Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Big Book of Animated Cartoons and Movies

In Hollywood Cartoons, Michael Barrier takes us on a glorious guided tour of American animation in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, to meet the legendary artists and entrepreneurs who created Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, Wile E. Coyote, Donald Duck, Tom and Jerry, and many other cartoon favorites.

Beginning with black-and-white silent cartoons such as Winsor McCay's "Gertie the Dinosaur," Barrier offers an insightful account of animation's first flowering, taking us inside early New York studios and such Hollywood giants as Disney, Warner Bros., and MGM. Barrier excels at illuminating the creative side of animation--revealing how stories are put together, how animators develop a character, how technical innovations enhance the "realism" of cartoons. Here too are colorful portraits of the giants of the field, from Walt and Roy Disney and their animators (including Ub Iwerks, Bill Tytla, and Ward Kimball), to Dave and Max Fleischer, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, and Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. And along the way, Barrier gives us an inside look at the making of such groundbreaking cartoons as "Out of the Inkwell" (with KoKo the Clown), "Steamboat Willie" (the first successful sound cartoon), "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," and "Bambi."

The years from the Depression through World War Two witnessed a golden age of American animation. Based on hundreds of interviews with veteran animators, Hollywood Cartoons gives us the definitive inside look at this colorful era and at the creative process behind these marvelous cartoons.

Title: Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age
Author: Michael Barrier
Published: November 6, 1999
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 672
Genre: Non-fiction- Entertainment/Reference

I have been reading Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age by Michael Barrier on and off for a little over a month now. I can see the incredulous looks I just got. Yes I know I usually read a book in a day but this is a nonfiction book and I read those a bit differently than I would regular fiction. You see, I’ve looked up just about every person, place, thing, cartoon, and movie mentioned in the book. More than half of the cartoons that are discussed or referenced are available on the internet in various places and I have quite a few on DVD as well.
I had a lot of fun revisiting the classic animated Disney movies and watching cartoons that I had never seen before. I strongly recommend this wonderful book!

First Paragraph: This is a book about American studio animation in its "golden age"- the cartoon,, most of them only seven or eight minutes long, that were commonly part of theater programs in the thirties, forties, and fifties. When I was a child in the late forties and early fifties, I usually saw such a film once a week as part of a Saturday matinee at a neighborhood theater. On rare occasions, short cartoons might take up a whole matinee, and- great event- every year or two my parents took me in the evening to a new Walt Disney animated feature. I knew many cartoon characters only from their comic-book appearances, and it was in comic books that even so familiar character as Bugs Bunny seemed most "real" because I saw him there so much more often.

~Check out the author’s website. There are essays, interviews, and tons of other stuff!
The Big Cartoon Database and The Encyclopedia of Disney Shorts are great sites about cartoons. Many of which are mentioned in the book.

Disney- The Old Mill:


MGM-Peace on Earth:

First Superman Cartoon:

WB Merrie Melodies-Old Glory:

Columbia-Fox and Grapes:

Tom and Jerry-Sufferin' Cats:

MGM-Red Hot Ridin' Hood:

Droopy-Wild n' Woolfy:

Bugs Bunny-Rabbit Fire:

UPA-Rooty Toot Toot:

Happy Harmonies-To Spring:

Source: Library loan, hardcover

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See Sidebar

Talking to the Animals

It's the perfect prescription for the whole family!

Get ready for the wildest adventure of a lifetime in the most ambitious musical production ever brought to film. Earning a 1967 Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, this dazzling fantasy turns both ordinary and exotic animals into talking, dancing and singing sensations! Rex Harrison is unforgettable in this inspiring adaptation of Hugh Lofting's classic stories.

Step into the English country home of the good doctor as he performs remarkable treatments on the wildest variety of patients you can imagine. Discover his secret cures and watch with wide-eyed excitement as he and his four-legged, fine-feathered friends charm their way into your heart.

Title: Doctor Dolittle
Release: December 19, 1967
Genre: Musical
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: Doctor Dolittle series by Hugh Lofting
Writer: Leslie Bricusse
Director: Richard Fleischer
Music By: Leslie Bricusse
Produced By: Arthur P. Jacobs
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 152 minutes

Although Doctor Dolittle was nominated for nine Academy Awards (it won only two) it was still seen as a financial flop at the time. Which is incredibly surprising to me because its one of my (many) favorites, especially when I was little. I think it might even be the first film I had ever seen Rex Harrison in and he has been someone whom I have greatly admired ever since.

The movie has a wonderfully talented cast including the ever charismatic Rex Harrison who "sings" on pitch, acts, and puts up with a billion animals all at once. From my experience all musicals, even the ones I love, have at least one or two musical numbers that the movie could have done without. In Doctor Dolittle, I love all the songs except one, At the Crossroads which is sung by the character Emma "Fred" Fairfax played by Samantha Eggar. I honestly think that the number was thrown in only so Eggar would have her own song and it just doesn’t fit the film.
I think the costumes and special effects are great for their time period but they don’t really hold up to the test of time very well. You can tell which animals are fake and the "fictional" animals (Pink sea snail, Luna moth, and the Pushmi-Pullyu) are nearly laughable they are so dated. I actually envy my younger self when I watch this film. I never believed that those creatures actually existed, but they looked real enough to me then that it was possible for me to get caught up in the make-believe. Even with all its faults, it's still a wonderful and fun family film.

~ The DVD is a huge disappointment (no bonus features, just a trailer) but I do recommend reading the Doctor Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting that this movie is based on. I have only read one and although it was a long time ago I still remember it fondly. I’m seriously thinking of getting them all from the library soon.

Find Doctor Dolittle Online


Related Reviews
Rex Harrison- Doctor John Dolittle
A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy by Rex Harrison
Night Train to Munich (1940)- Gus Bennett/ Dickie Randall
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)- Capt. Daniel Gregg
Cleopatra (1963)- Julius Caesar
My Fair Lady (1964)- Professor Henry Higgins
The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)- Pope Julius II
Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)- Grand Duke Cyril Romanov
Ginny Tyler- Polynesia
The Sword in the Stone (1963)- Little Girl Squirrel
Richard Attenborough- Albert Blossom
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)- John Hammond
Jurassic Park (1993) .... John Hammond

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Loverly Oscar-Winning Work of Art

Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison star as the unforgettable Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins in one of the most beloved movie musicals of all time.

The engaging tale of a Cockney flower girl becoming the belle of British society won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The lush, colorful photography, glorious sets, wonderful costumes and soaring musical score also captured Oscars, earning this enchanting musical a unique place in film history. A feast for the eyes and ears, 'My Fair Lady' delivers a breathtaking entertainment experience for the whole family.

Title: My Fair Lady
Release: December 25, 1964
Genre: Musical
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (play)
Writer: Alan Jay Lerner
Director: George Cukor
Music By: Frederick Loewe & Alan Jay Lerner
Produced By: Jack Warner
Distributed By: Warner Bros. (Original) & 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 171 minutes

My Fair Lady has been many peoples favorite musical ever since it first came out as a theatrical stage play but I think it truly became a work of art when it was made into the glorious movie starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. Actually, since I’ve never seen the play, I guess I shouldn’t make that observation but although I like Julie Andrews I can’t see anyone else besides Hepburn as Eliza Dolittle. She’s beautiful, charming, and even though her singing was dubbed (which came as a huge surprise to me when I found out a couple of years ago) she still should have gotten at least nominated for an Oscar.

This is such a fabulous film that it’s no wonder it was nominated for 12 Academy Award and won eight. It’s even been recognized by the AFI as one of the greatest American movies of all time. I’ve never stopped to actually question why I love My Fair Lady so much but maybe it’s because I’ve been a huge Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison fan for as long as I can remember. Or maybe the reason why this musical made such a profound impact on me is the marvelous music. Every time I watch the movie I hum the songs for days and even with the film muted it’s a feast for the eyes. The sets are stunning and the costumes are gorgeous! Eliza’s clothes after she learns to speak properly are especially dazzling and were even featured in Vogue magazines at the time. Cecil Beaton totally deserved the Oscar he won for the costume design.

~ I have seen the 2-disc special edition DVD and my favorite thing is the hour long More Loverly Than Ever documentary but there are also tons of other goodies like an audio commentary, interviews, the premiere, and even Audrey Hepburn original vocals for the songs before it was decided to dub over her with Marni Nixon and that’s just the tip of the ice berg! You won’t be sorry if you replace your old VHS with this DVD.

Find My Fair Lady Online


British Premiere:

Audrey Hepburn Interview:

Related Reviews
Rex Harrison- Professor Henry Higgins
A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy by Rex Harrison
Night Train to Munich (1940)- Gus Bennett/ Dickie Randall
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)- Capt. Daniel Gregg
Cleopatra (1963)- Julius Caesar
The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)- Pope Julius II
Doctor Dolittle (1967)- Dr. John Dolittle
Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)- Grand Duke Cyril Romanov
Audrey Hepburn- Eliza Doolittle
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)- Holly Golightly
Stanley Holloway- Alfred P. Doolittle
Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Indians' (1965)-Det. William Henry Blore
Wilfrid Hyde-White- Colonel Hugh Pickering
Xanadu (1980)- Male Heavenly Voice (Zeus)
Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Indians' (1965)- Judge Arthur Cannon
Theodore Bikel- Zoltan Karpathy
Isobel Elsom- Mrs. Eynsford-Hill
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)- Angelica, Mother-in-law
Bill Shirley- Freddy Eynsford Hill (singing voice)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)- Prince Phillip

Friday, July 27, 2007

He Made an End When He Was Finished

The gripping story of Michelangelo's pain and triumph.

Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison portray two of the Renaissance's most colorful figures in this historical drama based on Irving Stone's best-seller. When Pope Julius ll (Harrison) commissions Michelangelo (Heston) to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the artist initially refuses. Virtually forced to do the job by Julius, he later destroys his own work and flees to Rome. Nominated for an Oscar® Cinematography and named one of the year's best films by the National Board of Review, The Agony And The Ecstasy is a fascinating dramatization of the battle of wills behind one of the world's artistic masterpieces.

Title: The Agony and the Ecstasy
Release: October 7, 1965
Genre: Drama- History
MPAA Rating: PG
Based On: The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
Writer: Philip Dunne & Carol Reed
Director: Carol Reed
Music By: Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith & Alex North
Produced By: Carol Reed
Distributed By: Twentieth Century Fox
Run Time: 138 minutes

The Agony and the Ecstasy is a very pretty biographic film of Michelangelo’s life and the famous Sistine Chapel ceiling (there is also a long prologue of his other famous works at the beginning of the movie in "present day"). There are of course inaccuracies but only to the people who know the story of the Chapel and the man that painted it.

I have to agree with Rex Harrison on the fact that this is my least favourite of his films (he claimed he disliked it in his autobiography A Damned Serious Business). I mean, I liked the film and Charlton Heston is a great Michelangelo, but the part of Pope Julius II could have been played by just about anyone and you wouldn’t notice much of a difference. The part doesn’t have the wonderful Harrison charisma that I expect from his movies.

My biggest complaint is that Agony and Ecstasy is way too long but it is a good history-based piece that was nominated for five Oscars, including unsurprisingly Best Art Direction, Set-Direction and Best Cinematography. The movie leaves you wanting to learn more about Michelangelo and his works (I would love to see the Sistine Chapel ceiling in person one day) so it’s not a complete waste of time but I still will probably never watch it again.

~ The only bonus features on the DVD are a Restoration Comparison and a bunch of trailers, including one for the actual film but the color and sound are gorgeous.

Find The Agony and the Ecstasy Online


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A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy by Rex Harrison
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Cleopatra (1963)- Julius Caesar
My Fair Lady (1964)- Professor Henry Higgins
Doctor Dolittle (1967)- Dr. John Dolittle
Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)- Grand Duke Cyril Romanov

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Disney's Second Depiction of South America

The incomparable Donald Duck stars in his greatest adventure in The Three Caballeros-- a dazzling blend of live action and classic Disney animation bursting with south-of-the-border sights and sounds!

Donald's big birthday surprise, a wondrous collection of gifts, becomes his passport to a magical musical journey with friends Joe Carioca and Panchito. From the Antarctic to Brazil to Mexico, Donald dances and delights his way through a cascade of fiestas, fantasies and fireworks- each stop full of cultural charm and sensational songs!

Disney's upbeat Latin extravaganza is a stunning celebration of visual effects and delectable music-- fine-feathered fun for the whole family.

Title: The Three Caballeros
Release: December 21, 1944
Genre: Animated/Live Action-Family, Travel
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Homer Brightman, Ernest Terrazas, Ted Sears, Bill Peet, Ralph Wright, Elmer Plummer, Roy Williams, William Cottrell, Del Connell, & James Bodrero
Director: Norman Ferguson
Music By: Various
Produced By: Walt Disney
Distributed By: RKO Radio Pictures & Walt Disney Productions
Run Time: 71 minutes

The Three Caballeros was the first sequel Walt Disney ever made (Saludos Amigos was the first). Actually, it’s a bit of a stretch calling it a sequel. The only things in common are the fact that Donald Duck and Joe Carioca are in it and the setting is Latin America. Other than that, the plot is pretty much barely strung together under the premise of Donald’s birthday.

This is another movie that I had only seen bits and pieces of before. It started off pretty good with two really cute cartoon shorts; The Cold Blooded Penguin and The Flying Gauchito, but it went downhill shortly after Donald breaks open his piñata from Panchito Pistoles and the people of Mexico. Then it’s like a a bad hallucinogenic experience until the end. I still think the Three Caballeros is a better film than it’s predecessor Saludos Amigos even if they were both nominated for pretty much the same Academy Awards.

~ I have only seen the VHS version but it had the DVD bonus features (two cartoon shorts, Don’s Fountain of Youth and Pueblo Pluto) at the end.

The Three Caballeros Online


The Real Joe Carioca Performing:

The Cold Blooded Penguin Cartoon:

The Three Caballeros Song:

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Fred Shields- Narrator
Saludos Amigos (1942)- Narrator
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José Oliveira-Joe Carioca
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Frank Graham- Narrator
Horton Hatches the Egg (1942)- Narrator
Clarence Nash- Donald Duck
Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)- Nephew Fred / Donald Duck
Fun & Fancy Free (1947)- Donald Duck
Saludos Amigos (1942)- Donald Duck
The Reluctant Dragon (1941)- Himself/ Donald Duck
Sterling Holloway-Narrator for 'The Cold-Blooded Penguin' / Professor Holloway
The Jungle Book (1967)- 'Kaa' the Snake
Alice in Wonderland (1951)- Cheshire Cat
Mickey and the Beanstalk aka Fun and Fancy Free (1947)- Narrator
Make Mine Music (1946)- Narrator (segment "Peter and the Wolf")
Bambi (1942)- Adult Thumper
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The Scrapbook Lovers Mystery

On the fringe of New Orleans's French Quarter sits Carmela Bertrand's little scrapbooking shop, Memory Mine. Business is booming and life is cozy. But when one of the city's elite dies during Mardi Gras, the police tag Carmela's estranged husband as their number one murder suspect. Even though the memory of how he scrapped their marriage hasn't faded, Carmela doesn't think that Shamus is cut out to be a killer. She's an expert at framing things herself - and doesn't like the pattern being laid out by a disreputable detective and a shady newspaper columnist. Then, as Shamus begs for help, Carmela uncovers an important clue in a most unlikely place - one of her customer's scrapbooks.

Title: Keepsake Crimes
Author: Laura Childs
Series: Scrapbooking Mystery, Book 1
Published: May 6, 2003
Publisher: Prime Crime (Berkley Publishing)
Pages: 244
Genre: Cozy Mystery- Hobby

I’ve heard a lot about Laura Childs' tea shop books and I had been meaning to get around to reading them when I heard that she also had a scrapbooking mystery series as well. I just finished the first book Keepsake Crimes and I have to say I was really impressed! I love a good cozy mystery and I’ve always found scrapbooking fascinating but I just don’t have the patience for it. Plus it’s set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and has a couple of really funny parts.

Actually, to tell the truth, there isn’t that much detective work by our scrapbooking sleuth, Carmella (isn’t that a beautiful name?). Most of the clues just happen to fall in her lap and I noticed a few inconsistencies (Gabby’s been married for two months on p.5 but then on p.11 it’s four months) but it really was a good first-in-the-series novel. The book includes a couple of recipes and also some scrapbooking tips at the end.

Scrapbooking Mysteries
1. Keepsake Crimes (2003)
2. Photo Finished (2004)
3. Bound for Murder (2004)
4. Motif for Murder (2006)
5. Frill Kill (2007)
6. Death Swatch (2008)
7. Tragic Magic (2009)
8. Fiber & Brimstone (2010)

First Paragraph: Carmella Bertrand spun out a good fifteen inches of gold ribbon and snipped it off tidily. "This," she told the little group of scrapbookers clustered around her table, "gets added to the center panel." Heads bobbed, and eager eyes followed Carmela's hands as she punched two quick holes in the scrapbook page, then deftly threaded the ribbon through.

Find Laura Childs Online
Official Site

History of Mardi Gras
~ Here are two songs that are mentioned in the book:
Professor Longhair’s Go to the Mardi Gras
Official Mardi Gras Ballad- If I Ever Cease to Love

Source: Library Loan, paperback

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Hauntingly Beautiful Love Story

"An engaging romantic fantasy...Gently humorous and often sparkling." -The New York Times

Joseph L. Mankiewicz's powerful romantic gem, "rich in human warmth and moments of rare humor," (Variety) brought together screen legends Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison.

Recent widow Lucy Muir (Tierney) rents a house by the ocean, which turns out to be haunted by a cantankerous sea captain (Harrison). Although difficult at first, their friendship blossoms and the captain even "ghostwrites" an autobiographical book to bring in money for her. Eventually, the unlikely pair fall in love, only to be challenged when a flesh-and-blood suitor (George Sanders) appears on the scene.

With its heartwarming screenplay and Oscar-nominated cinematography, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a moving classic in Hollywood's best style.

Title: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Release: June 26, 1947
Genre: Romance- Paranormal
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Based On: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R. A. Dick
Writer: Philip Dunne
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Music By: Bernard Herrmann
Produced By: Fred Kohlmar
Distributed By: Twentieth Century-Fox
Run Time: 104 minutes

I had never seen The Ghost and Mrs. Muir before but after reading Rex Harrison’s autobiography I’ve tried to watch as many films of his as I can. I have already seen a few over the years to know that I’ll hardly ever be disappointed and thankfully this is no exception. In fact, this is the only movie I’ve seen by him that has ever made me cry.

Rex Harrison is such a handsome man as Captain Gregg and Gene Tierney is a pretty good heroine as Mrs. Muir. There is only one badly acted scene in the whole movie and it’s very early on in the film. I really loved the easy banter between Harrison and Tierney and although they never touch one another until the very end, you can easily see the amazing chemistry between them. This is such a funny, bittersweet, love story that every “chick flick” lover should see… as long as you aren’t attracted to those “perfumed parlor snakes” that is!

~ I have only seen the VHS.

Find The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Online


Related Reviews
Rex Harrison- Captain Daniel Gregg
A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy by Rex Harrison
Night Train to Munich (1940)- Gus Bennett/Dickie Randall
Cleopatra (1963)- Julius Caesar
My Fair Lady (1964)- Professor Henry Higgins
The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)- Pope Julius II
Doctor Dolittle (1967)- Dr. John Dolittle
Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)- Grand Duke Cyril Romanov
George Sanders- Miles Fairley
The Jungle Book (1967)- Shere Khan the Tiger
Isobel Elsom-Angelica, Mother-in-law
My Fair Lady (1964)-Mrs. Eynsford-Hill

Travel Latin America With Disney

Disney's 6th full-length animated film, Saludos Amigos, is loosely translated as "Greetings Friends." The film features the Academy Award- nominated song of the same title and showcases the brilliance of Disney's legendary animators.

A whimsical blend of live action and animation, Saludos Amigos is a colorful kaleidoscope of art, adventure and music set to a toe-tapping samba beat. Your south-of-the-border traveling companions are none other than famous funny friends, Donald Duck and Goofy. They keep things lively as Donald encounters a stubborn llama and "El Goucho" Goofy tries on the cowboy was of life- South American-style.

From high Andes peaks to Argentina's pamas in the sights and sounds of Rio de Janeiro, Saludos Amigos is a hilarious visual feast that will entertain and delight the whole family.

Title: Saludos Amigos
Release: August 24, 1942
Genre: Animated/ Live-Action- Family
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Homer Brightman, Ralph Wright, Roy Williams, Harry Reeves, Dick Huemer, & Joe Grant
Director: Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, & William Roberts
Music By: Ed Plumb & Paul Smith
Produced By: Walt Disney
Distributed By: RKO Radio Pictures & Walt Disney Productions
Run Time: 42 minutes

Saludos Amigos is kind of like a travel brochure of South America with just enough cartoons thrown in to keep the viewer interested. It is the shortest Disney film ever made and I think it’s the least popular in the United States. At least it was a huge hit in South America and that was what it was aiming for with the government’s “Good Neighbor Policy” to keep them from siding with the Nazi’s during WWII.

I had never seen the entire movie all the way through but I had seen the individual cartoons that make up the feature (Lake Titicaca- Donald Duck, Pedro-small airplane cartoon, El Gaucho Goofy- Goofy, and Aquarela do Brasil- Water Color Brazil with Donald Duck and José Carioca). I can’t say I missed much but it was fun to see various clips of Walt Disney himself interacting with the locals. This is an informative and semi-interesting film but unless you’re a rabid Disney fan I suggest just finding the cartoons somewhere online and skipping the movie. That’s just my opinion though.

~ I watched a VHS copy of Saludos Amigos. I have heard that there is a DVD but it has very little in the way of special features. On the VHS copy I watched was the main bonus feature that is supposedly on the DVD. It’s called South of the Border with Disney and it’s actually kind of boring for the most part (I actually thought it was part of the “movie” at first).

Find Saludos Amigos Online


Missing Clip from Movie:

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Sequel Film
Fred Shields- Narrator
The Three Caballeros (1944)- Narrator
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Pinto Colvig- Goofy
Fun and Fancy Free (1947)- Goofy
The Reluctant Dragon (1941)- Goofy
Gulliver's Travels (1939)- Gabby
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)- Sleepy/ Grumpy
Clarence Nash- Donald Duck
Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)- Nephew Fred / Donald Duck
Fun & Fancy Free (1947)- Donald Duck
The Three Caballeros (1944)- Donald Duck
The Reluctant Dragon (1941)- Himself/ Donald Duck

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You'll Be Twitterpated!

Reflecting an age of innocence and a time of wonder, no film better captures the pure magic of Disney than Bambi- the world's most endearing animated tale about the beauty of nature and the miracle of life. Nominated for three Academy Awards, this immortal blend of classic storytelling and unforgettable characters is most fondly remembered as Walt Disney's all-time favorite picture.

As morning light breaks across the meadow, a new prince of the forest is born. Soon Bambi emerges from the thicket on wobbly legs, much to the delight of his new friends, Thumper, the playful rabbit, and Flower, the bashful yet lovable skunk. But the fun of skating on "stiff water," nibbling fresh blossoms, and frolicking through the woods is only the beginning. Exploring his new world, and guided by the wisdom of Friend Owl, Bambi learns valuable lessons with every adventure- experiencing love, loss, growth and renewal along the way.

Title: Bambi
Release: August 13, 1942
Genre: Animated- Family
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: Bambi by Felix Salten
Writer: Perce Pearce, Larry Morey, George Stallings, Melvin Shaw, Carl Fallberg, Chuck Couch, & Ralph Wright
Director: David Hand
Music By: Edward H. Plumb
Produced By: Walt Disney
Distributed By: RKO Radio Pictures & Walt Disney Productions
Run Time: 70 minutes

In my opinion Bambi is one of the prettiest movies that Walt Disney himself worked on. It’s such a gorgeous, life-like film with adorable animals that have plenty of personality. It’s no wonder Bambi was nominated for 3 Academy Awards (all to do with music) and won a special Golden Globe award (for furthering the influence of the screen).

I have always loved Bambi because it has the most beautiful songs (especially Little April Shower) and because it makes it seem as if nature itself is the one singing. That's actually the most wonderful thing about the classic Disney movies: the music and the songs. Although this is one of the rare few that doesn't employ the actual characters in singing, the music flows throughout the entire movie. There are actually only two points in the movie that are completely silent and they are the two that impact the audience the most. Bambi is not only a love story between Bambi and Faline but a story of friendship, growth, bravery, and survival.

~ I recommend buying the 2-disc DVD if only because of the wonderful story meeting that serves as a commentary on the first disc. Besides that my other favorite thing was the Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born. There are tons of other things on the second disc that I loved as well but I could have done without the “Games & Activities” section.

Find Bambi Online

Covering the Mouse (cover songs)
Song Lyrics


Bambi McDonald's Toy Commercial:

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Bambi by Felix Salten
Sterling Holloway- Adult Flower
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Alice in Wonderland (1951)- Cheshire Cat
Mickey and the Beanstalk aka Fun and Fancy Free (1947)- Narrator
Make Mine Music (1946)- Narrator (segment "Peter and the Wolf")
The Three Caballeros (1944)- Narrator for 'The Cold-Blooded Penguin'/Professor Holloway
Dumbo (1941)- Mr. Stork
Alice in Wonderland (1933)- Frog
Fred Shields-Great Prince Of The Forest
The Three Caballeros (1944)- Narrator
Saludos Amigos (1942)- Narrator

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Roughing It in the Old Frontier

Evangeline Keating came west because she had to: after her husband's passing, she needed to build a new life for her young daughter, and marrying a stranger from Montana Territory was her best chance. After a difficult winter journey, she arrives at an isolated outpost called Springwater Station. But the handsome man who's come for her is not her husband-to-be, and Evangeline soon finds herself thrust into a most inconvenient -- and highly improper -- arrangement.

Scully Wainwright never intended to be left alone with his ranching partner's fiancée. But his partner's not due back until spring, and he can't leave a defenseless woman and her child unguarded -- not with wolves and Indians threatening. Biding his time with the lovely Evangeline begins to feel dangerously close to setting up a real home. But as a reckless passion sparks between them, Scully and Evangeline discover a destiny -- and a passion -- as boundless as the open frontier.

Title: Springwater
Series: Springwater Seasons, Book 1
Published: December 1, 1998
Publisher: Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster)
Pages: 304
Genre: Historical Romance

Springwater is the first book by author Linda Lael Miller that I’ve ever read and it’s also the first in the Springwater series. It’s a historical romance set in the Montana Territories shortly after the Civil War. I loved the isolated setting of the cabin and how beautifully the landscape is described. Even though the characters are so far from the town, the story never sags or gets boring. I’m really looking forward to reading this series!

Springwater Seasons
Springwater (1998)
Jessica (1999)
Miranda (1999)
Rachel (1999)
Savannah (1999)
A Springwater Christmas (1999)
Springwater Wedding (2001)

First Paragraph: She would never, in her long, long life, forget that first sight of him, riding through fresh snow high as the breast of his Appaloosa stallion, with the sky broad and ice blue at his back. Never forget those gleaming golden moments when she thought he was someone he was not.

Find Linda Lael Miller Online
Official Site

Author Wikipedia

Source: Personal copy, paperback

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Forever and the Night (1993)

He was an Extra-Ordinary Man

In this chatty, anecdotal look back at his career, the actor best-known for his portrayal of Professor Henry Higgins in the stage and film versions of My Fair Lady touches on personal aspects of his life only if they had an effect on his work, such as the poor career choices he made in an effort to keep busy after the death of Kay Kendall, his third wife. A devoted fan of Shaw and the naturalistic school of acting, Harrison, who died this past June at the age of 82, derides Method, which he calls "the scratch and grunt school of acting," and notes that his major roles have all been of "self-centered types." Many of his stories make the reader laugh aloud, such as his disastrous attempt at Shakespeare, the filming of Dr. Doolittle ("The animals behaved well in almost all respects. It was the animal trainers who should have been shot") and the joy of working on My Fair Lady ("I began to discover that putting a musical together is riveting"), particularly as he developed the "sing/speak" style of singing that marked the role of Higgins. Harrison's enthusiasm and wry observations make this an endearing commentary on acting in general and his career in particular

Title: A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy
Author: Rex Harrison
Published: January 1, 1991
Publisher: Bantam Books
Pages: 288
Genre: Autobiography

In his autobiography A Damned Serious Business; Rex Harrison talks about his life in theater and film as well as his acting technique. It’s really more of a running commentary of Harrison’s life told in his own words. You may notice a few inconsistencies in the book because Rex was still putting the final touches on the book when he died June 2, 1990.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not only because Rex Harrison was a wonderful actor but also because I adore most of his movies. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to see him perform on stage because he died when I was only 4 but I bet it was a truly remarkable thing to see. Now that I’ve finished his autobiography I plan on watching as many of his movies as I can get my hands on (I only have two) so look for the reviews soon.

Rex Harrison Accepting Award:

Ordinary Man from My Fair Lady:

Source: Interlibrary Loan, hardcover

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Monday, July 16, 2007

The One...The Only... Dumbo!

One of the true Disney masterpieces... the poignant animated Classic about Dumbo, a baby elephant born with oversized ears. Snubbed and ridiculed by all the other circus folks, he is befriended by a jocular mouse named Timothy. With luck, determination and an amazing amount of courage, Dumbo learns to soar as the high-flying star of the circus. Delightful, enchanting and touching. Dumbo remains one of the most popular, loveliest films from the mast of animated entertainment.

Title: Dumbo
Release: October 23, 1941
Genre: Animated-Family
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Based On: Dumbo the Flying Elephant by Helen Aberson & Harold Pearl
Writer: Joe Grant, Dick Huemer, Otto Englander, Bill Peet, Joe Rinaldi, Vernon Stallings, & Webb Smith
Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Music By: Frank Churchill & Oliver Wallace
Produced By: Walt Disney
Distributed By: RKO Radio Pictures & Walt Disney Productions
Run Time: 64 minutes

Dumbo may be the shortest animated Disney movie ever made but it is still one of the most beloved. It even saved the Walt Disney studios from going bankrupt. The film was made during the Disney strike (notice the clowns that sing about going to “hit the big boss for a raise”?) and a couple of weeks before Pearl Harbor but it still made a good bit of money for Disney. It’s not hard to see why because it’s ultimately a story of the underdog and his eventual triumph. There are a couple of beautiful songs in the movie as well (the music score won an Oscar and the song "Baby Mine" was nominated for Best Song).

I have many favorite Disney movies but very few will make me cry when I watch them like Dumbo does. The animators made it seem less artistic than the previous animated films and much more like the characters are actually acting. So even though cost was a major issue while this was in the making, it doesn’t show at all. If anything, I think it made Dumbo even better!

~ I refuse to buy the DVD until they come out with a 2-disc.

Find Dumbo Online

Covering the Mouse (covers of the songs)


Walt Disney Introduction:

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Beginning of the Rebellion

The rebellion begins! Lord Voldemort has returned, but the Ministry of Magic is doing everything it can to keep the wizarding world from knowing the truth - including appointing Ministry official Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. When Umbridge refuses to teach practical defensive magic, Ron and Hermione convince Harry to secretly train a select group of students for the wizarding war that lies ahead. A terrifying showdown between good and evil awaits in this enthralling film version of the fifth novel in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Prepare for battle!

Title: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Release: July 11, 2007
Genre: Fantasy
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Based On: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Writer: Michael Goldenberg
Director: David Yates
Music By: Nicholas Hooper & John Williams
Produced By: David Heyman & David Barron
Distributed By: Warner Brothers
Run Time: 134 minutes

I love the Harry Potter books and movies (who doesn’t?!) so much and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is no exception. I still thought it was a little crammed and rushed though. There were tons of things that were left out but since I haven't read the book recently, it wasn't really that fresh in my mind so I didn’t really miss too many of the side plots in the book and was able to enjoy the movie a lot more.

My one pet peeve about the movie is; as I said above, it’s rushed. A lot of characters have minimal scenes (even Dumbledore) and I understand that they were trying to make it mostly about Harry and his emotions (friends, love, anger, etc.) but for heaven’s sake! In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince I hope the make it a little longer and put an intermission in between or something.

With the way I’m talking it makes it sound like I really didn’t enjoy the film. I did! I really did! I cried like I did with the book, my stomach was clenched up in a knot for half of the time, and the movie was just plain cool. The visual effects alone are worth the price of admission (as usual). I’m truly looking forward to watching this on DVD and seeing what ended up on the cutting room floor.

Find HP&The Order of the Phoenix
Official Site


Emma Watson Interview:

Rupert Grint Interview:

Daniel Radcliffe Interview:

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Beautiful Music and Lyrics

The romantic comedy Music and Lyrics is really good but the soundtrack is much better. The movie is set in present day but because it’s about a washed-up 80’s pop star, the music fluctuates between present day and like the 80’s-early 90’s. What you get is a CD you can listen to over and over again. There are actually only 4 tracks that I dislike (Entering Bootytown- Haley Bennet, Tony the Beat- The Sounds, Slam- Haley Bennet, and Different Sound- Teddybears) and unsurprisingly Hugh Grant sings all but one of the rest of the songs I like. He has such a beautiful voice!

My absolute favorite song on the soundtrack is Don’t Write Me Off and it’s one that you can listen to a million times and yet never get tired of it. The melody is beautiful and the lyrics are sweet and funny, just like the movie. I did like both of the Way Back into Love songs but the demo version is my favorite. Drew Barrymore is a wonderful actress but I never knew she could sing! My only regret is that she didn’t do more than one song. I feel like I should mention one of the other tracks I like (even if it’s the most popular one in the movie), PoP! Goes My Heart is a song that makes it utterly impossible to sit still through. You just have to get up and do something! Music and Lyrics has such a fun soundtrack and with such wonderful music, it’s a must have.

Track Listing:
1. Pop! Goes My Heart
2. Buddha's Delight - Haley Bennet
3. Meaningless Kiss
4. Entering Bootytown - Haley Bennet
5. Way Back Into Love (Demo Version)
6. Tony The Beat - The Sounds
7. Dance With Me Tonight
8. Slam - Haley Bennet
9. Don't Write Me Off
10. Way Back Into Love
11. Different Sound - Teddybears
12. Love Autopsy

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Don't Write It Off Just Yet

First you're hot, then you're not... and then you're Alex Fletcher. So when the sizzlingest tween queen on the charts asks the has-been '80s pop sensation to write her a song, he grabs for another chance at stardom. Problem: Alex can say it with music, but he sure can't say it with words. Enter Sophie Fisher, his beguiling if quirky plant lady, who has an unexpected green thumb for lyrics. Together, they go after songwriting success - and discover that if you want to write the perfect love song, it helps to fall in love.

With Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore at the keyboard and Marc Lawrence (Two Weeks Notice) directing, Music And Lyrics is a witty, wacky romantic comedy that faces the music... and laughs

Title: Music and Lyrics
Release: February 14, 2007
Genre: Romantic Comedy
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Writer: Marc Lawrence
Director: Marc Lawrence
Music By: Adam Schlesinger
Produced By: Marc Lawrence, Melissa Wells, Scott Elias
Distributed By: Warner Brothers
Run Time: 104 minutes

Music and Lyrics is a really sweet, funny, musical romantic comedy with songs that you will be humming for days! I always find it a bit interesting when actors step outside their comfort zones for a movie like Grant and Barrymore did for this. He danced, learned to play the piano, and they both learned how to sing (although Drew only sings one song and Hugh sings seven).

I loved how strong the characters are and how compatible Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore are with one another. The reason I like these actors so much is because they’re really good (obviously) but I also like them because they’re great eye candy too. He’s kind of cute and he has that sexy British accent, she’s adorable and lately she has been wearing the cutest clothes in her movies as well as in real life. Plus they seem like they’re genuinely nice people. You’ve simply got to give this great romantic comedy a chance if you haven’t already!

~ The DVD includes a few additional scenes, a really cute gag reel, Note for Note: The Making of Music and Lyrics, and the music video “PoP! Goes My Heart” (that by the end of the movie you will have seen a lot of). Don’t forget to watch the music video that plays during the credits. It’s kind of like a Pop-Up-Video that informs you of what happened to the characters.

Find Music & Lyrics Online
Official Site


Music Video:

Hugh Grant Interview:

Related Reviews
Music and Lyrics Soundtrack Review
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