Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wedding Bell Hell

I’ve finally found Mr. Right. Sure, he might not have a pulse, but as a girl who’s sharing a body with a short-tempered Goddess, I’m not one to judge. Sebastian is the vampire of my dreams, and I’m dying to walk down the aisle. Everything couldn’t be more perfect.

Well, except for the fact that the awesome band I hired for the reception has been replaced by some guy with an accordion and lederhosen. And the bridesmaid’s dresses somehow got switched to salmon-pink taffeta with butt-bows. Not to mention the fact that Sebastian’s ex-lover, the zombie-slash-vampire-slash-witch who just happens to be the mother of his undead son, wants both of us six feet under. Now I know why some girls turn into Bridezillas.
Title: Dead if I Do
Author: Tate Hallaway
Series: Garnet Lacey, Book 4
Start & Finished: 5/17/10- 5/25/10
Published: May 5, 2009
Publisher: Berkley Books
Pages: 290
Genre: Paranormal- Adventure/ Romance

Weddings are tough on the nerves and can make even the most mild-mannered woman into a dreaded Bridezilla but try planning a wedding when you’re cursed. Garnet Lacey; the perky goth witch who harbors the goddess Lilith (“Used to be, if I accidentally triggered Lilith’s wrath, I could wake up to find myself with bodies to bury, literally. Now I was conscious during the outbursts, and she was easier to rein in… at least so far.”) inside of her from the series by Tate Hallaway, is finally getting married to her longtime boyfriend Sebastian Von Traum in the fourth book Dead if I Do.

Garnet and Sebastian have come a long way since their first appearance in Tall, Dark and Dead (published in 2006) and it just wouldn’t be them unless everything that could possibly go wrong does for their wedding. We finally meet the Garnet’s estranged hippy parents as well as the mother of Mátyás (Garnet’s soon-to-be son-in-law) who just happens to be a zompire (a zombie/ vampire/ witch) now and besides the cursed the wedding plans, Tereza is the Big Bad in this book. There was quite a bit that I found creepy during this book, especially the parts with Tereza since technically Garnet is the other woman (even if she was never married to Sebastian), fiancé or not and to be honest, it made me uncomfortable at times.

That’s not to say that this isn’t a fabulous addition to the series because it definitely is (oh, I love the author’s description of the goddess Athena) and it still has that lighthearted comedic value in between attacks by the crazed Tereza too. I was so happy to see that the resident bad boy ex-boyfriend in this series Parrish shows up quite a bit. I’ve always liked him better than any of the other characters (besides Garnet of course). Dead if I Do is the second-to-last book in the Garnet Lacey series, the final story being Honeymoon of the Dead and I can’t wait to read it.

Garnet Lacey Series
1. Tall, Dark and Dead (2006)
2. Dead Sexy (2007)
3. Romancing the Dead (2008)
4. Dead If I Do (2009)
5. Honeymoon of the Dead (2010)

First Sentence: Introducing your fiancé to your parents for the first time is always tough, but when you add that he’s a vampire…?

Author Wikipedia, Author Blog, MySpace, YouTube Channel

Love Vampires
Bitten By Books
Vampires, Witches, and Geeks (podcast)


Source: Special thanks to the publisher!

Picture Explanations
Barn: A creepy place but better than the malevolently haunted basement!
Blizzard: It’s December in Wisconsin, of course there’s going to be a blizzard

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

She'll March Away With Your Heart

In the post Civil War South, an embittered old southern gent (Lionel Barrymore) turns his back on his daughter (Evelyn Venable, voice of the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio) when she marries the "wrong man." Years later, the daughter returns with her husband and young daughter (Shirley Temple), the latter of whom manages to mend the broken family ties. She does this by charming him with several charming song and dance numbers, as well as her irresistible personality.

Title: The Little Colonel
Release: February 22, 1935
Genre: Family- Drama/ Comedy
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: The Little Colonel by Annie Fellows Johnston
Writer: William M. Conselman
Director: David Butler
Music By: Cyril J. Mockridge
Produced By: Buddy G. DeSylva
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 80 minutes

An idealized version of antebellum days, “The Little Colonel is an amalgam of southern plantations, pinafores, Spanish moss, and banjos plinking away with Civil War songs.” This film was based on a semi-biographical book by Annie Fellows Johnston published in 1895 which then became a popular series of books. Being a Shirley Temple film, The Little Colonel was republished to help market the movie (several of the dresses little Miss Lloyd Sherman wears in the film were sold too) as well.

Bill ‘Bojangles‘ Robinson; then a vaudeville performer, had appeared in a few film roles such as his cameo shot in Dixiana and a small role in Harlem is Heaven but it was The Little Colonel that helped make him just as recognizable on screen as he was on stage. This film was his first of many appearances with Shirley Temple whom she called Uncle Billy according to her autobiography (“From then on whenever we walked together it was hand in hand, and I was always his “darlin’.”) and Mr. Robinson added to Shirley’s dancing repertoire that she had learned early on in life by teaching her to tap-dance like him. Their famous staircase dance is in this film and they were the first interracial dancing couple in film history, unfortunately, the scene was cut for Southern theaters “to avoid social offense and assure wide distribution.”

Mr. Robinson isn’t the only famous African American in this film either, Hattie McDaniels, pre-Oscar; which she won for her portrayal somewhat similar to the one she plays here in Gone With the Wind, also has an important role as Mom Beck. McDaniel had joined the Screen Actor’s Guild the previous year and was coming under fire in the black community for her portrayal of these racial stereotypes. Speaking of racial stereotypes, quite a few pop up in the course of the film but that’s not surprising considering the time period its set in and filmed as well. There’s nothing overtly malicious, yet it’s doubtful you’d find things like it in films today. The other Academy Award winning actor in this film Lionel Barrymore (Best Actor for A Free Soul in 1931) plays his part well as the stereotypical crotchety, old colonel who has finally met his match in his little granddaughter: “I don't need to have whiskers. I've got temper. That's all you need to be a colonel.” Their interactions and blowups are some of the best parts of The Little Colonel but Barrymore also adds depth to a character that could have easily been trite.

Despite the fact that The Little Colonel had some amazing actors, it was also cleverly written, had a beautiful setting (I loved Col. Lloyd’s home), and Shirley Temple had a gorgeous wardrobe too. There are a few subplots scattered throughout the film but they aren’t very memorable (except for the baptism scene, southern revival style). I thoroughly enjoyed this film but even I have to admit that Bojangles helped steal the show.

Featured Songs
Love's Young Dream performed by Shirley Temple
My Old Kentucky Home performed by Bill Robinson

About the Book

Related Posts
Temple’s Baby Burlesk Shorts, Stand Up and Cheer, Little Miss Marker, Baby Take a Bow, & Bright Eyes

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It Still Hasn’t ‘Cracked Up’

The first big film created especially for her, Bright Eyes helped make Shirley Temple a huge box office star and features her most famous song: "On the Good Ship Lollipop."

The little darling of a group of aviators, Shirley splits her time between her pilot godfather Loop (James Dunn) and her long-suffering mother (Lois Wilson), housemaid for a selfish, wealthy family. When a tragic accident leaves Shirley orphaned, Loop sets out adopt Shirley- until he learns he's not the only one determined to keep the adorable youngster.

Title: Bright Eyes
Release: December 28, 1934
Genre: Family- Drama
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: William M. Conselman (screenplay), David Butler, & Edwin J. Burke (story)
Director: David Butler
Music By: Richard A. Whiting
Produced By: Sol M. Wurtzel
Distributed By: Fox Film
Run Time: 83 minutes

In Bright Eyes, Shirley Temple plays a charming little orphan girl named Shirley Blake whom just about everyone adores. This wasn’t the first nor certainly not the last where she plays an orphan either. It’s quite a common plot device for some of Temple’s films but they’re all unique in their own right. James 'Jimmy' Dunn once again plays opposite of little Shirley for the third and final time in Bright Eyes. Their previous two films together were Baby Take a Bow & Stand Up and Cheer but this one is by far their best. Temple’s trademark song On the Good Ship Lollipop (which actually takes place on a grounded plane) was first performed during this picture too.

Written mainly as a vehicle for Temple's rising status, Bright Eyes had an incredible cast of supporting actors and actresses too. Dunn, who plays the aviator Loop Merritt, has a real dynamic with Shirley in this picture that was missing from their previous encounters onscreen and the old curmudgeon Uncle Ned Smith (Charles Sellon) was simply delightful as well. Jane Withers nonetheless shines as the resident 'mean girl' (more like little monster… and her parents aren‘t too much better either) Joy Smythe in the film. She kept the film from being saccharinely sweet while at the same time making her co-stars look better (or at least better behaved!).

As a matter of fact, Bright Eyes was Withers’ breakout role and though she never starred in (or in this case, alongside) a big budget picture again, she still had an incredibly successful career in lower budgeted films. Someone else was recognized in this film as well and went on to become a bit of an icon and that was the dog Rags. She is better known as Toto from MGM's Wizard of Oz but this is where the little dog got her start in film!

Besides good actors and a hit song that was listed on AFI’s 100 Years 100 Songs, Shirley Temple was awarded a miniature Academy Award (the first received by a child actor) in 1935 partly for her role in this film. Her crying scene after she finds out her mother has “cracked-up” (died) alone could be credited for that honor. By the time this film was released, Temple was a household name and everyone flocked to see this and that is the main reason Bright Eyes is still known today however, it’s still a great watch for the adorableness of Shirley.

Featured Songs
On the Good Ship Lollipop - Shirley Temple
The Man on the Flying Trapeze - Charles Sellon

Official Shirley Temple Site

Related Reviews
Temple’s Baby Burlesk Shorts, Stand Up and Cheer, Little Miss Marker, & Baby Take a Bow

Search This Blog