Thursday, October 31, 2013

Murder/Suspense Drama Film Review: Dead Ringer (1964)

Happy Halloween everyone!

I'm not doing a whole lot to celebrate this year (pumpkin lights from the dollar section at Target count, right?) so I thought I'd be festive by reviewing an excellent murder/suspense film I watched recently, Dead Ringer (1964) with the incomparable Bette Davis! 

So as you can see, Bette Davis plays twins - rich, newly widowed Margaret de Lorca, and working-class Edith Phillips, owner of Edie's, a struggling cocktail bar. The two estranged sisters are brought together for the funeral of Margaret's husband (who just so happens to be the man Margaret stole from Edith years ago). The women keep up appearances at first, but things soon go steadily downhill.

Speaking of going downhill, one of the opening scenes of the movie we see a bus pull up to the cemetery and Edie step out. Take a look at the area in 1964, and now:

Look at those nicely manicured trees and clean streets with un-cracked pavement. Ugh, depressing. But I digress.

The location used for Margaret's magnificent mansion however, has not gone downhill. 
Maggie's limousine pulling through the stately gates
The same entrance today
The beautiful Greystone Mansion is located in Beverly Hills (of course), and the grounds are open to the public free of charge (the inside can also be rented out, for a fee). Lots more info and pictures on their website. This place is definitely on my list of sights to see!

The sisters have a not so friendly chat over tea and we learn the cause of their estrangement (man stealing Maggie), and whilst being driven home by the chauffeur, Edith learns quite a bit more about her dear sister. 

Edie returns to her bar which she says is on "Figueroa and Temple", so of course I Googled immediately to see if they really filmed there and if was actually a bar. To my surprise, they had and there is (or was)! 

When I first searched the location I saw this, what timing! 

I was able to move around a bit and get a clear shot of the place, it appears it's now the out of business, Vertigos Bar & Grill.
Along Figueroa, then..
and now…

In the film, the driver pulls up along the side of the building, and lets Edie out there, she then enters through the side door. Another little then and now (I  Google Maps, can you tell? ;)

Anyway, after a few more visits tensions mount between the two…

….and you can probably guess what happens next!

However our story does not end there! But this plot summary must, or else I will be giving away all the goods 

According to TCM's little pre movie blurb, Bette Davis was never particularly happy with the film in general, feeling everyone did the best they could with what they had to work with. I, on the other hand, thought it was just fantastic - suspenseful and dramatic yet pretty believable. You end up feeling for both sisters by the end. Definitely kept my interest, if you have a chance to see this great movie please do!

Till next time darlings!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Update: Goodbyes, Cats and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Hey Blogland,

It's been a pretty long hiatus, hasn't it? 

Well most of you reading this will know why, but for anyone who doesn't and would like to-my Grandma passed away last August. The family has spent every weekend since her passing clearing out her house, and it's been a very long, hard, physical and emotional process. But in a way I feel as if I know her a bit better. Seeing all the little collected pieces of someone's life through out the years will do that I guess. I have a few things of hers around my apartment now, one of them being her cat. That makes three now. Oi. Vey. Gardening shows and knitting magazines, here I come.

Anyway- I won't babble on, sometimes I feel the more you talk about something the more it loses meaning. So I will end the updates there.

One of the items from Grandma's I got to keep was her incredible Betty Crocker Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book-from 1946! Which leads us to the other part of this post. There are lots of cut-outs from the Better Homes and Gardens magazine as well (meant to be added to the cook book, appropriately sized and everything), but nothing older than 1954, I'm in vintage baking heaven. 
Inside front cover
Front Cover

Look at this beauty! It's been through the wars alright but is still completely gorgeous. Just imagine all the history this book has seen!

I like cooking but baking is just special. It's what fills your house with those smells and warmth and really just makes things feel like home. There's only a handful of things I can do to sort of "time travel", and baking is one of them (listening to records is my other fav!).

So with my "new" cook book in hand I decided to tackle one of the recipes that has mystified me for years-the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake!
My cake will totally be as pretty as these, yep.
Here's the recipe we're working with:
This recipe does not call for soaking the pineapples slices in (spiced) rum, but I sure did. Why the heck not?!

Step 1: In the butter goes to melt               

 Step 2: Brown sugar added to melted butter, mmm.

Step 3: Arrange pineapple slices and maraschino cherries over the sugar/butter combo
As you can see I wasn't able to fit the specified 9 slices of pineapple, 7 was really pushing it. 

Aww don't be sad my little left over rum soakers, you will be a delicious Mai Tai soon.

Step 4: Here we have the egg yolks, sugar, and pineapple juice (it came in juice, not syrup) all mixed together

Step 5: And now the dry ingredients added (flour, salt, and baking powder)

Step 6: Pour batter over pineapple slices (I forgot to get a picture of this but here's the finished batter! It was thick.)

I did the dishes while I waited for my cake.
Hahahahaha. Nope.
I sat down to enjoy my quasi Mai Tai, which consisted of rum/pineapple juice from the soakers, pineapple slices and cherries that stained my fingers. (That can't be good to ingest right...? Eh, oh well.)

Afore mentioned kitty trying to muscle in on my booze, rude. 

Aaaand 45 minutes later I had myself a cake! (It was looking done before the given 1 hour time).

Okay now I know it's not so pretty but don't judge, at this point we're one Mai Tai in, and this is also post flip and a transfer back into the pan. But the best part? It was DELISH. There was a sort of almond creamy ness to it (although none was added)/amaretto type flavor, and the sugary butter top was just so mmm.

Well I hope everyone enjoyed my little vintage baking adventure as much as I did, I plan to do many more! Till then darlings ❤