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“Baltimore industrialist Wendell Armbruster crosses paths with London shop girl Pamela Piggott when they come to Ischia to pick up the bodies of her mother and his father, who have been killed in an automobile accident after a ten-year summertime affair. Straitlaced Wendell tries to avoid a scandal while free-spirited Pamela is impressed by the romantic setting. After some confusion with the bodies and a blackmail attempt by unscrupulous locals, Wendell and Pamela extend their parent’s affair into the next generation.” via IMDB

Before this week, I had never even heard of this movie, called Avanti! (circa 1972). I know of actor Jack Lemmon; I’ve seen a few of his older movies & TV shows in the past (eg. The Odd Couple with fellow actor Walter Mathau). I know little of actress Juliet Mills. If I hadn’t “Google searched” her name, I would not have immediately recognized her. I only remember her from her days on a long-ago cancelled daytime American TV soap opera, & as the wife of fellow actor Maxwell Caulfield (whom I only recognize from the movies Grease 2 & Empire Records). I just happened to stumble upon this movie one evening while I was channel surfing on my bedroom TV. I often enjoy watching the classic movie channels, & sometimes I’ll uncover a real winner…like this one.

In just this one week alone, I’ve already watched this movie THREE TIMES. Yes, I understand that I sound like a crazy person, but I really, truly enjoyed this movie, & found it to be quite romantic even though some may argue that this movie glorifies & beautifies the act of openly & freely committing adultery. I choose to look past the sordid details of adultery & focus on the budding romance between the two main characters Wendell Armbruster Jr. Pamela Piggott. I can’t quite understand how a man, back in those days, could go on vacation to Italy for one moth every year for ten years without his family, & it doesn’t raise any red flags. I get that in the movie, it was mentioned that the main male character’s father had health issues & was visiting the Italian hotel to relax & relieve his ailments. However, staying in Italy for ONE MONTH, alone? If I were the wife of Mr. Armbruster Sr., I’d tell him to take the kids with him. I need a vacation too. [laughs]

There were definite parts of the movie that I enjoyed the most. I really liked how, through the course of the movie, Jack Lemmon’s character Wendell Jr. has a change of attitude & a change of heart toward’s Juliet Mills’ character Pamela. Jack’s character is at first cold, surly & impatient.

“Look, Miss. On a train, or on a boat, there’s nothing I can do about it. But when you come barging into my room…” – Wendell Armbruster Jr.

“I thought maybe tonight we’d do something different…our thing.” – Wendell Armbruster Jr.

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However, Juliet’s free-spirited & happy-go-lucky character slowly thaws his icy heart & slows his quick-tempered pace. Eventually, the two main characters grow to enjoy each other’s company & build a relationship without immediately realizing it. My most favorite scene(s) of the movie has to do with Juliet’s character Pamela Piggott. I absolutely LOVE that Pamela shows a little vulnerability & sensitivity toward her not-so-slim figure (a.k.a. her weight), yet she is able to keep a sense of humor about it all. Through the course of the movie, Pamela becomes increasingly confident about her voluptuousness. I wish I could be as confident about my body as Pamela is about her own body.

“I’ve been called plump. I’ve been called pudgy. I’ve been called chubby. But I’ve never been called fat…ass.” – Pamela Piggott

“Mrs. Armbruster, just to put your  mind at rest, you needn’t be worried one bit, because if you saw me, I’m short, I’m fat, & I’m not very attractive. OK?” – Pamela Piggott

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Besides the two main characters, there are a few other colorful characters worth mentioning…such as:
1. Carlo Carlucci, the charming, witty & quick-thinking hotel manager
2. Bruno, the cheeky valet with a penchant for taking raunchy photographs
3. Anna, the mustachioed housekeeper with a trigger finger & an unrequited passion for Bruno (Throughout the movie, I thought this character was played by an effeminate man, only to discover that she really was a woman…Oops!)

This movie starts off rather cold, with Wendell Jr. desperately trying to keep Pamela quiet about their parents’ love affair. Wendell sees the affair as a sordid black mark on his well-respected & high-profile father’s life, while Pamela only sees the pure & genuine love the two shared between each other. After spending a night of reliving their parents’ past, the two warm up to each other & start to really see things the way their parents saw things when they were together at the hotel. One of my favorite lines from this particular part of the movie comes after the pair decide to take a morning swim in their birthday suits (& a pair of black socks…because some people are in mourning.)

“Well here we are…basking like two baby seals…” – Wendell Armbruster Jr.

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The hotel is very beautiful, & I wish it were a real place that I could visit. All of the rooms seem quite luxurious, & I would love to have a cocktail (or two) at the bar & enjoy a meal of Duck à L’Orange with a side of pasta (perhaps green, for color).

And now, we come to the end of the movie. It’s time for Wendell to wrap up business in Italy. After all, he was there to claim his deceased father’s corpse & rush to a hasty funeral, not to fall in love with his father’s mistress’ daughter. The whole time in Italy, Wendell is cursing his father for having a ten-year secret love affair. All the while, Pamela is just happy that her mother was happily in love (whether her mother’s lover was married or not did not phase her at all). My final favorite scene in the movie was when Wendell asks Pamela about her mother. He asks her, in a roundabout way, if she was a kept woman. Pamela assures him that her mother was not receiving gifts from his father. Her mother was a working woman who paid her own way in life. Her mother never wanted money or gifts from Wendell’s wealthy father. She only wanted his love.

“I told you the first day, she loved him. She didn’t want any tips.” – Pamela Piggott

Isn’t it rather romantic (& a lot of Hollywood movie magic) that the son & daughter of the two former lovers end up falling in love with each other, & carry on the romance their parents once held at that very same hotel? Of course a storyline like that only happens on extremely rare occasions & in flashy Hollywood movie scripts. However, I quite enjoyed the storyline all the same. I guess you could say that I am in love with LOVE. I am a sucker for a sappy good romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, & believe it or not…most likely you will…I was watching this movie yet again, simultaneously while writing this blog post…and NO. I am not going to watch this movie after I finish this post. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

“I’m Glad There Is You” by Oscar Peterson

Im Glad There Is You

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In the 1960s with the Cold War in play, CIA agent Napoleon Solo successfully helps Gaby Teller defect to West Germany despite the intimidating opposition of KGB agent Illya Kuryakin. Later, all three unexpectedly find themselves working together in a joint mission to stop a private criminal organization from using Gaby’s father’s scientific expertise to construct their own nuclear bomb. Through clinched teeth and stylish poise, all three must find a way to cooperate for the sake of world peace, even as they each pursue their own agendas.

via: IMDB

I recently saw the film The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. This was one of the films in more recent years that has truly piqued my interest. I’ve been finding movies within this decade are so uninteresting and boring. Nothing has been grabbing my attention or even getting me remotely excited, until this movie came along. Upon the first time viewing the trailer for this movie, while I was in the theater watching Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, I was instantly hooked. Oh, yeah. I fell in love with this movie straight away.

This movie really caught my attention right from the start because it reminded me of all of my favorite classic/vintage/retro films from the 1960s. I absolutely adore films from the 60s…more so than the films of my generation or even in the current decade. This movie had a bit of James Bond, mixed with a little bit of The Italian Job, mixed with a dash of Charade, mixed with a small helping of The Avengers (TV show), mixed with a dose of To Catch A Thief.

There was plenty of espionage, sexiness, comedy, secret identities, evil-doing, just-in-the-nick-of-time moments, car chases, gun fights, explosions, & the hero(es) saving the damsel (sort of) in distress.

The incredibly soulful, Motown-esque music soundtrack really set a great vibe throughout the film, & it really got me tapping my feet (quietly) & bobbing my head the entire time. I’m debating if I should just pull the trigger (no pun intended) & purchase the deluxe soundtrack on iTunes.

Man, oh man, I sure did love all the eye candy that were the costumes & accessories used in the movie (especially the sunglasses & smart dresses with matching coats)! I love fashion from the 1960s, & this movie showcased all the best 60s retro couture & accessories. I often wish I had lived in the 1960s, so that I could walk the streets wearing the colorful, chic clothes of that era.

After all that whiz, pop, pow, & bang, what could possibly be the icing on the cake? How about a slow burning romance between two very hot characters? There’s sexual tension AND chemistry afoot, & it sizzles just beneath the surface between the hardened yet soft (on the inside) KGB agent played by Armie Hammer & the sexy yet strong decoy/bait played by Alicia Vikander. Oh, how I wish the two of them would just get the kissing scene over with & just do it already! I was & still am dying to see the pair steal a sweet kiss. Armie Hammer’s character Illya Kuryakin was one of my favorite characters from the film. This particular character reminded me of my favorite fictional character from one of my all-time favorite books. The character from the book I mentioned was also Russian (from Siberia) & also had a hardened personality that was softened by the touch (& love) of a strong female lead character. Because of that, I strongly gravitated towards Armie Hammer’s character Illya. I also enjoyed Alicia Vikander’s character Gaby Teller. She’s strong, sexy, sweet, funny, cute, innocent, & above all…a classy lady with a killer fashion sense that I wish I had. Sometimes I dream of being like her with a lover of my own just like Illya Kuryakin. Hahaha!

Overall, I truly enjoyed the storyline of this film. I often tend to gravitate towards spy & action movies, & this film fit the bill all around! I loved the acting by all of the actors, the espionage, the car chases, the scenery backdrops, as well as the 1960s setting. It almost makes me wish I were a secret agent myself. Almost. Until then, I shall wait for the DVD to be released, so I can watch this movie again. Cheers!

* All photo credits belong to IMDB and Google Images.

Today’s song of the day:
“Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & His Playboy Band
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Spring, 1958. 21-year-old Rose Pamphyle lives with her grouchy widower father who runs the village store. Engaged to the son of the local mechanic, she seems destined for the quiet, drudgery-filled life of a housewife. But that’s not the life Rose longs for. When she travels to Lisieux in Normandy, where charismatic insurance agency boss Louis Echard is advertising for a secretary, the ensuing interview is a disaster. But Rose reveals a special gift – she can type at extraordinary speed. Unwittingly, the young woman awakens the dormant sports fan in Louis. If she wants the job she’ll have to compete in a speed typing competition. Whatever sacrifices Rose must make to reach the top, Louis declares himself her trainer. He’ll turn her into the fastest girl not only in the country, but in the world! But a love of sport doesn’t always mix well with love itself …

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It’s very rare for me to fall head over heels in love with a movie. There just aren’t many movies that capture my interest. Most movies that I enjoy watching are ones that most others find boring, not relevant to mainstream pop culture, or just plain uninteresting. I recently decided to crack open my dusty Netflix account & see what’s new. I found this movie called POPULAIRE. Well, this movie isn’t exactly new (it was released in 2012), but it was new on my Netflix menu list so I decided to watch it.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a romantic of any degree, but I do enjoy watching a romantic movie or read a romantic novel every now & again. When a romantic movie is good, I can watch it multiple times without getting sick of it. Such is the case for this movie. I am so in love with this movie Populaire, so much so that the scenes have been on loop in my mind from the time I finished watching the movie until now. I am even thinking about the scenes of this movie as I type this blog post. I just absolutely adore this movie!! Everything about this movie just oozes cuteness, sweetness & charm. My mind is swimming with so much to say about this movie, but I can’t seem to get all my thoughts into coherent sentences.

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Let me start with the movie plot. It’s an incredibly adorable movie premise. A naïve & clumsy young woman leaves her small town to travel to a bigger city in order to follow her dreams. She encounters a handsome gentleman with a highly masculine personality & unbeknownst to both characters, sparks begin to fly. Next, cue the awkward road of events that leads to them separating, only to find out they love each other in the end. Finally, a happy ending occurs & all is right with the world. I genuinely & thoroughly enjoyed this movie plot. It was very sweet, fun & quite romantic (I actually swooned). I’m a bit of a sucker for lighthearted movies such as this one.

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Also, I have a small confession to make. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of having a secretarial type job…just like the character Rose Pamphyle does in this movie. (It was either that, or becoming a radio station DJ.) I’ve always liked using a typewriter, & even my very first experience on learning how to type was on a typewriter! Although, I kind of cheated by using an electric Xerox brand typewriter. At least Rose got to learn using a traditional typewriter…& lots of determination.

The next thing I loved about the movie, other than the fact that the time period was set in the late 1950s, which is one of my favorite eras in history, were the costumes the women in the movie wore as well as the hair & makeup. I’ve always professed that I’m not a huge fan of fashion, makeup, or getting dolled up in general. However, I just admire the fashion & the hairstyles of the 1950s & 60s eras. I was highly envious of Déborah-François’s character Rose Pamphyle in this movie. She always had a fresh looking face with just a hint of makeup in blush pink colors, & an artfully done hairstyle. I quite envied Rose’s fashion in this movie as well. I loved all of the dresses she wore in each of the scenes. The male characters in this movie were also very well dressed, including Rose’s father who lives in a small French town.

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HAIRSTYLE

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Next, this movie was set in various cities around France. I’ve always imagined France to be a place where romance blooms all around you. This movie really romanticized France for me, especially the backdrop of a late 1950s France with swanky automobiles & classy ladies dressed primly. Oh how I’ve always wanted to visit France, especially Paris. I most especially loved the part of the movie when RoseLouis are in Paris for the National Speed Typing Championships. Rose chooses to get dolled up for the event, & that’s when Louis finally sees her as a sexy, attractive woman. Of course Le Sexy Time ensues, & that scene was both tender & hot all at the same time. That was when I truly believed that Rose Louis were meant to be together. But then Louis has to screw things up by becoming insecure & telling Rose that she should move on from her measly little job in her measly little town now that she’s become the country’s new media darling. Then Rose actually moves up to a larger company, only to realize that she was perfectly happy where she was from the beginning. Obviously love conquers in the end & the two main characters end up falling into each others arms at the International Speed Typing Championships, & Rose Pamphyle has become my all-time favorite female movie character. Cheers!

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DISCLAIMER: All image & GIF credits belong to JAIR SFEZ – © 2013 The Weinstein Company, Tumblr & Google Images.

Today’s song of the day:
“Le temps de l’amour” by Françoise Hardy
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An impromptu fashion shoot at a bookstore brings about a new fashion model discovery in the shop clerk.

Tonight I revisited an old but favorite movie on Netflix, a very, very classic (& iconic, if you ask me) film from 1957: Funny Face. Starring Audrey Hepburn & Fred Astaire as the main love interests, as well as co-starring Kay Thompson. The storyline sets around a naive bookstore shop girl who inadvertently gets mixed up in a high fashion photoshoot for a prestigious fashion magazine. She is immediately discovered by the lead photographer who sets in motion her future career as a model for that very magazine. A trip to Paris for an exclusive photoshoot & fashion show fans the flames of love between the two lead characters, with a few relationship hiccups along the way. But in the end, as always, everything turns out S’wonderful!

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. It is most certainly on my Top 5 list of favorites. It’s also one of my most favorite Audrey Hepburn starring movies (my first favorite being How To Steal A Million, not Breakfast at Tiffany’s as one would think as the obvious answer.) I just absolutely adore Audrey Hepburn; I practically idolize her. I am also a big fan of Fred Astaire as well (I would choose his dancing skills over Gene Kelly any day.) Every time I watch this movie, it makes me smile & swoon all over again. I will never get sick of watching Funny Face. This movie packs all of the greats: actors, plot line, acting, humor, singing, dancing, drama, iconic fashion, &…ROMANCE. What more could you ask for???

I adore Audrey’s innocence she portrays in her character Jo Stockton. She’s both naive & strong at the same time; her heart is filled with pure passion & love. I love all of the characters Audrey plays in her movies. They are always so adventurous & end up falling madly in love with the handsome rake who has swooped in to steal her heart in a flourish. I also love Fred’s character Dick Avery in this movie as well. He’s always looking out for Audrey’s character & protecting her, guiding her to find her shining light as a model. Dick is able to crack Jo’s tough exterior & help turn an awkward duck into a graceful swan. I also like Kay Thompson’s character Maggie Prescott. She’s the head of a leading fashion magazine in the 1950s (among many headstrong men of those days, I assume). She really eludes power & influence with style & flair. Kay’s character reminds me of a softer version of Ms. Anna Wintour.

These are my favorite scenes from the movie. All photo credits belong to Paramount Pictures.

The iconic red dress down the staircase shoot

Take the picture, take the picture! – Jo Stockton

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The “Bonjour Paris” song & dance

Livin’ is easy. Livin’ is high. All good Americans should come here to die. – Dick Avery

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The wedding photoshoot & dance number

Darling, he loves & she loves & they love. So why don’t you love me, as I love you. – Dick Avery

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I’d definitely recommend watching this movie. It’s 1 hours and 43 minutes of pure bliss. Hollywood sure doesn’t make movies like this anymore. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:
“S’wonderful” by Fred Astaire
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