Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Her Twelve Men (1954) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Greer Garson plays a devoted teacher in HER TWELVE MEN (1954), released last month on DVD by the Warner Archive.

Garson plays Jan Stewart, a widow who takes a job at the Oaks, an all-boys boarding school. She's the lone female teacher at the school, and though her colleagues and students alike are initially skeptical, her warmth and dedication quickly win everyone over. Soon her living quarters are filled to the brim each evening with students who come down from their dorm room to study, play games, and enjoy the homey environment she provides.

A number of the boys have disinterested parents, with rebellious Richard Oliver (Tim Considine) being one of the toughest cases of neglect. Miss Stewart soon has Richard's widowed father (Barry Sullivan) paying more attention to him...and she is flustered when Mr. Oliver starts paying attention to her, as well.

The senior Oliver's interest in Miss Stewart doesn't sit well with Joe Hargrave (Robert Ryan), a fellow teacher who seems to be quietly harboring feelings for her himself.

HER TWELVE MEN isn't anything particularly special, but it isn't bad, either. It's simply pleasant family entertainment, made watchable by appealing lead actors and a fairly interesting setting.

It's fun to note this wasn't Garson's first film about a boys' school, as she made her feature film debut in GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS (1939).

I didn't always find Garson's character admirable; her writing letters to a lonely boy, pretending to be his mother, seems doomed to eventual disaster as at some point down the road he will probably come to learn his mother didn't write them. That said, at least she did it from a caring heart. For the most part, Garson is as warm and appealing as always, and it's easy to see why the boys cling to her not just as a teacher but as a surrogate parent.

A scene where a mother (Frances Bergen) shows up with her forbidding-looking new husband (Ivan Triesault) is nicely played, as the husband bonds with his new stepson (David Stollery) over a piano and proves not to be so scary after all.

Barbara Lawrence is wasted as Joe's impatient date; I'm not sure she had a scene where she wasn't sitting in a convertible! James Arness is perfect as a P.E. coach, Ian Wolfe is yet another teacher, and Richard Haydn is the snooty head of the school.

It's also worth noting that this film features young Considine and Stollery before they starred as SPIN AND MARTY for Disney the following year; Considine is said to have suggested Stollery to Disney after they worked together on this film.

The movie was directed by Robert Z. Leonard and shot by Joseph Ruttenberg in widescreen Anscocolor. William Roberts and novelist Laura Z. Hobson wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Louise Baker. John Houseman produced. The running time is 91 minutes.

The color is slightly faded but I believe that's more a trait of Anscocolor than the DVD print itself. 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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

Brand-New Western Roundup Column at Classic Movie Hub

My new column has just been posted at Classic Movie Hub!

My latest piece is on this year's TCM Classic Film Festival and the U.S. premiere of the digital restoration of a favorite Western, WINCHESTER '73 (1950), which I discuss in some detail.

Please click on over to Classic Movie Hub to check it out!

Previous Classic Movie Hub Western Roundup Column Links: June 2018; July 2018; August 2018; September 2018; October 2018; November 2018; December 2018; January 2019; February 2019; April 5, 2019.

TCM in May: Highlights

It's time to review the May schedule for Turner Classic Movies!

Paul Newman is the May Star of the Month. Every Wednesday evening in May will feature five Newman films. There will not be a separate Star of the Month post for May.

There will be a special post on TCM's Thursday evening Spotlight series on WWII in the Movies: The Homefront. The homefront series, which begins on May 2nd, will be followed by a series on WWII battle films in June, which is also the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (Update: Please visit TCM in May: WWII Homefront Films.)

Additional TCM news: Last week TCM announced the return of THE ESSENTIALS series on Saturday, May 4th. Ben Mankiewicz will host with director Ava DuVernay. The titles for May are MARTY (1955), ASHES AND EMBERS (1982), CABIN IN THE SKY (1943), and PATHER PANCHALI (1955).

Also of special interest this month is a Tuesday evening romantic comedy series titled Meet Cutes, beginning on May 7th.

Robert Osborne's May 3rd birthday will be celebrated with "Best of Robert Osborne's Picks." I'm particularly delighted by the inclusion of THE TIME, THE PLACE AND THE GIRL (1946) in the Osborne tribute, as it introduced me to the lilting tune "Oh, But I Do" by Arthur Schwartz and Leo Robin. Dennis Morgan, Martha Vickers, Jack Carson, and Janis Paige star (seen at right). The other films airing that night are LADY OF BURLESEQUE (1943) with Barbara Stanwyck and BORN TO DANCE (1936) starring Eleanor Powell.

The Noir Alley films for May are NIGHTMARE ALLEY (1947) on May 4th and 5th, WHITE HEAT (1949) on May 11th/12th, KEY LARGO (1948) on the 18th and 19th, and DEAD RECKONING (1947) on May 25th and 26th. Tyrone Power and Coleen Gray (seen at left) are very special costarring in NIGHTMARE ALLEY, a dark yet impressive film.

Below are just a few of TCM's May highlights; click on any hyperlinked title for my past review.

...May 1st features women involved in crime. There are several interesting titles showing that day, but for me the pick of the bunch is Wellman's MIDNIGHT MARY (1933), which is one of my favorite pre-Codes and also one of my favorite Loretta Young films. Franchot Tone, Ricardo Cortez, and Una Merkel costar.

...The first evening of Paul Newman films on May 1st includes the absorbing WWII film UNTIL THEY SAIL (1957), costarring Jean Simmons and Joan Fontaine.

...There's more Loretta on May 2nd in the well-plotted CAUSE FOR ALARM! (1951). Loretta stars as a woman trying to intercept a letter in which her nasty husband (Barry Sullivan) frames her for his murder. Later in the day there's another very interesting film about another evil husband, RAGE IN HEAVEN (1941). RAGE IN HEAVEN turns the expected on its head with Robert Montgomery as the husband and George Sanders as the knight in shining armor trying to save Ingrid Bergman.

...Anthony Mann's terrific "French Revolution film noir" THE BLACK BOOK (1949), also known as REIGN OF TERROR, will air on May 3rd. Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl star in this excellent film, shot in black and white by the great John Alton.

...DODGE CITY (1939) never seems to be quite as good as I want it to be, yet I'm drawn back to it time after time for the starring team of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, glowing in beautiful Technicolor. It's on Saturday, May 4th.

...Enrst Lubitsch's classic NINOTCHKA (1939) airs on Sunday, May 5th. It stars Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas.

...The adoption melodrama CLOSE TO MY HEART (1951) stars the very attractive team of Ray Milland and Gene Tierney. It's worth a look, showing on May 6th.

...The first night of "Meet Cutes" on May 7th kicks off in fine style with IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934). Among the other five films on the schedule I particularly recommend William Powell and Carole Lombard in the classic MY MAN GODFREY (1936).

...A day of films set in Mexico on May 8th including multiple films starring Robert Mitchum, including THE BIG STEAL (1949), a lighthearted chase film which reunited Mitchum with his OUT OF THE PAST (1947) costar Jane Greer. (That one's on, too!) I also really enjoy SECOND CHANCE (1953), teaming Mitchum with Linda Darnell. I was lucky to see that one in 3-D at the World 3-D Expo at the Egyptian Theatre in 2013.

...The colorful, goofy sci-fi film QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE (1958) will be shown on May 10th. Zsa Zsa Gabor stars.

...Saturday, May 11th features Fran Capra's MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939) starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, and a marvelous cast of character actors.

...Mother's Day on May 12th features a lineup of appropriately themed films, including Joan Crawford in MILDRED PIERCE (1945), which I'll be seeing that same afternoon at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival.

...The May 14th "Meet Cutes" start off with the timeless classic THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940). Five other films air that evening, including the enjoyable RKO "B" comedy CROSS-COUNTRY ROMANCE (1940) starring Gene Raymond and Wendy Barrie.

...Joseph Cotten is honored with a multifilm tribute on May 15th. I recommend the lesser-known title THE MAN WITH A CLOAK (1951), in which Cotten plays...well, watch and find out! Barbara Stanwyck and Leslie Caron costar in this period suspense film.

...May 16th features a lineup about buses, race cars, and trucks, including the wonderfully titled TRUCK BUSTERS (1943), a "B" film starring Richard Travis and Virginia Christine.

...Another lesser-known, very good Joseph Cotten film, A BLUEPRINT FOR MURDER (1943), will be shown on May 17th. He plays a man who comes to suspect that his sister-in-law has murdered her stepdaughter, his late brother's child.

...THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955), one of the fine Westerns made by James Stewart and director Anthony Mann, will be shown on May 18th.

...Margaret O'Brien, James Craig, and Marsha Hunt star in the delightful MGM comedy LOST ANGEL (1943) on May 20th.

...WIVES UNDER SUSPICION (1938) is an entertaining 69-minute film starring Warren William and Gail Patrick. It's a nice change of pace watching Patrick play a sweet, innocent type. It will be shown on early on May 21st.

...On Thursday, May 21st, the theme is "Mid-Century Meet Cutes," with half a dozen films on the schedule including the delightful SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963) starring Rod Taylor, Jane Fonda, Cliff Robertson, and Robert Culp.

...Laurence Olivier is celebrated on Wednesday, May 22nd. One of the lesser-known films on the schedule is THE DIVORCE OF LADY X (1938) costarring Merle Oberon and David Niven; the film has a unique look with unusual yet visually pleasing color combinations.

...Joan Fontaine is BORN TO BE BAD (1950). It's a truly fun film costarring Robert Ryan, Joan Leslie, and Zachary Scott, airing on May 23rd.

...Earlier this month I was fortunate to see Gigi Perreau introduce SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950), a fine crime film costarring Zachary Scott, Ann Sothern, and Nancy Davis (Reagan). It will be shown on TCM on the 24th.

...DESPERATE JOURNEY (1942) is a fine WWII films about American pilots who bail out over Germany and attempt to fight make their way to freedom. Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan costar. It's airing on May 25th.

...I just saw HIGH SOCIETY (1956) at the TCM Classic Film Festival and had a marvelous time watching it for the first time in years. Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra star, with able support from Celeste Holm, John Lund, and Louis Armstrong. The score is by Cole Porter. It's showing on May 26th.

...The final evening of "Meet Cutes" on May 28th I find of lesser interest, but it does feature the Oscar-winning THE GOODBYE GIRL (1977) which I felt held up quite well when I revisited it a couple years ago for the first time in decades.

...The delightful comedy TWICE BLESSED (1945), which incidentally was just released on DVD by the Warner Archive, will be shown May 29th. Years before the similarly plotted THE PARENT TRAP (1962), Lyn and Lee Wilde play identical twin sisters hoping to reunite divorced parents Preston Foster and Gail Patrick.

...Last month I had the chance to see the pre-Code THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) at UCLA. Joel McCrea and Fay Wray star in the classic adventure story, showing on TCM on May 31st.

For more on TCM in May 2019, please visit my Quick Preview of TCM in May, TCM in May: WWII Homefront Films, and TCM's complete schedule.

Enjoy all the wonderful movies ahead this month on Turner Classic Movies!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Only Yesterday at UCLA (1933)

At Friday evening's pre-Code double bill at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, THE SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932) was followed with ONLY YESTERDAY (1933).

ONLY YESTERDAY was directed by John M. Stahl, who among other films directed the original versions of IMITATION OF LIFE (1934) and MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (1935).

ONLY YESTERDAY is a melodrama in the same vein as those later Stahl films, with our heroine Mary (Margaret Sullavan) facing many trials and tribulations. Though the storyline was on the depressing side, I actually enjoyed it pretty well thanks to the fine cast.

It's the evening of the big stock market crash in 1929, and having lost everything -- including his wife (Benita Hume) -- Jim (John Boles) locks himself in his office and prepares to end it all. And then his eye catches sight of an envelope containing a very long letter addressed to him from someone named Mary...

From here most of the story is told in flashback, as impressionable young Mary foolishly leaves a dance and has a one-night stand with Jim, who's about to ship out to Europe to fight in WWI. Mary is left behind, pregnant and alone, and her embarrassed parents (Jane Darwell and Oscar Apfel) ship Mary off to stay with her free-thinking Aunt Julia (Billie Burke) in New York.

Julia, a suffragette, views Mary's situation as simply "something that happened," and over the coming years Julia and her husband Bob (Reginald Denny) provide Mary and her little boy Jimmy (Jimmy Butler) with the love and support of family. Which is all the more important as when Jim returns from the war and Mary goes to see him, he doesn't recognize her.

Even more incredibly, years later the married Jim, having no memory of Mary, tries to seduce her all over again! He's really rather a heel, disguised under a nice exterior.

From here things become even more dramatic, but in the end Mary's letter might just be the saving of Jim.

The movie could have stood a bit of trimming, as it goes on a bit long at 105 minutes, but for the most part this is an absorbing story. Sullavan is a compelling actress, and her journey as Mary is interesting despite some poor choices along the way; she manages to pull herself together for her little boy's sake and become a very successful businesswoman.

Burke has one of her best parts as Mary's kind aunt. Julia's courtship by the younger Bob is charming; together Burke and Denny keep the film from being too weighted down with sadness. Young Jimmy Butler also does a fine job as Sullavan's son; I was sad to read he died fighting in WWII in 1945.

Boles manages to simultaneously be sleazy and sympathetic; he's a jerk much of the time, yet we're hopeful -- most of all for Jimmy's sake -- that by the end of the film he's turned over a new leaf and will dedicate himself to his son.

The cast also includes Edna May Oliver, George Meeker, and Noel Francis; Leon Ames has a bit role. Familiar faces such as Franklin Pangborn, Louise Beavers, Walter Catlett, Sam McDaniel, Natalie Moorhead, Joyce Compton, Grady Sutton, and Marie Prevost are sprinkled throughout the movie; recognizing actors as they come and go is part of the fun with this one. For instance, this is one of many films in which both Bill Elliott and Dennis O'Keefe are bit players; in this case they are New Year's Eve party-goers.

ONLY YESTERDAY was filmed by Merritt B. Gerstad. The script by a trio of writers was inspired by a novel by Stefan Zweig; years later, a fairly different version was filmed as LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN (1948).


Tonight's Movie: The Sign of the Cross (1932) at UCLA

Last Friday night was another fun evening at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood.

The UCLA Film & Television Archive hosted a pre-Code double bill consisting of THE SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932) and ONLY YESTERDAY (1933).

The films were introduced by Mark Vieira, author of the new book FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD: THE PRECODE ERA (1930-1934), published by Turner Classic Movies and Running Press.

Vieira discussed some of the background on the films, particularly the attempts to censor THE SIGN OF THE CROSS, which director Cecil B. DeMille successfully avoided. He also had a treat to show us as part of his introduction, a scroll which was a prop from THE SIGN OF THE CROSS.

Vieira signed FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD before the film and at intermission; he's seen signing a book at the left in this photo, alongside Jeff Mantor of Larry Edmunds Bookshop.

When I complimented Vieira on the quality of the photos in his book, he told me he had painstakingly cleaned each one up digitally. The work really shows as the book is a feast for the eyes.

My friend Raquel recently interviewed Vieira for the TCM Tumblr page, and I recommend the interview for more details on the book. Incidentally, he mentions the great Ned Comstock at USC, who is universally beloved to anyone researching film history. He's been of assistance to more than one of my family members over the years!

As I mentioned in my preview of the evening, THE SIGN OF THE CROSS is fairly notorious as one of the most extreme examples of the pre-Code era, including Claudette Colbert's topless milk bath scene, an orgy and dance, and the gruesome torture of Christians in the Roman arena. I'd been putting off seeing it for these reasons, but decided if I were going to see it, the best way would be a 35mm print preserved from DeMille's personal nitrate print! I viewed it as something of an educational experience, learning more about DeMille and the pre-Code era.

Fredric March plays Marcus, the Prefect of Rome, who falls for a Christian girl, Mercia (Elissa Landi). This does not sit well with Empress Poppaea (Colbert), who lusts after Marcus despite being married to the insane Emperor Nero (Charles Laughton).

As the Christians are rounded up at Nero and Poppaea's direction and condemned to death in the arena, Marcus must decide whether to give up Mercia...or to become a Christian and die with her, in order to be together in Heaven. A pretty heavy plot!

While the Roman excesses are the focus of much of the film, that's balanced with extended scenes of Christians praying, giving testimony, and practicing their faith, which is certainly unique compared to most modern films.

The movie was about what I expected. I relished Colbert's fascinating portrayal of a character described by DeMille as "the wickedest woman in the world" but otherwise didn't find it enjoyable watching the depiction of so much suffering.

Laughton was entirely too believable as Nero, so creepy that it was frankly almost difficult to keep looking at him. As a matter of fact, truth be told, I spent an unusual amount of time looking down at the floor during this movie, as I just didn't want to see what was happening on the screen.

Having now seen it (or, at times, listened to it!), I'm glad to check this title off my lists of unseen Colbert and DeMille films, but I can't say I plan to ever watch it again.

The supporting cast includes Ian Keith, Arthur Hohl, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Vivian Tobin (sister of Genevieve), Nat Pendleton, and Charles Middleton.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS was photographed by Karl Struss. The costumes were designed by future director Mitchell Leisen.

The print shown at UCLA was longer than the running time listed at IMDb; it ran 125 minutes and included a three-minute intermission with an orchestra track.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS is available as a single-title DVD release in the Universal Cinema Classics line or as part of the five-film Cecil B. DeMille Collection. It was also released on VHS.

Update: THE SIGN OF THE CROSS is now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

And so, at last, we come to the conclusion of this era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019), which I saw yesterday, was a remarkable capstone to the 20 Marvel films previously reviewed here since July 2015. (The total is upped to 21 previous reviews if TV's AGENT CARTER is included.) I can't imagine a better way to have ended the series.

This review will necessarily be relatively brief and detail free so that, as the Twitter hashtag says, I #DontSpoiltheEndgame.

When last we saw our heroes in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018), arch villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) had just erased half of humankind with what is now called "The Snap." I wrote of INFINITY WAR: "How I ultimately feel about this film will have quite a bit to do with my reaction to Part 2 when it's released in May 2019. It's really all one big story, and it's far from over at this juncture."

The story is now completed, and I am more than satisfied. In rather a remarkable feat, the movie simultaneously wraps up not just INFINITY WAR but ideas lingering from past films. I was particularly grateful for the exquisite last scene; Marvel really did right by its fans.

The movie is simultaneously elegiac and funny, successfully straddling a variety of tones; it has a wealth of quotable lines which I suspect are already entering the popular culture lexicon. It allows for moments both big and small, with quiet, intimate scenes between closely connected characters, as well as epic sequences certain to gladden the heart of any Marvel fan. It's probably the fastest 181 minutes I'll ever spend in a movie theater, and it's very possible I'll go back and do it all over again, there is so much to take in and appreciate about this film.

Pretty much everyone who's anyone in the MCU is in this film, and the lengthy closing credits feel like a curtain call for the actors who've participated in the series over the past decade, with special credits tributes to the original six Avengers, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Each of these six actors shines in this film -- and who could have foreseen when watching the original THOR (2011) the extent to which the god of Thunder would become such hilarious comic relief?

I agree with Leonard Maltin, who wrote, "It is escapist entertainment of a very high order, and an achievement that has no true precedent in the history of motion pictures. No series...from Tarzan to James Bond, has ever attempted to incorporate so many moving parts in one conclusive film."

AVENGERS: ENDGAME was directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and filmed by Trent Opaloch. The score was by Alan Silvestri.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13. As with most Marvel films, the violence is of the non-gory variety, though there are moments which could potentially upset young children. There is also some limited yet notable swearing. The many positive themes include love of family and friends, the value of kindness to others, teamwork, and placing others above one's own priorities.

I'm so glad I was persuaded to begin watching the Marvel films nearly four years ago, as they have given me so many hours of movie pleasure, and I particularly appreciate that the filmmakers honored their viewers by working hard to maintain the quality to the very end, and then some. Watching AVENGERS: ENDGAME felt a bit like unwrapping the biggest present on Christmas morning, and it turned out to be exactly what I wanted.


Update: My review of the coda to AVENGERS: ENDGAME, SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (2019).

The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Four

After a wonderful Friday seeing four films and a clip show, Saturday was another busy day at the TCM Classic Film Festival, with my first film beginning at 9:15 a.m. and the fifth film of the day, scheduled for 9:30 p.m., not starting until well after 10:00 p.m.!

Saturday kicked off in delightful fashion with a truly fun sci-fi film, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (1951). It was fantastic seeing it on a big screen at the Chinese Multiplex!

The theater as enthusiastic film fans filed in:

Prior to the film, Barbara Rush chatted with Dennis Miller. Rush is lovely and a great storyteller; they discussed her career, and she expressed admiration for George Pal. Miller is a real fan, of both Rush and movies, and I think he expressed the admiration of the entire audience when talking with her. Rush returned to the festival on Sunday to introduce MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (1954).

Then it was a quick return to the Multiplex line to get into the packed showing of the pre-Code TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934)...

...with a special introduction by Ben Burtt and Craig Barron. As usual, they had prepared an elaborate, well-researched presentation with stills and video clips; they shared photos of MGM's rhino Mary, who appears in numerous films, and Ben detailed his research on the Tarzan yell, which he determined to be the human voice supplemented by...a clarinet?!

They shared photos of matte paintings created for the film which they tracked down to someone's garage, and they also showed a bit of the famous swimming sequence in which Maureen O'Sullivan's swim double very clearly had nothing on.

Four of the films I saw on Saturday were at the Multiplex, with the third being LOVE AFFAIR (1938) starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne:

It was introduced by Dana Delany, who I also enjoyed last year introducing WIFE VS. SECRETARY (1936). She has a clear love for classic film and does her research. She discussed the various films based on the story and expressed the opinion that LOVE AFFAIR is the best of them all. As she concluded she mentioned she was heading next to a memorial service for Luke Perry and that he had shared her love of classic movies, ending her remarks by saying, "This one's for you, Luke!"

The lighting prevented a better photo, but I'm sharing this for what it's worth to capture a bit of Delany's appearance.

As I mentioned in my festival overview, LOVE AFFAIR might have been my favorite film of the festival!

Back into the multiplex line once more, where I was fortunate to be the very last number of the "indoor" section of the line for the sold-out, very pre-Code BLOOD MONEY (1933). I was relieved I didn't have to wait outside in the overflow line and thus was fairly certain I'd get in, as indeed I did.

BLOOD MONEY starred George Bancroft, Frances Dee, and Judith Anderson. It was introduced by Bruce Goldstein of the Film Forum, who followed the screening with a fascinating succession of clips from the film, labeling the cities and states which banned each scene; I was amused that a couple of scenes were banned in Massachusetts, but only on Sundays!

Amazingly for such a busy day, I still had time to meet up with my husband for a great dinner at the Pig 'N Whistle...

...before we headed next door for the final film of the day, a nitrate 35mm screening of Cecil B. DeMille's SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949) at the Egyptian Theatre.

Thanks to the kind invitation of Victoria Mature, who we've gotten to know over the past year, my husband and I were honored to have special tickets...

...for the reserved section at the screening.

The "cheering section" for Victoria and screening host Alan K. Rode also included (left to right) Beth Accomando, Miguel Rodriguez, Pete Shaner, and Jemma Rode, as well as (unseen here) Karen Burroughs Hannsberry and her daughter Veronica.

Alan conducted a wonderful interview with Victoria prior to the film, as she reminisced about Victor Mature as her doting father in the years after he was mostly retired from show business.

She said women would come up to the family in restaurants and ask her mother if they could kiss her father, and little Victoria would exclaim "No!" She also told the delightful story of his attempt to join a country club which banned actors, saying something along the lines of "I'm no actor and have the films to prove it!"

She discussed how her father trained to get into shape for SAMSON AND DELILAH; she and Alan had visited the film's production archives, which include numerous bills for his personal trainer. She said her father would chuckle about "making with the holy look" in the Biblical epics he appeared in, and she imitated his soulful skyward look.

For those who would enjoy hearing more of Victoria's memories of her father, please visit video of her appearance at last year's Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, and be sure to catch Part 2 as well.

Biblical epics aren't my most favorite genre, but I love the SAMSON AND DELILAH cast, which also included Hedy Lamarr, George Sanders, and Angela Lansbury, and it was a real treat to experience this memorable film for the first time in a nitrate print!

It was a very special evening celebrating a favorite actor at the TCM Classic Film Festival, one more great example of what makes the TCM Classic Film Festival such a wonderful experience.

Coming soon: The final day of this year's TCM Classic Film Festival!

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