Friday May 1
4:30 PM Fast Company (Sturges, 1953) – BW-68 mins. – Hmm. What was John Sturges doing directing this? The romantic comedy stars Polly Bergen as a woman who inherits a horse. Howard Keel is the male lead, a trainer hoping to buy the horse cheaply from Bergen but getting more than he bargained for when a romance develops. Marjorie Main, Nina Foch, even Iron Eyes Cody are in the supporting cast. It’s an MGM picture, now controlled by Warner Bros. and not on DVD.
12:00 AM On the Fiddle (Frankel, 1961) – BW-92 mins. – A new month and a new Star of the Month. This time it’s Mr. 007 himself Sean Connery, who, for a certain generation, is probably just as recognizable for being parodied on Saturday Night Live’s Jeopardy! skits as he is for his acting roles. The nature of the beast I suppose. The Connery Bond films are actually making their debuts on the channel this month, beginning with Dr. No and From Russia with Love tonight. This lesser-known war drama follows. Alfred Lynch stars as a street peddler forced to enlist in the military, where he’s befriended by Connery. Cecil Parker, Stanley Holloway and Alan King add support. The film, known in the U.S. as Operation Snafu, seems to have received a post-Bond theatrical release here by American International Pictures. I’m unsure as to where the rights now sit, but it hasn’t shown up on DVD.
Saturday May 2
1:00 AM One Potato, Two Potato (Peerce, 1964) – BW-83 mins. – Good going TCM. Tonight’s theme is “We’ve Got Issues” and the films range from I Am a Fugitive in a Chain Gang, Fury, and Crossfire to In the Heat of the Night and this lesser-known title. It stars Barbara Barrie (Best Actress winner at Cannes) as a divorced white woman who marries a black man (Bernie Hamilton). The screenplay was even Oscar-nominated. Supporting cast includes Richard Mulligan and Robert Earl Jones. For some context, interracial marriage wasn’t even legal in many states when the film was released. The Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia forbade states from criminalizing it in 1967. This film was independently made and released. I’m not aware of any DVD release.
Sunday May 3
8:00 PM Carbine Williams (Thorpe, 1952) – BW-93 mins. – Jimmy Stewart plays the inventor of the M-1 Carbine automatic rifle, a man who’d earlier been convicted of killing a federal officer. Jean Hagen and Wendell Corey co-star. It’s been several months since TCM last showed the film, which was made for MGM. Warner Bros. recently made it available for purchase at the Warner Archive site as a burned-on-demand DVD-R. Twenty bucks and it’s yours, or you could see the same thing on television this evening.
2:00 AM Marius (Korda & Pagnol, 1931) – BW-120 mins. – A trilogy of films written and directed (or co-directed, I guess, in this instance) by Marcel Pagnol appear on the TCM Imports schedule this month. Each movie deals with people in the French port city of Marseilles. The first, Marius, is about the title character, a young man, and his love for both Fanny, also the name of the second film of the trilogy, and the open possibilities of traveling by sea. The three films, including the third – César – are available on DVD in a set from Kino.
Monday May 4
11:15 PM Crime and Punishment (Sternberg, 1935) – BW-88 mins. – Famous novel, less famous movie adaptation. Dostoyevsky’s story was filmed at Columbia by Josef von Sternberg, with Peter Lorre in the starring role. Edward Arnold is the Inspector. Apparently Sternberg wasn’t happy with either doing the movie or the results. It’s not on R1 DVD yet either. Some Peter Lorre action tonight, with Three Strangers following at 1:15 AM.
3:00 AM The Verdict (Siegel, 1946) – BW-86 mins.- Another Greenstreet-Lorre picture that’s not on DVD. This is actually the last of their eight pairings. I don’t remember TCM showing the film for months and months. Greenstreet plays a former Scotland Yard superintendent who finds himself dismissed and hoping to get back at his replacement. Lorre is a helpful friend. The director was Don Siegel, and this was the first feature he helmed. Island of Doomed Men, also starring Lorre, follows at 4:30 AM.
Tuesday May 5
2:00 PM Abandon Ship! (Sale, 1957) – BW-97 mins. – TCM uses this title on its website, but IMDb has Seven Waves Away. Tyrone Power, just a couple of films before his death the following year, stars as an officer forced to take command of a luxury liner after sinks. A life boat intended to hold 9 must carry over 20 survivors, including Lloyd Nolan, Mai Zetterling and Stephen Boyd. I wasn’t familiar with writer and director Richard Sale, but he also wrote the Sterling Hayden-Frank Sinatra film Suddenly (about an attempted political assassination) and was responsible for the novel The Oscar, which was turned into a notoriously bad film. Columbia distributed originally and it’s not on DVD.
Thursday May 7
8:00 PM Bordertown (Mayo, 1935) – BW-91 mins. – “Race and Hollywood” is back again this year with an emphasis on Latino Images in Film. Bordertown stars Paul Muni as a Mexican-American employed at a border casino owned by Eugene Pallette, whose wife (Bette Davis) has her eye on Muni. Murder could be involved. A Warner Bros. picture, done before Davis was a movie star and while Muni was big man on the lot. Not on DVD.
Friday May 8
6:00 AM Take a Giant Step (Leacock, 1958) – BW-100 mins. – Johnny Nash, in his only starring film role, is a black teenager raised in a white neighborhood who struggles to fit in, and Ruby Dee is his helpful family housekeeper. Burt Lancaster was an executive producer. United Artists released so MGM should now have the rights, though it hasn’t been brought to DVD.
11:30 AM The Explosive Generation (Kulik, 1961) – BW-89 mins. – If you’ve ever wanted to see William Shatner play a high school teacher who, out of frustration, begins teaching sex education to his students, here’s the movie for you. The early showing of Star Trek can wait. The Bad Seed’s Patty McCormack co-stars as one of the students. Director Buzz Kulik later did the television movie Brian’s Song. It looks like United Artists was also distributor on The Explosive Generation. No DVD from MGM thus far. Jack Garfein’s Something Wild, another title TCM hasn’t shown for several months, follows at 1:00 PM.
12:15 AM Woman of Straw (Dearden, 1964) – C-117 mins. – Ooh, Gina Lollobrigida plays a nurse to the elderly (and rich) Ralph Richardson and Sean Connery is his nephew. A devious plot is hatched, with Connery in a rare villain role. United Artists again and nothing on the DVD front. I’m somewhat surprised MGM hasn’t put this out actually, as Connery was already in Bond mode by 1964. The article on TCM’s site even mentions the film was his first million dollar payday.
Sunday May 10
6:00 AM Bachelor Mother (Kanin, 1939) – BW-82 mins. – I’ve mentioned this movie before here, but it’s just so delightful that I can’t overdo the recommendation. Ginger Rogers plays a department store worker who finds herself with a baby that isn’t hers. David Niven is the son of the store’s owner (Charles Coburn) and eventual love interest for Ginger. There’s a very funny scene involving wind-up Donald Duck toys in the store. RKO originally distributed the film and that studio was also used by Disney to release his cartoons before he set up shop independently. Bachelor Mother can be had on DVD in France and the UK, though the latter is only a colorized version. Warner Bros. controls the rights in R1 but hasn’t released its own version yet. You just know those scoundrels are probably going to throw the movie onto a $20 DVD-R now. Keep the early Sunday morning comedy momentum going with Carole Lombard in Lady by Choice at 7:30 AM.
10:00 PM The Sign of the Ram (Sturges, 1948) – BW-84 mins. – The last film of actress Susan Peters has her play a wheelchair-bound woman who manipulates her family. Alexander Knox and Peggy Ann Garner co-star in the picture, which was also the only one Peters made after suffering an accident that resulted in paralysis. What a raw deal she got. Oscar nomination for 1942’s Random Harvest when she was in her early twenties. Bullet in the spine from a discharged hunting rifle that left her paralyzed from the waist down in 1945. Dead at just 31 years old in 1951. The Sign of the Ram was directed by John Sturges for Columbia. It isn’t on DVD.
12:00 AM The Cheat (DeMille, 1915) – BW-59 mins. – The remake of this film can be found in Universal’s Pre-Code Hollywood Collection that came out a bit over a month ago. After watching that version, starring Tallulah Bankhead, I’m interested to see what is apparently an even more daring take by Cecil B. DeMille. The extremely odd sexual predator character was played by future director Irving Pichel in the 1931 film, but here it’s Sessue Hayakawa in the role. The Japanese actor also stars in the film next on TCM’s schedule, The Dragon Painter, which has a typically excellent DVD from Milestone available. DeMille’s The Cheat is also on DVD, from Kino in a set with Manslaughter, another silent from the same director.
Monday May 11
6:15 AM Miranda (Annakin, 1948) – BW-77 mins. – A man (Griffith Jones) goes fishing and soon enough finds himself a mermaid (Glynis Johns). Directed by Ken Annakin, who just passed away a couple of weeks ago, the fantasy film also stars Googie Withers as the lucky fisherman’s wife, Withers’ real-life husband John McCallum, and Margaret Rutherford. The UK production isn’t on DVD and was released by Eagle-Lion in American theaters. I’m not sure where that would put the rights.
7:45 AM The Magic Box (Boulting, 1951) – C-108 mins.- Another British film in the early morning. The behind the scenes talent is quite impressive, with John Boulting directing, Ronald Neame producing, Jack Cardiff behind the camera, and a screenplay by Eric Ambler. Robert Donat stars as a man who may have been the first to invent the motion picture camera. Maria Schell plays his wife and Richard Attenborough is down the cast list. Credited even further down on IMDb are Laurence Olivier and Peter Ustinov. What’s that about, I wonder. This one is available on DVD in the UK, though not stateside.
8:00 PM The Hucksters (Conway, 1947) – BW-116 mins. – Really great cast here, lead by Clark Gable and Deborah Kerr in her Hollywood debut. They’re joined by Sydney Greenstreet, Adolphe Menjou, Ava Gardner, even Edward Arnold. The plot finds veteran Gable moving into the advertising business. He takes interest in widow Kerr and, briefly, singer Gardner. Surprisingly not available on DVD, the MGM production should have its rights controlled by Warner Bros. Another marketing themed movie, Callaway Went Thataway, follows at 10:15 PM.
Tuesday May 12
8:00 PM Tortilla Flat (Fleming, 1942) – BW-99 mins. – The Latino Images in Film festival continues tonight, starting with this adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel. Spencer Tracy stars alongside Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield in a story about the lazy, aimless ways of a group of people. I can imagine that the commentator speaking with Robert Osborne this evening will not endorse the way Latinos are portrayed in the film. It did earn an Oscar nomination for Frank Morgan, playing the character named “the Pirate.” No DVD here, with it being a Warner Bros. via MGM property.
Thursday May 14
2:15 PM Smilin’ Through (Franklin, 1932) – BW-98 mins. – Norma Shearer alert. This sounds like a convoluted story that’s difficult to even try to quickly summarize. Something about a man (Leslie Howard) who is about to marry a woman (Shearer) but another man (Fredric March) is jealous enough to kill the woman. Howard’s character spends years of loneliness but takes in the niece of his dead fiancee (who grows up to also be Norma Shearer). The niece then takes interest in the son (March again) of the man who killed her aunt. The film was one of ten nominated for Best Picture in 1934, losing to Cavalcade. Another MGM production, not on DVD, with rights held by Warner Bros.
9:30 PM My Man and I (Wellman, 1952) – BW-99 mins. – Ricardo Montalban plays a Mexican (Chu Chu Ramirez is the character’s name) who proudly becomes an American citizen but has his dignity tested while laboring in the fields. An excellent supporting cast includes Shelley Winters, Claire Trevor and Wendell Corey. Director William Wellman was nearing the end of his career but still very much relevant, making Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty the following two years. This movie has not shown up on DVD and was, again, done for MGM but now owned by the WB.
Friday May 15
9:15 AM Walk Softly, Stranger (Stevenson, 1950) – BW-100 mins. – Shades of film noir from the director of Mary Poppins? Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli, before The Third Man but released after it, are the leads, with Spring Byington, John McIntire and, yes, Jack Paar in tow. Cotten’s character drifts into a small Ohio town and acts like it was his boyhood home. Byington is his new landlady and Valli the crippled woman he falls in love with, though neither realizes Cotten is actually a crook. The film was done for producer Dore Schary and released by RKO. Unavailable on DVD, it should now be a Warner Bros. property.
Saturday May 16
4:00 AM Riptide (Goulding, 1934) – BW-92 mins. – This week is a feast for fans of Robert Montgomery, including a birthday anniversary celebration on the 21st. Here he stars with Norma Shearer, seducing her along the French Riviera despite Shearer’s marriage to Herbert Marshall. The film was released (according to IMDb) in late March of 1934, making it just barely pre-Code. MGM was the distributor, though Warner Bros. should now control. It isn’t on DVD.
Sunday May 17
1:30 PM A Child Is Waiting (Cassavetes, 1963) – BW-104 mins. – There was turmoil during the filming of this, a predictable clash between Cassavetes and producer Stanley Kramer, but the remnants of the picture are still pretty good. It concerns a school for children with disabilities. Burt Lancaster is the head and Judy Garland a new teacher. Cassavetes handles everything with such patient grace that some scenes almost feel documentary-like. This certainly isn’t a great film, but it isn’t a failure either. Sony owns the rights and nothing’s been released on DVD in R1. I think there’s an out of print French edition where it’s paired with Love Streams.
Monday May 18
10:15 AM Rain or Shine (Capra, 1930) – BW-88 mins. – An incredible week for birthdays starts with a day’s worth of films by Frank Capra. I’ve mentioned them before, but the Stanwyck films he did (except Bitter Tea of General Yen) which aren’t available in R1 are on today’s schedule. I’m less familiar with this comedy, based on a play by the actor James Gleason and with no major stars in the cast. In it, a girl (Joan Peers) inherits a circus which struggles financially. Joe Cook plays the circus manager who tries to help out by putting on a one-man show. Columbia was behind this movie just like it was the Capra-Stanwyck pictures. Rain or Shine is not available on DVD (and somewhat rare it seems).
8:00 PM Penthouse (Van Dyke, 1933) – BW-89 mins.- Oh boy, oh boy, it’s Myrna Loy. This has Myrna’s frequent director W.S. Van Dyke and was released a year prior to The Thin Man establishing her as a comedic actress. The MGM production is set in the criminal underbelly and stars Warner Baxter as a lawyer for the defense. In addition to Loy and Nat Pendleton as a gangster, Mae Clarke also appears, elevating it to probably my most anticipated showing of the week. Warner Bros. controls. Nothing on the DVD front.
9:45 PM When Ladies Meet (Beaumont, 1933) – BW-85 mins. – Here we get Myrna again, also Robert Montgomery again, and Ann Harding. Loy is a novelist with a thing for her publisher (Frank Morgan). Montgomery, who has an interest in Loy, sets up a blind meeting between her and the publisher’s wife (Harding). It seems a bit of a stretch to see Morgan as married to Harding and pined over by Loy, but these things happen I guess. Another for MGM, also not on DVD.
Tuesday May 19
8:00 AM Speed (Marin, 1936) – BW-70 mins. – Rarely mentioned or seen, this was Jimmy Stewart’s first starring role in the movies. He plays a car tester for an automobile company with an interest in Wendy Barrie’s character. Una Merkel and Ted Healy are part of the supporting cast. The short little picture was done for MGM. Rights holder Warner Bros. hasn’t let it out of the vault thus far.
8:00 PM The Lawless (Losey, 1950) – BW-82 mins. – Director Joseph Losey’s second film, after The Boy with the Green Hair, and this one stars MacDonald Carey, Gail Russell and Lee Patrick. It’s being shown as part of the Latino Images in Film tribute, appropriate since the plot involves Carey’s newspaper editor taking up the cause of the mostly Mexican fruit pickers in California. The movie was released originally by Paramount. I’m not sure whether the rights are still with that studio and I don’t know of a DVD release (though it’s possible one exists somewhere since Losey is generally more respected outside of the U.S.). Trial, starring Glenn Ford and an Oscar-nominated Arthur Kennedy follows.
Wednesday May 20
10:00 PM Harry in Your Pocket (Geller, 1973) – C-103 mins. – James Stewart films take up the entire day to honor the 101st anniversary of his birth. The films shown are good ones, but nothing out of the ordinary. Less expected is TCM’s night of films starring Michael Sarrazin. If you live long enough you’ll see just about anything. This one sounds sort of interesting and has James Coburn as the lead, a pickpocket who takes Sarrazin under his wing. Trish Van Devere is also in the cast. Coburn doesn’t really get his due but I almost always find him to be an agreeable presence. This movie isn’t on DVD in R1. I believe MGM might have the rights. The Robert Mulligan-directed The Pursuit of Happiness, also with Sarrazin, airs later in the night at 2:15 AM.
Thursday May 21
7:15 AM The Big House (Hill, 1930) – BW-87 mins. – Here’s the Montgomery day, honoring 105 years since his birth. The Big House did well at the Oscars, earning a nomination for Wallace Beery and as Best Picture. Chester Morris plays a convict who falls for Montgomery’s sister Leila Hyams (changed from the original relationship where the two were instead married) after breaking out. When Morris is recaptured, another escape attempt is planned. Warner recently put the MGM picture in its made-on-demand Archive collection. How does the unrestored DVD-R image purchasable for $20 look? Judging from the DVD Beaver review, somewhat lousy. The TCM showing will be almost certainly identical.
Friday May 22
6:30 AM Friends and Lovers (Schertzinger, 1931) – BW-68 mins. – I looked at the cast for this and thought it was immediately worthwhile. There’s Adolphe Menjou, Lili Damita, birthday boy Laurence Olivier, Erich von Stroheim, and Hugh Herbert. Anything with Olivier prior to Wuthering Heights seems forgotten and von Stroheim always adds an interesting layer to things. The latter is married to Damita, with both Menjou and Olivier, British Army officers in India, also taken with her. Made for RKO and now likely to be a Warner Bros. property, the film isn’t on DVD in R1.
Saturday May 30
1:15 AM The Wrong Box (Forbes, 1966) – C-106 mins. – A “Based on Robert Louis Stevenson” night lets this British comedy adapted from a Stevenson story tag along for the ride. I found the humor in this to be extremely British, and it was funny to read a quote from Michael Caine (who’s part of an amazing cast that includes Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, Peter Sellers, John Mills and Ralph Richardson) blaming the film’s lack of domestic success on the British not seeing themselves in that stereotypical “eccentric, charming and polite” way. The semi-zany plot involves a large sum of money that will go to the heirs of whichever brother (Mills or Richardson) lives the longest. It’s not on DVD in R1, with Sony controlling, but a disc can be had in the UK exclusively from Moviemail. It’s one of a handful of Sony titles available only from that online retailer.
Sunday May 31
12:00 PM Tom, Dick and Harry (Kanin, 1941) – BW-87 mins. – Ginger Rogers again teamed up with her Bachelor Mother director Garson Kanin for this screwball romance about a telephone operator who attracts the attention of the three men of the title (played by George Murphy, Alan Marshal and Burgess Meredith). The writing earned an Oscar nomination, losing to Citizen Kane (good choice Academy). This film was also Rogers’ follow-up to winning the statuette for Kitty Foyle. Future director John Sturges served as editor of the picture. It was made for RKO and hasn’t been officially released in a legitimate DVD in R1. You can, however, pay $20 for a burned DVD-R at the Warner Archive if so desired.
8:00 PM The Winslow Boy (Asquith, 1948) – BW-118 mins. – I guess Anthony Asquith is an honorary member of TCM’s “Great Directors” club since a pair of his films will air on the eve of that monthlong celebration. Probably the best known screen version of this story, originally a play by Terence Rattigan, is David Mamet’s 1999 film. This initial take, with a screenplay written by Rattigan, hasn’t found its way to R1 DVD yet, though Optimum recently put out a disc in the UK. Robert Donat leads the cast as the barrister and Parliament member who picks up the cause of the title boy, accused of a petty theft and expelled from the Royal Naval College, and earns national attention in the process. Cedric Hardwicke plays the father of the boy, steadfast in his son’s innocence. Eagle-Lion originally put the movie in U.S. cinemas, but I’m not sure where the rights have gone since then.
10:00 PM The Demi-Paradise (Asquith, 1943) – BW-113 mins. – This comparatively lighter Asquith film stars Laurence Olivier as a Russian engineer who moves to Great Britain before WWII to help with the implementation of a ship propeller he designed. He has some difficulty adjusting to the British way of life. The film isn’t on DVD even in the UK and seems unavailable everywhere. Universal is listed as distributor in the U.S., though who knows whether that studio still controls it. The Henry King-directed silent flim The White Sister, starring Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman, follows at midnight.
Monday June 1
7:30 AM Once Upon a Honeymoon (McCarey, 1942) – BW-115 mins. – I’ve read enough negative reactions to this film that I haven’t ever seen it, but with the movie now a part of the Warner Archive (pretty much eliminating its future on actual DVD) I’m ready to maybe give it a shot. Made for RKO, it’s billed as a comedy where burlesque girl Ginger Rogers marries an Austrian Baron (Walter Slezak) who turns out to be a Nazi. Radio man Cary Grant is there to save the day both for the cause and the girl. Several of Leo McCarey’s films, with Love Affair up next at 9:30 AM, air until prime time, when John Ford’s shift begins. Three Charley Chase shorts that McCarey directed precede Once Upon a Honeymoon, beginning at 6:00 AM.
Tuesday June 2
8:00 AM Test Pilot (Fleming, 1938) – BW-119 mins. – Another chance to catch Bombshell at 6:00 AM, and then this also unavailable Victor Fleming picture follows. A dream cast includes Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy, and Lionel Barrymore. Nominated for Best Picture, the film has Gable play a brash test pilot and Tracy the mechanic who holds him in awe. Gable stumbles upon farm girl Loy and eventually marries her, which leads to a few lifestyle complications. Several writers, including Howard Hawks, are credited and the actual story portion was Oscar-nominated. It was made for MGM, but Warner Bros. hasn’t released it to DVD yet. Seems like an obvious candidate. Another pilot-themed Fleming movie not on DVD, A Guy Named Joe, can be seen at 2:00 PM.
Thursday June 4
8:00 PM The Dick Cavett Show: Ingmar Bergman (1971) – C-54 mins. – There’s a really great DVD set with episodes from Cavett’s show where he interviewed film actors and directors, but this isn’t included. TCM has shown it before, including just after Bergman’s death, and it’s always worth a look. There just aren’t American television programs like this any longer. It kicks off a night dedicated to many of Bergman’s most popular films, including Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal.
2:00 AM Hour of the Wolf (Bergman, 1968) – BW-87 mins. – MGM released a solid disc in R1 for this Ingmar Bergman picture but it’s fallen out of print. The large Bergman set that has Hour of the Wolf remains available, though at a substantial price. Persona, which is scheduled to air immediately prior at 12:30 AM, is my favorite in that set and also the best thing I’ve seen from Bergman, but I wanted to mention Hour of the Wolf since it’s now off the R1 market. This really seems like Bergman experimenting a little with psychological terror, bringing to mind the later sensibility of David Lynch. It stars Max von Sydow as a tormented artist sharing horrible memories with his wife, played by Liv Ullmann. The title actually refers to the hour just before dawn, but watching this late at night should have the desired effect.
Friday June 5
8:15 AM The Running Man (Reed, 1963) – C-104 mins. – Laurence Harvey fakes his death and meets wife Lee Remick in Spain, but his keep your enemies closer plan of cozying up next to insurance investigator Alan Bates proves risky. Carol Reed directed from an adaptation by John Mortimer. The color Scope cinematography was nominated for a BAFTA. Columbia released the film theatrically, but nothing on the DVD front.
10:00 AM Our Man in Havana (Reed, 1960) – BW-107 mins. – A very good film where Alec Guinness plays an inadvertent spy located in Cuba. Guinness’ everyman quality makes him enjoyable in the role and also serves him well, as it often did, with treading the line of likability in the character. I can’t think of another actor so gifted at playing passivity as he was. Though the film is available on DVD in R1 from Sony (also R2), the cover is so ugly as to make you question whether it’s really something you want to let in your home, and the image contrast is far too green.
Saturday June 6
7:45 AM These Three (Wyler, 1936) – BW-93 mins. – William Wyler day on TCM. Dead End starts off at 6:00 AM and is followed by this film, adapted by Lillian Hellman from her own play. Miriam Hopkins and Merle Oberon play two school teachers who face small town scandal at the hand of a student played by the Oscar-nominated Bonita Granville. Both teachers are in love with town doctor Joel McCrea. Twenty-five years later Wyler returned to the same material with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine in The Children’s Hour (airing at midnight), but this time kept the original lesbian angle in Hellman’s story. These Three has not made it to DVD that I know of, and should be an MGM property.
4:45 AM Hell’s Heroes (Wyler, 1930) – BW-68 mins. – The last Wyler film being shown is actually the oldest. It’s one of several tellings of the story that was also filmed as 3 Godfathers by John Ford, and later tweaked into a Japanese anime movie by Satoshi Kon called Tokyo Godfathers. Set on Christmas Eve, the plot concerns three outlaws who come across a pregnant woman after they’ve robbed a bank. When the woman dies in child birth, the men, headed in Wyler’s film by Charles Bickford, find decency and try to bring the newborn out of the harsh desert into safety. This early sound film was done for Universal, reportedly the studio’s first sound picture made outdoors, and hasn’t received a DVD release.
Sunday June 7
12:00 PM Four’s a Crowd (Curtiz, 1938) – BW-92 mins. – A fairly loaded picture in terms of talent, but not one that gets mentioned much. Michael Curtiz directs (all day!), and the three leads are Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Rosalind Russell. Flynn, coming right off of The Adventures of Robin Hood, plays a publicist involved romantically with newspaper woman Russell but increasingly interested in the daughter (de Havilland) of his millionaire client (Walter Connolly). Attempts at screwball comedy follow. A well-rounded supporting cast also includes Patric Knowles, Hugh Herbert, Franklin Pangborn and Margaret Hamilton (aka the Wicked Witch of the West). IMDb even has Lana Turner down as an uncredited passerby. This is Warner Bros. and no DVD has been put out so far. At one point the movie could’ve been a candidate for a Flynn set, but I’m not sure the WB is still in that business. Another three Flynn movies follow.
4:30 AM The Cabin in the Cotton (Curtiz, 1932) – BW-78 mins. – This is an early Bette Davis movie not on DVD where the star is really Richard Barthelmess. I wasn’t going to mention it until I read TCM’s article that begins with, “Ah’d love to kiss ya, but ah just washed mah hair,” which Davis later said was her favorite line she ever had. You can’t really deny that sort of writing. The story is about the plight of a sharecropper (Barthelmess), including his romantic dilemma involving the forward daughter (Davis) of the plantation. Warner Bros. again, with no DVD available.
Monday June 8
8:30 AM Human Desire (Lang, 1954) – BW-91 mins. – You could do worse than to just take Monday off and sit in front of the television all day with it tuned to TCM. Generally, TCM nails a fine order with scheduling, but the channel is off today. The excellent (on DVD in R1 from Kino) Hangmen Also Die kicks things off at 6:00 AM and the much more difficult to see re-teaming of Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame in Human Desire follows. The two had just a year before starred in Lang’s masterpiece quality The Big Heat, which can be seen much later in the day at 6:15 PM. Even if Human Desire is hardly as good, there’s still a fascination about pairing Ford and Grahame again. It’s based on an Emile Zola book which also served as the basis for Renoir’s La bête humaine in 1938. The plot has Ford as a railroad engineer just returned from fighting in Korea. He develops an unhealthy fascination with co-worker Broderick Crawford’s wife (Grahame) and something unseemly quickly ensues. While The Big Heat and Lang’s previous noirs were in Academy ratio, Human Desire was photographed in widescreen and that little difference, for me anyway, makes for a slightly strange transition. The latter picture can be had on DVD in an edition from Japan (DVD Beaver captures) and an R2 from Spain. Sony is the rights holder, and while two film noir sets have been unofficially announced for later this year in R1, Human Desire is not one of the titles said to be included.
Tuesday June 9
11:15 AM Night Ambush (Powell, 1957) – BW-105 mins. – Several Michael Powell films made with fellow Archer Emeric Pressburger air while the sun’s out today. All are now available on R1 DVD except this war drama (the only one of these I’ve not watched), called Ill Met by Moonlight in the UK and released to R2 by ITV. British military men must kidnap a Nazi general in Crete and bring him to Cairo. Dirk Bogarde stars and is joined by Marius Goring, David Oxley and Cyril Cusack. The movie was produced and distributed by the Rank Organisation. I’m not sure where the rights sit in R1. The brilliant A Matter of Life and Death follows at 1:00 PM.
Wednesday June 10
4:00 AM The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (Sturges, 1947) – BW-90 mins. – Despite being a massive fan of Preston Sturges, this is a film I haven’t seen. Harold Lloyd plays the title character, a former football hero who loses his job as a store clerk and proceeds to live it up (presumably). The production was marred by conflict between Sturges and Lloyd and the picture didn’t prove successful at the box. Producer Howard Hughes re-cut and gave it a new release under the title Mad Wednesday a few years later, also with little luck. Sturges rebounded with Unfaithfully Yours for Fox, but the golden years were over soon enough. Lloyd didn’t make another movie. There are so many cheap DVD releases of this one that it must be in the public domain.
Friday June 12
6:00 AM Timbuktu (Tourneur, 1959) – BW-92 mins. – Jacques Tourneur fans can really load up today, as TCM is showing four currently unreleased-on-DVD films of his in a row (including Nightfall which should be in a Sony film noir set soon). Victor Mature stars as an American gunrunner who gets caught up with the wife (Yvonne De Carlo) of a French colonel while in the title city. Reviews don’t seem too favorable for this one, but it’s rarely shown. With United Artists originally releasing, MGM should now have the rights.
9:30 AM The Fearmakers (Tourneur, 1958) – BW-85 mins. – Korean War vet Dana Andrews is working in Washington at a PR firm and discovers that Communists are running the joint. Red Scare, all the way. And why is Mel Torme in a supporting role? This too was put out by United Artists and can’t be found on DVD (in R1 anyway), with MGM controlling. Berlin Express follows at 11:00 AM.
1:15 AM The Purple Rose of Cairo (Allen, 1985) – BW-82 mins. – I think this may be Woody’s most magical film, a total confection marred slightly by Danny Aiello’s overbearing tendencies but nonetheless one of the movies that truly make the filmgoing experience seem transcendent. It’s also short in length and, somewhat ironically, perfect for television viewing. There’s an MGM disc, but it has no extra features. I’m also fond of Broadway Danny Rose, which TCM is showing at 8:45 PM after Richard Schickel’s interview documentary with Allen.
Saturday June 13
3:30 AM Avanti! (Wilder, 1972) – C-144 mins. – I can’t let a full day of Billy Wilder films pass without mentioning it. Everything being shown is on DVD, but it’s still a good opportunity to catch (or record) a lesser-known gem like Avanti!, which I think is Wilder’s most underrated work. Jack Lemmon plays a businessman who travels to Italy to recover his deceased father’s body. While there, he meets the daughter (Juliet Mills) of his father’s mistress. Wilder captures a perfect tone of melancholy. Movies typically don’t like to address the concerns of the middle-aged demographic, but the perpetually bittersweet director shows it can be done. The MGM disc available in R1 is fine, though without any extras. I think the R2 is probably the same.
Sunday June 14
8:00 AM Tiger Shark (Hawks, 1932) – BW-77 mins. – One-handed Portuguese tuna fisherman Edward G. Robinson is married to Zita Johann (recognizable to fans of The Mummy) but Johann is on the fast track to an affair with the younger Richard Arlen, whose life Robinson saved when he lost that hand. Add in the titular marine animal (which reminds me of Wes Anderson’s “jaguar shark”) and you’ve got yourself an early Howard Hawks picture, released the same year as Scarface. First National/Warner Bros. did the film and it’s not come to DVD yet. Hawks films air all day. Only this and The Crowd Roars (at 4:30 AM) aren’t on DVD in R1, but there are worse ways of spending the day than watching Bringing Up Baby or His Girl Friday again.
Monday June 15
11:15 AM The White Cliffs of Dover (Brown, 1944) – BW-126 mins. – Yawn. Clarence Brown day.
8:00 PM Elia Kazan: A Director’s Journey (Schickel, 1995) – BW-76 mins. – My love-hate relationship with Elia Kazan and his films should get some extra fuel by this documentary. It’s narrated by Eli Wallach and seems to depend mostly on interviews with Kazan as well as clips from his films. The documentary can also be found on disc two of the WB’s A Streetcar Named Desire release. TCM isn’t showing Streetcar tonight, but you can see four other Kazan pictures, including A Face in the Crowd (3:30 AM).
Tuesday June 16
1:45 AM Macbeth (Welles, 1948) – BW-107 mins. – Strong version of the Shakespeare classic. I’ve seen this on TCM before (it’s not available on DVD in R1) and the print shown is from a restoration. It looks impressive, with the ample blacks used by Welles coming through memorably. Second Sight has a release in R2. The film was originally made by Republic Pictures and Lionsgate now owns most of that library, which does not bode well for a future disc in R1. Except for Touch of Evil, most of the main Welles classics are all shown tonight on TCM (Citizen Kane, The Lady from Shanghai, The Magnificent Ambersons, and The Trial).
Wednesday June 17
8:15 AM The Sailor from Gibraltor (Richardson, 1967) – BW-88 mins. – An eclectic set of films from Tony Richardson today, including his version of Hamlet at 11:30 AM. Great cast on this one – Jeanne Moreau, Ian Bannen, Vanessa Redgrave, Orson Welles, Hugh Griffith, even a young John Hurt. It’s based on a Marguerite Duras novel, in which a man (Bannen) finds himself helping a strange woman (Moreau) search for her lover, the sailor of the title. Cinematography was by Raoul Coutard. Away from the camera, Richardson was still married to Redgrave, though not for much longer as his affair with Moreau was instrumental in the couple’s divorce the same year the film was released. Messy. I think MGM probably controls this in R1, but it’s not on DVD here or in the UK.
Thursday June 18
6:15 PM Brute Force (Dassin, 1947) – BW-98 mins. – This is definitely one of my favorite days in the TCM “Great Directors” month, as Jules Dassin films air until the prime time hours when François Truffaut takes the reins. Three Dassin films on tap (Phaedra, The Canterville Ghost and A Letter for Evie) don’t have R1 DVD releases, but I’ve mentioned those all before so I’m instead singling out the great prison noir Brute Force, which I wrote a little about not long ago. Great film, really bolstered by Dassin’s direction. It’s on DVD in R1 from the Criterion Collection in a solid, though admittedly overpriced, edition.
2:00 AM Small Change (Truffaut, 1976) – C-105 mins. – What a joy to see five Truffaut films on the schedule tonight. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but I’m mentioning Small Change because, foremost, it’s a delightful movie and it’s also gone out of print in R1 DVD. The MGM edition can still be found via third party sellers at an affordable rate. The film concerns several young French schoolchildren and their activities in and out of school. There’s no real plot or main character in the movie, which sort of allows it to establish its own rhythm. It’s hardly “arty” or whatever term people might associate with a Truffaut picture. He’s a little sentimental, but I typically find his films use that quality as necessary instead of going too far in either of the alternate directions.
Friday June 19
7:30 AM Experiment in Terror (Edwards, 1962) – BW-123 mins. – I liked Blake Edwards as a director more before I finally watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I’m still willing to see what’s in store for the day. This period for Edwards (with Breakfast just before and Days of Wine and Roses and The Pink Panther still to come) was certainly his most relevant. Experiment in Terror stars Glenn Ford and Lee Remick, as respectively, an FBI agent and a bank teller who becomes the reluctant accomplice of a thief. A very young Stefanie Powers co-stars. As early ’60s crime thrillers go, this sounds pretty good. It was on DVD from Sony but rudely got taken out of print so finding a copy now isn’t the easiest task (over thirty bucks even for a used copy at Amazon Marketplace). Henry Mancini did the score.
10:00 AM The Carey Treatment (Edwards, 1972) – C-101 mins. – A Michael Crichton novel provided the source material for this hospital conspiracy thriller. James Coburn stars as a laid-back doctor who discovers something’s not right after one of his colleagues (James Hong) faces a murder charge following an abortion. Director Blake Edwards was apparently unhappy with the finished product and disowned the film. Still sounds interesting and it’s not been released on DVD yet. MGM originally put it in theaters so Warner Bros. should now control.
Saturday June 20
3:00 PM Anthony Adverse (LeRoy, 1936) – BW-141 mins. – Fredric March plays the title character, who’s orphaned in Italy soon after birth and travels the world as he gets older. The love story elements depend on Olivia de Havilland in the female lead. Claude Rains is along as well. I’m halfheartedly trying to watch all of the Best Picture nominees so here’s another notch on that. It also yielded Gale Sondergaard the Oscar. Still, a film of this length – a ’30s epic – and one credited to Mervyn LeRoy (whose films take up the entire day’s schedule) is something I’d typically avoid. It was made for Warner Bros., but hasn’t been released on DVD.
Monday June 22
10:45 AM Raintree County (Dmytryk, 1957) – C-173 mins. – Another epic, this one bigger, in color and widescreen. TCM has a nice video piece it sometimes shows about the small Kentucky town where this film was made. Some of the residents reminisce on what it was like having Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift around the area. The Civil War-set drama also features Eva Marie Saint, Nigel Patrick, Agnes Moorehead, Rod Taylor and Lee Marvin. The runtime is listed at 173 on the TCM site, but IMDb has 168 for the “original version” and 188 for a “Turner Library Print” which could factor in an overture and intermission (just a guess). Though Raintree County has not been released on DVD, and should be controlled by Warner Bros. since it was an MGM production, there are questionably authentic copies available from respected retailers. Even Barnes & Noble lists an edition which shows Asian writing on the cover.
Tuesday June 23
1:15 PM A Royal Scandal (Preminger, 1945) – BW-94 mins. – Today we get TCM’s most inspired pairing of directors, with Otto Preminger by day and Ernst Lubitsch by night. The careers of these two crossed more times than you might expect, including on this picture, started by Lubitsch but finished by Preminger. The latter was responsible for most or all of what’s on screen, having taken over after Lubitsch became ill early on. Tallulah Bankhead made a rare screen appearance – and she wouldn’t do another picture for twenty years – following the success of Lifeboat the previous year. She plays Catherine the Great, with Anne Baxter as a Countess and William Eythe the Russian soldier who’s a romantic interest for both. Though the film has its admirers, I found it completely flat and difficult to trudge through even as a curiosity. The completely different styles of Lubitsch and Preminger really struggle to merge into anything resembling either’s strengths. No DVD exists in R1, but the BFI put the film and Preminger’s pre-Laura turn both in front of and behind the camera in Margin for Error onto a double feature set for R2. I reviewed that release at DVD Times.
12:00 AM The Merry Widow (Lubitsch, 1934) – BW-99 mins. – If you want to remember how a real Lubitsch picture can make you feel, I’d suggest watching TCM in the evening when The Shop Around the Corner, Ninotchka, and this gem all air. The Merry Widow brought Lubitsch and the stars of his Paramount musicals together again. Perhaps it was the evolution of the sound picture, but I think I tend to rate this higher than those earlier ones. The Smiling Lieutenant would be very close, though. Jeannette MacDonald plays the title widow, who’s the most important resident of a small kingdom because she basically underwrites the economy with the taxes she has to pay. It’s then a real crisis when she goes away to Paris, so much so that Maurice Chevalier must follow her to convince her to marry him and return to the kingdom. Light and breezy, but nonetheless exquisite. MGM made the film, placing it now within the jaws of Warner Bros. and it’s sad to think of a Lubitsch classic being relegated to something like the expensive garbage heap of Warner Archive so I’ll continue holding out hope that a legitimate R1 DVD might come out at some point. Lubitsch’s MGM silent The Student Prince of Old Heidelberg, which has an ending I wasn’t expecting, follows at 2:00 AM.
Wednesday June 24
12:00 PM Naughty Marietta (Van Dyke, 1935) – BW-104 mins. – Another Best Picture nominee not on DVD, this musical romance stars Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy as, respectively, a French princess who ventures to colonial New Orleans and the captain who rescues her from pirates. Frank Morgan and Elsa Lanchester co-star. Made for MGM, the film is now controlled by Warner Bros.
8:00 PM Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (Harlan, 2001) – C-142 mins. – You can get this on DVD from Warner Bros., but I’ve never seen it. Being generally reluctant towards Kubrick, watching a documentary about him hasn’t felt like a priority. I will see this, though, and I’m sure there are others anxious to give it a watch. TCM has another showing scheduled for 3:00 AM, with Dr. Strangelove and Lolita set to air in between. If anyone’s curious, my favorite Kubrick is Eyes Wide Shut, followed by Paths of Glory. Most of the rest I find personally incompatible.
Thursday June 25
6:00 AM One Mysterious Night (Boetticher, 1944) – BW-62 mins. – Budd Boetticher is better known for his westerns, but he also dabbled in cheaply made crime dramas early in his career. I watched The Killer Is Loose (on today at 10:00 AM) just the other day and found it to be a tightly plotted, intriguing picture. A dozen years earlier Boetticher made this Boston Blackie entry for Columbia. Chester Morris stars as former thief Blackie who here helps the police track down a stolen diamond. The title of the film confused me for awhile because it’s also known, in the UK apparently, as Behind Closed Doors and Boetticher directed another movie (on DVD from Kino) called Behind Locked Doors. Completely separate pictures though. One Mysterious Night hasn’t been released on DVD to my knowledge.
7:15 AM Escape in the Fog (Boetticher, 1945) – BW-63 mins. – It seems that One Mysterious Night would have been the first released film credited to Boetticher (still using his given name of Oscar in the titles). Columbia must’ve been pleased enough to keep him around since several more small noirish movies followed, including this one. Nina Foch is a nurse who suffered a nervous breakdown. She continues to have nightmares in which a pair of men struggle to kill a third man. Otto Kruger co-stars, as does William Wright, playing the victim of Foch’s dream who’s a government agent, which sets up the espionage angle of the plot. This isn’t on DVD either. Four of Boetticher’s westerns with Randolph Scott air starting at 11:30 AM.
Friday June 26
6:00 AM Madeleine (Lean, 1950) – BW-115 mins. – North American fans of the earlier David Lean movies not yet available in R1 should probably just spring for an R2 set assuming region-free capabilities. It was years ago now that MGM announced these titles only to quickly cancel them, presumably due to not having the release rights. I’m not sure where the rights to Madeleine currently reside in R1. I can tell you about the film, which was based on real events and stars Ann Todd (married to Lean at the time) as a woman scandalously accused of murdering her French lover in the 1850s.
8:00 AM The Passionate Friends (Lean, 1949) – BW-91 mins. – David Lean’s previous film was this adaptation of an H.G. Wells novel, also starring Ann Todd. Interesting that both films have Todd playing a woman who has an outside lover considering she was apparently having an extramarital affair with future husband Lean during filming. The plot here has Todd married to Claude Rains but excited to rekindle a previous romance when she bumps into Trevor Howard. Did Lean have a curiosity or interest in making films with adultery as the subject matter? Same thing rightswise as with Madeleine. The film is easy to find on DVD in the UK, but not stateside. Criterion has released so many of Lean’s movies that I wouldn’t be surprised to see all of these trickle out from them in due time.
Saturday July 4
12:00 PM The Scarlet Coat (Sturges, 1955) – C-101 mins. – Sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m not patriotic enough. It’s not that I’m not proud of my country, but the consistently inane traditions that pass through year after year always make me grumpy. I get older and the things that accompany holidays which should be meaningful just look increasingly tacky. The same things each year, turning tradition into the equivalent of fruitcake. Amid the smell of barbecues and cacophony of the local fireworks display, there’s always the accompanying schedule of related programming. Ever the creative sort to rise above the fray, TCM has opted for a mix of films, including a few actually about the Revolutionary War. One of these is John Sturges’ dramatization of the Benedict Arnold saga, starring Cornel Wilde as Major John Boulton. Anne Francis, John McIntire, Bobby Driscoll and Robert Douglas as Arnold fill out the cast. The prime time schedule is devoted to “The Birthplace of America” and features films concerning Philadelphia. Made for MGM, The Scarlet Coat hasn’t hit DVD yet, with Warner Bros. controlling the rights.
Sunday July 5
12:00 AM Mockery (Christensen, 1927) – BW-70 mins. – A silent film starring Lon Chaney, Mockery looks to have been the second Hollywood film directed by Haxän filmmaker Benjamin Christensen. It was made for MGM and I’m not aware of a DVD release anywhere. The setting is Siberia during the Russian Revolution. Chaney is a peasant who inadvertently befriends a countess (Barbara Bedford). Ricardo Cortez plays the soldier who falls for her.
Monday July 6
12:15 PM Safari (Young, 1956) – C-91 mins. – Future director of three early James Bond films Terence Young made two exotic location adventure movies with Victor Mature in the same year, both produced by Albert R. Broccoli. One was Zarak and the other this African-set production where Mature goes on safari with Janet Leigh but only has eyes for the Mau Maus. The white man wants revenge for the horrible savagery of tribesmen. If your blinders can get past that aspect, the film sounds fairly interesting. It was released theatrically by Columbia, but nothing DVD-wise from Sony. More movies with the lovely Janet Leigh follow, including My Sister Eileen (2:00 PM) and Who Was That Lady? (6:00 PM), which also stars Tony Curtis.
5:00 AM The Seventh Sin (Neame, 1957) – BW-93 mins. – This is a version of Somerset Maugham’s The Painted Veil, filmed earlier with Greta Garbo and Herbert Marshall and more recently with Naomi Watts and Edward Norton. Here we get Eleanor Parker and Bill Travers. French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont plays the man with whom Parker has an affair. Spurned by her lover, she re-commits herself to husband Travers, a doctor, and travels with him to China to help fight an epidemic of cholera. George Sanders joins in. I’m not sure about Parker as an adulteress, but so be it. Vincente Minnelli is listed as having done uncredited directing work on the film. It was made for MGM and isn’t on DVD yet via Warner Bros.
Tuesday July 7
6:45 AM Our Betters (Cukor, 1933) – BW-83 mins. – George Cukor films all day until the prime time schedule starts at 8:00 PM. Cukor’s name on a picture has never affected me either way, but he tends to get that label of being particularly accommodating to actresses. Some other interesting titles air later in the day (Greer Garson and Robert Mitchum (!) in Desire Me at 11:45 AM and Lana Turner and Ray Milland in A Life of Her Own at 3:30 PM), but I thought this pre-Code, British-set adaptation of a Somerset Maugham play was particularly worth mentioning. Constance Bennett stars, as she had in Cukor’s What Price Hollywood? the year before, and here she plays an American heiress who lovelessly marries into British aristocracy. David O. Selznick produced for RKO. The film isn’t on DVD to my knowledge. The Actress, a Cukor picture that’s available only through the Warner Archive’s burn-on-demand DVD-R service, airs later in the day at 6:30 PM.
12:00 AM Moonfleet (Lang, 1955) – C-87 mins. – I never imagined I’d be so grateful for Stewart Granger occupying the Star of the Month mantle, but since it means I’ll finally get to see this film, all hail Stewart Granger. He plays a buccaneer and from there I’m not sure what happens. I know Fritz Lang directed it for MGM and I know I’m anxious to see it because TCM rarely shows the movie. There is a French DVD I’ve read about, but nothing released by Warner Bros. over here.
Thursday July 9
10:45 AM Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter (Swimmer, 1968) – C-95 mins. – So I guess Peter Noone and his pop band Herman’s Hermits were a fairly big deal at one point. They’re a ways before my time, but my dad mentions them quite often. Like their British brethren, Herman’s Hermits ventured into film more than once. TCM has the earlier Hold On! scheduled just before this airing, at 9:15 AM. What’s this movie about? I haven’t a clue. Probably nothing. I’m sure there are songs in it. Stanley Holloway and Mona Washbourne play Mr. and Mrs. Brown. Thank MGM for making it and Warner Bros. for not releasing it on DVD. Other weird sixties quasi-musical, quasi-comedy pictures air throughout the day.
3:45 AM Blind Alley (Vidor, 1939) – BW-69 mins. – If you’ve not seen The Oklahoma Kid, watch that at 2:15 AM. It’s a pretty good movie, and a real experience seeing Cagney and Bogart in a western, the former with a moustache. James Wong Howe’s photography is stunning. If you have seen that one or are still awake afterward, TCM continues one of its 1939 mini-marathons which will pepper the month with an earlier version of the William Holden-Lee J. Cobb movie The Dark Past. This original telling has Chester Morris as the gangster who takes psychiatrist Ralph Bellamy hostage only to have the doctor analyze his captor. Columbia and Sony haven’t released either incarnation on DVD.
Friday July 10
10:00 AM The Good Bad Girl (Neill, 1931) – BW-67 mins. – When I first skimmed through the July schedule this was the day that really stood out for me. I knew of Mae Clarke from The Public Enemy as the unfortunate recipient of Cagney’s grapefruit for awhile, but it wasn’t until seeing Lady Killer (also with Cagney tormenting Ms. Clarke) that I really took notice of her as an actress. She unfortunately faded into increasingly smaller roles after the early thirties, but kept working for decades. The James Whale version of Waterloo Bridge is particularly worth a look to see just how compelling Mae Clarke could be on screen. It seems that someone at TCM finally took notice and gave her a small, fractured block of films today, beginning with this rarity (not even 5 votes on IMDb) where Clarke is a gangster’s moll looking to get out and marry a regular guy. Columbia was the studio. It’s not on DVD.
1:45 PM Three Wise Girls (Beaudine, 1932) – BW-68 mins. – After The Good Bad Girl, TCM has Attorney for the Defense scheduled, a 1932 lawyer movie in which Mae Clarke doesn’t seem to appear. She is in Final Edition, playing a newspaper reporter alongside Pat O’Brien, at 12:30 PM, as well as this comedy starring Jean Harlow. All of these pictures were done for Columbia and have no DVD releases. Harlow, Clarke, and, I’m guessing, Marie Prevost are the three ladies of the title, models in search of husbands. Immediately next on the schedule, one pre-Code movie from Columbia has been substituted for another. Deception was the original choice, but now it’s Virtue, an interesting film I wrote about last year that stars Carole Lombard as a prostitute trying to reform and Pat O’Brien as the cabbie who marries her without knowing what she’d been, penciled in for 3:00 PM.
Saturday July 11
9:30 PM In the French Style (Parrish, 1963) – BW-106 mins. – This week’s pick for The Essentials is the Peter Sellers film The Mouse That Roared, co-starring Jean Seberg. The rest of the night is built around Seberg, the Iowa native plucked from obscurity by Otto Preminger for his 1957 Joan of Arc movie Saint Joan (still not on R1 DVD and unseen on a TCM schedule since I’ve been paying attention). Seberg’s short life (dead at 40) and career remain fascinating to film fans, and perhaps her best known turn was in Jean-Luc Godard’s debut feature Breathless, which is also not being shown tonight. She seemed to have a real connection to France, both living there and making French and American films in that country. Her second film, Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse (following at 11:30 PM), and this one directed by Robert Parrish both find Seberg working in English for a Hollywood picture set abroad. In the French Style has the more simple plot of Seberg’s art student character trying to decide between staying in France with her native boyfriend or returning to the states with her wealthy father. Originally released by Columbia, the film hasn’t been brought to R1 DVD yet.
Sunday July 12
9:00 AM Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Lang, 1956) – BW-80 mins. – There was a scheduled airing of this tight little Fritz Lang film back in January of this year which I mentioned, but it was ultimately not shown, pre-empted by a Richardo Montalban tribute. Credit to TCM for finding another spot for the movie, as it hasn’t been aired in a good bit and the plot wherein Dana Andrews plays a writer who intentionally frames himself for a murder in the name of research is really something, as is the final twist. Joan Fontaine co-stars as Andrews’ fiancee. For what it’s worth, there is a remake of Lang’s movie (his last in Hollywood) set to come out later this year, directed by Peter Hyams and starring Michael Douglas. RKO put out the original, and while Lang is generally underrepresented on DVD in R1, this film hasn’t even made it out officially anywhere in the world I don’t think.
12:00 AM The First Auto (Del Ruth, 1927) – BW-77 mins. – A silent with nonetheless still a little talking, this picture is set just before the turn of the 20th century and deals with a son’s fascination with cars despite his father’s loyalty to horses. Director Roy Del Ruth is a familiar name to fans of thirties cinema, having directed features like Lady Killer starring James Cagney and Employees’ Entrance with Warren William, both of which I really enjoyed, plus the 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon. The First Auto was done for Warner Bros., and does not have an actual DVD release, but can be purchased through Warner’s burn-on-demand service. On an entirely different note, the superb anti-war drama Fires on the Plain, directed by Kon Ichikawa, follows on TCM at 2:00 AM.
Monday July 13
11:00 AM The Unknown Man (Thorpe, 1951) – BW-86 mins. – A couple of crime dramas from 1951 air this morning, starting with The Sellout at 9:30 AM and followed by this Walter Pidgeon movie. He plays a lawyer who helps a young man be acquitted of murder charges, only to later learn his client was really guilty. When another opportunity for the freed murderer to be convicted of a separate killing arises, Pidgeon struggles with what to do. Ann Harding co-stars as Pidgeon’s wife and Barry Sullivan is the district attorney. Done for MGM, the picture hasn’t been released on DVD. A nice four-film salute to Susan Hayward follows, beginning with Adam Had Four Sons at 12:30 PM.
11:30 PM The Undercover Man (Lewis, 1949) – BW-84 mins. – More crime/noirish content in the evening, including four films in a row that aren’t on DVD here. The first is this Joseph H. Lewis-directed picture where Glenn Ford stars as a T-Man who goes after a tax-evading gangster in Chicago (undoubtedly based on a certain Mr. Capone). James Whitmore is Ford’s partner and Nina Foch plays his wife. Enjoyment of this one might be contingent on how much you like Ford’s screen presence. I generally count myself as a fan. The picture was made for Ford’s usual studio Columbia and hasn’t received a DVD release in R1, but can be found under the title Relato Criminal in R2 (Spain, I think).
1:00 AM The Mob (Parrish, 1951) – BW-86 mins. – Two Robert Parrish movies in one week, wow. That’s a first and probably an only also. These Columbia semi-noirs are sort of interesting and not shown very often (also not among the titles rumored for DVD release just yet) so it seems only right to mention them. Here we have Broderick Crawford in charge as a police detective who goes undercover to bring down the mob. Some of the supporting cast includes Ernest Borgnine, Neville Brand and Richard Kiley. The director of photography was Joseph Walker, who was one of the cinematographers on It’s a Wonderful Life. A couple more in the same vein follow, with The Case Against Brooklyn at 2:30 AM and Bunco Squad at 4:00 AM.
Tuesday July 14
8:00 PM The Last Hunt (Brooks, 1956) – C-104 mins. – The Stewart Granger Star of the Month extravaganza continues, lead tonight by this Richard Brooks western starring Robert Taylor. I like Brooks as a filmmaker, one who also wrote his own screenplays, and find his work to be interesting, if somewhat overlooked. You think of Hollywood writer/directors of this era and people like Wilder or Sam Fuller or Joseph L. Mankiewicz come to mind, but usually Richard Brooks isn’t in that conversation so much. Here, he adapted a novel by Milton Lott where the situation of the title involves one of the final buffalo hunts in the Northwest. Granger’s character is apparently weary of killing these animals and the Indians who need them while Taylor still has a thirst for the hunt. Lloyd Nolan is also here, as is Debra Paget as an Indian girl. The CinemaScope picture was made for MGM, likely giving Warner Bros. the rights now, but is unreleased on DVD in R1. More Granger westerns follow.
Wednesday July 15
2:30 PM Boots Malone (Dieterle, 1952) – BW-104 mins. – In a day full of William Dieterle pictures, most of which I’ve not seen and are not available on DVD, I’m picking probably the safest one. (The Firebird at 6:15 AM and Syncopation at 11:15 AM both seem to have potential.) With William Holden, after Sunset Blvd. but just before Stalag 17, in the lead, this racetrack-set drama should be easygoing enough. Holden plays an agent who takes a young future jockey under his wing. Elmer Bernstein, just getting set up in Hollywood, did the score. Columbia again, without a DVD release.
Friday July 17
2:00 AM Venus in Furs (Franco, 1969) – C-86 mins. – Though the film is on DVD in R1 from Blue Underground, something compels me to draw attention to TCM’s showing of this strange cult classic. James Darren stars as a trumpet player who meets an attractive woman, finds her corpse, and then again apparently stumbles upon her (alive). Manfred Mann did the jazzy score. Hard to believe Dennis Price was in Kind Hearts and Coronets in 1949 and this film twenty years later.
Sunday July 19
2:00 PM Not with My Wife, You Don’t! (Panama, 1966) – C-119 mins. – Nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Musical or Comedy category, this promises to be a somewhat interesting entry of the latter variety. Tony Curtis teams with George C. Scott to play a couple of military pilots during the Korean War who both pine after the beautiful Virna Lisi. Some of the behind the scenes credits stand out, like Larry Gelbart as one of the writers and Saul Bass as a consultant on the visual effects. John Williams did the score. Looks like Warner Bros. put the film in theaters, but I don’t think a DVD exists anywhere as of now.
12:15 AM Broken Blossoms (Griffith, 1919) – BW-89 mins. – If you haven’t seen this film or are unsure about where to begin with the work of D.W. Griffith, this might be a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with one of the more famous American silent dramas. Richard Barthelmess plays a Chinese immigrant in London who meets and subsequently falls in love with Lillian Gish’s character, a girl beaten by her father (Donald Crisp). There are multiple DVD versions out there, including one from Kino in R1. The prints TCM screens of silent films are usually of at least adequate quality so watching it here should be an acceptable compromise if you don’t want to go the DVD route.
Monday July 20
8:00 PM A Trip to the Moon (Méliès, 1902) – BW-14 mins. – It seems that a few guys took a walk on the moon 40 years ago this day. TCM is honoring that achievement with a day full of appropriately themed content, including this well known French short, which is a real landmark of early cinema and a familiar influence on the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” music video. Very cool to see this airing and I had to mention it.
8:15 PM For All Mankind (Reinert, 1989) – C-80 mins. – More closely related to the actual moon landing is Al Reinert’s documentary on the Apollo missions. It’s just been released on Blu-ray and reissued on DVD by the Criterion Collection in R1 and a UK version is forthcoming on both formats from the Masters of Cinema label. If you’re going to see this movie, tonight seems like an apt occasion. I just picked up the Blu-ray at Barnes & Noble’s 50% off Criterion sale, but someone (or some thing) was so concerned with preventing theft that they (or it) put the security tag on the underside of the actual disc! (picture)
Tuesday July 21
8:00 PM Footsteps in the Fog (Lubin, 1955) – C-90 mins. – As mentioned in my post on the upcoming “Brit Noir” retrospective, this picture is headed to New York City’s Film Forum as part of a twin bill with Blanche Fury on August 11. It airs here because of lead Stewart Granger being TCM’s Star of the Month. He plays a widower who is blackmailed by housemaid Jean Simmons when she learns he actually murdered his wife. Arthur Lubin, director of several in the Francis the Talking Mule series, was joined behind the camera by ace cinematographer Christopher Challis. Definitely one to look out for either here or in the double feature if you’re near Manhattan that day, as it’s not available on R1 DVD. Amazon does have it where you can pay to watch on demand.
11:30 PM The Light Touch (Brooks, 1952) – BW-93 mins. – After another crime drama starring Granger, The Secret Partner, this film, co-written and directed by Richard Brooks, follows. In it, Granger is an art thief who lies to George Sanders about a painting he stole, hoping to profit twice from selling the original and the forgery done by artist Pier Angeli. MGM released, likely giving Warner Bros. the rights now. I don’t believe it’s been given a DVD. More Granger goodness afterward, teaming him with Donna Reed in The Whole Truth at 1:15 AM.
4:30 AM Roadblock (Daniels, 1951) – BW-73 mins. – You might be glad to find out Stewart Granger plays no role in this taut little noir. Yes folks, this is what film noir is, not the crime drama or procedural or docudrama that simply involves a murder or an investigation. Roadblock is a true film noir as I like to put it. Usual tough guy Charles McGraw plays a straitlaced insurance investigator who, by chance, meets the high maintenance Joan Dixon and soon finds himself doing anything he can to meet her increasingly expensive needs. Like a lot of the really good noirs, RKO was behind this production. Warner Bros. should have R1 rights and really needs to put the film in a noir set assuming we get another one of those (which has been promised). If there’s a DVD available somewhere, I’m not aware of it.
Saturday July 25
8:30 AM Lord Jim (Brooks, 1965) – C-154 mins. – I feel less guilty about apparently not picking this film before than having not seen it. Peter O’Toole stars as the sailor branded a coward who’s out to redeem himself in Richard Brooks’ floppish adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel. Brooks’ next film was The Professionals (the best of anything I’ve watched from him) and I heard John Boorman recount how Lee Marvin, on the set of that western, would tease his director by yelling out “Lord Jim!” when anything went a bit sideways. I’m going to absolutely record this airing and then we’ll talk about it again when TCM airs it in the future (after August 2nd, that is, when another showing is scheduled). James Mason and Eli Wallach are among O’Toole’s co-stars. Made for Columbia, Lord Jim was released on R1 DVD by Sony but is no longer in print and is fetching hefty prices through third party sellers at Amazon.
11:30 AM Beat the Devil (Huston, 1954) – BW-90 mins. – This is on DVD in the U.S., sort of. I’m not sure of the history, but Beat the Devil is somehow in the public domain here. The editions are probably all imperfect and I’ve been waiting on TCM to come through before actually watching this final pairing of Humphrey Bogart and John Huston. I do know that Truman Capote was one of the film’s writers and the cast other than Bogie included a blonde Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, and Peter Lorre. The plot has something to do with Bogart being married to Lollobrigida on the way to Africa and stuck in a boat with crooks intent on buying uranium-laden property. Those who follow Roger Ebert might be interested to know he has this film included among his “Great Movies.”
Sunday July 26
7:30 AM Personal Affair (Pelissier, 1953) – BW-82 mins. – Here’s a title that’s completely eluded me. Never even heard of it, but the film certainly sounds worthwhile. Gene Tierney is top-billed as the wife of a teacher in England whose female student develops feelings for her educator, only to have Tierney confront the student before she runs away. Leo Genn is Tierney’s husband and Glynis Johns plays the student. A crime element also apparently plays an important role in the movie. This isn’t a terribly popular film at IMDb, with no reviews and only 32 votes. United Artists is listed as the theatrical distributor. If accurate, that might give MGM the current DVD rights, but Hallmark actually put out a VHS. Nothing in the direction of a DVD yet, I don’t think.
10:30 AM Topper (McLeod, 1937) – BW-97 mins. – I thought I’d probably already highlighted this one, but my Index list tells me otherwise. Cary Grant stars as a ghost, alongside wife Constance Bennett. They use their afterlife privileges to playfully harass friend Cosmo Topper, played by Roland Young. Billie Burke is Mrs. Topper, and you also get Hedda Hopper in a prominent supporting role. TCM shows this a few times a year it seems so if you happen to miss this airing another should follow eventually. The film is another to have slipped into public domain. Several DVD releases are out there, but I’m not sure about the quality on any of them. I trust TCM here to show at least an equally good or better quality print.
Monday July 27
12:30 PM Immortal Battalion (Reed, 1944 ) – BW-88 mins. – Also known as The Way Ahead, this Carol Reed-directed war drama stars David Niven as a commanding officer of a bunch of misfits headed to fight in Northern Africa. Eric Ambler fans can take heart that he did the story and screenplay, joined by Peter Ustinov on the latter. Ustinov also appears as a cafe owner in the film. Hmm, 1944, war effort, etc. – we’re probably looking at some military propaganda but so be it. A DVD exists in R2, but not stateside. IMDb has Fox as the theatrical distributor, but do they really still control the rights?
10:15 PM Halls of Anger (Bogart, 1970) – C-95 mins. – I don’t mind too much that TCM is a constant reminder of my ignorance in popular fringe cinema. This is a movie starring, among others, Jeff Bridges (a year before The Last Picture Show) and set in a high school where a black ex-basketball star (Calvin Lockhart) goes from teaching at one school to being the principal at a less esteemed institution. Racial tension bubbles up. Rob Reiner and Ed Asner also have prominent roles. Burnett Guffey, who, lest we forget, shot the gorgeous In a Lonely Place, was the cinematographer. I’m somewhat reminded of the superb television series The White Shadow from reading the plot description, though it seems that comparisons aren’t seamless. The Mirisch Corporation produced for United Artists, leaving MGM with the rights. No DVD so far.
Tuesday July 28
8:30 AM The Tenderfoot (Enright, 1932) – BW-69 mins. – When it comes to black and white comedic actors who frequently headlined films, Joe E. Brown was less annoying than Red Skelton for me. After that, Brown is pretty low down my list of interesting performers. TCM disagrees and today is airing a collection of Brown’s starring roles. This one particularly drew my attention because it co-stars Ginger Rogers. He’s a cowboy interested in Broadway and she’s a secretary with ambitions of her own. Maybe this’ll be the picture to change my mind on Joe E. Brown. Either way, we get Ginger. It’s Warner Bros., and there’s no DVD release. A Very Honorable Guy, again with Brown and co-starring Alice White, airs later at 12:15 PM.
1:30 AM Green Fire (Marton, 1954) – C-100 mins. – Grace Kelly only did about a dozen feature films and while several are well known, there are still a few that have fallen through the cracks. One is this adventure picture which airs as part of the Stewart Granger Star of the Month ordeal. Grace is the love interest to explorer Granger, who discovers emeralds in South America. Paul Douglas is Granger’s partner. I have very little knowledge about director Andrew Marton. He worked on King Solomon’s Mines, the first version of The Thin Red Line, and, though uncredited, is listed as contributing to Nick Ray’s 55 Days at Peking. MGM put out Green Fire. Warner Bros. should control now, but it’s not on DVD in R1. Another unavailable Grace Kelly picture, The Swan, airs at 6:00 PM on Friday the 31st.
Wednesday July 29
1:00 AM Fashions of 1934 (Dieterle, 1934) – BW-78 mins. – Would we be interested in seeing a picture where William Powell plays a shady dealer of knock-off fashion items and Bette Davis works the sidecar as his assistant? Oh, I think so. A film with a terrible name nonetheless has a pretty great cast and features contributions by Busby Berkeley. Use this information however you see fit, but TCM is showing Pre-Code musicals all into the night. Some are on DVD and a couple are not, including this one. Warner Bros. has the rights.
Thurdsday July 30
2:30 PM Cry Danger (Parrish, 1951) – BW-79 mins. – And I was just making a crack about picking two Robert Parrish films not long ago. Anyway, here’s another, a noirsh tale starring Dick Powell, and one which he might’ve actually directed as well. His character is framed for a crime and goes in search of who did the job. Rhonda Fleming and William Conrad are among the supporting players. RKO all the way on this one. I don’t think it’s on DVD, certainly not in R1. Fritz Lang’s While the City Sleeps follows at 4:00 PM
Saturday August 1
10:30 PM The Farmer Takes a Wife (Fleming, 1935) – BW-91 mins. – Henry Fonda day, including a couple of teamings with Barbara Stanwyck. This is an earlier performance, his first on film, from Fonda where he plays a would-be farmer courting Janet Gaynor’s canal boat cook. It hasn’t been released on DVD and should be controlled by Fox. The Grapes of Wrath, with probably Fonda’s best performance, precedes this one at 8:00 PM.
Sunday August 2
12:00 PM The Seventh Veil (Bennett, 1945) – BW-94 mins. – This will be showing as part of Film Forum’s little Brit Noir sidebar for James Mason on August 17, though that obviously won’t help most readers. Ann Todd stars as a pianist with amnesia who can’t play the piano and struggles to remember her tortuous past. The film was awarded an Oscar for its screenplay by husband and wife Sydney and Muriel Box. Another interesting tidbit according to the TCM article on the movie is that the BFI has it listed as the 10th biggest ticket seller ever in the UK with 17.9 million patrons. It’s not on R1 DVD. An affordable R2 edition is out in the UK from Odeon.
4:15 AM They Met in the Dark (Lamac, 1943) – BW-91 mins. – Mason stars as a naval commander during WWII who gets removed from the military after he tells a beautiful woman (Joyce Howard) military secrets. He then tries to track down the woman, realizing her ties with the Nazis. Director Carl Lamac, credited here as Karel Lamac, had worked in the German film industry for several years prior to making this movie. No DVD in R1, but there is a German release.
Monday August 3
10:45 AM Not So Dumb (Vidor, 1930) – BW-76 mins. – It’s a bit gutsy to give the entire day here to Marion Davies, but I like it. Her films seem virtually forgotten today, mentioned as little more than footnotes to her reputation as Hearst’s mistress or loose inspiration for a character in Citizen Kane. That’s not entirely fair, as the productions were generally of good quality. This particular film was the third time King Vidor directed Davies and also just the second talking picture for the actress. It’s a comedy and involves Davies as a ditzy gal trying to get her man a promotion at work by throwing a party and inviting the boss. A remake with Ann Sothern called Dulcy (the lead’s first name) was done a decade later. MGM originally put it in cinemas so Warner Bros. should control. It isn’t on DVD, but seems like a contender for the Archive. Vidor’s Show People and The Patsy air in prime time beginning at 8:00 PM.
1:45 PM Blondie of the Follies (Goulding, 1932) – BW-91 mins. – Marion Davies and Billie Dove play best friends in New York City who develop a rift after the latter gets her pal a job in a Broadway show only to have her boyfriend (Robert Montgomery) make eyes at Davies. The great cast also includes Jimmy Durante, James Gleason, Zasu Pitts, and Sidney Toler. It was written by Frances Marion and Anita Loos. Produced by Davies’ production company and released by MGM, the film isn’t on DVD.
3:30 AM Ever Since Eve (Bacon, 1937) – BW-80 mins. – Davies and Robert Montgomery are teamed again, albeit a few years later, in this romantic comedy. She plays a secretary who gets frustrated with men being distracted by her looks and uglies her appearance to get hired by writer Montgomery. He then falls for the pretty version and ignores the homely one. Sounds a bit far-fetched, dumb even, but I can still get behind plots like this if the writing and acting hold up. Plus it was Davies’ last film. Warner Bros. this time but no DVD here either.
Wednesday August 5
9:30 PM Welcome Danger (Bruckman, 1929) – BW-115 mins. – Huh, this doesn’t seem to be on DVD in R1. It was Harold Lloyd’s first talking picture, apparently done first as a silent but then refilmed with sound. At 115 minutes, it would seem to be surprisingly lengthy, but considering the original cut ran 16 reels or about 2 hours and 45 minutes, this seems like a fair compromise. Lloyd plays a botany student who goes home to San Francisco to try to replace his dead father as chief of police. The film can be had as part of a 9-disc Harold Lloyd Definitive Collection in the UK from Optimum.
Friday August 7
4:45 PM Framed (Wallace, 1947) – BW-82 mins. – Lots of rarely seen Glenn Ford movies show up today. One with Evelyn Keyes and John Ireland, Mr. Soft Touch, precedes this at 3:00 PM. I particularly like the sound of Framed, though, which has Janis Carter as a dangerous femme fatale who lures new-in-town Ford into committing crimes. Shot by Burnett Guffey and made (probably as a B) for Columbia, the film is not on DVD in R1 or, to my knowledge, anywhere else. Convicted, also with Broderick Crawford, follows at 6:15 PM.
2:45 AM A Time for Killing (Karlson, 1967) – C-89 mins. – Crime dramas make way for westerns as the night progresses, including this one in which Confederate soldiers hide the fact that the war is over en route to Mexico. Ford is a Union officer whose fiancee (Inger Stevens) is held hostage by the Confederates. This seems interesting for the cast alone, which also has George Hamilton, Paul Petersen (of The Donna Reed Show!), Timothy Carey, Max Baer Jr, and a virtual unknown by the name of Harrison Ford. Roger Corman is listed at IMDb as an uncredited director. Columbia released the picture, and it’s not on DVD in R1.
4:15 AM Heaven with a Gun (Katzin, 1969) – C-101 mins. – Another one for the Glenn Ford color western enthusiasts. This is rated TV-MA so expect violence, language and/or nudity. Ford plays an ex-gunfighter turned preacher forced into picking up the old belt again. Carolyn Jones is a saloon owner, Barbara Hershey plays an Indian girl, and John Anderson is the local ranch owner causing trouble for the sheepmen. David Carradine appears as his son. Looks like an MGM release originally. No DVD so far.
Sunday August 9
6:00 AM Once Upon a Time (Hall, 1944) – BW-88 mins. – Are there people who enjoy classic movies but dislike Cary Grant? Hard to imagine that being the case. Today is all Grant’s on TCM, starting with this comedy where he plays a struggling Broadway producer who encounters a young boy with a dancing caterpillar. Grant hopes the boy and his bug can help save his theater. Janet Blair, James Gleason, and William Demarest co-star. It’s a Columbia picture and a DVD has been released in R1, but was taken out of print by Sony. Prices from third-party sellers at Amazon are high without being completely unreasonable.
12:00 AM Crisis (Brooks, 1950) – BW-96 mins. – This was the directorial debut of Richard Brooks and he’s also credited with the screenplay. Cary Grant is a doctor vacationing in South America with his wife only to have the country’s dictator (Jose Ferrer) need immediate medical attention. Ethical quandries ensue. It’s strange how beyond the real classics Grant starred in (of which there are plenty for sure), his other work is fairly unknown. There aren’t a lot of Cary Grant films considered on the fringe of greatness, I guess. Crisis can be had, if you’re desperate, through the Warner Archive site. Similarly, Mr. Lucky follows at 2:00 AM and is available at the same place.
Monday August 10
6:30 PM So Long at the Fair (Fisher, 1950) – BW-86 mins. – Film Forum in New York has this scheduled for August 18th in its “Brit Noir” series, but everyone can sit down with the film eight days earlier thanks to TCM. The plot sounds fascinating, with Jean Simmons searching for a missing brother in late nineteenth century Paris amid claims he was never there at all. Shades of Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes. Dirk Bogarde seems to play a role similar to the one Michael Redgrave had in the Hitchcock picture. It’s Bogarde all day and many of the films being shown are somewhat obscure on this side of the pond. So Long at the Fair doesn’t have a DVD release in R1, though it can be found in R2 (Spain). A British police drama directed by Basil Dearden, The Blue Lamp (on DVD in the UK), follows at 8:00 PM. It too has piqued my interest.
9:30 PM The Servant (Losey, 1963) – BW-116 mins. – Occasionally I’ll decide that Joseph Losey is a director whose work I really should seek out closer, but then distractions come from every direction and Losey’s films remain unexplored. One of the obstacles, the main one really, is that Losey is woefully underrepresented on R1 DVD. His films are tough to find here and I’m more than hesitant to shell out for Optimum’s substantial Losey set in the UK. I have two good chances for a proper introduction now, with The Servant (out of print in R1 but easily had in R2) airing this evening on TCM and The Criminal being shown at Film Forum at the end of August. The Servant, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter, lets Dirk Bogarde play manservant to James Fox. Sarah Miles and Wendy Craig co-star. The Jack Clayton-directed Our Mother’s House follows at 11:30 PM.
Tuesday August 11
6:00 AM Laughter in Paradise (Zampi, 1951) – BW-97 mins. – Today’s star is Audrey Hepburn, but instead of just showing the well-known and popular titles TCM has thrown in a couple of her pre-Roman Holiday pictures. Audrey is way, way down the cast list on this one, credited at IMDb as “Cigarette girl.” Italian-born Mario Zampi directed Laughter in Paradise, a comedy starring Alastair Sim, Fay Compton, Guy Middleton, and George Cole as the heirs of a millionaire (Hugh Griffith) who included a provision in his will for the heirs to go to great and strange lengths to collect their shares. No DVD in R1 but Optimum has a Sim collection with the film included.
8:00 AM The Secret People (Dickinson, 1952) – BW-95 mins. – This early Audrey Hepburn picture sounds more to my taste and she even has a supporting role instead of just a bit part. The star is Valentina Cortese, who was so good in Dassin’s Thieves’ Highway. She plays the daughter of a man killed by a European dictator, whose assassination she later finds herself somewhat involved in via a former lover (Serge Reggiani, of Melville’s Le doulos). Director and co-writer Thorold Dickinson was someone I had absolutely no knowledge of until a year or two ago when a retrospective of his films popped up. I didn’t see any of them, but that nonetheless put his name on my radar. Now I’m anxious to look at The Secret People. A Chinese import DVD exists for this movie, but I didn’t find any other, more official releases. It was done for Ealing in the UK. I haven’t any idea of the rights issues now.
Wednesday August 12
8:00 PM Red Dust (Fleming, 1932) – BW-83 mins. – The runner-up to The Magnificent Ambersons for most inexplicable DVD absence among the Warner Bros. holdings would probably be this Clark Gable-Jean Harlow classic later remade as Mogambo (which, of course, is available). Gable is a rubber plantation owner entangled with prostitute Harlow as well as the wife (Mary Astor) of his new employee. Warner Bros. made known an intention to, I believe, include this film in a potential Jean Harlow set which still hasn’t materialized and now seems unlikely to appear. TCM doesn’t show it that often either so this would be a good time to acquaint yourself with the picture.
Thursday August 13
10:30 AM Roughshod (Robson, 1949) – BW-88 mins. – Gloria Grahame day finally arrives on TCM. In total, six of her pre-Odds Against Tomorrow pictures that are not on DVD air today. Four I’ve already seen but I’ll mention anyway, starting with her first real role in the otherwise forgettable Blonde Fever at 6:00 AM. Merton of the Movies, where GG is a glamorous Hollywood actress working alongside goofy Red Skelton, airs at 9:00 AM and the Nicholas Ray-directed curiosity A Woman’s Secret is scheduled for 4:30 PM. Minnelli’s The Cobweb comes on later at 2:15 AM. Roughshod, one of just a couple of westerns Grahame made, is, in my experience, more rare since I’ve never come across it in the TCM schedule over the last few years and the movie isn’t available on DVD outside of Spain. Robert Sterling is the male lead, a rancher, and I think Gloria plays a saloon girl of some sort. It was made for RKO.
3:00 PM The Glass Wall (Shane, 1953) – BW-80 mins. – Also hard to find is this film directed by Maxwell Shane and starring Vittorio Gassman as a World War II refugee trying to avoid being deported from the U.S. Gloria Grahame is second-billed playing a woman Gassman befriends. After this and Roughshod, only the Sam Katzman production Prisoners of the Casbah and Grahame’s other western Ride Out for Revenge will have still eluded me from the pre-Odds Against Tomorrow pictures. TCM designed posters for each of the stars being honored in August, and the one for Grahame is sensational. I don’t think any are available for purchase, but I’m sure there would be some interest if they were. The Glass Wall was done for Columbia, and hasn’t had a DVD release. It and Roughshod never made it to VHS either to my knowledge.
4:30 AM Chandler (Magwood, 1971) – C-86 mins. – After Odds Against Tomorrow in 1959, Gloria Grahame’s film career was effectively done. She did a few television shows, including guest spots on The Fugitive and Burke’s Law, and some stage work. There was somewhat of a revival in the movies for Grahame with 1971’s Blood and Lace which started another chapter of low-budget work and small parts in films like Melvin and Howard, but still nothing like where she was in the forties and fifties. One of the smaller roles she had was in this private detective movie starring Warren Oates. It was the only directorial effort from Leslie Caron’s fourth husband Paul Magwood. Caron is also in Chandler, as are Mitch Ryan and even Charles McGraw. I’m anxious to see it even though the 4.3/10 rating at IMDb is less than promising. MGM produced, but no DVD. It’s hardly unimaginable to see this turn up in the Warner Archive at some point, especially if the print TCM shows ends up being a nice, letterboxed affair.
Saturday August 15
12:30 PM I See a Dark Stranger (Launder, 1945) – BW-112 mins. – Deborah Kerr fans have something to be happy about today with the schedule devoted completely to her. Several of the films are not available on R1 DVD, though this one actually was put out by Criterion’s all but defunct little sister Home Vision Entertainment. Frank Launder received directing credit but his frequent collaborator Sidney Gilliat helped as a producer and one of the writers on the project. Trevor Howard co-stars with Kerr as an intelligence officer and potential love interest trying to keep her (for her own good and the country’s) from giving away secrets to the Nazis. The character Kerr plays is a young Irish woman with a significant disdain for the English.
2:30 AM Edward, My Son (Cukor, 1949) – BW-113 mins. – Kerr was Oscar-nominated for her role as the alcohol-drenched wife to Spencer Tracy (in a rare villainous turn). Tracy just wants what’s best for his son, even if it involves a multitude of crimes and misdeeds. This London-set drama also includes cinematography from Freddie Young. It was made for MGM, giving Warner Bros. the rights currently. No DVD as of now.
Monday August 17
6:00 PM Love Letters (Dieterle, 1945) – BW-101 mins. – And now it’s Jennifer Jones’ turn in the spotlight. Before the exceptional Portrait of Jennie (following at 8:00 PM), Jones and Joseph Cotten were first teamed with director William Dieterle on this romance, which also earned Jones a nod from the Academy. Cotten is a soldier writing love letters for a friend to his wife (Jones), but he later learns the friend has been killed and the wife may have been involved. Never having gotten over his own feelings for the woman he expressed love for (in another man’s name) yet didn’t meet, Cotten goes looking for her. Love Letters was made by Paramount, but is part of the library which was sold to Universal, thus giving that studio the rights. Universal hasn’t made time for a DVD release.
9:30 PM Carrie (Wyler, 1952) – BW-122 mins. – Late last spring when the Film Society at Lincoln Center was hosting a Jennifer Jones retrospective, they showed this film and had none other than Mr. TCM himself Robert Osborne introduce it. Alas, I didn’t go and my familiarity with this Carrie is minimal, but I thought it was interesting all the same to now see TCM has the film scheduled in prime time when Robert Osborne will yet again be introducing it. Based on Theodore Dreiser’s novel, the plot has Jones as the titular Carrie, a woman coveted by the older, married Laurence Olivier. His wife is played by Miriam Hopkins. I’m not sure what I used to think of director William Wyler, and he’s lost quite a bit of critical prestige in the decades since his last films, but my opinion after seeing things like Dodsworth and The Letter and The Collector is that he was a far more interesting filmmaker than his reputation sometimes suggests. Carrie was released for R1 DVD by Paramount but seems to have gone of out of print. It can still be had affordably through third party sellers and also has an edition in the UK still available.
Thursday August 20
8:15 AM The Richest Girl in the World (Seiter, 1934) – BW-76 mins. – Speaking of Miriam Hopkins, here’s a nice selection of her work in the thirties which is otherwise hard to find. The Lubitsch triple feature starting at 8:00 PM with The Smiling Lieutenant and followed by Trouble in Paradise and Design for Living should not be missed but those can all be obtained (here, here, and here, respectively) on DVD. So here are three more. First up is this romantic comedy where Hopkins is the wealthy lady of the title who trades places with secretary Fay Wray to fool the press. She also ends up fooling Joel McCrea. Norman Krasna’s original story was nominated for an Oscar. The film sounds like a winner. Great poster too. It was made for RKO and hasn’t found a release in R1.
9:45 AM Wise Girl (Jason, 1937) – BW-70 mins. – The next Miriam Hopkins thirties comedy pits her against Ray Milland. She’s rich again in this one. The plot has Hopkins’ heiress going to Manhattan’s Greenwich Village to track down her dead sister’s children who are living with their artist uncle Milland. Director Leigh Jason’s next film would be the screwy classic The Mad Miss Manton. RKO again, same thing regarding the lack of a DVD. Another comedy with Hopkins and Joel McCrea, 1937’s Woman Chases Man, follows at 11:00 AM.
1:00 AM Barbary Coast (Hawks, 1935) – BW-90 mins. – After the Lubitsch pictures, we get this adventure story where Hopkins appears yet again with Joel McCrea, as well as Edward G. Robinson, Walter Brennan, and Brian Donlevy. Miriam goes west to Gold Rush-era San Francisco and picks up a job working the roulette wheel at Robinson’s gambling joint. She falls for miner McCrea much to the displeasure of Robinson. William Wyler’s These Three, which he later remade as The Children’s Hour, follows at 2:45 AM. Barbary Coast can be had on DVD from MGM, but a Hawks film is always worth a mention.
Friday August 21
6:00 AM Mad Dog Coll (Balaban, 1961) – BW-87 mins. – Gene Hackman all day, though it’s hard to tell from this picture since I guess he’s barely in it. Going by IMDb, Hackman’s role is “Cop (uncredited).” Better days were eventually ahead for Mr. Hackman. Mad Dog Coll was one of just a handful of pictures directed by Burt Balaban, and his follow-up to Murder, Inc. It’s about the infamous gangster, played here by John Davis Chandler. A couple of years earlier, Clu Gulager gave a fairly explosive guest turn in The Untouchables as Coll. Among this movie’s cast, look for Jerry Orbach, Telly Savalas and Vincent Gardenia playing Dutch Schultz. Nice of TCM to show it, though I wouldn’t expect too much. Columbia distributed on release. Nothing DVD-wise.
7:30 AM The Split (Flemyng, 1968) – C-89 mins. – Hackman was definitely on the upswing by this point, with Bonnie and Clyde released a year earlier. If you like great, eclectic casts, The Split might be your thing. Here we get Jim Brown (fresh from The Dirty Dozen), Diahann Carroll, Ernest Borgnine, Julie Harris, Jack Klugman, Warren Oates, James Whitmore, and Donald Sutherland. Music score by Quincy Jones. Cinematography from Burnett Guffey. And based on a Donald Westlake novel. Wow. That’s enough cool points already to make any discussion of quality almost irrelevant. Of little consequence then, but the plot seems to be about a gang of thieves who want to rob the box office at a Los Angeles Rams football game. Times sure have changed. Nowadays the Rams obviously are in St. Louis and I can’t imagine a box office being worth the trouble for any sort of elaborate heist. Interesting trivia from IMDb is that The Split was apparently the first theatrical release to receive the “R” rating. MGM was the studio so it’s now with Warner Bros. No dice on the DVD, but it seems like a potential Warner Archive title at some point.
2:30 PM I Never Sang for My Father (Cates, 1970) – C-92 mins. – Continued recognition for Hackman, as he earned his second Oscar nomination here before winning for The French Connection the following year. Melvyn Douglas (also nominated) plays the newly widowed father and Hackman is his son who’s ready to get married, live his own life. I understand the almost constant cobwebs inside Sony’s catalog distribution (some of which seem to be finally getting knocked down), but it’s still shocking that this movie hasn’t been released on DVD. It even got a laserdisc release. According to Amazon, back in 1998 – when DVD had already started – Columbia put out a VHS (the second edition, I believe). With Blu-ray slightly hovering, if not fully taking off just yet, maybe we’ll get one of those hideous Martini Movies-style covers for this fairly soon.
Saturday August 22
11:00 AM Five Steps to Danger (Kesler, 1957) – BW-80 mins. – It’s clear from TCM’s schedule today that Sterling Hayden made a whole lot of undistinguished pictures. Nonetheless, Hayden is one of my favorites and there are probably half a dozen gems being shown, including Terror in a Texas Town (7:30 AM) and Johnny Guitar (4:00 PM). This one has Sterling denying his essence to some shady figures out to recover a secret formula possessed by a hitchhiker (Ruth Roman) he’s picked up. Werner Klemperer is third-billed and the cast also features Robert Mitchum’s brother John. Made for the director’s production company, United Artists released theatrically and MGM seems to have the rights now. It’s not on DVD. A website called Fancast (is that similar to Hulu?) is streaming Five Steps to Danger right now for free.
10:00 PM Manhandled (Foster, 1949) – BW-96 mins. – Interesting to see Dorothy Lamour, typically associated with the Bing Crosby-Bob Hope “Road” movies, in a crime thriller. She’s a secretary to a quack psychiatrist who becomes involved in the murder investigation of a patient’s wife. Dan Duryea is her neighbor and Sterling Hayden plays an insurance investigator. It’s the kind of plot which is noirish in feel if perhaps not in execution. Paramount put it out in cinemas, but the rights are probably with Universal I think. No DVD release.
Sunday August 23
11:00 AM All Fall Down (Frankenheimer, 1962) – BW-110 mins. – Director John Frankenheimer’s second feature, released, incredibly, the same year as Birdman of Alcatraz and The Manchurian Candidate (which follows at 1:00 PM), was adapted from a James Leo Herlihy (author of Midnight Cowboy) novel by William Inge. It stars Warren Beatty as a character named Berry-Berry. Karl Malden and Angela Lansbury are his parents and Eva Marie Saint plays Echo, an older woman with whom Beatty becomes involved. Brandon de Wilde has the younger brother role. I thought for sure this would come to R1 DVD a few years ago when Warner Bros. included the film in a “DVD Decision” vote among fans. It finally trickled out as part of the Warner Archive burn-on-demand idea earlier this year.
4:15 PM The Reluctant Debutante (Minnelli, 1958) – C-96 mins. – Angela Lansbury day continues with a Vincente Minnelli-directed trifle starring Sandra Dee as the mostly American daughter who goes to London to stay with her British father (Rex Harrison) and stepmother (Kay Kendall). Dee is, as you can guess, reluctant to accept her new social duties. MGM then, Warner Bros. now, the movie hasn’t found a DVD release.
Monday August 24
9:30 AM There Goes My Heart (McLeod, 1938) – BW-83 mins. – Did you know TV’s Ed Sullivan was once a screenwriter in Hollywood? It’s true, and he received an original story credit for this Fredric March comedy. Fred’s a reporter who catches up with runaway heiress Virginia Bruce who’s working at a department store. Nancy Carroll and Eugene Pallette fill out the cast. The plot sounds very It Happened One Night-ish with maybe a little Nothing Sacred (airing at 6:45 PM) thrown in for good measure. I don’t think there’s a DVD available, and United Artists is listed as theatrical distributor. Maybe MGM would have the rights.
1:30 PM One Foot in Heaven (Rapper, 1941) – BW-108 mins. – Here’s a Best Picture nominee I haven’t seen and otherwise would have trouble finding. The film joined Citizen Kane in losing to How Green Was My Valley that year. Fredric March stars as a Methodist minister who moves with his family (including wife Martha Scott) from parish to parish over time. It seems like a fairly meandering sort of picture. Gene Lockhart and Beulah Bondi are also in the cast. Warner Bros. made it but no DVD yet. Probably one for the Archive.
Tuesday August 25
2:45 PM Affectionately Yours (Bacon, 1941) – BW-88 mins. – I know virtually nothing about Merle Oberon so today is a potential wash for me. The one title that seemed most intriguing was this comedy co-starring Dennis Morgan as Oberon’s husband who has to hurry home from his international reporting gig to prevent her from divorcing him and marrying Ralph Bellamy. Rita Hayworth va-vooms as Morgan’s current side gal. Bellamy sure did have a niche, didn’t he. The solid cast also includes James Gleason and the Gone with the Wind co-stars Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen. No DVD from Warner Bros. Jacques Tourneur’s Berlin Express, starring Oberon and Robert Ryan and slated for the Warner Archive treatment, airs later at 6:30 PM.
Thursday August 27
7:30 AM The Lady and the Mob (Stolof, 1939) – BW-66 mins. – A day for Ida Lupino films is a day to celebrate. Ida here plays the future daughter-in-law of Fay Bainter, who returns from a dry cleaning pick-up so upset with the local racket that she vows to beat them at their own game. This would seem to be a cheaply made picture done for Columbia. It’s not on DVD.
2:30 PM Women’s Prison (Seiler, 1955) – BW-80 mins. – The title probably says it all. A nice line-up of actresses join Ida, including Jan Sterling, Cleo Moore, Audrey Totter, Phyllis Thaxter, and further down the cast list, Mae Clarke. Howard Duff is a psychiatrist who wants to improve prison conditions, but real-life spouse Lupino’s warden resists the change. Columbia again, no DVD release. Frtiz Lang’s While the City Sleeps, with Ida in a small but interesting role as a columnist willing to seduce Dana Andrews, comes on a bit later at 6:00 PM.
12:00 AM Ladies in Retirement (Vidor, 1941) – BW-92 mins. – A “spooky melodrama” directed by Charles Vidor and starring Ida Lupino and Evelyn Keyes as, respectively, housekeeper and maid to a retired actress living in the English countryside. Elsa Lanchester is one of Lupino’s two sisters who are in need of somewhere to live after being removed from their residence due to some sort of intolerable and scandalous behavior. This was also made for Columbia, with the same not-on-DVD treatment by Sony.
Saturday August 29
4:30 PM After the Fox (De Sica, 1966) – BW-103 mins. – So much Peter Sellers today and I’m reminded that I really need to see more of his work. A lot of the films being shown I’ve either mentioned here before (The Millionairess, Only Two Can Play) or have R1 DVDs no longer in print, which is the case with After the Fox. Credit to TCM for not just filling the schedule with Pink Panther movies and resisting the urge to again air Dr. Strangelove. Here Sellers plays a world-renowned con man who takes on the persona of a film director in pursuit of a heist. Victor Mature has fun as a has-been movie star and Britt Ekland decorates with her presence. The screenplay was an unlikely collaboration between Neil Simon, whose play the film is based on, and Vittorio De Sica’s longtime creative partner Cesare Zavattini. MGM did have the film on DVD in R1, but it’s out of print. Looks to still be available in R2.
2:30 AM There’s a Girl in My Soup (Boulting, 1970) – C-96 mins. – Same deal here – was available in R1 but now discontinued. Sony, which left the R2 in print in the UK, had better things to do than keep pressing this one. Sellers co-stars with Goldie Hawn, with him playing a womanizing television star and her the 19-year-old he fancies. Interesting that Hawn was BAFTA-nominated. These sorts of roles for Sellers make me a bit uneasy due to the inevitable blurring of fact and fiction. While watching him as a performer, it can be difficult to separate what we know and what we see, if that makes sense.
Sunday August 30
9:00 AM Adventure in Manhattan (Ludwig, 1936) – BW-73 mins. – Jean Arthur all day? Done. I thought I was onto something a couple weeks back with Miriam Hopkins being paired so often with Joel McCrea (5 times total), but it seems that McCrea was also a frequent co-star with Jean Arthur. In addition to The More the Merrier (which isn’t even airing today), the two were co-stars in The Silver Horde (on at 6:00 AM) and this comedy. McCrea is a newspaper reporter looking into the financing of a play in which actress Arthur is appearing. Made for Columbia and not on DVD. The 1934 crime drama Whirlpool follows at 10:30 AM.
10:15 PM The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (Roberts, 1936) – BW-82 mins. – This opinion has come up before, but I think William Powell was just about the coolest cat in movies in the 1930s. One of the things he pulled off fairly well was not only giving life to Nick Charles in the Thin Man pictures, but also playing virtually the same character again in several Myrna Loy-less copycats. Even though these aren’t necessarily as good as the originals, Powell is always unflappable. I watched him with Ginger Rogers do the routine in Star of Midnight not long ago and it was fairly charming. Here he’s with Jean Arthur, though this time the two are a divorced couple solving a mystery instead of a married or engaged one. Director Stephen Roberts actually did Star of Midnight also and this was his last film before having a fatal heart attack at the age of 40. The Ex-Mrs. Bradford was done for RKO, most likely leaving it vulnerable to the Warner Archive treatment.
4:30 AM Party Wire (Kenton, 1935) – BW-69 mins. – Catchy title. I guess it concerns the residents of a town having a party line, which would allow for widespread access to phone conversations. The trouble starts with a romance between prominent daughter Jean Arthur and milkman Victor Jory and the subsequent leaving of town by Jory. Gossip then pops up that Arthur is pregnant. The film, a drama, was done for Columbia, like much of Arthur’s output. It hasn’t had a DVD release.
Monday August 31
10:30 AM The Brothers Karamazov (Brooks, 1958) – C-146 mins. – Richard Brooks was nominated by the Directors Guild for this and Lee J. Cobb earned a Supporting Actor Oscar nod. The source novel, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, is widely acclaimed. I’m really surprised, then, that the film is unreleased on DVD. It was made for MGM so Warner Bros. should have the rights. Cobb is the brothers’ father while Yul Brynner, William Shatner (in his film debut), Richard Basehart, and Albert Salmi play the four siblings. Star of the day Claire Bloom competes with Maria Schell for Brynner’s affection. I don’t generally enjoy long, epic movies from this period, but I do like Brooks and this film rarely shows up on the schedule. Knowing John Alton was director of photography doesn’t hurt.
4:15 AM A Severed Head (Clement, 1971) – C-98 mins. – It’s funny that the James Mason cold war drama The Man Between is airing on TCM today (at 6:15 PM) because Film Forum is also screening it a couple of times this evening. Later in the night, TCM has this comedy with the horror-sounding name. It would seem that the plot has Lee Remick and Ian Holm married but her falling for good friend Richard Attenborough. They all want to remain friends and keep things private. But Holm has a mistress (Jennie Linden) who he wants to keep secret, except her a professor (Claire Bloom) is Attenborough’s sister. That’s completely lifted and reworded on my part from the IMDb plot synopsis. It hardly sounds like a typical thing TCM would show, but intriguing nonetheless. Columbia released, no DVD (at least in R1).