Robert Siodmak~Master Stylist of Noir

Speaking of Deanna Durbin…although it seems most noir gurus gravitate toward ‘The Killers’ (1946) as an essential Robert Siodmak noir film. I can’t help mentioning Christmas Holiday (1944)
Deanna Durbin’s dramatic film debut. Eddie Muller’s article from week two of Summer of Darkness described film director Siodmak’s style in Noir as using ‘Complexly layered flashbacks, bold compositions, dramatic lighting, supple camera moves and flamboyant wardrobe’. Director Robert Siodmak from Universal Studio took W. Somerset Maugham’s story and incorporated all of what we now know as his signature noir moves.
No light comedy or operetta’s in this movie for Durbin, no singing or dancing in the rain for Gene Kelly in this truly dark noir by Robert Siodmak.

Classic Films for the Classic Childhood: Three Smart Girls

LIFE LESSON: When it comes to family, do whatever it takes.

Three Smart Girls: Modeling the importance of family bonds, this favorite follows three sisters as they try to get their divorced parents back together. While not all marriages are worth saving, the lesson here is about a family that helps each other. Its perfect for showing sisterly relationships and how sometimes the kids really do know best. Also that every family member has a role and something to offer the task at hand.

An excellent introduction to child star Deanna Durbin showing all kids the power of following their dreams, this is simply one great movie:)

Classic Films for the Classic Childhood: Pollyanna

LIFE LESSON: Look for the best in all things, and you’ll find it!


Pollyanna: The Glad Game alone can help everyone remember that we need to ( and have the power to) make the best out of all situations. More emotionally intelligent than most grown ups, Pollyanna is brave, respectful, curious and fun. Unfortunately our crazy label-happy society has actually made the word Pollyanna a noun meaning excessively or blindly optimistic person. Sure we all know it’s not the best idea to cover up turmoil with positive thinking, but this isn’t the message Pollyanna touts.

“You must find something in everything to be glad about.”

This is a challenge folks– and one I hope you and your children can take. No chocolate ice cream left? Maybe its your day to discover the joys of pineapple. Stuck in traffic? Look at the awesome radio station you just found. Family crisis? Some people don’t even have families! Be grateful yours has passion enough to get in fights.


Classic Films for the Classic Childhood


No matter the age of the children in your life… chances are you’ve noticed some behavior issues you’re not pleased with, are hoping that this hitting other kids (and the dog) thing is just a phase, and praying that the 7 hours a day they spend at school is not a life-scarring experience. Raising kids is tough.. Raising kids in this day and age is tougher. Luckily we can always look to Classic Film to guide us and the children down the right path.

Check out this short, quick and dirty list of 12 must see classic films that will help your child grow up right, and keep you from being committed to the local looney bin.


Three Smart Girls

Babes in Toyland

Mary Poppins

Bye Bye Birdie

The Happiest Millionaire

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

101 Dalmatians

A Little Princess

Wizard of Oz

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

The Sound of Music

I’ll link all the posts for the titles here back to this page, as we’ll be posting on these films over the next few weeks. I’m hoping my Light Side posts will balance out AnnStj’s Dark Side posts, since she’s living in the land of Noir at present.

Also know that this is simply a shortlist to the complete we have crafted in our Smart Kids Guide to Classic Hollywood which can be a great start to film education and more so keep an eye out for that, coming soon.



TCM Movie Camp 2015


The officially rebranded Essentials Jr. is now TCM Movie Camp , a mini movie summer camp for the kids, and on Sundays at 8pm on TCM.

This lineup goes from June- August and boasts some classics like Steamboat Willie, The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Thief of Baghdad.

With little installments from Disney’s Silly Symphonies, and the new William Joyce short this is definitely a more kid-friendly lineup than we’ve see in years past.

See Full Schedule

I still don’t feel like this is the Classic Films for the Classic Childhood that many of us know or would want to share with current or future children. If you’re like us-movies have helped instruct behavior, life choices, learning right from wrong, even just the proper identification of “cute guy” vs. ” dangerous guy.” All helpful lessons public education doesn’t teach.

We’ll be sharing a quick and dirty list of 12 Classic Films for kids to get you through the summer- coming soon.








So…while Rochellelynn is keeping up with TCM Summer Camp Sunday’s and Disney Teen beach movies this summer, I have gone over to the Dark Side. TCM’s Into the Darkness Investigating Film Noir dark side that is…
At the beginning of this fourth week of Noir at the free online course running through June and July I find myself re-watching a lot of the Noir films I have already seen, and finding new amazing Noir films. Films we review during the week are shown every Friday at TCM’s Summer of Darkness. We talk about: the difference between Realism and Formalism, German Expressionism and French Poetic Realism and that infamous Surrealism. Be that as it may be it is a fun (because I have an excuse to watch more film), easy (well nothing is really ever easy, you have to pay attention), worthwhile course (well, it is free, sponsored by TCM and if I can lockdown the TCM Message Board, Twitter thing in a networking with other film lovers sense of thought it will be worthwhile).
Of course after the darkness comes the light…

That Darn Cat


If you haven’t watched the classic The Darn Cat (1965) lately, it’s about time you did that. It’s summery, fun and has lines that will make you miss the well written movies of old.

In my search for all things beachy, I remembered that this flick had some lovely surfer references thanks to our clueless boy next door Canoe (Tom Lowell) and conniving spy girl Patti ( Hayley Mills) and just had to watch it again. Feeling obligated to share the wealth, I made my 9 year old niece watch it with me. Now, given that I’ve been making this poor child watch old movies with me since her birth, it will be no surprise that she loved it. Though the first thing she said was “it’s in color?” Always a good sign. In fact she watched it 3 more times, and then made my 12 year old cousin watch it with her again. Her favorite line:

“Oh that’s my sister. Ingrid always has a real deep voice when she first gets out of the shower.” Tweet

Patti explains this as an excuse for the FBI men talking in the background when Canoe calls up to see why won’t she won’t go to the drive-in with him. And the fact she says it in a goofy “old guy voice” is the clincher.

And that’s just one of many! Combining slapstick humor, a pretty serious potential crime involving a body and a trash can, the dashing Dean Jones, a peeping tom neighbor, and an older sister in need of a husband(and a carpool), Hayley Mills (Patti) is determined to take down the bad guys while Tom Lowell (Canoe) is determined to find out what’s going on! Add that Darn Cat ( D.C.) and you have a fun, edge of your seat flick that even the kids may like.

“Be extremely careful about what you say! I haven’t had my coffee yet, and I’m in no mood for stupid, irresponsible remarks.” Tweet

The other things I adore about this film? The nuances that really build characters. Canoe can’t be more than 18 or 19 in this film and he carries around his old-man pipe like its his job. The stuffy Gregory has a very snooty mother whom you never see, but who he talks about constantly when making backward stabs at Ingrid. The peeping-tom Mrs. McDougal actually uses a fishing line and hearing aid at one point to try to get a better listen of what’s being said in Ingrid’s bedroom. Lots of psychos here, and yet incredibly understandable. We all have our quirks. Enjoy!

Speaking of Sandra Dee…

We love Sandra Dee movies but I surely will not miss watching another Tammy movie. Tammy and the Doctor (the third and last Tammy movie) finds Grandpaw is still in jail doing time and preaching to the other prisoners. Pete and Tom are nowhere to be found. Mrs. Call Tammy’s elderly rich friend needs a heart operation. And who is the operating physician but MacDonald Carey in his pre-Dr.Tom Horton (1965-1993) role from Days of Our Lives fame. For Tammy’s next crush, enter the tall and lanky kind of looks like his father Peter Fonda. Instead of bully college students there are bully nurses that just don’t get the innocent and wise Tammy. Thank goodness Tammy has nurse-Millie (Alice Pearce – Gladys Kravitz the nosey neighbor from the 1960’s television series Bewitched) to help try to explain the way of hospital life to her. Again it is fun to see actors such as: Margaret Lindsay, Adam West, Mitzi Hoag, and Joan Marshall.
I am sure it is roles like the Tammy roll for Sandra that led to the iconic song from the 1978 hit musical Grease: ‘Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee’

Teen Beach Movie & West Side Story



Disney Channel brings us more old movie magic thanks to the success of Teen Beach Movie ( a mashup of Frankie & Annette , West Side Story, and Grease ) with Teen Beach Movie 2 and the Wet Side Story characters entering the real world this summer.

Its a great time to intro the little ones in your life to what Classic Hollywood was all about. As I mention in another post, the classics only fuel what we create now and it’s always fun to be the person in the room who actually knows what the film reference refers to.

While Maia Mitchell and Ross Lynch play our lead characters from modern day beach land ( above), our two leads reviving the Sharks VS Jets are Grace of the Bikers  and Garret of the Surfers.

Our Leading Ladies: Natalie Wood and Grace Phipps

Image: New police report into mysterious death of Natalie Woodth4MD156EX

Our Leading Men: Richard Beymer and Garrett Clayton

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and of course… not much has changed in 55 years.


Enjoy Summer! Teen Beach Movie 2 premieres on the Disney Channel June 26th at 8pm.



Teen Beach Movie & Grease


As Teen Beach Move 2 gets ready to premiere on Disney Channel June 26th at 8pm, I can’t help feel a bit glowy ( yes , that’s a word glow-y). Mainly because Disney is bringing a critical set of Classic Hollywood Smart Kid Essentials to a whole new generation via these revivals. We saw this with the Freaky Friday re-do in the form of 17 Again, and now My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic routinely inserts Classic Hollywood moments into random storylines: Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, Music Man. Thank you MLPFIM and Disney.

Grease Lightning & Crusin for a Brusin

Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee & Like Me

Teen Beach Movie 2 brings back the Wet Side Story Cast ( West Side Story) with Bikers VS Surfers.

If you haven’t already, make it a point to watch West Side Story… while we know there isn’t a gang fighting death in this one.. you can similarities in the choreography much like with the Pirates of the Caribbean fights that were based off Errol Flynn.


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