96 posts categorized "Classic movies"

16 March 2015

Joanie get your gun(s)

CrawfordPierce275r
Joan Crawford acting tough in "Mildred Pierce" (1945), in which she earned her only Best Actress Academy Award. (allaboardforskinkersswamp.wordpress.com)

Thanks to all the fine folks over at Highland Springs retirement community in North Dallas for inviting me back once again Sunday evening.

Since March is an important month for Texas history (The Alamo fell, Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted), activity director Barbara Blachly opted for the popular Lone Star Movie Stars presentation, which spotlights prominent actors from Texas.  Of course that includes Lucille Fay LeSueur, whom you may know better as legendary actress Joan Crawford.

We also spent a good deal of time talking about Dennis Quaid and Oscar winners Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones, just to name a few.  As usual, the Highland Springs crowd welcomed me warmly into their home and responded enthusiastically to the presentation.

Maybe it has something to do with baseball season about ready to throw out first pitches in a couple of weeks, but I especially enjoyed sharing the trailer for The Rookie, starring Quaid, the son of a Houston electrician who has done very well for himself since his relocation to Hollywood after attending the University of Houston.

Speaking of The Rookie, see if that young actor who played Quaid's son in 2002 looks familiar.  Can you name the TV sitcom he co-starred in later?

 

A fun-filled, unique opportunity for your group

Of course, Lone Star Movie Stars is just one of 26 Movie Memories presentations available.  Click this link to view all 26 presentations (with descriptions of each one) or take a look at a partial presentation list below.

Be a hero.  Get in on the fun for your corporate event, group gathering, special event or retirement community.  Call 214.364.7364 to book your Movie Memories event today.

Operators are standing (or sitting) by.

Flyer presentations464

 

 

 

 

 

09 March 2015

Rainy days and Mondays ...

Singing300l
Rainy days didn't seem to bother Gene Kelly much in the 1952 classic "Singin' in the Rain" (MGM)

Always get me down.

Well, isn't this a drippy start to spring break week?  At least it is in much of Texas.

So to cheer me -- and, perhaps, you -- up, I came across this montage of romantic scenes from movies that took place in the rain.

It's an exercise in Movie Memories.  See how many of the movie titles you can name. 

And remember what "Annie" said, "The sun'll come out ..."

Ah, shut up, "Annie."

02 March 2015

It's civic duty time

HarperLeecig350l
(Image courtesy: stuffwriterslike.com)

Things we forget.  Things we remember.

It's too bad we don't get to choose.

I still remember vividly, for instance, the only real fight I had as a kid.  The elementary school bully pushed me too far one day, and I snapped.  With a fury I had never experienced before, I got the best of him.  And when I let him go, got up and dusted myself off, I said, "If you want some more of me, I'll be around."

I haven't seen anyone spring to life as fast before or since.  Without going into gory details, let's just say the bully -- Mr. Bully, now -- found his second wind and knocked what little I had left out of me.

That said, I have a gut feeling we, as a society, may be sitting idly by and letting a potential injustice we can do something about snowball out of control.

You probably recall the startling news of about a month ago that Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, had another "novel" stashed away in a bank safety deposit box for six decades.

Now Ms. Lee, who reportedly resides in an assisted living facility, has suddenly altered her 60-year stance that Mockingbird was her one and only novel and is delighted that the new book will be published in July, if we can believe what others, but never the lady herself, have said.

This news still gnaws at me and refuses to move farther back in my memory bank.  That's why I used my Getting Reel column space in the March-April issue of The Senior Voice newspaper to voice my concern.

Please click here to read my column titled To Revive a Mockingbird? 

Things we forget.  Things we remember.

It's too bad we don't get to choose.

11 February 2015

Oh snap: I don't get 'West Side Story'

West350r
Watch out, the Jets are getting very angry. (United Artists)

Those who have questioned my comic ability over the years, including me, must at least admit I am in complete harmony in one area with George Carlin, the brilliant late comic uncanny in his ability to observe life.

When it comes to the classic Hollywood musical West Side Story, the 1961 musical that won 10 Academy Awards including best picture, Carlin didn't and I just don't get it.

What Carlin expressed in the past and what I feel right now is the notion of two bitter rival New York street gangs who hate each other so much that they ... they ... snap their fingers angrily at each other.

Oh the humanity!

Of course the lily white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks eventually get around to whipping out their switchblades in this crowd-pleasing rehash of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet yarn.  But after all the finger-snapping and high-jumping choreography, though, I share Carlin's take 100 percent:

"I'll cut you, man!  But first, let's dance!"

 

A lady at one of my Movie Memories presentations suggested recently that maybe West Side Story is a "chick flick" and guys just don't get it. 

WSSposter250That may be the case for some, but I really enjoyed plenty of potentially "chick flickish" musicals.  The Sound of Music comes to mind, and so does Oklahoma!  And my disdain for West Side Story has nothing to do with all the fighting and hatred.  

And I can prove it.  My two favorite musicals of all time are Cabaret (1972) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), a little ditty about a transsexual punk rocker tormented by the fact that a certain life-altering operation didn't quite work out as planned.

Sorry, but West Side Story, the movie many consider to be one of the best -- if not the greatest -- musicals of all time just doesn't cut it for me, if you'll excuse the pun. 

I wouldn't suggest that you think ill of me for weak puns like that, either, I might just snap my fingers at you with that killer look in my eyes.

Making Movie Memories in San Antonio

Thanks to activity director Mario Garcia and all the fine folks over at Madison Estates for inviting us to spread a little cinematic (almost) Valentine's Day cheer Tuesday evening.

We had a great turnout of folks who really got into our Hollywood's Great Romantic Scenes presentation, even to the point of snapping their fingers right along with the Jets and the Sharks during the West Side Story portion of the presentation.

I can't wait to return to Madison Estates on March 22 for our Savor Those Tunes -- Great Movie Music Movie Memories presentation.  It's one of my personal favorites.

Among many others, we'll be Puttin on the Ritz from Young Frankenstein in that one.

 

If you haven't already, call 214-364-7364 to book a Movie Memories presentation for your event, group or senior community.

28 January 2015

Ready for Buddy Holly live-ish?

Holly240I'm all for free enterprise, even when it comes to making a few bucks off dearly departed spouses to pay the rent and have a little left over for other essentials such as facelifts, body lowerings, tummy tucks, plastic breasts and, of course, lip-and-hip enhancement.

Heck, I hope when I'm gone my wife Suellen writes the book I've never had the guts to write (so far) about the bizarre path of a film critic trying to maintain his journalistic dignity while tip-toeing through the vague and veiled world of celebrity entertainment.

That said, I'm having more than a little trouble understanding why Maria Elena Holly, the Texas music icon's widow, has signed off on a virtual Buddy Holly stage tour set to kick off next year, according to a story in the Hollywood Reporter.

That's right, a hologram of Holly will likely sing -- sort of -- all the hits from Peggy Sue to That'll Be the Day.  Who knows?  In this age of social media and anything-goes-don't bother-to-check-your-sources reporting, a flickering image of Holly might just sell a ton of tickets.

According to the Hollywood Reporter article:

"Hologram USA is already working on the hologram-like performance of the rock and roll icon, as well as on a similar show around Liberace, which will debut in Las Vegas. Through  the partnership with Buddy Holly Licensing, the company has access to music and images of Holly. Interactive elements involving the audience and back up band members are also being created."

Surely, Holly's widow is fighting this sort of tales-from-the-crypt nonsense to sell tickets.  That's what you and me and any sane person who respects what the guy in glasses from West Texas accomplished in such a short time in the spotlight would think.  Right?

We would be wrong about that.

"I am so excited that my partnership with Hologram USA on the Buddy Holly concert project will allow a new generation of fans to experience the thrill of seeing Buddy ‘live’ and in concert for the first time in many decades," Maria Elena Holly told the Hollywood Reporter.

So sorry, Mrs. Holly, but no one is going to see your late, great -- let's just go ahead and say legendary -- husband again live or even, as you put it, 'live.'

The music genius from Lubbock died along with The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens in a tragic plane crash between Clear Lake, Iowa and Moorhead, Minn. almost exactly 56 years ago.  Holly was only 22 years old.

In American Pie, Don McLean's meandering 1971 folk-rock anthem with almost hypnotic lyrics, McLean referred to Feb. 3, 1959 as "the day the music died."

Hollystory230I suggest we celebrate Holly best by just listening to his almost unbelievable collection of hits.  And if you simply must see a semi-image of the man, seek out "The Buddy Holly Story," the 1978 biopic starring Gary Busey.

Yes, that Gary Busey; the human hologram who's pushing the Amazon Fire TV Stick in commercials and can't tell the difference between a Fire Stick and a seashell.  Busey was on fire as Holly, by the way.

I know an Elvis Presley hologram concert is in the works as well.  So why not go all the way?  Bring back The Possum, the late, great George Jones, who died in April 2013.  He could sing his signature hit, although it would have to be adjusted time wise.

You know, He Stopped Loving Her Almost Two Years Ago Today.

But Buddy Holly in a hologram concert?  Line up and enjoy yourself if you must.  A word of advice:  Don't bother waiting around for an autograph.

As for me, that'll be the day-ay-ay when I ... when I ... don't know.

I've got nothing.  Rave On, indeed.

 

06 January 2015

New Year, new opportunity for ... you

Piggybank275l
(Courtesy: www.thisismoney.co.uk)

Let's just say you're retired, semi-retired or, for some other reason, looking for a way to earn some income or added income in 2015.

Many members of the baby boomer generation tell me they're bored and looking for something fulfilling to do with their time.  Is that the case with you?  Why not generate some spending money or catch up on pesky bills during that spare time, especially when you never have to leave the comfort of your home to do it and there is no buy-in required?  It costs you nothing to begin the process and seize this opportunity.

Let's just say you enjoy speaking with people on the telephone or communicating through social media via the Internet and can spare 15 or 20 hours a week to join a fun-loving team to bring Movie Memories presentations to the public.

Let's just say, then, that you are a prime candidate to join the Movie Memories with Larry Ratliff team to set up Movie Memories speaking engagements.

LightbulbMoney260
(Courtesy: www.deregulatedelectricitynow.com)

Here's an idea that could very well pad your pocketbook, ease your boredom and give you a giggle or two along the way.  Movie Memories is looking to partner with select energetic, friendly people to make calls or send emails to senior residence facilities, clubs, organizations and corporations.  You'll be booking Movie Memories with Larry Ratliff speaking engagements primarily in your city, where you are most familiar, but perhaps all across Texas and beyond.

We're looking for a few key partners in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, San Antonio, Houston and the Austin area to spread the word about Larry Ratliff, the public speaker, veteran film critic and humorist who has already entertained thousands and is looking to bring his informative, entertaining message of Movie Memories to tens of thousands.

Let's just say you're not a big movie fan.  That is not a deal breaker.  If you can communicate a sales message to talent buyers, activity directors and decision-makers, we would like to speak to you.  And don't worry if you're not an experienced sales person.  We'll provide the know-how and leads to get you started.

Movie Memories offers a generous commission sales return on your time above the usual level.  And there are added incentives (bonuses and rapid-pay) we are excited to speak to you about.

Let's just say you'd like to start the new year off with an exciting project to restore a sense of accomplishment, or to earn some serious money, or just to have some fun and make new friends.  That's what the Movie Memories team offers.  Call 214-364-7364 to express your interest today.  Or send an email to lrratliff@verizon.net to reach Larry Ratliff.

That's lrratliff@verizon.net or 214-364-7364.  Only a few positions are available, so call today to join our team and launch a new opportunity for yourself.  We're ready when you are.

I'm just saying.

16 December 2014

Off the beaten Christmas movie path

Don't get me wrong.  Traditional Christmas movies like It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and others are a glorious way to celebrate the holidays.

Sometimes, though, when the mood is just right -- and in some cases delightfully just wrong -- it's fun to venture off the beaten path and enjoy some, shall we say, unconventional holiday ho-ho-hos. 

Here are some of my favorites to watch out for, either on TV movie channels, available to order at movie websites or perhaps waiting to be discovered and rescued from the bottom of those giant bins of DVDs at discount stores.

Traditional but not widely seen

HolidayInn275lYou're probably familiar with White Christmas (1954), starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as song and dance men who put on a show to save a Vermont inn.  Turn back the clock a dozen years to 1942 and there was Crosby also crooning White Christmas in Holiday Inn, opposite Marjorie Reynolds and teaming up with Fred Astaire.

I'm not saying Holiday Inn is the better film.  Let's just say it's a different take on a similar theme.  But wait, there's more.  Holiday Inn spans a little more than a year in the lives and loves of its major characters.  What other holiday movie serves up two Christmas seasons and an Easter parade?

Angels275rTo venture even farther off the usual holiday path, see if you can get your hands on a copy of We're No Angels, circa 1955.

Humphrey Bogart, shortly after his best actor Academy Award for his performance as the river boat vagabond in The African Queen, gives comedy a go as one of three Devil's Island escapees hiding out in the home of a kind elderly man and his family at Christmas.

Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray play Bogart's partners in crime and comedy.  When the going gets tough, let's just say a pet in a box helps solve the situation.

Wicked and wacky

Looking for something Christmas themed and silly?  We can do silly.  Let's begin with Home Alone (1990) and add progressively hilarious doses of wickedness from there.

HomeAlone250lMacaulay Culkin was 10-playing-8 when he got his first starring role as Kevin McCallister, the son left at home by mistake when all the other McCallisters hopped a jet for the holidays.  So much for no child left behind.

Two of my favorite character actors, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, portray the bungling burglars who are no match for young Kevin on his home turf.  Be sure and put on your silly hat when you press "play."  Everyone in the movie will already have theirs on.

Mixed Nuts is another offbeat holiday gem.  Featuring a dandy ensemble cast led by Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Rita Wilson and Adam Sandler, this 1994 comic-drama directed by Nora Ephron and written by the Ephron sisters (Nora and Delia) never quite caught on at the box office.

If you're looking for some great lines, though, you could do a lot worse than this outlandish story about the crazies running a crisis hotline during the holidays.

Once the kids or grandkids are asleep, pop Bad Santa into the DVR and hang on for dear life.

From this aisle seat, the 2003 caustic comedy about an alcoholic, womanizing ne'er-do-well who takes a job as a department store Santa with robbing the place blind in mind constitutes Billy Bob Thornton's finest performance since his Oscar-nominated turn in Sling Blade in 1996.

You might want to turn the lights down low to match the low-down comedy in this one.  That way, no one can know for sure whether or not you're laughing.

11 December 2014

The Movie Memories road show

It's been a busy, but joyful week for Movie Memories.  Two "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays:  Great Holiday Movies" presentations in the Dallas area have, hopefully, spread a little cinematic Christmas cheer to folks in North Dallas and Garland.

Santa_Clause280lIt was a pleasure speaking to receptive groups at The Forum at Park Lane on Tuesday evening (Dec. 9) and at Garland's Central Library on Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 10).  Both groups were receptive to the idea of revisiting some Christmas movie classics such as Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop's Wifeand White Christmas and having a little silly fun with more modern takes on the holiday season like The Family Stone and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Both audiences got a big kick out of revisiting The Santa Clause, the 1994 comedy starring Tim Allen as an everyday dad magically transformed into what you might call an extremely reluctant Santa Claus.

So thanks to Ellis Paddack, the Forum's director of healthy generations, and Gina Lombardi, librarian at Garland's Nicholson Memorial Library System, for making the "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" presentations possible, fun and even a little inspirational.

 

There's still time to book your holiday event

Santa
Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn in "Miracle on 34th Street." (20th Century Fox)
Whether it's a corporate Christmas party, a country club holiday gathering or a retirement community seasonal celebration, the "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation arrives bearing gifts of laughter, nostalgia and holiday joy.
 
In a presentation lasting a little over an hour, Larry combines Christmas classic movie clips with behind-the-scene Hollywood insight and tales of Christmases past sure to entertain your group and inspire and touch hearts along the way.
 
We'll begin by boarding The Polar Express, with stops along the way at everything from White Christmas to The Santa Clause.  Of course our final holiday stop simply must be ... Well, you just have to join us to find out.
 
Itsawonderfullife
James Stewart, Donna Reed and joyus family in "It's a Wonderful Life." (Courtesy: RKO Radio Pictures)
Or, maybe your group would prefer to go behind the scenes of one of the most beloved holiday films of all time, It's a Wonderful Life.

You’re probably aware that an angel gets his wings and grumpy old Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) tries to run everything in Bedford Falls.

But did you know that at least one film historian says Henry Fonda was considered for the role of reluctant small-town banker George Bailey?  Of course that became a signature role for James Stewart.

And just where is Bedford Falls?  Is it a real place?  There are lots of things to learn about film critic Larry Ratliff’s favorite holiday film of all time.

 
Call 214-364-7364 or email MovieMemories@verizon.net to book your one-of-a-kind  "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" or It's a Wonderful Life Movie Memories presentation.  We travel anywhere in Texas, especially the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, San Antonio, Austin and Houston, with special discounts for multiple corporate bookings.
 
Hurry, though, time is running out.  Call or email today to lock in prime holiday dates while they last.

10 November 2014

'Elsa & Fred': Tedious and clichéd

Elsa-fredposter225
(Millennium Entertainment)

No one has ever accused Hollywood filmmakers of capturing, or even attempting much reality in the fictional movie genre, especially when it comes to romance. 

However, just in case no one has bothered to say it before, screenplays about senior citizens dating, romancing and/or falling in love don't have to come across as mundane, tedious and over the top as it often does and definitely does in Elsa & Fred, the new so-called romantic-comedy pairing elder movie stars Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer.

What went so wrong in Michael Radford's attempt to remake the Spanish-Argentinian film of the same title that was much better, by the way, in 2005?

Click this link to my full movie review and find out.

A new Santa clause:  Time to book Movie Memories

Santa
Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn in "Miracle on 34th Street." (20th Century Fox)
Whether it's a corporate Christmas party, a country club holiday gathering or a retirement community seasonal celebration, the "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation arrives bearing gifts of laughter, nostalgia and holiday joy.
 
In a presentation lasting a little over an hour, Larry combines Christmas classic movie clips with behind-the-scene Hollywood insight and tales of Christmases past sure to entertain your group and inspire and touch hearts along the way.
 
We'll begin by boarding The Polar Express, with stops along the way at everything from White Christmas to The Santa Clause.  Of course our final holiday stop simply must be ... Well, you just have to join us to find out.
 
Itsawonderfullife
James Stewart, Donna Reed and joyus family in "It's a Wonderful Life." (Courtesy: RKO Radio Pictures)
Or, maybe your group would prefer to go behind the scenes of one of the most beloved holiday films of all time, It's a Wonderful Life.

You’re probably aware that an angel gets his wings and grumpy old Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) tries to run everything in Bedford Falls.

But did you know that at least one film historian says Henry Fonda was considered for the role of reluctant small-town banker George Bailey?  Of course that became a signature role for James Stewart.

And just where is Bedford Falls?  Is it a real place?  There are lots of things to learn about film critic Larry Ratliff’s favorite holiday film of all time.

 
Call 214-364-7364 or email MovieMemories@verizon.net to book your one-of-a-kind  "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" or It's a Wonderful Life Movie Memories presentation.  We travel anywhere in Texas, especially the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, San Antonio, Austin and Houston, with special discounts for multiple corporate bookings.
 
Hurry, though.  Call or email today to lock in prime holiday dates before they're all taken.

14 October 2014

Let Movie Memories provide your group's happy-ho-ho-holiday cheer

Santa
Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn in "Miracle on 34th Street." (20th Century Fox)
Whether it's a corporate Christmas party, a country club holiday gathering or a retirement community seasonal celebration, the "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation arrives bearing gifts of laughter, nostalgia and holiday joy.
 
In a presentation lasting a little over an hour, Larry combines Christmas classic movie clips with behind-the-scene Hollywood insight and tales of Christmases past sure to entertain your group and inspire and touch hearts along the way.
 
We'll begin by boarding The Polar Express, with stops along the way at everything from White Christmas to The Santa Clause.  Of course our final holiday stop simply must be ... Well, you just have to join us to find out.
 
Itsawonderfullife
James Stewart, Donna Reed and joyus family in "It's a Wonderful Life." (Courtesy: RKO Radio Pictures)
Or, maybe your group would prefer to go behind the scenes of one of the most beloved holiday films of all time, It's a Wonderful Life.

You’re probably aware that an angel gets his wings and grumpy old Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) tries to run everything in Bedford Falls.

But did you know that at least one film historian says Henry Fonda was considered for the role of reluctant small-town banker George Bailey?  Of course that became a signature role for James Stewart.

And just where is Bedford Falls?  Is it a real place?  There are lots of things to learn about film critic Larry Ratliff’s favorite holiday film of all time.

 
Call 214-364-7364 or email MovieMemories@verizon.net to book your one-of-a-kind  "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" or It's a Wonderful Life Movie Memories presentation.  We travel anywhere in Texas, especially the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, San Antonio, Austin and Houston, with special discounts for multiple corporate bookings.
 
Hurry, though.  Call or email today to lock in prime holiday dates before they're all taken.
 
 

Great acting alone can't save 'The Judge'

Judgeposter250Naturally, one would think that a courtroom drama that features a volatile standoff between an ornery father and town judge suddenly forced into the defendant's chair and an equally stubborn attorney who happens to be the judge's estranged son would result in something quite intriguing on screen.

One would especially think that when the two leading men are excellent dramatic actors Robert Duvall, an Oscar winner, and Robert Downey Jr., a two-time Oscar nominee.

Well, one would be wrong.

The Judge, despite superb acting by Downey and Duvall, the two Roberts, if you will, has more potholes than the small Indiana town main street it plays out on after a heavy rain.

What could possibly be so wrong?

Click here for my full review of The Judge and find out.