Tough Broads or… She Doesn’t Need a Man

Feeling frustrated by the progress women have made in the United States?  Politics got you down?

  • Amazingly, in 2017, 104 women hold seats in Congress, making up just 19.4% of the 535 members.
  • According to the AAUW in 2015 women in America were paid 80 cents for every 1 dollar that men earned.  The pay gap is significantly worse for women of color.

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American women have truly come a long way but we still have real ground to cover.

As a huge classic movie fan I look back 70 or 80 years and see so many beautifully strong leading ladies who fought for quality roles and broke the purely domestic molds.  They portrayed intelligent and independence women, virtues not highly prized for women of the 30’s and 40’s.  Rosalind Russell, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, and Greta Garbo…Women, I suggest we take a page from these fabulous sisters.

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First Roz.  Rosalind Russell’s dynamite role as Hildy in His Girl Friday is ahead of its time.  She stands toe to toe with cocky Cary Grant and gives as good as she gets.  She’s an independent, competent, and confident career woman who loves what she does.  I want to have a little more ‘Hildy’ in me.

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And then there’s The Women.  Just take one look at this cast.  Need I say more?

No men were needed in the casting of THIS film.

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Next, we have Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind. Not exactly THE ideal role model (the man eating, the lying) it’s true but definitely a tenacious woman with a will of iron and survival instincts like no other.

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And then we have Joan Crawford in… just about every role she plays.  In Mildred Pierce she provides for her family single handed.  She is a survivor.  She is FIERCENESS personified.

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In the little seen gem, Reunion in France, Joan Crawford transforms herself from a self absorbed clueless wealthy snob into courageous French patriot. By the end she totally schools the Nazis, making them tumble in her wake like playthings.

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Hey, honestly while I’d love to be pals with Roz, Joan (in any role) scares the living bejeebers out of me.  Of all the gals listed here she’s the woman I’d be most afraid to cross and most certain would beat the living daylights out of me if I wronged her.

And if you haven’t checked it out yet Feud: Bette and Joan on FX is a television event no classic movie lover should miss.  Review  Hot stuff!

Next, we have Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve, a force to be reckoned with.

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Bette Davis was a brave woman who stood up to the studio system, suing Warner Bros to be let out of her oppressive contract so she could pursue better roles.  She didn’t win her lawsuit but she was the foremother of a revolt that led to the eventual dismantling of the system in which stars were little more than property of the studio moguls.  Read More. 

Later, Olivia de Havilland boldly took on the studio system and won. More.

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…And anything Kate is in… well, you know she’ll be self-sufficient, strong, and intelligent like Kate truly was.   Check out Woman of the Year, The African Queen, Little Women, Stage Door, and Holiday.

And Garbo, my love…

Well, take a look at Queen Christina and you’ll be inspired by a woman of courage, leadership, and strength.

Garbo: “We need new wine in the old bottles!”   Amen!

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Often still working within stereotypical gender roles these actresses crafted characters of integrity, bravery, and persistence.

A woman’s place is in the home?  I think not.

Click here to read another blogger’s excellent review of Crawford’s stellar performance in Reunion in France.

Election Cure: Stop the Madness, Start the Screwball

Is this Presidential election leaving you feeling a bit screwy?  Have you developed uncontrollable nail biting, teeth grinding, or trembling?   Well, have I got the thing for you!  Immediately acquire a few of the delightful screwball* films listed below and laugh away your political anxiety.  Mix with tea and cookies, sandwiches and pickles, strawberries and chocolate, or wine and cheese.  Repeat as necessary.

*”Screwball comedies were characterized by social satire, comedic relief through zany, fast-paced and unusual events, sight gags, sarcasm, screwy plot twists or identity reversals, and precisely-timed, fast-paced verbal dueling and witty sarcastic dialogue – blending the wacky with the sophisticated.(screwball)

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The Awful Truth (1937 / 91 min. / Not Rated) A couple (Cary Grant & Irene Dunne) in the middle of divorce proceedings but still in love try everything in the book to undermine each other’s attempts at romance.

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Bringing Up Baby (1938 / 102 min. / NR) While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist (Cary Grant) is pursued by a kooky heiress (Katharine Hepburn) and Baby, her pet leopard.

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Holiday (1938 / 95 min. / NR) When a young man (Cary Grant) falls in love with a rich girl, her upper crust family expects him to settle down as a bank executive. His unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life is supported only by his fiancée’s eccentric sister (Katharine Hepburn) and brother.

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I Love You Again (1940 / 99 min. / NR) Boring businessman Larry Wilson (William Powell) recovering from amnesia discovers he’s really a con man…and loves his soon-to-be-ex wife (Myrna Loy).

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Love Crazy (1941 / 99 min. / NR) A series of misunderstandings lead a happily married couple (William Powell & Myrna Loy) to quarrel and separate. The husband does everything in the book, including posing as his own sister and pretending to be insane, in order to win her back.

 

Ah, just what the doctor ordered.

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Cary Grant, William Powell, Katharine Hepburn, Myrna Loy, Irene Dunne… all masters of that classic American film genre, the screwball comedy.

 

Click here to read another blogger’s review of the fabulous Jean Arthur screwball The More the Merrier.  One of my all time faves.

Click here to read about what makes a screwball divorce suit à la The Awful Truth.

Ginger’s Taste

As you probably already know I adore Ginger Rogers. Always have.  Always will.  On this blog I’ve shared a snapshot of her life story (A Taste of Ginger) as well as this clip of one of Ginger and Fred’s most creative dance numbers.  She was beautiful, charming, talented AND… had a very funky fashion sense.  Of course we’ve all had our moments- highly questionable outfits we’d rather forget.  Ugh and bleh.  Ginge definitely thought outside the box and wasn’t afraid take risks.  And so with the kindest regard and utmost respect here are a few of her illustrious fashion high points as well as a few delicious lows.

The Good

Such a cute sailor outfit.  (But oh, poor Lucy)

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Must be in the running for most adorable picture ever.

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So sexy

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I love this sweater.

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And THE iconic feather dress.

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The Bad

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Attack of the crabs?.

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Picnic anyone?

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And The Ugly

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Plus One Large Kerfuffle

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Believe it or not this dress raised a lot of eyebrows at the 1940 Academy Awards (Ginger won Best Actress for Kitty Foyle).  The lacy lingerie look was quite racy… not to mention the low neckline.  My, how far we’ve come.

And Just One More…

Yep.

Ginger Rogers Wearing Coin Cape Costume from the Film Gold Diggers of 1933.
Ginger Rogers Wearing Coin Cape Costume from the Film Gold Diggers of 1933.

Love You Ginge!

Elegant Ginger

Cheers!

 

 

Click here to read another blogger’s ode to the little known but delightful Vivacious Lady.

Click here to read about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers iconic collaborations.