Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Falcon's Adventure (1946)

Tonight I watched the 13th and final RKO FALCON film, THE FALCON'S ADVENTURE (1946), and I have to say I was quite sorry to see this congenial movie series come to an end. At least I still have the Saint and Boston Blackie!

This time around Tom Lawrence, aka the Falcon (Tom Conway), and righthand man Goldie (Edward Brophy) come to the rescue of Louisa Braganza. Louisa falls prey to kidnappers who want her uncle's formula for creating industrial diamonds.

THE FALCON'S ADVENTURE is one of the less scintillating entries in the series, but it's still a pleasant 61 minutes. The good cast includes a small role as a cop for Jason Robards Sr., who has such a distinctive voice; Ian Wolfe as an elderly man caught up in the intrigue (Wolfe was only about 50 but began playing old men at a young age!); and Myrna Dell and Steve Brodie among the bad guys.

The other night I said I felt like this was "the year of Steve Brodie" because he is turning up so frequently in my viewing. Here he was again tonight! A glance at his nearly 170 screen credits reveals I've seen a majority of his films of the '40s, in particular, and most of his '40s titles which I've not yet seen are in my collection.

Although THE FALCON'S ADVENTURE concluded RKO's long-running series starring George Sanders or his brother Tom Conway, technically there were three additional Falcon films. John Calvert played a new character named Michael Waring in movies released by an independent production company in 1948 and 1949.

There was also a 1954-56 TV series with the Mike Waring character which starred Charles McGraw, which is rather fascinating as the rough-hewn McGraw is so different from the urbane Sanders and Conway.

THE FALCON'S ADVENTURE runs 61 minutes. It was directed by William Berke.

This film is available on DVD in a very nice print in the Warner Archive's The Falcon Mystery Movie Collection, Vol. 2. I highly recommend both volumes as solid, well-crafted entertainment. I find that one of these short mysteries, which typically run about an hour, can be just the ticket for late-evening viewing when there's not time to dig into a longer or weightier film, and they often have very interesting casts. The leading ladies of the Falcon series include Barbara Hale, Jane Greer, Harriet Hilliard (Nelson), Wendy Barrie, and Jane Randolph (CAT PEOPLE).

THE FALCON'S ADVENTURE has also had a release on Region 2 DVD in Europe.

Reviews of the earlier films in the series: THE GAY FALCON (1941), A DATE WITH THE FALCON (1942), THE FALCON TAKES OVER (1942), THE FALCON'S BROTHER (1942), THE FALCON STRIKES BACK (1943), THE FALCON IN DANGER (1943), THE FALCON AND THE CO-EDS (1943), THE FALCON OUT WEST (1944), THE FALCON IN MEXICO (1944), THE FALCON IN HOLLYWOOD (1944), THE FALCON IN SAN FRANCISCO (1945), and THE FALCON'S ALIBI (1946).

In Disney News...

It's time for the April Disney News roundup!

...Earlier this week D23 released the cover of its upcoming Summer 2014 issue, featuring Angelina Jolie as MALEFICENT (2014). More details on the issue will be released soon.

...The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco hosts the exhibit Magic, Color, Flair: The Art of Mary Blair through September 7, 2014. Photos can be seen at MiceChat, and the San Francisco Chronicle ran an article on Blair and the exhibit. A related book by exhibit curator and animation historian John Canemaker will be released on May 7th, and an updated edition of Canemaker's excellent 2003 book THE ART AND FLAIR OF MARY BLAIR is due out on May 20th.

...As mentioned in February, I was given more than passing thought to attending D23's Destination D: Attraction Rewind in Orlando this summer. The two-day event will feature multiple panel presentations on Disney at the 1964 World's Fair as well as focus on favorite rides of the past such as America Sings and Monsanto's Adventure Through Inner Space. Unfortunately, Disney unexpectedly shifted the date from July to the weekend before Thanksgiving, which makes my attendance much more unlikely. I'm disappointed that Destination D isn't in Anaheim this year and wish Disney would consider hosting a duplicate weekend in California, particularly as so much of the weekend focuses on Disneyland attractions. Destination D weekends are always packed, and I suspect they could fill weekends on both coasts.

...A new book on the '64 World's Fair: TOMORROW-LAND: THE 1964-65 WORLD'S FAIR AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF AMERICA by Joseph Tirella.

...I also recommend a deluxe CD set, Walt Disney and the World's Fair, which came out for the fair's 45th anniversary in 2009.

...The D23 Expo returns to Anaheim for three days, August 14-16, 2015. I again plan to attend the entire Expo!

...In late February Disney launched a streaming service, Disney Movies Anywhere.

...I'm excited about the book DISNEY DURING WORLD WAR II by John Baxter, due out October 28th. It's a fascinating topic. One of the interesting older books on this subject is DISNEY DONS DOGTAGS: THE BEST OF DISNEY MILITARY INSIGNIA FROM WORLD WAR II.

...The New York Times had a long but fascinating story by Ron Suskind, "Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney," excerpted from Suskind's new book, LIFE, ANIMATED: A STORY OF SIDEKICKS, HEROES, AND AUTISM.

...Pixar plans to reissue THE INCREDIBLES (2004) and RATATOUILLE (2007) in 3D.

...Coming June 17th, a book by Disney historian Charles Solomon, timed to tie in with the release of MALEFICENT: ONCE UPON A DREAM: FROM PERRAULT'S SLEEPING BEAUTY TO DISNEY'S MALEFICENT. The cover also features scenes from Disney's animated SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959). Given how much I love the Disney cartoon it's safe to say that the book will be a "must buy" for me.

...Chris Pine is set to star in a '50s Coast Guard drama for Disney, THE FINEST HOURS. It's based on the book THE FINEST HOURS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE U.S. COAST GUARD'S MOST DARING SEA RESCUE by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman.

...A Disney remake of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (1983), based on the book by Walt Disney's friend Ray Bradbury, is in the works.

...Brand-new book: THE IMAGINEERING FIELD GUIDE TO DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE. I have five other books in this series, on Disneyland and the four Florida parks, and am delighted that now that California Adventure has been successfully remodeled it will have its own book.

...Oswald the Lucky Rabbit recently debuted at Tokyo DisneySea. Oswald belongs at Oswald's Gas Station on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure, so I'm hoping he shows up there soon.

...Gizmodo has interesting designs for a ski resort Disney discussed building in the Sequoia area in the '60s...and BuzzFeed has some very nice color photos of Disneyland in 1955.

...Disneyland is hosting a series of after-hours parties at California Adventure aimed at renewing annual passholders; the next event, titled "Here Comes Summer!" is aimed at passholders renewing between June 18 and September 6. We attended an after-hours St. Patrick's Day party last month, and I have to say it was one of the rare times Disney has let us down. They weren't prepared for the deluge of annual passholders who arrived to check in shortly before the party started, resulting in an endless line that circled around the Esplanade and entrance to the park well after the party started, plus the holiday offerings seemed to consist mostly of green water fountains in Paradise Bay and entertainment by the Green Army Men. Let's hope the summer party is better organized. By contrast, we had a fantastic time at a Fantasyland party back in 2011.

...Take a look at these fantastic new Mondo Posters created for a number of older Disney films...and there's one for FROZEN (2013) which is absolutely fantastic.

...Disney plans an It's a Small World movie?!

...The Disney Parks Blog takes a look at some of the details in Disneyland's It's a Small World, which debuted at the New York World's Fair half a century ago before moving to Disneyland permanently in 1966.

...Here's MiceChat on rumored plans for Disneyland's 60th anniversary next year.

...Selling online only through Sunday, April 27th: T-shirts celebrating the 50th anniversary of It's a Small World and the Carousel of Progress. Disney has been trying out the t-shirt equivalent of "MOD" DVDs, taking preorders for special t-shirts and then filling them a few weeks later. My husband was very happy with his Disneyland Railroad shirt, as seen in the February roundup.

...Earlier this month the New York Times ran an article on Disney World's Magic Bands. The feedback I'm getting from friends and internet sources is not very good, with issues including standby lines for rides which didn't previously have Fast Passes now being much longer.

...I just purchased Charles Solomon's THE ART OF THE DISNEY GOLDEN BOOKS, first mentioned here last September, and am very impressed. It's filled with beautiful, nostalgic book covers and illustrations; the pages inside the front and back covers, featuring cover art for numerous Disney Little Golden Books, is gorgeous. This is going to be a wonderful read.

...A great idea at Disneyland: the "Almost Tall Enough" card, given to children who aren't yet quite tall enough to safely ride the newly reopened Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The card can be saved and used as a Fastpass once the child is tall enough to ride.

...I finally rode on Big Thunder last Saturday and can report I was extremely impressed, it was an amazingly smooth ride and the new "explosion" effects are spectacular.

...Attention Southern Californians: Disney's next "Throwback Thursday" screening at the El Capitan Theatre will be THE LITTLE MERMAID (1989) on June 26th at 7:00 p.m. Throwback Thursdays have lower General Admission prices, with the $10 ticket including free popcorn and soda. It's a great deal, and the screenings are usually filled with enthusiastic Disney fans.

...The El Capitan Theatre is currently showing BEARS (2014), with MILLION DOLLAR ARM (2014) coming May 16th through 26th and MALEFICENT (2014) on May 30th through July 17th.

...I have tickets to a free D23 screening of MILLION DOLLAR ARM at Downtown Disney next week, a couple of weeks ahead of its May 16th release date. Look for my review in a few days! The advance buzz on this film starring John Hamm (MAD MEN) is positive.

...Our family team, Skippers in De Nile, will once again be playing in the twice-yearly MouseAdventure game at Disneyland this Sunday, April 27th. This time around the game is titled "Card Games - Deuces Wild."

For more recent Disney links, please visit the Disney News posts for January and February.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Four

Saturday morning, April 12th, I was in line at the El Capitan Theatre bright and early for a 9:00 a.m. TCM Classic Film Festival screening of THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967).

Here's a great night shot of the El Capitan marquee which was released for media use by TCM:


I had contemplated seeing Barbara Stanwyck's STELLA DALLAS (1937) in that time slot, especially as it has a supporting cast which includes Tim Holt and Anne Shirley, but the pull of Disney was too strong!

THE JUNGLE BOOK was the third film I ever saw on a big screen as a child, and it was the first film I saw at a drive-in, paired with BLACKBEARD'S GHOST (1968). (In fact, I suspect I could count the films I saw at a drive-in on one hand!) THE JUNGLE BOOK is one of those movies I saw in bits and pieces when my children were younger, but I don't believe I'd sat down to watch it all in a single sitting since that drive-in screening of the late '60s.


I jokingly Tweeted at the time that the El Capitan organist serenading us with Disney tunes at the TCM Classic Film Fest was "almost too much awesomeness to handle." It really was a delightful way to start a day in which I would see four excellent films plus the legendary Maureen O'Hara.


Ben Mankiewicz joined us to introduce the film, which was shown in a digital format. He shared that he had just seen the film for the first time as part of his preparation a few days prior. He said he wasn't sure if his reaction was because he's now a parent, but that it moved him and made him cry, and he also described the movie as "78 minutes of joy." And that it was.


Still a bit teary from the happy glow of THE JUNGLE BOOK, I went back across the street to the Chinese Multiplex for another great experience, seeing a restored digital print of Frank Capra's MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936). I had seen the film on a big screen years ago, but not as long ago as THE JUNGLE BOOK! You simply can't go wrong with Jean Arthur paired with Gary Cooper.


MR. DEEDS was also the first of three sightings that day of everyone's favorite extra, Bess Flowers. There are many shots of her in the courtroom sequence in MR. DEEDS; she was a party guest in WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956) and a dancer at a restaurant in HER SISTER'S SECRET (1946). The latter is my second Flowers sighting in the last few months which hasn't yet made it to her IMDb entry, where at present she has 843 credits listed.


After MR. DEEDS my friend Lindsay and I raced back across the street to join the huge line at the El Capitan, where Maureen O'Hara was introducing HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941).

A shot of the packed house inside the El Capitan:


Robert Osborne came out to introduce Maureen...


...and they had a short but spirited chat. Miss O'Hara may be a bit frail now but she is as fiery as ever. When Mr. Osborne asked her a question about working with John Ford, she quipped "I thought we were here to talk about me!"


In all seriousness, though, it meant a great deal to be part of the crowd expressing our love and admiration for the truly legendary actress, and she appeared to be deeply moved by the prolonged standing ovation. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to be there.

O'Hara told the adoring crowd "Don't be fooled into thinking I do magic things." I think the audience would disagree.


Here's a great close-up from Maureen, released to the press by TCM:


After the interview I did something I've never before done at the festival and slipped out of the theater without seeing the movie, as I'd just seen -- and loved -- HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) last New Year's Eve. I was also concerned that if I watched HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY I might not be able to get in line early enough to see the next film on my list, WRITTEN ON THE WIND, which I hadn't seen for roughly a decade.


I'd initially thought of going to see Kim Novak introduce BELL BOOK AND CANDLE (1958) at the Egyptian Theatre in that time slot, but since I was fortunate enough to see her in person at the festival's opening night, I decided instead on WRITTEN ON THE WIND.


I anticipated this Douglas Sirk film would be a visual feast on a big screen, but in all honesty this 35mm print was probably the most disappointing of the festival. It didn't have any skips or major flaws, but the level of dark graininess was not what I would have expected. Despite the fact that the movie wasn't as visually dazzling as it otherwise might have been, I love this film in all its glorious excess, starting with its fantastic title sequence, and I still enjoyed it immensely.

I ended my moviegoing day with one of my favorite screenings among the many great movies seen at the festival, Edgar Ulmer's little-known PRC film HER SISTER'S SECRET (1946).


The movie was engagingly introduced by the director's well-informed daughter, Arianne Ulmer Cipes, and Jan-Christopher Horak of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.


I'll be sharing an overview of the festival's final day in the near future, and I'll also be sharing more about the films referenced above in individual posts.

In the meantime, be sure to also read this great festival overview recently posted by Aurora at Once Upon a Screen.

For more links to my coverage of the festival, please visit The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Big Gusher (1951)

Tonight I continued to work my way through the long filmography of "B" movie director Lew Landers, watching THE BIG GUSHER (1951) which was recommended to me last year by readers John Knight and Blake Lucas.

THE BIG GUSHER reunited Landers with Preston Foster, who starred in Landers' very appealing DOUBLE DANGER (1938) a dozen or so years before. Foster teams with Wayne Morris playing Hank and Kenny, partners who get a bonus for bringing in an oil well; they plan to use the bonus money to go into business drilling for themselves.

They're not counting on Hank losing his head over some drinks and a pretty girl (Dorothy Patrick) who earns some needed money on the side manipulating Hank to buy a probably worthless oil lease from Jim Tolman (Emmett Vogan). It looks like Hank and Kenny's money is down the drain, until an old oil man (Paul E. Burns) convinces the partners there's oil on the property...

The plot device of having seemingly responsible Hank get drunk and lose money not once but twice is tiresome, especially as I like Foster and was disappointed in his character. I also wasn't expecting Betsy (Patrick) to be quite so calculating!

That said, this is, as Blake said, "fast and breezy," clocking in at just 68 minutes, and I had a good time watching it. As usual, Landers squeezes the most entertainment value possible out of the script he was handed to work with, and it's a nice way to spend an hour or so.

Foster and Morris have a good relationship, managing to stay on solid footing with each other despite financial and romantic problems, and since I'm a Foster fan I enjoyed that Betsy went for him rather than the younger Morris, who might have been the more conventional matchup. There are even a couple cute jokes about the age issue, and all in all I thought Hank and Betsy's sparring romance was well-handled and a nice change from the usual.

In addition to particularly being a Foster fan, I also like Dorothy Patrick, who starred in films such as BOYS' RANCH (1946) and FOLLOW ME QUIETLY (1949), to name just a couple.  I'm always glad to have her turn up in a good-sized role, as she does in this film. And how cool is it that Blake knew her when he was a kid?

Stock footage of oil drilling is smoothly mixed in with shots of the actors, and while the film must have had a shoestring budget it's nicely put together and edited. There's even a couple minutes for Cappy (Burns) to give Betsy, and by extension the audience, a brief lesson on oil drilling.

THE BIG GUSHER was written by Daniel Ullman, who also wrote a couple of Westerns I've really liked in the past year, WICHITA (1955) and CANYON RIVER (1956). He also wrote the Wayne Morris Western THE FIGHTING LAWMAN (1953), which unfortunately was a disappointment.

THE BIG GUSHER is out on a nice-looking DVD in the Sony Choice line. It can be rented from ClassicFlix.

Films directed by Lew Landers which have previously been reviewed at this site: NIGHT WAITRESS (1936), WITHOUT ORDERS (1936), FLIGHT FROM GLORY (1937), THEY WANTED TO MARRY (1937), THE MAN WHO FOUND HIMSELF (1937), DANGER PATROL (1937), BORDER CAFE (1937), DOUBLE DANGER (1938), CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938), CONDEMNED WOMEN (1938), SKY GIANT (1938), SMASHING THE RACKETS (1938), TWELVE CROWDED HOURS (1939), PACIFIC LINER (1939), CONSPIRACY (1939), STAND BY ALL NETWORKS (1942), ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (1942), AFTER MIDNIGHT WITH BOSTON BLACKIE (1943), THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), DAVY CROCKETT, INDIAN SCOUT (1950), and MAN IN THE DARK (1952).

Tonight's Movie: The Border Patrolman (1936)

THE BORDER PATROLMAN is an engaging little "B" movie starring George O'Brien.

O'Brien, playing the title character, is hired by wealthy Jeremiah Huntley (William P. Carlton) to keep an eye on his spoiled granddaughter Patricia (Polly Ann Young) while they're staying at a desert resort.

Patricia, a bored wild child constantly getting into trouble, is involved with Courtney Maybrook (LeRoy Mason), not realizing that all he's interested in is her money -- and that he's also using her to smuggle diamonds across the border to Mexico.

This 60-minute spin on the "Taming of the Shrew" theme is pretty entertaining, even watching it in a murky YouTube print. Aside from the fact it stars the always-enjoyable O'Brien, the film is of note for a couple of additional reasons.

Leading lady Polly Ann Young was Loretta Young's older sister, and there are moments she looks and sounds quite like her more famous sister. This was one of just under three dozen films Polly Ann made before she retired from the screen in 1941. She was the leading lady in a number of "B" Westerns including THE MAN FROM UTAH (1934) with John Wayne.

Much of the film was shot at a striking desert resort. IMDb provided the information that the movie was shot at Death Valley, and with some further research via Google Images I deduced that it was the Inn at Furnace Creek which opened in 1927.

I very much wish this film were available in a better print which would allow clearer looks at both the lead actors and the resort!

THE BORDER PATROLMAN was directed by David Howard, who directed many of O'Brien's Westerns.

The supporting cast includes Smiley Burnette, Mary Doran, Al Hill, and Charles Coleman (as, what else, a butler!).

It's interesting to note that a New York Times review of the day referred to Polly Ann as "the most spirited of Hollywood's Young sisters." While regretting that O'Brien wasn't appearing in another SUNRISE (1927), the reviewer says of O'Brien that "he goes ably about his accustomed screen routine of taming a fractious female and bringing the lawless to justice."

TCM Star of the Month: John Wayne

On the evening of Monday, April 21st, Turner Classic Movies launches a special Star of the Month tribute to the legendary John Wayne.

The TCM schedule will be all Wayne, all the time, with 55 Wayne films airing back to back until Saturday morning, April 26th.

Robert Osborne will be joined by Wayne biographer Scott Eyman to introduce the movies. Eyman's new book, JOHN WAYNE: THE LIFE AND LEGEND, has been very well reviewed; two such examples are by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times and KC at Classic Movies.

I received a review copy of the book just before the start of the TCM Classic Film Festival, and I'll be reading and reviewing it as soon as possible.

Back in 2007 Eyman prepared a special list, 100 Reasons to Love John Wayne, on the centennial of the actor's birth. It's a list well worth reviewing this week.

The series kicks off this evening with Raoul Walsh's THE BIG TRAIL (1930) which did not do well at the time but is fascinating from today's vantage point, in terms of both the young Wayne and Walsh's excellent location work, shot with multiple cameras in an early widescreen process. As a teenager I saw the film in widescreen on a memorable birthday trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

THE BIG TRAIL is followed by a number of what my husband jokingly calls Wayne's "Purgatory Westerns," the many "B" movies he appeared in before becoming an "A" leading man again -- permanently -- in the star-making STAGECOACH (1939).

Wayne also appeared in a few pre-Codes being shown this week, such as BABY FACE (1933) and THE LIFE OF JIMMY DOLAN (1933).

STAGECOACH airs in prime time on Tuesday, April 22nd. I just saw it on a big screen for the first time at the TCM Classic Film Fest and will be reviewing it in the near future. I can't recommend it highly enough. Wayne and director John Ford set the gold standard for the classic Western theme of a group of disparate travelers coming under attack.

Films shown this week which have been reviewed here in the past include THE QUIET MAN (1952) on April 23rd; REAP THE WILD WIND (1942) on April 24th; and TALL IN THE SADDLE (1944), WITHOUT RESERVATIONS (1946), ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947), BIG JIM MCLAIN (1952), and NORTH TO ALASKA (1960) on April 25th.

Of these films I like them all to varying degrees, but particularly recommend the classic THE QUIET MAN, the witty yet lesser-known TALL IN THE SADDLE, and ANGEL AND THE BADMAN, which I recently wrote about on a list of favorite Underrated Westerns.

It's worth noting that Wayne was a fine comedian, and the light romantic comedy WITHOUT RESERVATIONS, costarring Claudette Colbert, works really well despite a pairing that's a bit incongruous at first glance.

Other Wayne films I particularly recommend watching this week are three John Ford films airing on April 23rd: SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949), which was filmed at Monument Valley and contains what I think might be Wayne's best performance; RIO GRANDE (1950), an all-time favorite Western with Maureen O'Hara and a fantastic cast, including the Sons of the Pioneers; and the very fine WWII film THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945), costarring Robert Montgomery and Donna Reed.

Ford and Wayne's THE SEARCHERS (1956), airing (depending on the time zone) late on the 22nd or early on the 23rd is, simply put, one of the great American works of art.

Howard Hawks' RED RIVER (1948) airs on April 24th, and on April 25th you can't go wrong with one of the very best Westerns ever made, Hawks' RIO BRAVO (1959).

It's a great week for Wayne fans, and I strongly encourage those who aren't quite so familiar with Wayne to dive into his movies and discover what made him one of the greatest stars of all time.

In closing, here's an anecdote from a profile of actress Binnie Barnes in a 2012 issue of "Films of the Golden Age." In a 1985 interview she said that she'd been asked who was the best actor she'd ever worked with -- was it Laurence Olivier? Ralph Richardson? Her answer was "John Wayne."

For more on this month's TCM schedule, please visit TCM in April: Highlights.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Around the Blogosphere This Week

Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the Internet...

...The Lady Eve's Reel Life is sponsoring a wonderful blogathon on May 5th, Power-Mad, celebrating the centennial of Tyrone Power's birth. Needless to say, I had to be part of this great celebration of my favorite actor! So far over two dozen bloggers are signed up, each one reviewing a different film. I'll be watching THIS ABOVE ALL (1942), costarring Joan Fontaine, for the very first time and am really looking forward to it.

...Here's a great-looking book I spotted in the TCM boutique at the recent festival, which I intend to purchase in the future: FIVE CAME BACK: A STORY OF HOLLYWOOD AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR by Mark Harris. The book chronicles the wartime experiences of five famed directors, John Ford, George Stevens, William Wyler, Frank Capra, and John Huston, telling "the untold story of how Hollywood changed World War II, and how World War II changed Hollywood."

...A book I purchased at the TCM boutique: EDGAR G. ULMER: A FILMMAKER AT THE MARGINS by Noah Isenberg. I grabbed it right away as I was interested to learn more about HER SISTER'S SECRET (1946), a really interesting low-budget film seen at the TCM Festival, which starred Margaret Lindsay and Nancy Coleman.

...For those who may have missed the mention amidst my coverage of the TCM Classic Film Festival, TCM's great Watch TCM app is now available for the Kindle Fire.

...Kevin Costner hopes to make a Western trilogy. Speaking of Costner, I really enjoyed his DRAFT DAY (2014) last month, despite being a bit formulaic, and it was nice to see that Leonard Maltin had the same opinion.

...Here's John McElwee at Greenbriar Picture Shows, counting his movie blessings.

...A new coffee table photo book: MOM IN THE MOVIES by Richard Corliss in collaboration with TCM, published by Simon & Schuster. The book includes sidebar essays by "friends of TCM" such as Eva Marie Saint, Jane Powell, Tippi Hedren, and Illeana Douglas.

...Coming to DVD from Timeless Media: Season 2 of Dick Powell's ZANE GREY THEATRE. The set will have all 30 episodes. Season 1 came out in 2009 from VCI. The Caftan Woman recently wrote about the show for the "Big Stars on the Small Screen" Blogathon.

...Speaking of the Caftan Woman, her "One for April" choice on TCM is one of my all-time favorite movies, RIO GRANDE (1950) starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. It airs on TCM Tuesday, April 22nd. I'll have more on the forthcoming big John Wayne week on TCM in the near future.

...There's a great piece on Dan Duryea and THE UNDERWORLD STORY (1950) by Mark at Where Danger Lives. This Warner Archive DVD is in my "to watch" stack!

...A new book from Johns Hopkins University Press: MUSIC IN THE SHADOWS: NOIR MUSICAL FILMS by Sheri Chinen Biesen. Biesen is also the author of BLACKOUT: WORLD WAR II AND THE ORIGINS OF FILM NOIR.

...Rick recently reviewed the little-known Disney film THE SWORD AND THE ROSE (1952) at ClassicFilm and TV Cafe. THE SWORD AND THE ROSE stars Glynis Johns and Richard Todd. I thought it was terrific when I saw it in February, and I also loved Todd and Johns in Disney's ROB ROY: THE HIGHLAND ROGUE (1953).

...The Classic Film and TV Cafe hosted a James Stewart Blogathon last week with over two dozen bloggers participating. Visit the Cafe for a roundup of links. Among the many posts I enjoyed reading were the Caftan Woman on one of my favorites, BEND OF THE RIVER (1952), and Lindsay on THE NAKED SPUR (1953), which I just saw for the first time in February.

...There's a Romantic Comedy Blogathon coming May 1st, cosponsored by Backlots and Carole & Co.

...Coming from Criterion in July: The Essential Jacques Demy, a collection including THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (1964) and THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT (1967).

...Doris Day recently made an appearance at a 90th birthday party; she looks great, and it's wonderful for her fans to see her appearing so happy.

...From KCET: "10 Old-School Restaurant Exteriors." (Via Robby.)

...Helen Mirren played Alma Hitchcock in HITCHCOCK (2012), and she's now been cast as another filmmaker's wife, in a period drama about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo will be played by Bryan Cranston of BREAKING BAD.

...Coming to DVD: Season 2 of James Arness and Bruce Boxleitner in HOW THE WEST WAS WON will be released on July 15th.

...Royalty Watch: Here's adorable photos of little Prince George visiting a zoo in Sydney, Australia on Easter Sunday. Cute photos from an earlier appearance in New Zealand are here.

...So much cuteness! A shy rescue cat becomes best buddies with the family dog. Check out the adorable video.

...Attention Southern Californians: Next Saturday, April 26th, there is a free 35mm screening of THE NARROW MARGIN (1952) at the Egyptian Theatre, along with a tribute to producer Stanley Rubin. The tribute is at 2:00 p.m. and the screening, introduced by Alan K. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation, will be at 3:00. A reception follows.

...Last Friday evening was the opening night of a free series at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater honoring the TV work of actor Norman Lloyd. The series runs through June 8th. The 99-year-old Lloyd was recently interviewed by Susan King of the Los Angeles Times.

...Notable Passings: Actress Mary Anderson (seen here), the widow of cinematographer Leon Shamroy, has passed away at the age of 96. Anderson was one of the last surviving cast members of GONE WITH THE WIND (1939), in which she played the small role of Maybelle Merriwether; her other films included THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (1943), LIFEBOAT (1944), and WILSON (1944)...Dorothy Mitchum, the widow of Robert Mitchum, has passed on at the age of 94. The Mitchums were married for 57 years and had three children.

Happy Easter, and have a great week!

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