‘The Holiday’: a modern rom-com with a classic movie heart

I clearly remember watching the 2006 rom-com “The Holiday” for the first time, not expecting much more than another in a long line of agreeable but often interchangeable romantic comedies.

It would be a nice, but surely forgettable, two-hour escape using the familiar formula: two people meet-cute, fall for each and face obstacles that lead to a “grand gesture” to help them live happily ever.

I was wrong – “The Holiday” is a memorable rom-com that I get more emotionally involved in each time I watch it.

It’s a combination of the great cast (Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Jude Law and Eli Wallach – all who have never been more charming on film), relatable characters (we’ve all gone through the same things), a delightful comic touch, a few twists on rom-com tropes and the sense of joy that permeates this deeply emotional film.

The holiday of the title not only refers to the vacations the two female characters take, but also  celebrations of Hanukkah – often forgotten in holiday films – along with Christmas and New Year’s Eve. That’s why I chose this favorite rom-com to be part of the Happy Holidays blogathon hosted by the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.


But the reason the film is so memorable for me goes deeper. I am in love with “The Holiday” because it is unabashedly in love with love – be it romantic love, family love or the love of friends – and (sit down for this one) it is deeply in love with classic movies.

It’s not simply that writer and director Nancy Meyers has an old black and white movie playing in the background (plenty of films do that) or throws out classic film references at a quick clip. It’s how she weaved the movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood into the fabric of her script. You can’t separate the two and have the same movie. Continue reading “‘The Holiday’: a modern rom-com with a classic movie heart”

TCM Cruise memories: Learning Hollywood history from Mitzi Gaynor, Diane Ladd and Cicely Tyson

As we reminisce about the 2019 Turner Classic Movie Cruise, we talk about the great movies (there were nearly 100 shown), the varied entertainment options (trivia, Bingo), the port adventures and the delicious – and seemingly endless – array of food.

There are so many highlights from the TCM Cruise, which sailed from New York City to Bermuda from Oct. 22 to 27, 2019 on the Disney Magic, that it’s hard to choose a favorite. But I believe the memories we especially savor are those of the people: the cherished friends you only see at TCM events; the social media pals you finally meet in real life; and the TCM hosts and staff who make you feel like you’re one of the gang.

Then there are the stars. Is there anything more magical than hearing stories of classic Hollywood as they can only be told by the people who lived it? Not for me.

The 2019 cruise starred a trio of legendary actresses – Cicely Tyson, Diane Ladd and Mitzi Gaynor – who shared pieces of their lives and careers in ways that entertained us, inspired us and touched our hearts.

Through multiple interviews with TCM hosts, the actresses were gracious, giving and hilarious. They exuded strength and independence. There was much laughter, a few tears and moments that made our mouths drop open (in a good way).

Here is a sampling of my favorite moments and memories from the trio during their appearances.

Mitzi Gaynor

The image of Mitzi Gaynor coming on stage in a wheelchair in the Walt Disney Theatre was unsettling, but she quickly put our fears to rest when she told us she had injured herself doing a lift in rehearsals. This spunky 88-year-old is still going strong and nothing seems to hold her back.

TCM host Dave Karger led an hour-long talk with Mitzi Gaynor.

“You people are so beautiful. You people are so real. I love you all,” she said as she came out to a standing ovation, then set the tone for the rest of the interview. “By the way, I’m a widow and I’m very, very rich. Any Capricorn men who are free?”

Continue reading “TCM Cruise memories: Learning Hollywood history from Mitzi Gaynor, Diane Ladd and Cicely Tyson”

How one classic movie fan embraced remakes – again

Classic movie fans are a protective bunch.

Don’t colorize our black and white films.

Don’t stretch our movies to fit modern widescreen formats.

Our classics are sacred. Hands off.

And one more thing: don’t even think about remaking my  favorites.

That’s my motto – or so I thought. Then I was reminded how I really felt just by going to the movies.

* * * * * *

On a recent Sunday morning, I was at a screening of “You’ve Got Mail” at the North Park Theatre, a grand Buffalo moviehouse that is old enough to have originally shown many of the films we now fondly call classic. I have a ridiculous soft spot for this 1998 Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan rom-com about two people at odds with each other who fall in love through their anonymous emails. It is witty, smart, endearingly hopeful, sweetly romantic, packed with great characters and performances and, as a bonus, has a passion for the written word.

Every time I see it on TV, even if it’s just the last few minutes, I stop to watch – and usually sniffle a bit, too. There’s another reaction I have, too, as I did at the North Park that day. When Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen, repeats the “Dear Friend” salutation from her emails, I hear echoes of that same phrase from the Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, movie “The Shop Around the Corner.”

Continue reading “How one classic movie fan embraced remakes – again”