Fall Movies!

September may mean back to school but it also means it’s time for town and country fairs!  The air is crisp, the harvest is wrapping up, and everyone heads to the fair to relax with their friends and neighbors.

Here are a few movies that celebrate those good times in one way or another:
Babe (1995)  Totally charming fable has intelligent piglet Babe being raised by matriarch sheepdog Fly, and learning the art of sheep herding along with his new canine brothers. Starring James Cromwell.
Charlotte‘s Web (2006)  Faithful to E.B. White’s timeless 1952 children’s novel about a young girl who rescues runt pig Wilbur from the smokehouse. Starring Dakota Fanning and Julia Roberts.
It happened at the World’s Fair (1963)  Fun and light romance comedy has Elvis and a companion being escorted through the Seattle World’s Fair by a fetching Chinese girl. Starring Elvis Presley.
Ma and Pa Kettle at the fair (1952)  The Kettle’s eldest daughter Rosie want to go to college so Ma enters the county fair baking contest to win some money and Pa buys a decrepit old nag to enter in the fair’s horse race.  Starring Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride.
My girl (1991)  An 11 year old tomboy must come to grips with the realities of life. Starring Anna Chlumsky, Macaulay Culkin, Dan Akroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
State Fair (1945)  Glossy slice of Americana about a family at the Iowa State Fair, featuring plenty of great songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein.  Starring Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews, Fay Bainter, and Percy Kilbride.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)  Wonderful music in this charming tale of a St. Louis family during the 1903 World’s Fair.  Starring Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, and June Lockhart.
Carousel (1956)  Much loved Rodgers & Hammerstein musical about a swaggering carnival barker who tries to change his life after he falls in love with a good woman.  Starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones.
Something wicked this way comes (1983)  Two young boys discover the evil secret of a mysterious traveling carnival that visit their town.  Starring Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd, and Pam Grier.
(Synopses are from VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever)
Scott Handville, Assistant Library Director


Acting for the stage is very different from acting for the screen. The stage actor’s performance must reach not only the audience in the front row, but also the audience in the very last row. Consequently gestures and vocals must be a bit more exaggerated in order to translate to the entire audience. Film acting can involve anything from a long shot with the actor at a distance to an extreme close up where we may only see the actor’s eyes or mouth.

Many stage plays have been adapted to film. It is the screen version that most of us are familiar with. Unfortunately the stage performances are so ephemeral that we can only imagine the impact that the original actors made on their audiences.

Here are just some plays that became famous films and the stars who shone in the original play in comparison to those who made the film famous.


The Lion in Winter 
Rosemary Harris                          Katharine Hepburn
Robert Preston                              Peter O’Toole

Wait until Dark 
Lee Remick                                  Audrey Hepburn
Robert Duvall                               Alan Arkin

        Cherry Jones                                 Meryl Streep
Brian F. O’Byrne                           Philip Seymour Hoffman

        Anthony Quale                              Laurence Olivier
Keith Baxter                                  Michael Caine

A Streetcar Named Desire
Jessica Tandy                                 Vivien Leigh
Marlon Brando                               Marlon Brando

          Tim Curry                                      Tom Hulce
Ian McKellen                                 F. Murray Abraham

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Uta Hagen                                    Elizabeth Taylor
George Hill                                   Richard Burton
Melinda Dillon                              Sandy Dennis
George Grizzard                           George Segal

Driving Miss Daisy 
           Dana Ivey                                     Jessica Tandy
Morgan Freeman                          Morgan Freeman

And in a long series of morphing, the short story “I Am a Camera” by Christopher Isherwood became the play “ I Am a Camera” and then the movie “I Am a Camera” (both starring Julie Harris) which then became the musical “Cabaret” and then finally emerged as the movie “Cabaret” starring Liza Minnelli. Phew.


Oscar Winners of the past . . .

The recent Oscar show got me thinking of past awards, and my mind jumped to wondering what/who won the awards the year I was born.  My homework reveals the winners that year were:
Best Director:  John Ford, The Quiet Man
Best Actor:  Gary Cooper, High Noon
Best Actress:  Shirley Booth, Come Back, Little Sheba
Best Supporting Actor:  Anthony Quinn, Viva Zapata!
Best Supporting Actress:  Gloria Grahame, The Bad and The Beautiful
Keep in mind that Gardiner Public Library has a great movie collection both on DVD and VHS formats and that if we do not have a title in our collection that the chances we can borrow any item via interlibrary loan are excellent.  We already have many of the winning films from last year.  Come on in and borrow an award-winning film today!
 Scott Handville, Assistant Library Director

Nominated Short Films

Watching the Oscars each year reminds me how disappointed I am that we are not able to readily view the animated short films that are nominated each year.  The library has been able to add to our collection here in Gardiner three compilations of these winners and nominees, “A Collection of Academy AwardNominated Short Films”.  The years covered are 2005, 2006, and 2007.  But what about all the other years and other films?  Last year’s winner for Best Animated Short Film was “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr.Morris Lessmore”.  A friend who knew I worked in a library passed a youtube.com link on to me that allowed me to watch this wonderful short film.  It is a heartwarming story of a man who takes care of books.  It was such a success that it was turned into a picture book by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm, and the library now owns that book.  Wouldn’t it be a boon to film fans for some publishing company to make this and other nominated films available for public purchase so we could enjoy what the Academy has deemed worth merit? 
Scott Handville, Assistant Director


Maine Movie Marathon!


Ah, summer in Maine!  For those who can’t experience it in person, there is the charm of a movie set in Maine during the summer.  Two you may not have seen are The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold (2008), a comedy action adventure starring artist William Wegman’s Weimaraner dogs and set in the Rangeley area and the Disney film Summer Magic (1963) starring Haley Mills and Dorothy Maguire.
Remember A Summer Place (1959) with Troy Donahue, Sandra Dee, and Dorothy McGuire set at a Maine resort? The remake of The Parent Trap (1998) with Lindsay Lohan set at a Maine children’s camp? Andre(1994) about that famous seal from Rockport?


Here are a few movies you have probably seen…..but do you know wherethey were filmed in Maine?
Message in a bottle (1999) Kevin Costner, Paul Newman, and Robin Wright Penn starred in this 1999 hit movie filmed in Phippsburg (at Popham Beach), Bath, New Harbor, and Portland.


Peyton Place (1957) This 1957 film starring Lana Turner and Hope Lange was filmed in Camden and Belfast, and is still a classic.


Carousel (1956) This 1956 classic starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones was filmed in Boothbay Harbor and Newcastle.


The Whales of August (1987) with Bette Davis and Lillian Gish, was filmed on Cliff Island near Portland.
 Scott Handville, Assistant Director

Cult Films in the Library

In discussing cult films, the website http://www.filmsite.org/cultfilms.htmldescribes them this way:

“Cult Films have limited but very special appeal. Cult films are usually strange, quirky, offbeat, eccentric, oddball, or surreal, with outrageous, weird, unique and cartoony characters or plots, and garish sets. They are often considered controversial because they step outside standard narrative and technical conventions. They can be very stylized, and they are often flawed or unusual in some striking way.”

The book, Cult Movies, by Danny Peary is devoted to discussing the weird, wonderful, and wacky movies that seem to demand that we watch them over and over. How many of the following from that book have you seen?
Beauty and the Beast(1946) – the original French version, not the Disney version.
Freaks (1932) “It was meant to out-horror Frankenstein but was so successful that it was repeatedly banned.”
Harold and Maude(1971) ”Cult classic pairs Cort as a deadpan disillusioned 20 year old obsessed with suicide…and a loveable Gordon as a fun-loving 80 year old eccentric.” Starring Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon.
I Walked With a Zombie(1943) “Superb, startling images and atmosphere create a unique context for this serious “Jane Eyre”-like story; its reputation has grown through the years.”
Johnny Guitar (1954) “Women strap on six-guns in Nicholas Ray’s unintentionally hilarious, gender-bending western.” Starring Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge.
Laura (1944) “Detective Mark McPherson assigned to the murder investigation of the late Laura Hunt finds himself falling in love with her painted portrait and discovering some surprising facts.” Starring Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, and Clifton Webb.
Pandora’s Box(1929) “This silent classic marked the end of the German Expressionist era and established Brooks as a major screen presence.” Starring Louise Brooks.
Seconds (1966) “Aging banker Arthur Hamilton is frantic to escape his dead-end existence and accepts an invitation from a mysterious organization to give him a second chance at life.” Starring Rock Hudson.
Two for the road(1967) “On a road trip to the French Riviera, Mark and Joanna look back on more than a decade of marriage and find only fragments of their relationship.” Starring Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn.
Where’s Poppa? (1970) “A Jewish lawyer’s senile mother constantly ruins his love life, and he considers various means of getting rid of her, including dressing up as an ape to scare her to death.”  Starring George Segal and Ruth Gordon.
Check them out ……. at the library!
(The short movie descriptions are taken from VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever, also available at the library)
Scott Handville, Assistant Director




Many of us may feel like shouting this as the temperatures in Maine hover around zero degrees in January and February. So…….how about getting away on a vacation?  Maybe not literally as funds may hold us back, but a movie can take you away to a warmer climate with unusual adventures with the click of a remote control.  Pick your destination, choose the movie, and away you go!
Here are a few suggestions of movies available at the Gardiner Public Library that will help you escape the cold…..at least for the time being.
American Werewolf in London (1981)  Perfect example of a good trip gone bad.  Two American students hike the mores in England during their vacation.  They are attacked by a strange creature one night while they are lost.  One student is killed; the other becomes a werewolf.  Scary and humorous at the same time.
Bread and Tulips (2001)  A woman is accidentally left behind by her vacationing family in Italy.  She decides to go to Venice – after alerting her family – and begins her real vacation there.
California Suite (1978)  It’s all about the cast – Alan Alda, Michael Caine, Bill Cosby, Jane Fonda, Walter Matthau, Richard Pryor, Maggie Smith, and Elaine May – as they descend upon the posh Beverly Hills Hotel for their vacations.
Deliverance (1972)  Now this really IS a vacation gone bad.  Four city men decide to canoe down a rural southern river – and end up battling nature, backwoodsmen, and their idea of survival.
Dirty Dancing (1987)  They had the time of their lives. Baby grows up as her family vacations in the Catskills and she becomes involved in the camp’s dance troupe.
Don’t drink the water (2001)  An outrageous mix-up labels an unsuspecting family of American tourists as a notorious ring of spies, starring Woody Allen, Mayim Bialik, Dom DeLuise, Michael J. Fox, Edward Herrmann, Julie Kavner .
The last of Sheila (1973)  A movie producer invites his friends to join him for a cruise on his yacht where he has planned elaborate parlor games to try to figure out which one of them may have killed his wife.
My life in ruins (2009)  A Greek-American tour guide in Greece has lost her zest for life.  Her latest week’s tour may be the group that can turn it around for her and her romance-challenged life.
Six days, seven nights (1998).  A female journalist, on vacation with her fiancé, is forced to hire a cargo pilot to fly her to Tahiti to finish a deadline crisis.  The plane crashes and they are forced to depend upon each for survival.
Two for the road (1967)  The impossibly attractive duo of Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finny play a married couple who look back on their marriage as they take a road trip to the French Riviera.
Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)  Two best friends, very different in goals and temperament, spend the summer in Barcelona where they become involved with a charming artist.
Where the boys are (1960)  Here is the classic spring break movie!  It starts in the snowy northeast when 4 college girls decide to go to Fort Lauderdale for their spring break.

Movies for New Year’s Eve!

Ah, New Year’s Eve!  The promise of a fresh start in a new year!  There are many movies we can think of right off that deal with the Christmas holiday season, but how well has Hollywood dealt with the holiday of New Year’s?  Quick – what movie comes to mind when I say “Happy New Year!“?  Not much comes to mind, does it?

So, in the spirit of the holiday, here are a few movies that have New Year’s as the background for important plot lines:
Poseidon Adventure (1972)At midnight on New Year‘s Eve, the SS Poseidon is struck by a 90-foot tidal wave and is capsized.
The Godfather, Part II (1974) – Michael confronts his brother, Fredo, as a traitor on New Year’s Eve.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)  Gloria Swanson hosts the strangest New Year’s Eve party imaginable for her old Hollywood fogies.
Ocean’s Eleven (1960)  Danny Ocean and his friend Jimmy Foster recruit their buddies to rob four of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas on New Year‘s Eve.
After the Thin Man (1936)  A New Year’s Eve dinner brings murder.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)  Ah, romance !
While you were sleeping (1995)  Who wouldn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve with Sandra Bullock?
When Harry met Sally (1989)  “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Diner (1982)  One of the guys is set to marry his fiancé on New Year’s Eve IF she can pass his sports quiz thus proving herself (at least in his mind) a perfect match.
Scott Handville, Assistant Director

Loving the movies……..

One of my favorite “reference books” is VideoHounds’ Golden Movie Retriever.  This book rates movies on DVD from a high of four bones to a low of no bones which merits a “Woof!”.  The index is great for accessing movies by actor, director, awards, and even category.  Looking for a movie that deals with Mistaken Identity?  How about Invasion of the Body Snatchers or  Seconds?   VideoHound has 4 columns of titles to keep you busy there.  Want to see something about a wedding from hell?  Head right to that category and see what’s available.  There you will find among others Niagarastarring Marilyn Monroe.  You can even get as narrow a search as Zombie soldiers, such as They Saved Hitler’s Brain.

While browsing through this book, keep in mind that through the Minerva system you have accesses to all other participating libraries and so can have almost any movie you can think of .
From VideoHound:
Niagara (1952)   During their honeymoon in Niagara Falls, a scheming wife (Monroe) plans to kill her crazed war-vet husband.  Little does she know that he is plotting to double-cross her.  Steamy, quasi-Hitchcockian mystery ably directed with interesting performances.
Seconds (1966)   An aging banker is frantic to escape his dead-end existence and accepts an invitation from a mysterious organization to give him a second change at life.  Through surgery, his is transformed into a handsome artist (Rock Hudson) with a new identity.  Uncomfortably living in Malibu, he soon finds out all his new neighbors are also “seconds” who are afraid he’ll betray their secrets.  He decides he wants out of his new arrangement and back to his former life but it comes at a very high price.  Eerie film manages to (mostly) overcome its plot problems, with a fine performance by Hudson.
And a small film that is a personal favorite of mine:
Strangers in Good Company (1991)  A loving metaphor to growing older.  Director Scott uses non-actors for every role in this quiet little film about a bus-load of elderly women lost in the Canadian wilderness.  They wait for rescue without histrionics, using the opportunity instead to get to know each other and nature.  Beautifully made, intelligent, uncommon and worthwhile.
Scott Handville, Assistant Director