Sunday, February 18, 2018

Weekend Movie Fun

My husband and I enjoyed a fun, movie-filled day in the Great Los Angeles area yesterday!

It all began in the afternoon with a visit to the Griffith Park area home of our friend Woody Wise, who screens the movies at the Lone Pine Film Festival. Woody has a very nice home screening room, as seen in the documentary BROTHERHOOD OF THE POPCORN (2014), and he invited a few members of the L.A. TCM Backlot chapter over to enjoy a movie.

Woody's home is on property where Bette Davis once had horse stables; the home she lived in, behind his own house, still stands. Thanks to the kindness of both Woody and his neighbor, we were invited over for a peek at the exterior:

Here's the house as it looked on a vintage postcard:

A side note: As it happens, Davis's final resting place is fairly nearby, at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, as seen in this post.

Woody's home is filled with fabulous movie posters everywhere; my favorite was this Bob Steele poster seen behind his staircase:

Our group settled down to watch Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame in IN A LONELY PLACE (1950), which I last saw half a decade ago. As was the case with last year's revisiting of NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950), it's a film I was initially dubious about which I appreciated more on a second look. I find it helps to know what to expect going in, and because of that I also found them each less depressing the second time! I was glad I saw it again.

I especially enjoy Frank Lovejoy and Jeff Donnell, seen here with Bogart and Grahame. According to IMDb, the intersection where Bogart races away from the beach picnic is Pacific Coast Highway and Chautauqua. I've driven past it numerous times.

Woody's Blu-ray projector and sound system were great! It was especially nice to make new friends who are TCM and classic movie fans.

We next drove to Westwood and had a nice dinner, then headed to UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater and an evening at the Michael Curtiz Retrospective.

I'd been unable to be at this series since the opening weekend so I was especially glad to be there. The diverse double bill, pairing the film noir THE UNSUSPECTED (1947) with the colorful musical ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948), showcased the director's versatility. He also produced both films.

Here's Curtiz biographer Alan Rode introducing THE UNSUSPECTED:

It had been five years since I'd seen THE UNSUSPECTED and six since I'd seen ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, and I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting each of them. THE UNSUSPECTED was shown digitally, as only half of the 35mm Library of Congress print arrived in time for the screening! ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS was shown in a 35mm print which was somewhat orange-tinged in spots but on the whole quite good, save for an abrupt jump between reels late in the film.

To be sure, THE UNSUSPECTED has some flaws, including a rather weak performance by leading man Michael (Ted) North, who received an "Introducing" screen credit yet never made another film. On the whole, though, it's highly enjoyable, with spectacular black and white cinematography by Woody Bredell and a wonderful cast including Audrey Totter, Fred Clark, and Constance Bennett. Having Totter and Bennett both in the same film is simply delicious.

Kenneth Britton, who plays Claude Rains' offbeat butler, also turns up as a shipboard bartender in ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS. The evening was also a Bess Flowers "two-fer," as Hollywood's most famous extra is a guest at Rains' surprise party in the first film and a ship's passenger in the second.

As for ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, what can one say but "Doris Day! Doris Day! Doris Day!" She's simply fabulous in this star-making performance, especially when she breaks into "It's Magic." She's surrounded by a marvelous cast including Jack Carson, Janis Paige, and Don DeFore. A treat from start to finish.

For lots of colorful screencaps from ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, check out a post from last summer by The Blonde at the Film.

We're very fortunate to have so many wonderful moviegoing opportunities in Southern California, along with chances to connect with fellow fans and enjoy bits of film history. (Speaking of film history, Oscar winning actor-dancer George Chakiris of WEST SIDE STORY walked into the Billy Wilder Theater lobby shortly after our arrival!) I'm hoping to be at UCLA again in two weeks for THE PROUD REBEL (1958) and FOUR DAUGHTERS (1938).

And coming to UCLA later this year: An Ida Lupino series!


Blogger John G. said...

THE UNSUSPECTED is a fine movie. Audrey Totter, Claude Rains, and Joan Caulfield...what's not to like?

4:04 PM  
Blogger Laura said...


Best wishes,

10:05 AM  

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