during WWI. They are idealistic when they enlist and go off to fight for their country. The young men quickly become disillusioned and it becomes a fight for survival.  This film gives a realistic depiction of what is what like for the soldiers who fought in that war.

The message of the film is the great human waste of war and how it swallows up our youth with all their potential lost.

MDD02 via wikimedia

|Nano Poblano|





Eureka Valley and The Castro

Eureka Valley

My early childhood memories are of living in the Eureka Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. My father’s parents came to San Francisco from Ireland and owned a house on Eureka Street. My mother’s parents came to San Francisco from Canada when my mother was 7 years old. We lived a block over from my father’s childhood home.

At that time, in the 1950s, it was a neighborhood with mostly an Irish, Italian and German ethnic makeup and Catholic. The neighborhood was self-contained in that our lives pretty much revolved around that area and we did not venture out of it that often.

My neighborhood world consisted of a public school, Douglass Elementary, a public park, Eureka Valley Recreation Center, the Catholic church and elementary school, Most Holy Redeemer, and our local movie theater, the Castro. My father told me our neighborhood had the most children in all of San Francisco.

I transferred to the Catholic elementary school in first grade. Then it was about uniforms with navy blue pleated skirts. White blouses with t-bow ties. Bobby socks and saddle shoes. Nuns dressed in long black habits with starched white wimples and heavy waist rosaries. Catechism and first communions, with white dresses and veils. Rosaries, prayers, and stations of the cross. I was taught religious tolerance and that other religions are different paths to God.

The Monsignor would come to our classrooms and read us our report cards. He pronounced my name De-BOR-ah, with a brogue. It was a time of high expectations and pressure for a sensitive kid.

It was a time of hula hoops, jump ropes and clamp on metal skates that you tightened with a key. I was not allowed to have a bicycle because of the city traffic.

We watched the Mickey Mouse Club afterschool every day and dreamed of being Mouseketeers, like Annette Funicello. I loved Spin and Marty, a short TV series that was part of the Mickey Mouse Club show. I really wanted a Mouseketeer hat with a pink bow.

Halloween in our neighborhood was a big occasion. There was a local five and dime store called Cliffs on Castro Street. Every year Cliff hosted a Halloween parade lead by a large mechanical dinosaur. I remember kids lining up in their costumes behind the dinosaur to march down 18th Street.

The Castro Theatre

The Castro Theatre was built in 1922. It has over a 1400 seat capacity with a mezzanine and balcony. It is still in operation today. I can remember going there for the Saturday matinee with the theater full of kids. The price of admission was 25 cents. Candy was 10-15 cents. Some of that sugary fare included Necco wafers, Rolo caramels, Charms squares, Milk Duds, Red Vines licorice and Juicy Fruits.

Some movies that were showing at that time were, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin comedies like Scared Stiff, Godzilla, Cinderella, and Lady and the Tramp. I would laugh hysterically at Abbott and Costello and Jerry Lewis. Some may remember Tobor the Great and ” Tobor is robot spelled backwards.”

Sometimes I saw really scary movies like The Fly ( 1958), The Blob (1958) and The Tingler (1959), a centipede like creature that lived on our spines and grew stronger with fear. The only way to keep it from growing was to scream. There was a scene with blood running out of a faucet and a bath tub filled with blood. In one part of the movie, Vincent Price announced the Tingler was loose in the theater. The scary feelings elicited by those movies would last for weeks.

My friends and I often went by ourselves to the movies, but I can remember my mother taking me as well. My mother took me to see Creature from the Black Lagoon, one of the 3D films of the 1950s.

We moved from San Francisco to the peninsula when I was in 4th grade. There was a waiting list for the Catholic school there so I was enrolled in the local public school. That was the end of my Catholic school experience.

The old neighborhood has changed since the 1950s and is now known as The Castro and for its history in the beginning of the Gay Rights movement. Douglass Elementary is now the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.

Featured image “The Castro” by Lucy Orloski