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Classic Cinema Spotlight: Myra Breckinridge (1970)

May 17, 2024

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Myra Breckinridge 1970, Raquel Welch, Raquel Welch Films, Classic Movie Blog, Unforgettable 1970's Films
 Myra Breckinridge (1970) starts out with the first title card of an image of a letter which said, "I must write it all down. Exactly as it happened. While it is fresh in my memory. But my hand trembles. Why? Twice I've dropped the yellow ball point pen. Now I sit at the surgical table making the greatest effort to calm myself, to put it all down not only for its own sake but also for you, Randolph, who never dreamed that anyone could ever act out totally (underlined three times) his fantasies and survive... Myron Breckinridge"

A few moments later we meet Myron (played by Rex Reed-the film critic) who is having his privates surgically removed by John Carradine (who plays an unnamed surgeon) with an audience in attendance. He impatiently snaps his fingers at the surgeon and tells him to hurry up because "Myra is waiting." And there you have it-the introduction to the namesake of this quirky and unforgettable film. 

Gore Vidal published his book, Myra Breckinridge in 1968 which was satirical in style and challenged the gender and social norms of the 1960's. Although Vidal disowned the film, calling it "an awful joke", just five or ten minutes into the film you know you are about to go on an unforgettable ride. Not all books translate well on screen but it is safe to say both the book and film had a lot to say and neither medium held anything back. 

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Myra Breckinridge 1970, Raquel Welch, Raquel Welch Films, Classic Movie Blog, Unforgettable 1970's Films

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Myra Breckinridge 1970, Raquel Welch, Raquel Welch Films, Classic Movie Blog, Unforgettable 1970's Films
Myron seeks to have a sex change in Europe in order to become Myra (Raquel Welch). According to Myra, Myron died in order to give "birth" to Myra. Upon returning back to the states, the newly christened Myra seeks out Myron's uncle (John Huston) pretending to be her own widow in order receive money. Throughout the film Myron is always close by because he is a part of Myra.

Eventually Myra works for uncle Buck as a teacher in his acting school all the while uncle Buck begins to investigate a little more into who Myra really is. Things get complicated when Myra becomes obsessed with two students at the school, Rusty (Roger Herren) and Mary Ann (Farrah Fawcett). Rusty and Mary Ann represent everything that is traditional and "normal" according to their personal beliefs and Myra wants to take that away from them desperately. 

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Myra Breckinridge 1970, Raquel Welch, Raquel Welch Films, Classic Movie Blog, Unforgettable 1970's Films

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Myra Breckinridge 1970, Raquel Welch, Raquel Welch Films, Classic Movie Blog, Unforgettable 1970's Films
Things begin to take a unexpected turn when Myra uses her influence as a teacher to give dear Rusty a physical examination. Rusty is then tied to a table and assaulted by Myra. This act causes Rusty to leave his beloved Mary Ann and give Myra a chance to comfort and cozy up with her. Myra then attempts to seduce the young and vulnerable Mary Ann (Fawcett). Myra's goal was to break them both out of their gender norms and make her victory complete by exerting power over both sexes. Interestingly most of the sex scenes are cleverly interrupted by scenes from classic films to give the viewer an idea to what is actually happening without it tipping into the adult film category.

Then enters the legendary Mae West who who came out of a 27-year retirement to play Leticia Van Allen. Van Allen sashay's through her office and selects from a group of gorgeous young men hoping to land a role but instead land themselves in her bed. Van Allen, like Myra, enjoys having her way with whomever she wants like seducing the one and only Tom Selleck (his film debut). Mae West does not disappoint. Every word out of her mouth is a sexual innuendo that she is notoriously known for which brings endless fun to the film.

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Myra Breckinridge 1970, Raquel Welch, Raquel Welch Films, Classic Movie Blog, Unforgettable 1970's Films
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Myra Breckinridge 1970, Raquel Welch, Raquel Welch Films, Classic Movie Blog, Unforgettable 1970's Films
Myra tends to go on tangents about Old Hollywood and the importance of classic films which I ultimately found charming. She dressed in glamorous 1940's inspired outfits and has her home decked out in classic film posters. Her tangents don't stop with her passion for all things yesteryear but also about her ultimate goal to somehow destroy "the last vestigial traces of traditional manhood in order to realign the sexes while decreasing population thus increasing human happiness and preparing humanity for its next stage". A tangent she has with Myron-which of course she only sees, all the while seducing and pleasing him. Is she seducing herself? Is Myron real in all of this?

Eventually things start to unravel even more when uncle Buck discovers that Myron never died. Myra realizes she is discovered and shows a shocked uncle Buck who she really is. A manifestation of Myron swoops in and claims that Myra has become too ambitious. He then runs her down and thats when its discovered that it is really Myron in the hospital but not for a gender reassignment surgery but because of a actual car accident. His nurse happens to be Mary Ann and while looking at his bedside table, Myron sees a magazine featuring an article on Raquel Welch.

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Myra Breckinridge 1970, Raquel Welch, Raquel Welch Films, Classic Movie Blog, Unforgettable 1970's Films
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Myra Breckinridge 1970, Raquel Welch, Raquel Welch Films, Classic Movie Blog, Unforgettable 1970's FilmsThis film is a statement piece-addressing topics that are not new to us today but I am sure were not as openly spoken about back in 1969 when the film was made or 1970 when the film was released. It addressed feminism, homosexuality, transsexuality, as well as American expressions of machismo and patriarchy. Everything shared and stated in the film felt like it was done with purpose, although there was a lot of camp weaved throughout.

It's safe to say that this film has a bad reputation and there have been many through the years that have had nothing good to say about it including Welch herself who said, "The only good thing about that was the clothes." It might not be a masterpiece but it is unique, visually interesting, and has an iconic cast of characters. And let us not forget the stunning late Raquel Welch who gives an indelible performance as Myra Breckinridge.

Walking in Style with Fashionable Canes

May 16, 2024

A Vintage Nerd, Fashionable Canes, Living with CMT, Stylish Canes, Blog Collaborations, Fashion stix, Fashionable folding canes
I know from personal experience that having to use a walking aid comes with challenges-both physical and mental. Accepting the use of a walking aid can be tricky. But once you do it then becomes all about finding the right walking aid. 

Walking aids don't have to be some old clunky thing you use to help you walk better. It can become a part of your personal style. Fashionable Canes has canes that can give you the support you need while also being stylish. 

My new cane from Fashionable Canes is lightweight, foldable, and stylish. I tried out my new trusty cane the other day while enjoying an outing in the city with my family. It felt sturdy and gave me all the support I needed while walking around the busy streets of Manhattan. Having the wrist strap on my cane also came in super handy when I needed to free my hand to do other things. 

If you happen to need a walking aid to help you out during the day there is no reason why you can't do it in style. Are you interested in getting your own fashionable cane? You can get one by using this link HERE as well as my code avintagenerd-which will give you 15% off your purchase. This code will expire early July 2024 so if you do acquire one of your own, let me know how you liked using it.

A Vintage Nerd, Fashionable Canes, Living with CMT, Stylish Canes, Blog Collaborations, Fashion stix, Fashionable folding canes
A Vintage Nerd, Fashionable Canes, Living with CMT, Stylish Canes, Blog Collaborations, Fashion stix, Fashionable folding canes
A Vintage Nerd, Fashionable Canes, Living with CMT, Stylish Canes, Blog Collaborations, Fashion stix, Fashionable folding canes
**In collaboration with Fashionable Canes: All my opinions are my own**

12 Classic Films To Watch on Mother's Day

May 10, 2024
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog

I have heard it said that becoming a parent is not for the faint of heart. After being one for almost seventeen years I can say that it is 100% true. There are so many highs and lows-for yourself as a woman, for each of your children, your spouse, and others around you. 

Becoming a mother isn't always a picture perfect experience. Some women face the challenges of divorce, widowhood, neglectful fathers to their children, illness, disability, racism, financial worries, wars, and violence. As beautiful as motherhood can be, it can also be complicated by forces not under a mother's control. So what does a mother do?  

A good mother does the best she can with the circumstances given to her. A good mother struggles so that she can provide better for her child. A good mother always tries to keep their child safe. Sometimes those basic gifts a mother tries to bestow to a child is made almost impossible because of the circumstances of their surroundings. 

It isn't easy being a women in this world-then or now. These films tell stories about mothers who are doing the very best they can with what they have. They make decisions and sacrifices in the hope that their child could have a better life for them. From Lucille Ball playing Helen Beardsley in Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) who tries to navigate a blended family of twenty children to Barbara Stanwyck, playing Stella Martin in Stella Dallas (1937)  who alienates her daughter in hopes that she would have a better life with her father who is a man of privilege. 

Some of these films might make you cry, make you laugh, or enrage you-but they are stories about motherhood that can most definitely inspire you. All of the mothers in these films really do their best by their children. Sometimes their best is good enough and sadly sometimes it is not.

Here are 12 classic films that you can watch for Mother's Day:

Stella Dallas (1937) 

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, Stella Dallas 1937

Mrs. Miniver (1942)

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Mildred Pierce (1945)

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, Mildred Pierce 1945

I Remember Mama (1948)

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, I Remember Mama 1948

Imitation of Life (1959)

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Two Women (1961)

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, Two Women 1961

Mamma Roma (1962)

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, Mamma Roma 1962

Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, Bunny Lake is Missing 1965

Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)

Claudine (1974) 

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, Claudine (1974)

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Mother, Classic Movies about mothers, 12 Classic films to watch on Mother's Day, Old Hollywood Blog, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

Freaky Friday (1976)

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Vintage Teen: 6 Benefits of Journaling

April 25, 2024
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Vintage Teen, The Art of Journaling, Vintage Teen Journal, Retro Lifestyle Blog, Vintage Inspired Fashion

I started journaling at the age of nine back in 1985. I still have most of my journals. That first one sadly perished in a house fire but I still remember feeling the excitement of writing in it and sharing all about my secret crush. It feels so special to be able to look back on your life in such detail because of the gift of journaling. 

Here are 6 benefits from journaling:

1. Connect with yourself-create a dialogue with yourself and connect with who you are and who you want to be.

2. Discover  the world around you-writing down the things you experience reconnects you to yourself and the world around you.

3. Boost your memory-it can help you remember your experiences long after you have written them down.

4. Boost emotional intelligence-you are able to work out your feelings about things and gain a deeper understanding to what you are feeling.

5. Reduces stress-writing things down can help you vent out everything you are feeling and going through.

6. Inspires creativity-you can list ideas or flush them out while you are writing.

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Vintage Teen, The Art of Journaling, Vintage Teen Journal, Retro Lifestyle Blog, Vintage Inspired Fashion
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Vintage Teen, The Art of Journaling, Vintage Teen Journal, Retro Lifestyle Blog, Vintage Inspired Fashion

Classic Cinema Spotlight: The Monster Club (1981)

April 14, 2024
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Despite being a critical and commercial failure, The Monster Club (1981) is no ordinary B horror movie. It stars Old Hollywood legends Vincent Price as the Vampire Erasmus, John Carradine as the horror author, R. Chetwyn-Hayes, and Donald Pleasance as the Vampire Hunter Pickering. Each of these A-list stars are known for a massive and diverse body of works as actors but they are each famous for being horror movie icons.

The film begins with Vincent Price who plays the Vampire Erasmus walks around looking for a little midnight snack. Before you know it he is nibbling on John Carradine. Although Price is famous for the many horror movies he has been, this is the only film where he actually plays a vampire. After their awkward first meeting they politely introduce themselves to one another. Erasmus declares that Chetwyn-Hayes is his favorite horror author and then invites him to come along to a monster club that he frequents.

A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster

A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster

The monster club is filled with all sorts of creatures and ghouls, many who you can tell are wearing silly monster masks. But its the vibe of the club that hooks you in. Immediately you hear a band called The Viewers sing the theme of the film called, Monsters Rule O.K. Then Erasmus begins to explain the hierarchy of monsters to Chetwyn-Hayes from coolest poster I have even seen.

Erasmus explains to his new human friend, "We have the primate monsters: vampires, werewolves and ghouls. Now, a vampire and a werewolf would produce a werevamp, but a werewolf and a ghoul would produce a weregoo, and a vampire and a ghoul would produce a vamgoo. A weregoo and a werevamp would produce a shaddy. Now, a weregoo and a vamgoo would produce a maddy, but a werevamp and a vamgoo would produce a raddy. Now, if a shaddy were to mate with a raddy or a maddy the result would be a mock. Frankly, that's just a polite name for a mongrel."

There are four stories told while at the monster club as well as musical sequences in-between each story. The main story is about Erasmus and his human friend, Mr. Chetwyn-Hayes, which bookends the other three story. The first story Erasmus shares is about a Shadmock and warns Chetwynd-Hayes that "oh, you should see the results of a Shadmock's whistling. The story begins when a young lady named Angela and her greedy boyfriend begin looking to find ways of stealing and making an easy buck. Angela ends up landing a job with a reclusive man named Raven, who happens to be a Shadmock. Although Angela finds him both terrifying and repulsive, she agrees to work for him in order to get closer to his money. The end is shocking and tragic when the Shamock releases his infamous whistle.

A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
Just as the story ends a new rock segment begins with a song by B.A. Robertson called, "Sucker For Your Love." Erasmus proudly declares that "they are playing his song" because it is all about being a vampire. As soon as the whole semi-music video experience has ended we get introduced to another story. This one is wholesome story about a film producer retelling about his life with his mother (Britt Ekland) and father.  He refers to his fathers "profession" as a night worker until it is revealed that he is actually a vampire. Its a little cheesy but Donald Pleasance makes a unforgettable appearance as Pickering, the vampire hunter. The tales ends with the unconventional family finding joy together as a family while ironically poor Pickering finds himself on the other side of a stake. 

A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
Another song is sung this time by Stevie Vann who belts out, "The Stripper" which is paired with the most unique stripe tease in film history. After this wild sequence is played out, Erasmus shares his final story which is all about ghouls. It stars Stuart Whitman as Sam, a movie director who is scouting for locations for his latest film.  He encounters a young girl by the name of Luna, who is a humegoo (half human/half ghoul), who is keen on escaping the village. Things begin to get strange and while hiding out in a church Sam discovers that the inhabitants actually live off the bodies of the dead. Both Sam and Luna try their best to escape but horrors await them no matter how hard they try.

A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
A Vintage Nerd, The Monster Club 1981, Vincent Price, 80s Horror Movies, The Monster Club, Monster Club Poster
The humegoo story is probably the saddest and most terrifying of them all. But Erasmus isn't done yet as he declares to Chetwynd-Hayes  that he wants to put him up for membership. Eramus begins to cheerfully list to the other club members all the imaginative ways that humans have of being horrible to each other. Eramus then asks, "Can we truly call this a Monster Club if we do not boast amongst our membership a single member of the human race?" He then declares that humans are the most despicable monsters of all. And to the surprise of the viewer as well as to Chetwynd-Hayes himself, is made an honorary monster and member of the club. To celebrate, Erasmus and  Chetwynd-Hayes dance to The Pretty Things sing "The Monster Club". It's a perfect ending to a quirky monster movie that is utterly unforgettable. 

Be Inspired: Sunshine Award Questionnaire

April 10, 2024
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Old Hollywood Blog, Classic Movie Reviews, Old Movie Blog, Realweegiemidget’s Reviews, Sunshine Blogger Award
The nicest thing happened a few months ago. Gill from Realweegiemidget’s Reviews blog nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award. It's been ages since I have been gifted one of these. They were really popular when I first started blogging back in 2011. It was really cool to be nominated and thought of by such a wonderful blogger like Gill from Realweegiemidget’s Reviews.

Now technically I will not be receiving the award because I cannot nominate 11 bloggers. Frankly the world of blogging especially for us vintage bloggers has changed dramatically over the years. Many have left and stopped blogging. Honestly I just don't know 11 consistent bloggers well enough to nominate them. So although I won't fully receive this award, I still wanted to answer the questions that Gill asked because they were just too much fun to pass up. 

I also wanted a chance to share a little more about me. Hope you enjoy reading and check out Realweegiemidget’s Reviews blog when you can. 


Who would be your dream interview subject and why? 

My dream interview would have been a gaggle of Old Hollywood stars including Joan Crawford, Jimmy Stewart, Sidney Poitier, Debbie Reynolds, Bette Davis, and Ricardo Montalb├ín, 

What’s your favorite blogathon that you have either run or taken part in?

All the ones I have participated in the past year.

You have the choice of a film festival to attend in 2024 in an all-expenses paid trip, which do you choose…?

I only know of one. The TCM Classic Film Festival. It began in April 2010 but by then I was pregnant with my third child and my two eldest where toddlers themselves. I knew I wouldn't be able to go and I remember feeling crushed. I really wanted to meet Robert Osborne as I admire him greatly. So going to this festival would be a long awaited dream come true for me.

What film-inspired present would you buy for me if you had 50 dollars (or your own currency) to spend…?

I would get you a few dvds and books to enjoy because they are the gifts that keep on giving.

Imagine that you are moving house, which actor or actress would you choose as your next door neighbor?

I think I would want neighbors who would be friendly and fun. I think it would be Debbie Reynolds and Robert Osborne. Debbie would never be boring and Robert (who did technically acted a little in the 1960's) would be great to do a book club with or watch movies with all the time.

What’s your favorite film franchise?

Of modern films I will say the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises. 

Which year is your favorite in film, and support your answer with your top 3 movies from this time…

I cannot choose a year in classic films because it's just too much too sift through. I can give one favorite year of films from the 1980's because its the main decade of my childhood. These films are super nostalgic for me. The year is 1985 and some of the top favorites of that year were; The Last Dragon, The Goonies, Back to the Future, Explorers, Fright Night, Silver Bullet, Young Sherlock Holmes, Legend, Ladyhawke, and Enemy Mine. It was a great year for movies. 

Recommend a film to me that you think would easily fit in my blog.

La Prima Notte Di Quiete (1972) starring the great Alain Delon. I would also highly recommend I Knew Her Well (1965). It's beautiful and deeply haunting.

Without saying who the murderer is, which Agatha Christie inspired movie would you change the murderer in…

I would have to choose The Mirror Crack'd (1980)

What's your favorite films related biopic? 

I cannot share one so I will share a slew that I have enjoyed through the years. Some of these are; Brian's Song (1971), The Elephant Man (1980), Amadeus (1984), Empire of the Sun (1987), Chaplin (1992), Girl, Interrupted (1999), Boys Don't Cry (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Remember the Titans (2000), Frida (2002), The Pianist (2002), Hotel Rwanda (2004), Philomena (2013) Hacksaw Ridge (2016), Hidden Figures (2016), Elvis (2022).

Who was the first celebrity who responded to you on social media and who was the last…?

None. The celebs I appreciate are all much older and don't know how to use use social media very well. Oh, Ethan Peck (Gregory Peck's grandson) did like a comment I left for him on his IG page-does that count?

Classic Cinema Spotlight: Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973)

March 29, 2024
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Classic Movie Blog, Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), Seventies Movies, Old Hollywood Blog

Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973) was discovered on one of my many trips down the rabbit hole when researching movies. I saw that it starred Maggie Smith and I knew I would be going on a ride of a lifetime. And as always, she doesn't disappoint.

The film begins with a introduction to Walter Elbertson (Timothy Bottoms) who is painfully shy young man who doesn't really know what he is going to do with his life. His parents send him on a holiday trip to Spain in the hopes that this will spark some passion in his life. Walter is less than enthusiastic to bike ride all over Spain and his asthma doesn't help matters much. In comes Ms. Lila Fisher (Maggie Smith) who is exploring Spain via a tour bus. She comes across as awkward, nervous, and wary of everything and everyone around her. 

Things begin to change for them both when their tours unexpectedly collide. Walter quickly finds himself at a crossroad and decides to ditch his bike and join the tour bus that Lila happens to also be on. He sits himself awkwardly next to Lila while she looks at him uncomfortably. You couldn't find two more different people than Walter and Lila. Walter is young with a future ahead and a willingness to take unplanned risks like jumping on that tour bus. Lila on the other hand, appears to be a bit older than Walter and more cautious about everything she does.

Little by little Walter and Lila find themselves sort of stuck with each other while exploring various parts of Spain. Neither has designs for the other. Not even a friendship was in the cards for either of them, or so they assumed. After spending some time together they find themselves enjoying each other's company. Despite the age difference and the differences of where they were at in their own lives, Walter and Lila manage to find some little bits of joy in the times they spent together. Lila, stuck in her ways and seemingly afraid of change slowly finds herself willing to take a risk on Walter.

They become lovers and decide to leave the tour bus behind them. Lila and Walter make a commitment to one another but it isn't solidified until they come across a dashing Spanish duke who helps Walter realize that he truly wants to be with Lila. Differences aside he finally realizes that he does want something in life and that something is Lila. Things come to a head when Lila confesses to Walter that she is ill and doesn't have much time to live. 

Walter, who started out directionless and passionless, finds that the best thing for both of them would be to spend whatever time they have left-together. Despite both seeming mismatched in every possible way, Walter and Lila end up find peace and joy in their unexpected union. 

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Classic Movie Blog, Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), Seventies Movies, Old Hollywood Blog
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Classic Movie Blog, Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), Seventies Movies, Old Hollywood Blog
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Classic Movie Blog, Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), Seventies Movies, Old Hollywood Blog
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Classic Movie Blog, Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), Seventies Movies, Old Hollywood Blog
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Classic Movie Blog, Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), Seventies Movies, Old Hollywood Blog
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Classic Movie Blog, Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), Seventies Movies, Old Hollywood Blog


An Interview with David Bean: Tiger from West Side Story (1961)

March 22, 2024
A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blog, Old Hollywood Blog, David "Tiger" Bean, Original Cast of West Side Story (1961), Old Hollywood Interviews, Classic Movie Blog, West Side Story (1961), Old Hollywood Movies
I was lucky to meet the lovely Mr. David Bean back in October 2022 at the Chiller Theater Expo in New Jersey. I purchased his book at this event and after reading  When You’re A Jet: A Dancer’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life , I reviewed it on my blog. I was so inspired by his life stories that I decided to try reach out to Mr. Bean in the hopes of conducting an interview. To my surprise I received an email from Mr. Bean himself asking me to give him a call. We started having conversations in December 2023 which then brought me to this magical interview. Mr. Bean was a Jet named "Tiger" from the original West Side Story (1961) cast.  Chatting with Mr. Bean and getting to know his passions for film, dance, family, and life has been a privilege. 


What is one of your fondest memories of working on the film West side story 1961?

The very first day I drove through the gray at Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood was a moment I’ll never forget. As instructed, I arrived with rehearsal clothes and was directed to an old gym on the lot. It was “old home week “as I knew, and had worked with nearly one third of the cast-Tony Mordente (Action), George Chakiris (Bernardo), Eddie Verso (Juan), Bobby Banas (Joyboy). Bobby was an Indian in the 1954 production of Peter Pan on Broadway, my first professional job, at age 14. It was 10 o’clock in the morning, we were all required to take ballet class from Jerome Robbins. A custom we were to repeat every day for duration of filming (Nearly a year). Taking class before each rehearsal was brilliant as it saved getting injured. Being prepared to work “full out “when working for Mr. Robbins was essential.

We started the choreography with the prologue, the very beginning of the film. We were given what seemed 10 different versions of every eight phases of music. It was a challenge for sure. In the final cut of the film, most of the choreography reverted to the original stages version, I am 84 years old now, and I can still re-create every dance step from the film. The prologue and cool are seared in my memory. Of course, I’d have to take class before performing either.
The pranks on the studio lot were great fun and managed to get us, Jets, versus sharks, in a heap of trouble. If a jet, like myself, words to walk alone from one studio to another, getting ambushed and pestered by the Sharks. Jets versus Sharks was the standard rule. Jerome Robbins insisted we keep apart, even off the lot.

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You were a part of an ensemble cast of incredible dancers, singers, and actors. Did you enjoy working with such a large diverse group of people? Who did you get along with the best? Whose skills as a fellow creative were you impressed with the most? 

The talent in our cast was mind blowing. In class every day before rehearsals begin class grew into a challenge. The combinations Jerome Robbins was giving us were nearly impossible. True to form, no one ever gave up. If you weren’t up to it, you could just step aside and watch. Natalie would would start class every day. She was on call, however, she rarely continued after the bar work. Not everyone in the cast was a professional dancer. Class was fun for everyone.

George Chakiris was Bernardo in the movie. In the London stage production, he had the role of riff leader of the Jets! He and I (as Jets) Shared a house in London, and George was like a big brother to me. Still is! Doing the movie I wasn’t allowed to be his little brother.

My family all lived in Los Angeles, and I had an apartment in Hollywood. Our after work social life within the cast was rare. Saturday night we had a poker game (with Jets & Sharks) which went on all night. But that’s about it. Alas Natalie never invited me to dinner with JR ( Robert Wagner), her husband. Of course, she was a shark!

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When you first saw yourself in this film--what did you think of your performance and about the message it was trying to convey?

I was numb the first time I saw the movie. I spent a year touring England before I saw it. Over the years when I watched it I started to pick myself apart. “I could’ve done this. I should’ve done that.” But overall, I thought my character was consistent! To this day, I live by the 180 rule. (it’s in my book, “When You’re a Jet”, chapter 1, page 15).

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The film represents a time in this country and particularly a time in New York when kids would group together because of their specific ethnicities. The sixties were a time of radical change and growth. Do you believe this is the reason why this film continues to move so many people even after so many years?

Romeo and Juliet started it all and the after effect would be somewhat the same, provided the storytelling is (was) as beautifully presented as a 1961 version was. I don’t believe the 2021 version left one with the same general understanding of the problem. Spielberg’s version was dark, and perhaps angry, which made the movie, just that, a movie. The original film was honest, real, and told the same story with hearts on both sides. Viewers reacted to that and will to the end of time.

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The younger generations seem to dismiss classic films and simply label them as "old" and "relics"--to many of them it means they have no value in their society. How would you explain the worth of viewing and enjoying classic films to younger people? How would you encourage them to give these films a try? 

You were throwing the ball in the wrong court. The young are, from a very young age, tutored by adults that have responsibility to teach, and then still values. America’s education system, through theater, music, and dance programs teach by example. West Side Story has been used worldwide in the education system and has been, As was Romeo and Juliet to literature. Classic films are the basic learning tool of the young. Who is going to expose them to this tool of the trade? Teachers and more seriously, parents! I dance from the age of six and sang songs of the 20's. It was my parents that lit the flames.

I give lectures to young students of the arts, telling them the importance of discipline. Something the young today are not taught, or encourage to develop the young have to get the classic movie bug from us! Show them the history, learn from the history.

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What films would you recommend to someone just starting out with classic movies? What are some of your favorite classic films?

I gravitate to the classic musical films. Dance has been a major part of my life. Seven brides for seven brothers, carousel, Le girls, sing in the rain, were made with dancers, I knew, and possibly had work with ( most films made in 1950s and 60s). All of the Fred Astaire films are worth seeing over and over just to live in this incredible man’s world be an only an hour at a time. Each young person can find their own passion and films, no matter the age of the film. Think about it – viewing foreign films opens, a new world outside of the box.

Drama is easy to witness firsthand in any Betty Davis, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, or hundreds of performances, available on films.

Parents, teachers, and older folks, like me, must teach and encourage the youth today to find an identify their passion, and dive in. Daffny, You have a fantastic passion for classic and perhaps not so classic vintage movies, did this come to you out of the lust for money? No – absolutely not! But how much more rich your life is because of the vintage nerd. Everyone who is exposed to your passion is the winner. This is how we teach the youth or spark and interest in anyone – young or old!

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If you were buying a car, anything older than 25 it’s considered a classic I believe films are classic because they are good, not because they are old. Alfred Hitchcock first film in 1929 was “blackmail “. It’s a fun murder mystery, but what makes it is Mr. Hitchcock Seen getting on a bus. Something he did in every film he directed. Does that make it a it? I think it does! Viewing old films is fun and educational. As a viewer, one can follow their passion for directing, acting, dance, music, costumes, decor, and set design, writing, sound, editing – anything that you want to, and need to know is right there for the viewing.

Jean and I watched “the seven year “recently with Marilyn Monroe. It was not well done in our opinion, 60 years years ago we both loved seeing it! Seeing it for the second time after five decades have passed, our opinion was astounding. We had a great time, tearing apart the script, direction, editing, and the acting! We couldn’t believe it was a hit so long ago.

This is your blog, and I seem to be rambling on. I have one last word re: the youth of today and Classic Films – Educate-Inspire- –and Honor! As adults the ball is in our court.

Some more of my favorite films (in no particular order): Swing time (1936)
Top Hat (1935), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
The Polar Express (2004), Carousel (1956)
Oklahoma (1955)Singin' in the Rain (1952), and 
Les Girls (1957)

Most every musical film I watch. Hello… I am an old dancer! Musical films, I rarely see more than once, with the exceptions: The Godfather (1972), Titanic (1997), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), The Carpetbaggers (1964)

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 You have had an incredible career in the arts. You also expanded yourself by trying out different jobs and other careers. In your book, When You're a Jet: A Dancer's Extraordinary, Ordinary Life, you share about your "180 percent rule". Could you explain what this is and how anyone can apply it to their own lives?

Nearly all my life my father always encourage us to be the best we could be. “You do not have to be the best in the world! You do have to be the best you can be! “ my life has been full of one challenge after another. Finding the passion and exploring new projects required giving, not 100%, but 180%! Our family motto, “put 180% into that passion, I guarantee success. “ There isn’t anything you can’t do when you have the passion and are willing to give it 180.

The dance continues….  
Sincerely,  David 

 
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