Monday September 1
8:00 PM Millions Like Us (Gilliat & Launder, 1943) – BW-103 mins. – Courtroom dramas make up the entire daytime of the channel’s schedule, leading into a tribute to the Telluride Film Festival. The Lady Vanishes screenwriters Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder made their directing debut as a team with this British wartime drama. The pair also finished up their supporting characters Charters and Caldicott, who had debuted in the Hitchcock movie and also popped up in a pair of other films. Patricia Roc stars as a woman working at an airplane factory during the war, looking for love and friendship. Gordon Jackson, Anne Crawford, and Eric Portman highlight the rest of the cast. I’m not sure who has the R1 rights, but it’s not yet released here on DVD. There is at least one version in the UK, but it seems to be out of print.
Tuesday September 2
6:00 AM The Men Who Made the Movies: King Vidor (Schickel, 1973) -55 mins. – I’m really keen on Richard Schickel’s auteur-focused series, originally airing on PBS in the ’70s and updated years later with improved clips, and TCM will be airing five episodes consecutively today. Vidor, who directed films as varied as The Crowd and Duel in the Sun, is interviewed here, as are actors Jennifer Jones and Gary Cooper. Though several of Schickel’s entries are included as supplements to Warner Bros. DVDs, this one is not. Maybe the studio will tack it on if The Crowd ever gets released. The Howard Hawks episode, available on two different DVD releases airs next and is followed by…
8:00 AM The Men Who Made the Movies: Raoul Walsh (Schickel, 1973) -55 mins. – Also not available on DVD, Schickel’s look at oft-neglected studio director Raoul Walsh, known for White Heat and High Sierra among several others, includes interview footage with the eye-patched filmmaker. The future of this special on DVD seems decidedly uncertain since most of Walsh’s major films controlled by Warner Bros. are already out. It might possibly show up on the unavailable James Cagney-Rita Hayworth film The Strawberry Blonde, assuming Warner Bros. turns its attention back to releasing in-demand catalog titles with any frequency. Episodes for Sam Fuller and William Wellman immediately follow.
3:00 AM Private Screenings: Shirley MacLaine (2003) – C-53 mins. – The nonfictional programming continues with Robert Osborne’s chatting up the one and only Shirley MacLaine. I don’t think I ever made time for this special. It’s not on DVD, is it? Even without seeing it, I’m confident Shirley provided plenty of strange, yet endearing memories of the Rat Pack and Billy Wilder. TCM has built a night of her movies around this program, including her Wilder collaborations Irma La Douce, at 10:15 PM, and The Apartment, at 12:45 AM.
Wednesday September 3
10:15 PM The Candidate (Ritchie, 1972) – C-110 mins. – Because the only DVD in R1 is incorrectly presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, viewers of the film old and new may want to check out TCM’s promised letterbox airing. Robert Redford as a long-shot senatorial candidate facing a seemingly sure thing incumbent, with Melvyn Douglas as his former governor father and Peter Boyle his campaign mastermind. This and Advise & Consent are my favorite films about politics, with the ending here among the best I’ve seen. Please Warner Bros., cough up that re-release in the correct AR. The next month or so would have been the perfect timing, too. Several other political-themed films air this evening, all pretty good from what I’ve seen. One I haven’t watched is The Dark Horse, a 1932 comedy starring Guy Kibbee, and set for 4:45 AM.
Thursday September 4
9:15 PM Jewel Robbery (Dieterle, 1932) – BW-68 mins. – Star of the Month for September is Kay Francis, whose work I am just barely familiar with and mostly know from Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise. The good news for classic film fans is that the great majority of these Kay Francis films are not on DVD, giving everyone the chance to watch movies otherwise difficult to see. A couple of William Dieterle-directed pre-Code pictures air tonight. Jewel Robbery, co-starring William Powell as a thief who romances a tycoon’s wife in Vienna, is followed later by the female executive-male secretary romance Man Wanted, airing at 1:00 AM. Both were made for Warner Bros. and remain absent on DVD.
5:00 AM I Loved a Woman (Green, 1933) – BW-91 mins. – Kay Francis gets caught up with Edward G. Robinson, or maybe it’s the other way around. Robinson plays an art student who returns home to his father’s meatpacking plant and marries Francis as he increasingly loses sight of his earlier ideals. She corrupts him, he corrupts himself and he ultimately faces the consequences. Sounds pretty good. Warner Bros. again and not on DVD.
Friday September 5
6:45 AM Living on Velvet (Borzage, 1935) – BW-76 mins. – The ever-popular Frank Borzage makes another appearance this week. He takes Kay Francis along for the ride this time, with George Brent and Warren William somewhere in the background. Word doesn’t seem as encouraging for this film as with the other Borzage or the two other Francis pictures, but it’s at least worth a mention anyway. Brent is a pilot who walked away unhurt from a crash that killed his family. He falls for Francis, who just happens to be engaged to Brent’s buddy Warren William. Another Warner Bros. title not available on DVD.
8:15 AM If You Could Only Cook (Seiter, 1935) – BW-72 mins. – Three mid-thirties Jean Arthur films this Friday morning. Leading off, Herbert Marshall stars as a well-off executive who’s lured into working as a butler. Happens all the time. The lurer in this situation is Jean Arthur, trying to get a job as a cook and in need of a service partner. Could it be love? Does co-star Lionel Stander have a raspy voice? The film was made for Columbia, but isn’t on DVD. Arthur co-stars with Joel McCrea in Adventure in Manhattan, airing right afterwards at 9:30 AM, and then listens to Stander again in More Than a Secretary at 10:45 AM.
Saturday September 20
2:00 AM Hostile Witness (Milland, 1968) – C-103 mins. – It’s strange to think of Ray Milland as a director, but he actually did make a few movies and episodes of television shows. This was his last job behind the camera and he also stars as a London barrister whose daughter is killed. Milland vows revenge, but when the possible killer is murdered, it’s Milland who finds himself a suspect in the death. TCM is airing a night’s worth of films centering on barristers, including Basil Dearden’s Victim at 12:15 AM. Hostile Witness was distributed theatrically by United Artists and therefore should be controlled by MGM. It’s not on DVD.
Sunday September 21
12:00 AM Leaves from Satan’s Book (Dreyer, 1919) – BW-121 mins. – Ahh, nothing like Carl Th. Dreyer’s silent film about the temptation of Satan to close out a Sunday night. This was Dreyer’s third feature and it’s divided into multiple sections that focus on Satan’s resiliency and man’s repeated weakness in opposition. The film is available on R1 DVD, from Image, but I figured it was still worth mentioning. TCM rarely shows silent features, often just once a week in the Silent Sundays slot, and no other television channel really shows them at all. Stick around for The Seventh Seal afterwards for continued Scandinavian fun.
Monday September 22
12:30 AM Devil’s Doorway (Mann, 1950) – BW-84 mins. – Tonight is advertised as “Bob’s Picks,” with Bob of course being TCM host Robert Osborne. I generally take special notice when he programs the night and the choices this month are particularly good. Anthony Mann’s unheralded western, made in a year where he also did The Furies and Winchester ‘73, is often overshadowed, but its depiction of Indians is far more complex than the usual Hollywood fare of the day. Like the same year’s Broken Arrow, Mann’s film shows Indians as humans instead of savages. Robert Taylor stars as a hero of the Battle of Gettysburg who returns to his tribe only to find himself forced into fighting to protect his land. The film is not on DVD and is controlled by Warner Bros after being released theatrically by MGM.
2:00 AM The Tall Target (Mann, 1951) – BW-78 mins. – Hey, more Anthony Mann. Conveniently, another lesser known Mann picture follows, this time one about Abraham Lincoln. Dick Powell stars as a detective who must protect Lincoln as he rides by train to his first inauguration. Interestingly, IMDb mentions that it’s one of just two MGM films not to have a musical score, with Mogambo the other. It too is a WB property and not on DVD. The Man from Laramie, a Mann-Stewart western that is on DVD but that’s nonetheless an excellent film, follows at 3:30 AM.
Wednesday September 24
11:30 PM The Glass Key (Heisler, 1942) – BW-85 mins. – TCM is showing a couple of Universal’s Paramount library titles, something the channel rarely does. Preston Sturges’ directorial debut The Great McGinty airs at 10:00 PM and is followed by this early film noir, both featuring Brian Donlevy. It was the second pairing of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, after the same year’s This Gun for Hire, and was based on a Dashiell Hammett book. Every year I keep expecting Universal to release a DVD of this and The Blue Dahlia in R1 and I’m consistently disappointed. I’ve held off on the bare R2 releases in anticipation, but I’m sure if I do end up going that route Universal will announce the R1 discs within days.
1:00 AM The Boss (Haskin, 1956) – BW-89 mins. – Political corruption continues with this John Payne-starrer written by Dalton Trumbo. Payne stars as a politician who is seduced by power and the machine. His character ages over a ten-year period, leading up to the time of the Great Depression. This appears to be another U/A release now probably controlled by MGM and unavailable on DVD.
Thursday September 25
8:00 PM Mandalay (Curtiz, 1934) – BW-65 mins. – Pre-code Kay Francis movie where she plays a woman in Burma with a past involving gunrunner Ricardo Cortez. Michael Curtiz directs. The film just got in before the Production Code enforcement and apparently features a suggestive bath scene concluding with water glistening on Francis’ legs. Warner Bros. released it in theaters, but nothing on DVD yet.
10:15 PM Confession (May, 1937) – BW-87 mins. – I thought it might be interesting to look at one of Asphalt director Joe May’s few Hollywood films and maybe see if any German expressionism managed to sneak into the picture. The melodrama once again stars Kay Francis, alongside Ian Hunter and Basil Rathbone. Francis plays a former cabaret singer accused of killing pianist Rathbone, with the story told in flashbacks. This too is a WB film and is not on DVD.
3:15 AM Stranded (Borzage, 1935) – BW-72 mins. – One last Kay Francis pick for the month. Director Frank Borzage has had a remarkable number of his films air in September, mostly from his collaborations with Francis. He also has a much-celebrated (and wildly expensive) DVD box set coming from Fox a couple of months from now. Unfortunately, I think only one of his Warner properties (Strange Cargo) is actually available. Stranded is, surprise, a romance with Francis as a compassionate Traveler’s Aid worker and George Brent a bridge builder. Actual footage of the Golden Gate Bridge being built can be seen. Interestingly, Delmer Daves was credited with the screenplay to the film.
Friday September 26
1:15 AM Aventure malgache (Hitchcock, 1944) – BW-31 mins. -Who knew Hitchcock worked in French? Yes, the master of suspense actually made a pair of propaganda shorts for the British Ministry of Information that were filmed in the French language. Both (with Bon Voyage being the other) are available in R1 on a disc from Image that’s now over ten years old and runs $25 retail. Aventure malgache not only didn’t screen in the U.S., but was also passed over in the UK. Its plot concerns a French actor’s memories of the Resistance while in Madagascar. TCM seems to have just tossed the short in the schedule, as nothing before or since is thematically similar.
Monday September 29
12:30 PM Hollow Triumph (Sekely, 1948) – BW-83 mins. – A cheap noir made by Eagle-Lion and starring Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett. He plays a criminal who hides out as a psychiatrist after a job gone bad. Bennett is the doctor’s secretary. The great John Alton was the film’s cinematographer. It’s now in the public domain and a cheap DVD was released in R1 back in April by a group called Synergy.
8:00 PM Private Screenings: Walter Mirisch (2008) – C- 58 mins. – Famed producer of films like The Apartment (airing at 2:45 AM) and In the Heat of the Night (airing at 9:00 PM), Walter Mirisch sits down with Robert Osborne for a chat. Mirisch and his brothers were behind The Mirisch Corporation, which produced several United Artists movies, including the Billy Wilder films Some Like It Hot, One, Two, Three, and Kiss Me, Stupid. Always nice to see a new episode of Private Screenings on the schedule.
5:00 AM Fort Massacre (Newman, 1958) – C-81 mins. – It looks like this was actually the first of the Mirisch Corporation films, a Scope western starring Joel McCrea. The plot involves McCrea’s cavalry sergeant assuming command after an Apache attack. He then must trek through Indian territory. The film is without a DVD release in R1, having been made for United Artists, and the rights should sit with MGM.
Tuesday September 30
1:45 PM Tea and Sympathy (Minnelli, 1956) – C-122 mins. – A trio of Deborah Kerr movies stand out on the afternoon schedule. In the first, Kerr returns to the role she’d played on Broadway under Elia Kazan’s direction. She’s the wife of a schoolmaster (Leif Erickson) trying to comfort a particular student (John Kerr) whose classmates ostracize him. The student is looked at as being unmanly and basically accused of homosexuality. Also of note is the presence of John Alton, who framed the wide 2.55:1 images. An MGM picture, it’s not on DVD and is now a Warner Bros. property.
Wednesday October 1
6:00 AM Street Girl (Ruggles, 1929) – BW-87 mins. – This is listed as the first official RKO production and was an early film musical. Betty Compson stars as a young violinist out on the street homeless. She then joins up with a group of four male singers. One of the men is played by Jack Oakie, who was so good in Chaplin’s The Great Dictator as the Mussolini-like character and also delivered a fine performance in Jules Dassin’s Thieves Highway. Director Wesley Ruggles had a prolific burst in early Hollywood, including Cimarron in 1931 (airing at 8:00 PM), but worked less and less frequently in the ’40s before stopping entirely. His brother was the actor Charles Ruggles, who, coincidentally, co-starred in Ruggles of Red Gap. The film Street Girl isn’t on DVD and is controlled by Warner Bros. in R1.
10:15 PM The Lost Squadron (Archainbaud, 1932) – BW-79 mins. – TCM celebrates the 80th anniversary of RKO Studios this evening. The Lost Squadron is an interesting look at three WWI pilots who end up working as stunt men at a Hollywood studio, even working for a director played by Erich von Stroheim. Richard Dix, Robert Armstrong, and Joel McCrea star as the flyers. The flim’s rights are now with Warner Bros. and it’s unreleased on DVD.
11:45 PM What Price Hollywood? (Cukor, 1932) – BW-88 mins. – Waitress Constance Bennett hits it big when she meets alcoholic director Lowell Sherman (who really did direct films like Morning Glory and She Done Him Wrong) and becomes a star. This too is an RKO movie and not on DVD. The Cukor-directed, Constance Bennett-starrer Our Betters airs later at 3:00 AM
Thursday October 2
2:45 AM The Captive City (Wise, 1952) – BW-91 mins. – Here’s one I’m particularly interested in, especially as it’s directed by Robert Wise. John Forsythe stars as an editor at a small paper in the midwest. He uncovers some damning information on the mob and must struggle for his own safety. The cast is full of little known actors and this was likely a small-budgeted movie for United Artists. Rights are likely held by MGM and it isn’t on DVD.
4:30 AM Down Three Dark Streets (Laven, 1954) – BW-86 mins. – Broderick Crawford stars as an FBI agent who picks up the three cases a murdered agent was working on with the hope that one will lead to the killer. Crawford is joined by a nice trio of actresses – Ruth Roman, Martha Hyer, and Marisa Pavan. Both screenplay and source novel were written by the married couple The Gordons (the male half being named Gordon Gordon), who were also responsible for That Darn Cat. United Artists distributed the film originally, too, and it’s also not on DVD yet.
Friday October 3
12:30 PM Once Upon a Honeymoon (McCarey, 1942) – BW-115 mins. – A six-pack of Leo McCarey takes the day schedule. This one promisingly stars Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers. She’s a burlesque dancer in Europe unknowingly married to Nazi Walter Slezak and he’s a radio reporter bent on investigating. Another RKO picture. It’s on DVD in France, but not in R1.
Saturday October 4
10:00 AM Back from Eternity (Farrow, 1956) – BW-97 mins. – Don’t you hate it when an airplane crash lands into the jungle and Anita Ekberg just happens to be among the survivors. That aside, only five passengers can board the escape plane while the rest must face the elements and the cannibalistic natives. Robert Ryan stars as one of the pilots and Rod Steiger appears as a criminal facing execution (the luck!). A Scope film from RKO, it’s not on DVD.
12:00 AM Of Human Bondage (Goulding, 1946) – BW-106 mins. – Less known version of Maugham’s classic novel than the Bette Davis outing from 1934. This time around Eleanor Parker, an actress I almost always enjoy, stars opposite Paul Henreid. Edmund Gwenn appears in support. It seems fairly obvious that the Austrian Henreid probably shouldn’t have been playing the story’s protagonist, an English medical student. Nonetheless, I’d like to see it for Parker, who’s still alive at 86 years old. The film is a Warner Bros. picture and not released on DVD.
Monday October 6
12:45 AM Lady by Choice (Burton, 1934) – BW-76 mins. – Carole Lombard month begins with this little trifle about a fan dancer who rounds up an old lady, played by May Robson, to act as her mother in hopes of improving her image. Jo Swerling wrote the screenplay. Lombard is poorly represented on DVD so despite the relatively small number of movies TCM is showing this month, several are otherwise unavailable including this one. It was made for Columbia. Sony actually controls a lot of ’30s Lombard pictures, but I think only Twentieth Century has found a DVD release.
2:15 AM The Gay Bride (Conway, 1934) – BW-80 mins. – Lombard keeps marrying gangsters who keep having bad luck. Chester Morris, Zasu Pitts, and Nat Pendleton co-star. I don’t think film has ever seen a funny woman more beautiful or a beautiful woman more funny than Carole Lombard. The Gay Bride was made for MGM and should now be controlled by Warner Bros. It’s not on DVD.
Tuesday October 7
6:00 PM Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, 1955) – BW-106 mins. – If someone wanted to know what film noir in the ’50s was like, this is the film to see. Where Double Indemnity was the prototypical noir of the ’40s, Aldrich’s Mike Hammer picture served the same purpose for the decade that followed. Ralph Meeker was never better. This is a great film you have to see and it gets better on repeated viewings. I thought that the R1 MGM DVD had been out of print for awhile now, but Amazon is showing copies in stock. It may have been quietly reissued.
Wednesday October 8
10:15 AM Stingaree (Wellman, 1934) – BW-77 mins. – All month TCM is giving Wednesday to RKO in honor of the studio’s 80th anniversary. Richard Dix stars here as an Australian bandit of some sorts who kidnaps opera singer Irene Dunne. The title of the film is taken from the bandit’s nickname. There are elements of the musical, the western, comedy and romance and all adds up to a modest success directed by William Wellman. Warner Bros. should have the film’s rights, but no DVD yet.
6:30 PM Quality Street (Stevens, 1937) – BW-83 mins. – From a play by J.M. Barrie of Peter Pan fame, the film stars Katharine Hepburn and Fay Bainter as unmarried. Hepburn is courted by Franchot Tone, who then goes off to war. When he returns ten years later, he’s no longer interested in Hepburn so she pretends to be her much-younger (nonexistent) niece to win back Tone. Sounds contrived, but I like the films of director George Stevens during this period, more so than his later, more serious work. It’s an RKO picture, with Warner Bros. controlling in R1. Looks as though a DVD was released in Spain.
Thursday October 9
8:00 PM Jour de Fête (Tati, 1949) – BW-79 mins. – I’m pleasantly surprised to see TCM honoring Jacques Tati with a 101st birthday tribute. The festivities begin, appropriately, with Jour de Fête, Tati’s first feature. In it, the French actor/director plays a mailman who delivers by bicycle. The film takes place during an annual fair in the small town setting. TCM will also be showing Tati’s three most famous films – M. Hulot’s Holiday, Mon Oncle, and Playtime, all better than his debut. Jour de Fête does have its fans, though, and it’s not on DVD in R1. I had the Australian R4 until recently, but none of the existing releases, including the BFI R2, are of very good quality. Criterion, I believe, has the rights to release it, but may be hesitant to put out a less than perfect version.
11:15 PM Mon Oncle (Tati, 1956) – C-116 mins. – Available, after being out of print at one point, in R1 from Criterion, but still worth mentioning. This is my favorite Tati film. He manages to wonderfully balance between physical humor and pointed barbs against the sterility of technology. I tend to see M. Hulot’s Holiday as funny, but limited and Playtime as an elaborate in-joke that has its moments but isn’t as funny it needs to be. Mon Oncle, however, is nearly perfect and charms completely.
Friday October 10
8:00 AM Thunder Rock (Boulting, 1942) – BW-107 mins. – Michael Redgrave stars in Roy Boulting’s film, based on an American play, about a writer who moves to a lighthouse and encounters encouraging ghosts. Redgrave’s character became disillusioned while trying to expose Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, but his time with the ghosts inspires him to soldier on. James Mason lends support. I’ve never seen any of the Boulting Brothers’ films so this sounds intriguing. It was released in R2 by 2 Entertain, but the disc seems to be out of print. IMDb lists a company called English Films as the original U.S. distributor. There’s no R1 DVD and I’m not sure where the rights would sit.
Saturday October 11
9:00 AM Shockproof (Sirk, 1949) – BW-79 mins. – Find the time for this rarely shown and hard to see film noir co-written by Sam Fuller and directed by Douglas Sirk. Cornel Wilde stars as parole officer Griff who gets mixed up with Patricia Knight (Wilde’s real wife) after she’s served five years in prison for killing a man in defense of her lover. It was made for Columbia and sits unreleased on DVD by Sony.
6:00 PM Targets (Bogdanovich, 1968) – C-90 mins. – For reasons known only to Paramount, Peter Bogdanovich’s film is out of print on R1 DVD. It’s still relatively cheap through third parties, but I’m sure the disc will eventually become pricey (just look at The Parallax View) if not re-issued. So if you don’t already own it, the best option may be to watch TCM’s showing. The plot pits Boris Karloff as an anachronistic former horror star against a rage-filled Vietnam veteran. I don’t think I realized that Samuel Fuller was apparently an uncredited co-screenwriter until reading that little tidbit on the IMDb page. Bogdanovich and Polly Platt collaborated on the story.
Sunday October 12
2:15 AM Rachel, Rachel (Newman, 1968) – C-101 mins. – Paul Newman directed six films, this being his first, and I don’t believe any of them are available on DVD in R1. Rachel, Rachel was probably his most successful from a critical standpoint, picking up Oscar nominations for the film, its screenplay, and actresses Joanne Woodward and Estelle Parsons. It’s kind of funny that Newman’s direction was snubbed. Carol Reed won that year for, of all things, Oliver! and he beat out Kubrick, Pontecorvo, Harvey and Zeffirelli. Every movie Newman directed starred either himself or his wife. Woodward here portrays the title character, a socially awkward school teacher struggling through suburban desperation. It doesn’t get shown a lot on television so this is a rare chance to see the film until Warner Bros. puts out a DVD.
Monday October 13
2:30 PM The Sniper (Dmytryk, 1952) – BW-88 mins. – I mentioned this film all the way back last year when I started up doing these weekly picks, but TCM has rarely shown it and there’s still no DVD. I was impressed enough to write a few paragraphs on the picture about six months ago. With persistent rumblings that Sony is readying some film noir titles for a box set or two, let’s hope Dmytryk’s film makes the cut.
5:15 PM The Girl in Black Stockings (Koch, 1957) – BW-75 mins. – TCM showed this in August and I watched it then. A pretty good, TV procedural-type of movie that’s basically a whodunit. Anne Bancroft is probably the most known name in the cast and is joined by Lex Barker, Marie Windsor and Mamie Van Doren. The setting is a Utah motel and everyone is, predictably, a suspect when a girl is murdered. Made on the cheap and distributed by United Artists. It’s not available on DVD, and rights should sit with MGM.
Tuesday October 14
9:30 PM The Gene Krupa Story (Weis, 1959) – BW-101 mins. – Rainn Wilson, better known as Dwight Shrute on The Office, plays guest programmer for the night. Possibly as a last ditch effort to drum up (sorry!) interest in his movie The Rocker, Wilson chose this biopic of the great jazz drummer. Sal Mineo stars as Krupa and is joined by Susan Kohner, James Darren and Batgirl herself, Yvonne Craig. The film was on DVD until Sony took it out of print awhile ago. It’s now fetching over fifty bucks on Amazon. Great move Sony.
Wednesday October 15
1:30 AM Five Came Back (Farrow, 1939) – BW-75 mins. – Last week I mentioned Back from Eternity, which was a remake of this film. Both were directed by John Farrow, Mia’s father. The plot involves a wrecked plane and only five of the survivors able to fit onto the rescue craft. Chester Morris, John Carradine and Lucille Ball head the cast. This original version was also made for RKO and isn’t available in R1.
Thursday October 16
12:00 AM The Jungle Book (Korda, 1942) – C-102 mins. – Sabu as Mowgli, the boy raised in the jungle. Unfortunately, there’s no singing and dancing bear in this version or snake with hypnotizing eyes. Oh well. Several DVDs feature the movie and are available on the cheap, but a more regal edition is planned. The title is now part of the Janus catalog and should receive a release from the Criterion Collection in the near future.
Friday October 17
4:30 PM The Big Lift (Seaton, 1950) – BW-118 mins. – Last summer I listened to Martin Scorsese speak about the films of George Seaton and producer William Perlberg. Along with The Counterfeit Traitor and The Bridges at Toko-Ri, The Big Lift came up a few times. I’d never heard of it, but was intrigued. Montgomery Clift stars along with Paul Douglas as Air Force men during the 1948 Berlin airlift. There’s a cheap DVD in R1 from Alpha, but such low prices make me skeptical of the quality. The film was made for Fox so it seems strange to be in the public domain. I’m going to tune in and see what kind of print TCM uses.
2:15 AM Wicked, Wicked (Bare, 1973) – C-95 mins. – It’s always been my position that not every movie I mention here has to be “good” in the literal sense. In that spirit, let’s look at this experiment in Duo-Vision, better described as a film that employs the split screen technique for its entirety. Moreover, the writer and director is Richard Bare, whose name I recognized from all the Joe McDoakes short subjects found on Warner Bros. DVDs. He also directed, according to IMDb, 168 straight episodes of Green Acres and he’s still kickin’ at 100 years old. His career in features wasn’t much and this was his last, but even silly ’70s horror movies sometimes have their place. Late on an October Friday night seems perfect. It was made for MGM and Warners still hasn’t put it out on DVD.
Saturday October 18
1:15 AM Telefon (Siegel, 1977) – C-103 mins. – I remember this airing on the basic cable channels like TBS and WGN a lot when I was a kid. My interest was nil then, but I’d probably watch it now and I was surprised to find out it’s not on DVD. Charles Bronson stars, Don Siegel directs. The plot concerns KGB secrets. It looks like MGM originally released it, making Warner Bros. the current rights holder. Lee Remick co-stars, as does Donald Pleasence, who shows up in all of TCM’s films this evening.
3:00 AM The Night of the Generals (Litvak, 1967) – C-144 mins. – Peter O’Toole and Tom Courtenay in the same film immediately gets my attention. It sounds pretty interesting to boot, with a plot about a murdered prostitute in Poland and three Nazi generals as suspects. Omar Sharif is the investigating major and Christopher Plummer shows up as Rommel. The film was director Anatole Litvak’s next to last and was shot by the great Henri Decaë. On DVD in the UK, and available cheaply, there isn’t an R1 edition yet. It looks to be a Sony property.
Monday October 20
8:00 PM The Eagle and the Hawk (Walker, 1933) – BW-73 mins. – A really nice night for fans of Carole Lombard, as only one of the films being shown is on R1 DVD and it’s a cheap, public domain-type release. The Eagle and the Hawk is a stark WWI picture that stars Fredric March and Cary Grant as RAF pilots. A very laudatory article at the TCM site compares the film favorably with Grand Illusion and All Quiet on the Western Front. Heavy praise, and enough to make someone take notice. Lombard wasn’t yet a star so it’s not really her movie, but she was third-billed and has a pivotal role. Paramount made the film and Universal has that part of the studio’s library now.
1:00 AM The Racketeer (Higgin, 1929) – BW-66 mins. – A trio of Lombard pictures air between The Eagle and the Hawk and this film, none of which are on DVD in R1. The Racketeer is actually available for farily cheap from an outfit called Synergy, but I’m particularly interested in the film because of its age. Lombard does star, alongside Robert Armstrong and Roland Drew, as a divorced woman courted by both men. She finds a way to help violinist Drew by using gangster Armstrong’s clout. The film was one of six made by Lombard for Pathé in a one-year period.
Tuesday October 21
8:00 PM The Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film (2008) -BW-106 mins. – TCM is premiering this documentary also included on the Warner Bros. Gangsters Vol. 4 set. It promises to focus on Cagney, Robinson and Bogart and their WB films. Alec Baldwin narrates.
12:45 AM Invisible Stripes (Bacon, 1939) – BW-81 mins. – A few of the new-to-DVD titles in that box are also being shown on the channel after the documentary. The one that sounds the most interesting is this Bogart-starrer. He plays a hoodlum paroled from prison and ready to go back into crime. George Raft is a fellow parolee who wants to set an example for his younger brother, played by William Holden, but has difficulty being accepted by the outside. The one gig that’s still paying? Crime. Holden would seem to be entirely out of his element so I’m anxious to see how it all plays out. The film can only be purchased in the set, and isn’t released individually.
Thursday October 23
8:30 AM My Name Is Julia Ross (Lewis, 1945) – BW-65 mins. – One of Joseph H. Lewis’ better films, this London-set noir was made quickly and cheaply by Columbia, but nonetheless has a nice little plot. Nina Foch plays the title character, who gets a job working for Dame May Whitty, but soon becomes entangled in the aftermath of a murder. Definitely one to watch. The movie isn’t on DVD that I’m aware of, and its rights now sit with Sony.
9:45 AM Dear Murderer (Crabtree, 1947) – BW-94 mins. – Eric Portman heads this British drama as a husband convinced wife Greta Gynt is having an affair. His solution of murdering the lover becomes even more complicated than originally planned. Dennis Price and Hazel Court are among the supporting cast. Director Arthur Crabtree also made Fiend Without a Face, which Criterion released on DVD a few years back. Dear Murderer, however, hasn’t been put out yet. Universal is listed at IMDb as original U.S. distributor.
6:30 PM Cop Hater (Berke, 1958) – BW-75 mins. – From an Evan Hunter/Ed McBain novel, this B-film stars Robert Loggia as a detective at the fictional 87th Precinct looking into several killings of police officers without any obvious connection. The rest of the cast seems mostly unknown (to me anyway), with the exceptions of a young Jerry Orbach and Vincent Gardenia. United Artists is the credited distributor, putting MGM in control of the rights. It’s not on DVD.
Friday October 24
2:00 AM The World’s Greatest Sinner (Carey, 1962) – BW-77 mins. – It’s my understanding that Timothy Carey’s lone directorial credit has been difficult to see for decades now. Carey, who also wrote and produced the picture, was one of film’s true oddball presences. He worked with Kubrick on The Killing and Paths of Glory. He made Minnie and Moskowitz and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie with John Cassavetes. There were also numerous television guest appearances, including an episode of The Untouchables I took a screencap for in my DVD Times review. Definitely a unique guy who was always interesting to watch as an actor. I’m very curious to see how he translated that into this film, where he plays a man who quits his job to become a radical preacher and picks up a following among supporters who call him “God.” I don’t know what kind of condition the print obtained by TCM will be in or where the rights lie. One would think the aspect ratio would be wider than Academy, but the TCM site doesn’t indicate letterboxing. We’ll all find out together I suppose.
Saturday October 25
10:00 PM Peeping Tom (Powell, 1960) – C-102 mins. – Known as the film that ruined the career of the great Michael Powell, this unnerving, slow burn thriller nonetheless has outlived its initially unfair reputation and is now considered a classic to sit alongside (or maybe just behind) Psycho. The plot involves young Carl Boehm, who’d later be seen in several Fassbinder films, killing women as he records their final moments with a movie camera. For Powell & Pressburger fans, the most troubling death may be that of a character played by Moira Shearer, the radiant beauty from The Red Shoes. Peeping Tom is easily found on DVD in R1 and R2, including a Criterion release stateside, which is in a slightly incorrect aspect ratio (1.78:1 instead of 1.66:1).
Sunday October 26
12:00 AM The Blackbird (Browning, 1926) – BW-70 mins. – Tod Browning and Lon Chaney teamed up several times, including The Unknown and the apparently lost film London After Midnight. Chaney here plays two roles – that of the villainous title character, as well as the kindly, paralyzed Bishop. The London-set silent was made for MGM and hasn’t had a DVD release yet. The Unknown and another pair of Chaney films were all released in a TCM Archives set in R1 several years ago, but I haven’t heard any word on a second volume from Warner Bros.
Monday October 27
12:00 AM Vigil In the Night (Stevens, 1940) – BW-96 mins. – George Stevens produced and directed this drama starring Carole Lombard as a nurse. Strangely, production on the film was apparently delayed while Lombard herself needed medical care in the form of an appendectomy. She stars opposite Brian Aherne and Anne Shirley as her sister, who’s also a nurse. The movie was made for RKO, isn’t on DVD, and its rights are with Warner Bros. in R1.
1:45 AM In Name Only (Cromwell, 1939) – BW-95 mins. – Made just before that last picture, this one has Lombard as a widow who meets and falls for Cary Grant. The only problem is that Grant’s character is already married to the wicked Kay Francis. Absolutely no one is happy with this situation, but I think I can imagine worse scenarios for a guy like Cary Grant to be in. This was another RKO picture, originally intended for Katharine Hepburn instead of Lombard, and it’s not available on DVD in R1. I did find a Spanish release from Manga Films for those desperate (and multiregion) souls who really want a copy.
5:00 AM Street of Women (Mayo, 1932) – BW-59 mins. – Very short pre-Code film starring Kay Francis and featuring Gloria Stuart in her debut. Francis is the mistress of real estate man Roland Young. The funny contrast is with the previous pick, where Francis was the wife who wouldn’t divorce her husband to let the mistress step in. Shoe’s on the other foot here. This was made for Warner Bros., or Vitaphone as it was known then, and isn’t on DVD.
Tuesday October 28
8:00 PM Sunset Blvd. (Wilder, 1950) -BW-110 mins. – Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to write a full (and probably lengthy) review of Billy Wilder’s poison pen letter to Hollywood when a new R1 edition hits stores in Paramount’s freshly created Centennial Collection line. The current disc is cheap and just fine so we’ll have to see how the fancy one compares. If you’d like to give the film a test drive or just see it again, and it may be Wilder’s most watchable, TCM obliges this evening. The channel is actually showing a night full of Wilder in the ’50s, an event that couldn’t go unnoticed around these parts. The excellent documentary/interview session Billy Wilder Speaks starts off just before Sunset and Ace in the Hole, Sabrina (also getting re-released), Witness for the Prosecution, and Some Like It Hot follow. The grotesqueness of Norma Desmond fits nicely this time of year.
Wednesday October 29
9:30 AM Cornered (Dmytryk, 1946) – BW-103 mins. – Canadian noir alert! Our friends to the north get their own brooding, badass noir hero in…Dick Powell? Powell made several noirs, most of which aren’t on DVD. Here he stars as a Canadian pilot who goes back to France after WWII in hopes of finding the people responsible for murdering his wife during the Nazi occupation. The film was made for RKO and isn’t on DVD. Same situation with the following film Till the End of Time (11:15 AM), also directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Dorothy McGuire and Robert Mitchum.
Thursday October 30
6:15 AM Mad Love (Freund, 1935) – BW-68 mins. – Karl Freund was one of the top cinematographers, but his directing career was both short and largely disappointing. He began in Hollywood with The Mummy and ended with this film, which I’d rank even above the former. Peter Lorre plays a (mad) scientist who’s in love with actress Frances Drake. His misguided plan finds him grafting the hands of a murderer onto her husband, a pianist. Very much worth seeing and an essential of ’30s horror. The film was released onto DVD in Warner Bros.’ Legends of Horror collection, but can’t be purchased separately. The disc in that set also has Devil-Doll, an inferior but still not bad picture that will be showing on Halloween. Followed by The Beast with Five Fingers, also with Lorre and also concerning a disembodied hand and a pianist.
8:00 PM Dead of Night (Cavalcanti, Crichton, Dearden, & Hamer, 1945) – BW-103 mins. -This is a horror anthology made at Ealing, with six stories and four directors. I don’t know a lot about it, other than I should probably watch it, but you hear it referenced quite a bit. I seem to especially read discussion of the segment called “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy,” with Michael Redgrave. Anchor Bay has a DVD release in R1 and there’s also something from Optimum in R2.
4:45 AM Spirits of the Dead (Fellini, Malle & Vadim, 1969) – C-121 mins. – This is technically airing on Halloween, and the channel has plenty of the scary sort lined up later on, so I’m allowed to skip over the actual day. Here’s another horror anthology made in Europe. And another one I’ve not seen. These are all based on Poe short stories. I really have no interest in the Vadim segment, but I’d like to see Louis Malle’s and, especially, Fellini’s “Toby Dammit,” starring Terence Stamp. Both Jane and Peter Fonda are in the Vadim one. Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot are in Malle’s. Criterion’s little sister HVE released a DVD in R1 several years ago and Arrow put out an R2 last fall. The problem with the HVE release is that Stamp’s English in “Toby Dammit” was not included. I’m not sure what the status of the R2 or which version TCM will show.
Sunday November 2
4:15 PM The Mortal Storm (Borzage, 1940) – BW-100 mins. – Always worth mentioning as it’s almost certainly James Stewart’s finest film not yet on DVD, this neglected gem was part of a big year for the actor. He starred in Borzage’s war-inflected romance, re-teamed with Margaret Sullavan in the great Lubitsch film The Shop Around the Corner, and turned in an Oscar-winning performance in The Philadelphia Story. All three of those films are currently controlled by Warner Bros., but The Mortal Storm, of course, hasn’t been released for DVD. I think the last time TCM aired it was back in May for Stewart’s centennial birthday, but the film does get shown semi-regularly.
Monday November 3
9:30 AM The Lusty Men (Ray, 1952) – BW-113 mins. – Nicholas Ray is generally underrepresented on DVD in R1, but I don’t believe this title is available anywhere. It should be, and it’s one of Ray’s best. Robert Mitchum stars as a former rodeo champ who teaches Arthur Kennedy how to rope and ride, to the displeasure of wife Susan Hayward. As with many of Ray’s films, the undercurrent transcends the plot. Truffaut dubbed him the “poet of nightfall” and that seems apt for a director who was so interested in the things other films wouldn’t or couldn’t explore. TCM doesn’t air this movie that often (this is the first time in the 14 months I’ve been compiling these picks) and who knows when Warner Bros. will get around to releasing it. Give it a shot.
1:30 PM Middle of the Night (Mann, 1959) – BW-117 mins. – Director Delbert Mann, who won an Oscar for Marty, holds some interest for me. He came from television and struck gold right off the bat in movies. His career doesn’t seem that respected or fondly remembered. Still, there are several movies he made that qualify at least as curiosities. I liked Mister Buddwing despite its flaws. Separate Tables still has some worth. I’d like to see The Bachelor Party, which TCM will also be airing this week. This film, Middle of the Night, also sounds interesting. It was adapted by Paddy Chayefsky from his own play and stars Fredric March as a widower who becomes involved with the younger Kim Novak. Martin Balsam and Lee Grant head the supporting cast. The picture was done by Columbia and isn’t on DVD.
9:30 PM The Barretts of Wimpole Street (Franklin, 1934) – BW-109 mins. – Charles Laughton’s monthlong tribute kicks off tonight. It seems that most of the films being shown are his more popular ones, and obviously things TCM was able to license for air. As such, no Ruggles of Red Gap. Even Hobson’s Choice is missing. We do get this drama about the married poets Elizabeth Barrett (Norma Shearer) and Robert Browning (Fredric March), with Laughton and Maureen O’Sullivan playing the Barretts. Airing before and after this film are Alexander Korda’s Rembrandt and The Private Life of Henry VIII, both out of print in R1. The Barretts of Wimpole Street was also remade by the same director, Sidney Franklin, in 1957. Both versions were done for MGM and are now controlled by Warner Bros. Neither is available on DVD.
Tuesday November 4 - Vote!
10:45 AM Arena (Fleischer, 1953) -C-71 mins. – Strange that TCM is showing rodeo movies in back-to-back days. The even odder thing about this movie is that it was originally presented in 3-D. I’m sure that seemed like a good idea at the time, but I don’t know how it might affect a television viewing. Richard Fleischer’s name on a picture this decade always grabs my attention so let’s see if the film survives without its gimmick. The plot involves Gig Young dealing with his disintegrating marriage to Polly Bergen while trying to participate in a rodeo. Harry Morgan plays a rodeo clown and Jean Hagen is his wife. IMDb has the film running 83 minutes, but the TCM site indicates just 71 and the time slot is only 75 minutes. It was made for MGM and isn’t on DVD.
Wednesday November 5
6:00 AM The Bachelor Party (Mann, 1957) – BW-94 mins. – Not related to the early Tom Hanks movie, this adaptation (by Paddy Chayefsky and from his own play, just like on Middle of the Night) concerns five co-workers who celebrate one’s impending marriage. Don Murray, Jack Warden, and E.G. Marshall are among the men. Before she was Morticia Addams, Carolyn Jones earned an Oscar nomination in the supporting category for her turn here. I’ve wanted to see this film for several years so it’s nice to see it pop up on the schedule. United Artists was the original distributor, giving MGM current rights, but it’s unreleased on DVD.
4:00 AM A Yank at Oxford (Conway, 1938) – BW-102 mins. – Starring Robert Taylor as an American student who transfers to Oxford University in England and – shock – doesn’t fit in. He’s cocky and brash and probably tends to leave u’s out of words. I’m not too big on Taylor (and why can’t Americans be portrayed as polite and unassuming?), but the presence of Vivien Leigh in a supporting role, just a year before the release of Gone With the Wind, does seem intriguing. Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O’Sullivan, and Edmund Gwenn all co-star. Originally for MGM, Warner Bros. now has DVD rights, but nothing so far.
Thursday November 6
11:30 PM Body and Soul (Rossen, 1947) – BW-106 mins. – It’s Abraham Polonsky night on TCM. The blacklisted writer and director is little known outside the world of classic film enthusiasts, but he’s quite revered within it. A pair of films he directed – Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here and Force of Evil – start off the evening and both are highly recommended. I figured I’d mentioned this boxing drama starring John Garfield before, but apparently not. It was directed by Robert Rossen, who also made All the King’s Men and The Hustler, and is a filmmaker I think deserves more appreciation despite making just 10 features over 17 years. Both Polonsky’s screenplay and Garfield snagged Oscar nods for the film, each losing. Polonsky was up against the original screenplays for the Italian Neorealist classic Shoeshine, Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux, Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon for A Double Life, and the holycowhowisthatpossible victor, Sidney Sheldon for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. It’s also important to mention how entwined Body and Soul was with the blacklist, with many, many of the people involved doomed to the wrath of HUAC. The film itself, about a fighter who works his way up to support his mother but finds himself on gangsters’ radar, remains powerful despite having lost some of its originality over the decades. There’s a DVD release through Artisan in R1, but I think Lionsgate now has the rights as the film should be part of the Republic Pictures library.
Friday November 7
8:00 PM TCM Presents Elvis Mitchell Under the Influence: Ed Norton (2008) – C-26 mins. – The return of Elvis Mitchell’s half-hour interview show (and not an exploration in substance abuse) deserves mention. I think the general consensus is that Norton has hit a rough patch artistically in his career after a promising start, but not every choice can be a winner and he’s still turned in some fine work that hasn’t gotten the appreciation it deserves. I’d really like for him to get his adaptation of Motherless Brooklyn, an excellent noirish novel written by Jonathan Lethem about a protagonist with Tourette syndrome, on track and rolling. He’s also a smart guy so maybe he’ll have some interesting things to say this evening.
3:30 AM Psych-Out (Rush, 1968) – C-101 mins. – Part of TCM Underground for the week, and airing just after The Trip, this film stars Susan Strasberg as a deaf girl who runs away from home and into psychedelic San Francisco while looking for her missing brother, played by Bruce Dern. Other cast members of note include Dean Stockwell and Jack Nicholson. The Strawberry Alarm Clock sing “Incense and Peppermints” and Jimi Hendrix also makes an appearance. Improbably, Dick Clark co-produced the film and Laslo Kovacs (who shot Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Paper Moon, and Shampoo) was the cinematographer. What happened to director Richard Rush? He made several low-budget films in the ’60s, Getting Straight (which needs to be on DVD) in 1970, Freebie and the Bean in ‘74, then his most famous movie The Stunt Man in 1980. Since then, he’s only done one movie and it was the notoriously terrible Bruce Willis erotic thriller Color of Night in 1994. A quick glance, but it seems like a career lost, at least from the viewer’s standpoint. Back to Psych-Out – there’s a DVD in R1 from MGM that combines both it and The Trip in a double feature, but the disc seems to be out of print. It’s available in R2 (quite cheaply right now).
Saturday November 8
9:30 PM The Enchanted Cottage (Cromwell, 1945) – BW-92 mins. – Homely girl played by Dorothy McGuire and scarred soldier played by Robert Young meet, see through each’s physical flaws and fall in love. The great Herbert Marshall provides support as a blind neighbor. Solid behind-the-scenes talent also, with Herman Mankiewicz co-writing the script, Ted Tetzlaff lensing the picture, and Roy Webb earning his last Oscar nomination for the score. Made for RKO, it’s not yet available on DVD.
12:45 AM I Want You (Robson, 1951) – BW-102 mins. – Dorothy McGuire actually appears in all the films on tonight’s schedule. This particular movie looks at the Korean War’s effect on small town America, and seems an obvious follow-up to The Best Years of Our Lives. Even that film’s star Dana Andrews is the male lead here, married to McGuire and dealing with the possibility of returning to the front lines just a few years after WWII. Farley Granger plays Andrews’ younger brother and Peggy Dow, in her last film, is his girlfriend. The script was written by Irwin Shaw, the novelist who also wrote Rich Man, Poor Man, The Young Lions, and Two Weeks in Another Town. Samuel Goldwyn produced the film, and it’s not on DVD. I believe that the Goldwyn library now sits with MGM, at least in R1.
Monday November 10
8:00 PM Stand by for Action (Leonard, 1942) – BW-109 mins. – TCM’s salute to Charles Laughton continues this evening with a WWII film starring Robert Taylor as an officer deployed to a relic of a ship left over from WWI. Brian Donlevy is the ship’s skipper and Laughton is a rear admiral. Also with Walter Brennan and Marilyn Maxwell in her screen debut, the film was made for MGM and is not available on DVD.
Tuesday November 11
8:00 PM Warner at War (2008) -BW-47 mins. – A new documentary that will also be on the Warner Homefront Collection set. TCM says it will highlight “Warner Bros. contribution to the war effort.” Should be worth checking out. Two of the films in that set, This Is the Army and Hollywood Canteen, immediately follow.
Wednesday November 12
6:30 AM Stamboul Quest (Wood, 1934) – BW-86 mins. – Co-written by Herman Mankiewicz and with cinematography from James Wong Howe, the film stars Myrna Loy as a WWI-era spy who involves herself with an American medical student played by George Brent. If you like classic movies shouldn’t those bits of information be enough to recommend? Not according to the featured review at IMDb. Of course, some people don’t seem to understand that lots of folks actually enjoy watching films from the ’30s and ’40s that are capably made and with stars they like, that that experience in itself is worth recommending. Well, maybe not at 6:30 in the morning, but that’s what recording devices are for. Stamboul Quest isn’t on DVD (and doesn’t deserve to be according to reviewer extraordinaire jaykay-10). It was made for MGM and Warner Bros. should control the film’s rights.
8:00 AM Espionage Agent (Bacon, 1939) – BW-83 mins. – I guess it’s spy day at TCM, maybe in subtle celebration of the new James Bond movie. Joel McCrea stars here as a man who marries the wrong woman in Brenda Marshall (how could he go wrong, you ask). Despite her past, they team up to stop the Nazis from clandestinely infiltrating the U.S. via a network of spies. Exciting. Made for Warner Bros., the film isn’t on DVD.
4:30 PM Nazi Agent (Dassin, 1942) – BW-84 mins. – I believe this was Jules Dassin’s first feature film (he had three released in 1942 so either Reunion in France or The Affairs of Martha could’ve actually been made earlier). Only the John Wayne-Joan Crawford (unlikely pairing) film Reunion in France is available on DVD of Dassin’s early MGM efforts. I revere Dassin and can’t wait for TCM to show a day’s worth of his film’s in December including the rare Phaedra, but I’ve always held off watching the MGM pictures almost out of respect of the director. He always said he didn’t like them so I figured that was that. But curiosity has gotten the better of me and I want to know if there’s any thread in these films that can be traced to his later great ones. I’ll start here with this drama starring Conrad Veidt in a dual role as both an Allied sympathizer and his twin brother who’s a Nazi spy.
Thursday November 13
1:00 AM Nana (Arzner, Fitzmaurice, 1934) – BW-90 mins. – A notorious flop for Samuel Goldwyn, who brought over Anne Sten from Russia to star in the hopes of having his very own Garbo or Dietrich. The film, based on Emile Zola’s novel about a streetwalker who becomes a sensation on stage and romances a pair of brothers off it, started with director George Fitzmaurice, later fired, and finished with Dorothy Arzner at the helm. It would also be condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency. I don’t believe there’s a DVD available, and MGM should hold the rights.
Friday November 14
12:30 PM The Hairy Ape (Santell, 1944) – BW-91 mins. – Susan Hayward calls William Bendix’s ship stoker the title insult and he doesn’t care for her tone. From Eugene O’Neill’s play, the film lets Bendix break free into extreme masculine aggression while Hayward holds her nose. There’s a DVD on Amazon from Reel Enterprises, but it’s an on-demand DVD-R type of deal. I’m not sure if the movie is in the public domain, but probably so if a little-known company can burn copies to sell as necessary. IMDb lists United Artists as a distributor, though.
8:00 PM TCM Presents Elvis Mitchell Under the Influence: Joan Allen (2008) – C-26 mins. – One of my favorite actresses working today, and someone who simply exudes intelligence in her most interesting roles (of which there are many), Joan Allen stops by TCM’s laid-back interview show. I like the approach Elvis Mitchell takes to questioning and the people he’s chosen to talk with, but I do wish the program was on longer. It could be twice as long and still hold my interest entirely.
Saturday November 15
10:00 PM Big House, U.S.A. (Koch, 1955) – BW-83 mins. – TCM is giving the night to Ralph Meeker – can you believe it? It’s a shame that he didn’t get more roles like Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly (airing immediately afterwards at 11:30 PM). The night begins with another excellent Meeker film and performance in Paths of Glory and winds its way through several titles not yet on DVD. One of which is this very tough movie centered around escaped convicts. Joining Meeker is a cast full of rough and tumbles that’s headed by Broderick Crawford and includes Charles Bronson, William Talman, and Lon Chaney, Jr. Also with Reed Hadley and Felicia Farr, the film was released theatrically by United Artists, likely giving MGM the DVD rights.
1:30 AM Glory Alley (Walsh, 1952) – BW-79 mins. – More Meeker, this time directed by Raoul Walsh and set in New Orleans. Meeker plays a fighter named Socks and Leslie Caron is his dancer girlfriend. Louis Armstrong also appears and, as usual, performs a few songs. It was made for MGM and isn’t on DVD, but Warner Bros. should now control. A final Meeker film, Desert Sands, follows at 3:00 AM.
Monday November 17
4:15 PM Fighter Squadron (Walsh, 1948) – C-95 mins. – Another Raoul Walsh picture, in Technicolor no less. The aviation drama stars Edmond O’Brien as a WWII pilot who’s grooming fellow flyer Robert Stack. More interesting is that Walsh gave his ex-chauffeur his screen debut with a single line. Rock Hudson would go on to bigger and better roles, but it all started with this film. Made for Warner Bros., there’s no DVD yet.
8:00 PM Payment Deferred (Mendes, 1932) – BW-81 mins. – I love the name of this one. It’s politely forceful. Charles Laughton stars as a London bank clerk who commits a cyanide murder and has his fortunes turn. You’ll recognize the victim. Maureen O’Sullivan co-stars as Laughton’s daughter. A British production, but made for MGM. Warner Bros. now has it, and the film isn’t on DVD.
12:45 AM The Canterville Ghost (Dassin, 1944) – BW-96 mins. – Jules Dassin is back on the schedule this week. I highlighted this movie once before, in a tribute to child star Margaret O’Brien, but it was mysteriously yanked before air. I guess it’s safe this time, but who knows. Laughton stars in an adaptation of an Oscar Wilde short story. He’s the ghost who warmly haunts his former castle while American soldiers occupy the home. Robert Young and Reginald Owen also star in the film, which was made for MGM and hasn’t seen a DVD release from Warner Brothers.
Wednesday November 19
9:45 PM Sunrise (Murnau, 1927) – BW-94 mins. – Often considered the greatest of all silent films, F.W. Murnau’s love story made for Fox still doesn’t have a purchasable individual release in R1. You can pick it up a few different ways, including the excellent Masters of Cinema release from the UK and the upcoming Murnau and Borzage set. Or you could enjoy it this evening on TCM as part of a Janet Gaynor night.
4:45 AM The Spider and the Fly (Hamer, 1949) – - BW-92 mins. – This sounds right up my alley. Director Robert Hamer, best known for his Ealing films like Kind Hearts and Coronets and It Always Rains on Sunday, helms this crime drama set at the start of World War I. The cast of characters is made up by Eric Portman as a French detective, Guy Rolfe as a master thief who works for the good guys to spy on Germans, and Nadia Gray as the woman stuck between the two men. It looks like Universal originally released the film in the U.S. so that studio may still own it, but I’m not sure. It’s not on R1 DVD and only a VHS turned up when searching at Amazon UK so it seems to be unavailable everywhere.
Thursday November 20
8:45 AM Whipsaw (Wood, 1935) – BW-82 mins. – Spencer Tracy stars as a government agent who falls for a jewel thief played by Myrna Loy. And who could blame him. Stolen jewels seem so much less important when Myrna Loy’s involved. James Wong Howe did the cinematography and Sam Wood directed. It was made for MGM and isn’t on DVD.
Friday November 14
6:00 PM Lady of Vengeance (Balaban, 1957) – BW-75 mins. – Here’s a rarity it seems. IMDb doesn’t even list a rating because it doesn’t have five votes. The film stars Dennis O’Keefe (of Anthony Mann’s T-Men and Raw Deal) and the plot synopsis at the TCM site reads “[w]hen he hires a killer to avenge an innocent girl’s death, a man gets caught up in a string of killings.” O’Keefe is presumably the man who hires the killer? Director Burt Balaban only made a few movies, including a co-credit on Murder, Inc., and died at the age of 43. United Artists was the original distributor on this film so MGM probably has the DVD rights, though it’s unreleased.
11:15 PM They Made Me a Criminal (Berkeley, 1939) – BW-92 mins. – TCM is also showing an episode of Elvis Mitchell’s celebrity sit-down show with John Leguizamo as the guest. I don’t really have much interest in Leguizamo except that he apparently discusses John Garfield since the channel is airing this film and their 2003 documentary on the actor’s life. Garfield is always watchable and interesting and here he starred for Busby Berkeley in his first lead role, as a boxer who thinks he killed a man while he was drunk. Claude Rains and Ann Sheridan appear in support, as do the (annoying) Dead End Kids. The film was made for Warner Bros., but somehow entered in the public domain and can only be found on DVD in cheap releases like one by Alpha Video.
Sunday November 30
10:00 AM Twentieth Century (Hawks, 1934) – BW-91 mins. – I’ve gotten on a Carole Lombard kick lately and regret not watching or recording all, instead of just some, of the films TCM showed in October that aren’t available on DVD. Twentieth Century is actually both on DVD, unimpressively and from Sony in R1, and a film I’ve seen before. It’s the movie that really made Lombard a star, and she more than holds her own against John Barrymore’s relentless (and fun) hamming. Plus this is more evidence that Howard Hawks could direct most any kind of picture and make it his own.
8:00 PM The Runaway (Guzman, 1962) – BW-85 mins. – The monthly TCM guide informs me that this story of a delinquent Mexican boy who sneaks across into the U.S. and befriends a priest played by Cesar Romero was never released due to rights issues. It’s not been seen until now and isn’t on DVD. Anita Page, celebrated later in the week by the channel, plays a nun. Also of note, one of the cinematographers was Haskell Wexler, whose Oscar-winning work on Bound for Glory can be viewed immediately afterwards, at 9:30 PM.
Monday December 1
10:00 PM The Parallax View (Pakula, 1974) – C-102 mins. – One of the great conspiracy paranoia thrillers of the ’70s, possibly even the best, and it’s nearly impossible to find on DVD now. Warren Beatty appropriately sleepwalks through his starring role as a reporter who discovers something that runs deeper than anyone could possibly imagine. The montage sequence in this film is truly terrifying and brought to full life by having the viewer see it just as if he or she was the one being indoctrinated. A great counterpoint to the excessiveness of A Clockwork Orange in that sense. Four of director Alan J. Pakula’s films air tonight, starting with The Sterile Cuckoo which has never been on DVD. I’d like to see Warner Bros. dust up Klute, not on the schedule tonight, for a better edition too.
Tuesday December 2
6:30 AM Our Dancing Daughters (Beaumont, 1928) – BW-84 mins. – TCM is devoting the day to Anita Page, who died in September of this year (98 years old!). All three of the films listed here for today feature Page and there are several others, including the similarly titled Our Modern Maidens and Our Blushing Brides, that also show up on the schedule. Joan Crawford is the star and this film elevated her status even further. It’s a silent but also sort of a musical, which makes no sense on its face. Crawford and Page and Dorothy Sebastian are dancers looking to rope in husbands, including Johnny Mack Brown. The film received Oscar nominations for its cinematography and writing. Warner Bros. now controls the rights, but no DVD yet.
3:00 PM Gentleman’s Fate (LeRoy, 1931) – BW-93 mins. – A rare John Gilbert talking picture, again with Page in support. Both of the reviews at IMDb complain about how poor the film is, but it does have an 8.0 rating on that site. Gilbert plays an estranged son who takes over his dying father’s bootlegging business and ends up the worse for wear. Mervyn LeRoy directed this the same year he did Little Caesar. Made for MGM, Gentleman’s Fate is in Warner Bros.’ hands and hasn’t seen a DVD release.
4:45 PM Sidewalks of New York (Myers, White, 1931) – BW-74 mins. – Find out why Buster Keaton’s career died with the advent of sound by seeing the kind of thing he got forced into at MGM. He stars here in a gangster comedy that apparently did pretty good business at the time of its release. Anita Page co-stars. It’s not on DVD.
Wednesday December 3
12:00 AM Drums (Korda, 1938) – C (listed as BW at TCM site)-93 mins. – Valerie Hobson night at TCM. She’s not the star of this one, though, which is also known as The Drum. Sabu leads the cast as an Indian prince loyal to the British amid revolt. Raymond Massey and Roger Livesey add solid support. Made by Zoltan Korda for his brother Alexander’s company, but distributed in the U.S. by United Artists. Where does that put the DVD rights? Did Criterion acquire this title with the other Korda films they have? It’s not on DVD here or in the UK.
Thursday December 4
6:30 PM The Tall Stranger (Carr, 1957) – C-83 mins. – It could be my imagination, but TCM seems to be showing this western every other week lately. I was left with no other choice than to include it here. Joel McCrea stars in one of his later roles, in a story by Louis L’Amour. McCrea encounters rustlers who then shoot and leave him for dead. After a wagon train comes along and nurses McCrea back to health, he joins up with them but becomes suspicious of their intentions. Virginia Mayo is the female lead. Made on the cheap for Allied Artists, and now controlled by Warner Bros., the film isn’t on DVD.
Friday December 5
2:00 AM All Night Long (Dearden, 1961) – BW-95 mins. – A jazz version of Othello? I’ll take it! Starring Patrick McGoohan, who really impresses in the newly released Dr. Syn set from Disney, and also with Betsy Blair and Richard Attenborough, this film features several big time jazz performers as themselves, including Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus. English director Basil Dearden had just made Victim and took on the odd challenge of transforming Shakespeare’s tragedy about intimate jealousy into the world of jazz. Blacklisted writer Paul Jarrico was later given co-credit for the screenplay. The film was made by the Rank Organisation, and isn’t on DVD in R1. It’s out in the UK though, currently from Network. There seems to also be a German release.
3:45 AM The Knack…And How to Get It (Lester, 1965) – BW-85 mins. – In a similar vein is this British rock and roll classic, which is on DVD in R1 and R2 from MGM. Richard Lester made the film right after A Hard Day’s Night and it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. The plot is most certainly not the thing, but it involves a shy fellow’s pursuit of a girl with the help of a lady killer. It’s an essential for anyone interested in Lester’s odd career.
Saturday December 6
8:00 AM Crime Doctor (Gordon, 1943) – BW-66 mins. – The first part of a crime serial where the protagonist is both an amnesia victim who became a psychologist and a former criminal. Warner Baxter takes on the lead role. TCM is starting to show these two at a time every Saturday of the month. They were originally released by Columbia and Sony has, predictably, not touched them for DVD. IMDb lists a company called Teakwood Video as a distributor, but I found nothing in the way of a release for these films or even a website for Teakwood.
6:00 PM No Way Out (Mankiewicz, 1950) – BW-107 mins. – Dated treatment of racism, but nonetheless contains a searing performance from Richard Widmark. It was also Sidney Poitier’s debut (not counting a bit part earlier), playing a young doctor forced to treat racist criminal Widmark and his wounded brother. Joseph L. Mankiewicz had much more success with his second film of 1950, All About Eve, but No Way Out is worth watching as well. I’m surprised to see it on the TCM schedule since it was made by Fox, which released the film on R1 DVD in its Film Noir line. This isn’t really noir, though.
2:45 AM It Had to Be You (Hartman, Maté, 1947) – BW-98 mins. – Directing duties are credited to Don Hartman, who also produced the film and wrote the story plus directed Holiday Affair, and Rudolph Maté, who had been the cinematographer for Dreyer on Vampyr and The Passion of Joan of Arc. This was Maté’s first directing credit, and he also did at least part of the photography here, but he seems an odd choice to work on a romantic comedy starring Ginger Rogers. The plot involves Ginger as a runaway bride who’s gotten cold feet four times before meeting Cornel Wilde. The film isn’t on DVD in R1, but can be found in the UK’s R2 Ginger Rogers set. Lots of fun Ginger movies air prior to this one, including Rafter Romance (10:00 PM) which comes out this week on DVD exclusively through TCM’s website and the very funny and charming Bachelor Mother (1:15 AM), still missing from R1 but also in that R2 set (very cheap right now).
Sunday December 7
2:15 AM The Cat and the Canary (Leni, 1927) – BW-80 mins. – Definitely one that should be watched by any silent film enthusiast, though I’m shamed to admit I’ve never seen it or Leni’s other heavy hitter The Man Who Laughs. Laura La Plante stars as a potential heiress tested by a supposedly haunted old mansion. Though the horror-comedy was made for Universal, the film has, I believe, entered the public domain. Image’s DVD is the most notable in R1. It is, however, tinted and I’ve read that TCM sometimes shows the actual black and white version.
Monday December 8
9:15 AM I Am the Law (Hall, 1938) – BW-83 mins. – Edward G. Robinson is a law professor who becomes a special prosecutor to bring down racketeers. Jo Swerling wrote the screenplay and Alexander Hall directs. The picture was made at Columbia, which seems like an odd place for Robinson to have been in the ’30s. It’s not on DVD, but, oddly enough, IMDb lists Teakwood Video as a distributor just like with Columbia’s Crime Doctor that I mentioned above.
3:45 PM The Blonde from Brooklyn (Lord, 1945) – BW-65 mins. – For some reason, TCM decided to slot seven consecutive films with the word “Brooklyn” in the title this afternoon. Of those, only It Happened in Brooklyn, starring Frank Sinatra and featuring Gloria Grahame in uniform, seems to be on DVD. The others are mostly under the radar things like this. When doing some basic research on the film in question here, I noticed that one of the characters was Hubert Farnsworth, an uncommon name if ever there was one but recognizable to fans of Futurama. I then read that the Futurama character was supposedly named after Philo Farnsworth, who invented cathode ray tubes for television, but it seems like a heavy coincidence. The film itself is a comedy with music about the title character pretending to be from the south to get a radio job, presumably singing. It was made for Columbia, but I can’t imagine a scenario where there would ever be a DVD release.
Tuesday December 9
6:00 PM Two Weeks in Another Town (Minnelli, 1962) – C-107 mins. – Kirk Douglas turns 92 years old today so happy birthday to him. TCM is airing several of Douglas’ films today, including Ace in the Hole and his collaborations with Vincente Minnelli. The Bad and the Beautiful is flawed, but I still like it and its success probably lead to the making of this similar picture. Kirk is back as a director looking for a comeback, this time with Cyd Charisse and Edward G. Robinson in support. The other town of the title is Rome. The film was made for MGM. It should now be with Warner Bros., but hasn’t been released for DVD.
Wednesday December 10
7:30 AM The Curse of the Cat People (Wise, 1944) – BW-70 mins. – A strange sequel/non-sequel that just feels appropriate this time of year. Though the title and presence of some of the same characters seem more intended to capitalize on the success of Jacques Tourneur’s RKO film from a couple of years earlier than add anything further to the original, the otherworldly atmosphere native to producer Val Lewton’s films exists in both movies. The first Cat People is much more concerned with dread and creepiness while Wise’s film (started by Gunther von Fritsch) seems altogether fantastic in its exploration of a young girl’s “imagination.” The two films are paired together on a single DVD that’s available both separately and as part of Warner Bros.’ essential Lewton box.
8:00 PM The Naked City (Dassin, 1948) – BW-98 mins. – Sin City creator and director of the upcoming film The Spirit Frank Miller is guest programmer this evening. I can’t say I’m a fan of the graphic novel genre, but I still expected big things from Miller’s choices. Instead, we have High Noon, The Bishop’s Wife, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and this. Good films all, but not terribly interesting. I particularly like Pelham and wish there was an anamorphic DVD available. The Dassin film, however, is only on DVD from Criterion, in an expensive edition with so-so extras and using a print that’s imperfect. Further revealing my cards here, I also think The Naked City is the least of the five Dassin films Criterion has put out, but that’s more to do with the performances and a few other small complaints than anything. At times, the movie seems to owe more to producer Mark Hellinger than its director. The finale is still riveting and the on-set locations of New York City are entirely fascinating. It’s a first-rate procedural, just missing some of Dassin’s grit he’d show in those other four films.
Thursday December 11
3:30 AM A Global Affair (Arnold, 1964) – BW-84 mins. – Bob Hope stars as a guy working for the United Nations who tries to find the mother of an abandoned baby. Yvonne De Carlo, just a couple of years before slathering on the makeup as Lily Munster and several more removed from Criss Cross, adds support. I was excited to see that the film was apparently shot in the 2.00:1 aspect ratio (because I like the combination of black and white and a very wide screen), but the TCM site doesn’t indicate letterboxing. The movie should now be a Warner Bros. title since it was made for MGM. No DVD yet.
Saturday December 13
6:00 PM Remember the Night (Leisen, 1940) – BW-94 mins. – It’s been two years now since TCM last (and first) aired this overlooked comedy romance set during Christmas. Fred MacMurray is a New York district attorney prosecuting Barbara Stanwyck on Christmas Eve for shoplifting, but he ends up taking her home to his mother’s house in Indiana for the holiday. In his last time writing without also directing, Preston Sturges wrote the script, but was unhappy with Leisen’s handling of the material. Nonetheless, I think it’s a very good balance of sentimentality, romance and humor, but certainly less in line with Sturges’ movies than Leisen’s. As opposed to their other pairing Easy Living, Remember the Night seems to find itself instead of attempting to merge the two men’s differing styles. The film was made for Paramount, and is unreleased by rightsholder Universal. TCM will be showing it again both on Christmas Eve night and Christmas morning, but I wouldn’t count on any more airings for a little while.
10:00 PM Count Three and Pray (Sherman, 1955) – C-102 mins. – After featuring Ralph Meeker a couple of weeks ago on Saturday night, TCM now has a run of Van Heflin movies. The channel has even resisted the urge to air Shane. Instead, this lesser known western made the schedule. It stars Heflin as a man with a past who becomes a preacher after the Civil War. Joanne Woodward is the female lead and this was her film debut. Raymond Burr also co-stars. A Columbia picture, it’s not on DVD. Heflin’s Oscar-winning role in Johnny Eager, also absent from DVD, follows at midnight.
4:00 AM Patterns (Cook, 1956) – BW-84 mins. – TCM also pulled this film out a few weeks ago, but I don’t think I realized the source material was an Emmy-winning teleplay by Rod Serling, who received sole writing credit on the film. Van Heflin stars as a number two man of a large corporation brought in as a replacement for the outgoing executive (Ed Begley). Everett Sloane and Beatrice Straight, twenty years before Network, are among the supporting cast. United Artists is listed as the original distributor, but public domain specialist Roan has a DVD available even with a few special features.
Sunday December 14
7:00 PM The Age of Believing: The Disney Live Action Classics (2008) – C/BW-60 mins. – You may have noticed that TCM has been using Sundays in December to show Disney family-friendly movies like The Absent Minded Professor and many others. To coincide with that I guess, this new documentary premieres tonight and will air again on the 21st and 28th of the month. It’s supposed to feature interviews with several of the actors from those pictures.
Monday December 15
9:00 AM The Fuller Brush Girl (Bacon, 1950) – BW-84 mins. – A starring role for Lucille Ball, and without Desi Arnaz. Frank Tashlin wrote the script for this gag-heavy comedy about the lady of the title who becomes a door-to-door saleswoman and finds herself inside a murder investigation, with the victim being a customer. Eddie Albert plays Lucy’s main squeeze. Tashlin had also written the screenplay (though not the story) for Columbia’s The Fuller Brush Man from two years earlier and starring Red Skelton. The plots sound very similar, but I’ll take Lucy over Red any day. Both were made for Columbia, and haven’t been released on DVD.
Tuesday December 16
9:30 AM Billy the Kid (Miller, 1941) – C-94 mins. – With direction credited to David Miller, who later made Sudden Fear and Lonely Are the Brave, and uncredited work from Frank Borzage, this movie preceded Hughes’ The Outlaw by a couple of years and starred Robert Taylor as the infamous gunfighter. Brian Donlevy has the Pat Garrett role, instead called Sherwood here. The film earned an Oscar nomination for its color cinematography. It was made for MGM, but rights should sit with Warner Bros. now. No DVD yet.
2:00 AM The Man with a Cloak (Markle, 1951) – BW-81 mins. – Joseph Cotten is the star of the month for December, but TCM has been stuck on airing his most popular roles and ones mostly on DVD. Tonight we get a couple of the more interesting variety, including this film where he co-stars with Barbara Stanwyck. The plot is set in the mid-nineteenth century and has a young Leslie Caron journey to New York City from France to see her boyfriend’s grandfather. Cotten swoops in to help her from the housekeeper who has eyes on the grandfather’s fortune. The character Cotten plays is named Dupin, just like Edgar Allen Poe’s detective hero from stories of the same time period. Coincidence? Find out for yourself. MGM originally released The Man with a Cloak, and Warner Bros. is yet to put it out on DVD.
3:30 AM The Killer Is Loose (Boetticher, 1956) – BW-73 mins. – Made by Budd Boetticher just before starting his Randolph Scott westerns, this noir once again stars Joseph Cotten, who plays a police detective. Cotten’s character accidentally shoots the wife of a bank robber (Wendell Corey) and he vows revenge after being released from prison. Also with Rhonda Fleming, the film was released by United Artists and is not on DVD. MGM should now control it.
Thursday December 18
12:00 PM Phaedra (Dassin, 1962) – BW-116 mins. – The incomparable Jules Dassin, who passed away earlier this year, would’ve celebrated his 97th birthday today. In honor of him, TCM is airing five consecutive films he directed. The rarity is this one, which is not on DVD (at least in R1 or any edition I’m aware of) and was made right after the big international success Never on Sunday. Like that film, this one stars Dassin’s (then-future) wife Melina Mercouri and is set in Greece. It’s a retelling of a Greek myth where a tycoon marries a woman and she begins an affair with his son (played by Anthony Perkins). Mercouri picked up Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for her role and the film also earned a BAFTA nod. I really have no idea who has the DVD rights to this one, but unless Criterion is interested and releases it I wouldn’t expect anything.
11:45 PM Model Shop (Demy, 1969) – C-97 mins. – Another surprise on the schedule. French director Jacques Demy, known for making The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, followed up The Young Girls of Rochefort by tackling an English language film starring Anouk Aimee and Gary Lockwood. TCM is using the common theme of “A Day in the Life” to link tonight’s films so that should give everyone an idea of what to expect here. The film is set in Los Angeles and has Lockwood pursuing model Aimee. Interestingly, a pre-stardom Harrison Ford was apparently who Demy wanted to cast in the lead, but the studio balked. Studio in question is/was Columbia and Sony hasn’t yet put the film out on DVD. I believe I read there was a release in France just this year.
Sunday December 28
1:15 AM The Blot (Weber, 1921) – BW-91 mins. – Lois Weber, credited as the first woman to direct a feature film for 1914’s The Merchant of Venice, also co-wrote this silent about social and economic disparities among classes. A professor struggles to make ends meet for his family as their neighbors live it up in style. A young Louis Calhern plays one of the professor’s daughter’s suitors. The film is available on DVD from Milestone, apparently with an audio commentary.
4:30 AM A Thousand Clowns (Coe, 1965) – BW-118 mins. – TCM does air this quite a bit, but it’s surprisingly not on DVD. Martin Balsam won an Academy Award for playing Jason Robards’ brother. Robards has the lead role and is an unconventional caretaker to his 12-year-old nephew. The screenplay was adapted by Herb Gardner from his stage play. It was also nominated for an Oscar, as was the entire film as the best of the year. Yet, no DVD in R1. Whose fault is it? MGM, I’d imagine, since United Artists originally released the picture.
Tuesday December 30
2:45 PM Don’t Make Waves (Mackendrick, 1967) – C-97 mins. – All Alexander Mackendrick fans take note of this airing. Mackendrick, who directed Ealing classics like The Man in the White Suit before hitting Hollywood with Sweet Smell of Success, didn’t bother trying to make any more films after this Tony Curtis-starrer crashed. He instead settled into teaching at the California Institute of the Arts. This re-teaming with Curtis after Sweet Smell was not well received but may seem more interesting now. Curtis’ New Yorker finds Los Angeles to be warm and inviting, complete with lovely ladies Claudia Cardinale and Sharon Tate. It’s not on DVD, and was made by MGM. Warner Bros. should have the rights.