Monday, May 30, 2011

Monthly Film Recommendations: June 2011

Stacia's list at She Blogged By Night reminded me that I need to do my movie recommendations for June!

All times are CST; all films are on Turner Classic Movies:

  • The Half-Naked Truth (W 6/1 6:00 a.m.) mildly amusing pre-code film starring Lee Tracy, Lupe Velez and Eugene Pallette.  Tracy is a promoter who tries to get bellydancer Velez on Broadway.
  • Night Train to Munich (W 6/1 8:45 p.m.)
  • Scarlet Street (Sa 6/4 8:00 a.m.) bad girl Joan Bennett lures meek Edward G. Robinson (definitely playing against type); directed by Fritz Lang
  • Dodsworth (Sa 6/4 7:00 p.m.) automobile company president Walter Huston's marriage is tested when he decides to retire--wife Ruth Chatterton isn't ready to give up her youth; very well done
  • Witness to Murder (Su 6/5 7:30 a.m.)
  • Arsenic and Old Lace (Su 6/5 12:45 p.m.) Cary Grant has to deal with homicidal maiden aunts and a brother who believes he's Teddy Roosevelt in this Frank Capra comedy
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood (Su 6/5 7:00 p.m.)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (M 6/6 3:45 a.m.) devastating portrayal of the horrors of World War I; I won't be re-watching it, but if you haven't seen it, you probably should
  • My Favorite Wife (M 6/6 6:00 a.m.)
  • His Girl Friday (M 6/6 7:30 a.m.) Cary Grant, Rosiland Russell, rapid-fire banter; highly-rated comedy, not my particular favorite, but it is amusing
  • North by Northwest (M 6/6 4:30 p.m.) classic Hitchcock mistaken-identity thriller starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason; famous for train, crop duster and Mount Rushmore sequences; very stylish
  • Bells are Ringing (Tu 6/7 7:30 a.m.) film version of the Broadway hit starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin; great fun
  • Ocean's Eleven (Tu 6/7 12:15 p.m.) the Rat Pack movie--dated, misogynist, stylish and fun all at the same time
  • San Antonio (W 6/8 8:00 a.m.) another entertaining Errol Flynn western, just don't expect too much and you'll be pleasantly surprised
  • Safe in Hell (Th 6/9 7:30 a.m.) Dorothy Mackaill is a New Orleans prostitute who believes she's killed a man, so she flees to Tortuga to avoid extradition and ends up in a seedy hotel with a bunch of criminals; great example of pre-code cinema
  • The Taming of the Shrew (Su 6/12 9:00 a.m.) Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Shakespeare; this one holds a special place in my heart--I was Kate in a school production
  • A Tale of Two Cities (M 6/13 9:00 a.m.) Ronald Colman is wonderful as Sydney Carton; bring a hankie
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (M 6/13 12:30 p.m.)
  • The Woman in Green (M 6/13 1:45 p.m.)
  • Terror by Night (M 6/13 3:00 p.m.) 
  • Dressed to Kill (M 6/13 4:15 p.m.) four of Basil Rathbone's outings as Sherlock Holmes, great for lazy weekends spent drinking cups of tea, eating cake and lying about in a dressing gown wile smoking a pipe--at our house, Paul does the pipe smoking and I do the tea drinking

  • David Copperfield (M 6/13 7:00 p.m.) excellent, albeit abridged, adaptation of Dickens novel; fabulous cast includes Lionel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, Roland Young, W.C. Fields; Edna Mae Oliver steals the show as Aunty Betsey; a must-see
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (W 6/15 1:15 p.m.) cute romantic comedy with Myrna Loy, Cary Grant, Shirley Temple and Rudy Vallee
  • Kind Hearts and Coronets (W 6/15 5:00 p.m.)
  • A Face in the Crowd (W 6/15 11:15 p.m.) You MUST see this film.  It is one of the most amazing movies I've ever seen. Andy Griffith plays against type to perfection and Patricia Neal and Walter Matthau are magnificent; Elia Kazan was a genius.
  • A Touch of Evil (Th 6/16 1:30 a.m.) Director's cut of Orson Welles's noir masterpiece
  • Bringing Up Baby (Sa 6/18 7:00 p.m.)
  • Twentieth Century (Sa 6/18 9:00 p.m.) producer John Barrymore spends a train trip trying to convince actress Carole Lombard to return to the stage
  • Nothing Sacred (Sa 6/18 11:00 p.m.) reporter Fredric March makes "dying" Carole Lombard famous
  • Theodora Goes Wild (Su 6/19 2:15 a.m.) Irene Dunne plays a small-town spinster who, unbeknownst to friends and family, is the author of a very popular torrid romance; Melvyn Douglas co-stars
  • The Awful Truth (Su 6/19 4:00 a.m.) Cary Grant and Irene Dunne divorce but can't stay away from each other
  • Life with Father (Su 6/19 4:45 p.m.) One of the most enjoyable films ever made; William Powell and Irene Dunne raise a family in turn-of-the-century New York; get the family together, pop some popcorn and be prepared to thoroughly enjoy this movie
  • Stagecoach (Su 6/19 7:00 p.m.) One of the greatest westerns ever made; John Ford and John Wayne at their best
  • The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (M 6/20 3:00 p.m.)
  • Grand Hotel (M 6/20 9:15 p.m.)
  • The Las Vegas Story (Tu 6/21 6:45 a.m.) 
  • His Kind of Woman (Tu 6/21 11:15 a.m.)
  • Ball of Fire (W 6/22 11:15 a.m.) a houseful of professors take in nightclub singer Barbara Stanwyck
  • The Major and the Minor (W 6/22 1:15 p.m.) Hijinks ensue when Ginger Rogers disguises herself as a pre-adolescent to buy a junior fare train ticket
  • It Happened One Night (F 6/24 7:00 a.m.) One of my favorite films--sparks fly when reporter Clark Gable meets runaway heiress Claudette Colbert
  • Singin' in the Rain (Su 6/26 7:00 p.m.)  Does it need an introduction?  It's one of the best movie musicals ever made.
  • Dial M for Murder (M 6/27 11:00 p.m.) Hitchcock. Grace Kelly. Classic.
  • Strangers on a Train (T 6/28 3:00 a.m.) Super-creepy Robert Walker traps Farley Granger in a murder plot.  Not to be missed.
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (Tu 6/28 1:00 p.m.) Fairly faithful adaptation of novel; Lana Turner smolders
  • I Know Where I'm Going (W 6/29 7:00 p.m.)
  • Brigadoon (W 6/29 9:00 p.m.) Yeah, it's pretty dumb, but I love it.  "Scotland" is so darn cute.

P.S. If you'd like to be prepared for the next George Sanders film fest, here's a few I'll be recording that I haven't seen yet:

  • Five Golden Hours (M 6/6 11:15 p.m.)
  • Lloyd's of London (M 6/13 9:15 p.m.)
  • Moonfleet (Th 6/23 3:30 a.m.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: Vincentennial

Photos from A Treasury of Great Recipes

Inspired by Cinema St. Louis's "Vincentennial," I've decided to celebrate Vincent Price's 100th birthday by watching a lot of Vincent Price movies. I've also (naturally) added food to the mix by cooking out of A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price, or what we call "The Vincent Price Cookbook" at our house.  Sorry, Mary!  If you find a copy at a used bookstore or an estate sale, grab it.  It's a real cookbook (and a great one, at that), not just your average celebrity cookbook.  I've had mine for years, but I need to blog about it more!

The Food

Manicotti alla passetto

Quite possibly one of the most delicious things one could ever do with leftover roast chicken, Manicotti alla passetto is a favorite at our house.  We were even lucky enough to eat al fresco last night!  The salad dressing is from the back of the La Tourangelle walnut oil bottle: 4T walnut oil, 1T balsamic vinegar, 1t whole-grain Dijon mustard, salt to taste.  I usually just make half a recipe.

I also make a half recipe of the manicotti.  Our largest Le Creuset au gratin is large enough to hold all six manicotti.

Manicotti alla passetto

"In seventeenth-century England, George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham*, cut quite a figure as a courtier and playwright.  Perhaps he served these eggs at his after-theater parties--I like to think so.  In any event they bear his name and they are a perfect late snack for a midnight supper." 
-A Treasury of Great Recipes

Buckingham Eggs
Buckingham Eggs

This recipe is also available on
Download PDF and Print Recipe

The Films

I thought I'd narrow things down to the films that will air next month on Turner Classic Movies.  Several of Price's movies are available on Netflix Watch Instantly, as well (including one of my personal favorites, The Comedy of Terrors, costarring Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone).

DVD cover from Wikipedia
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Monday, June 20th, at 3:00 p.m. CST) is one of the very few films with an Elizabethan setting I can stand to watch, despite its ahistorical elements.  I was the teaching assistant for OU's Tudor England course, which basically means that I can't enjoy either of the Elizabeth films or The Tudors.  Several semesters before I was a teaching assistant for Tudor England, I was a student.  Our professor mentioned this film in class and one of the students asked, "Bette Davis?  Like that song?"  There's one person in desperate need of a classic film intervention.  Bette Davis really is great as Elizabeth, but I don't watch this one very often because it makes me cry.

Vincent Price has a small role in this film (only his second feature film) as Sir Walter Raleigh.  The rest of the supporting cast is outstanding, as well, and includes Olivia de Havilland, Donald Crisp, Alan Hale, Henry Stephenson and Leo G. Carroll.
Poster from Wikipedia

The Las Vegas Story (Tuesday, June 21st, at 6:45 a.m. CST) stars Jane Russell as a former Las Vegas singer who is married to Vincent Price's character (a compulsive gambler) and Victor Mature as her ex-lover and current Las Vegas sheriff's deputy.  Hoagy Carmichael co-stars.  Murder, intrigue and a helicopter chase (featuring one of producer Howard Hughes's helicopters, of course) ensue.  Not the best movie ever (did you figure it would be?), but worth the watch.  Entertaining.

Poster from Wikipedia

His Kind of Woman (Tuesday, June 21st, at 11:15 a.m. CST) gives Vincent Price his best role of the three films.  Stick with this one; the last third of the film is worth the wait.  Price is a hunting-obsessed action-movie star Jane Russell is trying to land while on vacation in Mexico.  Robert Mitchum, paid by a mafioso to head south of the border, ends up at the same resort.  The first part of the film is pretty standard noir stuff, but everything changes when gangsters and the feds arrive and Price's character takes over all the action.  Great stuff.  Lots of Shakespeare-quoting.  Take a chance on this one--you'll be glad you did.


Portrait of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham (from Wikipedia)

I wrote a paper for my Stuart England class about Roger Palmer, the husband of Buckingham's cousin Barbara.  Mrs. Palmer was the mistress of Charles II and remembered by Paul for having bit the penis off a corpse.  I had totally forgotten about it until Paul reminded me when I told him we were having a dinner named after George Villiers and I couldn't possibly tell you which biography the information came from (so many random facts pop up when doing historical research), but Paul said there's no way he could forget something that crazy.  She was one interesting broad.  

Sir Peter Lely's portrait of Barbara after she had become Duchess of Cleveland (from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tornado Watch Gin and French

Gin and French

I've spent my entire life in Tornado Alley, so tornado warnings are familiar territory.  Wichita isn't the biggest city ever, so when the sirens go off, it's for the entire county, so we have to watch the TV to see if we need to get in the basement.  We've lived here three years so far and haven't had to take shelter yet (knock on wood).  Growing up in Oklahoma City, my mother would refuse to get in the cellar of our 1909 home.  The creepy-crawlies were more terrifying than a tornado!

I don't usually bother with cooking dinner when we're under a tornado watch, because the power could go out or we could have to get down in the basement in the middle of cooking!  Nevertheless, tornado watches prompt an extended cocktail hour before heating up leftovers or (horrors!) heating up a heat-em dinner.

Our new favorite cocktail is the Gin and French, which I discovered by watching Mapp & Lucia.  Georgie (Nigel Hawthorne) orders one at the pub in Tilling.  Naturally, I had to do some research.  There are a few variations (with some people even claiming it's just a martini!).  Here's my version:

12 oz glass
ice (a handful or two)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 jigger gin
1 jigger dry (French) vermouth
5 oz tonic water (typical small bottle is 10 oz, so plan to make two!)
Little cocktail straw (not strictly required, but definitely encouraged)

Put ice in glass, add lemon juice, gin and vermouth.  Top off with tonic water; add straw.  Be prepared for this to hit quick and hard.  It's the F5 of cocktails.

Be sure to save the squeezed-out lemons for candied peel to make fruitcake or Banbury Cakes!

P.S. Here's a link to the official Red Cross spring 2011 storms donation sites.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Life this Week: May 23, 1938

Errol Flynn is on the cover of Life this week (well, this week in 1938).  The contents page describes him as "a Glamor Boy, as truly as any of the Glamor Boys on pages 4-7*, not by virtue of a synthetic Hollywood build-up but because of his long career as adventurer, sailor, boxer, gold prospector and author."

*Those other "Glamor Boys", who follow in the footsteps of the "original Glamor Boy" Duke of Windsor, include Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, Jules Glaenzer (vice president of Cartier's), William Rhinelander Stewart ("Dean of Glamor Boys") and a lot of brokers.    

Ambassador-to-Britain Joe Kennedy "pierced the bosoms of ambitious American dowagers and debutantes" by restricting Court presentation to the "womenfolk" of American officials and Americans living in Britain for "business reasons."  His own daughters, Kathleen and Rosemary, were two of only seven American girls presented to the King and Queen on May 11, 1938.

"Mrs. Claude Bennington, authoress and sportswoman, finds that a shooting stick rests the tedium of opening night" at Covent Garden.

In case you forgot, I'll remind you that this week is National Arrow Week.  Remember, you can't be "the top" without an Arrow collar:

I'm ridiculously excited about the Movie of the Week:
Movie poster from Wikipedia
The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of my absolute favorites.  On a (thankfully) rare sick day, I'll usually get out my two-disc special edition, make myself a cup of tea and get back in bed.  Errol Flynn movies were even my drug-of-choice during graduate school.  I've watched many many more Errol Flynn movies since 2007 and I have to say that I always enjoy the ones with Olivia DeHavilland the most.  She's just awesome.  (Check out this post from TJB's blog about Miss DeHavilland's love affair with Dior.  Check out her fabulous zebra cape!  I want to look that great when I'm 93.)

We'll have to revisit Robin Hood (no hardship there) in the autumn.  I discovered a treat called Nottingham Pudding that appears to be a sweet, spiced Yorkshire pudding/apple dumpling combination, but it will have to wait until apples are in season.  Mark your calendars!

While we're waiting for October to roll around, the editors of Life have provided us with an Errol Flynn pictorial.  Remember this simple equation:

aviators + cigarette holder + shorts = perfect boating outfit

You must also remember that wearing a shirt inhibits day-to-day activities such as diving, fencing and bow-hunting sting rays.

All right, so I inclined rather toward the frivolous this week (I'm getting really tired of all those Fascists). What were your favorite articles?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dinner(s) and a Movie: This is the Night

Lobby card from Wikipedia
In This is the Night, wealthy playboy Roland Young wants to take girlfriend Thelma Todd to Venice, but her javelin-throwing husband (Cary Grant) returns unexpectedly.  Hungry, out-of-work actress Lili Damita (billed as "Lily") agrees to accompany Roland Young to Venice, posing as his wife, with Charlie Ruggles tagging along.  This is the Night is an entertaining film and it has some unique musical-like sequences without being a musical (you'll have to watch it to see what I mean).  Plus, it's pre-code, so the morals are more relaxed than they would have been a couple years later.

This movie is interesting not only because it's Cary Grant's feature film debut, but also because there are relatively few Lili Damita movies out there.  She retired from movies in 1937 and is mostly only known today for her tempestuous marriage to Errol Flynn.

I quite enjoyed this film, though I will admit to liking Roland Young and Charlie Ruggles in almost anything.   This was my first time to see Lili Damita in anything besides an old magazine and I liked her in this role.  I'll be sure to check TCM for her other films.

This is the Night isn't available on DVD, but it's scheduled to show again on TCM Sunday, August 21st, at 5:00 a.m. CST.


Since you're not likely (sorry to break it to you) to accompany a wealthy playboy to Venice, you'll have to find another way to feed yourself. Eggs are an inexpensive way to feed everyone's inner desperate working girl.

We're on our second CSA year and I am attached to the eggs. It's not just that they're pretty; they have gorgeous orange yolks, they come from happy chickens (we got to see them last year on a farm visit) and they're only $3 per dozen.

Eggs have become a large part of our diet since we found our CSA and have been very helpful in our efforts to reduce our food budget but not skimp on quality.  I've been working my way through the Eggs section in my 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook.  Here are three fabulous supper dishes:

Shirred egg with buttered green beans and a drop biscuit
For a shirred egg, preheat the oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit, butter a ramekin, break in an egg, top with 1 teaspoon butter, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon cream.  Bake approximately 15 minutes until white is completely set and yolk is mostly set.  Usually I make two for dinner, but just one for lunch.

"Eggs in a Frame" with asparagus
I've probably made hundreds of shirred eggs, but I'd never made "Eggs in a Frame."  I had a bit of a problem with these two because my bread maker leaves two holes in the bottom of my English White Bread.  I had to use two cookie cutters to shore up the slices.  Basically all you do is cut a hole in the middle of a relatively thin slice of bread, butter it like there's no tomorrow, then place it in a buttered skillet on medium-low heat and crack an egg into it.  When the egg is set, flip the whole thing over and brown the other side of the bread.  Pepper the egg and salt the egg and toast.

"Eggs à la reine" with green peas

Use the leftover bread rounds for Eggs à la reine.  Preheat oven to 375˚.  Butter and toast them and place them in a baking dish then top with mushrooms that have been sautéed in butter and seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme. (I used about an eighth pound of mushrooms for four toast rounds.)  A poached egg sits on top of the mushrooms and is covered in Béchamel sauce that has cheddar stirred into it.  Brown in the oven.

Yeah, I don't really have recipes for these dishes, but that's what is great about them--you can adjust them based on what you've got and they'll still turn out just fine.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recession and Responsibility

In a time of lay-offs, wage freezes, pay cuts and rising food prices, how is it possible to resist the urge to abandon responsible farming and ranching practices for the siren's call of low prices for low-quality food?

I've been guilty of never thinking about how much food costs.  (I would be a terrible The Price is Right contestant!)  For years now, I've sought out local/organic/biodynamic food and never thought about how much I was actually spending until we started discussing our pressing need of new transportation.  Unfortunately, we live in a place, like most towns in America, where driving is a necessity.  The city is spread-out, bus schedules are inconvenient and infrequent and there is no tax support for improving public transportation.

We have old cars that are falling apart and don't get great gas mileage.  Thankfully, due to the fact that I work at home, we can get by on one new car rather than two.  However, a car payment will be a huge adjustment for us.  I started looking at our credit card statements and realized that we spent over $600 on food and liquor last month.  I was rather shocked because there are only two of us and we're rather normal-sized people who aren't marathon runners or alcoholics.  Is it possible to spend two-thirds (or even half) that amount and still feel good about what I buy?

I've done a lot of research into cutting a food budget and, frankly, most of it doesn't appeal to me.  Every time I try to clip coupons, there's rarely ever a coupon for anything I would eat, because most coupons are for processed foods and store specials tend to be on conventionally-raised meat or non-organic produce.  I also looked into Once a Month Cooking, but I find that concept rather bleak (I think having to eat exclusively foods that freeze well is rather limiting and I couldn't face having to make an entire month's meals in one day) and I have a tiny freezer and no microwave.

One place I know I can start is by significantly reducing our food waste.  According to Wasted Food, more than 40% of the food produced in America is thrown away.  Granted, much of it is thrown away because no one buys it, but a good chunk is thrown away after it goes home with us.

The plan for now is to shop more often, taking stock of what is in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry before going to the grocery store or farmer's market.  I'm going to only shop for a day or two at a time, so I don't accumulate a lot of food that will just go bad before I use it.  I also think that eating out contributes to our food going bad before we get around to it, so we're going to attempt to eat at home every night.  Granted, we get invited out to eat occasionally and sometimes we just want to go get Chinese food, but we're not going to say, "Oh, we don't feel like cooking or doing dishes.  Let's just go out."  In addition, it's also near-impossible to eat ethically in a restaurant.

I'll keep you updated on our progress and share any tips along the way.  Let me know if you have any suggestions!


I may have to get creative with leftovers.  How about these chicken croquettes shaped like chickens:
from a 1929 Mirro recipe booklet


Further information on responsible food:

  • Here's a link to video from today's The Future of Food conference at Georgetown University.  If you have the chance, be sure to watch these videos.  Georgetown got an all-star lineup!
  • If you haven't seen it, please rent Food, Inc.  It's also available streaming from Netflix.
  • You might also like Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution, a film about a community in France that decides to change the food in school cafeterias and their meals on wheels program.  You can also watch this film on Netflix Watch Instantly.
  • Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Nina Planck's Real Food give the whys and wherefores of changing what you eat.
  • A Slice of Organic Life by Sheherazade Goldsmith, The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and The New English Kitchen by Rose Prince are all excellent resources to help you make that change.
  • Visit for a list of farmer's markets and producers in your area.