Observations

One Set, Two Movies: Holiday Inn (1942) and White Christmas (1954)

Holiday Inn White Christmas

The movies Holiday Inn (1942) and White Christmas (1954) have much in common. Both movies are regarded as Christmas classics, with Bing Crosby starring in each movie. And both movies feature songs by Irving Berlin, most notably the song “White Christmas.” But according to IMDB, the movies have even more in common than that. According to IMDB, the set for General Waverly’s inn in White Christmas was a remodeled version of the set used for the inn in Holiday Inn. So I took a close look at both sets to see how they compared.

When I set out to write this post, I was hoping to have a longer list of similarities to point out. But upon close inspection, it became clear the Holiday Inn set was indeed remodeled for White Christmas, and quite extensively at that. The two inns have very different layouts and several elements seen in White Christmas, such as the dining/floor show area and indoor fire pitwere not part of the original Holiday Inn set.

White Christmas Roasting Hot DogsWhite Christmas Performance Area

One thing the sets have in common is they both have entrances right by the main stairway. However, the two entry areas are so different I’m not sure how much, if any, of it was part of the original Holiday Inn set. The only thing the two entrances have in common is they both have similar windows. The floors are different, the staircases are very different, and the front desk area was added for White Christmas.

Holiday Inn Entrance 1 Holiday Inn Entrance 2 White Christmas Entrance 1 White Christmas Entrance 2

The fact that the two inns have similarly shaped windows is one of the biggest similarities between the two sets. However, even those aren’t exactly the same between the two movies.

Holiday Inn WindowsWhite Christmas Windows

Despite there being so many differences between the two sets, there is one area that is unmistakably part of the original Holiday Inn set. These three distinctive windows, which were originally seen by the piano where Bing Crosby first sang “White Christmas” in Holiday Inn, are also briefly seen in White Christmas during the party scene when Judy and Phil announce their engagement. The rest of the area had been pretty drastically changed for White Christmas. As you can see, the door was removed, as was the fireplace, and an entryway to another room was created. Those windows, however, look almost exactly as the same in White Christmas as they did in Holiday Inn. The only difference I can see is there was some moulding around them in Holiday Inn which was removed for White Christmas.

Holiday Inn Windows White Christmas Party Scene

 

Ten Little Things I Love in Some Like it Hot

Some Like it Hot Sweet SueJoan Shawlee’s facial expressions.

Some Like it Hot Jack Lemmon Backwards BassWhen Jerry/Daphne accidentally tries playing the bullet-ridden bass backwards.

Some Like it Hot - Millionaires RockingMillionaires in rocking chairs, rocking in unison.

Some Like it Hot Osgood MonogramOsgood’s jacket with the sparkly monogram.

Some Like it Hot Jack Lemmon Whole PersonalityThe face Daphne/Jerry makes when Josephine/Joe tells him to give Osgood “the whole personality.”

Some Like it Hot Tony Curtis EarringsThe way Joe’s earrings move as he rides the bike to take Sugar to Osgood’s yacht.

Some Like it Hot Jack Lemmon MaracasJack Lemmon’s way with maracas.

Some Like it Hot Banquet HallThe way Joe and Jerry go sliding across the banquet hall because they’re running around in high heels.

Some Like it Hot Tony CurtisThe look on Joe’s face as he watches Sugar sing “I’m Through With Love.”

Some Like it Hot Nobody's PerfectThe way Jerry reacts to the infamous final line, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Fashion in Film: Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever PosterWe’re already just two weeks away from the second (not quite annual) Fashion in Film Blogathon! If you would like to join in, just let me know. There’s still plenty of time to think of a topic if you haven’t already decided!

I thought it would be fun to start the festivities a little early by taking a look at one of the most stylish films ever made: Saturday Night Fever.

I think it goes without saying that Saturday Night Fever is one of the most iconic films to come out of the 1970s.  The opening credit sequence of Tony strutting through the streets of Brooklyn is one of the most famous opening credit sequences of all time.  You can’t talk about disco without talking about the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.  And when it comes to 1970s fashion, the first thing many people think of is the image of John Travolta in that white suit.

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What do “Bullets or Ballots” and “Footlight Parade” Have in Common?

1.  Both movies were made at Warner Brothers.

2.  Joan Blondell stars in both movies.

3.  Bullets or Ballots was directed by William Keighley, who is credited as being a dialogue director for Footlight Parade.

William Keighley with Bette Davis and James Cagney.

4.  A few costumes.  If you look closely at some of the showgirls’ costumes during Joan Blondell’s first scene in Bullets or Ballots, some of them might look familiar from the “By a Waterfall” number in Footlight Parade.

As seen in Footlight Parade (1933)

As seen in Bullets or Ballots (1936)

Little Moments I Love: Hedda Hopper’s Look of Pity

Sunset Boulevard is chock full of memorable moments.  But one moment that has always stood out to me isn’t one of the obvious ones.  As Norma Desmond is making her infamous trip down the stairs, there is a brief shot of Hedda Hopper watching with a look of absolute pity.  I’m obsessed with that little shot.  It’s always made me wonder if there possibly could have been some kind of back story between Norma and Hedda.  As a gossip columnist, Hedda was known for being pretty ruthless.  Her column earned her a swift kick in the rear from Spencer Tracy and Joan Fontaine once sent her a skunk as a Valentine’s Day gift.  So such a pitiful reaction from Hedda seems a little unusual unless there was some kind of history there.  Before becoming a gossip columnist, Hedda was an actress and worked during the time that Norma would have been at the height of her career.  Perhaps they could have been in some movies together or had been friends during that time.  Or maybe she just thought that Norma Desmond’s story was too tragic to revel in the way everybody else was.  Either way, I’ve gotta hand it to Hedda for making the most out of her cameo appearance.

Baby Jane’s Empty Frame

Whenever I go to a screening of a movie, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, I leave with a new level of appreciation for that movie. I don’t know if it’s from watching it in a distraction-free environment or because I’m watching it on such a big screen, but I always notice a lot of things I don’t see when I watch it at home. They’re not usually major things, typically some small detail like a gesture or an expression. This weekend, I went to a screening of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and it was no exception to that rule. In this case, it wasn’t a gesture or an expression, but set decor.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is one of my favorite movies, I’ve seen it plenty of times before. So I was sitting there in the theater watching the movie and it got to the part where Edwin comes over to meet Jane to discuss the job she wants to hire him for. In the background of the living room, I noticed that there were some framed old pictures of Jane (really old stills of Bette Davis). Nothing really noteworthy there, but what really got my attention was an empty picture frame mixed in with the old pictures.  (It’s definitely not a mirror, there’s never any reflection in it.)

It’s like that frame at one time held a picture of Blanche, but Jane had gotten rid of it.  Not only does it look like she took the picture out, it looks like she ripped it out and the corner got stuck in the frame.  This is a really small detail that I just love because it is so believable that Jane Hudson would do that. George Sawley, the movie’s set decorator, could have very easily had the room full of just Jane’s old pictures and it would have been perfectly fine.  But having that empty frame there is so brilliantly consistent with her character.   Actually, let’s take a closer look at that picture frame:

See how the frame is just a little bit bigger and appears to be more ornate than the rest of the frames around it?  It’s like the bigger star of the two sisters would have gotten to be in the fanciest frame on the mantle.  It gives the impression that A:  Jane was never able to be live up to live up to her sister’s success and B: it represents what Jane’s life has been like since her movie career failed — empty and surrounded by her former glory.

It’s amazing how much an empty picture frame can say.  Excellent touch by George Sawley!