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Tag Archives: WWII

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

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Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Image credit: Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971.

No matter how many sexy pirate or sexy nurse costumes flood the market in October, to me Halloween will always be a holiday for kids. Sure, I may still put on a funky hat or a fake moustache and eat my weight in fun-sized Heath bars, but I know I’ll never recapture the anticipatory magic of slipping a coat over my Little Mermaid seashell bra and heading out into a chilly Pennsylvania evening, empty plastic pumpkin in hand. Therefore this week on Cinema Sips, I’m closing out a month of witch movies with a childhood favorite, Bedknobs and Broomsticks (DVD/Download).

Many people tend to compare this movie to Mary Poppins, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Both feature beloved British actresses, catchy songs, a bit of magic, dirty London streets, and an unfortunate live action/cartoon interlude. However, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is slightly grittier than Mary and her penguins. This film follows a trio of homeless orphaned children sent to live in the village of Pepperinge Eye during the WWII bombing of London. They wind up in the care of Angela Lansbury, a secret witch-in-training with a surly disposition and an endless supply of tweed skirts, who feeds them grain bowls and can’t ride a broom to save her life. But in the end, they all work together on magic spells to defeat the Nazi’s, and live happily ever after. Because Disney!

Lansbury’s Eglantine Price is a buttoned up lady, whose one indulgence (I like to imagine), is a small glass of sherry and a good book.  Actually, that sounds kind of perfect to me as well.  Let’s celebrate this unlikeliest of witches with a classic EGG-white cocktail, the Sherry Flip.

Sherry Flip

2 oz dry Sherry

1 oz simple syrup

1 egg white

Pinch of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake well to combine. Then add ice, and shake vigorously to chill. Strain into a small wine glass. Dust with nutmeg.

Although many witches in cinema use their powers for romantic love, I applaud Eglantine on using hers for the good of her country. You see, witches don’t have to be scary. They can be intriguing, intelligent, kind, and pragmatic. They can have a thirst for knowledge that takes them from the bookshops on Portobello Road to a magical undersea dance hall. It’s all in your perception. Cheers!


Peyton Place

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Peyton Place

Image credit: Peyton Place, 1957

I’m a sucker for vintage New England, so naturally this week’s film Peyton Place (DVD/Download) is right up my Episcopalian-and-lobster-roll-alley. Though it would later be turned into a hit TV soap opera, the film adaptation of the Grace Metalious novel is pretty soapy on its own. Teenage sex; adultery; abortion; murder in front of the Christmas tree- pretty scandalous stuff even now, let alone in the 1950s. But what I love about this film (in addition to Lana Turner’s wardrobe) is that it doesn’t feel dated.  Rather, it succeeds in shining a light on social issues we’re still dealing with today.

Set in the sleepy New England town of Peyton Place just before World War II breaks out, the film follows teenage characters as they struggle with the prudish views of their parents. Lana Turner rants about how sex ed shouldn’t be taught in schools, yet she refuses to talk to her own daughter about it at home, thus pushing her away. Cute little Russ Tamblyn plays a Norman Bates-type henpecked boy whose own mother is even worse. Did Hitchcock use Tamblyn’s Norman as inspiration? I have to wonder. The film leaves it to the town doctor and the high school principal to educate the rest of the community on their backwards thinking, and I just want to stand up and cheer anytime these men are onscreen. Finally, someone in this film is using common sense and science to make a compelling argument, societal backlash be damned.

Lana Turner does a brilliant job in her role as a supreme ice queen, causing the men in the town to shy away for fear of “frostbite”. She’s buttoned up, beautiful, and sardonic- a classic film icon if I’ve ever seen one. While watching Peyton Place, celebrate Ms. Turner with an Ice Queen cocktail.

Ice Queen

Cucumber slice

1 1/2 oz light rum

¾ oz lime juice

½ oz simple syrup

1 tsp crème de menthe

2 oz prosecco

Lime twist

Muddle cucumber at the bottom of a cocktail shaker with the rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Add ice and crème de menthe. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Top with prosecco, and garnish with a lime twist.

Ice Queen

By the end of the film, I’m still marveling to myself that the battles being waged onscreen are still the same ones we’re fighting today. Should sex ed be taught in schools? Should abortion be legal in cases of rape and incest (and any other damn time it’s a bad situation)? Are churches doing a disservice by preaching abstinence-only? The film comes down pretty hard on the left (as do I) but I find it depressing to realize that after 70 years we’re STILL fighting about these things. All I can say is, pass the rum. Cheers!

The Sound of Music

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Image credit 20th Century Fox, 1965, The Sound of Music

Image credit 20th Century Fox, 1965, The Sound of Music

There has been a lot of media attention lately over the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music (DVD/Download). That’s all the excuse I need to watch Julie Andrews frolic through the Austrian alps with a ragtag group of drapery-wearing children. The Sound of Music is a great film for springtime, and as I drive past fields of Texas bluebonnets, I can’t help wanting to pull over and burst into “The Hills are Alive.” Thankfully, I don’t (you’re welcome, Texas).  Only Julie Andrews and apparently Lady Gaga can pull this off.

The Sound of Music is about a nun-in-training who becomes the governess for a wealthy Austrian family just before WWII. The Von Trapp children lost their mother years ago, and their widowed father is a harsh disciplinarian. Since Julie Andrews is so good at handling precocious wealthy children, she plays the governess Maria. She teaches the kids to have fun, sing, dance, and melt their father’s heart. Captain Von Trapp is played by Christopher Plummer, and his secret attraction to Maria makes him pretty dreamy. Catchy songs by Rogers and Hammerstein make this a fun movie to watch, despite the creepy puppet show about 90 minutes in, and Maria’s heinous outfits. Thank heavens Captain Von Trapp briefly dates someone with style, the Baroness Schraeder. She gets a bad rap, wanting to send the kids to boarding school, but I actually really love this character. She wears gorgeous clothes, hosts fabulous parties, gets to date Captain Von Trapp, and is terrible at sports. A lady after my own heart.

We first meet The Baroness when she arrives in Salzburg with “Uncle Max”. He is the original cool uncle, and certainly no stranger to a cocktail. Unfortunately his good times are shattered when The Baroness serves him pink lemonade on the veranda. Just… lemonade. Max deserves better, so in his honor, while watching The Sound of Music, I recommend drinking a Pink Parasol.

Pink Parasol

2 oz Pink Lemonade

2 oz Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka

Club Soda

Build drink over ice, stirring gently before topping with club soda. Garnish with a pink parasol. I wonder if Marta ever got hers??

pink parasol

It’s hard to pick a favorite song in this stellar musical. “My Favorite Things”? “Edelweiss”?? “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”??? GAH- there are so many!! This movie makes me want to go to Salzburg and celebrate them all. Except the creepy puppet song- I can skip the yodeling.  Cheers!