If you’ve been to the Lounge, you know we love our classic TV shows – they’re up and running on the Lounge TV daily.
But what about those Cinematic Darlings Of Yesteryear?
Never Fear, Starlite Lounge Is Here!
Every Friday evening from 4:30 – 6:30pm we turn the Starlite into your own semi-private Movie Lounge!
Complete with house-made tapas treats from our “snack bar,” along with our weekly specials and regular menu items.
And of course, our wonderful Central Coast Wines, Craft Beers, and Sodas to add to your viewing experience.
So come on down, set a spell, nosh, drink and enjoy and…
We’ll see YOU At The Movies!
Our Friday Movie Night is also the perfect time to come and do the Classic Dinner & A Movie with your sweetie. You are welcome to skip the movie and come for your romantically-lit dinner from 6:30pm on, and if you’d like to view our Classic Movie Showcase first, come at 4:30pm and watch the show before getting your grub on! In that case, you could say it’s a Classic Movie and A Dinner, but let’s not quibble.
In DECEMBER, it’s all about ringing in the Holiday Season!
December 7 – “We’re No Angels” (1955)
In 1955, two key talents of the Warner Brothers studio system collaborated for the fourth time; actor Humphrey Bogart and director Michael Curtiz. Their first effort for the studio resulted in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), a picture that cemented Bogey’s reputation as the “No. 1 Bad Boy.” Casablanca followed in 1942, capturing the Best Director Oscar for Curtiz and securing film immortality. And their third collaboration was Passage to Marseille (1944), a combination war film and prison escape thriller. So it only makes sense that their final film together would be . . .a light holiday comedy?
Curtiz and Bogart picked We’re No Angels (1955), a story of three escaped convicts from Devil’s Island, that was based on the French play La Cuisine des Anges by Albert Husson. An atypical outing for both Bogart and Curtiz, We’re No Angels begins with the prison escapees planning to rob and murder husband and wife shopkeepers. However, they quickly reason that “cutting their throats might spoil their Christmas,” so the men decide instead to get the financially unstable store back on track by fixing the place up and bringing in more customers. As business begins to boom, Andre Trochard, the owner of the store, arrives on the scene with some greedy schemes of his own. Throw in a deadly snake named Adolph (one of the convict’s pet), and the fun begins.
December 14 – “The Lemon Drop Kid” (1951)
Jay Livingston and Ray Evans needed a hit. The songwriting duo at Paramount hadn’t written any salable music in a while, and their six-month renewable contract would lapse pretty soon if they couldn’t come up with a tune. Worse yet, their bosses had requested a Christmas song, one of the most crowded and overdone genres of popular music. They were stumped until one of the men noticed a tinkly little bell on their shared desk. They started brainstorming lyrics: “Tinkle bells, tinkle bells. It’s Christmas time in the city.”
“Silver Bells” (wisely renamed after Livingston’s wife pointed out that “tinkle” was kiddie slang for “urinate”) is unique among Christmas songs in that, instead of the nostalgic rural setting described in “Jingle Bells” or “O Christmas Tree”, it’s set in a modern, urban milieu of “busy sidewalks” and “strings of street lights”. It’s a perfect fit for the tough yet sentimental The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), a holiday movie based on a story by literary tough guy Damon Runyon.
Runyon, a newspaper man whose stock in trade was gritty chronicles of Prohibition-era New York, had his work adapted previously for the screen in Little Miss Marker (1934) and its remake Sorrowful Jones (1949). Bob Hope had earned critical applause for his role in that remake, and he was ready to try a Runyon story again, with the same director Sidney Lanfield, this time playing a glib con man who conjures up a comical scheme involving street-corner Santas as a way to pay off a scorned gangster.
As usual, Hope took an active role in production, insisting on casting unknown Marilyn Maxwell as the female lead because he liked her comic timing and screen sex appeal. “I worked with her in New York,” Hope told studio brass. “She’s good. I want her and that’s enough for me.” (It also helped that he and Maxwell were having a clandestine affair, a personal and work partnership that lasted through many movies, tours, and TV specials.) He also complained to studio president Barney Balaban that Lanfield’s cut of the finished film was lacking. Not only did Hope feel he’d been slighted on screen time, but Lanfield missed the sentimental angle that was crucial to Sorrowful Jones‘ success.
One particular sticking point was the “Silver Bells” number. In the original staging, Lanfield simply stood all the cast members shoulder to shoulder in the shady interior of a vacant casino, in what Hope biographer Lawrence J. Quirk described as “in the manner of a Hollywood choir.” Hope knew the “Silver Bells” number had the makings of a showstopper. He’d previously done well with “Buttons and Bows”, another Livingston/Evans tune performed by Hope in The Paleface (1948). (That song earned the songwriting duo the first of three Academy Awards). Besides, his “road movie” pal Bing Crosby had just recorded a version of the song with Carol Richards. Hope, not to be upstaged, recruited joke writer Frank Tashlin to rewrite the scene. Tashlin drove a hard bargain. He’d labored in Hollywood for years as a gagman and was hungry to direct his own movies. He wanted to direct the scene, and Hope agreed. (Lanfield was so incensed to learn that Hope had ousted him that he never worked with the comedian again.)
Tashlin’s revision wisely moved the scene to a busy shopping thoroughfare in the city, using the song to link vignettes of urban good cheer. Hope, dressed in a ragged Santa costume, strolls arm-in-arm with Maxwell through the lightly falling snow as kids eye toys in store windows, peddlers sell chestnuts and mistletoe, and shoppers smile at all the holiday decorations. The number ends on a wide shot of a snow-kissed metropolis, the light in every skyscraper window twinkling like a star.
Tashlin went on to direct Technicolor comedies like The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), while Livingston and Evans were forever grateful for the royalties earned by their now-classic Christmas song, a perennial tune that’s sold over 500 million records and been covered by everyone from Stevie Wonder to the Chipmunks to Twisted Sister. But while audiences enjoyed a cozy Christmas in theaters, the perennially restless Hope was already on the road. The first day of shooting for The Lemon Drop Kid was also the first day of the conflict that became The Korean War. In between squabbles, rewrites, and reshoots, Hope was also busy organizing the biggest USO show to date – 50 entertainers, including a radio crew and every member of the Les Brown big band – for troops in the Pacific, a Christmas tradition that would continue until 1995, when Hope retired from military touring at the age of 92.
December 21 – “White Christmas”
It may not have raked in as much money as How the Grinch Stole Christmas or generated as much love-and-hate as Love Actually, but White Christmas remains one of the most popular holiday movies of all time. We take a look at some of the surprising stories behind the 62-year-old favorite.
1 “Sisters” wasn’t part of the script. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye’s comedy act “dressed up like a dame” wasn’t originally in the story. They were goofing around, though, and director Michael Curtiz found it so funny that he wrote it in. Apparently, the actors found it hilarious, too: The laughing during the number is real. The take in the film was the best one they could get of the two, who kept cracking each other up.
Getty ImagesParamount + Silver Screen CollectionThroughout the film, dancer George Chakiris accompanies the Haynes sisters in an uncredited role. But soon after, he received the credit he was due: He later won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as Bernardo in West Side Story.
When Bob looks at a picture of Benny Haynes, “The Dog-Faced Boy,” it’s actually an image of a grown-up Carl Switzer. He’s best remembered for playing Alfalfa in the original Our Gang, also known as the The Little Rascals.
The soundtrack rights for the film were controlled by Decca, but Rosemary Clooney was under exclusive contract to Columbia, a competing record label. So in 1954, Decca recorded and released an album with the movie cast minus Clooney (her part was sung by Peggy Lee). And Columbia released an album with Clooney singing eight songs from the film, which means the only way to hear her sing with Bing is onscreen!
December 28 – “The Apartment”
While it may be hard to imagine now, The Apartment (1960) actually shocked some moviegoers upon its initial release. The problem wasn’t the central premise – an ambitious office worker performs dubious favors in exchange for career advancement – but the actual treatment of it. In the hands of writer-director Billy Wilder and his collaborator, scenarist I. A. L. Diamond, The Apartment became a razor-sharp farce that equated corporate success with immorality. Actually, filmmakers in communist Russia viewed it as an indictment against capitalism. The central character, “Bud” Baxter, is actually little more than a pimp for upper management while the girl of his dreams, elevator-operator Fran Kubelik, is a demoralized working girl whose solution to a failed love affair is to commit suicide. These are not the most wholesome characters in the world and we’re talking about the hero and heroine! However, as played by Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, Bud and Fran not only win the audience’s sympathy but also charm them in the process. The most astonishing thing about The Apartment is how Billy Wilder manages to keep the tone light and playful while exposing the worst aspects of Manhattan corporate life, from the drunken office parties to the casual adultery committed by married employees. Despite these controversial elements, the film racked up ten Oscar nominations and won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director of 1960.
The Apartment marked the first time Shirley MacLaine had worked with Billy Wilder and she quickly discovered that her habit of occasionally improvising or changing dialogue was not welcome. For example, she delivered a wonderful take of a scene set in the company elevator but it had to be re-shot when Wilder discovered she had omitted one word of dialogue. Still, Wilder was sufficiently impressed with her acting to cast her in the lead role of Irma la Douce in 1963. The Apartment also won MacLaine her second Oscar nomination as Best Actress (the first time was for Some Came Running, 1958) and she found herself competing against Deborah Kerr, Greer Garson, Melina Mercouri, and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1960 Academy Award race. (She lost to Taylor for Butterfield 8).
Unlike MacLaine, Lemmon was already used to the way Wilder operated, having recently completed Some Like It Hot (1959) for him. In fact, Wilder developed such trust and respect for Lemmon’s instinctual gifts as an actor that he gave him the freedom to improvise certain bits like the bachelor spaghetti dinner scene where Lemmon strains the pasta through a tennis racket or some physical comedy routines involving a nasal spray. Lemmon later commented, “Working with Billy I began to understand ‘hooks’ – those little bits of business that an audience will remember, sometimes long after they’ve forgotten everything else about the picture. The key was a ‘hook.’ For ten years after that film, people would still come up to me on the street and say, “Hey, Jack, can I have the key?”
Paul Douglas was originally cast in the role of J. D. Sheldrake, the heel who dumps MacLaine rather than end his loveless marriage. Unfortunately, Douglas died two weeks prior to production on The Apartment and Wilder coaxed Fred MacMurray to take the role. Not only was MacMurray completely convincing as the despicable company boss, his performance was so realistic it inspired an avalanche of hate mail from female moviegoers who begged him to play sympathetic roles in the future. He did just that, signing on as the amiable father figure in the popular TV-sitcom My Three Sons (1960-1972) and scoring leads in Walt Disney flicks like The Absent-Minded Professor (1961).
Thanks for being Classic Movie Fans all year long!