Happy Anniversary to me!

Today marks the one year anniversary of the start of moviewings. This blog came out of a combination of events: Paul Newman had just died, and I found myself saddened and thinking about what the star and old movies meant to me. A good friend of mine had recently begun blogging, and while I knew I didn't want to create an online diary of my personal life (who'd want to read that, anyway?) I began to think about what I would enjoy writing about. If I wrote about movies, I thought, I would have plenty of things to say. So my first post came out of a desire to express my feelings on Paul Newman's death while opening up a creative outlet for me to talk about my love of movies.

One year and almost 70 posts later, I pause to look back. Finding the LAMB helped me not to feel like I was alone and talking to myself. A major makeover changed the look (but not the spirit) of the blog. In this year, I've learned a lot, like the fact that I'm not the only person who loves classic movies. (It turns out that many people are even more obsessed than I am, although classic film bloggers still seem to be in the minority.) I've had a lot of fun, especially highlighting some of my favorite Overlooked Oldies, doing some silly lists and memes, participating in the Lit Flicks challenge, and declaring January to be a Month O' Musicals. One thing I haven't liked is feeling sometimes that watching movies has become homework instead of entertainment (I don't always want to take notes and think of criticism as I watch a film.) But the blog has also moved me to widen out in the movies I've seen, and I've found some great new-to-me movies that way that I might not have gotten to otherwise.

So where do we go from here? The blog doesn't have an expiration date, but it also is not the only or most important thing in my life. It's very safe to say that I will continue watching films. And whenever I am so inspired to share my thoughts about what I've viewed, especially on the movies that give me wings, this is where I'll do it. Thanks for reading.


The Women -- Movie Chain Review #1

Chain chain chain... chain of reviews...

I've had this idea in my head to start a Chain O' Movie Reviews. What does that mean, you ask? Well. Often for home film festivals I'll create my own movie marathon by chaining together films with a common link. It's kinda like TCM does with a day or month dedicated to one star, but instead of sticking to just one actor I'll chain together film after film with different links in between. Say I start with The Philadelphia Story, then I might move on to Notorious (Cary Grant is the Link) and then I might move on to Casablanca (Ingrid Bergman as the Link). It doesn't just have to be actors as links, either; you can chain directors or even themes back to back (ex: movies with a lot of rain, or perhaps a movie and then the remake). Anyway, I thought it would be fun to carry this habit of linking movies to the blog world. How will it work?

I'll kick things off here with a movie review, the first link in the chain. If you want to join in, after that you'll have to:

1. Call dibs on doing the next review in the comments. First one to speak up gets it, others will have to wait to join up to the next link in the chain! (Chains usually only link one at a time, after all. It's not a movie review tree.)

2. Write your own review of another movie (it should be one not yet used in the chain) and post it on your blog. Make sure the link to the previous review is made clear and that you link back to the original post where the chain began (so we can keep track of how the chain grows). The link can be an actor or actress, director, or something more creative (like a theme).

3. Include the rules of how to continue the chain, and let someone else continue it!

Simple enough, right? Let's get it started!

Movie Chain Review #1: The Women (1939)

Link: First link in the chain, not connected to any reviews (yet).

Review: I found the opening credits of this movie so helpful. As the actresses are introduced, each is paired with an animal that represents her character. So right away you know who's the deer, who's the fox, and who's the old cow. I think more movies should do this.

The word at the beauty parlor, where "Jungle Red" nail polish is all the rage, is that Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) has a husband who's stepping out on her. When Mary's friend (I use the term loosely here) Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) hears about this, she relishes the gossip and eventually sets things up so Mary will hear the rumor.

Mary has been blissfully happy in her marriage to Stephen and as mother to Little Mary (Virginia Weidler). Can she just pretend that nothing is going on and continue her life? Not once she has met the other woman, Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford). The two have a showdown and Mary, choosing pride over love, ends up on a train to Reno. Mary's sweet friend Peggy (Joan Fontaine) is surprisingly also along for the ride, as well as two other women getting divorces: Miriam (Paulette Goddard) and the often-married but still-romantic Countess Flora. The women bide their time at a dude ranch (!) while waiting for their divorces to become final. (Is it wrong to say I was a little happy when Sylvia showed up there as well?) Who will reconcile, who will move on, who will fall in love again? I'll leave the final twists for you to discover.

The joy of the movie for me was not so much in the plot as in the performances. Director George Cukor is completely in his element here with a dialogue-heavy, all female (even the dogs and horses?!?) production. (Interestingly, Cukor was only available for this movie because he was replaced as director of Gone With the Wind. Paulette Goddard too would have only been available here since the one-time frontrunner for the role of Scarlett O'Hara lost out to Vivien Leigh.)

While the actresses are all great in their roles, I was particularly taken with Norma Shearer. How could anyone leave her for Joan Crawford? Impossible.

One thing I didn't really like about the movie was the idea of giving up your pride for love. Maybe occasionally one has to choose, but then, that wouldn't be the case if people just behaved better. Which brings me to what I really didn't like about the movie: the way it portrays female relationships. Maybe it's true that women can be a bit catty, even toward their friends. This movie certainly highlighted that! We've got "friends" gossiping about each other, men-stealing, gold-digging, and dubious advice getting passed along (even from mother to daughter). While all of this does make for an interesting story, I found myself wishing more positive aspects of female friendships could have been included as well. Maybe the estrogen overload just started getting to me after a while. I missed the men.

Final analysis: see it for the great actresses/performances, but don't model your life/love/friendships after it.

Rating: (Although I'm kinda wishing I had made half wing ratings, because this feels more like 3.5 to me.)

Now, what movie will be the next review in the chain? There's plenty of links here to pick from!
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