Sunday, August 27, 2023

"Indiscreet" (1958)

I first saw Indiscreet (1958) in my late teens.  Some local station must have shown it, and we recorded it because my family liked Cary Grant.  I remember thinking it was such a funny, smart movie, but that my mom didn't really like it.  I think I get why she wouldn't like it the first time, but I'm not sure why she was cool with That Touch of Mink (1962), which has similar moral quandries, but didn't like this one.  I can only recall that this was a movie I tended to watch when my parents were out of the house because my mom never wanted to rewatch it.

Anna (Ingrid Bergman) is a famous and popular actress on the London stage.  She's also suddenly single again, having broken up with her latest boyfriend and come home to her London apartment to be alone and get over him.  Not expecting company, she nibbles a snack and puts cold cream all over her face.  Her sister Margaret (Phyllis Calvert) and brother-in-law Alfred (Cecil Parker) stop by to change clothes before going to an important dinner -- they don't live in London and often use Anna's flat to change, whether she is there or not.

Unexpectedly, at least to Anna, a dapper banker named Philip (Cary Grant) stops by too.  He's to be the speaker at the dinner that Alfred and Margaret are attending, and they are escorting him there, or something.

Although Anna has cold cream all over her face when he first sees her, thus rendering her hideous by Hollywood standards, Philip is obviously enchanted by her.

At the end of the evening, Anna invites Philip back to her apartment for a nighcap.  

Random side note: I really love Anna's apartment, and have long dreamed of doing a similar thing with colored mattes around cool sketches reaching up to the ceiling.  I haven't ever lived anywhere that this would work, but I still think it is super nifty.

Anna and Philip are obviously attracted to each other, and they know it.  But Philip drops a bomb in the middle of their flirtatious shared drink: he is married, and he can't possibly get a divorce.

Another side note:  I have a particular fondness for the way that Cary Grant says the word "divorce."  He says "dee-vorce," and it's cute and different and funny, and I like it.

Philip makes a graceful exit, having made it clear that if he embarked on a relationship with Anna, it could never end in marriage, it could only be temporary.  Anna decides she doesn't care and invites him to go to the ballet with her the next evening.  Instead of going to the ballet, they wander around London with Anna's chauffeur Carl (David Kossoff) following them discreetly in Anna's car.

By the end of the evening, Anna and Philip have come to an unspoken agreement.  They will see each other romantically, they will commit adultery together, they will be... indiscreet, basically.  And, while I am wholeheartedly opposed to adultery, I can't help but love the way the filmmakers handle this.  Because we don't have any dialog about it.  We don't have any scenes of the two characters sharing a bed.  We don't even have very many kissing scenes.  It is 100% closed-door, in modern parlance, including a moment when the pair go into Anna's apartment and literally close the door on the camera, and that is all we have to know.  We, the audience, know what they're intending to do together, but we never have to see it, or start to imagine it.  We just merrily go forward, seeing what happens to two people who fall in love when they know they morally should not.

We get a couple of cute scenes of Philip and Anna talking on the phone from their respective abodes, and you might say this is copying Pillow Talk (1959), except that Indiscreet was released a year before that Doris Day romp.

Philip and Anna give each other gifts, go to parties together, spend cozy evenings together, go shopping together -- but always, there's that lingering sense that they could be having an even better time if they didn't have the simple fact hanging over their heads that Philip has a wife somewhere.

This shot is really only here to add to my growing collection of unusual ways to stage kisses. 

Well.  We get two-thirds of the way through the movie, all glamor and romance and lovely accents... and then another bomb drops.  This is a very big bomb, the kind that causes a paradigm shift.  I am going to SPOIL it here, quite thoroughly, so if you don't want spoilage, please STOP reading here and drop down to under the picture that says "THE END."

Can't say I didn't warn you.

The second bomb is this: Philip is not married.  He has never been married.  He just lies and tells people that he's married so that his paramours never try to get him to marry them.  He's a serial monogamist who pretends to be a serial bigamist.

This paradigm shift makes Anna -- and the audience -- reevaluate everything Philip has said and done.  And the hilarious thing is, it makes Anna feel more immoral than when she thought she was committing adultery with him.  As long as she believed Philip was being honest with her, she didn't mind being an adulteress.  But now that she's discovered she's just a common fornicator who's been lied to, she is furious.  Livid, even.  How dare he deceive her?

And this is what makes me love this movie.  It points out the absolute absurdity of assuming that one form of sexual relationship outside of marriage is any worse than any other.  And it points out all the problems that result from going to bed with someone you're not married to, whether or not either of you are married to someone else.  

Also, it's handled in a super funny way, with lots of sharp, witty dialog.

Deceit piles up on top of deceit until both Anna and Philip are going in circles trying to figure out what's true.  And, of course, everything smooths out in the end, and they wind up deciding to get married to each other.  One hopes they have also learned the vital importance of being honest with each other too.

END of SPOILERS!  It's safe to read again.

Is this movie family friendly?  Weirdly, yes.  Like I said, aside from some kissing, there's no real sexual content here.  No cussing, no violence.  Kids probably won't find it funny, and won't fully understand what's going on, but it's not a dirty movie in any way.  Does have one shouted cuss word, but said with Bergman's accent, so it's not necessarily obviously a cuss word.

This review is my contribution to the 6th Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon hosted by the Wonderful World of Cinema in honor of Bergman's birthday this week.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

My Ten Favorite Dramas -- 2023 Update

It's been ten years since I shared my list of my ten favorite dramas, and it is high time for an update!  Things have shifted around a bit from that last list, with several movies dropping off and getting replaced.

1. Ben-Hur (1959) When Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is unjustly imprisoned by his former best friend (Stephen Boyd), he vows revenge, but eventually learns revenge is less sweet than he'd expected. If you ever get the chance to see this in the theater, run, don't walk!  Spectacular stuff.

2. Jane Eyre (1983) A young governess (Zelah Clarke) teaches her employer (Timothy Dalton) about love, respect, and honor. My favorite adaptation of my favorite novel.

3. Chocolat (2000) A mysterious woman (Juliette Binoche) opens a chocolate shop in a sedate French village and teaches its inhabitants to reexamine their attitudes and customs, and even welcome strangers like Johnny Depp.  Sweet and a little tangy here and there.

4. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Three veterans (Dana Andrews, Frederic March, Harold Russell) find returning to civilian life much harder than they'd expected. Bonus: this movie contains THREE love stories! You get love between a husband and wife getting reacquainted, between childhood sweethearts, and between new acquaintances.

5. Apollo 13 (1995) The true story of three astronauts (Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon) who must survive a space ship malfunction on the way to the moon. Never fails to inspire and awe me.

6. Giant (1956) A spoiled East Coast beauty (Elizabeth Taylor) marries a stubborn Texas rancher (Rock Hudson), and they spend twenty-five years trying to figure each other out. One of the first movies I can remember watching!

7. Risen (2016) A Roman tribune (Joseph Fiennes) is tasked with unraveling the mystery about some Jewish guy named Jesus whose body had mysteriously disappeared from his tomb. It's the story of the Resurrection told like a detective story -- who un-killed Jesus?

8. North and South (2004) A woman (Daniela Denby-Ashe) from the pastoral north of England moves to the industrial south and spends months ignoring the fact that a wealthy manufacturer (Richard Armitage) is in love with her.

9. Witness (1985) Detective John Book (Harrison Ford) goes undercover to protect a little Amish boy who is the only witness to a murder. Taut and tender at the same time.

10. And Now Tomorrow (1944) A wealthy young woman (Loretta Young) loses her hearing due to an illness. Though her family and fiance (Barry Sullivan) try to convince her she needs to accept her condition, a young doctor (Alan Ladd) with an experimental treatment holds out hope that she could regain her hearing.

Any movies here you particularly love too?

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Announcing the Friends Fur Life Blogathon

Do you love animals?  Or love movies and shows with animals in them?  If so, have my friend Jim at The Midnite Drive-In and I got a blogathon for you!  Join us October 27-29 for the Friends Fur Life blogathon, a celebration of onscreen animal friends.

The rules for this blogathon are pretty simple:
  • The animals in the movie or TV show must be pets or companions (Jaws is out; Flipper is in).
  • Only one duplicate of a title allowed.
  • Only new posts, please -- don't link to something you wrote last year or last decade, etc.

There is no limit to how many reviews, appreciation posts, top ten lists, and so on any blogger can enter.  If you want to review five separate episodes of Lassie, go ahead!

Entries are not limited to movie/TV show reviews.  If you want to do a list of your ten favorite episodes of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch that feature her talking cat, have at it!  If you want to compare the 1965 and 1997 versions of That Darn Cat, you totally may.

Drop a comment either here or on this post at The Midnite Drive-In to tell us what you want to contribute to this event, and make sure we have a link to your blog too.  We'll add you to the roster so people know what titles have been taken already.  And please use a blogathon badge on your blog to spread the word about this fun event, and use one in your posts too!

The Roster

Hamlette's Soliloquy -- 101 Dalmations (1961)
The Midnite Drive-In -- career overview for Orangey the cat
Realweegiemidget Reviews -- A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
She Who Seeks -- Alligator Loki, Loki (2021); Rocket Raccoon's interactions with the Winter Soldier in the MCU
The Stop Button -- Buddy (1997)
Taking Up Room -- Dog (2022)
Critica Retro -- That Darn Cat (1965)
Elisabeth Grace Foley -- Greyfriars Bobby (1961)
Diary of a Movie Maniac -- Man's Best Friend (1993)

Monday, August 14, 2023


What I'm about to announce in this post was a surprise to me, so I know it will be for you too!

My latest book, My Rock and My Refuge, has been selected as a 2023 Finalist in the WILLA Literary Awards Young Adult Fiction and Nonfiction category!

God is so good!  I have dreamed of someday winning this award for pretty much the entire ten years I have been writing western novels.  To even be a finalist (which is like a runner-up) is such an honor. I thank God for blessing my writing efforts and helping me become a better storyteller with every book and story I write. To God be the glory! 

The WILLA is awarded by the Women Writing the West organization to outstanding writing focused on women and girls in the North American West. If you would like to see the list of all of this year's winners and finalists, you can find that right here on the Women Writing the West website. My Rock and My Refuge has some amazing company on that list! 

If you haven't read this book of mine yet, and you're curious what other people think about it, you can check out its reviews on Goodreads.  You can also order a copy from Northwestern Publishing HouseAmazon, or Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

A New Author Interview

Fellow historical fiction author Patricia Meredith interviewed me on her YouTube channel today!  We had a lot of fun discussing everything from how I started writing fairy tale retellings, to whether I will keep writing westerns after I finish this series, to what authors and movies influence my writing, and beyond. 

You can watch that interview here:

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

A Sunshine Blogger Award :-)

Katherine and Grace, aka The Maidens of Green Gables, have tagged me with a Sunshine Blogger Award!  Thank you, lovely ladies!  Of course, before I answer their questions, I must share the rules, as per blog tag etiquette. 

The Rules

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog. 
2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you. 
3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. 
4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

And now, the questions:

#1 What’s something you’ve done recently that you were nervous/scared about, but has ended up being a really good thing/experience? 

Well, we went to an amusement park last weekend that we have never been to before, and it was my call to decide whether or not to wear swimsuits.  I said we shouldn't because the regular rides would probably take up all our time without trying to do waterpark stuff too, but then I was worried that I would be wrong and we would wish we had swimsuits.  But it turned out that we had plenty to ride on without going into the waterpark section, so that was a good call after all.

#2 If you were to open a shop, what kind of shop would it be? 

A used book shop with a coffee corner and lots of random, mismatched comfy seating scattered about.

#3 What’s the last book you read that you thought was the cats meow? 

I had my socks knocked off by the last chapter of Playback by Raymond Chandler in July.  Not ever going to be my favorite by Chandler, but I ended up loving it more than I expected to/remembered.

#4 You’ve gotten a callback from each of the following plays, which role will you take: Meg in Little Women, Winnie Foster in Tuck Everlasting or Sally in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

I would definitely pick Meg in Little Women.  I know that story really well, and I think that the older I get, the more I become like practical, loving, motherly Meg.

#5 Share 3 items on your wish list! 

Right now, I have a hankering for these three things:
  • Making The Best Years of Our Lives by Alison Macor
  • Imagining Anne: L. M. Montgomery's Island Scrapbooks by Elizabeth Epperly
  • Run, Cowboy, Run (a card game)

#6 What is something you’ve recently learned that blew your mind? 

It's basically the same distance between Chicago and Los Angeles as between London and Moscow.

#7 What’s a movie or tv show or book series or fandom you’ve gotten into recently? 

I've been very much enjoying the Sackett series by Louis L'Amour this year.  I hadn't read any of them before this, but I am reading about one a month and thoroughly liking them.  You can read my reviews of them so far here on my book blog.

#8 Your current favorite song? 

Not sure I have one.  I listen to different music every day right now, rather than vibing to one particular song.  Sorry!

#9 Describe your perfect day including food! 

Homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast followed by a leisurely morning reading a book and drinking coffee on the swing outside our backdoor.  Asparagus wraps for lunch, then a visit to the movie theater in the afternoon, and supper out somewhere like the local Mexican restaurant or Cracker Barrel.  An evening playing a board game with my family, and then watching a movie with my Cowboy after the kids are in bed while sharing some kind of tasty snack, preferably involving goat cheese.

#10 What is your favorite movie that’s set in another country? 

The Man from Snowy River (1982), which is set (and filmed) in Australia.  Which also happens to be my favorite movie of all time...

#11 You have to research one of the following historical events: The Chicago World Fair of 1893, the Lake Peigneur Disaster of 1980 or Operation Mincemeat?

Operation Mincemeat!  I really enjoyed The Man Who Never Was, both the book by Lt. Cmdr. Montagu and the 1956 movie, and would enjoy learning more about it.

Those were fun!  Okay, now it's my turn...

I hereby nominate these bloggers:

Here are my questions for the nominees!

1.  What's the last movie you watched?
2.  What's the next movie you plan to watch?
3.  What new movie release are you looking forward to?
4.  What TV show(s) have you seen every episode of at least once?
5.  Pirates or vampires?
6.  Do you own a camera?
7.  What's the last thing you did outside?
8.  How far do you live from where you were born?
9.  Have you ever ridden a horse?
10.  What ice cream flavor do you heartily dislike?
11.  What was the last thing you ate as a snack?

Play if you want to :-)