Archive for the ‘Hollywood in a Hot Second’ Category

The Quiet Man and a Guiness. Please.

Posted on: March 16th, 2012 by Quinn No Comments

Due to the huge success of the ‘Tis the Season series (I believe I raked in a whopping two comments), I have decided to continue my holiday-themed film suggestions, boldly combining classic movies with appropriate accompanying refreshments. With St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching, I humbly suggest John Ford’s 1952 film The Quiet Man.

Made by the director best known for his classic Westerns, including The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Rio Grande, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache, My Darling Clementine, and Stagecoach, The Quiet Man is aptly named, taking a somewhat quieter tone as it returns to Ford’s of Ireland. Ford replaces his usual iconic cinematography of Monument Valley and the American West, with the equally breathtaking and beautiful green fields, soft mist, and rocky landscape of his own ancestral homeland. When I visited Ireland I admit that the pubs of the little towns I visited did not break out the the accordion and burst into song as happened so many times at Pats in the film (perhaps it was simply an off Tuesday night), but I am happy to report that the cinematography tells no lies and makes no exaggerations. The Quiet Man is a beautiful film shot in a beautiful country.

Chronicling an Irish-born boxer’s return to his home country after a stint working and fighting in America, The Quiet Man is a love story, albeit one riddled with drinking, fishing, horse racing, brawling and a good measure of humor, mostly provided by Barry Fitzgerald as the local matchmaker/overindulger Michaleen Oge Flynn, and Ward Bond as Father Lonergan. Starring in this film are other members of Ford’s “Stock Company” (the informal name given to those actors who often worked with the famous director), including John Wayne as the homecoming boxer with a dark past, Sean Thornton. Also a member of Ford’s usual cast is the blustering and excellent Victor McLaglan as antagonist Squire Red Will Danaher. Maureen O’Hara stars as Mary Kate Danaher, Sean’s love interest and Squire Danaher’s sister (you can see how that sets up nicely for a fight…).

This is one of the movies that I have watched probably dozens of times and know all of the lines. And I admit that my relationship with it has evolved over the years. Whereas it used to be for me a completely fun movie, I am now sometimes bothered by aspects of Sean and Mary Kate’s relationship and the stereotypical image of Irishmen as brawling drinkers. But with St. Pat’s upon us, that is neither here nor there, and you and your correspondent can analyze later should you feel so inclined in the post-Guinness recovery hours of March 18th. Or perhaps 19th.

In the meantime, back to things far more important than this writer’s own few and far between misgivings:

Lines You Must Hear

- “Is that a bed, or a parade ground? A man’d have to be a sprinter to catch his wife in that…”
- “That red hair of hers is no lie.”
- (drunkenly) “I have come…” “I can see that. But from whose pub?” “P-p-pub… You’ve a tongue like an adder.”
- “You’ve a fine steady hand.”
- “When I drink water, I drink water, when I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey.”
- “That’s me there. That tall, saintly-looking man.”
- “Here’s a stick to beat the lovely lady.” “Thanks.”
- “Get up, little man.”
- “I’ll put you down in my book.”

Most of these appear and are applied & modified in daily Quinn family speech. In my opinion a movie quote’s magic and power extend exponentially when they breech the boundaries of film and reality.

Scenes You Must See

Mary Kate has snuck into Sean’s newly purchased cottage to tidy up and attempts to run out of the door after being discovered there. The door bangs open as she flees but Sean grabs her arm and pulls her back into the room, where they stand at arm’s length looking at each other, caught in the wind and the moment before that inevitable kiss. Classic. So is that slap that follows and then the softening goodnight exchanges.

Here is the link to watch The Quiet Man on YouTube

So pull up a pint of that sweet, magical Irish brew Guinness,
slice some homemade brown bread,
invite a good friend and loved one and enjoy!


‘Tis the Season…

Posted on: December 24th, 2011 by Quinn No Comments

It’s A Wonderful Life

Since three is a magic number, since Jimmy Stewart is one of the only men in competition with Cary Grant in my ranking of 1930s and 40s actors, and since I just had the immense privilege of watching this film at the Michigan Theatre (Read: breath-taking, vintage, perfect and all other adjectives that could possibly be used to describe a theatre standing for film preservation, culture, and just about everything this writer loves about Ann Arbor [it even serves previously-mentioned Bell's Best Brown Ale- a true Christmas Miracle,]) I’ve selected perhaps my favorite holiday movie, Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, as the third recommendation for the ‘Tis the Season series.

Say what you will about its transformation from an under-performing box-office release to its status as “America’s Christmas movie,” about the financial and legal implausibility of its resolution, about Donna Reed and Mary Bailey being absolutely gorgeous, about the silent tears that somehow find their way down my face every time I watch this film; It’s a Wonderful Life simply IS Christmas for this writer. The genius life-story-plot lulls you into a friendship with George Bailey, a sympathetic, understanding relationship that you can’t help but admire and adore. The humor, especially at the start of the film with the prom-night swim and Mary’s refuge in the convenient bush, produce some of my favorite, and most-oft quoted, lines (“Oh, why don’t you stop annoying people,” and “I could sell tickets…”). The scene when the soon-to-be plastics baron Sam Wainwright phones from New York in Mary’s parlor, and Jimmy Stewart yells, “I wanna do what I wanna do” replays in this writer’s mind ever-more-often as he makes his own decisions and values. The close-up shot later in the film of Jimmy Stewart slowly turning his deeply-shadowed face as he realizes how crazy his present situation is, is absolutely and unequivocally beautiful. And this is only the surface of a poorly and quickly conducted film criticism.

The moral impact of the film is equally incredible. I’ll let you, viewer and reader, draw your own conclusions, learn your own lessons, interpret your own symbolism, and take from it what you may; suffice to say look for the needle-point quote, “All you can take with you is what you have given away,” hanging beneath the portrait of Peter Bailey in Jimmy Stewart’s office. Perhaps, yes it is over-simplified, yes it is emotional, yes it is a classic “Capra-corny,” but in this writer’s viewpoint, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

And as this is a classic Christmas film, I suggest a classic Christmas drink: egg-nog. Serve this warming, indulgent, sweet nectar chilled in an Irish coffee glass and combine with gold rum, or, for an interesting change of taste, Gosling’s Black Seal spiced rum, and finish with a dusting of ground nutmeg. You can also try this BOMB Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog. No words. Trust me.

So mix some eggnog, pack your loved ones into the family room, throw another log in the wood-stove, enjoy the It’s A Wonderful Life, and bask in the warmth radiating from of all four. Cheers, and enjoy!

J. Frank Quinn

P.S. As a side and almost unrelated note, listen to Clarence. My junior year of undergrad at Michigan I was fortunate enough to take a poetry class focusing on “Fork Theory.” This is an area of study popularized by the professor that centers on the “ripples,” each and every person makes with his or her simplest actions. When I first began studying “Fork Theory” the scene where Clarence at last reveals to George Bailey why he has granted his wish of never having been born was the first thing that I thought of. I think that this is a perfect, and incredibly complex and thought-provoking, example. Again, perhaps wait until school starts again in January for analysis, but please really do take three-to-five minutes at some point and think about this scene’s implications in your own life.

‘Tis The Season…

Posted on: December 21st, 2011 by Quinn 1 Comment

For the second installment of “Tis the Season,” I most humbly suggest Henry Koster’s The Bishop’s Wife. This 1947 film features Loretta Young as Julia Brougham, the wife of newly-promoted (and unfortunately mis-guided) Bishop Brougham, played by David Niven. The star and center of the film, despite what the title would have you believe (perhaps it’s the strange hats, but Loretta Young just doesn’t do it for me) is the ever-charming, ever-sophisticated, ever-suave Cary Grant as Dudley. Dudley is an angel sent to help Bisphop Brougham remember and regain his role as builder of a community, not a cathedral. In his fifty-first credited screen appearance, Grant turns in yet another wonderful performance as Dudley, full of witty puns (always sure to make this writer chuckle), roguish smiles and angelic humor, and he is helped along perfectly by the talented Niven as the straight-laced man.

     Grant is simply that man we love to hate
                                 because everyone else loves him so.

              But just look at him.
                          Who can REALLY hate him…
                                                 He’s Cary Grant.

Although I would love to recommend a bottle of the self-refilling Sherry (yet another reason [yes this will be a longer bracketed outburst] that I can’t help but feeling this movie is not as ostentatiously Christian as the presence of angel would make it seem – you have a liquor container which refills itself and a deified figure who takes on human form only to fall in love with a mortal; that is the stuff of Greek myths. Suffice to say ‘Tis the season and we should watch and enjoy now and save the analysis until January when school starts again) the best I can recommend is a nice accompanying beverage for all of you in the Mid West is Bell’s Best Brown Ale.

For me this beer is Winter; it is crunching through snow and listening to a crackling fire and putting on the coziest pair of slippers you can find.  For those of you unfortunate souls (my favorite East Coast friends included) who are outside of the Kalamazoo-based brewery’s shipping area, the best alternative I can suggest is Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale.

And as every good black and white Christmas film should, The Bishop’s Wife reminds us not only how to laugh (not just at the comedy on screen but the comedy in ourselves), to love, and to remember what this time of year is all about. 

Below you will find the ENTIRE film on YouTube. Win. So sit back, relax, grab your brew and do your self a favor, and dont be afraid to get caught up in the mystery, the faith, and cheer of it all! If you only have a couple minutes, I’ve cued the link up to the charming skating scene that is sure to put you into the holiday spirit.

And just for fun look for the young boy who is captain of the snowball war and who gets hit in the face by young Debby’s enchanted snowball; you’ll see him again in perhaps the next edition of ‘Tis the Season as the young George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life.

Here or there, Best Brown or Nut Brown…
Cheers & Enjoy The Bishop’s Wife!
J. Franklin Quinn

“Tis The Season: The Muppets’ ———–Christmas Carol———-

Posted on: December 15th, 2011 by Quinn No Comments

As the snow begins to fall, I happily don my scarf each morning, and I reluctantly turn on my heat, it becomes time acknowledge some facts:

1) Winter is upon us

2) We can bemoan that fact or we can celebrate it

3) The easiest way to celebrate the winter is to get into the holiday spirit.

4) One of my favorite ways to get into the holiday spirit (apart from Charlie Parker’s excellent cover of “White Christmas,” 

…a freshly cut tree, and a wonderful [bordering gaudy] Faire Isle sweater) is to watch those great holiday films.

Fact 5) Fromuth Productions is open to just about everyone and everything; any type of religious sentiments indicated in any of the following films bears no prejudice.

Those are the facts, and now the reality. There’s only so much time for J.F. Quinn to throw snowballs, go skating, enjoy the various microbrewery Winter Selections, watch these excellent films, indulge in some egg nog, write a couple of blogs, and attach wreaths to my whip (all, of course, while wearing above-mentioned sweater pictured below).

So, the following shall be several shorter reviews of what are in my opinion the *greatest* (read: sometimes sappy, often musical, black and white, uplifting, occasionally animated, and always best when accompanied by a warming beverage, complimented by a fire, and shared with a loved one) holiday movies ever made.

Today’s ‘Tis The Season: 

Fitting because the new Muppets was just released, and because I just watched this film on Saturday after cutting down a Christmas tree, I decided that this would be a good place to start. Brian Henson’s 1992 adaptation of the Charles Dicken’s classic features Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy as Mr. And Mrs. Cratchit, Fozzi Bear as Fozziwig (old Mr. Fezziwig himself), The Great Gonzo as the narrator and author Charles Dickens, Rizzo the Rat as himself, and a wonderfully cruel and an eventually equally heartwarming Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. Perhaps because it is shorter than his usual (wordy) novel, perhaps because it is ever-relevant in its socio-economic commentary, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is my absolute favorite of his works. And perhaps I have some long-forgotten childhood happiness associated with this movie, perhaps it’s the literature-lover in me, perhaps it’s the pure genius of the Muppets, but this is, and always has been, one of my absolute favorite Christmas movies and by far my favorite adaptation of the Dickens novella.

As I promised earlier, this will brief, so i will conclude by simply saying that it is nice to feel unashamed to proclaim how uplifting and unabashedly hopeful this film is. Because that’s what this time of the year is all about. If you can’t sing about goodwill towards men and peace on earth now, and of you can’t watch and thoroughly enjoy skating penguins, a singing Michael Caine, and the most heart-warming frog-version of Tiny Tim ever seen on-screen, then I honestly pity you, and I wish you luck the rest of the year.

I mean…how can you say no to THIS face?!

In closing may I humbly suggest a chilled bottle of Sam Adam’s Old Fezziwig Ale (In addition to being the perfect dark, sweet conclusion to a snowy day as it swirls around your brandy snifter and down your gullet, the name is just too appropriate.), family and friends to share both movie and ale with, and a warm fire to accompany this excellent film. Should there be no convenient fire place, I just discovered that Netflix now includes not one, but two fire videos (crackling, and Yuletide logs) in its Instant Video selections. The pure New Englander in me rejects, yet the opportunist commends their effort. More “Tis The Season” to come soon!

Cheers and Enjoy!

J. Fezziwig Quinn

——–Gobble for Gaga——–

Posted on: November 25th, 2011 by Patrick Fromuth No Comments

If anyone is gonna hold your attention for an hour-and-a-half post turkey Tryptophan tripping…  it would be Gaga in her “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving” special. The show opened with the charming, playful, and incredible jazz number, “The Lady Is A Tramp” with Tony Bennett. Below is the original video(I’ll update when last night’s hits YouTube)

After the song ended the show lost momentum, and I contemplated a nap sometime around her cooking lesson with chef Art Smith. They made fried turkey and waffles… maybe it was my over-stuffed belly, but couture cooking with the Valentino Monster was the last thing I wanted to see. 

I’m glad I didn’t doze off cause after the comercial break Gaga got it together. “So I thought that we would be just as annoying as New York City on the night of Thanksgiving, and sing a Christmas tune,” jokes Gaga as she describes our mutual sentiment that Christmas over-shadows Thanksgiving, which never gets its proper due. Her rendition of White Christmas was jazz-tastic, which is the genre where Gaga’s vocals truly shine;  I loved her playfully simple and original second verse.

Another highlight from her show was her performance of “Hair.” What I love about Gaga is that she truly is rockin Maslow’s Hierarchy Of  Self-Actualization as an artist. I know that sounds pretty lofty, but she truly strives to change people’s hearts and to make a difference through her art.

I may not always get what she does, and I don’t love ALL of her songs – the ones she performed on the TV Special were the only ones I enjoyed from her newest album – but I always agree with her passion and motivation to inspire. Her story of lunchroom politics and bullying set in her primary school alma mater, Sacred Heart Catholic School in Manhattan, was very timely, sincere, and effective.

“On Friday Rock City High School Dance / I got my Bangs to hide

That I dont stand a chance, a chance / I just wanna be myself

 And I want you to love me for who I am / I just wanna be myself

 And I want you to know I am my hair

 …I’m the spirit of my hair / It’s all the glory that I bare”

Gaga is at her best when she is relating and fighting for the underdog.

During her interview with Katie Couric, Gaga explained the roots of her Summer hit “Edge of Glory.” The song was inspired and dedicated to her Grandfather and Grandmother – a very touching tale: the song is based on Gaga witnessing her grandmother saying goodbye to her passing grandfather. Gaga recalls it was like witnessing them win at life because the won at love. This sentiment was very powerful and humanized the high art Monster. She went on to tell Couric that her grandfather would sometimes sleep in his car just to be near her grandmother when they were younger in strict italian homes; this may be one of the most romantic things I have ever heard. After hearing this, “Edge of Glory” now takes on a whole new meaning and life. Below is the Fromuth Production’s Mashup called EDGE, featuring Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.”

Gotta say, I was Gaga for Gaga…(Oh get over it… I had to). I really enjoyed spending Turkey Day with the Monster; I found her interesting, unpretentious, and real. Her vocals were stunning and the stripped arrangements let her instrument shine. Check out her A Very Gaga Thanksgiving rendition of her new single “Marry the Night” below: