Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

So I tend to move pretty quickly from one thing to the next, obsession-wise (since I started this post I have already moved on to two different things, which I shall eventually post about - it's mostly an "obscure '60s television shows" obsession).

Anyway, I was watching everything on the internet that I could find with Michael Callan in it (as you know from my Occasional Wife post. Michael Callan was in an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show which I found on Hulu (season 1, episode 23).

This of course caused me to started watching the show from the very first episode. The first three seasons, which ran from 1970 to 1973 are available on Hulu for free. The ads are annoying but everything in life can't be perfect. The show ran for a total of seven seasons, ending in 1977.

I'm not overly fond of the '70s. My interests lie in the '30s through early '60s (think The Thin Man to John Wayne to The Honeymooners to Bewitched and Gidget). However, this show is really funny. Mary's clothes are usually more on the classy side (meaning they don't completely reek of the '70s) and I could see myself wearing some of her dresses. I love the window in her apartment and the way it's set up. I don't like the shag rug of course and if it was my apartment the furniture would be a little more...country/chic/cottage.

Here's the floor plan of her apartment. It looks like a combo of season 1 (no steps in the middle of the stereo shelves) and post season 3 (the table and chairs by the balcony).

Here's how it looked in Season 1:

Here you can see the vaulted ceiling  

Little wooden stepping stool

I like the stained glass window that closes off the kitchen (rather, I like that it is a window):

In season 2 they added step in the middle of the bookshelf which is certainly more convenient. Without it was a little awkward.

You can see more pictures of her apartment here.

I really liked the way Mary decorated her apartment for Christmas (Season 1, Episode 14 - Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid). The lights around the windows, the ribbons with cards, the awesome Santa face (I have one very similar that I bought at Dollar Tree a few years back - it's awesome).

She makes her office desk look so festive:

And I love the sign on the door of the station:

I really like Valerie Harper's character, Rhoda Morgenstern. She's funny and prettier than she thinks. I don't see how the show went on without her. I am curious as to what her show Rhoda (1974-1978) is like. I will probably start watching it too when I finish the first three seasons of MTM (it takes place after the 4th season though). The first season of Rhoda is on Hulu as well.

Season 3

 Rhoda Morgenstern and her mother, Ida, played by Nancy Walker (Season 2, Episode 5)

All of the characters in the show are wonderful. My second favorite is Lou Grant, with his tough exterior but soft interior. The relationship between him and Mary is sweet (but not in a weird way). This argument they have illustrates it perfectly (Season 3, Episode 2):

Mary: I don't sell people out, especially you.
Lou: Why especially me?
Mary: Because I love you!
Lou: [Looks around in disbelief] Look, we can't have a fight if you say things like that!
Mary: But I do care about you...
Lou: Mary!
Mary: ...and I know you care about me.
Lou: Okay, okay! The fight's over! You win!

Cast photo: Murray, Phyllis, Lou, Mary, Rhoda, & Ted
Lou is described perfectly in Love is All Around: The Making of the Mary Tyler Moore Show by Robert S. Alley and Irby B. Brown. They say that any, "adequate description would have to include some seeming contradictions: Lou is a gruff bear, often impatient, loud, a very physical person whether he is being aggressive or not, but he is also a father confessor, capable of great patience and understanding, even gentleness. He is at times blunt and straightforward, but at times tentative, even delicate, capable of choosing his words with compassionate understanding. He is not young and does not sport the all-American tapered figure, but he is attractive to women, whom he knows how to treat in positive ways. He is a man's man in the traditional sense, but a woman's, too, in the sense emerging in the 1970s.
My favorite episodes:
Season 1
     Ep. 14: Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid - Mary has to work on Christmas.
     Ep. 18: Second-Story Story - Mary's apartment is robbed. Twice.
     Ep. 23: Smokey the Bear Wants You - Rhoda is afraid her new boyfriend is a gangster. Michael Callan guest stars.

Season 2
     Ep. 5: A Girl's Best Mother is Not Her Friend - Ida attempts to become Rhoda's friend.
     Ep. 6: Cover Boy - We get to meet Ted's brother.
     Ep. 17: Baby Sitcom - Mary recruits Lou to babysit Phyllis' daughter, Bess.
     Ep. 24: His Two Right Arms - Bill Daily from I Dream of Jeannie guest stars as an incompetent politician interviewed by Ted.

Season 3
     Ep. 13: Operation: Lou - While Lou is in the hospital getting some WWII shrapnel removed, he and Ted have some unlikely male-bonding.
     Ep. 23: Put on a Happy Face - Nothing seems to be going right for Mary. Hilarious! I laughed so much watching this episode. The part where Mary sprains her ankle is too funny!

A couple of my favorite quotes:
Rhoda: Did you know that the first man to drink hot milk invented the word "Yuckh!" (Season 1, Episode 16)

Rhoda: Allow me to introduce myself. I'm another person in the room. (Season 1, Episode 2)

This conversation is the best:
Rhoda: Listen kid, what’s the matter?
Mary: Oh…well, Dan forgot all about the Awards Banquet on Saturday, now I have no date. What am I going to do?
Rhoda: Eat some candy.
Mary: Rhoda, chocolate solves nothing.
Rhoda: No, no. Cottage cheese solves nothing. Chocolate can do it all.  (Season 3, Episode 23)

Parting reflection:
The way you come to love all of the characters reminded me of  the TV show Psych. Everyone was just perfect for their part and really meshed well. It's almost hard to pick favorites.

Bloopers Part 1
Bloopers Part 2
Read a script from the show - "Chuckles Bites the Dust"

Remembering Lauren Bacall

So many great actors and actresses dying this year: Shirley Temple on February 10th, Mickey Rooney on April 6th, James Garner on July 19th, Robin Williams yesterday, and today Lauren Bacall.

I've already "written" a post about her fabulous eyebrows - here. But besides that, she was a great actress. Sure, she didn't always get good parts (she was suspended 12 times for rejecting scripts) - one of the downsides of the studio system -  but if the script was good she was fantastic.

The first movie I saw with her in it was The Shootist (1976), starring John Wayne and Ron Howard. It's the best out of John Wayne's '70s films (in my opinion). Rooster Cogburn (1975) is good but I did not like True Grit (1969) - the girl is too annoying. But enough about John Wayne. Bacall's performance is very good, but it is a John Wayne picture and I didn't know anything about her at the time.

My next Bacall encounter was on the special features for You've Got Mail (1998), called "You've Got Chemistry." The famous on-screen couples highlighted were Bacall/Bogart, Powell/Loy, Tracy/Hepburn, Flynn/de Havilland, Mickey and Judy, and of course Hanks and Ryan. Since watching it I have watched many  of these couples on-screen and love all of them. It introduced me to such classics as the Thin Man series (1934 - 1947) and the other eight movies Powell and Loy made together (yes, I have watched them all as well as nearly 30 of Powell's films - TCM is a wonderful thing). I have watched the beautiful Olivia de Havilland get the better of the dashing Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1939), They Died with Their Boots On (1941), and others. I have loved Mickey and Judy since I was a little girl and especially enjoy watching them in the Andy Hardy series. And I watch You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle (1993) multiple times a year (all you have to do is play a song from the soundtrack and I'm a goner). And yes, I watched Joe Versus the Volcano (1990). Once. It was more than enough.

After doing a little research on IMDb to see which film Bogart and Bacall made together, I checked out To Have and Have Not (1944) from my library. I LOVED IT. It is very similar to Casablanca (1942), but as I am not a big fan of Ingrid Bergman, I liked To Have and Have Not much better. My favorite part is at the very end, when Bacall sort of wiggles over to Bogie and then smiles when he grabs her arm and leads her out of their hotel, which is also a café/bar. The smile she gives him is so cute and genuine, because she had fallen in love with him. Read more here!

The next film they made together, The Big Sleep (1946), was good but a little confusing. Even the author was confused! There are two versions: the pre-release version and the theatrical version with more scenes between Bogart and Bacall.

I did not like Dark Passage (1947). The first 30 or so minutes is filmed so that you are only seeing what Bogart sees, which was kind of weird and annoying. But when Agnes Moorehead fell out the window to her death and they showed her falling and screaming... that was too much. Here's an interesting post on the film locations then and now in San Francisco.

The last film they made together was Key Largo (1948), which is my second favorite of the four films. It has Lionel Barrymore, Edward G. Robinson, and Claire Trevor in it. I really wanted to go to Key Largo after watching it.

Interesting article on the TCM blog about Key Largo: the movie and the island - did you know the African Queen is kept there?? And you can take rides on it!?!

And another one...

They were scheduled to make another movie together in 1957, but Bogart died before they started working on it.

The only movies I've seen of Bacall only (that is, not with Bogart) are Designing Woman (1957) with Gregory Peck, Sex and the Single Girl (1964) - a hilarious movie starring Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, and Henry Fonda, and the aforementioned The Shootist (1976). On my "To Watch" list are Blood Alley (1955) - also with John Wayne, How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, and William Powell, Harper (1966) with Paul Newman (and Robert Wagner!), and a film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (1974) - after I read the book of course. (UPDATE: I have watched both How to Marry a Millionaire and Blood Alley and really enjoyed both of them.)

At the premiere of How to Marry a Millionaire ~ love the expression on her face

And now, a brief bio.

She was born on September 16, 1924 in NYC. Her birth name was Betty Joan Perske (she was always called Betty by her close friends). She was an only child and her parents divorced when she was five. She lived with her Jewish mother and grandmother, both of whom she was very close to.

Aged 9

Age 15 with mother, Natalie


Modeling for Harper's Bazaar
Harper's Bazaar cover seen by Slim Hawks
In 1943, at the age of 18 she began modeling. She was discovered on the cover of Harper's Bazaar by Slim, the wife of Howard Hawks, who signed her to a contract and took her under his wing. She took her mother's maiden name Bacal and added an extra "L" on the end for her screen name. Hawks chose the name Lauren. It was during the filming of her first film, To Have and Have Not, in which her character was based and named after Hawk's wife, that she fell in love with Humphrey Bogart. She was 5'8.5" tall to his 5'8." They married the following year on May 21, 1945, at the farm of a friend, Louis Bromfield. Bacall was 20 and Bogart was 45. It was one of Hollywood's greatest love stories. They had two children: Steve, born in 1949 and named after Bogart's character in To Have and Have Not, and Leslie, born in 1952, who was named after their great friend Leslie Howard. Bacall still did work in films, but she took time off to be with her children and travel with Bogart for his films.

With daughter, Leslie
On location with Bogie for The African Queen

With Bogie and Katharine Hepburn

With Bogie on his boat, the Santana

I put my career in second place throughout both my marriages and it suffered. I don't regret it. You make choices. If you want a good marriage, you must pay attention to that. If you want to be independent, go ahead. You can't have it all.source

Bacall and Bogart were part of the original Rat Pack, which included Judy Garland and her husband, David Niven and his wife, Frank Sinatra, and a few others. To be a part of it you had to be voted in unanimously and be addicted to nonconformity, staying up late, drinking, laughing, and not caring what others thought or said about you. Their great friend Spencer Tracy was an honorary member, as he preferred a more secluded life.

The "Original" Rat Pack, 1956
In January of 1957, Bogart died from cancer of the esophagus. Bacall placed a whistle in his coffin as a reference to the famous line she said to him in their first film together, "You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow."

The whistle bracelet

A woman isn't complete without a man. But where do you find a man - a real man - these days?

 After his death, Bacall continued working. She dated crooner and fellow Rat Pack member Frank Sinatra for a while and in 1961 married Jason Robards, a big stage actor. They had one son, Sam. In 1969 they divorced, due to Robard's drinking problem.

Bacall spent many years on Broadway, which had been her dream before becoming a Hollywood actress. She created the character of Charlie in Goodbye Charlie (1959), which was later made into a movie starring Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds (1964). She also played the part of Margo Channing in the musical stage version of All About Eve (played on the screen by Bette Davis) in 1970 called Applause and Woman of the Year in 1981 (based on the 1942 movie starring her close friends Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy). In addition to her film and stage work, she also loved to travel, especially to Paris, and was actively involved in politics.

Honorary Oscar

She died this morning at her home in NYC of a stroke. She was 89 years old. She will be greatly missed.

Article in the New York Times.

Article on the TCM blog

Lauren Bacall: A Life in Film on Old Hollywood Films


Earlier this year I read her autobiography, By Myself ~ and Then Some published in 1978/2005. It is one you can read without saying, "Wow. I really didn't want to know that about you" that is in so many biographies. I love the style it is written in, just a bunch of short anecdotes separated by a space - no chapters to interrupt the flow. It was a very easy read and I enjoyed learning so much about her, her life with Bogie, and the behind-the-scenes of her movies and plays. I also read her book Now, published in 1994, which had separate chapters discussing her work, children, her house, acting, friendship and loss, and beginnings and endings. I liked the format of it as well. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Now:

There are many kinds of friendship: those from childhood and school; friendships - the passing friendships, the faraway ones; the I-would-do-anything-for-you, the understanding, compassionate; the part-time social and the work friendships. ~ p. 151

Memory is a precious commodity, not to be tampered with, not to be rejected. We have to be glad of its existence, for it keeps alive those special people - the moments, the places, the feelings. So, Memory, I drink a long life - for both of us. ~ p. 166

I have spent a good deal of time trying to  figure friendship out, without much luck. Why one friendship survives whether people see each other or not, why another fades for no apparent reason. Why sometimes old friends are easy to talk about everything and impossible to talk about anything. ~ p. 192

Here is a beautiful quote of Bogie's that was in By Myself ~ and Then Some:

(Coming home from the hospital during his illness) This is what it's all about - this is why marriage is worth it... I've been trying to tell these guys [attendants] how great it is to be married - that you can't beat having your wife and kids there to greet you, that there's nothing like it. ~ 265