This is my fourth post for the Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge 2016.

Gill Paul’s Hollywood Love Stories is an easy read. If you like Hollywood gossip and enjoy the bittersweet drama that is behind every(?) glamorous show business love story then this is your book. Short accounts of beloved couples’ lives and loves with lots of pictures. Some film history tidbits as well. This book definitely inspires to read more about these stars and their lives. However, I have one question to the author: Why, oh why, didn’t you include one of the most legendary Hollywood love affairs in the book ? Naturally, I’m referring to Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. Their marriage lasted for 50 years and was by all accounts a happy one. Their love story is only mentioned in a footnote…

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This is my third post for the Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge 2016.

I really wanted to like The Group (Finnish translation Ryhmä). It’s a story of eight young women who graduate from Vassar in 1933. It is the time of the Great Depression but these women are not really the ones to suffer because of it. They have time to worry about other things such as extramarital sex, birth control, miscarriages, cheating husbands, violent dates, sexism in the work place, mental health issues and lesbianism. Controversial subjects in the 1930s and also in 1963 when the book was published. These days not so much. I am sad to say but I found both the book and the film (directed by Sidney Lumet in 1966) tedious and dated. I didn’t care for any of the characters and I didn’t understand why they were friends in the first place. Also, eight main characters is just too much. Trying to get to know all of them is difficult. The movie is 150 minutes long and in desperate need of editing. The cast is pretty great with Candice Bergen, Shirley Knight and Richard Mulligan to name a few. And kudos to the costume department, the look and style are impeccable. Apparently The Group was an inspiration to Candace Bushnell when she wrote Sex and the City. However, SATC hasn’t yet lost its attraction unlike The Group.

 

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Cover of Ryhmä 

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DVD Cover

 

This is my second post for the Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge 2016.

Åke Lindman (1928-2009) was a Swedo-Finnish actor, director and football player. He started his film career in Teuvo Tulio’s The Rapid’s of Hell (1949) as the evil Artturi Yli-Koskela. After that he was often cast as a villain in Finnish movies. His days as the regular movie villain were done when one evening in 1955 he was walking down the street he passed two teenage girls who were completely frightened and disgusted to see him and cried out “Ew, it’s Åke Lindman!” After that he didn’t take any villain roles 😀

In real life Lindman was a respected and well-liked man and pretty much a national treasure because of his contribution to Finnish film industry. Lindman’s memoir Åke ja hänen maailmansa (published in 1992) is an easy and fast read. Lindman recounts many meaningful and funny chapters in his life with humor and candor. You can almost hear his voice while reading. There are about thirty black and whites photos included in the book which I appreciate. A memoir without any pictures would be incomplete.

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Lindman worked in many Hollywood productions as a liaison. He looked for filming locations in Finland and arranged accommodation and permits and anything that was needed. He worked with Warren Beatty (Reds, 1981), Ken Russell, Michael Caine (Billion Dollar Brain, 1969) and John Huston (The Kremlin Letter, 1970). Lindman has nothing but nice things to say about these stars even though beforehand he was warned that Hollywood stars would be difficult  to work with. I never realized that Lindman was also cast in Jerry Lewis’ infamous film The Day the Clown Cried (which no one has seen to this day). Lindman found Lewis to be a very pleasant man but a fickle director.

Åke Lindman made films his whole life. His last film was released in 2007. He died two years after that. Since his memoir was published already in 1992 I might have to read a more recent biography Åke ja minä (2015).

 

See photos of Lindman here.


Trailer of The Rapid’s of Hell (Swedish version)

 

This is my first post for the Classic Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge 2016.

Christa Wolf, one of East Germany’s most recognized authors, made her breakthrough with Divided Heaven (Der geteilte Himmel; Jaettu taivas) in 1963. It was filmed the next year by Konrad Wolf. It’s a love story with social criticism. Rita is a young and innocent girl living in the countryside, Manfred is a highly educated chemist. They fall in love at a dance and everything seems to be just perfect when Manfred takes Rita to the city and they set up house (sort of) at Manfred’s parents’ house. For a while it seems that the couple could live happily ever after in the privacy of their loft room. Before Rita starts her studies to be a teacher, she takes a summer job at a rail car factory. There she befriends some co-workers and gets a glimpse of the system. The system here meaning of course the socialist society and machinery.

Manfred also confronts the system and is disappointed when he’s efforts in chemistry are not recognized. So he decides to defect to West Berlin. Rita follows Manfred and is surprised how easy it is to cross the border. (The story takes place just before the Berlin Wall is built). But Rita will not stay, she describes it like “being worse than a foreign land because everybody speaks a language you understand”. For Manfred, West Berlin is a dream come true: “Don’t you agree the West is at our feet right now?”

So it is not the Berlin Wall that separates these two. It’s their ideals. Manfred finds East Germany stifling and still very much haunted by the trauma of war. In West Berlin he has a chance to work and pursue a career.For Rita, East Germany is all she knows. She sees the problems with socialist society but also sees the good things in her life and home. She has friends who are incorruptible (like her co-worker Mr. Meternagel), who really believe in doing the right thing and serving his country.

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Divided Heaven was probably the first East German novel I’ve ever read. Even though, I’ve had Christa Wolf on my TBR list for ages. I don’t know if I’m that impressed. Wolf’s style is a bit plain. I do still think that it was worth reading just to get some insight into the life of East Germany in the sixties. The film was more to my liking, more stylized and still relevant.

Summer is here and so is Classic Film Book challenge! This summer I will try once again read Mai Zetterling’s memoirs. And maybe Åke Lindman’s biography. And Christa Wolf’s novel Divided Heaven. We’ll see if I finish six books within the time limit. The challenge runs until September 15th.

Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge

Hollywood Cats – Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation combines two of my favourite things: old films and cats. There’s a short introduction by Gareth Abbott but it is a photo-book (coffee table book) filled with black and white photographs of film stars and cats. There are photos of stars and their pets as well as movie stills with cat actors, mostly domestic cats but also some bigger cats. My all-time favourite cat on the big screen is DC from That Darn Cat! (1965). Naturally, a photo of Hayley Mills, Dean Jones and one of the cats who played DC is included in the book. James Mason, Kim Novak, Elizabeth Taylor and Vivien Leigh are just some of the famous cat lovers whose photos are also included. This book is a perfect gift to someone with an interest in films and cats. Actually, I got it as a Christmas gift and I loved it.

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Swedish actress Birgit Tengroth was also a writer. Her first book, a short story collection called “Thirst” (Törst in Swedish, Jano in Finnish), was published in 1948 and it caused a stir because of it’s frank references to sex, adultery, abortion, homosexuality and marriage problems from a woman’s perspective. For a contemporary reader this isn’t shocking but some seventy years ago women weren’t expected to write about these things. Ingmar Bergman adapted Thirst in to a film that is quite loyal to the original work. Actually the book is perfect material for a Bergman film with larger than life themes, troubled people and serious dialogue. The book is apparently somewhat autobiographical and the author herself actually plays one of the roles in the film. Thirst is not dated as it reveals the double standard that still exists at least to some extent. It’s an intense read but definitely worthwhile. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an English version of the book available.

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