Changing Direction

When one of my kids asks for money when we’re in the store. I usually ask where their money is. I ask if they have enough to pay me back. I ask when they’re going to pay me back. All of this is my way of instilling responsibility in them. I don’t mind if they buy a fun item on a whim if they want to use their money that way. I try to guide their purchases and teach them financial wisdom.

But if they are grounded for bad behavior, I have to put the brakes on all the fun stuff and let them experience their need for repentance.

As a parent, I don’t like changing direction when I have fun planned for the kids. I also don’t like listening to the empty pleadings of why I should overlook this one sin – again.

I recently read the first chapter of Isaiah and saw how God feels about these issues. Join me at Seek God With Me for more on this.

To Catch A Thief, 1955

What if you weren’t where you were supposed to be?

A woman and her daughter in their finest dresses, wear their high-priced diamonds and look for adventure. But they found someone was looking for their jewels.

Sometimes it’s hard to guess which character will show up at the next crime. Who’s supposed to be where?

Cary Grant plays John Robie, a retired jewelry thief who used to be known as The Cat. Because of his agility on rooftops, he always escaped without a trace. Now his style is being used by a new thief who obviously wants Robie blamed.

Since the crimes look so much like he committed them, he has to go after the thief himself. He’s the only one who knows what the new thief will do next, since the thief is copying him to begin with.

While avoiding the police, Robie asks for help from Mr. Hughson, an Insurance man who is reluctant to work with a known thief. Robie assures him that both of them are thieves. To prove his point, he points out “business expenses” and “souvenirs” from hotels that were really thefts. Sure that they have more in common than he’d originally thought, Hughson works with Robie to set a trap for the new thief.

Many of the humorous moments are still funny even though I’ve seen this one a few times. And I always enjoy looking for the cameo appearance by director Alfred Hitchcock.

Grace Kelly delivers a smart performance as Francie Stevens. However, Cary Grant came out of retirement himself to take on the role of a younger man, and he was spectacular. That look on Robie’s face after his first kiss from Francie was priceless.

This film won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color. And it was nominated for two Oscars: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color and Best Costume Design, Color.

To Catch a Thief stands out to Grace Kelly’s fans because she died while driving the same stretch of road where, 27 years before, she’d filmed the picnic scene in this movie.

Costume Designer Edith Head’s work in this film is truly fun to see. She designed costumes for thousands of actors and actresses, but the charming and gifted Grace Kelly was her favorite.

How To Steal a Million, 1966

What if you weren’t who you were supposed to be?

Audrey Hepburn, as Nicole Bonnet, wonders what to do about her father, the art forger. He’s quite talented and sells a painting for a rather large sum, which increases the temptation to keep copying the masterpieces.

The one piece in his family collection that he didn’t create is a sculpture forged by Nicole’s grandfather. The Paris museum plans to feature the sculpture and insure it while it’s there. After signing the insurance papers, Nicole’s father discovers that the sculpture will be tested to verify its age. If he allows this, he’s sure he’ll be found out and his forgery success will be over. Nicole doesn’t want her father to go to jail, so she contacts a man she’s met recently to help her get the family’s sculpture back. It's been insured for one million dollars, so Nicole has to figure out How To Steal A Million.

Peter O’Toole is the dashing Simon Dermott. Simon keeps secrets well and uses his education and experience to stay out of trouble. Poor Nicole falls for him without the benefit of knowing his background.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s review to see another thief in action.

Love and Money

On today’s Seek God With Me post, love makes an appearance. Not just an appearance, but like Legos, it links to everything.

I’m a parent, and I love my kids. I also ignore some of what they say. When they complain about how unloved they are (when they don’t get their way), I let it go.

When I don’t buy them everything they ask for, they know it’s because I love them. Love doesn’t care about money, and money doesn’t buy love.

I supply their food, clothing, shelter, and some fun items. I give them plenty of affection. But money has never had an affect on love at our house, and it never will. Money isn’t powerful enough to change love.

But love is powerful enough to change anything.

The Palm Beach Story, 1942

Like the movie in yesterday’s review, this movie is also about a woman chasing after a rich husband, except this one’s already married. (Ooops…I smell trouble.)

The Palm Beach Story, directed by Preston Sturges, features a woman who only wants success for the man she loves – so she decides to divorce him. Claudette Colbert plays Geraldine Jeffers, and Joel McCrea is her husband Tom.

Geraldine (Gerry) and Tom Jeffers are late on their rent again, so their apartment is being shown to prospective renters. Robert Dudley plays the old man looking over the apartment. He meets Gerry and is enamored with her. He gives her money to pay the rent, claiming to be The Wienie King who gained his fortune by inventing the Texas Wienie. (You may remember seeing him act in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and in Citizen Kane.) He gave her enough to cover her rent, other past-due bills, and a new dress.

Tom’s guilt over not being the one with the money builds until he’s jealous and sour. His pride keeps him from taking a sensible job, and his passion for inventing keeps him poor.

She brings up divorce because she thinks he’s better off without her. It’s easy to see she still loves him when she claims, “When love’s gone, there’s nothing left but admiration and respect.” He doesn’t want a divorce and tries to convince her to stay by giving her a toe-curling kiss. But she leaves him the next morning, focused on the idea that this is for his own good.

Gerry leaves town on a train where she meets members of the Ale & Quail club. One of the members was played by William Demarest, a familiar face since I used to watch him as Uncle Charley on My Three Sons. On the train, she also meets John D Hackensacker III, the richest man around. John wants to help her out, so he buys her gifts and takes her to his sister’s mansion by yacht. Rudy Vallee is charming as Hackensacker, the cautious yet captivated beau. Vallee used to be a singing band leader who performed the song which members of the Ale & Quail Club sang to Gerry on the train: “Goodnight, Sweetheart”.

Mary Astor plays Hackensacker’s very talkative sister. Astor also performed in The Maltese falcon, Meet Me in St. Louis, and in Little Women.

At home, Tom gets into a conversation with The Wienie King (who rented a different apartment in their building) and is given money so he can fly out to meet Gerry and stop the divorce. Gerry stubbornly tries to help her husband by hooking up with Hackensacker, but Tom’s equally stubborn in his attempt to woo her back. His persistence makes him a lovable hero.

Who will win? The answer is tied up in the opening scene.

How To Marry A Millionaire, 1953

One of the characters in this movie is in trouble with the government. The current owner of a penthouse apartment is hiding from the IRS because when he paid his accountant the tax money, his accountant pocketed the money and ran off with it. The IRS heard his sob story, and they feel bad for him. But they’re still going to make him pay.

While looking for wealthy husbands, three women find love. Schatze, Pola, and Loco all want to be married to millionaires because picking a great spouse “is the biggest thing you can do in life”. Schatze insists that if you going to be married, you might as well marry someone wealthy. In real life, the Treasury Department claimed in 1947 that Betty Grable, who made an annual income of $300,000, was the highest paid woman in America. At that time, marrying a millionaire was a real goal of some girls because they could never hope to be one on their own.

My favorite character is the old millionaire, JD Hanley, simply because he’s played by William Powell, one of my favorite actors. He was supposed to look old for the part, but William Powell will never look old to me, even at age 61. This was his next-to-last film. His last was Mister Roberts in 1955.

Tom Brookman, the young millionaire who’s interested in Schatze, is played by Cameron Mitchell, who was Buck Cannon on the late 1960s TV series “The High Chaparral”. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember that one.

There were several parts of the girls’ characters that related to the actresses’ real lives. Marilyn Monroe’s character, Pola, wears glasses, as did Marilyn. Lauren Bacall, as Schatze, makes reference to her real husband, Humphrey Bogart, when she explains that she adores older men. “Look at that old fellow what’s-his-name in The African Queen. Absolutely crazy about him.” Betty Grable, as Loco, makes reference to her real husband, Harry James, when she hears a trumpet playing on the radio.

This movie, a smashing success, was made ten years after Grable posed for her famous pinup photo. 1953 was the year of Grable’s last big film, and the year Marilyn Monroe, who was ten years younger, skyrocketed to stardom as an American sex symbol.

Dealing With Fear

Welcome to TAX DAY.

Today, Americans are either relieved that they've already turned in their taxes or are sweating through the minutes as they finish their forms and send it all in.

This is a day when many people think about money. A lot of people have found themselves in the position of worrying about having enough money to live on. They wonder how they’ll pay their bills. Some of them don’t feel the presence of God in their situation.

On today’s Seek God With Me post, I share a story about how my mother dealt with fear. Join me as we discover God’s comfort in trying times.

Romantic Roses: Prosperity

I’m often interested in roses because of their name. I had to share this rose because of this month’s theme. The name of the Prosperity rose makes me think that this rose has it together. I read the name and I imagine a thick bush of rich green leaves which are polka-dotted with heavily scented white flowers. But I’ve never seen the rose in person, so I don’t really know how this flower performs. All I can say is what I’ve picked up online.

Introduced by Pemberton in 1919, this white hybrid musk rose is a repeat bloomer. The clusters of nicely fragrant blooms show up well against the dark green glossy leaves on thorny stems. This disease resistant shrub can be trained to climb.

Because they’ve been known to fade in the sun, these flowers need partial shade and proper feeding for a richer color. Although it will grow in poor soil, giving the Prosperity a good amount of mulching and well-drained soil will make it thrive.

Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

Stand-In Groom is Book 1 of the Brides of Bonneterre Series. This debut novel has proven the author’s ability to bring out heroic qualities in her characters when the going gets tough. I’m looking forward to Book 2 of this series: Menu for Romance.

Anne Hawthorne, a wedding planner and owner of Happy Endings Inc., gets ideas about a very handsome English man to whom her cousin introduces her. She sees the man again when he walks into her business with his fiancé. Poor Anne doesn’t realize that the man, George Laurence, is employed by a wealthy celebrity who doesn’t want the media to get in the way of his wedding plans. George is only standing in for his employer and has had to sign away his right to tell Anne the truth.

How will George live with himself after masquerading as the fiancé when his heart is falling for the wedding planner?

Personally, I think it would be fun to be a wedding planner whose job is to create a wealthy celebrity's dream wedding. Reading about how it turned out was fun. Anne did her job well, but as in life, something always goes wrong at a wedding.

Kaye Dacus has done a wonderful job writing these characters. Anne is quite capable of making a success of almost any wedding. George is appealing even in his misery. His job places him between a rock and a hard-to-keep contract, but he manages to make good decisions.

This plot kept me wondering if a happy ending was possible. The journey to the wedding was chaotic and fun, but it stretched my hope for a future between the hero and heroine. Even though I hadn’t expected the final twist, those pages hit the mark. The exciting and heart-warming last moments made perfect sense.

Believe it or not, Dean Martin’s music plays a role in this story. Miss Dacus spent time putting Dean Martin videos on her blog because of the link between her characters and his music. View her blog post here.

If you go to the last video, you’ll see John Wayne come out onto the stage on a horse and tell what he wants for his new daughter. Very patriotic and appropriate for today. I’d love to hear someone of today’s generation say that on TV!

It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, 1963

It’s tax time.

The ominous tax deadline is quickly approaching so I know there are a lot of people who agree with the title of this movie. People hate to give up whatever amount of money they are able to gather during the year. But it isn’t giving money to the government that gives the movie its title. The movie is about a lot of greedy people trying to get a large amount of someone else’s money. This is a great place to stop talking about tax time.

How about a simple movie review instead?

Jimmy Durante, as Smiler Grogan, sets the story rolling by kicking the bucket.

Milton Berle as Mr. Finch, Ethel Merman as his mother-in-law, Dorothy Provine as Mrs. Finch, Sid Caesar as Dr. Crump the dentist, Edie Adams as Mrs. Crump, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, and Jonathan Winters all stop to see if the wild-driving stranger (Smiler Grogan) is still alive after his car tumbled off the cliff side of the road. In their investigation, they all hear Grogan give directions to where he buried $350,000. After Grogan dies, the cast races off to see who will dig it up first.

Along the way, some of them encounter transportation troubles and need a lift to the park where the money is buried. Phil Silvers stops to help Jonathan Winters and becomes his nemesis. Terry-Thomas is the British guy who kindly offered to help, but ended up constantly fighting with Milton Berle and his mother-in-law.

Dick Shawn as Ethel Merman’s son provided an unexpected twist in more ways than one. Don Knotts and Jack Benny made appearances as friendly motorists offering a ride.

Spencer Tracy is the police chief in charge of the Grogan case, and thus the whole race. He prevents the other officers from arresting the desperate cast as they break law after law. However, nothing is easy for him, not even throwing his hat on the hat rack. It flies out the window and lands in the middle of the street. Jerry Lewis joins in the fun just long enough to run over Spencer Tracy’s hat.

Carl Reiner is the tower controller who tries to help Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett. The Three Stooges lend a hand as well. But according to, theirs is the shortest of the cameos: only five seconds.

The two cabbies who drove some of that group to the park were played by Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and Peter Falk.

Of the many nominations, the only Oscar this film won was for Best Sound Effects. The other Oscar nominations were for Color Cinematography, for Film Editing, for Original Song, for Best Substantially Original Score, and for Best Sound.

The Golden Globes nominations were for Best Motion Picture in a Musical or Comedy and for Best Motion Picture Actor in a Musical or Comedy (Jonathan Winters).

If you haven’t seen this movie in a while, maybe it’s about time for a fun movie rental. This one’s a classic!

The Pit

Do you believe in Hell?

The Bible warns that there is a real Hell, and we’re not there yet.

I think people who turn away from God are inevitably creating their own personal Hell right here. They don’t want Hell, but they don’t want God either. What they don’t realize is that when you try to live without God, you're bringing unnecessary trouble on yourself. Life without God is hell.

Some people think life without money is hell. But I know there are those who are financially poor, but spiritually rich. They don’t worry about losing their yacht; they don’t have one. And they’re happy.

If you have God in your life, money is a tool. If you have money as your god, then that tool is your life. And everyone knows how quickly money can leave you. Because the money god doesn't care about your life.

Sad. Have I depressed you enough? Cheer up. I have good news.

If you’re someone who feels like you’re living in the pit of hell, I want to throw you a lifeline. I’m discussing how to be rescued from the pit on my devotional blog, Seek God With Me.

Mildred Pierce, 1945

Joan Crawford gave a memorable performance as Mildred Pierce. This movie isn’t really about answering the question of who killed the victim whose last act is to call for Mildred. Yet that’s what the audience wants to know from beginning to end. At first glance, the title tells you nothing except the name of a character. After watching the film, I found the title tells more than that because the story tells much more than most mysteries.

Money plays a key role in this picture. Mildred starts out with not enough of it. Then she gets more and finds that it doesn’t satisfy. She goes through a lot to finally come to that realization. But in the end, I’m not sure if she fully understands what led to the devastating tragedies in her life.

Ann Blyth plays Veda, one of Mildred’s two daughters. She seems to have issues with money. But is the movie about money? Or is it about parenting?

Who’s the hero of this story? At first, I thought there was no hero. It’s a story full of conflict. The men in Mildred’s life add to her problems. Then I thought about the policeman who listens to Mildred tell the stories that give clues to the answers he’s looking for. He listens like a hunter watches prey. He’s quiet. You don’t know he’s there most of the time. However at the end of the story, he shows his heroic ability which is getting to the bottom of it and revealing the truth.

Butterfly McQueen played Lottie, Mildred’s maid. She’d already made her audience love her as Prissy in Gone with the Wind. Some of that same helpful yet arrogant style came through in her performance as Lottie.

Best Actress Oscar went to Joan Crawford. She excused herself from attending the ceremony by claiming she was ill. However, she allowed the media into her bedroom after the awards show was over so she could accept the award herself.

Several Oscar nominations were handed out for high quality performances. Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominations went to Eve Arden and Ann Blyth. The movie received the Best Picture nomination. Ranald MacDougall was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay. And Ernest Haller was nominated for Best Cinematography, Black and White.

Paying Attention

Welcome to tax season.

Usually the announcement that it’s time to pay the government earns a groan from law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.

We work hard for our paychecks and don’t like having to pay an enormous chunk of change for things we don’t need. Most people don’t mind paying for important services that government employees offer. I think there would be a lot of unhappy people if we didn’t have some of the services that our taxes pay for.

However, I wonder what our senators and representatives would say to separate billing. Would they give their constituents the same quality of service if they had to bill each member of their grassroots support?

I doubt that the police force would bill separately because they help so many more people than those who live nearby. It’s impossible to bill visitors. You never know who will need help until they show up and ask for it.

People who receive help from God don’t pay taxes to Him. We serve him willingly, and he helps us with our daily lives. Join me on Seek God With Me, my devotional blog, where I’m discussing the ways God helps us.