Fall in love with Washington, D.C. all over again!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Mrs. Miniver

Mrs. Miniver was one of the first dramas to focus on the horrors of World War Two that was sweeping across Europe. It is set in England, and Greer Garson plays Mrs. Miniver, a woman who is trying to survive and keep her family together during the bombings.

The film highlights the efforts of a middle-class English family to survive the bombings and early days of the war. A German soldier stops by their house, then her husband takes off to help evacuate the British troops from Dunkirk -- a pivotal part of salvaging the British army.

This film won six Oscars including Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture. It has also landed on the National Film Registry.

Now people will tell you this film is full of propaganda -- but what movie coming out of Hollywood during the war didn't have an element or two of propaganda? If you want to get a sliver of what the early days of the war were like, then this is a good one to try. It is a drama...there are few laughs...but it is still a film well worth viewing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mount Vernon News: Ann Pamela Cunningham fulfills her mission of preserving Historic Mount Vernon.

Ann Pamela Cunningham: Historic Preservation Pioneer:

The founder of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association fulfilled her mission of preserving Historic Mount Vernon.  By Jessie Biele

This is the first part in a three-part series about the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association in honor of Women's History Month. Check back next Friday to learn how one headstrong woman protected Mount Vernon during the Civil War in part two of this series.
Long before the crusade for women’s rights, the women who established the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association were leaders in their own right. Founder Ann Pamela Cunningham was a Southern belle who made it her life’s goal to restore and preserve the home of our country’s founding father.  Read the story here. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Holiday Inn

Thanks so much for leaving some of your favorite movies here and on Facebook last week. You've given me quite an assortment to track down.

So today I want to share one of my all time favorites with you: Holiday Inn. Don't let the title scare you off. This is not a Christmas movie though they do sing White Christmas in it. And let's face it, who can sing that song like Bing Crosby? In fact, the movie won its only Oscar for best song in White Christmas. Hum with me...I'm dreaming of a White Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know...

Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are the male leads in Irving Berlin's classic. They take turns crooning out hit after hit: songs like Easter Parade, You're Easy to Dance With (yes, Fred Astaire croons and dances in that one), Be Careful It's My Heart and many more. you can find the full list here.

There's a classic love triangle between Jim (played by Bing), Linda Mason, and Ted (Fred). Some of the lengths that Jim goes to keep them apart are comical, especially in one of the dance scenes. Imagine mixing a very stiff 18th Century French dance with jazz. :-) And Jim gives up his dream so that Linda can have hers, but the way he does it is a wee bit heavy-handed. For the rest, well, you'll have to watch this movie yourself. It can be viewed at anytime of the year.

And don't forget to appreciate Fred Astaire's brilliant firecracker dance. I LOVE IT!!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Allergies and Cherry Blossom Festivals a Combination for Misery?

This year Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the centennial of Japan’s presentation of the cherry trees to the United States in 1912. The festival is reported to include the blooming of 3,700 cherry trees, including 100 of Yoshino from Japan. This year’s festival has also been reported to fall at the peak pollen surge for Washington, DC, two weeks before the average bloom.

So what’s a cherry blossom lover and allergy sufferer to do? Well, you can stay at home and take a look at these Cherry Blossoms Photos! Or you can learn from other bloggers who’ve braved the cherry blossom allergy season and figure out how to tame your allergies so you can enjoy the festival.

Sorry, I’m Allergic…

Spring Allergies - These Cherry Blossoms Are Killing Me


Spring Allergies Are Back: Five Natural Ways to Put Them in Check

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bringing Kids to the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.?

Planning on attending the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. with kids in tow? Check out these helpful articles to help you plan your trip so everyone enjoys the festival!

Cherry Blossom Festival: Parents weigh the joy vs. the hassle

The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival begins March 20, and with it comes the annual question for parents in the region: Do we deal with the hassle? Read the rest of the article.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Still Time to Make Plans to Attend a Cherry Blossom Festival Near You!

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Centennial Celebration, will be held March 20 – April 27, in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC, but Washington, D.C. is not the only place Cherry Blossoms are blooming. Here is a listing of other states that are joining in the spring festivities. Please come back for updated listing of festivals.

Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival April 14-15 and 21-22

Macon Georgia's International Cherry Blossom Festival March 16-25

Philadelphia's Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival March 23 - April 21

Friday, March 16, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart. Ingrid Bergman.

Chemistry. Tension. War.

What more do you need to make a classic romantic drama?

A dark hero. A piano player as sidekick. The Vichy French. Nazis. And a husband who is wanted for resistance efforts.

Three Academy Awards including Best Picture in 1944.

Memorable lines like "Play it again, Sam," "Here's looking at you, kid," and "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine." 

Casablanca is one of those movies that is iconic and unforgettable. It is the story of Rick and Ilsa, but also the story of the war. Ilsa's husband, who she'd been told had died in resistance activities when she had a brief affair with Rick, has stumbled into his bar in Casablanca. The Nazis are there, and Rick is making a living running a bar. All kinds of subplots exist with people trying to flee the reach of the Nazis, but as they close in there is little anyone can do to escape.

Ilsa is desperate to get the fake documents she and her husband need to escape. She'll even stay with Rick if that means Victor escapes.

Rick is enigmatic and played perfectly by Humphrey Bogart. I think this is one of his finest roles.

It also gives an interesting perspective on the war in 1942. Casablanca premiered the month that Allied troops invaded North Africa. And gives a snapshot of how films were being used to position public opinion. It also hints at the plight of Jews trying to escape the Nazi machine committed to consuming them.

If you haven't seen Casablanca, you really must. It is that good.

BTW, here's an interesting website devoted to the film that contains gems like proposed sequels.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Dial M for Murder

For Christmas I bought a TCM collection that contains four suspense movies. The other night I watched Dial M for Murder, an Alfred Hitchcock flick I'd never seen, but very much enjoyed.

An ex-tennis pro executes a plot to kill his wife. When things go horribly wrong, he shifts to plan B. The plot is brilliant, as the husband plots the perfect murder. I love that the boyfriend is a crime novelist, who tries to weave a tale of how the husband could have plotted the murder.

Grace Kelly plays the wife while Ray Milland plays the husband. I haven't seen him in anything else, but very much liked his screen presence. All in all this is a great movie when you want something that has twists and not a hint of romance. It's definitely one I'll watch again.

If you've seen Dial M for Murder, what did you think?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Singing in the Rain

Singing in the Rain is one of those all time classic Hollywood musicals. It is perfection...except for one dance sequence in the middle that doesn't make any sense or add anything to the movie. But the rest of it is a wonderful story with great actors, wonderful songs, and dance numbers that make you want to get up and dance, too.

One of my friends mentioned this one on facebook, and someone commented that they wished it was possible to walk down a street and watch people break out into perfectly choreographed songs and dances.

Gene Kelly is brilliant as Don Lockwood, but I adore Donald O'Connor as Cosmo in this movie. He plays the funny man to the hilt, while Debbie Reynolds gets to play Kathy, the ingenue who has a dream and wants to chase it in Hollywood at the time talkies are making their move. Gene Kelly hams it up as an overdone silent movie star who has to make the transition to the talkies...unfortunately his costar has a voice that won't make the transition. So Don and Cosmo come up with a scheme with Kathy's help that will turn the Dancing Cavalier into a glorious talking film.

Singing in the Rain was nominated for two Oscars, but didn't win either category. It is listed at #79 in IMDb's top 250 list. Here's a link to the trailer.

This is a movie the whole family can enjoy -- though there is that one dance sequence with Cyd Charisse that just doesn't fit. Other than that, the movie is perfection.