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Tag Archives: Clark Gable

It Happened One Night

Image Credit: It Happened One Night, 1934.

I don’t know what this says about me, but I have a thing for grumpy heroes in popular culture. I guess when I really stop to think about it, I’m the grumpy hero of my own life: I don’t have time for nonsense, my baseline descriptors are sarcastic and pessimistic, but deep down inside I’m a romantic puddle of mush. Maybe that’s why I adore Clark Gable so much in this week’s film It Happened One Night (Disc/Download)—we are two cynics who found love, despite our better instincts.

Hailed as one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, It Happened One Night 100% lives up to the hype. It’s amazing to me how this 1930s screwball comedy about a scandalized socialite falling for a wisecracking journalist still manages to feel fresh and relevant nearly a century later. Featuring tropes as old as time (enemies-to-lovers + forced proximity), Frank Capra’s ode to romance on the road is smart, daring, and unbelievably funny. While the script is great, it’s the acting that really sells it for me. Claudette Colbert is both ballsy and vulnerable, so desperate to get to The Wrong Man that she jumps off a yacht, hops on a Greyhound, spends the night with a total stranger (The Right Man), and flashes her gams while hitchhiking. And yet, she still needs Clark Gable to tell her how bus schedules work, and the proper way to dunk a donut, and how to not stand out like a sore thumb among the plebeians. Meanwhile, he needs a woman who makes him laugh, calls him out on his oversized ego, and is ready and willing to take the leap into a life of adventure. These two may be on opposite sides of the curtain, but we know it’s only a matter of time before those walls of Jericho come tumbling down.

Claudette Colbert’s character Ellie Andrews is described as a spoiled brat, but I think she’s more of a pissed-off brat. She’s tired of other people calling the shots in her life, and she’s ready to take the reins. This cocktail I found a few months ago in the New York Times cooking section seems tailor-made for Ellie- The Bitter Heiress!

The Bitter Heiress

3 oz Lillet

1 oz Fresh-squeezed Orange Juice

½ oz Campari

Orange peel

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add the first three ingredients. Stir until chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Take the orange peel, hold it over the glass with the skin facing down, then strike a match and hold it between the peel and the drink. Squeeze peel toward match to spray citrus oil onto the surface of the drink, and discard. Garnish with a fresh slice of peel.

If you need a fun romp for an at-home date night, or just a solo screening that’ll make you feel a little less pessimistic about the world, quit bawlin’ and give It Happened One Night a chance. Here’s to the merry go round!

Gone With the Wind

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Gone with the Wind

Image credit: Gone With the Wind, 1939.

This month I’m kicking off a special series of posts I like to call “Cocktails and Corsets”. All of these movies feature strong female leads in some truly bone-crushing costuming. These actresses really had to be tough to deal with this torturous undergarment. Perhaps no other movie character in the history of cinema has displayed as much grit and determination as Scarlett O’Hara in this week’s film, Gone with the Wind (DVD/Download). She delivered Melanie’s baby, fought carpetbaggers, and flirted with Southern scallywags, all while wearing a corset. That takes guts, and possibly a few bruised ribs.

Though Scarlett is pretty tough, she would have been nothing without her maid. Hattie McDaniel is truly the unsung hero of GWTW, lacing up that shapewear with superhuman strength, while reassuring her petulant charge that a bigger waist after childbirth is to be expected. It’s because of Mammy that Scarlett’s outfits were so outstanding. Even wearing some old drapes, she looked like a million bucks (way better than those pesky Von Trapp children). Her tiny figure and opulent gowns quickly attracted the attention of Rhett Butler, AKA The Dream Man.  Unfortunately, Scarlett’s personality was not nearly as flattering as her clothes.  If I were Rhett, I would have left her for the army too.

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to catch a screening of this film at the historic Fox Theater in Atlanta. Although the film originally premiered at the Loews Theater, the cast stayed across the street from the Fox, at The Georgian Terrace Hotel. I have very fond memories of sipping the most southern of beverages on the veranda of this hotel (though it probably would have tasted better with Clark Gable in proximity).  While watching Gone with the Wind, I recommend drinking a Mint Julep.

Mint Julep

4-5 mint leaves

1 tsp powdered sugar

2 tsp water

2 oz bourbon

Sprig of Mint for garnish

Muddle mint, powdered sugar, and water together at the bottom of a glass. Fill with cracked ice, then top with bourbon. Gently stir ingredients together, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Mint Julep

One of my favorite stories surrounding GWTW comes from my late grandmother, who used to tell us about how she skipped school with her girlfriends to go see it in 1939. To think of her swooning over Rhett Butler and being scandalized (in a good way) by Scarlett still makes me smile, as if a movie can be a sort of time machine that bridges the gap between generations. If you’ve never taken the time to watch Gone with the Wind and soak in the historical and cultural significance, I have only this to say: Frankly, my dear, you should give a damn. Cheers!

*For more great Gone With the Wind information and behind-the-scenes photos, be sure to check out this amazing book from the University of Texas Press. This is a difficult film for many, with very controversial themes. But by understanding the context in which it was made, I believe it can serve as an important record of our past.