Wednesday, May 06, 2015

TCM Star of the Month: Sterling Hayden

The May Star of the Month on Turner Classic Movies is fascinating actor-sailor-writer Sterling Hayden.

21 Hayden films are on TCM's May schedule, spread over four Wednesday evenings. Click any hyperlinked title below for the related review.

The series kicks off tonight, May 6th, with a fantastic lineup of half a dozen film noir and crime titles.

The evening begins with Hayden's first collaboration with director Stanley Kubrick, THE KILLING (1956). It's a fascinating film which experiments with "non-linear" storytelling. I was fortunate to see it at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival, with costar Coleen Gray in attendance. Elisha Cook Jr. and Marie Windsor lead a terrific supporting cast.

That's followed by John Huston's classic THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) and then one of my favorite film noir titles of all time, CRIME WAVE (1954). Hayden plays a tough toothpick-chewing cop trying to figure out if parolee Gene Nelson has gone bad again. Nelson is marvelous in a non-dancing role, and there's also superb L.A. location shooting. Don't miss it.

I also really loved Hayden as a smalltown sheriff in the suspense drama SUDDENLY (1954), which I saw at the Noir City Film Festival a couple of years ago. Frank Sinatra costars as a would-be Presidential assassin.

The evening concludes with CRIME OF PASSION (1957), costarring Barbara Stanwyck, and the enjoyable 5 STEPS TO DANGER (1957), which finds Hayden taking an unexpected road trip with damsel in distress Ruth Roman.

May 13th is a diverse lineup leading off with the camp classic ZERO HOUR! (1957), also starring Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell. Sections of dialogue were lifted from ZERO HOUR! verbatim for the satire AIRPLANE! (1980). ZERO HOUR! is delightful fun.

Also on the schedule next week: the pirate film THE GOLDEN HAWK (1952) with Rhonda Fleming; the Mexico-set crime film TEN DAYS TO TULARA (1958); and the Korean War film BATTLE TAXI (1955).

On May 20th Sterling Hayden goes West with a lineup of six Westerns, starting off with the crazy but fascinating JOHNNY GUITAR (1954), also starring Joan Crawford. Don't miss this colorful Nicholas Ray film.

TOP GUN (1955) is a very enjoyable film following the traditional Western formula of a gunslinger returning to his hometown and finding his unique skills are needed to deal with a murderous gang threatending to take over the town. Look for the young Rod Taylor shooting it out with Hayden.

That's followed by KANSAS PACIFIC (1953), TERROR IN A TEXAS TOWN (1958), and THE IRON SHERIFF (1957).

The evening closes out with a film I just reviewed last Sunday, ARROW IN THE DUST (1954), which was previously reviewed here. I like it a lot; it's on late so I recommend anyone who wants to enjoy a nice solid Western with an excellent Hayden performance should be sure to set a recorder or catch it later on the Watch TCM app. The movie costars Coleen Gray, who would reunite with Hayden in THE KILLING a couple years later.

The series concludes on May 27th with five diverse titles: THE STAR (1952) with Bette Davis; SO BIG (1953) with Jane Wyman; THE LONG GOODBYE (1973) with Elliot Gould; LOVING (1970) with George Segal and Eva Marie Saint; and Stanley Kubrick's DR. STRANGELOVE (1964).

As an addendum, good Sterling Hayden movies to seek out which aren't being shown on TCM this month: The hard-to-find TAKE ME TO TOWN (1953) with Ann Sheridan; the film noir NAKED ALIBI (1954) with Gloria Grahame; and the gritty Lesley Selander Western SHOTGUN (1955) with Yvonne DeCarlo and Zachary Scott.

Additional Hayden films reviewed here previously which aren't airing on TCM this month: FLAT TOP (1952) and DENVER AND RIO GRANDE (1951). The latter film is showing on Encore Westerns Channel in May.

For more on TCM in May, please visit TCM in May: Highlights.


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