My first trip to Venice was memorable in many ways. But, I will forever remember walking past a Valentino store and just being entranced at what stood in front of me…behind a mere pain of glass. I wanted that dress behind the window. Why? Well, it was simply the most gorgeous material possession I had ever seen. And, after watching the documentary, Valentino: The Last Emperor, I find that I am not alone. There are people the world over that have fallen in love with Valentino’s designs and gift for creating beauty. The man, seen here as a perfectionist and a diva (if that word could be used for any man, it should be used for Valentino), just seems to know what styles, colors, fabric and design will make a woman’s beauty shine. His desire for excellence has paid off for 45 years, during which he has reigned as one of the premier (if not THE premier) woman’s fashion designer in the world. He focuses his designs on ONE thing…evening gowns…and has perfected the elegant, classic and fabulously stylish look. Any woman who possesses any imagination can visualize herself in a Valentino. And, in this movie, you get a little peek at how that international glory has not only been achieved…but been sustained for over four decades. Filmed with less of a history bent and more a “day in the life” spin, the documentary looks at Valentino’s 45th year in fashion…including the anniversary party and fashion show in Rome. His lifestyle, like his work, is the ultimate in style, but would we really expect anything else from someone who creates work that has the ability to transport us to another reality. He can be temperamental, but we expect that. He is demanding, but we understand that (could he really design the dresses he designs and NOT be showy?). He is not always gracious, but we over look that. Why? Because he is Valentino? No…there is more to him than that. As the documentary reveals, he has difficulty expressing his emotions to others, even those who are intimately close with him. We come to realize the reason Valentino is seemingly stingy on giving thanks is because, with his artistic temperament, he has trouble relaying expressions of gratitude. When he does, he gets overcome…he breaks down from all of the appreciation he has for his staff, friends and partner. He is an extravagant man on the outside, but inside, he is a sensitive soul. Anyone who is interested in fashion, interested in design or just plain interested in beauty should see this fascinating documentary.

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I saw this film months ago in the theater and just recently watched it again on DVD. I must say, I liked it much better the second time around. It has so much intensity that I found I missed a lot on the first showing. Now that I was able to put some of the pieces together of what I had missed, I see what an excellent film it really is. George Clooney stars as the title character, a “fixer” in a large NYC law firm, and he is in sent in to “fix” one the firm’s partners, Arthur, after he’s had a breakdown and is saying vile things about one of the firm’s largest clients, U-North. Clayton soon realizes that all of the “gibberish” Arthur was spewing might be true and after Clayton starts investigating, he finds himself in mortal danger. A strong thriller that is hard to turn away from! But, make sure you pay attention so won’t have to see it twice like me! But, then again, George Clooney is always worth a second viewing. And a third, and a fourth, and a fifth…..

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Out of all of the Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn comedies, this one might be the least known but happens to be my favorite. Hepburn plays a corporate librarian and Tracy comes into the company with his new “computer” to try and replace Hepburn and her research staff. Aside from the always-wonderful comic/sexual tension between Tracy and Hepburn, one of the charming things about this film is the way the technology of the day was portrayed, since Tracy’s computer takes up an entire room. Aside from the out-datedness of that, this film stands the test of time because of the two phenomenal actors in the kind of movie they both seem to shine in.

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Once again Judy Holliday steals the show as the quintessential ditzy blonde. Like she did in her Oscar-winning performance in Born Yesterday, Judy uses her sweet looks and high-pitched voice to full-advantage. I wouldn’t go as far as to use to word “bimbo” but you get the idea. Judy here plays a naive lady who is determined find out about the company in which she owns a few shares of stock. She attends a stockholder meeting, which throws the board members into a tizzy, especially when she digs deeper into the company and uncovers the board’s shady activities. A fun film!

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At the beginning of this Billy Wilder film, Sabrina Fairchild is an unassuming chauffeur’s daughter who has plain looks (OK – as plain as Audrey Hepburn can get!) and an intense infatuation with the employer’s son, David, played perfectly by William Holden (with blond hair!). After a stint in Paris at cooking school, she returns as a sophisticated woman, but still retains her crush on David. Enter David’s older and less carefree brother Linus, played by Humphrey Bogart, to muck up the ideal love affair Sabrina has in mind for she and David. Basically, that’s the plot in a nutshell. The performances make this film more than just your typical romantic comedy. Holden is perfect as the lollygagger David, who is much more interested in the ladies than in the family business. Bogart combines the right mix of stiffness and lovability to be a Linus we can actually imagine Sabrina being attracted to. Apparently, Hepburn and Holden did not get along well with Bogart while making this film. That lack of chemistry does not show up on screen…all of the characters’ interactions with each other seem natural and unforced. It is a little odd seeing the much older Bogart with the young Hepburn, but that’s Hollywood. Even back in 1954!

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