Sunday, March 30, 2014

1950s Final: Doris Day v. Audrey Hepburn

The top two seeds in the 1950s bracket meet for the right to compete in the Final Four of Monty's Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament. Doris Day won by a single vote over Deborah Kerr, a real nail-biter, if biting nails is your idea of fun, while Audrey Hepburn put her boot on Grace Kelly's neck early and never let up.

The contestants in the other brackets boast similar pedigrees:

The 1930s: Barbara Stanwyck v. Myrna Loy
The 1940s: Bette Davis v. Olivia de Havilland
The 1960s: Elizabeth Taylor v. Natalie Wood

The voting starts now and runs through Thursday evening.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Round Four Starts Now

With the conclusion of Round Three, all four number one seeds have advanced to the semi-finals of the 1950s bracket. As last year's winner of the 1950s bracket, Doris Day gets to choose her opponent, takes one look at Oscar-winners Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, and opts for Deborah Kerr.

Monty, who is the creator and primary host of the Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament, tells me that this is the third time in four years that Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly have squared off against each other, with Ms. Kelly winning the first two—perhaps three's the charm for Ms. Hepburn.

He also tells me that Grace Kelly's win over Lana Turner was her 20th in tourney competition, more than any other actress. And yet the top prize has continued to elude her. Is this the year?

The match-ups (vote below):

Doris Day
Birth Name: Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff
Born: April 3, 1924
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio
Height: 5' 7"
Film Debut: Romance on the High Seas (1948)
Final Film: The Doris Day Show (1968-1973) (TV series)
Oscars: 1 nominations, 0 wins
Three To See: Love Me or Leave Me; Pillow Talk; Lover Come Back


Deborah Kerr
Birth Name: Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer
Birth Date: September 30, 1921
Birthplace: Helensburgh, Scotland
Height: 5' 6"
Film Debut: Major Barbara (1941)
Final Film: Hold That Dream (1986) (TV movie)
Academy Awards: 6 nominations, 0 wins
Three To See: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp; From Here To Eternity; Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Audrey Hepburn
Birth Name: Audrey Kathleen Ruston
Birth Date: May 4, 1929
Birthplace: Ixelles, Belgium
Height: 5' 7"
Film Debut: One Wild Oat (1951)
Final Film: Always (1989)
Academy Awards: 5 nominations, 1 win (Roman Holiday)
Three To See: Sabrina; Breakfast at Tiffany's; Charade


Grace Kelly
Birth Name: Grace Patricia Kelly
Birth Date: November 13, 1929
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Height: 5' 6½"
Film Debut: Believe It Or Not (1950) (TV series)
Final Film: High Society
Academy Awards: 2 nominations, 1 win (The Country Girl)
Three To See: Rear Window; To Catch A Thief; High Society

Voting continues until Friday evening.

As always, follow the links to vote in the other brackets:

The 1930s

The 1940s

The 1960s

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Five Years Of The Monkey

Writing a blog is like brewing a cup of tea. You won't find God in the cup, or meaning in the cup, or purpose in the cup, but you will find tea in the cup, and if you're lucky, the tea tastes good. And if someone sits down and shares the tea with you, all the better.

Thank you for sharing with me this cup of tea called the Mythical Monkey.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Third Round Update: Doris Day And Marilyn Monroe Are Tied

If I had to pick two actresses from the 1950s who best typified the decade's popular tastes, Doris Day and Marilyn Monroe would be it. They were both blondes, both comediennes, both singers, but they couldn't have been more different and at times they seemed to be leading the culture in opposite directions. They were both the best at what they did, though, and choosing between them is the toughest choice of the tournament so far. Indeed, as of lunchtime today, they are tied.

Still plenty of time to vote. Tell your friends, tell your co-workers, tell the stranger sitting next to you on the bus. Tell them to make their way over to the Monkey and cast what might very well be the deciding vote in a culture war that's been raging for more than fifty years.

Click here to vote.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Marshmallows Unite! Veronica Mars (2014)

The first major studio release funded by a Kickstarter campaign, Veronica Mars is based on a cult television show from the last decade about a teenage detective solving crimes in the have/have-not world of a Southern California high school—sort of a cross between Nancy Drew and Pretty in Pink with dialogue worthy of a Humphrey Bogart movie. Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars had a gift for playing tough on the outside, "marshmallow" (her word) on the inside, that made what could have been an absurd concept into compelling television.

Compelling if you ever saw it, that is.

A ratings flop from the get-go, Mars hung around for three years and then was abruptly cancelled with several irons in the storyline fire. Happens all the time, but Veronica's fans— marshmallows to you—wouldn't let it go, and after years of lobbying, they made Warner Brothers a put-up or shut-up offer: we'll raise the money for the production if you'll distribute the film. And raise money they did. The goal was $2 million in a month; they raised more than $5 million in 24 hours.

With the box office success of the film this last weekend along with what promises to be a cash bonanza from its simultaneous release on a number of streaming platforms, Veronica Mars is a victory for a new business model, one that will likely have a bigger impact on Hollywood than many of the blockbusters and Oscar winners that will follow it this year.

Which is all very interesting in a shoptalk sort of way, but, you know, what about the movie? Is it any good? Should you see it?

Those are two different questions.

We here at the Monkey are fans, so of course we liked it. Katie-Bar-The-Door and I are devoted marshmallows—and have been for, oh, three weeks, I think. We are the perfect examples of how good marketing and streaming technology can short circuit the journey from casual viewer to hardcore junkie. What would have once taken a decade took less than a month, introducing us to a show we'd never heard of via the cover of Entertainment Weekly, serving it up to us for free via Amazon Prime, and letting us binge-watch the entire series on consecutive weekends.

And I suspect people like us are key: Warner Brothers knew the fans would show up, but could anybody else be induced to give a damn? Turns out the original series was one of the neglected gems of the last decade. Once we started watching, we were hooked, and from the end of February to this weekend, the biggest questions on our minds (aside from will the snow ever stop and who'll be the utility infielder for the Washington Nationals) were "Who killed Lilly Kane?" and "Who's a better boyfriend, Logan or Piz?"

And therein lies the answer to the question "Should you see Veronica Mars, the movie?" If you've seen the series, then absolutely. It's a fun reunion with lots of inside jokes, the same dry film noir era humor, and a deeper look into the troubled psyche that fuels Veronica's compulsive, self-destructive need to find the truth—the dark thread that stitched the series together.

If you haven't seen the series, I'd say watch the series—you'll wind up watching the movie. But if you're not so inclined, well, you'll be able to follow the murder mystery, but the emotional ties that bind the characters together will be lost on you—it'll likely wash over you the way an entry in an old detective serial on TCM might wash over you, The Falcon Takes Over, say.

I suspect there are more Mars movies to come, so my recommendation is grab a bag of marshmallows and get busy bingeing.

The series: 4.5 stars out of 5
The movie if you're a fan: 4 stars out of 5
The movie if you're not a fan: 2.5 stars out of 5

Postscript with spoilers: While we already knew who killed Lilly Kane, the movie provides its answer to the question, Logan or Piz. I'm sure most fans will be happy with the answer, but unfortunately, the best choice—none of the above—wasn't on the menu. Maybe one day the girl will grow up enough to realize that sometimes the best company is the one you keep in your head.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Round Two (Part Two) Is Underway: Vote Now!

If you want to vote in the 1950s bracket, you're in the right place. Scroll down and have at it.

To vote for actresses in the other decades, follow the highlighted links:

The 1930s

The 1940s

The 1960s

You have until dinnertime Sunday to vote in this part of the tournament.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Round One Results—More Voting Tomorrow Morning

The first eight matches in Round One of March Madness are complete. No surprises, except that there were no surprises. The higher seeded actress here in the 1950s bracket handily won every match. The numbers:

Doris Day def. Ann Miller, 44-19
Marilyn Monroe def. Kay Kendall, 43-18
Debbie Reynolds def. Betty Hutton, 49-13
Cyd Charisse def. Dorothy Dandridge, 37-21
Deborah Kerr def. Jennifer Jones, 50-11
Janet Leigh def. June Allyson, 46-13
Eleanor Parker def. Jean Hagen, 48-11
Thelma Ritter def. Anne Baxter, 41-18

The rest of round one commences tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. Wakey wakey!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Vote Now: Round One (Part One) Is Underway

The 2014 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament is now official underway. If you want to vote in the 1950s bracket, you're in the right place. Scroll down and have at it.

To vote for actresses in the other decades, follow the highlighted links:

The 1930s

The 1940s

The 1960s

You have until dinnertime Wednesday to vote in this part of the tournament. The rest of the round one match-ups will start later that evening or early Thursday morning. Have fun!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Madness Starts Tomorrow!

Yep, Monty's 2014 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament starts tomorrow, 7 a.m. sharp. Set your alarm.

In the meantime, here's another question to gnaw on: of the three previous tourney winners, who's your favorite?