Friday, July 01, 2022

Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks!

 Mel Brooks celebrated his 96th birthday on June 28, 2022. As an avid Brooks fan, I want to thank him for all the pleasure he’s given me through his movies, especially “Young Frankenstein,” “ Blazing Saddles,” “High Anxiety,” “To Be or Not To Be,” and “The Producers” (both the original and the musical re-make). The musical pleased me the most because it boasts so many great musical treats. 

Oh, how I wanted to see The Producers on Broadway! I never made it to New York, but thanks to the magic of movies, my family and I enjoyed this highly entertaining film version on a special Christmas Day. Happily, cameras didn’t cut away during any musical routines, so we were treated to each terrific number from beginning to end.

Outrageous musical numbers evoke most of the laughs in this movie funfest. Here’s an excerpt from my review. Eat your heart out, Rockettes, because here comes a little old ladies’ chorus line (“Along Came Bialy”) to rival your success. Watch out, real-life producers, for an actor named Gary Beach (“Heil Myself”). Never, and I mean never, hire him if you want your play to flop! And stop spinning in your grave, Florenz Ziegfeld. Those “Springtime for Hitler and Germany” showgirls are all in good fun.     

I am in awe of Brooks’ talent as a comedian, writer, producer, director and composer. He’s received three Oscar® nominations -– for the adapted screenplay of Young Frankenstein, for the Blazing Saddles lyrics, for The Producers (1968) screenplay -– and won the golden statuette for the latter. He also earned an Oscar® for The Critic, a very funny short film in which he did the hilarious narration. 

My favorite Mel Brooks movie scene? There are so many, it’s hard to choose. But the one I love the most is his Frank Sinatra-like singing of “High Anxiety” in the film of the same name, which is a brilliant send-up of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. But I also enjoy Brooks and his talented late great wife, Anne Bancroft, singing and dancing to “Sweet Georgia Brown” in To Be or Not To Be. What a wonderfully funny and rousing routine!

I hope you had a very happy birthday yesterday, Mel Brooks. And may you have many more. Thanks again for your great movies.  

Humor is just another defense against the universe. --- Mel Brooks

Life literally abounds with comedy if you look around you. --- Mel Brooks

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Kindle E-Book Now Available in Paperback Edition

Good news! To celebrate the 12th Anniversary of the Kindle E-book edition of It Had To Be Us by Harry and Elizabeth Lawrence, this extended story is now available in PAPERBACK format on Amazon, thanks to Long Story Short Publishing Company, Inc. Thanks also to Denise Cassino for the beautiful image below.

As most of you know, my husband and I used pen names to write this popular romantic memoir. We were happy when it won first place in the E-book category at the Hollywood Book Festival as well as when it was made into an award-winning short film -- by Misha Zubarev and Vera Zubarev -- titled CAKE: A Love Story, which can be seen on YouTube. 

For more information, please check out this Amazon Page Link:

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Decoding a Mystery

I  love a mystery! So my expectations were high about The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes. Granted, it’s exciting to see some beautiful clips of Monroe in all her glory. But listening to tapes of people who knew her speaking on phones or other recording devices did not work out well. Many of those scenes include actors lip syncing real people, but that seemed too stagey for me.

However, director Emma Cooper made sure the ups and downs of Monroe’s career, marriages and mental health problems received coverage in this uneven documentary. Fortunately, we get glimpses of wonderful films where Monroe displays her talents as an actress and entertainer. I enjoyed watching the clips of Some Like It Hot, The Seven Year Itch, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. But I felt sad seeing how different she looked in her last movie, The Misfits.

It was also hard to take reliving the downfall of her marriages to baseball great Joe DiMaggio and the famous playwright Arthur Miller. Also, the way this documentary presents Monroe’s last few days made me tear up again. What WAS her relationship to the Kennedy brothers, Bobby and JFK? Did they have her killed as scandal sheets suspected?  

Marilyn Monroe died too soon.

The heights she reached? Over the moon!

A film icon with fans galore,

she always wanted even more.

Abandonment she feared mostly  

 and turned to drugs so frequently.


Was Monroe’s death a suicide?

New documentary has tried

to find the truth about this mess.

We hear on tapes that could be less.

    Most the info we’ve heard before.

about this star many adore.

Most of the tape information came from Anthony Summers, a journalist who wrote a book about Marilyn Monroe called “Goddess.” And although the official investigation into Monroe’s death declared it was the result of a barbiturate overdose, Summers wanted to find out the truth. He rounded up as many tapes of interviews as possible and he conducted many of his own, which he taped, of course. About the night of Monroe’s death, various discrepancies were discovered.   

My conclusion? We will never know the truth. But we do know Marilyn Monroe, who died at only 36 years old, left an incredible movie legacy that will still live on for many years to come. 

  I am good but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.” --- Marilyn Monroe

(Released by Netflix and rated “TV-MA”)

Friday, May 06, 2022

Ode to Bruce Willis


Bruce Willis now no longer acts.

His fans will miss him. That’s the facts.

Since “Moonlighting” he’s been our guy

as witty hero and P.I.


Over one hundred acting parts.

Action, drama, & tugging hearts.

No matter what role he portrayed

his mission was it be well-played.  


Aphasia now has blocked his game.

But many movies earned him fame.

We wish him and his family well.

 His film legacy? Time will tell.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Petite Maman Film Poem

 “Petite Maman,”a wonderful French movie. opens in select theaters this Friday, April 22. 2022. It was on my Honorable Mention list during the Award Season, and I just had to write the following poem about this welcome screen offering.  


Two little girls play in the woods.

No one yells at them about shoulds.

They fix a house inside a tree

  and talk about their family.


Nell is lonely. Marion sees.

With each other they feel at ease. 

Though newly met, they seem to click.

Could this be some magical trick?


These two roles are played by real twins.

Everyone in audience wins.

“Petite Maman,” a lovely show.

If you like fantasy, please go.    


(Released by Neon and rated “PG” by MPAA.)

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Big Dreams

Better Nate Than Ever reminds me about my dreams as a thirteen-year old obsessed with tap dancing and the movies. I looked forward to all the wonderful films of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. Who cared if the plots were always the same? When Mickey said “Let’s put on a show,” I knew dancing and singing were about to start, and that made me a happy camper, for sure. So I took tap lessons and saw as many movie musicals as possible.

We see right away that Nate (played with conviction by Rueby Wood), the main character in Better Nate Than Never, is surrounded by posters for Wicked and other Broadway projects. We also watch him jump out of bed and dance like a pro while he’s getting dressed. And we can tell he’s eager to find out if he made the list for his school’s upcoming play.  We also feel sorry for Nate when other students – as well as his older brother (Joshua Bassett) -- make fun of him.        

Nate is only in seventh grade.

A life-decision he has made.

Broadway musicals, that’s his goal.

He feels it in his heart and soul.


He auditions for Broadway show.

But his parents don’t even know.

How can he make them understand?

His aunt helps him and that is grand.


Singing and dancing on Broadway.

Will Nate be able to win the day?

It’s fun to watch this little guy

with starry dreams up to the sky.


Musical lovers should enjoy

this adventure of one brave boy.

Rueby Wood seems to enjoy playing this role. It’s his first movie, but his professional background includes being cast as Charlie in the Broadway tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Plus, he can sing, dance and act up a storm. His super-dramatic audition monologue brings down the house.

Wood is lucky to have newcomer Aria Brooks portraying his good friend Libby. She projects a wonderful screen presence in scenes where Libby helps Nate with his Broadway goal. Everyone needs an unselfish friend like Libby. I should mention that they are just friends, no romance intended.   

Lisa Kudrow plays Nate’s helpful Aunt Heidi, who also has Broadway in her blood. These two characters share some heart-tugging scenes together. Heidi feels bad about being ostracized from her sister’s (Michelle Federer) family, but she wants to keep in touch with her young nephew..   

The musical numbers are fun. However, I wanted more of them. My favorite? Nate joining a group of New York buskers and singing “On Broadway,” which goes viral. 

Better Nate Than Ever ends up being a feel-good movie. Thanks to writer/director Tim Federle for adapting his book for the screen. We need films like this during these difficult times.    

 (Released by 20th Century Studios/Disney + and rated “PG” by MPAA.)   

Saturday, April 02, 2022

National Poetry Month


What Is a Poem?


Rhythm and rhyme,

words keeping time

out of their cage

onto the page,

buzzing like bees

in lines like these.



Finding spaces,

scents and places,

longings and fears,

laughter and tears,

a poem must say,

 “Come live today!” 


Thanks to Denise Fitzgerald Cassino for the lovely image below. Both of these award-winning e-books were written for lovers of movies and poetry. They are available at