Deluxe Version!


In a 6-month celebration of my mini-Begets column I’ve written a special deluxe version whereby the experiences in one aspect of the arts begets inspiration in some of the others.

It starts with a book…

The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises coverIconic best-seller, and high-school must-read, about a group of expats, who travel from Paris to Pamplona, Spain to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. Muy, muy macho stuff.

Hemingway at bullfights B&WPurportedly Hemingway (in white trousers and dark shirt) in the bullring, attempting to drag a man away from a charging bull during the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain in July, 1925. The very trip that was the basis for his book.

which beget the phrase…

D. Selznick


The Son-in-Law Also Rises (1930) inspired by the marriage of David O. Selznick to Louis B. Mayer’s daughter, Irene, and Selznick’s subsequent appointment as head of production at MGM Studios.


and begets the children’s book…

Ferdinand cover


The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (1936) lauded as a classic from the start, tells the tale of a peaceful, flower-loving, little bull named Ferdinand. And then there’s Hemingway’s lesser known, forgettable, rebuttal, ‘The Faithful Bull’ published, to no acclaim, in ‘Holiday’ magazine in 1951.

and eventually begets the film adaptation…



The Sun Also Rises (1957) starring Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner and Errol Flynn and emphasizing the inebriated and hedonistic lifestyle embraced by the Lost Generation told in brilliant Deluxe Color and CinemaScope.



which begets the home decor fad…

bullfight poster



Bullfight Posters (late 1950s to 1970s)

It seemed as though for decades there wasn’t a finished basement anywhere in America that didn’t proudly display a bullfight poster, a.k.a. early man-cave art.




which finally begets the least Hemingway moment ever put on film with bulls…

City Slickers (1991) starring Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby

The opening scene is a modern day running of the bulls in Spain featuring 3 New Yorkers attempting to walk—or rather run—in Hemingway’s macho-footsteps. After watching this, all one can say is: ‘No mas, no mas.’



FILM PROGRAM: Preston Sturges; Classic Film Genius

I’m happy to announce I’ll be conducting a Film Program on the 1940s filmmaker *Preston Sturges at the Beaman Memorial Public Library in West Boylston, MA. The Program is FREE and it’s going to be a lot of fun however, the Beaman requests that you do call them at 508-835-3711 to sign-up!

Preston Sturges 2b big?



Films shown on Fridays, April 6, 13, 20, and 27 at 1 p.m.

He wasn’t a good student, he didn’t like to read, he never went to college, and yet by the time Preston Sturges was in his 40s he had changed the course of Hollywood history. Between 1940 to 1944 he wrote and directed a streak of hit films displaying a sly wit and a subversive sense of humor that somehow got past Hollywood’s Production Code!

Each Friday I’ll talk about the films, the times and the larger-than-life personality and talent of Preston Sturges, himself.




The Great McGinty


APRIL 6 – The Great McGinty (1940) “If it wasn’t for graft, you’d get a very low type of people in politics.”


The Lady Eve 1


APRIL 13 – The Lady Eve (1941) “I need him like the axe needs the turkey.”



Sullivans Travels 2


APRIL 20 – Sullivan’s Travels (1941) “Why don’t you go back to the car? You look as much like a boy as Mae West.”



The Miracle of Morgan's Creek


APRIL 27 – The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) “You almost wished I’d be in terrible trouble so you could help me out of it? Well, you certainly got your wish.”



* Oscar Trivia: Preston Sturges’ screenplay, THE GREAT McGINTY (1940) won the very first Academy Award given for Best Original Screenplay – a brand new category in 1940 – and, it was a comedy!

Brief Encounter begets The Apartment

Brief Encounter blog  the apartment blog


Whereby the experiences on set or in watching someone else’s film, begets another…

Brief Encounter (1946) is an English film about two married strangers, Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) and Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) who meet accidentally at a train station. To their own astonishment, and guilt, they fall in love. But this is England, and their affair, though intense, is very buttoned-down, very chaste. And completely unforgettable! It’s one of the most romantic films ever made. What’s not in the English nature to display is expressed throughout the film by the use of Rachmaninov’s passionate Piano Concerto No. 2. Eventually Laura and Alec meet at a ‘flat’ belonging to his friend, who’s suppose to be elsewhere. But the friend shows up and is outraged at Alec for attempting to use his apartment for a tryst.

It was this moment which struck filmmaker Billy Wilder when he saw the film. He scribbled in his notebook: ‘What about the poor schnook who has to crawl into the still-warm bed of the lovers?’

Fourteen years later Wilder gave us the poor schnook in The Apartment (1960). His name was C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) and he wasn’t outraged at all. Just the opposite, C.C. cooperated with his bosses who wanted to use his apartment for hook-ups. He figured it was his way to advance up the corporate ladder, and it worked. That is until C.C. fell for the big boss’ (Fred MacMurray) mistress, Fran Kublik (Shirley MacLaine). And then, it broke his heart. But where Brief Encounter was unabashedly romantic, with characters trying to be noble, The Apartment was cynical, with most, thinking of no one but themselves–in other words, it was a bit ‘Wilder.’

The last line of Brief Encounter, spoken by Laura’s husband and which brings her to tears: “Thank you for coming back to me.” The last line of The Apartment, spoken by Fran during a card game after C.C.’s declared his love for her: “Shut up and deal.” So much for American romance!

Dinner at Eight begets Born Yesterday

Dinner at Eight blog 1 Dinner at Eight blog 2 harry cohn Born Yesterday blog 2 Born Yesterday blog 1


Whereby the experiences on set or in watching someone else’s film, begets another…

Dinner at Eight (1933) revolves around an impending society dinner and the guests who grapple with scandal and secrets, high, low and sometimes fatal, leading up to it. Among the guests are Dan (Wallace Berry) and Kitty (Jean Harlow) Packard. He’s a thug – I mean, nouveau-riche ‘business tycoon’ and she’s a bit of a floozy. Dan makes it clear to all who can hear that after the dinner party, he’s heading to Washington where he plans on becoming a big man in politics. Meanwhile, Kitty, who’s having a fling with a handsome doctor who treats her ‘illnesses,’ surprises her fellow guests by announcing she’s read a book!

Did you ever watch a film and wonder what’s going to happen next to some of the characters? Like Dan and Kitty, are they really going to go D.C.?

In this case, you don’t have to wonder, just watch Born Yesterday (1950). The characters of Dan and Kitty Packard inspired playwright Garson Kanin to ask the same question. Kanin’s successful play, adapted for the screen, has Dan, now named Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford) and Kitty, now named Billie Dawn (Judy Holliday), picking up their story. Harry’s still a thug; Billie, still a lovable floozy. And instead of a doctor, Billie’s drawn to a handsome journalist, Paul Verrall (William Holden). Verrall, ironically, is the man Harry has hired to smooth out Billie’s rough, uneducated ways. But, with Paul’s encouragement, Billie begins to read – a lot!

Someone else inspired Garson Kanin: Harry Cohn. Kanin didn’t care for Columbia Pictures’ Harry Cohn, despite having received $1 million from him for the rights to his play. He couldn’t resist rewriting the screenplay (uncredited) just a bit, adding aspects to Harry Brock’s character that were clearly inspired by the loud, brash, and legendarily “uncouth” Harry Cohn. What’s “uncouth”? As Billie would say, “Look it up!”


Top 20 Classic Films Set in New England

There’s something innate in the old Yankee spirit and history that has always intrigued and inspired filmmakers. The wonderful films on this list, some in glorious black and white; others in Technicolor to showcase the region’s natural beauty, are filled with unforgettable characters and compelling narratives. They’ve earned countless Academy Awards, making them not only some of the top classic films set in New England, but some of the best and most iconic films ever made. 

Little Women1. Little Women (1933) – MA: Drama

A tale of sisterhood, self-reliance and charity set among the four March sisters of Concord, Massachusetts. Along with their beloved mother, ‘Marmee,’ they band together, longing for their father’s return from the Civil War. Born to play Jo March, Yankee Katherine Hepburn can still bring a lump to your throat in this story set in the 19th century, filmed in the 20th, and still worth viewing in the 21st.

Captain January2. Captain January (1936) – ME: Musical

In Cape Tempest, Maine a kindly, old lighthouse keeper, Captain January (Guy Kibbee), takes care of Star (Shirley Temple), the child he saved from a shipwreck. All is well until a vindictive truancy officer vows to take the orphaned Star away from January and put her into an institution. Temple’s charm and pluck impresses even today. And what a trooper her Star is, hoofing it with the grown-ups and out shining them at every turn!

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town3. Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) – VT: Comedy

When Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) from Mandrake Falls, Vermont inherits $20 million dollars, he suddenly has to deal with the denizens of New York City and all their deceptions. The prettiest one being newspaper reporter Babe Bennett (Jean Arthur). Vermont stands tall and proud in the lanky frame of Mr. Deeds, who embodies common sense and individual dignity and is almost declared insane for simply trying to do good.

Stella Dallas4. Stella Dallas (1937) – MA: Drama

Stella (Barbara Stanwyck), a millworker’s daughter from Millhampton, Massachusetts, marries into society when she weds Stephen Dallas. Together they have a baby girl, Laurel. But, Stella is a broad, (and Stanwyck plays her broadly). She’s uncouth and unlikeable. You totally get why her husband takes a job in another state. So, trust me, you’ll be surprised how your heart will break and your tears will flow when you watch Stella sacrifice everything for the happiness of her beloved child.

Captains Courageous5. Captains Courageous (1937) – MA: Drama

Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew), is a spoiled, little, rich boy. On a steamship with his father, he falls overboard and is rescued by a fishing boat out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. There, he’s made to work to earn his keep for the remaining three months of the boat’s journey. A Portuguese sailor, Manuel Fidello (Spencer Tracy) teaches this ‘little fish’ what it is to be a man, one of faith and honor.

Bringing Up Baby6. Brining Up Baby  (1938) – CT: Screwball Comedy

Susan Vance (Katherine Hepburn), a madcap heiress, (is there any other kind?) upsets the buttoned down-world of Professor of Paleontology, Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) in this delightful screwball comedy. Somehow, in trying to secure $1 million dollars for his museum, David and Susan end up running around Connecticut in pursuit of a leopard named Baby, a dog named George and a dinosaur bone that’s gone missing.

I Married a Witch7. I Married A Witch (1942) – MA: Comedy

This is a supernatural farce that begins in 1770 in Roxford, Massachusetts where the Puritans have just burned a witch (Veronica Lake) at the stake. Laughing yet? You will. Lake plays her witch as minx, returning to bewitch Wallace Wooley (Fredric March) the hapless descendent of the man responsible for her death. Wally hasn’t a chance against witches, brides and curses, for as we know, love is confusing enough for us mere mortals as it is.

Now Voyager8. Now Voyager (1942) – MA: Drama

Charlotte Vale (Massachusetts’ own Bette Davis), a repressed spinster from a wealthy Boston family, has a nervous breakdown following years of emotional abuse from her mother. Transformed by psychiatry, and the love of a married man, Jerry (Paul Henreid), Charlotte is transformed. She creates a life made of her own choices; her own sacrifices. Poignantly summed up in the famous line: “Jerry, let’s not ask for the moon. We have the stars.”

MBDCHIN EC0129. Christmas in Connecticut (1945) – CT: Comedy

Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) writes the most successful homemaking column in America. Only problem is she has no home and she can’t boil water! Unaware, her publisher forces her to host a war hero, Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan), over the holidays. Cue the zaniness as love prevails among the rural folk of Connecticut, who provide additional home front flavor. And once you see Morgan in uniform (swoon!) you’ll understand why what happens, happens.

A Stolen Life10. A Stolen Life (1946) – MA: Drama

The only thing more fun than watching Bette Davis play a stinker, is watching her play a stinker to herself. Here Davis plays twins, one good; one bad. When the stinker sinks into the sea off the coast of Nantucket Island during a storm and drowns, good Bette takes her place as the wife of the man (Glen Ford) that they both loved. Complications, as you might imagine, ensue.

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House11. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) – CT: Comedy

A New York ad man and his wife (Cary Grant, Myrna Loy) dream of a country home in Connecticut. It eventually becomes a reality but not until everything that could possibly go wrong with a fixer-upper, does! If for no other reason, watch this film to enjoy the scene where Loy describes to her painter – in detail – the different colors she’d like for each room of her brand new home.

The Trouble With Harry12. The Trouble With Harry (1955) – VT: Murder Mystery

It’s a Hitchcock rom-com/murder mystery set near Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont. There, a young couple (Shirley MacLaine, John Forsythe) meet over a corpse named Harry; a corpse no one seems to know quite what to do with. Upon seeing the young lovers, an old tugboat captain opines, “Marriage is a good way to spend the winter.” The humor is all Hitchcock, dark and droll; the scenery is all Vermont, bright and glorious!

All That Heaven Allows13. All That Heaven Allows (1955) – CT: Melodrama

Allow yourself to enter this celluloid world without judgement. If you do so, some eternal dynamics of the human heart, as true in the 1950s as they are now, will be revealed. Enjoy the stylistic path that director Douglas Sirk sets lonely widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) on as she learns to defy the small-town gossip of her tony Connecticut suburb when she falls for handsome Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson), her young landscaper.

High Society14. High Society (1956) – RI: Musical

It’s ‘The Philadelphia Story’ redux, this time swinging to the music of Cole Porter and moved to the milieu of Newport, Rhode Island. Tabloid reporters (Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm) invade the society wedding of Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly), who’s still pursued by her ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby). Everyone is so beautiful and so very beautifully dressed. Grab a glass of champagne and sing along to the regionally-accent inspired, “Well, Did You Evah?”

Moby Dick15. Moby Dick (1956) – MA: Drama

Great adaptation of the classic tale of New Bedford, Massachusetts’ Captain Ahab (Gregory Peck) and his obsessive pursuit of Moby Dick, the white whale that took his leg. Filmed so that the color itself is but an echo of reality, the questions raised are big and eternal, right out of the Old Testament. Like the crew, you may feel that you’re between Elijah and a hard place – and you are!

Carousel16. Carousel (1956) – ME: Musical

Set in a small, seaside town in Maine, this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical revolves around Billy Bigelow (Joel McCrea), a rough carousel barker, and Julie Jordan (Shirley Jones), an innocent mill worker. They fall in love, but their union isn’t an easy one. There are clambakes, lobsters and ‘A-yuhs’ uttered even in heaven in this beloved, though bittersweet, tale that comforts its audience with the transcendent, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Peyton Place17. Peyton Place (1957) – NH: Melodrama

Prim and proper gets messy and real in this melodrama extraordinaire set in Peyton Place, New Hampshire, where gossip and repression affect the adults and those coming-of-age. It’s where everyone, including Constance MacKenzie (Lana Turner) the seemingly perfect widow, seems to have a secret: child-out-of-wedlock, rape, alcoholism, suicide, even murder. Add the start of WWII and watch the price of keeping those secrets go even higher.

Johnny Tremain18. Johnny Tremain (1957) – MA: History

It’s 1773 in Boston, Massachusetts, and a young silversmith’s apprentice, Johnny Tremain, falls in with the Sons of Liberty and their fight for American Independence. He soon realizes how important the ideals of human liberty are for everyone. There’s an effort here to be historically accurate in portraying the Boston Tea Party and The Battle at Lexington Concord in all the quirkiness, confusion and even mundaneness, inherit in any conflict, in any century.

Fear Strikes Out19. Fear Strikes Out (1957) – CT: Sports Bio Pic

Bio pic of Waterbury, Connecticut native and Boston Red Sox outfielder, Jimmy Piersall (Anthony Perkins) who was relentlessly driven from childhood by a domineering father (Karl Malden). Perkins portrays Piersall with increasingly resentful, paranoid, and fearful eyes that silently chart his path to both the big leagues and a nervous breakdown. Piersall was brave to make his story public in the 1950s; Perkins, absolutely fearless in his total commitment in portraying that story.

A Summer Place20. A Summer Place (1959) – ME: Melodrama

Marrying the wrong person never makes life any easier but things are guaranteed to get really complicated if the off-spring of both of those unhappy unions (Sandra Dee, Troy Donahue) fall in love themselves. This is exactly what happens at a summer place off the coast of Maine. Add divorce and remarriage and watch as emotions clash with duty, and duty clashes with regret, forcing passions to explode among the pine trees and the salt air!

A Merry Little Christmas in Connecticut


Sneak away and enjoy two perfectly paired films, mood food and a classic attitude that’ll carry you through ’til the next rendezvous…

MBDCHIN EC012  dennis morgan B

I don’t think I’m unique.

Just the opposite.

Count me among the many who just do not have the time to do everything that needs to get done before December 25th. My regular Double Feature Rendezvous column just ain’t gonna fly this month. Do you have an extra 4 hours in your hectic schedule to devote to watching two (admittedly awesome) films? Neither do I!!

But I’d still like to recommend to you my all-time-favorite holiday classic film. One that you can watch while you sip egg nog, wrap presents, or address your Christmas cards.

dennis morgan C

It’s the delightful Christmas in Connecticut (1945) which stars Barbara Stanwyck as Elizabeth Lane. Elizabeth writes the most successful homemaking column in America. Only problem is she has no home and she can’t boil water! Unaware of this, her publisher, Alexander Yardley (Sidney Greenstreet) forces her to host a war hero, Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) over the holidays. Cue the zaniness as love prevails among the farm animals and rural folk of Connecticut who provide additional home front flavor to this romantic comedy masquerading as a Christmas film. Is it all too unbelievable? Well, once you see Dennis Morgan in uniform {swoon}, you’ll understand why what happens, happens.

To  add to your viewing enjoyment, here’s a little cultural context for 7 of the words and/or phrases used in this film:

christmas in CT jenks

1. “Give her the old magoo.” What the heck does that mean? This is the advice that Jones’ shipmate, Sinkewicz (Frank Jenks) gives him in the beginning of the film. The two are convalescing in a Naval Hospital following 18 days on a lifeboat after their ship was torpedoed. The ‘magoo’ is how ‘Sinky’ got the nurse to give him steak dinners, whereas Jones is only getting milk. The old ‘magoo’ means turning on the charm to get what you want.

2. Felix is horrified when he see ‘Liska’ in a mink coat. Why? For a single woman in the 1940s to have an expensive mink coat, when she herself didn’t come from a wealthy family, often meant that she had a sugar daddy. That’s why Elizabeth immediately says, “Don’t worry, I’m paying for it myself.”

3. Why is Felix talking points when going over his recipes? In America during WWII certain food items were rationed. There was a point system in place that allowed only so much meat or sugar, for example, per family.

4. “Every time I’d open my mouth he talked. I felt like Charlie McCarthy.” Who? Charlie McCarthy was the dummy-half of a hugely popular ventriloquist act. The human-half was Edgar Bergen, Candace’s dad. Edgar & Charlie had their own successful radio program from 1937 to 1956. Think about that. A ventriloquist act. On the radio.

5. “Fat Man.” When Felix (S.Z Sakall) says this under his breath to Mr. Yardley (Sidney Greenstreet) it’s an inside joke with the audience. ‘The Fat Man’ was how Greenstreet’s character, Kasper Gutman, was referred to in the hugely popular film The Maltese Falcon (1941).

6. “Everything is hunky-dunky.” The saying of the day was ‘hunky dory.’ It meant everything is going great. But Felix, the true cook of the story, is a Hungarian immigrant, and though he says it with great relish, he says it wrong.

7. Macushlah. What kind of a name is that? Elizabeth’s cow’s name, Macushlah–which is wicked fun to say!–is actually an Irish Gaelic term of endearment. The correct spelling is “mo chuisle,” and literally means my pulse. It’s from a longer  phrase: a chuisle mo chroi: Pulse of my heart.  As in the cow is “mo chuisle.” It gives new meaning to the film’s line, “Moonlight, snow and a cow.”

And a little video clip that highlights one of my favorite characters, the housekeeper, Norah. No one can put Mr. Yardley in his place like she can!  –Wait. She is talking about flapjacks, right? Merry Christmas everyone! 


Double Indemnity begets The Lost Weekend

Double Indemnity mini-Begets Chandler mini-Begets The Lost Weekend mini-Begets


Whereby the experiences on set or in watching someone else’s film, begets another…

Double Indemnity (1944) was written by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler, based on the book by James M. Cain. It’s a wonderful screenplay. A true film noir classic, full of rapid-fire dialogue and black humor. But, it was to be the first and last collaboration for these two men. To say their personalities clashed would be an understatement. Studio records reveal the depth of Chandler’s animosity in particular for the situation. And though he could never – ever! – find anything positive to say about Wilder, Wilder always respected Chandler’s talent as a writer. For this reason it mystified him as to why Chandler, a recovering alcoholic, had returned to the bottle as they worked on Double Indemnity.

Why would someone risk everything for just one drink?

This question haunted Wilder and in an effort to understand, it drove him to his next project, The Lost Weekend (1945). The Lost Weekend is the story of a writer who sinks further and further into alcoholism despite being surrounded by those who love him and are trying to help. It’s based on the book by Charles R. Jackson and stars Ray Milland as the fictional writer with a drinking problem, Don Birnam. The film was praised for it’s unflinching and, for its time, realistic portrayal of addiction. It was an important film to Wilder both professionally, as he won the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Screenplay; and personally, because while filming The Lost Weekend he met a pretty, young extra, Audrey Young. Wilder and Young were married in 1949 and remained devoted to one another until his death in 2002.

Apparently antagonistic to the end, there exists no record of congratulations from Chandler to Wilder on winning his two Academy Awards; and no ‘thank you’ from Wilder to Chandler for leading him to the love of his life.