Friday, April 9, 2010

For the Weekend: Little Gems

Finally, it's another weekend. And thank goodness because it could not get here soon enough. I hope everyone's planning to relax as much as I am this weekend. And for those relaxing hours, I picked a few fun gems to enjoy.

First up is "Calendar Girls" (2003), starring the wonderful ladies Helen Mirren and Julie Waters. It is based on the true story of a group of women in England who decided to make a nude calendar to help raise enough money to buy a new sofa for the cancer wing of their local hospital, only to have the calendar gain international success. Mirren plays Chris, whose best friend Annie (Waters) loses her husband to leukemia, and therefore comes up with the idea for the unique calendar for their local WI (Women's Institute) group. There are some creative differences between the reality and film, of course. In the film, the calendar is opposed by the WI hierarchy, but in the real story, the WI was fully behind the out-of-the-box calendar. First made in 1999, the true WI group of ladies has now made five more editions of the calendar, raising £1.3 million to date for the Leukemia Research group...and a new sofa. You can catch "Calendar Girls" on Hulu right now.

Next, to honor a birthday from this past week, is "Murphy's Romance" from 1985. Birthday boy James Garner (82 years old last Wednesday) stars with Sally Field in this light-hearted romance between a 33-year-old single mother trying to start over with her son (the late Corey Haim) in a new town and the local drugstore owner. Field and director Martin Ritt had to actually fight Columbia Studios to cast Garner in the titular role. Paul Newman was the first choice for Murphy, and after his chemistry with Field in "Absence of Malice," it seemed a perfect match. However, Newman turned the role down, so Field and Ritt had only one other person in mind - Garner. At the time, though, Garner was considered just a television star, and in those days, the television and movie worlds did not mix. They won their fight for Garner though, and according to Field, she got to experience the best on-screen kiss of her career with him. "Murphy's Romance" is currently available through instant streaming on Netflix.

Finally, I highly recommend watching "At Sword's Point" on TCM this Sunday. From 1952, it is another story of the Three Musketeers but this time it is their children doing the brave swordfighting. The aging Queen Anne is in need of the Musketeers assistance again but the quartet, too old to fight themselves, send their offspring instead. Athos, Porthos, and D'Artagnan send their sons, but Aramis sends his daughter Claire (the beautiful swashbuckling queen of the time, Maureen O'Hara). At a time when women were still trying hard to gain equality with men, this film had O'Hara fighting alongside the men without a second thought by anyone. O’Hara was one of my role models as a kid, and in this film, you can see why. She is both strong and beautiful, everything I wanted to be. "At Sword's Point" is not on DVD or online, so be sure to catch it this Sunday (4/10) at 7:30am EST on TCM.

So, I recommend you sit back and relax this weekend. You all deserve it. Enjoy your weekend everyone! Oh, and if you are that blessed, be sure to give all those strong women in your life a kiss. Have fun and I'll see you Monday!

(Post-tidbit: Alan Hale Jr. (the Skipper from “Gilligan’s Island”) plays the son of Porthos in “At Sword’s Point,” following real life a little since his father Alan Hale Sr. played Porthos in “The Man in the Iron Mask” in 1939.)


  1. I'm taking your advice and adding Calendar Girls to my must-see list. It sounds like my kind of movie! Great blog!