Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Live Action Fairy Tales


So, it's Thursday, and that means that it's time for another one of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks!  If you're new to the site or have just missed every other Thursday post, here's the run down.  Basically, every Thursday, bloggers unite to post three films that are representative of the theme selected by Wandering Through the Shelves.  The diversity of lists and the bloggers who provide them makes for great conversation and will hopefully inspire all of us to dig into movies we may have never even heard of.

So, moving on...

This week's theme is:



So, there were a bounty of films to choose from, since this has become quite the popular genre.  It feels like nearly every month there is a new fairy tale film being released, and how appropriate since tomorrow we get Cinderella!  The problem is that a lot of these recent fairy tale films kind of suck.  So, I dug back MANY years ago to bring to light three live action fairy tale films from yesteryear.  One is a HUGE film with many adoring fans, but many probably had no idea that it was actually based on a fairy tale.  Another is a little seen gem of a French film that is often forgotten about thanks to a more popular Disney adaptation.  The last one is a film that, like, I had no idea was actually a fairy tale adaptation but it is one of the all time greatest films ever made, so I had to include it!

Let's just do this!

The Wizard of Oz
Everyone has either seen or heard of this, and most people unabashedly love it.  BUT, did you know that it was an adaptation of a book?  I didn't for the longest time, and I do think that general audiences consider it an original work...but nope, it's based on a book!   

La belle et la bete
I covered this film last year for one of my Blind Spots, and I was smitten immediately.  Don't get me wrong, the Disney version is probably my favorite animated film of all time, but this version of the classic is so spellbinding and so beautifully composed considering the restraints of technology.  There is something so beautifully arresting about a film that can utilize such a haunting atmosphere to such tragic romance.  If you haven't seen this, SEE IT!

The Red Shoes
UGH!  This movie is PERFECT!  I kind of love how I've been a real champion of this film for years now, but until the morning I had no idea it was actually based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.  This is one of my all time favorite films, and it is one of the grandest explorations of obsession, desperation and the pursuit of excellence.  It's just an astonishing visual sight, but it's also one of those emotionally arresting films that just consumes an audience.  Brilliant, brilliant film!

40 comments:

  1. I got the latest La Belle et La Bete on my picks! A different version, but perhaps, a little lame one.
    And, oh I love that Wizard of Oz with the Tin-man and all :) Great picks!

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    1. I can't wait to see the latest version. I've heard it's not as good, but it looks so lush, and I love Seydoux SO MUCH (she's pretty much the perfect Belle), so I'm all for it.

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  2. I had no idea Wizard of Oz was based on a book! That's my new thing learnt for the day :)
    - Allie

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    1. See, I found out a few years ago and was completely blindsided because I always assumed it was an original work. I still haven't gotten around to reading the book, but I probably should!

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  3. They really should adapt more Hans Christian Andersen's tales - they are so beautiful and dark. Disney sometimes does something inspired by those but it has very little to do with the original story and especially atmosphere. I really need to see Red Shoes again, I only saw it once, around the time Black Swan was released

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    1. They really should. I picked up a complete collection of his not too long ago, and there are such magical tales there. Not all are suitable for children, since they're, you know...dark, but they're so rich!

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  4. You're always picking these classics that sound so interesting to me. The Red Shoes is going in my Netflix queue.

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    1. Martin Scorsese said a few years ago that The Red Shoes was his favorite movie of all time. He even hosted TCM's restored re-release of the film. I was sold right then and there and decided I had to see the film.

      It changed me...it's that brilliant.

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  5. Love all three of your picks! The Wizard of Oz, which is one of the best adaptations ever, was actually the first title that came to mind for the week but I was sure someone else would have it on their list so I went in search of others. Funny I've always assumed everyone knew it was based on a book, perhaps because I worked in the book world for many years and it was always a big seller. It's magical, having the beginning and end in sepia is a master stroke and when Judy Garland sings Over the Rainbow forget about it, I'm a goner.

    It took me until about two years ago before I saw this version of Beauty and the Beast, the foreign language put me off, but I was captivated almost from the beginning and have watched it a few times since.

    I can't say I love The Red Shoes, I like quite a bit but find it more a fascinating nightmare then an entertaining film. The colors are amazing, Moira Shearer lovely and Anton Walbrook brilliant, incredible that he wasn't nominated for an Oscar. It's been years since I read the story, we had a big collection of Hans Christian Andersen stories when my sister and I were kids and she loved The Red Shoes and read it over and over, but I was always more partial to The Little Tin Soldier and The Snow Queen.

    For the theme I went for one more or less straightforward adaptation and two that played with their source material. My three are:

    Freeway (1996)-Undeniably unique adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood. Reese Witherspoon plays Red, here reimagined as a pea brained, white trash southern teen named Vanessa whose mother is a meth head hooker and her stepfather a leering junkie. When they are arrested Reese handcuffs her truant officer to the bed and hits the road in an old junker to Grandmother's house. When the car breaks down she crosses paths with the Big Bad Wolf here in the form of a sleazy Keifer Sutherland. Strange, dark and deranged but definitely different.

    The Glass Slipper (1955)-High gloss MGM semi musical adaptation of Cinderella with Leslie Caron ideally cast in the lead. Takes a few liberties but stays pretty close to the story. Michael Wilding is a bit long in the tooth as the prince but aside from him the supporting cast is full of colorful characters and the film is a visual treat.

    Ball of Fire (1941)-In this spin on Snow White and the Seven Drawfs Barbara Stanwyck plays nightclub singer Sugarpuss O'Shea who while dodging a subpoena to testify against her mobster boyfriend hides out with seven professors who are complying an encyclopedia of slang of which she is a master. Stanwyck and Gary Cooper are charming together and the professors standing in for the dwarves are a collection of some of the most distinctive character actors working at the time. If you only know Barbara Stanwyck from Double Indemnity or perhaps The Big Valley TV series she's a comic revelation in this.

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    1. Of your picks, I've only seen Ball of Fire and now I wish that I had included it. I love that movie. It's probably my favorite Cooper performance. He's often so wooden and uninteresting, but he completely falls into the fabric of the film beautifully, and Stanwyck is just stunning here.

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  6. UGH THE RED SHOES. PERFECTION.

    La Belle et la Bete is really just superb on every level. So gorgeous. It's a work of genius.

    People really don't know that Wizard of Oz is based on a book? It's right there in the opening credits! But then, I was a book lover long before I was a movie lover, so I may be biased. It definitely is one of the greatest adaptations ever; so few are even as good as the book, and this one is probably better.

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    1. LOL, I rarely pay attention to the credits unless I'm specifically looking for something.

      I'd say that all three of these picks (personally) are probably perfect...masterpieces...astonishing films.

      Love them all, so much!

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    2. I don't know how I knew it was a book, but I don't think it was from the opening credits. I think it was more of when people do talk about it...they tend to say that it's an adaptation.
      That said I didn't know The Red Shoes is based on a HCA fairytale. I probably have read the tale...but the ones that I remember are the popular ones like Little Mermaid.

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    3. Yeah, I didn't realize it was Andersen either, but now I really want to seek it out.

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  7. The Wizard of Oz is fine choice. A iconic as they get. I thought about watching The Red Shoes to perhaps mention it in the Thursday Picks. I didn't. That was an error as I like the directing pair Pressburger and Powell

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    1. Oh, you must see The Red Shoes. It's such an astonishing cinematic experience!

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  8. Love The Wizard of Oz, but who doesn't? Then again, i thought most people knew it was originally a book. I think the lesser known fact is that a silent version was made a few years earlier.

    Been meaning to see this version of Beauty and the Beast forever. Maybe that goes on nezt year's Blind Spot list. I've only recently heard of The Red Shoes. Sounds very interesting.

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    1. Put BOTH of them on your Blind Spot for next year...or better yet, watch them now!

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  9. Okay, now I really have to watch The Red Shoes. Thanks for queuing that up to the front of my list.

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    1. YAY! I love raising awareness for films people may haven't heard of or didn't feel quite necessary to flock to. It's genius filmmaking, for sure!

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  10. I love all these films! One of my all time fav is La Belle Et La Bette. The imagery alone is haunting and beautiful. I have not seen the Red Shoes in years but it is magnificent. oopsy that you did not know it was a book and a series to boot! Just a little note -the costume designer sent one of his employees to find a coat that looked regal enough for someone higher up but it must look like it has seen its day. The person went to a used clothing store and bought the coat for Frank Morgan to wear as the Wizard. Frank L Baum's widow was still alive when they made this film and she was visiting the set when she noticed the coat Frank Morgan was wearing. She asked to look at it. Inside the coat on the lapel was written "property of Frank L Baum! I am not kidding. The coat Frank Morgan wears in the film actually belonged to the author of the children's book and he always labelled his clothing with his name. OK I would pick La Belle et La Bette as well because it because it is so beautifully done and Jean Marais was great as the beast. My 2nd choice would be Cinderella and the Three wishes or the 3 nuts. I had to look this up. I watched this constantly when I was a kid. I thought it was Russian but it was done by the Czech republic and Germany. Great take on Cinderella but she is an equal in strength to the prince. She receives her 3 dresses from a walnut. An owl helps her and when she cracks the walnut a beautiful dress appears. In the original fairy tale the ball lasts for 3 nights. In the German version of the tale she prays at her mother's grave and from the tree she planted comes a dress. My 3rd choice is "Ever After" with Drew Barrymore and Angelica Huston. This is such a pretty take on the Cinderella legend and Barrymore does a pretty good job. I also have to give credit to the film Hans Christian Anderson" starring Danny Kaye which is a musical but showcases many of his fairy tales especially the Little Mermaid in a ballet

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    1. It appears I am one of the few who didn't know The Wizard of Oz was originally a book...I really thought I was in the majority :-P

      That story about Morgan and Baum's coat is great!

      I haven't seen Cinderella and the Three Nuts, but that sounds fun.

      LOVE Ever After!

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    2. The coincidence of Baum's coat being picked is a great piece of Hollywood lore. There is a fantastic book, unsurprisingly called The Making of the Wizard of Oz, by Aljean Harmetz that contains that story and is loaded with a boatload of other info about the film and the felicitous decisions and roadblocks that resulted in the final film.

      For instance as much as I love her the original choice for Dorothy, Shirley Temple, would have been disastrous in the part and W. C. Fields, the original choice for the wizard, would have been equally wrong. Thank goodness Fox wouldn't lend her out and he wanted too much money to do it!!

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    3. Oh my! Temple was just not the right tone for a film like this...she would have been awful, and I genuinely like her!

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    4. Actually when Oz was released to great critical acclaim Fox cast Shirley in a film version of The Blue Bird by Maurice Maeterlinck, which would actually fit in the theme since it's a fairy tale adaptation as well though it's a terrible movie.

      Massively expensive it was a huge flop upon release and effectively ended Temple's reign at the top of the box office. Shirley was all wrong for it, showing the damage she would have inflicted on Oz plus her character is kind of a bitch. It also has some ghoulish set pieces such as a visit to the land of yet to be born children, some of whom talk about how they won't live long and other cheery topics!

      One ironic bit of casting, Gale Sondergaard who had been the first choice for the Wicked Witch in Oz but left the project because she only wanted to play a glamorous witch is the villainess in Blue Bird, a glamorous! cat who has taken human form.

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    5. OMG, I want to see this Blue Bird movie now :-P

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  11. The only film in that list that I haven't seen is Beauty & the Beast but I might rectify that later this month.

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    1. YAY! Can't wait to read what you think of it.

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  12. Gutted that I still haven't The Red Shoes! And now you got me curious about La belle et la bete, too!

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    1. They are both masterpieces. See them immediately.

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    2. Ok ok, hey check out mine, maybe there's one I could recommend you ;)

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    3. YAY! Yours is up! I'll be over in a sec.

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  13. The novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, along with the rest of the series, were the first books I fell in love with as a little girl. :-) To some extent I credit my bibliophilic nature to L. Frank Baum. He was a guy who struggled to make ends meet, feeling he'd failed at everything. It didn't occur to him in his wildest dreams that his future success lay in the children's stories he'd made up to entertain his kids.

    At least I think that's the story. I read it, years ago, in one of the history books we use for homeschool.

    I need to check out these other two movies. Great picks!

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    1. That sounds like an inspiring story! I wonder when they'll make that into a movie :-P

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    2. I'd totally watch that movie! ;-)

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    3. I'm actually kind of surprised they haven't already turned it into a movie. I mean, if they're actually going forward with this "the guy who founded McDonalds" movie, they really should look at a story like Baums as well.

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  14. I've only seen The Wizard of Oz here. Classic!

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    1. It truly is. I'm actually shocked I didn't see it until I was in my mid-twenties :-P

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  15. YES TO ALL OF THESE!!! Now that's how you adapt a fairy tale.

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