Counteracting prejudice with movies

I saw this tweet late this afternoon and read the little article behind it…

… and it has made me feel completely sick! That comment about Jews, I will not repeat it here (don’t want those words on my blog) but I didn’t understand it at first. I’d never heard it before so I stared at it for a few seconds. Then it dawned on me what it was supposed to signify and I felt a punch in the gut, tears springing to my eyes. I literally couldn’t believe that such a cruel term existed! How disrespectful and hateful can someone be? How can anyone refer to survivors of the Holocaust like that? I just cannot wrap my head around such an awful comment. Ever since that antisemitic rant of that actor (he is also not worth mentioning) I have cringed at his name. Being drunk doesn’t excuse racist behaviour, it just exposes what is ingrained in a person. And that comment about gay people… wow… how can such a thing be said, even in jest?!?

Just before I read that I also read today (thank you Guylty for premiering the news for me!) that Richard Armitage will be making an LGBTQ+ movie called “Now and Then”. The article says it’s about: “Laura, in her 60s and Chris, her gay, middle-aged son, are forced to undertake an exploration of their past mistakes and regrets to try and make sense of their present condition and their relationship with each other. To find peace with now, it’s necessary for them to make peace with then.” Richard says it’s a role that resonates strongly with him (I would love to hear him speak more about that) and it sounds like a story with great potential. I’m really excited for this one!

We need movies like that to counteract the prejudice voiced by people like in the article above. We need more movies about antisemitism (that are not solely related to the Holocaust). Gregory Peck once made a good one in 1947 called Gentleman’s Agreement that may be a bit dated, yet still rings true today. It’s about a journalist who has to write a piece about antisemitism and to do so poses as a Jewish man for a few months…

In more recent years, we’ve also been getting some really good LGBTQ movies that have made it big, like the Moonlight movie last year that I loved about a young black man struggling with being gay, told during three key times in his life…

… and The Imitation Game about World War II code breaker Alan Turing who had experienced the necessity and cruelty of hiding that he was gay…

… and the movie Colin Firth made a decade ago called A Single Man about a college professor in 1962 wanting to kill himself after his boyfriend dies.

For Colin, this meant his first Oscar nomination and a turning point in his career when finally much better roles started coming his way again. I hope something like this will happen for Richard too, that this will be the door opening to other and better roles for him as well. Most importantly, though, this movie is a great thing in the fight against prejudice! The arts are so important…

Fictional crush challenge addendum

I just finished my 10 days, 10 fictional crushes challenge yesterday but as I am someone who develops crushes all the time, I decided on a bonus edition. So, here are some images of other fictional crushes that I’ve had that didn’t make it into the 10 days. This time I’m sticking to few or no explanations, as was originally intended.

Let me start with a daddy crush on Charles Ingalls/Pa (Michael Landon) in Little House on the Prairie

Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie) from Anne of Green Gables from when I was a teen.

I also really like Anne with an E‘s Gilbert (Lucas Zumann)…

…but he’s the age of my son, so it’s more like a mommy-crush. I keep on wanting to take care of him because he is an orphan and I keep on wanting him to be happy with his girl. I made a ton of Anne with an E (and Gilbert) videos, viewable here.

Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) in Roman Holiday…

James McKay (also Gregory Peck) in The Big Country...

Captain Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck) in The Guns of Navarone

Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews) in Brideshead Revisited

Sir Percy Blakeney (also Anthony Andrews) in The Scarlet Pimpernel

Don Pedro (Denzel Washington) in Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice should have accepted him…

Harry Kennedy (Richard Armitage) in The Vicar of Dibley

John Porter (Richard Armitage) in Strike Back….

Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) in The Hobbit

Neo (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix

Alex Wyler (also Keanu Reeves) in The Lake House

Remington Steele (baby Pierce Brosnan) in the 1980s tv show of the same name…

Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan) in Laws of Attraction. For me, sexier than James Bond…

I made a couple of Pierce Brosnan videos for Remington Steele, Laws of Attraction and Love is all you need, to be seen here if you’re so inclined.

Not normally a Mr. Bingley fan but I love this Mr. Bingley (Naveen Andrews) for this scene in Bride and Prejudice. I can’t tell you how often I have seen this clip. This is the sexiest Bingley I know.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) from the Thor Avengers movies.

Doctor Lucien Blake (Craig McLachlan) from The Doctor Blake Mysteries. This is the only one on the list where I’m not so fond of the actor himself but I do really like the character and he does a great job bringing that character to life.

And finally, Sebastian Lacroix, or Bash, (Dalmar Abuzeid) from Anne with an E


OK, now this really is it and I am finally, truly ending this challenge. These were the honorary mentions; I’m probably missing a few more but it should still be enough.

Fictional crush challenge – day 3

10 days, 10 fictional crushes
Post an image of a fictional character who has been or still is your crush. No names or explanations needed. TV, movie, book, comic, cartoon characters are valid.

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) in To Kill a Mockingbird. I will never forget when I first read the book in the summer of 1985 when I was 15 and we were on holiday in Ireland. I found it in a Dublin bookstore and bought it and read it because as a Gregory Peck fan I knew that he had won an Oscar for the movie adaptation. I hadn’t seen the movie yet, so only had very rudimentary information about the story (this was in the days before the internet after all). It’s the only book I can recall reading instantly again. When I say instantly I really do mean instantly. I read the last sentence and then immediately turned to the first page and started reading it all over again. It’s been an absolute favourite book of mine ever since and I completely love the character of Atticus Finch, in a daddy crush kind of way. I didn’t see the movie itself until a few years later and yes, Peck was indeed the perfect embodiment of Atticus.

An Armitage – Peck parallel

Andy Gotts posted new pictures of Richard Armitage from the photoshoot he did a while back. I really like these goofy shots and the lovely text that goes with it. Always good to hear that Richard has a no-nonsense attitude in these things.

That first shot of the four with a lifted Armitage eyebrow gave me instant Gregory Peck vibes. Gregory also used to lift his left eyebrow and I always loved that; he did it quite a lot. Not going on an endless image search but from my own archive I found Exhibit A from Roman Holiday…

Roman Holiday (57)

And you just know that Peck is lifting his eyebrow (the one that’s away from the viewer) here as well in exhibit B while he’s amused and studying Audrey Hepburn…

Roman Holiday (111)

Exhibit C shows Richard and Gregory side by side, both of them with an eyebrow raised…

In the next two pictures Richard’s eyes are just huge! Not used to seeing them like that and the second one just makes me laugh…

The last picture of the four looks fierce and brings another little reminder of Gregory here. Not quite murderous like Gregory in The Omen but you don’t want to meet this guy in a dark alley…

It’s not the first time Richard reminds me of Gregory and I’m sure it won’t be the last. These portraits are different, surprising and I really enjoy them. Thank you for sharing, @drgotts!

#StayAtHome entertainment

All these weeks of staying at home and you’d think it would be boring, but it’s not really, not for me. Yes, I do miss the freedom of coming and going anywhere I please, seeing my family and friends for real, going out to cinemas and restaurants, travelling and experiencing new things. However, for all that I miss, I also have things I am grateful for: I’m with my wonderful husband and kids (seriously, I could never get sick of having them around), I still have work that pays me a regular salary, a roof over my head, a garden I can sit in when the sun shines, I have online and phone contacts with people outside and, as a bit of an introvert, I am also very well able to entertain myself.

I take walks with my husband but sometimes also by myself, with music playing in my headphones as I enjoy the scenery. The other day I took a lovely walk in a little green area about a 7 minute walk away from my house. I was listening to the Yentl soundtrack that I hadn’t listened to in a while. Papa is always an emotional song for me, connected in so many meaningful ways to my own papa…

Anyway, listening to beautiful, relaxing music like that while walking can really lift your spirits, especially when the views are so pretty with nature blooming now in the spring…

Not that many people walk there at the end of the afternoon/beginning of the evening when I tend to take my walks, so it’s a good keeping-your-distance route. I love to see the trees starting to bloom and flowers popping up.

And there is more to entertain me! There are re-reruns on Dutch TV of my absolute favourite show of the end 1980’s / beginning 1990’s, the Australian TV series The Flying Doctors. We’re in the doctor Geoff and nurse Kate heydays right now, so even though I have seen all the episodes and I own them, I also do tune in now and again to see how they’re getting on and where they are in the story. We’re getting close to the big Geoff and Kate rift in season 4 when Geoff’s brother comes to town; that was one of the most exciting times of the whole series, I love seeing those episodes.

There were 9 seasons of that show, the last two seasons or so weren’t as fun, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a special on how they’re doing now, 30 years on.

On Friday evening I enjoyed a broadcast of  a 2011 The Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary performance on YouTube. By the time I post this, it will almost be going offline, but oh my goodness it was good (and worth a donation)! I didn’t mean to watch the whole thing but I got stuck anyway. Ramin Karimloo plays the Phantom with such feeling and intensity, I became a fan instantly. And Sierra Boggess as Christine is just amazing. I had never heard of them before and they have great chemistry together. Here a clip of them perfoming at the Brit Awards in 2012…

I also loved the celebration bit after the musical ended and, with just small gestures, again Ramin Karimloo made a great impression on me.

And then last night there was another #stayathome highlight for me. For the first time ever I did a three person video chat with two very good friends of mine in the US. We always chat a lot in writing, have done so for 18 years, but until this corona crisis when seemingly everyone has taken to video chatting, we had never thought to do a video chat amongst ourselves before. We’re usually busy and rarely online at the same time but with all of us staying at home now, we figured we should be able to arrange something. So, last night at 9 pm my time and 3 pm their time we finally got together for a video chat and ‘hung out’ for close to two hours, also seeing husbands and a few kids. It was wonderful! The internet and social media really can be so amazing.

Besides all this I have also been going down a Jean Simmons rabbit hole in recent weeks. I had been going through my Richard Chamberlain collection a little while back and saw bits and pieces of The Thorn Birds again where Jean Simmons plays Meggie’s mother, Fee. She is so good in that role!

It made me think of The Big Country with Gregory Peck again, in which she co-stars, and I re-watched that (yup, it’s good movie!). I have always loved her in the role of school teacher Julie Maragon, I always wished for her role to have been bigger.

Looking at her filmography I know I have seen her in a lot of things already over the years, most of the them ages ago, and I have always liked her. Besides the roles I just mentioned I remember her best in Great Expectations from 1946, Black Narcissus from 1947 (excellent movie!), even though those were small roles…

… and of course in Spartacus from 1960. I remember enjoying the film and story but I mostly remember loving Simmons as Varinia. I remember the tension in the Laurence Olivier scenes and the love in the Kirk Douglas scenes.

I have also seen The Robe (1953) with Richard Burton, Young Bess (1953) with her then-husband Stewart Granger and Désiree (1954) with Marlon Brando, all historical costume dramas. I confess to remembering little about them, although Young Bess and Désiree stick in my mind as movies I did like at the time.

I came across a movie called Until They Sail and, when I saw the trailer, remembered I had seen that too. I watched that one again and boy, I really liked it! It’s about four sisters in New Zealand during the Second World War and the relationships they have with Americans stationed there. I loved the understated, almost philosophical scenes between Jean Simmons and Paul Newman…

… and the conclusion between them is just everything. It’s not only about them, though, it’s about four sisters who are very different at handling the same situation. I really liked it, it’s going onto my fave Jean Simmons movies list.

Last night, after that two hour video chat (I’m a night owl), I watched Guys and Dolls from 1955 that Simmons also did with Marlon Brando. I’d never seen that before, apart from bits and pieces. Both are only OK singers but oh my, they have such great chemistry! I loved them together in this movie, like in this clip.

The movie was alright (it apparently also has Frank Sinatra) but really shone and came to life when those two appeared together on screen. It was fun!

Yeah, this Jean Simmons rabbit hole is going deep. I want to re-watch Désiree now to see if the chemistry with Brando was also there in that, and I want to see Young Bess and Spartcaus again. I also need to see Angel Face, a film noir movie with Robert Mitchum in which I think she plays a psychopath; it is said to be one of her absolute best roles.

jean simmon sangel face mitchum

Oh, and she did one with Cary Grant, Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr called The Grass is Greener which I also saw many years ago, need to look into that one again as well.

I’m sure there will be more as I dig on.  I’m loving my journey of Jean Simmons re-discovery.

I feel it is so important to be social and stay at home and yes, I do feel restricted during this corona crisis but I am also lucky that I have enough ways to entertain myself. Thank goodness for the world at our feet on the internet and for a world that is beautiful outside.