Category Archives: Vintage Movies

Vintage Video // A jolly holiday with Mary!

 photo Poppins_TITLE.jpg

I adore Julie Andrews. And I love Mary Poppins. It’s a terrific movie to see with your kiddos! Wolfie loved it as a little guy (I will say he was a tad frightened by that early scene when all the “bad nannies” and their umbrellas get blown away by the wind….) but other than that, the music and visuals are so bright and cheery!

Look at these amazing Behind the Scenes photos. SO fun.

 photo Poppins_4a.jpg

 photo Poppins_1.jpg

 photo Poppins_3.jpg

 photo Poppins_5.jpg

People love to say how awful Dick Van Dyke’s accent was in this film, but I actually think he’s so cute and charming as Burt. Call me crazy!

 photo Poppins_2.jpg

 photo Poppins_10.jpg

 photo Poppins_7.jpg

 photo Poppins_6.jpg

 photo Poppins_8.jpg

A little movie gossip for you! At the young age of 21, Julie Andrews appeared on Broadway in the role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. She was a smashing success! When they decided to turn the show into a film, Rex Harrison (her Broadway co-star) was asked to reprise his role…..and Julie Andrews was not. The studio heads determined that they needed a big star to draw audiences, and Audrey Hepburn was famously cast as Eliza. Audrey was actually quite brilliant in the role, but she couldn’t sing and had to have her voice dubbed for all the songs. Many industry people were outraged. That same year, Julie Andrews made her big screen debut as Mary Poppins and as luck would have it, beat out Audrey Hepburn for Best Actress Oscar. Many theorize that the award was a special nod given to Julie to acknowledge the injustice of not being cast in My Fair Lady. Who knows the real truth! (It is a bit unusual for the star of a children’s movie to win Best Actress eh??) Either way, Julie Andrews would go on to  great success—starring in one of my super all time favorite movies, The Sound of Music.

 photo Poppins_9.jpg

Have you seen Mary Poppins?? Don’t you love it?

Vintage Video:: The Incredible Mr. Limpet!

This past weekend, I went to a children’s birthday party and one of the ladies reminded me of this great film I grew up watching on Saturday afternoons on KPIX in Connecticut.  The Incredible Mister Limpet, starring the delightful Don Knotts, who always had the knack of turning his charmingly nebbish ways into comedy that any kid or adult could love.

What made this film so nutty was the fact that it was part live action part animation, which totally worked allowing the cartoon side to be so magical as opposed to the live action “reality” section…


The plot is a rather impressive one with a few more adult plots around war and it might be tough for wee ones to get some of the plotlines, but I think any six year old and up would find this to be a bang up movie!

The story begins September 1941 just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Don Knotts plays the fish loving Henry Limpet who tries to join the U.S. Navy with his pal George Stickle, but is rejected.

Feeling downcast, he wanders down to a pier near Coney Island and accidentally falls into the water.  Instead of drowning, Mr. Limpet turns into a fish and hilarity ensues.  Because fish with glasses are funny, right?  I’m just so glad he got to keep his glasses…

He makes pals with a crabby crab.

And falls for a most beautiful female fish, known as aptly named LADYFISH!

But along the way, he finds out that the Nazis are going to bomb the U.S. But not on Mr. Limpet’s watch!

Mr. Limpet saves the day. YEAH!

He connects with his old pal, George and warns him of the danger!

But he decides his life in the sea isn’t so bad. So, he says good by to his friends

Did you ever watch this movie as a kid?  What did you think of it? Would you watch it with your kiddos today?

Vintage Video:: Swimming with Esther Williams at the movies

Winter’s cool weather means more time spent inside, playing games, getting cozy and watching movies!  With that in mind, I thought it was the perfect time to continue my series on my favorite old movies that are super family friendly—as well as cinematically stunning!

My love of old movies started for me when my Dad scored press tix to the premiere of That’s Entertainment. I remember being in awe of the movies and didn’t understand that those old folks in the front of the theater were the stars that danced and sang on the screen. Ah, youth!  I was totally the weird kid that had a crush on Gene Kelly instead of Kirk Cameron–whatever, I still stand by that!  But it did kindle in me a life-long love of old movies and even led me to consider majoring in film history in college.  Let’s just say that Hitchcock class was one of the best course I took in college!

It has been wonderful introducing the Peach to my favorite vintage films when I was a kid as we dip our toe into watching films at home now that she can watch something longer than an 45 minutes.  Since the Peach had so much fun over the holidays swimming in my parents’ pool, I thought she would be interesting in Esther Williams.

Oh, Esther Williams! I think almost everyone is familiar with her name, but probably not her movies. Well, folks you are in for a technicolor underwater treat!

I think Esther Williams has one of the most interesting “discovered” stories around! The infamous cancellation of the 1940 Olympics during WW2 led to this bathing beauty’s career.  Since she didn’t have a goal of gold on her mind, she took a job at a department store, which led her to being plucked from anonymity by famous movie producer Billy Rose (who was married to Fanny Brice of Funny Girl fame) from her department store clerk position to star in Acquacade, an all swimming, all singing, all dancing spectacular at the 1939 World Fair. I KNOW!  There is so much awesomeness in that sentence… And of course Esther Williams made quite the splash! (Pun intended!)

And so started her glorious career as Hollywood’s favorite swimming sweetheart! MGM had a swimming pool built on its lot solely for her! And boy did she make good use of it, starring in some of the most marvelous eye shatteringly stunning movies ever.

Esther Williams is dazzlingly beautiful and I find her acting charming and she’s clearly super smart and very fun in real life.  She is a wonderful good sport/foil to some of MGM’s funniest leading men. I recommend checking out Neptune’s Daughter
in which Esther stars across Red Skeleton and a dreamy Ricardo Montalban! And Million Dollar Mermaid has the most insanely gorgeous swim numbers choreographed by wildly creative Busby Berkeley.

Another great one is Dangerous When Wet, which sounds so naughty, but features Esther swimming with Tom & Jerry!

And hoo boy, the costumes.  Or should I say bathing suits. Fabulous! Speaking of bathing suits, are you familiar with Esther Williams line of bathing suits? They are magnificent to say the least and must be made of magic because they turn you into an immediate glamour girl. ModCloth carries them as well. Seriously, they look good on every woman I know regardless of the different body type. And may we all look as great at 91 as Esther does today. Esther makes chlorine seem like an secret anti-aging serum!

Let’s take a peek at her magical swimming moves! (the magic begins :42 seconds in!)

If this doesn’t get your kiddo begging for swimming classes, I don’t know what will. In fact, I had the Peach watch it before her swim class and it made all the difference.

Have you ever watched any of Esther Williams’ films?

Catch some of my other Vintage Video reviews here!



Vintage Video: Mad Monster Party?

Do you remember the post I did in December on Rankin & Bass and their amazing animagic that was behind sooo many great holiday specials like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and Nestor the Long Eared Donkey?

Well, one holiday wasn’t enough for these guys–they needed to create something “unique” for Halloween.

Oh, and they did…

With the genius help of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller, Mad Monster Party is a complete hoot! It is a send up of horror films and at the time “spooky” was very chic–think The Munsters and The Addams Family! A lot of famous monster movies were also being played on TV and gaining a new group of fans.

The plot revolves around Dr. Frankenstein (voiced by Boris Karloff) who is making plans for his retirement and convenes a meeting of all monsters to announce his replacement, his adorkable nephew, Felix. As word spreads that the doctor is going to choose his young nephew for the position, the visiting creatures plot a coup d’état that would leave Dr. Frankenstein retired … permanently. Oh, and a bunch of skeletons in mod hair cuts sing a great song called The Mummy.

The monster characters are simply wonderful!  Dracula, Frankenstein, the Invisible Man (wearing a dressing gown and fez, much to my delight!)

Everyone is a little bit in love with the shady Francesca, Baron Frankenstein’s assistant–she’s so pretty–how could you not?

But I must admit it’s Felix’s Locust Lock Jaw accent that gets me a bit weak in the knees.  He’s like a young Thurston Howell the 3rd!

And then there is Phyllis. PHYLLIS!!

And Yetch, Baron Frankenstein’s lackey looks a heck of a lot like Peter Lorre…

Mad Magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman helped write the script and Mad Magazine artist Jack Davis designed many of the characters. Davis was a natural for the job, being famous both for his humor work and his monster stories in the pages of EC Comics. Although this was *supposed* to be a children’s film, Mad Monster Party does feature some rather dark humor and a few mildly risqué jokes–like a meowing cat at the beginning of the fight between Natasha and Phyllis Diller character–and both happen to lose their dresses right before the fight. Hmm….

And did you know that you can view it yourself for free if you have Netflix?!?

I’ll leave you with this genius trailer that will have you streaming the video tonight! Enjoy!

Have you see Mad Monster Party?

Vintage Video :: Cinderella and Mary Blair

As I mentioned last week, the Peach is into all things princess, so I thought I would start her princess movie experience with the ultimate one that I remember as a kiddo—CINDERELLA!  Full of pretty dresses and the bad characters aren’t super terrifying like scary witches or dragons or anything else like that. And it is pure vintage awesomeness too.

I have to admit that I took a sneak peek of it and watched the first minute without zee Peach. I was amazed to see Mary Blair’s name listed early on in the credits.  I know Mary Blair is the queen of vintage Disney design (surely you must remember the Google ode to her on her 100th birthday last year…), I knew she was involved with Alice in Wonderland, and I love her illustrated books that I have read with the Peach, but I didn’t know she was involved specifically with Cinderella. You could tell she had a hand in it just from the opening credits of the film.

Turns out Mary Blair did the mood boards for Cinderella in the forties as inspiration for the film.  And MAN, are they magical.

A touch darker palette than I remember in the film, but WOW.

I love the one with the step sisters the most. So perfectly frouncy!

There was actually a book version of this released in 2007—Walt Disney’s Cinderella retold by Cynthia Rylant using images created by Mary Blair. Unfortunately it is now out of print and they go for quite a pretty penny. (Upwards of $350! Oof!) But still, they are magical! Lucky for us, you can nab a gently read copy of Walt Disney’s Cinderella for $32 right here.