Monday, June 30, 2014

TCM in July: Highlights

It's July, my favorite time of the year!

I'm back from a great road trip up Highway 395 and will be sharing photos in the near future. First, though, it's time to take a look at the July schedule on Turner Classic Movies!

Maureen O'Hara is the July Star of the Month starting on Tuesday evening, July 1st. I'll be sharing more about the O'Hara films airing this month on the 1st. (Update: Please visit my post TCM Star of the Month: Maureen O'Hara.)

Here are just some of the interesting films airing on TCM this month:

...Leslie Caron's 83rd birthday on July 1st will be celebrated with an eight-film tribute including AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951). A great start to the month!

...July 2nd is Chester Morris Day! Several Morris films I've never seen will air, including SECRET COMMAND (1944) with Pat O'Brien and Carole Landis and THE MARINES FLY HIGH (1940) with Richard Dix and Lucille Ball. Can't wait!

...On July 3rd I'll be recording JOURNEY TO ITALY (1955) with George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman, which I first heard about thanks to the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival. It was directed by Roberto Rossellini.

...The patriotic lineup on Independence Day includes the interesting Technicolor short SONS OF LIBERTY (1939), starring Claude Rains and Gale Sondergaard. This 21-minute film was directed by Michael Curtiz.

...I've never seen James Stewart in CARBINE WILLIAMS (1952) which airs on July 5th. Jean Hagen and Wendell Corey costar. I'll be recording that one!

...TCM couldn't have come up with a better schedule for my July 6th birthday than a day filled with musicals, including my very favorite movie, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954), airing that afternoon. TOP HAT (1935) with Fred and Ginger, DANGEROUS WHEN WET (1953) with Esther Williams, VIVA LAS VEGAS (1964) with Elvis and Ann-Margret and THE MUSIC MAN (1962) are among the day's treats.

...Aldo Ray's been growing on me, thanks especially to THREE STRIPES IN THE SUN (1955) and NIGHTFALL (1957). I'm looking forward to checking out THE MARRYING KIND (1952), also starring Judy Holliday, on July 7th.

...A morning of "B" crime movies on July 8th includes the 62-minute LADY GANGSTER (1942) with Faye Emerson, who I've enjoyed in a number of films including DANGER SIGNAL (1945) and GUILTY BYSTANDER (1950). My DVR is set!

...Anne Shirley, James Craig, and Charles Coburn star in the "B" film UNEXPECTED UNCLE (1941) on July 10th.

...Richard Dix has turned up in several films I've watched recently. He stars in ACE OF ACES (1933) with Elizabeth Allan and Ralph Bellamy on July 11th. This is a good time to mention I strongly recommend checking out Cliff's biographical post on Dix at Immortal Ephemera.

...LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE (1951) is an interesting melodrama starring Richard Todd, Ruth Roman, and Zachary Scott. It airs on the 12th.

...Olivia de Havilland celebrates her 98th birthday on July 1st. Later in the month, on July 13th, her charming film PRINCESS O'ROURKE (1943) airs in prime time.

...Kay Francis will be celebrated in prime time on Monday, July 14th, with a terrific seven-film lineup. I can't recommend Lubitsch's TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) strongly enough. A wonderful film on the other end of the quality spectrum is the delicious ALLOTMENT WIVES (1945) with Kay as a criminal mastermind. And there's even more Kay the following day on the 15th!

...FINISHING SCHOOL (1934) is a terrific pre-Code starring Frances Dee, Ginger Rogers, and Bruce Cabot. It's lots of fun and only 74 minutes long. It's shown July 16th.

...The rarely seen DARK DELUSION (1947) airs in the early morning hours on July 17th. It's the last "Dr. Gillespie" film, starring Lionel Barrymore, James Craig, and Lucille Bremer.

...I enjoy Susan Cabot in Westerns such as THE DUEL AT SILVER CREEK (1952) and GUNSMOKE (1953). Her last feature film, THE WASP WOMAN (1959), airs on July 19th.

...The outstanding WWII film THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944) airs on Sunday morning, July 20th. It has an amazing cast. Highly recommended.

...I'm intrigued by THE FLORENTINE DAGGER (1935), about a descendant of the Borgias, starring Margaret Lindsay. It airs on July 21st.

...A day of Westerns on July 22nd includes two favorites, STATION WEST (1948) with Dick Powell and BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948) with Robert Mitchum. They're both excellent and very much recommended.

...July 23rd pays tribute to Dick Powell, Eleanor Powell, and Jane Powell with two films apiece. It's a great day including a Powell film which is a personal favorite, A DATE WITH JUDY (1948), costarring Elizabeth Taylor.

...I always enjoy Florence Rice, who stars with Frank Morgan and John Beal in BEG, BORROW OR STEAL (1937) on July 24th.

...Joan Blondell stars in the pre-Code CENTRAL PARK (1932) on July 28th.

...I'm looking forward to DANGEROUS NUMBER (1937) with Ann Sothern and Robert Young on July 29th.

...The month ends on July 31st with the Lubitsch classic TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942), starring Carole Lombard and Jack Benny.

For much more on TCM in July, please consult the complete schedule.

A side note: I haven't been posting the Fox Movie Channel schedule in recent months due to the highly repetitive nature of the FMC schedule. That said, I wanted to be sure to mention that ALASKA PASSAGE (1959) will air on Fox Movie Channel on July 12th. I receive steady email inquiries about this film's availability; hopefully it will come out from the Fox Cinema Archives at some point, although hopefully not in pan and scan.

Criterion Half-Price Sale at B&N

I'm back from a few days' vacation, just in time for the annual half-price Criterion Collection summer sale at Barnes & Noble.

The sale began online today and will start in stores on Tuesday, July 1st.

According to the B&N website, the sale will run through July 28th.

It's worth noting that last year the sale ended up being extended into early August, so that's always a possibility.

One of the sets eagerly anticipated by many for this year's sale is The Essential Jacques Demy collection, which includes THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT (1967). It will be released on July 22nd but can be preordered now at the sale price.

My order is also going to include RED RIVER (1948) -- the set includes two versions of the movie!

Other releases of recent months include THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (1958), a Kurosawa film which is said to have been a strong influence on STAR WARS (1977), and Harold Lloyd in THE FRESHMAN (1925).

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summertime in Hollywood

We're heading off for a few days of vacation in the Eastern High Sierras!

While I'm away you can follow my Twitter account for trip photos -- I plan to photograph Tim Holt Street in Lone Pine and the locations of Jacques Tourneur's NIGHTFALL (1957) in Bridgeport, among other things! I'll also be posting trip photos here when I return.

I'll resume regular posting early next week, including a look at TCM in July and a review of the new Warner Archive Blu-ray release of KISMET (1955). In the meantime, here are some wonderful summery shots of classic film stars enjoying the season.

Beautiful Debra Paget ready for a canoe ride:

George Brent cooling off:

Here's lovely Carole Landis poolside:

All-American girl Nancy Olson at the beach:

John Payne surfing:

Barbara Stanwyck ready for the tennis court:

Tyrone Power:

Betty Grable, photographed at the beach for Life Magazine:

Sterling Hayden, who loved sailing:

Robert Taylor and pal ready to go fishing:

And little Margaret O'Brien dipping her toes in the surf:

It's nice to note that Debra Paget, Nancy Olson, and Margaret O'Brien are all still with us today.

For more great photos of classic film stars enjoying the summer sun, please visit last year's posts Summertime in Hollywood and More Summertime in Hollywood.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion (1945)

BOSTON BLACKIE BOOKED ON SUSPICION (1945), the eighth film in the long-running mystery series, is an especially strong entry.

Chester Morris again stars as ex-con Boston Blackie, magician and master of disguise, who this time around inadvertently becomes involved in the sale of a counterfeit rare book. Before too long, there's also been a murder...

Inspector Farraday (Richard Lane) should know better by now than to accuse Blackie of a crime, but if he had common sense the movies would be a lot shorter! Blackie must evade being arrested by the inspector while solving the crime on his own; suspects include a crook on the lam, Jack Higgins (Steve Cochran, in his first movie), whose wife Gloria (Lynn Merrick) works in the bookstore.

I continue to very much enjoy this series, chiefly because Chester Morris is so much fun as the title character. His Blackie is charming and eminently capable, in control of any situation, even when the chips don't seem to be falling his way.

Merrick is very good as the seemingly sweet Gloria, who turns out to have a lethal streak. Cochran as her husband seems a bit wary of his wife, and rightfully so!

Lloyd Corrigan returned to the recurring role of Blackie's friend, businessman Arthur Manleder, which had been played by Harrison Greene in the previous film, ONE MYSTERIOUS NIGHT (1944). BOSTON BLACKIE BOOKED ON SUSPICION was the last of Corrigan's half dozen appearances in the series.

George E. Stone, who plays Blackie's righthand man, the Runt, would continue on for another five films, until the next-to-last BOSTON BLACKIE entry in 1948.

BOSTON BLACKIE BOOKED ON SUSPICION was directed by Arthur Dreifuss and filmed by George Meehan. It runs 66 minutes.

This movie is not available on VHS or DVD, but it's been shown from time to time on Turner Classic Movies.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Saint in London (1939)

George Sanders' second SAINT film, THE SAINT IN LONDON (1939), is a bit unusual in that it was actually filmed in England rather than recreating London on the backlot.

THE SAINT IN LONDON features a largely British cast and was directed by John Paddy Carstairs. London-born Sally Gray, who starred a few years later in the classic GREEN FOR DANGER (1946), is Sanders' leading lady.

Simon Templar has recently returned to London from New York. Templar immediately hires Dugan (David Burns), a friendly pickpocket from New York -- by way of San Quentin -- to serve as his valet. It's a good thing, as Templar will need the street-savvy, quick-witted Dugan to bail him out of a jam or two in the days to come.

Templar, followed everywhere by the lovely and admiring society girl Penny (Gray), becomes mixed up in solving a crime involving smuggling stolen foreign currency. The plot gets a tad murky at times, but no matter! Sanders' Templar is smart and suave, and there's some excellent dialogue along the way. The film moves like lightning, with a 72-minute running time. (IMDb indicates there was a British cut running five minutes longer.) All in all it's a diverting entry.

I particularly liked the Dugan character, who is very much like Goldie Locke in the Falcon series. There are a couple of exchanges between Dugan and Inspector Teal (Gordon McLeod) which are especially amusing.

Gray would return as the leading lady in a later Saint film, THE SAINT'S VACATION (1941), starring Hugh Sinclair as Simon Templar. However, in her second SAINT outing Gray played a completely different character! On the other hand, Gordon McLeod recreated his role as Inspector Teal of Scotland Yard in the same film.

It's interesting RKO didn't see it as potentially confusing having one actor playing the same character while another actor appeared as a completely new character in films released just two years apart. But then, RKO also didn't think it would be confusing to have Louis Hayward play Simon Templar in THE SAINT IN NEW YORK (1938) and then switch to Sanders the following year!

The "recycling" of actors was fairly typical of RKO series in general; actresses such as Joan Woodbury and Rita Corday appeared over and over again in the FALCON films, always as a new character. And as a matter of fact, Wendy Barrie played three different characters in three different SAINT films.

THE SAINT IN LONDON is available on DVD in the Warner Archive's George Sanders Saint Movies Collection. I previously reviewed the first film in the set, THE SAINT STRIKES BACK (1939).

THE SAINT IN LONDON has also been released on Region 2 DVD. It had a VHS release as a TCM double feature paired with THE SAINT'S DOUBLE TROUBLE (1940).

THE SAINT IN LONDON can also be seen from time to time on Turner Classic Movies.

Quick Preview of TCM in September

The September schedule for Turner Classic Movies is now available online!

The September Star of the Month will be Melvyn Douglas, which means there will be some really terrific movies airing on Wednesday evenings that month. The schedule looks like a nice mix of the familiar (THEODORA GOES WILD and NINOTCHKA) and the obscure (ON THE LOOSE and TELL NO TALES).

I suspect there's a good chance that Melvyn's granddaughter Illeana Douglas, who has become at regular at TCM events, will cohost his tribute. (Incidentally, Illeana was just announced as a guest on the TCM Cruise this fall.)

Pre-Code fans will be in heaven in September; not only is the Friday Night Spotlight focused on pre-Codes, but Fridays will be devoted to 24-hour pre-Code marathons! Countless classic pre-Code titles will be shown; anyone's favorite pre-Code title is very likely to be found in the listings.

A title on the September schedule of particular note for TCM Classic Film Festival attendees is the British comedy ON APPROVAL (1944) with Beatrice Lillie, Googie Withers, Clive Brook, and Roland Culver. I had a little trouble staying awake during that one (14 movies in 3-1/2 days will do that to anyone!) and am glad of the chance to take another look. There's a very detailed post on the movie by Kim posted at I See a Dark Theater.

I'm also excited about finally seeing THE HIDDEN EYE (1945), the sequel to Edward Arnold's terrific film about a blind detective with an exceptionally smart seeing eye dog, EYES IN THE NIGHT (1942).

One of my favorite days on the schedule is a September 10th tribute to director B. Ross Lederman, with several "B" films starring actors like Robert Sterling, Donna Reed, Regis Toomey, and Julie Bishop. That should be a fun day of little-known films.

And you've got to love TCM spending a day paying tribute to Dennis O'Keefe! I especially look forward to COVER UP (1949) with Barbara Britton. Also on the schedule are O'Keefe's classic noir titles for director Anthony Mann, RAW DEAL (1948) and T-MEN (9147), neither of which should be missed.

September will also bring tributes to William Holden, Edward Dmytryk, Aline MacMahon, Fay Wray, Lauren Bacall, Carroll Baker, William Beaudine, and Deborah Kerr. Saturday mornings will be devoted to the Dr. Kildare series and Ken Maynard Westerns.

I'll post a more detailed look at September on TCM somewhere around September 1st!

In the meantime, Maureen O'Hara is the July Star of the Month, and August will bring the annual Summer Under the Stars Festival.

Update: For more detailed information on TCM's September schedule, please visit my post TCM in September: Highlights, TCM Star of the Month: Melvyn Douglas, and TCM Friday Spotlight: Pre-Codes.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Dust Be My Destiny (1939) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

The memorably titled DUST BE MY DESTINY (1939) is a very good John Garfield drama released this month by the Warner Archive. I enjoyed it a great deal.

Garfield plays Joe Bell, released from prison when he's finally cleared of a crime he didn't commit. Dead broke, Joe is soon arrested for vagrancy and sent to a work farm, where he falls in love with Mabel (Priscilla Lane), the pretty teenaged stepdaughter of the cruel yard boss (Stanley Ridges).

When Mabel's stepfather starts smacking her around, Joe brawls with him and then Joe and Mabel run away, marrying and then struggling to survive from town to town. Matters worsen when the couple learn that her stepfather, who had a bad heart, has died and Joe is wanted for questioning regarding the death. Will they be on the run for the rest of their lives?

I might have wished for the climactic trial to rely more on forensic evidence than pure emotion to sway the jury, but otherwise this is a well-done film with touching performances by Garfield and Lane. While the film's backdrop is crime and social issues, at its heart the movie is a love story about two lonely souls who find one another and struggle through adversity side by side.

Garfield does an excellent job conveying both Joe's rough edges and the tender, vulnerable side who is overjoyed to have someone so sweet trust and love him. He's a compelling actor, and I found him especially likeable in this role.

That said, the film would not be as good as it is without Priscilla Lane matching Garfield every step of the way, angelic yet tough enough to stick with Joe and ultimately make a hard choice. This was Garfield and Lane's third film together, following FOUR DAUGHTERS (1938) and DAUGHTERS COURAGEOUS (1939).

The excellent supporting cast is led by Alan Hale as a newspaper editor who gives Joe a job. The moment when Joe looks him in the eye and unburdens himself of the truth is cathartic; it's a relief to Joe and the audience for Joe to confide in someone at last, and for that person to cut him a break.

Henry Armetta also has a nice role as Nick, a cafe owner who helps Joe and Mabel. Other notable roles are Charley Grapewin as a kindly railroad company employee; Ward Bond, utterly creepy as a sleazy criminal; John Litel as an overzealous prosecutor; and Moroni Olsen as a defense attorney.

The screenplay by Robert Rossen, based on a novel by Jerome Odlum, is said by several sources to have originally been slated to have a different ending; Seton I. Miller did uncredited rewrites. The film runs 88 minutes.

DUST BE MY DESTINY was directed by Lewis Seiler, with black and white cinematography by James Wong Howe. The score was by Max Steiner.

The Warner Archive DVD is a good-looking print. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.

Around the Blogosphere This Week

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

...This week TCM announced the special guests for the TCM Classic Cruise which will take place on the Disney Magic this October. In addition to TCM's Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz, "friends of TCM" Illeana Douglas and Eddie Muller will be in attendance, along with Ann Blyth (this alone makes me want to go!), Shirley Jones, Richard Dreyfuss, Diane Baker, Tab Hunter, Roger Corman, James Karen, and Alex Trebek. Bruce Goldstein of New York's Film Forum, who did a terrific "Pre-Code 101" lecture at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival, will also be on hand.

...ClassicFlix has the list of August releases from Olive Films, which include Ginger Rogers and David Niven in MAGNIFICENT DOLL (1947) and Don Ameche and Catherine McLeod in THAT'S MY MAN (1947).

...Goldwyn films coming from Warner in October: Gary Cooper in THE WESTERNER (1940) and Bob Hope and Virginia Mayo in THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE (1944).

...Lou Lumenick has posted clips from 64 movies which aren't available on DVD.

...Lindsay attended last week's screening of FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933) at the Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles and wrote about it at Lindsay's Movie Musings. It's a shame the print wasn't better, but otherwise it sounds like a wonderful opportunity to visit an historic venue.

...Here's information on a proposed 400-page book on THE ART OF RALPH MCQUARRIE. The publisher is seeking pre-purchase commitments via Kickstarter.

...Notable Passing: Choral conductor-arranger Johnny Mann has passed on at 85.

...This is a relatively short link roundup; for many more links please visit last Tuesday's Around the Blogosphere post!

...Regular readers may also wish to note there will not be an Around the Blogosphere column next weekend, as I'll be enjoying time in the Sierras! Around the Blogosphere This Week will return Independence Day weekend.

Have a great week!

Today at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure: Magical Moments

The weather in Orange County was simply beautiful today, hovering around 80 with a nice breeze. A perfect day to spend time with friends at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure!

After riding on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland we encountered this charming parade of geese walking through Frontierland.

They walked so far I think they might have been headed to the moat at Sleeping Beauty Castle!

The Disneyland Today Twitter account ReTweeted my Tweet of the geese, which resulted in over 110 Favorites and 24 RTs, not to mention a number of new followers. Thanks to Disneyland Today for my first "magical" moment of the day!

The next Magical Moment occurred when we were standing in Tomorrowland discussing where to go next. A Cast Member randomly walked up and inquired if we were a party of six. We said we were, and he presented us with a "Magical Moment" FastPass good on our choice of a ride in either of the two parks!

That was such an unexpected surprise, and I think it made the day extra-special for each of us! Kudos to Disney.

We decided to head for California Adventure...

...where I took my first ride on Tower of Terror in at least a couple of years. I'd forgotten how much fun it is! Here's a shot of the lobby in the Hollywood Tower Hotel:

We enjoyed a lovely lunch in Paradise Garden, complete with mariachi music, and then headed for the just-reopened Grizzly River Run.

We saved our special Magical Moment pass for this attraction, which meant we were on the ride in minutes instead of having to wait for an hour or so!

I Tweeted "We're about to get wettttttt!!!!!!" and indeed we did! Laughing the whole time. :)

Too soon it was time to head for home, but we'll be back often this summer!

Click on the above photo to enlarge it -- GRR is one of Disney's most beautiful rides.

Hope all my readers are enjoying a happy summer Sunday, wherever you may be today!

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