Saturday, November 9, 2013

Milking a Scene: 20 Famous Movie Milk Scenes

20 Famous Milk Scenes in Movies

Suspicion, Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, 1941
Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine 
Suspicion 1941
Johnnie Aysgarth offers his wife Lina a glass of milk

Milk. Do you remember funny, horrific, suspenseful scenes with milk in films? Books on psychology, film motifs and the like will offer theory on how and why milk is used. But here's my list of milk scenes. Some are favorites, some maybe milk duds....

Doctored, Drugged, Poisoned Milk:

1) Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion 1941, starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. Lina is convinced that her husband, Johnnie is trying to kill her. This culminates in what appears to be his attempt to serve her a glass of poisoned milk. 

Hitchcock placed a battery operated light in the glass of milk that Grant carried up the stairs to make the scene that much more sinister.

The original script had Grant's character actually giving poisoned milk to his wife. There is controversy about why the ending was changed. Apparently a focus group could not believe or accept Cary Grant's being a killer. 

In mid-1941, "still unsure of the best ending for the film, Suspicion is shown to a test audience. The filmed ending — which sees Joan Fontaine drinking a glass of milk she believes to be poisoned only to discover Cary Grant is instead intending to commit suicide by poisoning himself — is rejected. 

"Hitchcock later tells the New York Herald Tribune, the audience 'booed [the ending], and I don't blame them.' In desperation, Joan Harrison and Hitchcock quickly come up with a new ending, which is the one used in the released film."
-- Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light by Patrick McGilligan

Joan Fontaine would go on to win the Best Actress Academy Award for this film, which was released in January 1942.  

Pay attention as you watch The Two Mrs. Carrolls from 1947. You may catch Humphrey Bogart trying to murder his wife, played by Barbara Stanwyck by slipping poison into her glass of milk!

2) Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange 1971, Starring Malcolm McDowell and Patrick Magee:
Milk Plus. Come over and have a glass of milk at the Korova Milkbar where the Droogs drink milk-drug cocktails. After drinking the milk that's laced with drugs, the characters are ready for some ultra-violence. A
Knifey Moloko is a cocktail featured in the 1962 Clockwork Orange book by Anthony Burgess.

The movie, while controversial, was nominated for several Oscars.

The Milk Bar
The Milk Bar
Decorate your Coffee Shop, apartment or studio

3) Spellbound 1945. Starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck
Another film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Dr. Brulove (Michael Chekhov) offers John Ballantyne (Peck) a glass of milk laced with bromides in hopes of knocking him out.

[The milk scene is approx 05:45 into this clip]

4) Raffles 1939 starring David Niven and Olivia de Havilland 
Lady Melrose (Dame May Whitty) is worried that her expensive necklace may be stolen. The maid slips extra sleeping powder into her glass of milk. Very suspicious.

5) The Edge of Darkness 2010. Starring Mel Gibson:
After using a Geiger counter on Emma’s (Bojana Novakovic) food and finds that the milk was has been contaminated with radioactive material. There is also a scene where Gibson's character pours the milk into the mouth of a bad guy.

6) The Woods 2006,  directed by Lucky McKee
Poisoned milk is causing problems at an isolated girls' school.

Autographed Lauren Bacall photo ad
8x10 Milk Ad Magazine page

Got Milk? I like the other celebrity Milk ads they have available. Some are signed and some aren't. For the most part, there is only one of each. Aside from Ms. Bacall, there is Tony Bennett, Melanie Griffith, Naomi Campbell, Van Halen, Spike Lee and more. Several photos include not only the celebrities but their kids. You'll find Sean Penn photos from the movie, Milk.

The Ghost & Mrs. Muir Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison has a special scene at the end with a glass of milk.

Ordering Milk in a Bar/Night Club

7) Guys and Dolls, 1955 starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine
When Sister Sarah Brown (Simmons) orders milk, Sky Masterson (Brando) decides to teach her about milk and Bacardi, Dolce de Leche

Simmons plays evangelist Sister Sharon Falconer in the 1960 film, Elmer Gantry. The movie costars actor, Burt Lancaster.

[The part discussed begins approx 5:57]

In an early scene, Sister Sharon holds a bucket of milk which she has supposedly gotten by milking a cow herself. She is speaking before a tent full of people.

"Here's the proof there's a happy God, a bountiful God, a generous God - Milk!  The Lord's nectar! Pass it along to those dear newspaper reporters so they can wash out the taste of whiskey."

Soon she asks that empty buckets be passed throughout the crowd. "See how many of those dear people can match my bountiful gift with their own offerings. You darlings can't 
make milk, and God just won't make money!"

In the 1939 film Roaring Twenties, James Cagney as Eddie Bartlett orders milk in a speakeasy. Even when he goes on to purchase a speakeasy/nightclub of his own with co-owner Panama/Gladys George, he continues to drink milk. Co-stars including Humphrey Bogart are drinking something other than milk.

8) The Killers 1946, starring Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien.
While meeting Mr. Reardon (O'Brien), Kitty Collins (Gardner) orders a glass of milk at The Green Cat, "I haven't eaten all day."

9) Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent 1940. Stars Joel McCrea and features Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders, Robert Benchley.
Stebbins (Benchley) is a journalist who's on the wagon. He watches Johnny (McCrea) drink scotch and soda while he drinks milk. "Doesn’t taste the way it did when I was a baby - that's got poison in it, speaking of poison, I've got some pills I've got to take."

[Fun bit about men's hats; The milk scene is approx 02:25 into this clip]

It's said that The National Creamery Buttermakers' Association condemned Foreign Correspondent for showing people drinking milk and suggesting that "milk drinking is an object of ridicule." Hitchcock responded by associating milk with Mickey finns in Suspicion and Spellbound.

Alfred Hitchcock says "No, thank you" to a glass of milk
High Quality Photo

The assertion that milk is good for ulcers, good for your stomach is featured in several films. In the 1966 film, Penelope, Penelope Elcott (Natalie Wood) is meeting with her psychiatrist, Dr. Mannix (Dick Shawn). He drinks from a small carton of milk as he talks to her, explaining that it's for his ulcer. When she tells him of her band robbing escapades, he snorts getting the milk all over him.

The writer Raymond Chandler collaborated with Hitchcock to create a screenplay for Strangers on a Train from the novel by Patricia Highsmith.

The author and director did not get along. Much has been written about their sniping at one another. Hitchcock had the screenplay primarily re-written by Czenzi Ormonde. He reportedly tossed Chandler's drafts in the trash.

A famous letter surfaced, Chandler's telling Hitchcock just what he thinks of the finished film. The letter is available in a book, Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher.

"Regardless of whether or not my name appears on the screen among the credits, I'm not afraid that anybody will think I wrote this stuff. They'll know damn well I didn't. I shouldn't have minded in the least if you had produced a better script—believe me. I shouldn't.

"But if you wanted something written in skim milk, why on earth did you bother to come to me in the first place? What a waste of money! What a waste of time! It's no answer to say that I was well paid. Nobody can be adequately paid for wasting his time."
-- excerpt from Chandler's letter

10) A Lady Takes a Chance (1943) Starring. Jean Arthur and John Wayne.
Molly (Jean Arthur) sees a sign above the bar:
Try our cactus milk the nectar of the west.

After trying the cactus milk, she begins to scream, jump and run around like crazy. "Jeepers! What was that, what was in it?!" Turns out it contained
tequila, applejack gin and cactus milk. She orders another cactus milk. :-)

Made For Each Other, James Stewart, Carole Lombard, 1939
Thanksgiving holiday dinner with Jimmy and Carole?
Made For Each Other, James Stewart, Carole Lombard, 1939

In Ball of Fire with Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper, Cooper's character, Professor Bertram Potts wants to learn about slang. Nightclub singer, Katherine "Sugarpuss" O'Shea (Stanwyck), among others, help him out.

Gene Krupa on drums.

Give me my milk straight. Milk, just milk

11) Léon: The Professional French / U.S.: The Professional a 1994. Starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman and Danny Aiello.
Jean Reno plays Leone "Léon" Montana, a professional hitman. The unusual thing about the character is that he seems to 'run on milk.' If he isn't actually working as a hitman, you often see him at home and there's a carton and/or glass of milk in the scene. Listen for him to say, "I'm going to get some more milk."  Better not let this guy open the fridge and find that he's out of it!

12) Rebel Without a Cause 1955, starring James Dean.
I read that there is a significant milk scene in this film. "James Dean in  returns after the chicken run and drinks milk signifying his wish to make a new start in his troubled life." *

People will attach symbolism to milk and whether or not the filmmaker intended this is debatable. Do you see other films where you think a glass of milk is meant to convey renewal, a new start in life?

13) The Aviator 2004. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, John C. Reilly  and Kate Beckinsale.
An interesting film if only because it's biographical and depicts famous Hollywood icons. The milk scene is unusual, particularly standing on its own.
"Come In With The Milk, He is to open the bag with his right hand..."

14) Snow White and The Huntsman, 2012. Starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin.
Queen Ravenna (Theron) takes a milk bath. What other movie milk baths can you remember? 

Sign Of The...
Sign Of The Cross, Claudette Colbert, 1932

Milk Bath, The Sign of the Cross, Claudette Colbert 1932
Poppaea (Claudette Colbert) bathes in asses' milk. The scene took several days to shoot. DeMille announced to the press that real asses' milk was used; however, it was actually powdered cow's milk.

After a few days under the hot lights, the milk turned sour, making it very unpleasant for Colbert to work in the stench.
-- Wikipedia

Put my milk in a saucer, please

15) Tomb of Ligeia 1965. Starring Vincent Price and Elizabeth Shepherd.
Ligeia, the late wife of Verden Fell (Price) is haunting the mansion where new wife Rowena (Shepherd) now lives. Ligeia takes the shape of a black cat who enters Rowena's bedroom and torments her at night. One evening she gets up to find a saucer of milk on the floor by her bedside. Spooky. When she goes to show it to her husband, the saucer of milk has vanished.
By the way, Price sports some cool sunglasses in this film.

16) To Catch a Thief, Alfred Hitchcock 1955. Starring Grace Kelly, Cary Grant.
John Robie (Grant) is incognito. He's the notorious but retired cat burglar, nicknamed The Cat. The people of the town are unhappy, to put it mildly, to see him. A cook in Bertani's restaurant offers him milk in a saucer, fit for The Cat. 

17) Special mention: Walk, Don't Run 1966. Starring Cary Grant, Samantha Eggar, Jim Hutton.
This was Cary Grant's last film. While in his pajamas, Sir William Rutland (Grant) goes out the front door to retrieve the milk. When he does this, the door closes and locks behind him. Silly movie hijinx ensues and we find Sir William climbing the side of the building, walking on the roof and climbing in through the window, all while carrying that bottle of milk. His final movie roof-walk.

18) Dragnet 1987. Starring Dan Aykroyd, Tom Hanks
A Milk factory a local milk factory is being used by the P.A.G.A.N.s to mass-produce a toxic gas made from the chemicals they stole.

Officers Friday and Streebeck enter the milk factory. A tank has ruptured and milk is flowing everywhere.

Pep Streebeck/Tom Hanks (tastes the liquid) "I can't quite place it! It tastes like..."

Joe Friday/Dan Aykroyd: "Milk. Just like the sign said before you obliterated it. Fresh wholesome milk."

Streebeck: "You probably love this stuff."

Friday: "Vitamin D, calcium, essential for good strong bones and healthy teeth. But that's all Greek to you, isn't it, Mr. Gingivitis?"

Bloody Milk; Would you like some violence with your milk?

19) Manchurian Candidate 1962. Starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and Angela Lansbury.
The film has been called a political thriller and a satire. Senator Thomas Jordan (John McGiver) is holding a carton of milk when Raymond (Harvey) shoots him. Milk spurts from the carton as the senator falls to the floor. The scene gets more graphic from there.

20) May 2002. Another Lucky McKee horror film, starring Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Anna Faris and James Duval.
There is a scene with blood mixed with milk. 

Milk Controversy aka It's Raining Milk

Singing in the Rain 1952. Starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds.
Here's the controversial question: Is it true that milk was put in the water so the raindrops would show up better on film?

Depending on who you ask, and now thanks to the Internet, the water is more than milky. You'll find different answers. A lot of sources will say yes, there was milk added. Here is another take on it from Gene Kelly's widow, Patricia:

"There was no milk. That's another of those myths associated with the movie. It was such an extraordinary challenge to light the raindrops. Gene always used the analogy that it was like watching a football game. You're looking at the players on the ground, you don't see the rain. 

"If you tilt your head up, you'll see the raindrops with lighting in the back with the stadium lights. They couldn't do that in Singin' in the Rain because he's dancing in front of these storefronts, so they couldn't backlight it without the light showing up in the glass in the storefronts. So they had a real challenge to light the rain and to light Gene. If he's dancing they had to light from the front and not show that reflection."

Excerpted from Newsday 07/11/2012

So don't worry if you have a milk mustache next time you go to the movies. You're in great company if you like milk.

The rumor that a follow-up post about milk scenes on television is true. Watch for it. Will publish around lunchtime. It's awful hard to eat a peanut butter sandwich without milk, you know.

Related Pages of Interest:

10 Milk Scenes on Television

Alfred Hitchcock's Blue Food Dinner Parties

Santa comes early in My Favorite Wife

Bring the Charade Party to Life, Be Cary Grant or Audrey Hepburn

References and Related Books:

* Hitchcock's Motifs (Film Culture in Transition) 

* Les grands themes du cinema americain (7e art) (French) 

Strangers on a Train, by Patricia Highsmith

Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light

Creatures of Darkness: Raymond Chandler, Detective Fiction, and Film Noir

Thanks to Wikipedia and other sites and sources mentioned

Meet the Fockers (2004) starred Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand and Blythe Danner.

Stiller has a scene where he finds a bottle of breast milk in the fridge and drinks it, not knowing what it is. It may not be a new gag, but it's a popular one.


 The Girl Can't Help It, Jayne Mansfield, Tom Ewell, 1956, Milk

The Girl Can't Help It, Jayne Mansfield, Tom Ewell, 1956

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