Well, there you are Mr. Adams….

How can you not watch “1776” on the 4th of July holiday? It’s like not watching “A Christmas Story” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve!

Things were not going well in Philadelphia in the midsummer of 1776. John Adams had managed to annoy the entire Continental Congress and frequent dispatches from General Washington did not make things go any easier. In the 3 weeks leading up to the signing, backdoor politics, deal making, backstabbing and plain old self serving egos, almost got in the way of Independance.

“1776” was a Broadway musical before being turned into the film and many of the stars from the boards took to the movie set to complete the project. Since musicals are an entirely American form of theater, it is only fitting that the story of the beginning was set to music. Melody wise there are not the blockbusters of Oklahoma, Sound of Music, or South Pacific, but the lyrics are smart and funny and in many cases carry a very pronounced double entendre. “1776” has the dubious honor of having the longest spoken script between musical numbers ever for a Broadway play. Watch as Adams, Franklin and Jefferson wait like new fathers for the new nation to be born….

There is no lack of romance or poignancy either…both Abigail Adams and Martha Jefferson figure prominently in the story line, although the storyline that brings Martha to visit Thomas is fictionalized because we know from contemporary writing that Martha stayed in Virginia that summer after having suffered a miscarriage.

As we all know the story percolates along with troubles and conflicts being solved in draft after draft. Finally however the results come down to the question of slavery and we see the talented Mr. Rutledge, played on stage and in the movie by John Cullum (Northern Exposure, The Middle) remind all the gentlemen of money and influence in the room, that absolutely no one, no one is free of guilt in the ongoing slave triangle.

Finally, every draft is agreed upon and we see the “Miracle in Philadelphia”..

The Hubs and I have a special fondness for this musical as he portrayed John Hancock in 2005 in the Concord Players production of “1776”. I saw so many rehearsals and ran lines so many times with him, that I knew the script as well as the cast….

The Twelve Posts of Christmas Pt. 12 – The Hundred Foot Journey

Traditionally, the Hubs and I take in a double feature on New Years Eve afternoon, then get home early before the amateurs get on the road. We have some lobster and champagne, and tuck up into our crib by 10 pm or so. But we never quite got out to the movies, and took a nap in the afternoon, so we stayed up late and got a pay per view viewing of “The Hundred Foot Journey”.

Such a gem of a movie! Produced by Steven Speilberg and Oprah Winfrey, and directed by Lasse Halstrom, it is a gentle tale of food and friendship, and family…the ones we are born into and the ones we create for ourselves.
The Kadams are a family fleeing India after a tragedy. They head to England, but find the climate too harsh and head to the continent, hoping to find a kinder, gentler climate both economically and climate wise. Their van loses braking power and while they wait for it to be fixed, a young woman takes care of them, giving them food and shelter. It turns out, she us a sous chef, waiting for her big break at a single Michelin starred restaurant owned by Madame Mallory, portrayed by the inimitable Helen Mirren. The trailers would lead you to believe that the entire movie is about the conflict of two competing restaurants, 100 feet apart, and the chasm between them culturally.


But the movie also visits ambition and loyalty and friendship and romance.
Terrific cast of newcomers, wonderful art direction and a beautiful, satisfying story that everyone will enjoy!


Movie Nite…An Affair to Remember

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Come on, raise your hands….you know you’ve watched this movie. You know you want to be on the ship. A real ocean liner, not a cruise ship, that makes a stop in Villefranche. You know you want to take the ride up into the hills with the charming batchelor Nicky Ferrante to see his grandmother, all the while the wearing a fetching outfit. You know you want to stay and get to know his grandmere. Then you want to return to the liner, and flirt outrageously with the batchelor and drink pink champagne cocktails and wear divine gowns. You know you want to. Don’t resist. Just watch the movie.

If you haven’t seen it, the movie is a remake of the original movie called Love Affair starring Charles Boyer and Myrna Loy. And after this was made, then it was made into Love Affair again with Warren Beatty and Katherine Hepburn as the grandmere (living in Hawaii, not Villefranche). To the best of my knowledge it has not been remade since, but give it time.

Anyway, Cary Grant plays a worldly playboy with artist tendencies named Nicky Ferrante. Deborah Kerr fresh off her success as Anna in the King and I, plays the chanteuse named Terry McKay making the same crossing on the North Atlantic from the warm Mediterranean. Oh the glamour! Gowns at nite, wool coats on the promenade. Being met on the piers in New York. It’s pretty evident that if Nicky and Terry are not having an affair on the ship, then they should be. They do everything to avoid each other and they are not fooling anyone. They decide as the ship pulls into New York that they need to separate to see if they are still meant to be together and in the meantime they will break up with their current significant others that are waiting on the pier for them. They agree to meet on top of the Empire State Building in 6 months and if one of them is not there, then it is only for a very, very good reason.

ATR 4Nicky leaves his Cruella de Ville look-a-like girlfriend who’s been keeping him in expensive suits and tries to make his living as an artist, even if it means working on billboards (remember when they were painted, and not covered with a saran wrap image?) Meanwhile, Terry resumes her song career in a nightclub in Boston after leaving her man about town boyfriend. She returns to NYC on the appointed date and time to meet up with Ferrante at their rendezvous spot. On the way, she stops at a chic boutique to pick up a little lacy number for her wedding night  and is confronted by her ex who’s been called by the lingerie shop manager. Evidently, he’s a good customer….

Anyway, back at street level, Terry makes the fatal mistake of stepping in front of a bus. Cue the sad music and cut to a shot of Ferrante, waiting on the top of the Empire State building with the sound of sirens in the background. As you can imagine the damage is extensive and although never really given a complete diagnosis, viewers can discern that the heroine is indeed paralyzed or compromised somehow as far as her lower limbs are concerned. She stays in New York with her ex as her ally and health care advocate and the local padre helps her find a job as a music teacher in a local school. I won’t even begin to describe the scenes with the children and the songs, and the full on symphony she has dragooned them into forming.

Meanwhile Ferrante leaves on the next boat he can find and skulks his way around his grandmere’s old place on the hill. Recently deceased, she has left instructions that the handmade lace shawl she wears early in the movie is to be given to Terry. Ferrante is so struck by the gesture that he paints a portrait of Terry wearing the shawl and it is “one of my best works”, his agent tells him.

Fast forward to Christmas. Ferrante is home from Europe and meets up with Cruella, when she discovers that he’s on the passenger roster that day ( what a co-inkydink, it’s Christmas Eve) and she calls him to invite him to the ballet. Meanwhile back at the music school, Terry’s ex and self fashioned knight Lancelot feels she needs a night out for the holiday and takes her to the same ballet.  And you can imagine the scene….

Ferrante hunts her down the next day and appears just as her neighbor is opening the door to leave. When…well, I’ll let Rita Wilson tell you what happens next….

Now if that doesn’t make you want to watch it, then there’s no hope for you! I’ve always considered this a Christmas movie even thought it’s not the main setting, but it is nice to see a little tinsel at the end. And opening and closing credits are shots of Central Park in the snow, very Currier and Ives. Look for more Christmas movie favorites coming over the next couple of weeks!