Friday, April 29, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

This turned into the never-ending blog post.  It's finally finished!

First off--

Saturday was the Second Annual St. George's Day George Sanders Film Festival!  This year's theme was the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible (I'll bet you were wondering how I was going to work that in this year), so I watched Four Men and a Prayer and Rage in Heaven as well as two biblical epics: Samson and Delilah and Solomon and Sheba.  I made true sacrifices in the service of cinema.

In Four Men and a Prayer (1938), George Sanders and his three brothers (David Niven plays one of them) work to clear the name of their dishonorably discharged father (C. Aubrey Smith) with the help of Loretta Young.  There's romance, gun-running and South American revolutions.  What more could the movie-going public desire?  So, it's not the greatest movie ever, but it was pretty entertaining.  (Available on DVD as part of the Ford at Fox Collection.)

Original lobby card from Wikipedia
Rage in Heaven (1941) was a film I'd never heard of until it played on TCM last month, despite the fact that it stars Ingrid Bergman and Robert Montgomery (and George Sanders!) and was based on a book by James Hilton, of Random Harvest fame.  I thought this was a well-done, entertaining, occasionally suspenseful film.  Both Rage in Heaven and Four Men and a Prayer would be good watching on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Since this film isn't available on DVD, here's a link to watch it online.

Now on to the films I can't really recommend on their own merits.  If you're a big fan of bad movies or you're really really bored, these two biblical epics might be worth the watch.  Maybe.  This comes from a person who watches The Ten Commandments every year.  Admittedly, I only watch the first part before Moses decides he wants to leave the Egyptian court.  After that, it just gets super-unglamorous.  Who wants to watch people wander in the desert?  Anyway, I digress...

French poster from Wikipedia
Samson and Delilah (1950) looks good, but the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired.  I did like Hedy Lamarr's costumes, though.  They'd probably make really fabulous bellydance costumes.  Sanders plays the mad, bad, dangerous-to-know Saran of Gaza.  Here's a clip from TCM.

Unfortunately(?) it's not available on DVD, but you can watch this film online, should you feel in need of cinematic self-flagellation:

I exaggerate a bit.  Samson and Delilah is ten times better than...

Lobby card from Wikipedia
...Solomon and Sheba (1959), starring Yul Brenner as Solomon, Gina Lollobrigida as Sheba and George Sanders as wronged older-brother Adonijah.  Tyrone Power was originally going to play Solomon, but he died halfway through filming after having a heart attack filming Solomon's duel with Adonijah.  Frankly, I doubt this film would have been any better with Tyrone Power instead of Yul Brenner.  Too much is wrong with this movie!  This clip  of the badly-choreographed orientalist "orgy" scene is a good illustration of the general ridiculousness of the entire film.  Warning: it's genuinely cringe-worthy.  Solomon and Sheba is inexplicably on DVD.

Scripture Cake
 Naturally, biblical baking was also required.  The Victorians (those party animals!) thought it great fun to  force bakers to look up bible verses.  For example, here's the ingredient list for Scripture Cake:

1/2 lb Judges 5:25
1/2 lb Jeremiah 6:20
1 tablespoon 1 Samuel 14:25
3 Jeremiah 17:11
1/2 lb 1 Samuel 30:12
1/2 lb Nahum 3:12
2 ounces Numbers 17:8
1 lb 1 Kings 4:22
Season to taste with 2 Chronicles 9:9
pinch of Leviticus 2:13
1 teaspoon Amos 4:5
3 tablespoons Judges 4:19-21
(from Jane Grigson's British Cookery)

I know the ingredient list works with the authorized King James Version (my copy is from the Oxford University Press), but I can't guarantee other translations.  So-- here's my recipe, adapted from Jane Grigson's and from The Great British Book of Baking:

Scripture Cake

This recipe is also available on

The recipe for mixed spice is here.  If you're not sure what to do with all of it, here's a link to a few recipes.

This cake has a really lovely flavor, but I'd probably replace the figs with another dried fruit next time, but I didn't want to bother with reading through the bible to change the recipe, so do what you like.  I'd even use rum or brandy to soak the dried fruit, but don't tell the fundamentalists.

It's great for breakfast, too!



I've been given a Liebster Blog award from Kate and I've been tagged by Soapy Mermaid to list ten of my favorite things (besides George Sanders).  I'm going to combine the two and pass the award on to my favorite less-than-300-followers blogs and ask them to list their favorite things, as well (except for Soapy Mermaid, who has already listed her favorites!).

I love...
  1. PG Tips... but also Tanqueray.
  2. Händel...but also Nine Inch Nails.*
  3. Peter Lely...but also Cecil Beaton.
  4. peonies...but also dandelions.
  5. the library...but also my Kindle.
  6. eating outside...but also eating on the couch while watching Battlestar Galactica (damn engineer husband).
  7. TCM...but also MSNBC.
  8. bad monarchs...but not bad politicians.**
  9. spring...but I love autumn more.
  10. reading French novels in French...but I love reading English novels in English more!
I'm passing the award onto these fine folks.  Can't wait to see their ten favorites lists!

As My Whimsy Takes Me
By gum, by golly!
A Cat Among the Pigeons
Honey Hi
Livin' Vintage
Lori Hairston
My Moving Finger Writes
My Pretty Baby Cried She Was a Bird
Pin Tucks and Pin Curls
Practice in Time
Pragmatic Attic
Sailing Over a Cardboard Sea
A Sip of Sarsaparilla
Soapy Mermaid
The Swing of Things
This Old Life
Those Were Very Good Years
Two for Tea
Where the Sidework Ends

If you decide to participate, just leave a comment with a link to your post.  Thanks!


**James I of King James Bible fame being one of those bad monarchs.  I studied the Stuarts, so there were lots of bad kings to go around.


  1. Yum-yum: movies, cake and a blog award, thank you! I will ponder about those favourite things. :-)

  2. Ha! I've had a "Scripture Cake" recipe sitting around in my recipe box for ages. I've never had the courage to try it (or the Biblical fortitude).

    I must now ponder my favorite things.

  3. Congrats on your awards. Isn't Ingrid Bergman lovely? I'd love to be like her. Your Scripture Cake looks very tasty.

  4. That scripture cake actually looks quite delicious. I have seen scripture cake recipes before and always wondered what they looked and tasted like.

    I know what you mean about Samson and Delilah--I can't believe that there is a biblical epic that is dramatically worse, but I'll take your word on this.

  5. I've never heard of Scripture
    Cake (and here I am living in the Bible belt)! I'll post my favorite things on my next post (have to think about it)...

  6. I appreciated much your witty list full of humour. mille mercis pour le liebster blog award!! sinon je vais donner la référence du film à ma soeur qui, justement, a longtemps regardé "les 10 commandements" tous les ans :D.

  7. Thanks Lauren..I have been so out of it! I have not blogged anything in weeks! CRIMINAL>>Today is the day :) and i will add my fav things..:)

  8. I never saw this post! This must have been on my unintentional blogging hiatus this spring. Thanks for mentioning me! I'll have to bring it up in my next post, very kind of you indeed. PS Scripture Cake... just wow. :)


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