The Vermont Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Money

Von Trapp Resort_DSCN1069-1069On our recent trip to Vermont, one of the stops we made was to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe. Yes, it’s the same Trapp, or should I say von Trapp, family that went merrily along singing in the hills of Austria’s Alps while the Nazi’s were taking over the country. The film and the play are a simplified version of what the real family story is about. And from what I read in an interesting article, the real Maria von Trapp was not as sweet and delicate as either Mary Martin’s stage version nor Julie Andrews wholesome variety. The real Maria von Trapp was a strong tough woman.

The family, after fleeing Nazi Germany, settled in Vermont in 1942. They opened up their original home as a ski lodge, however, it burned down in 1980. Three years later, they opened up the current much larger lodge. The structure is set on more than 2,400 acres of property which includes biking and skiing trails and much more.

I am no fan of the movie. I saw it way back in the sixties when it was playing as a roadshow engagement at the Rivoli theater on Broadway with my parents. It has haunted me since. I know that  this is considered a mortal sin to some film lovers, but hey,  I am in good company. When Rex Harrison saw the musical on Broadway, he commented that “it was the first time in my life I rooted for the Nazis.” Anyway, if anyone is still reading this, we did stop at  the Lodge to look around and I thought I would share a few photos since I would think fans of the film would like to see this. Hope you enjoy. Continue reading

Juano Hernandez and Intruder in the Dust


Juano Hernandez’s early days are not clearly defined. Various sources claim he was born in either 1896, 1898 or 1900. A consensus seems to be for the 1896 date…but who knows. All agree he died in 1970 and that he was born in Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Brazilian decent. Hernandez was orphaned pretty early on and soon was living with an aunt in Brazil. It was while living in Brazil that Hernandez got his first taste of performing. The young boy joined a group of street kids and began performing in public: singing, dancing and acrobatics. Juano eventually joined a carnival and worked his way around Latin America and the Caribbean, eventually making his way into the United States. During this period, he taught himself to read, write and learned various languages. A multitude of jobs followed from working in the circus to becoming a professional boxer. Continue reading

Short Takes: Recent Viewings

Grandma (2015) Paul Weitz

Grandma_for-oldiesStrained relationships, the kind we all face at one time or another in life with both family and friends, is at the heart of this small comedy/drama. It centers around the quirky and crotchety Ellie (Lily Tomlin), an aging poet who has not been able to write since her lesbian lover of more than thirty years passed away. Into her life comes her grandchild, young and pregnant. She wants to have an abortion but has no money.

The characters are well drawn and nicely performed though Lily Tomlin’s performance is a real standout. She’s just wonderful. Some jokes went over the head of the folks I saw the film with, particularly the one when they arrive at the abortion client and Tomlin quips about The Bad Seed who socked her in the face, No one else in the audience got the joke but me who busted out laughing amongst an audience of quietness. Continue reading

The Tall T (1957) Budd Boetticher

talltThe Tall T is a superbly bleak western from Budd Boetticher. Boasting a screenplay by Burt Kennedy, based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, it stars Randolph Scott as rancher Pat Brennan. After losing his horse in a bet with a fellow rancher, Brennan is now walking his way back to his place. Along the trial comes a stagecoach. Hired by sleazy accountant, Willard Mims (John Hubbard), the coach is making a special run carrying Mims and his newly married bride Doretta (Maureen O’Sullivan), the plain Jane daughter  of a rich coal mine owner. The couple are on their honeymoon. Seeing Brennan along the road, the coach’s driver stops and picks him up despite Willard’s complaints that he hired the coach for his personal use. Continue reading

Harper (1966) Jack Smight

Harper3 By 1966, the private eye had been regulated to television. Shows like 77 Sunset Strip, Peter Gunn, Hawaiian Eye, Honey West and Johnny Staccato are just a few of the better known shows that began in the late 1950’s and/or the early 1960’s. Part of the reason for the decline on the big screen had to do with the rise of James Bond and his fellow international spies. Foreign intrigue, fancy gadgets, sexy women and criminals with more on their mind than just robbery and mayhem superseded the bedroom antics of the lowly P.I. Continue reading

The Ox Bow Incident William Wellman

ox-bowAt this point in his career, Henry Fonda was not happy with most of the films he had made. Steinbeck’s classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, was certainly one he was proud of, and thanks to John Ford, he got the role of a lifetime. Like Brando as Stanley Kowalski, or Cagney as George M. Cohan, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else fitting the role of Tom Joad other than Henry Fonda. But there was a price to be paid for getting that part. 20th Century Fox honcho, Darryl F. Zanuck would only give him the role if he signed a contract with the studio. One of the films he made for Fox during this period was The Ox-Bow Incident, based on Walter Van Tilbert Clark’s extraordinary novel. Directed by William “Wild Bill” Wellman, the film is an oddity in westerns of the period. In 1943, the war was on and most films focused on lightweight escapist entertainment, a two hour break from worrying about husbands, fathers, sons and the horrors of what was happening in the world. The Ox-Bow Incident was not lightweight entertainment, it was a downbeat, ugly look at humanity with little gun play. Instead it focused on vigilantism, group mentality that reduced men to the lowest primal level of thoughts and deeds.  It is arguably the first psychological western ever made. Continue reading

Guest Blogger at Rick’s Classic Film and Tv Cafe


This month Rick, over at the Classic Film and TV Café, just began a new monthly series, The Best Movies You May Never Have Seen. I am one of three guest bloggers honored to be part of this inaugural post. You can check out my post as well as two other fine articles by Patricia from Caftan Woman and Yvette from in so many words…
Below is the link that will lead you there…