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Archive for the ‘1941’ Category

I spent a good portion of today giving the house its weekly cleaning. You know, dusting, vacuuming, polishing the furniture, taking out the garbage–all those things that I would rather not do. And every time I clean, I always think of a particular scene from the movie, Penny Serenade (1941).

For those of you who have seen it, you already know the story. For those of you who haven’t, this is the plot in a nutshell: Irene Dunne and Cary Grant fall in love and attempt to adopt a child, only to encounter an unexpected tragedy that nearly tears them apart. It’s what everyone calls a tearjerker, although to be honest, I’ve never cried during this movie. Despite its downbeat plot, Penny Serenade is great because 1. I absolutely adore the pairing of Grant/Dunne. Not only are they absolutely perfect together, but I think she was Cary Grant’s best leading lady. And 2. I love how she works in a record store at the beginning of the film. From what I’ve seen, 1940’s record stores were pretty awesome. You could go into a booth and listen to records. If I were alive back then, you can bet that’s where I would have been working.

Anyway, the scene I was talking about was when Miss Oliver (Beluah Bondi) unexpectedly visits the home of Julie Adams (Irene Dunne). Since it’s a surprise visit, Julie isn’t expecting any visitors–instead, she’s spending the afternoon cleaning her house. What always gets me about this scene is the way she’s dressed:

Irene Dunne in Penny Serenade

Look at her! She looks absolutely adorable. Her hair is up in a turban/scarf, she’s wearing a cute dress and apron combo and if that weren’t enough, she’s also wearing heels. Heels! For cleaning and scrubbing the house!

Heels!

A full-length view of her outfitSince I wasn’t alive back in the 1940’s, I’m not sure if this is how housewives really dressed while cleaning or if this was Hollywood’s version of dressing for housework. After all, think of how many times actresses look absolutely glamorous and beautiful while on their deathbeds. Still, it seems absolutely ridiculous to wear high heels while cleaning, although I’m not sure if there was any other kind of shoe for women to wear. I think they had to wear heels by default.

Every time I start cleaning the house, I think about this scene. One time I tried to look a bit more presentable while doing all the chores. I tied my hair up in a cute scarf and put on some lipstick–no high heels though, since I like my legs intact and unbroken. Sadly, by the time I finished cleaning, I looked a little something like this:

Sweetums the Muppet

For more on 1940’s fashion, there’s a really informative wiki page here.

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balloffire1.jpg

balloffire1.jpgConfession time: When I first got into classic movies, I didn’t like Barbara Stanwyck. At all. The first movie of hers I saw was Sorry, Wrong Number and that was for Burt Lancaster.

Now? I LOVE her. I absolutely adore her. I really can’t find anything bad to say about her, because she’s just one of the best actresses ever and I blush at the idea that I didn’t like Ms. Stanwyck. They really don’t make ’em like that anymore. And she can bounce from genre to genre without skipping a beat.

My favorite performance of Barbara’s though, hands down, is that of Katherine “Sugarpuss” O’Shea in 1941’s Ball of Fire. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this movie. There’s something for everyone: a little romance, a little screwball comedy and even a touch of crime thrown in at the end. It’s a perfect movie.

But when I first saw this, my favorite scene was where Sugarpuss performs the song “Drum Boogie” with Gene Krupa and his Orchestra. For weeks, I searched the internet for a recording of it and never found one. I’m a self-reliant person, so I just made my own.

Of course, the vocalist isn’t Barbara Stanwyck–it’s Martha Tilton, who was a notable vocalist in the Big Band Era. She sang with Benny Goodman on his radio show and wound up with her own show in the 40’s and 50’s. Quite a career on her own terms, but for most classic movie fans, this is the performance that she’s remembered for.

Download: Drum Boogie (3.1 MB — a new page with the download will open when you click on the link.)

Note: This is the first in a series of classic movie related Mp3’s. In the upcoming weeks, I hope to have songs from various MGM musicals as well as others. While my tastes have changed radically since I was a teenager, I still love music and can’t imagine not including it somehow in this blog.

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