Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tonight's Movie: For Heaven's Sake (1926)

One of the wonderful things about this year's 10 Classics viewing project is that it introduced me to the films of Harold Lloyd.

So far this year I've enjoyed Lloyd's SAFETY LAST! (1923), GIRL SHY (1924), and THE KID BROTHER (1927).

I particularly like the pairing of Lloyd with Jobyna Ralston, his leading lady in GIRL SHY and THE KID BROTHER, and was anxious to see another of the several films they made together. Tonight I watched them in FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE (1926), which is absolutely delightful. The movie has one great sight gag after another, along with sweet romance. Leonard Maltin rates it four stars, and I definitely concur.

Lloyd plays "The Uptown Boy," a rich young man who inadvertently pays for the downtown mission building run by Brother Paul (Paul Weigel) and his lovely daughter (Ralston). Lloyd is instantly smitten with Ralston and soon, in a tour de force sequence, he's rounding up a swarm of lowlifes to come patronize the mission. The couple become engaged, but then Lloyd's old uptown club friends decide to kidnap him on his wedding day...

This is quite a short film, at 58 minutes, but every second is packed with clever visuals, from Lloyd using a hubcap as a helmet during a police shootout to him running down the sidewalk, knocking people over like bowling pins, to the street sign on a runaway bus flipping to read "CEMETERY" in the final chase sequence. I gasped as the bus headed for a pair of trains crossing at an intersection!

My favorite moment of visual poetry was Harold courting Jobyna by moonlight -- and the moon then being revealed to be part of a laundry's neon sign.

I sometimes don't appreciate comedians who engage in a great deal of physical humor -- Laurel and Hardy being an example -- as I prefer witty dialogue; I've been delighted to discover that although Lloyd's silent films have no dialogue, per se, the humor is impressively sophisticated and creative, plotted out to perfection. Lloyd's particular style of physical humor I enjoy, plus some of the title cards are a riot!

Lloyd is great, of course, whether he's trying to survive a crazy ride on a double-decker bus or swooning over sweet Jobyna. I continue to find Jobyna absolutely charming and love her chemistry with Lloyd. I'm glad I still have more of their films ahead of me to see, including THE FRESHMAN (1925).

This film was directed by Sam Taylor and filmed by Walter Lundin.

FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE is available on DVD from New Line Cinema in the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, Vol. 3.

Particular kudos go to the score by Robert Israel heard on this DVD, which is exceptionally good.

Highly recommended.

Tonight's Movie: Snowed Under (1936)

SNOWED UNDER is a pleasant Warner Bros. country house farce which runs a quick 63 minutes.

It's just after New Year's, and playwright Alan Tanner (George Brent) is due to open a new show in a few days' time -- but he has yet to write the third act!

Alan secludes himself in a country house in order to get the job done, but gradually the house is invaded by his ex-wife Alice (Genevieve Tobin), who wants to help him; his other ex-wife, Daisy (Glenda Farrell), on the hunt for her alimony checks; Pat, a young lady (Patricia Ellis) who's got a crush on him; Daisy's lawyer (John Eldredge), who develops a crush on Pat; and milkman-turned-sheriff Orlando (Frank McHugh), who threatens to jail Alan for unpaid alimony.

The movie calls to mind the previous year's Warner Bros. film THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER (1935), another country house comedy in which Brent and Tobin costarred with Kay Francis. The movie isn't a standout -- in fact, at times the situations feel a bit forced -- but it's a pleasant, quick film with a fun premise.  The house set is fantastic, though it's clearly set in a soundstage with very fake snowy exteriors.

I assumed the movie, which is mostly set in Brent's home, was based on a play, as it has that stagebound feel, but apparently it was an original screenplay which was worked on by several writers.

Brent and Tobin come off best, with Tobin endlessly good-natured and tolerant of her former husband's foibles. She's quite cute in this, just as she was in THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER. Tobin married director William Keighley in 1938 and retired from films in 1940; she and Keighley were married until his death in 1984. Tobin died in 1995, age 95.

It's nice to note that Glenda Farrell and Patricia Ellis also had successful real-life marriages. Farrell had married as a teenager; that union didn't last, but in 1941 she married a doctor, a marriage which lasted until her death three decades later. Patricia Ellis, who retired from films in 1939, married in 1940 and, like Farrell, was married for 30 years, until she passed away in March 1970.

The director of SNOWED UNDER was Ray Enright. Arthur Todd was the cinematographer. The supporting cast includes Porter Hall, Olin Howland, and Mary Treen.

SNOWED UNDER isn't on VHS or DVD, but as a Warner Bros. film it's a likely candidate for a future release by the Warner Archive.

In the meantime, it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies, where it aired last week as part of Glenda Farrell Day during the annual Summer Under the Stars festival. This would be a good film for TCM to schedule around New Year's, given the wintry January setting.

The trailer is on the TCM website.

January 2014 Update: Cliff has reviewed this film and included a great deal of background research in an excellent post at Immortal Ephemera. Those readers interested in this film should be sure to check out his essay on the film.

2019 Update: SNOWED UNDER is being released on DVD by the Warner Archive in March 2019. My review of the DVD is here.

TCM in September: Highlights

Here we are, Labor Day weekend already, and it's time to look at the September schedule on Turner Classic Movies!

Kim Novak is the Star of the Month starting on Thursday, September 5th. Next week I'll have a detailed rundown on the Novak films showing in September. (Update: TCM Star of the Month: Kim Novak.)

There are two other big series on TCM this month: "Sundays With Hitch," featuring Alfred Hitchcock films all day long every Sunday of the month, and THE STORY OF FILM, a documentary series which will be shown each Monday and Tuesday, along with several films related to each episode's themes.

Here's an overview of just some of the interesting movies airing on TCM this month:

...The first Sunday With Hitch is on September 1st, with a marathon of 10 films. While I can't recommend the first film, MURDER! (1930) -- though one could say its uncharacteristic awfulness has to be seen to be believed -- there are plenty of worthwhile films on the schedule, including the very interesting ROPE (1948) with John Dall, Farley Granger, and James Stewart; Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman in the psychological thriller SPELLBOUND (1945); MARNIE (1964), another pyschological suspense film which I find fascinating, starring Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren; THE BIRDS (1963) which many people like but I admit to finding quite dull; and a film loved by Hitchcock and all his fans, SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943).

...You can't start Labor Day any better than with the two films showing first thing that day, the Powell-Pressburger classic I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! (1945) and Frank Borzage's HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (1937). These are both simply wonderful movies.  Don't miss out on the chance to see them. (September 1st Update: I just learned that I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING!, which is in the printed TCM guide, is no longer on the schedule. The online schedule indicates it was replaced by the 1975 film HESTER STREET. HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT is still scheduled.)

...Later on Labor Day there's an excellent domestic drama/film noir, PITFALL (1948), starring Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, and Raymond Burr. I was fortunate to see the UCLA restoration of this film on a big screen at the Million Dollar Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles last year.

...Robert Osborne's Picks on September 4th include Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth in YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH (1941) and Jane Powell in the colorful HOLIDAY IN MEXICO (1946), costarring Walter Pidgeon. September is a particularly good month for fans of musicals.

...I really enjoyed the pre-Code THE OFFICE WIFE (1930), airing on September 5th. It's a short and sweet 59 minutes. Dorothy Mackaill, Lewis Stone, and Joan Blondell star.

...The morning of September 6th is terrific: it starts off with a couple of Marsha Hunt movies, THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA (1942) and LOST ANGEL (1943). Hunt told me that MARTHA is one of her personal favorites. Hunt's MARTHA costar, Richard Carlson, then stars in A STRANGER IN TOWN (1942), which has been on my viewing wish list.

...ALONG CAME JONES (1945) is an amiable Western comedy airing on September 7th, starring Gary Cooper, Loretta Young, and Dan Duryea. Good fun.

...The second Sunday With Hitch on September 8th features 8 Hitchcock movies, starting with his lesser-known UNDER CAPRICORN (1949) starring Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten. That's followed by a couple more "lesser" Hitchcock films I've seen and enjoyed, STAGE FRIGHT (1950) and I CONFESS (1953). For those who mostly know Hitchcock's more famous titles, this is a good day to catch up on some interesting titles. Later on are what are for me the picks of the day, Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane in SABOTEUR (1942), with its Statue of Liberty finish; Joel McCrea and George Sanders in FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940), which I usually name as my favorite Hitchcock film; and Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in the classic NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959).

...The great MGM musical producer Arthur Freed was born on September 9, 1894. TCM celebrates with a day of musicals, including Esther Williams in PAGAN LOVE SONG (1950); SHOW BOAT (1951) with Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson; Fred Astaire and Vera-Ellen in THE BELLE OF NEW YORK (1952); and Astaire and Cyd Charisse in the evergreen THE BAND WAGON (1953). There are even more airing so be sure to consult the schedule!

...There's more from Arthur Freed on September 11th, with BRIGADOON (1954) being part of a day of musical fantasies. Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse star. I've always really enjoyed this movie, despite its soundstage set.

...Friday, September 13th, features prison movies. I'm especially intrigued by a 77-minute programmer directed by Lew Landers, CONDEMNED WOMEN (1938), starring Louis Hayward, Anne Shirley, and Sally Eilers. I've lost count of how many Landers films I've seen so far this year, but it's been a lot of fun becoming acquainted with his work.

...Randolph Scott fans can enjoy him in CORONER CREEK (1948), based on a Luke Short story, on September 14th. I think this is one of Scott's stronger '40s Westerns.

...September 15th is the third Hitchcock day in the series. I've only seen three of the eight films airing on this date, but they're all great: VERTIGO (1958), REAR WINDOW (1954), and the first Hitchcock film I ever saw, TO CATCH A THIEF (1955).

...I really enjoyed Joan Crawford, Robert Montgomery, and Anita Page in OUR BLUSHING BRIDES (1930), a pre-Code being shown on September 17th.

...I'm particularly looking forward to a tribute to Victor Mature on September 18th. I haven't seen most of the films, which include SEVEN DAYS' LEAVE (1942) with Lucille Ball, THE LONG HAUL (1957) with Diana Dors, and THE SHARKFIGHTERS (1956) with Karen Steele. My VCR will be humming! I liked THE LAS VEGAS STORY (1952) with Jane Russell, also showing that day.

...A day of '50s Westerns on September 19th includes a number of interesting titles. I'm looking forward to seeing Jacques Tourneur's GREAT DAY IN THE MORNING (1952) for the first time, starring Robert Stack, Virginia Mayo, and Ruth Roman.

...A tribute to director Norman Z. McLeod on the 20th includes some '30s comedies, Cary Grant and Constance Bennett in TOPPER (1937), Bennett and Brian Aherne in MERRILY WE LIVE (1938), and Fredric March and Virginia Bruce in THERE GOES MY HEART (1938).

...I gained a fresh appreciation for the familiar classic IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) when I saw it at the TCM Classic Film Festival last spring. I was impressed anew with the performances of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, as well as the direction by Frank Capra and the cinematography by Joseph Walker. Highly recommended. It airs September 21st.

...There's another Sunday With Hitch on September 22nd, featuring eight films plus Hitchcock's interview with Dick Cavett. The day includes Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll in THE 39 STEPS (1935), as well as a film which is on my Top 5 Hitchcock list, THE LADY VANISHES (1938). THE LADY VANISHES stars Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave, a really delightful mixture of mystery, comedy, and romance.

...The Rodgers and Hart musical LOVE ME TONIGHT (1932) is a key movie musical of the '30s, and it's also very funny. It stars Jeanette MacDonald, Maurice Chevalier, and Myrna Loy, not to mention Charles Butterworth, Charlie Ruggles, and Sir C. Aubrey Smith. It was directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Don't miss this slice of movie perfection on September 23rd.

...A day of Ginger Rogers movies on September 24th includes the jury panel romance PERFECT STRANGERS (1950), costarring Dennis Morgan, and one of my very favorite Ginger films, I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944) with Joseph Cotten.

...September 27th is one of the best days on the schedule, a nine-film tribute to Joel McCrea. The focus of the day is on McCrea's Westerns, but there's an interesting, atypical McCrea film on the schedule as well, the British-made suspense film SHOOT FIRST (1953), costarring Herbert Lom and Evelyn Keyes.

...There's a three-film tribute to British actress Peggy Cummins in primetime on September 28th. While her remarkable noir GUN CRAZY (1950) is widely known, be sure not to miss HELL DRIVERS (1957), which is tremendous fun. I saw HELL DRIVERS on opening night of this year's Noir City Film Festival and had a great time; the cast includes Stanley Baker, Sean Connery, David McCallum, and Patrick McGoohan, just for starters.

...The final Sunday with Hithcock is September 29th. The eight-film lineup includes Hitchcock's atypical MR. AND MRS. SMITH (1941), a marital comedy with Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery; Joan Fontaine's Oscar-winning performance in SUSPICION (1941); one of the director's greatest classics, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951); Grace Kelly, Ray Milland, and Robert Cummings in DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954); and Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in NOTORIOUS (1946), which rivals FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT for my favorite Hitchcock film.

...The daytime theme on September 30th made me laugh: "What else could go wrong?" Titles include Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in the classic weeper PENNY SERENADE (1941), Greer Garson and Ronald Colman in another classic, RANDOM HARVEST (1942), and Tyrone Power, Myrna Loy, and George Brent in the disaster drama THE RAINS CAME (1939).

As I mentioned in my preview of the month earlier this summer, I'm not a fan of TCM's decision to feature relatively recent films like TOTAL RECALL (1990), A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001), and MINORITY REPORT (2002) in its Friday Night Spotlight series this month. While TCM has always featured a limited number of "newer" titles, particularly during 31 Days of Oscar, the large number of these kinds of films being shown this month is concerning to me; they are easily accessible elsewhere, and frankly I consider these titles of questionable value. Hopefully this isn't an early indicator of a future programming trend, but simply a one-time programming choice for this series.

Otherwise, it's a great-looking month on Turner Classic Movies! Be sure to consult the complete schedule for additional titles.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Today at Disneyland: Labor Day Weekend

After today's brief stop in Disney California Adventure, it was on to Disneyland for the rest of the day!

First, a stop in the Disney Gallery and Disneyana on Main Street. This Shag painting of the Enchanted Tiki Room and Dole Whip stand can be yours for a mere $18,000:

I enjoy Shag's work, but I think I'll settle for the postcard version!

It may be Labor Day weekend, but the flowers at the Hub are still in full bloom:

Internet rumors are that a spot beloved to many Disneyland fans, the Court des Anges in New Orleans Square, will become inaccessible during remodeling of Club 33, and may not ever reopen to the public after it closes this September 28th.

If this permanent closure comes to pass, it will be a real loss for the park. For instance, hundreds if not thousands of families take their Christmas photos here each year; we met another such family tonight while photographing the area.

Here's a good column by Tom Bricker at the Disney Tourist Blog: "The Court of Angels is Important to Disneyland."

A classic sight which never gets old:

We used to love eating at Big Thunder Ranch but had never eaten there since its pricier reincarnation a few years back. With our kids all away or busy today, my husband and I splurged on it!

The "all you can eat" food was good but overpriced for what it was. I frankly think the fried chicken dinner at the less expensive Plaza Inn on Main Street is a better value for the money. The atmosphere was very nice, listening to Western singers while we ate, and the service was friendly, but we won't be rushing to eat dinner there again, even with my Premium passholder discount.

HOWEVER. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake we shared for dessert was beyond amazing...a hot cooked-to-order chocolate chip cookie in a pewter dish, served a la mode. Absolute heaven!

This dessert was so big that my husband and I could only eat half of it, and we passed the rest on to a young couple sharing our picnic table. We're definitely going to be taking our kids to Big Thunder Ranch for dessert sometime in the coming months.

My husband took the next two photos of the "Partners" statue, which I think capture the bittersweet feelings accompanying the end of summer. Is it really September this weekend?

I love the cloud formations visible here at twilight.

The next time we're in the park, the red, white and blue bunting will be replaced by orange bunting, pumpkins everywhere, and...

...Halloween Time!

Have a happy Labor Day weekend!

For many more great photos of some of the things we enjoyed seeing today, please visit this colorful July Dateline Disneyland photo post at MiceChat.

Previous Disneyland Labor Day weekend photo posts: 2011, 2009, and 2007.

Today at Disney California Adventure: Labor Day Weekend

We started our Labor Day weekend in grand style, spending several hours in both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland this afternoon.

Both parks were amazingly uncrowded. The number of school districts which now start prior to Labor Day must take a toll on business this holiday weekend, but we certainly enjoyed the short lines!

First, a brief look at our stop in Disney California Adventure, which included riding our favorite Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land.

I share photos of Carthay Circle frequently, just because it's so beautiful! And the fountain certainly looked inviting given that temperatures today were around 90 in Anaheim.

A commemorative plaque about SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937) on the Carthay Circle Theatre building:

I love the design of the Elias & Company building!

This Oswald the Lucky Rabbit mug joined my collection this afternoon:

Oswald has an interesting history, and I'm so glad Disney was able to reacquire the rights to this historic Disney character a few years ago.

Coming soon: Several photos from today's stop in Disneyland!

2013 World 3-D Film Expo Coming to Egyptian Theatre

The 2013 World 3-D Film Expo is coming to the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood starting Friday, September 6th.

The festival runs through Sunday, September 15th.

The complete schedule is on the festival website.

Nearly three dozen films will be shown at the festival, including a few titles I have previously reviewed after attending 3-D screenings. Those titles are HONDO (1953), CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), and DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954).

Additionally, some films will be shown which I have previously reviewed via flat TV viewings; they are IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953), THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE (1953), and DANGEROUS MISSION (1954).

I especially recommend KISS ME KATE (1953) which I saw in 3-D a couple of times circa the late '70s.

I plan to attend the festival's Film Noir Night on Thursday, September 12th, which will feature INFERNO (1953) and I, THE JURY (1953). I'll also be at SECOND CHANCE (1953) on Sunday, September 15th.

INFERNO stars Robert Ryan, Rhonda Fleming, and William Lundigan. I, THE JURY is a Mike Hammer film starring Preston Foster, Peggie Castle, and Margaret Sheridan; I've never heard of the leading man, Biff Elliot. I, THE JURY was shot by John Alton (THE BIG COMBO), which is reason enough for anyone to see it!

SECOND CHANCE stars Robert Mitchum, Linda Darnell, and Jack Palance; it's the only one of the three films I'll be attending which I've previously seen. It has an aerial cable car sequence which should be a lot of fun in 3-D.

All three of the films I plan to attend will be shown in "dual 35mm" prints. Other screenings, such as HONDO and DIAL M FOR MURDER, will be in digital 3-D.

Meanwhile, Southern Californians with free time this weekend may want to purchase a day pass to the Cinecon 49 festival, also being held at the Egyptian Theatre. Cinecon runs through Labor Day.

September 5th Update: The Los Angeles Times has posted an interesting story on the Expo by Susan King.

September 8th Update: And here's Leonard Maltin on the festival.

Update: Here are my reviews of I, THE JURY (1953) and INFERNO (1953). I also had a grand time seeing SECOND CHANCE (1953)!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Summertime in Hollywood

With Labor Day Weekend just about here, signaling the traditional end of the summer season, here's another look at summertime in Hollywood!

Paramount stars Robert Preston and Susan Hayward enjoying an afternoon at the pool:

Janet Leigh looks as though she's having a good time!

The amazing George O'Brien on the tennis court:

Gene Tierney relaxing with her radio at the beach: Don't you wish you'd been there? Here's Randolph Scott and Cary Grant running through the surf:

And lovely Yvonne DeCarlo at ocean's edge:

Bathing beauty Alexis Smith:

Fred MacMurray basking in the sun:

Another bathing beauty, Brenda Marshall, also known as Mrs. William Holden:

Former circus acrobat Burt Lancaster on the beach with Ava Gardner:

One-time lifeguard Ronald Reagan enjoying a swim:

And the lovely Maureen O'Hara, who I wistfully note is the only one of this group still with us in 2013:

For more photos of Hollywood stars enjoying the summer season, please visit last week's post.

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

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