William Wyler

This month, I focused on Family. I reviewed a family of roses, a book in a series about a family, and a movie about feuding families.

This month alone, I reviewed four of William Wyler’s films. You can see those reviews by following the links below.

Respected Hollywood director William Wyler was known for forcing actors through many takes so the actor could get to that last take where the spectacular would happen. Of the 31 actors he directed in Oscar-nominated performances, thirteen of them won the Oscars.

In 1935, he directed The Good Fairy, which starred Margaret Sullavan who was married to him at the time. In 1938, he directed Bette Davis in Jezebel. Bette Davis and Fay Bainter won Oscars for their performances. In 1939, he directed Wuthering Heights, starring Laurence Olivier as the frustrated hero Heathcliff. The Best Cinematography Oscar was the only Academy Award Wuthering Heights won, despite being nominated in eight categories.

In 1941, he directed The Little Foxes, starring Bette Davis, but none of the nine Oscar nominations received the winner’s statuette. In 1942, he directed Greer Garson in the classic WWII film, Mrs. Miniver. Her Oscar was just one of the six awarded for the work in that film. In 1949, he directed Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress. That picture won four Oscars including Olivia de Havilland’s for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

In 1953, he directed Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday. Three of the ten Oscar nominations, won their category. In 1958, he directed Gregory Peck in his role as the hero James McKay in The Big Country, with Burl Ives as the patriarch of one of the feuding families. Burl Ives was the only one to receive an Oscar for work on that film.

In the 45 years he directed movies, he was nominated twelve times for Best Director. He won the Oscar for his work on only three of those movies: Mrs. Miniver (1942), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Ben-Hur (1959).

Mrs. Miniver, 1942

Mrs. Miniver was a popular war film which starred Greer Garson in the title role with Walter Pigeon as her husband Clem Miniver. The story is about a woman who remains hopeful and strong through trying times as WWII comes close to home.

Mrs. Miniver, gathers her family around her in a bomb shelter while her oldest son performs his duties as a pilot in the RAF. Her husband is called away to use his personal boat in defense of his country, but she bravely carries on for days without him.

When a German plane goes down and the pilot is missing from the wreckage, the village wonders what could’ve become of him. Mrs. Miniver finds him hidden in the bushes and handles the situation with courageous strength and compassion.

The movie also covers one of my favorite topics: beautiful roses. In the village, their local gardening competition allows some of the characters to show that they truly care about others. The rose competition in the midst of air raids shows that they tried to continue in the usual traditions in their daily lives while the war raged on.

I enjoyed the emotional story directed by William Wyler and how well it was acted. Mrs. Miniver won 6 Academy Awards including: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Greer Garson, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Teresa Wright, Best Cinematography in Black and White for Joseph Ruttenberg, Best Director for William Wyler, Best Picture, and Best Writing in a Screenplay for George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West, and Arthur Wimperis.

Greer Garson caught up with Bette Davis to tie the record of most consecutive Academy Award nominations. Garson’s awards ranged from 1941 through 1945. Another of her records is in the category of longest acceptance speech. The delivery of her Thank You for the 1942 Oscar she won for playing Mrs. Miniver lasted well over five minutes.

Also nominated for an Oscar was Henry Travers who played Mr. Ballard, one of the competing rose growers. I remembered him because of his role as the angel Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life. He was Mr. Ballard in 1942 and Clarence in 1946.

You want more power?

Years ago, (and now sometimes on reruns) I used to watch the old TV series Home Improvement with my family. We would laugh together as we learned that, just like Tim the Tool Man, everyone wants more power.

If it's power you want, there's a way to get it. But strangely, power goes hand-in-hand with submission and obedience to God.

Think of yourself as a power tool in the garage or a vacuum cleaner, or an electric ice cream maker. You need access to real power or you won't work very well. We get our strength when we hook up with the One who is our power. Our worship, prayers, and acts of obedience are the electrical cord that keeps us connected to the power.

We think praying for a parking spot and getting it is power, but we don't know power. God has so much more to show us than we're ready to see.

If we would all grow up and allow God to really use us, we would see true power. Real Power.

We would see .... as Tim the Tool Man would say, "More Power".

For more on this discussion, check out my devotional blog Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Sunny Knock Out

The Sunny Knock Out Rose, the newest member of the Knock Out rose family, debuted in 2009. The original Knock Out rose debuted in 2000. This newest release is the seventh variety of the family, and it was developed by William Radler, the same rose breeder who developed the other Knock Out roses.

Just like the other roses in the family, it is a fabulous landscape rose, but with a slightly more compact and upright habit than the original Knock Out rose. Its unique quality is the fact that it’s the most fragrant member of the Knock Out family.

Its blooms are three inches in diameter with five to seven petals per flower. Although it has bright golden flower buds that open to a buttery yellow with deep yellow centers, the petals quickly turn a creamy pale yellow and then fade a little more over the next couple days. The flower’s color stays more intense during the cooler parts of the year. And the bright yellow contrasts nicely with its dark, semi-glossy foliage.

Sunny Knock Out rose is a tough and hardy shrub type rose with outstanding disease resistance. It blooms early in the Spring, thrives in heat and humidity, and continues blooming until the first hard frost.

For a low-maintenance, trouble-free rose garden, roses in the Knock Out family seem to be one of the top picks. They’re a great plant for hedge, border or foundation planting.

Jezebel, 1938

Bette Davis brings multifaceted emotion to the role of Julie, a stubborn conniver who won’t be happy unless she gets what she wants. Julie is a Jezebel character in the way she wants to control her man. She wants to make him do her bidding and come running back to her after she crosses the line with him. She’s the woman who willfully and selfishly defies convention and doesn’t mind keeping tongues wagging at her shocking behavior. She rather enjoys the attention.

Henry Fonda plays Preston Dillard, a man in love with Julie and probably wishing she’d been disciplined a lot more in her growing up years. George Brent adds a lot to the story as the dueling Buck Cantrell. Preston represents the North and Buck represents the south in the way they cling to forward thinking (Preston) or the traditional rules of the South (Buck).

The story is about the yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans in the 1850s and how that impacted the plans of a spoiled young woman and the man she loves. The writing is so well done that you don’t really know what’s coming up even though every turn of the plot was set up in advance.

The movie, with its complicated plot, was directed by William Wyler. It came out after Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With The Wind, and before Scarlett O’Hara hit the big screen. The audience was ready for a beautiful antebellum setting. Academy Awards went to Bette Davis for Best Actress in a Leading Role and to Fay Bainter for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

I loved how Julie’s character was shown through her clothes. She wore a riding habit to a party she gave and arrived late for. Julie wore red to a ball where all single girls wore white. The red dress had as much of a destructive effect at the ball as the yellow fever had in New Orleans. Everyone shunned the red dress almost as much as fever victims were shunned a little later in the movie. Costumes designed by Orry-Kelly made an impact in the story, even the plain dark cloak Julie wore to escape in the night.

The Good Fairy, 1935

A young orphan, Lu Ginglebuscher, is hand picked to be an usher at a movie theater where she meets a man, Detlaff, who eventually takes a liking to her, to the point of being protective when he sees that her naïveté will get her into trouble.

Margaret Sullavan, as the friendly and likable Lu, is unaware of the dangers in the world outside the orphanage. When she is noticed by a rich man, Konrad, who wants to be known as a ladies man, Detlaff comes to her rescue. But she wants to be a Good Fairy for someone since she has the attention of someone with money. She works on a plan to hook up Konrad’s money with someone she picks out of a phone book. When she finally meets this stranger, they find they like each other and eventually fall in love.

I enjoyed seeing Frank Morgan as Konrad. I kept waiting to hear him command, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” But he would have to wait four more years before he turned into the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz.

Beulah Bondi, who played Dr. Schultz, was also in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life. In fact, she played James Stewart’s mother four times.

Cesar Romero had a brief role in this film, but it was early in his 65-year career. His other roles ranged from a Latin lover to The Joker in 20 episodes of the Batman TV series to 50 episodes of Falcon Crest.

Want to know God?

Do you know God?

Would you like to know him better?

On my devotional blog, Seek God With Me, I’m sharing a Bible verse that gives us hope. It encourages us to ask God for things that will help us understand him better.

Romantic Roses: Rainbow Knock Out

Hybridized by William Radler; introduced by The Conard Pyle Co., Rainbow Knock Out Rose is a 2007 All-America Rose Selection. AARS roses have all been put through a two year examination where they were tested on their disease resistance, flower production, color, and fragrance. These tests are judged in 23 gardens across America with all climate zones represented.

Rainbow Knock Out Rose, a compact landscape shrub rose of Coral/Salmon petals with a yellow center, has short stems bearing glossy, dark green leaves. The small blossoms start out as pointed buds which develop into five-petaled flowers two inches in diameter.

This variety has the same resistance to disease as the other roses in the Knock Out family. It is also winter hardy to zone 4.

The Big Country, 1958

One family struggling against another is a theme that has endured through the years. When each family is too proud to negotiate peace, it forces the hand of death. You’ve heard of Romeo and Juliet and the Hatfields and McCoys. Now meet the Hannasseys and the Terrills.

William Wyler directs this film about taming a long-time feud between two families. The camera tries to make you feel like you’re out there with the dust and the dirt. The writing twists produce a story that is expected but not stale. Big-name actors, classic plot, and a camera panning across a sweeping landscape gives the impression that this is a really Big movie.

Gregory Peck plays James McKay who doesn’t intend to let either of the families boss him around. His non-violent approach seems strange to the feuding families.

Jean Simmons is beautiful as ever as Julie Maragon, the woman whose land everyone wants – at a fair price. (Right.) Her friend, Miss Terrill was beautiful enough to bring a gentleman home to meet her father. The women did a great job in their roles. Both want a man, but don’t “need” him. Plenty of males to choose from, but they had manners enough not to fight over the one gentleman in town.

Charlton Heston gives a powerful performance as Steve Leech, the foreman who doesn’t give respect to those who don’t earn it. Strictly loyal to his boss, he must’ve been the son his boss never had.

Burl Ives plays Rufus Hannassey, the patriarch of a family who just wants to get his cows to the river during the dry spell. He’ll listen to reason if there’s any to listen to. Buck Hannassey is played by Chuck Connors who was an NBA and a Major League Baseball player before turning to acting.

Who Wants Ice Cream?

In my family, both in my growing up years and in my mothering years, kids have always loved ice cream. It’s sweet, cold, yummy. And there are so many varieties to choose from. Almost everyone has a different favorite flavor. But almost everyone likes vanilla.

So in my family when someone asks, “Who wants ice cream?” Everyone gets excited. There’s a rush to the kitchen. The games and discussions cease, and the hands reach out for their own bowl of ice cream.

That’s what I think it should be like when we talk about forgiveness. I’ve tasted forgiveness – and I like it. I don’t know very many people who haven’t tasted it. It’s more important to receive than a bowl of ice cream.

So why do some people act like they don’t get to have any?

Read more on this discussion at Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Pink Double Knock Out

It is said that the Knock Out Roses, a family of roses whose introductions began in the year 2000, are the most disease resistant roses around. That and the fact that they are low maintenance in other ways as well delights owners of the Pink Double Knock Out Rose.

This perky bubble gum pink version of the Double Knock Out Rose is a compact shrub rose which brightens landscapes almost all year through.

Its foliage is vigorous and has a nice color. The deep green leaves enjoy a touch of blue and maroon. Its underside is also maroon. However in the fall, the leaves turn a deep purple with rich maroon undertones.

The blossom’s fragrance is slightly spicy mixed with a light tea rose scent. With a bloom cycle of about every 5 to 6 weeks, The shrub is almost always in rebloom mode. Many rose growers practice deadheading to encourage more flower production. Deadheading is cutting off spent flowers just above the last leaf so that the plant produces more blossoms. This only works on roses that are able to rebloom.

But the Knock Out Roses are self-cleaning so there is no need to deadhead.

The Pink Double Knock Out Rose is one I would love to try in my yard. The tough plant with its vibrant flower is a definite temptation.

Roxanne Rustand's Wildfire

Snow Canyon Ranch is a Love Inspired Suspense series featuring the McAllister family living in the Wyoming Rockies. Claire is the mother of three sisters who have had their share of bad times. In Wildfire, the final book in the series, it’s Tessa’s turn to tell her story of conflict and love.

Tessa’s life has been challenging, but she has run the ranch to the best of her ability. However when drought and money problems combine with a criminal element, Tessa is at her wit’s end.

It’s a good thing her former boyfriend Josh came along when he did. Or is it? He’s as helpful as he can be, but he’s there with limited power. And he reminds her of pain from years past.

What’s a girl to do? Welcome whatever help Josh can give or send him away?

Raging fires, burglaries, gunshots and motorcycle accidents draw the characters to rely on God more than they ever have.

Who Am I?

People used to run away from their comfortable surroundings to go “find themselves”. Does anyone do that anymore?

I agree that people often discover more about themselves when they struggle with conflict. You might default to a calm “fix the situation” attitude, or you might be caught off guard by the ugly anger that comes with your frustration. A new setting often provides the conflict that stirs up what's in you. Don't be surprised if something heroic comes out of you. If you love people, self-sacrifice isn't usually something you plan.

If you’re tempted to go off somewhere to find yourself, let me make a suggestion. Pick up a Bible and read about the one who designed you to be the way you are. Discover who you really are by finding yourself in Him.

Read more about this kind of personal journey at Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Knock Out Rose

The Knock Out Rose from Conard-Pyle, the first in a family of roses, is an AARS Winner from the year 2000. Others in the family include: Pink Double Knock Out Rose, Rainbow Knock Out Rose, and Sunny Knock Out Rose.

This shrub rose is like every rose: it requires some maintenance for maximum impact. But no coddling. Even though you’ll want to go out often and check out the rich cherry red flowers which bloom continuously, it has proven to need very little upkeep compared to others.

I’ve never owned one of these, but I might try it since it’s drought tolerant and disease resistant.

The pictures I’ve seen of it show it off with a profusion of color covering a mass of bushes. Newer bushes still impress, but older beds thickly studded with blasts of color make the whole landscape a knock out.