Wednesday, September 30, 2020

TCM in October: Highlights

October is here, and it's time to take a look at the new schedule for the upcoming month on Turner Classic Movies!

The October Star of the Month is Peter Cushing. Two dozen Cushing films will be shown spread across Monday evenings in October. Please note that there will not be a separate Star of the Month schedule post this month.

The TCM Spotlight on Thursday evenings will focus on "30 Years of the Film Foundation." The 25 titles will include two of my favorite Westerns, WINCHESTER '73 (1950) and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949), showing on October 29th.

Continuing in September will be the "Women Make Film" series, which began in September and will run through early December.

The Noir Alley films in October are WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (1950) on October 3rd and 4th, THE RACKET (1951) October 10th and 11th, DESTINATION MURDER (1950) on the 17th and 18th, MACAO (1952) October 24th-25th, and THE SEVENTH VICTIM (1943) on October 31st and November 1st.

Please note that the TCM website has undergone a major overhaul this week. The schedule link I recently used for my December preview no longer works, and the October schedule is also not available today. (I'm working from a printed copy which is hopefully still accurate.) It appears possible that future schedules will not be available until the month is underway.

We'll have to see whether there are any additional changes to the site which make additional information accessible, but for now just a heads up that future TCM coverage may possibly look different, including Highlights posts going up after the 1st of the month.

Here are some additional titles of interest being shown on TCM this month. Please click any hyperlinked title to read the corresponding film review.

...30 Years of the Film Foundation kicks off on the evening of October 1st, with titles including DODSWORTH (1936) and DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939).

...This month's spooky titles include the Val Lewton/Jacques Tourneur classic CAT PEOPLE (1942) on October 2nd.

...The Saturday morning lineups in October include Tex Avery cartoons, starting with the delightful "The Peachy Cobbler" on October 3rd.

...Buster Keaton's birthday will be celebrate on October 4th with a lineup including THE GENERAL (1926) and STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. (1928).

...October 5th's lineup includes LURED (1947), an excellent thriller starring Lucille Ball and George Sanders, directed by Douglas Sirk.

...Carole Lombard's October 6th birthday includes VIGIL IN THE NIGHT (1940), a very good medical melodrama I saw at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival; SWING HIGH, SWING LOW (1937) which I saw as part of a 2012 Mitchell Leisen series in UCLA; and LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST (1937), costarring Preston Foster.

...Jean Harlow also has a great day of films, on October 8th, including HOLD YOUR MAN (1933) and RED DUST (1932). Clark Gable costars in both films.

...A day of film noir on October 9th includes some excellent titles, including BORN TO KILL (1947), OUT OF THE PAST (1947), and IMPACT (1949).

...The October 10th Saturday morning Tex Avery cartoon is "Red Hot Riding Hood" (1943).

...Margaret O'Brien and Dean Stockwell star in an excellent filming of Frances Hodgson Burnett's THE SECRET GARDEN (1949) on October 11th. Brian Roper, seen here, costars. There are mystical elements which make it a good choice for Halloween month.

..."Creature features" on October 12th include an all-time fave, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953). The climax, with Lee Van Cleef shooting a radioactive isotope at the beast is amazing -- a burning roller coaster is also involved.

...HAPPINESS AHEAD (1934), a Warner Bros. film starring Dick Powell and Josephine Hutchinson, is on October 15th. It's a charmer.

...On October 17th you can catch ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947), which ranks high on several lists for me: All-time favorite John Wayne films, all-time favorite Westerns, and all-time favorite films.  Gail Russell costars.

...I was delighted by DEAR HEART (1964) earlier this year, starring Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page. It's on October 18th.

...I MARRIED A WITCH (1942), starring Veronica Lake, Fredric March, and Susan Hayward, is another film being shown as part of this month's Halloween-themed offerings. It's on October 19th.

...A day of romantic comedies on October 20th includes THEODORA GOES WILD (1936) starring Irene Dunne and Melvyn Douglas.

...October 21st features a Dr. Kildare marathon. It starts off with YOUNG DR. KILDARE (1938), followed by four additional films in the long-running MGM series starring Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore.

...Constance Bennett's October 22nd birthday features a great lineup of her films, including four titles with her frequent costar Joel McCrea and the wonderful comedy MERRILY WE LIVE (1938), costarring Brian Aherne.

...Another day of monster movies on October 23rd includes THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951), a delightful film I've watched multiple times since I first saw it in 2015.

...Doris Day stars in PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES (1960) on October 24th. David Niven and Janis Paige costar.

...Crime films on October 26th include WHERE DANGER LIVES (1950), starring Robert Mitchum, Faith Domergue, and Claude Rains.

...Daytime on October 27th presents a nice change of pace, a day of Westerns. Titles include THE HIRED GUN (1957), a short Rory Calhoun-Anne Francis film shot in Lone Pine which I like a lot.

...I return to I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! (1945) on a regular basis. Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey star. The film's mystical tone makes it another good choice for October viewing. It's on October 28th.

...I saw THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) with Joel McCrea and Fay Wray at UCLA last year. A very chilling pre-Code! It will be shown October 30th.

...Halloween night includes THEM! (1954), I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943), and THE LEOPARD MAN (1943), a trio of creepy films which I highly recommend.

For more on TCM in October 2020, please visit my Quick Preview of TCM in October along with the monthly schedule once it's available.

Happy October viewing!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

New Western Roundup Column: More Universal Gems

My latest Western Roundup column is now posted at Classic Movie Hub!

This month I've written "Universal Gems, Part 2," a sequel to my October 2018 column. I share thoughts on eight enjoyable Universal Pictures Westerns.

Please click over to Classic Movie Hub to read it, and, as always, thanks for checking out my columns!

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; April 30, 2019; May 2019; June 2019; July 2019; August 2019; September 2019; October 2019; November 2019; December 2019; January 2020; February 2020; March 2020; April 2020; May 2020; June 2020; July 2020; August 2020.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The Reckless Age (1924) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

This evening I made my first dive into the new Reginald Denny Collection recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

The set consists of three silent comedies. I watched THE RECKLESS AGE (1924); the other films in the set are SKINNER'S DRESS SUIT (1926) and WHAT HAPPENED TO JONES? (1926), which will be reviewed here at a future date.

I've been interested in Denny since he charmed me as the second male lead in THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934) over a decade ago, at which time I also learned about his fascinating second career as the inventor of remote-controlled aircraft; he helped invent the first drones ever used by the U.S. Army, and one of his companies eventually became part of Northrop. The release of an entire collection of his silent films was thus an unexpected delight.

THE RECKLESS AGE was a fun 70-minute romantic comedy in which Denny plays Richard "Dick" Minot, an investigator for the insurance company Floyd's of London (a nice inside joke, playing on the famed Lloyd's of London). Lord Harrowby (William Austin) is concerned that his marriage to wealthy Cecilia Meyrick (Ruth Dwyer) take place, as he needs the money; he spends his last funds to take out a Floyd's policy which guarantees him $100,000 if the wedding doesn't go off as planned, as long as he doesn't cause the wedding cancellation himself.

Dick's job is to make sure the wedding takes place without any problems so that the insurance company won't have to pay out on the policy. On the train to San Marco, Florida, he meets and falls for Cecilia, initially not realizing that she's the woman he must ensure marries another man!

All manner of complications ensue when Dick and Cecilia arrive at the resort in San Marco where her family and Lord Harrowby are waiting, including the theft of Cecilia's heirloom necklace and an imposter (Frank Leigh) insisting he's the real Lord Harrowby...all while Dick alternately woos Cecilia and pushes her away out of loyalty to his employers.

It builds to a frenzied climax in a newspaper office, with a big fight scene amidst newspapers scattering everywhere.

I found THE RECKLESS AGE quite enjoyable, particularly thanks to the handsome Denny's all-around talent; he plays comedy, romantic pathos, and action scenes equally well. He's well matched by Dwyer as the spunky leading lady who tries to convince Dick to propose to her, while simultaneously pretending to be hard to get.

There are a couple cute gags, notably a scene when the train is stopped by what appears to be a dead animal on the tracks; when the camera shifts to another perspective I chuckled out loud at the reveal.

I also have to mention an amazing sequence where a taxi races a train, ultimately crossing the train tracks just ahead of the train; it looks like it was a dangerous stunt that had to have been very precisely timed. I found a blog post indicating it was filmed in California's Santa Ynez Valley, including the info that "the use of the now-defunct Pacific Coast Railway and Locomotive No. 106 might be the only existing footage of this historic railroad and the Los Olivos railroad station in town."

The same blog site indicates that the resort scenes were filmed at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

I've read a couple reviews indicating the other two films in the set are even better, so I'm really looking forward to checking them out, given that I found this a fun watch.

THE RECKLESS AGE was directed by Harry A. Pollard and filmed by William Fildew. The supporting cast includes John Steppling, May Wallace, Tom McGuire, and Fred Malatesta.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray print is amazingly sharp for a film of this vintage; a few of the shots were so crystal clear that I felt as though they could have been filmed yesterday, they're that good. I also noticed that it must have been cold on the newspaper office set at the end of the movie, as some of the actors' breath shows when they speak!

THE RECKLESS AGE has a new score by Jake Monaco which I thought was good. The movie has a commentary track by film historian Anthony Slide, who also contributed commentaries to the other two films in the set.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Tonight's Movie: Flying Leathernecks (1951) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

FLYING LEATHERNECKS (1951), a World War II film about Marines serving in the Pacific, has just been released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

The movie is a reflection on the challenges of military leadership starring John Wayne and Robert Ryan, directed by Nicholas Ray. This was my first time seeing the film so I don't know how good the prior DVD looked by comparison, but I can report that the Technicolor cinematography by William E. Snyder looks fantastic on the Blu-ray.

Ryan plays Captain Carl Griffin, who loses an expected Marine aviation squadron command post to Major Dan Kirby (Wayne); Griffin instead serves as Kirby's executive officer.

The squadron are a group of good men, including Griffin's brother-in-law Lt. Vern "Cowboy" Blithe (Don Taylor), but they're fairly undisciplined. Griffin leans toward relating with those under his command and sometimes excusing behavior that's not "by the book," but being close to the men also makes it more difficult to make tough decisions in life-and-death situations.

Kirby privately struggles with the pressures of leadership but continues to make the hard calls, including not granting sick leave, as every body and every plane counts during a mission.

Tension between the two men escalates as they serve on Guadalcanal. There's a brief respite when Kirby goes stateside to train pilots on "close air" support tactics, but soon the two men are reunited for another round of combat service.

FLYING LEATHERNECKS is a solid film, though the story is nothing unique; I'd class it as a mid-range WWII film, not a top classic but certainly a well-done and worthwhile film.

The movie's strong point is the pairing of Wayne and Ryan, a pair of top actors who create characters who are a study in contrasts. Wayne's Kirby suffers inwardly but, other than occasionally exhibiting some crankiness to the men under his command, he's a mature man who has his head on straight, calmly and coolly assessing the people around him. He's tough, but he also recognizes when a scared young pilot needs some encouragement rather than being chewed out. He spends his days trying to keep his men alive to fight another day and his evenings writing condolence letters to the families of the men who don't make it.

(Incidentally, this was one of three films Wayne appeared in from 1948 to 1951 where his character's first or last name was Kirby, the others being John Ford's FORT APACHE and RIO GRANDE.)

Ryan, who served in the Marines in real life, plays a more outwardly sensitive man whose philosophy is that no man is an island; at the same time, there are moments where he seems like a powder keg ready to explode, and he does so verbally in a big scene with Wayne late in the film. The movie's main question is whether or not he will learn the lessons necessary to command a group of men under constant threat of death, balancing compassion with the distance needed to give orders that will inevitably result in men dying in the line of duty.

Because of the construction of James Edward Grant's screenplay, the death of a major character is very clearly telegraphed from the film's opening minutes and seems inevitable as part of Griffin's journey toward being a true leader. Knowing that it was coming dimmed my enjoyment slightly, though at least I wasn't shocked when it finally happened. I think any alert viewer will be anticipating it.

Otherwise, Wayne, Ryan, and the supporting cast make the film a worthwhile 102 minutes. Jay C. Flippen is the line sergeant with an amazing ability to scrounge up and improvise parts. Janis Carter and Gordon Gebert are Wayne's wife and son; having seen Gebert interviewed at the 2015 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, I especially enjoyed watching him interact with Wayne.

The cast also includes James Bell, William Harrigan, Barry Kelley, Brett King, John Mitchum, Maurice Jara, Gail Davis, and Carleton Young.

The Blu-ray quality provides an extra level of enjoyment, starting with the gorgeous sunset footage behind the opening credits. Somehow I hadn't realized in advance that the movie was in color and when it started I gasped "Oh, wow," it looked so good. The final patriotic shots gave me goosebumps.

The lone extra is the reissue trailer.

Fans of the two lead actors and/or World War II movies will find this Blu-ray a worthwhile pickup.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection Store at Amazon or from any online retailer where Blu-rays are sold.

Quick Preview of TCM in December

The tentative December schedule has now been posted for Turner Classic Movies!

The December Stars of the Month are Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Laurel & Hardy shorts will be shown all day every Monday, beginning in the morning and running through prime time.

The TCM Spotlight will be focused on composer Bernard Herrmann on the first three Wednesdays of the month.

The December Noir Alley titles are TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY (1951), THE BURGLAR (1957), KISS OF DEATH (1947), and DETOUR (1946). It should be noted that the Noir Alley microsite currently lists THE UNSUSPECTED (1947) on the schedule instead of KISS OF DEATH.

Christmas movies will air throughout the month, climaxing with several days of non-stop Christmas films beginning the evening of Friday, December 18th, and running through Christmas afternoon. Christmas movie fans will be happy to note that a few films which didn't make last year's schedule will be shown this year, including CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945).

Some additional titles I don't recall shown in recent years, including THE CHEATERS (1945) and GOOD SAM (1948), are on the schedule as well.

Christmas night will be spent with a mix of films starring "the Hepburns," Audrey and Katharine.

New Year's Eve, as is very often the case on TCM, will be spent with the THIN MAN movies, followed by the THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! series.

December themes also include Charles Dickens, Dashiell Hammett, sci-fi, and musicals.

Filmmakers receiving multifilm tributes in December include Dana Andrews, Esther Williams, Grace Kelly, Rosalind Russell, Marsha Hunt, David Niven, and William Wyler.

December 29th is an evening of "In Memoriam" films honoring filmmakers who passed away this year and did not previously receive TCM tributes, including Baby Peggy Montgomery, Brian Dennehy, Shirley Knight, and composer Ennio Morricone.

In the meantime, Dorothy Dandridge's run as the September Star of the Month concludes this evening, September 27th. She'll be followed by Peter Cushing as the October Star of the Month, with Shelley Winters coming in November.

September 30th Update: Please note that TCM has overhauled their website and the December schedule link is currently not working. 

Update: For more on TCM in December 2020, please visit TCM in December: Highlights and TCM in December: Christmas Movies.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Around the Blogosphere This Week

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

...The first trailer dropped last weekend for the upcoming Marvel/Disney+ TV series WANDAVISION (2020), and I'm very enthused. Love the homages to THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and BEWITCHED, wrapped up in what's sure to be a super-weird story with two of my very favorite Marvel characters, Wanda aka the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). The Hollywood Reporter analyzes some of the trailer content.

...Positive news: Neal Pollack of Book & Film Globe notes the lack of any reports to date connecting COVID outbreaks to movie theaters, despite theaters being open in much of the U.S. and around the world.

...There's a terrific interview with Wyatt McCrea and lots of great footage of McCrea Ranch in this video starting at the 13:50 mark.

...Kimberly Truhler announced early last week that due to COVID's impact on publishing, her book FILM NOIR STYLE: THE KILLER 1940S is having its publication pushed back from September, probably until January.

...Movies also continue to be pushed back. It's now been announced that Marvel's BLACK WIDOW (2021), originally due out earlier this year, has been rescheduled again, from November to May 7th. Marvel's SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS (2021), originally scheduled for May 7, 2021, in turn gets pushed to July 9th, and Marvel's THE ETERNALS (2021), originally pushed from this fall to next February, is now rescheduled all the way to the end of 2021. DEATH ON THE NILE (2020), directed by Kenneth Branagh, has now been pushed from October to December 18th. HONEST THIEF (2020), a Liam Neeson film mentioned in my August 1st link roundup, is currently pushed back a week, shifting from October 9th to 16th.

..."What We Miss Most About Going to the Movies" by Vinnie Mancuso for Collider.

...I recently bought 100 COOKIES: THE BAKING BOOK FOR EVERY KITCHEN by Sarah Kieffer after seeing some cookie photos on Instagram, and so far the book is a hit at our house. I love her "pan banging" technique which involves repeatedly dropping the baking sheet on the rack during baking in order to get flat bakery-style cookies with chewy outer ridges.

...Annette Bochenek has written about Virginia Bruce and her homes in North Dakota and Los Angeles in her latest Classic Movie Travels column for Classic Movie Hub.

...For Mickey Rooney's centennial, Jessica Pickens wrote about his great performance in THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943) at TCM Tumblr.

...KC has reviewed the Greer Garson-Laurence Olivier PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940) on Blu-ray at A Classic Movie Blog.

...If it's almost October that means it's fall cookbook season! More newly released cookbooks which look interesting: THE MEXICAN HOME KITCHEN by Mely Martinez and FIVE MARYS RANCH RAISED COOKBOOK by Mary Heffernan.

...Box Office Poisons has a fun look at the set designs in BACHELOR IN PARADISE (1961). I especially love the grocery store.

...The 2020 Christmas movie schedules are out for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel. The casts are listed in Hallmark's press release; lots of favorites from the "Hallmark Stock Company" are in this year's films.

...Notable Passings: Actor Michael Lonsdale, who played the villain in the 007 film MOONRAKER (1979), has died at the age of 89...Football great Gale Sayers has died at 77. Billy Dee Williams paid tribute on Twitter to the man he portrayed in the classic TV-movie BRIAN'S SONG (1971). I vividly remember watching BRIAN'S SONG as a child, which made a huge impression, and I then read Sayers' book I AM THIRD.

...For additional recent links of interest to classic film fans, please check out my September 19th roundup.

Have a great week!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Photos From the Road: Highway 395 and Lone Pine

After spending a few days in Bridgeport in the Eastern High Sierras last month, it was time to head back down the 395.

We stopped at a scenic photo turnout to shoot a few pics of Mono Lake, which we had photographed from a closer vantage point as we headed north a few days previously.

As we drove through Independence I snapped the Winnedumah Hotel, which opened in 1927. It was built by Walter Dow, who had founded the Dow Hotel in Lone Pine a bit further south, opening it in 1923.

This photo of the Independence post office is a favorite. You have to love that vintage look and the patriotic paint colors!

Just before approaching Lone Pine is a marker for the burial site for 16 victims of the 1872 Owens Valley Earthquake. There was another big earthquake in Lone Pine this past June, measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale. My husband felt it here in Orange County!

We broke up our drive spending a night at the Dow in Lone Pine. We wanted to have a little time there since this year's Lone Pine Film Festival will only be virtual.

This is Anchor Ranch, as seen approaching Lone Pine from the south end of town. Note the anchor hanging toward the right of the photo (click on this or any photo to enlarge it for a closer look). Many movies and TV series were filmed at Anchor Ranch, which once had an entire Western town set on the property.

Love this classic sign for Frosty Chalet, one of the places we always visit when we're in town. We've heard good things about Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine, but the timing hasn't worked out yet for us to try it out.

Some of the businesses in Lone Pine look like they're right out of picture postcards. Here is Lloyd's of Lone Pine, a clothing store which sadly closed last year after many years in business. The statue is in memory of the owner's childhood horse Frosty, who doubled famous horses in Hopalong Cassidy films and other Westerns filmed in Lone Pine.

And the town drug store with some classic signage:

And here's a vintage sign for the Trails Motel:

Coming soon, the final trip photo post, visiting movie locations in Lone Pine's Alabama Hills. (Update: Here is that post!)

Previous photos from this road trip: Photos From the Road: Halfway House Cafe and Vasquez Rocks, Photos From the Road: Hot Creek Geological Site, Photos From the Road: Bridgeport, Part 1, Photos From the Road: Bridgeport, Part 2, and A Visit to Glen Haven Memorial Park.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Tonight's Movie: There's Always Tomorrow (1956) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Today I jumped forward two decades from Friday night's Barbara Stanwyck film, THE WOMAN IN RED (1935), and watched her in THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW (1956).

THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW is one of a pair of Stanwyck marital melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk which were just released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber. Also now available is ALL I DESIRE (1953), which will be reviewed here at a future date.  (Update: Here is my review of ALL I DESIRE.)

THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW reunited Stanwyck with Fred MacMurray, her costar in REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940), DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), and THE MOONLIGHTER (1953).  

It also reteamed MacMurray and Joan Bennett for the first time in nearly two decades; they costarred in 13 HOURS BY AIR (1936).

MacMurray plays Cliff Groves, a Southern California toy manufacturer who has been married for two decades to his first love, Marion (Bennett).  

Cliff and Marion have three children: Vinnie (William Reynolds), who has a serious girlfriend named Ann (Pat Crowley) who's around the house much of the time; teenager Ellen (Gigi Perreau); and young would-be ballerina Frankie (Judy Nugent).

One evening Cliff attempts to surprise Marion by taking her out for her birthday, but he forgets that Frankie has a dance recital that night.  Rather than joining his wife and daughter, Cliff stays home alone for the evening, and who should knock on the door but Norma (Stanwyck), a long-ago colleague who had moved to New York and is now in California on business for the first time in years. 

Cliff and Norma spend the evening together, then happen to meet up when they're each alone staying at a desert resort.  They enjoy some platonic time together, but when Vinnie happens to turn up at the resort with some friends, he sees his father with Norma and gets the wrong idea.

Vinnie continues to think something's afoot with Cliff and Norma even after Cliff comes home and tells Marion and the family all about the weekend and spending time with Norma, and he and Marion invite Norma to come to dinner to meet the family.

While Vinnie continues to stew, Cliff increasingly feels as though he's in a rut and rather taken for granted by his family, and Vinnie's rudeness when Norma comes to dinner doesn't help.  Cliff slowly begins to toy with the idea of a new life with Norma...who may reciprocate his feelings.

This was a very interesting film to watch and analyze, though I honestly didn't find most of the characters all that sympathetic.

My attitude is doubtless influenced by being the parent of four (now adult) children, but the movie left me thinking that they made a melodrama out of a molehill.  We were apparently supposed to feel for MacMurray and his "plight" as an unappreciated spouse and father, but he lost me from the start when he didn't bother to plan his wife's birthday in advance.  The idea that he could parachute in and whisk her away for an evening when they have three children and a dance recital to contend with reflected a lack of maturity and consideration on his part.  

And why didn't he bother going to see his child's recital himself?  (Because then he wouldn't have been home alone when Stanwyck knocked on the door, that's why.)  Cliff was as responsible as anyone else in the family for any issues, including lack of communication and not enough parental discipline of his ill-mannered children.  He chose not to cultivate the parent-child relationships, leaving events like recitals to his wife to handle, which may have also had the effect of her being too wrapped up in the children while he wasn't invested enough.  To an extent they were living stereotypical '50s roles, but rather than thinking, "Oh, poor Cliff, he's got it bad with this family," I kept thinking "Oh, grow up already." 

It's interesting that the issue of maturity becomes a theme of the film.  Stanwyck's character seems to recognize this chink in Cliff's armor herself, unsure whether he's feeling love for her or attempting to recapture the freedom of youth.  The maturity theme is repeated with Vinnie and Ann; as Vinnie becomes angrier and angrier, Ann tells Vinnie he needs to grow up, and when he suddenly sees the light in the last five minutes of the movie -- at which point I wanted to yell at Ann to run for the hills -- she jokes he's wearing "long pants" at last.  Unfortunately I don't think someone with Vinnie's temperament is good long-term marriage material, but that's a problem for another (never made) movie.  (Incidentally, Pat Crowley turned 87 on September 17th.)

Some reviewers have dismissed Bennett's character as robotic, emotionally unreachable, or in some sort of near-catatonic state, but I saw her as a woman genuinely happy with her content that she truly wasn't seeing red flags.  She was far too lenient with her children and needed to make more of an effort to connect with her husband, but these flaws made her real and human.  I particularly liked a scene where she recited her busy "to do" list for the following day, sighing at how much she had to accomplish, yet there was also a certain satisfaction as she contemplated all she'd be doing for her family. 

In fact, Marion has some of the most insightful dialogue in the film when she says she feels Norma is very lonely and then expresses pride in her home and family.  Although I think she should have been embarrassed by her children's poor "company manners," on the whole she was right.

Like Jimmy Stewart, MacMurray sometimes had dark undercurrents hiding beneath a pleasant exterior, and although I wasn't much in sympathy with him, it was still interesting to watch his character gradually become aware of his dissatisfaction, dreaming of a more exciting, freer life.  Although Norma clearly had feelings for Cliff, I really liked parts of her "Wake up and smell the coffee" speech near the end and wonder how much he took it to heart.  If he had left Marion and his family, he would have just acquired a whole new set of unhappy problems.

It would be nice to think that both Cliff and Marion ultimately invested more in their relationship and that when their children were out of the nest enjoyed quality time together, but I guess we'll always have to wonder about that...

THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW was filmed in widescreen black and white by Russell Metty.  There are some wonderful visuals including the use of shadows and shots through staircases.  There's also some marvelous '50s home design; I want the side by side double oven with the portholes!

The "Palm Valley Inn" was actually the Apple Valley Inn in Apple Valley, California.  It's a distinctive location which also made appearances in HIGHWAY DRAGNET (1954), starring Joan Bennett and Richard Conte, and FOXFIRE (1955) starring Jeff Chandler and Jane Russell.  Both HIGHWAY DRAGNET and FOXFIRE are also available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW runs 84 minutes.  It was written by Bernard C. Schoenfeld from a story by Ursula Parrott.  The supporting cast includes Jane Darwell and Helen Kleeb.

Extras include the trailer, half a dozen trailers for additional films available from Kino Lorber, and a commentary track by Samm Deighan.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The McGuerins From Brooklyn (1942) - A ClassicFlix DVD Review

THE MCGUERINS FROM BROOKLYN (1942) is the second of three films in The Complete Hal Roach Streamliners Collection, Volume 3: The Taxi Comedies.

It was preceded by BROOKLYN ORCHID (1942), reviewed here earlier this summer, and was followed by TAXI, MISTER (1943).

Tim McGuerin (William Bendix) and Eddie Corbett (Joe Sawyer) are working-class guys who have become financially successful due to ownership of a busy Brooklyn taxi company.

Tim is married to beautiful Sadie (Grace Bradley), a former stripper.  Eddie has a girlfriend, Marcia (Arline Judge), but is also attracted to the taxi company's beautiful secretary, Lucy (Marjorie Woodworth).

When Tim tries to help Eddie juggle the women in his life, Sadie incorrectly thinks her husband is having an affair with Lucy and tries to make him jealous with Samson (Max Baer), her fitness instructor.

Everyone ends up at a health spa, where things only get crazier...

I had a good time watching this one, and in fact I think it improved on the previous film.  It's by no means a classic comedy, but it does exactly what it sets out to do, provide some chuckles and a nice diversion in a short running time, in this case 45 minutes.

A couple of sequences are particularly funny; I enjoyed the check-in sequence at the resort, where a geyser of spring water shoots up in the lobby, and the "fight" sequence with Tim and Samson at the end is quite good, particularly giving Grace Bradley the chance to show her comedy skills.

Bradley's performance as Sadie has been the highlight of the two movies for me.  She's quite good sketching out her rags-to-riches character with limited screen time, and her reactions are delightful; I especially loved her screaming "Murder!" near the end of the movie.

Bradley had married William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd in 1937 and the "Taxi" films were her movie swansong.  After TAXI, MISTER she retired to support her husband in his long, busy career as Hoppy.

Woodworth is cute as Lucy.  Look for a very young Alan Hale Jr. in one of his earliest movie roles, working in the resort gym.  Also in the cast are Marion Martin, Rex Evans, J. Farrell MacDonald and Frank Faylen, 

THE MCGUERINS FROM BROOKLYN was directed by Kurt Neumann and filmed in black and white by Robert Pittack

The print and sound quality are very good.  The disc also includes five trailers for additional ClassicFlix releases.

I'll be reviewing the last movie in the set, TAXI, MISTER, at a future date, along with additional films from the first two Streamliners collections.

Thanks to ClassicFlix for providing a review copy of this DVD.

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