Monday, May 30, 2022

Quick Preview of TCM in July

It's time for a quick look at some of the good things coming our way in July on Turner Classic Movies!

There's marvelous news for the many fans of Dana Andrews -- he's TCM's July Star of the Month!

Andrews' films will be shown on TCM on Tuesday evenings. I believe this is Andrews' first time as Star of the Month, which isn't really surprising, given that so many of his films were made for 20th Century-Fox; those films are more expensive for TCM to license.

Currently many of Andrews' best-known 20th Century-Fox films are not listed on the schedule; however, the lineup is still taking shape, with a number of open spaces, so we'll have to wait a few weeks to see what the final Star of the Month schedule will look like.

The July Noir Alley titles are THE STRANGE ONE (1957), HIGH TIDE (1947), SCARLET STREET (1945), 5 AGAINST THE HOUSE (1955), and RAW DEAL (1948).

HIGH TIDE is a TCM premiere. It's also just been released on Blu-ray by Flicker Alley.

The TCM Spotlight is focused on Popular Music in Film on Mondays. The Special Themes include "Danger From the Sea" and the continuation of the "Follow the Thread" fashion in film series which begins in June.

Filmmakers receiving multifilm tributes in July include Farley Granger, Billy Wilder, Janet Leigh, Jean Arthur, Tab Hunter, George Cukor, Julie Andrews, Red Skelton, Sir C. Aubrey Smith, and screenwriter DeWitt Bodeen, who I first knew as a writer for FILMS IN REVIEW.

July themes include New Orleans, gambling, strangers, clowns, Jules Verne, '50s Westerns, and forests. There's also a day of films with various colors in the titles, like THE WOMAN IN WHITE (1948) and RHAPSODY IN BLUE (1945).

As usual, Independence Day will feature YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) and THE MUSIC MAN (1962) along with other patriotic films and Americana.

I'll have much more on the July schedule here around July 1st. In the meantime, Judy Garland will be the June Star of the Month.

On Memorial Day


Remembering with heartfelt gratitude the brave men and women who gave their all for our nation and our freedom.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

For an exhilarating, uplifting '80s-style "summer thrill ride" movie, look no further than TOP GUN: MAVERICK (2022) starring Tom Cruise.

It's rather remarkable that 36 years have elapsed since the original TOP GUN (1986), but thanks to a good story -- and frankly also to Cruise's seeming agelessness -- it completely works.

And honestly, I think it's the kind of movie we can all use right now, about good people working hard at their jobs and their relationships. It leaves audience members feeling better at the end than when they came in, and you can't beat that, especially these days.

The movie experience today began in classy fashion with a short video of Cruise welcoming patrons to the theater. He thanked everyone for coming and spoke about how many people worked hard to make the movie, particularly emphasizing it was made for us, the viewers, to enjoy. It almost felt like he was giving us a present to unwrap -- which proved to be true.

I loved the movie from the very start -- it has an actual opening credits sequence! So many films these days wait till the end of the movie, and I really appreciated seeing all the credits up front, initially backed by great footage set on an aircraft carrier. As I saw names like Ed Harris, Jon Hamm, and Val Kilmer go by, I couldn't help thinking "Hey, this should be good!"

I'll also note here that the end credits are likewise excellent, featuring footage of each of the main cast members with their names.

As the story begins, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise) is still a top Navy aviator and still a captain; he's not the desk job type, and he probably has also ruffled just enough feathers along the way to help prevent promotion, but he's also too good for the Navy to push out. And the longevity of his career has been aided by the fact that he has an old enemy-turned-friend, Admiral "Iceman" Kazansky (Kilmer), heading the Pacific Fleet.

Maverick's been working as a Navy test pilot in the California desert, but when he disobeys an order from Rear Admiral Cain (Harris), he's bounced off to Top Gun school, where he's assigned to train the Navy's best young pilots under Admiral Simpson (Hamm).

The pilots include Lt. Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller), who's the spitting image of his late father, Maverick's old friend "Goose" (Anthony Edwards). Rooster has a big chip on his shoulder towards Maverick, whom he blames for his father's death.

It turns out Maverick isn't simply training pilots, there is an actual, very dangerous mission scheduled to take place in under three weeks, a stealth attack to take out a uranium facility. I idly wondered if this would lead to the start of WWIII, but we're not told where it is and we're also not told what the deeper long-term implications of the attack could be.

There are definite echoes of STAR WARS (1977), in that the plan involves a low-flying "trench run" followed by targeting a ventilation hatch. Late in the movie there's also a pilot who shows up out of nowhere; all that's missing is him yelling, Han Solo style, "Now let's blow this thing and go home!"

It may be derivative, but it also totally works...all the more so as this film is very "un-CGI." It's well known that Cruise is a pilot, and the film's young lead actors were put through intensive flight training and are actually piloting themselves, with IMAX cameras attached to the planes. In an age of computer-generated graphics, the fact a production would go to this effort, not to mention risk, is remarkable, and it pays off, as the audience isn't distracted by iffy computer graphics. This was a problem for me with this year's DEATH ON THE NILE (2022), a good movie with some of the phoniest backgrounds I've seen in a modern film; it had me longing for the relative honesty of blatantly fake old-fashioned back projections.

I view Cruise as rather an oddball from what little I know of his real life, but fortunately I can usually divorce my feelings about actors offscreen from watching them in movies. There is absolutely no denying he's a giant of a movie star who knows how to make top-quality movies. His hands-on approach to filmmaking is by now legendary -- and he knows what he's doing. On camera his charisma lights up the screen, whether he's putting his young charges through a rigorous training session or smiling with dazzling charm at the old girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly, THE ROCKETEER) with whom he's recently been reunited.

For those who wonder if it's necessary to have seen the original movie, it definitely adds depth to seeing this film; that said, my memories were hazy, not having seen it since I saw it theatrically in 1986, and I believe the new film should still be enjoyable for those unfamiliar with the original.

That said, the most moving sequence of the entire film is Maverick's conversation with his one-time nemesis Iceman, which incorporates the fact that Kilmer's real-life cancer battles have left him speaking with great difficulty. It's a profound scene, and it helps point Maverick to the fact that he's going to need to move on with his life in terms of both career and perhaps making room for other important things, like a family.

Hamm and Harris are also excellent, as expected. I particularly liked Hamm's performance in the later scenes, when he rolls the dice with his own career. There's not a great deal of depth and back story for Connelly's character, but I think her charm is sufficient to make the rekindling of her romance with Maverick believable, including the possibility this relationship might go the distance.

Spoiler Paragraph Alert: The final aviation sequences may be considered predictable by some, but I found it refreshing that the movie didn't feel the need to make one or two characters an obligatory sacrificial lamb. This left me feeling particularly appreciative of the movie, as it's so cliched by now to have someone die for dramatic effect. This choice also leads to one of my favorite scenes of the year, when Maverick and Rooster are trying to find their way out of a difficult situation and Maverick's eyes light up spotting the solution, leading to a fantastic escape sequence.

TOP GUN: MAVERICK is a well-paced 131 minutes. It was directed by Joseph Kosinski and filmed by Claudio Miranda. The supporting cast includes Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro, Lewis Pullman, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Glen Powell, Charles Parnell, Jean Louisa Kelly, Lilyana Wray, and Jack Schumacher.

For those whose tastes tend to line up with Leonard Maltin, as mine often do, he calls the film "superior" and goes on to say "It has a freshness and vitality...I had a great time...and recommend seeing it as I did, on a giant IMAX screen."

I didn't see it at an IMAX theater, but I definitely recommend seeing it on the biggest screen possible. If I have the opportunity to see it in the IMAX format I would definitely go again.

Parental Advisory: This movie is rated PG-13. It's a pretty mild PG-13; there is some language -- at least partly drowned out by aviation noise, I thought -- and one non-explicit love scene. These aspects are offset by several positive themes including teamwork, patriotism, and working through personal and relationship issues to end up in a better place.

For anyone looking for a very enjoyable "summer movie," this is the one to see!

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Around the Blogosphere This Week

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

...Coming to Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection in July: ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (1948) starring Errol Flynn.

...A list of Robert Osborne's Picks, personally chosen by him for airing on Turner Classic Movies, can now be seen on Letterboxd.

...Earlier this month I reviewed Alicia Malone's very enjoyable new book GIRLS ON FILM: LESSONS FROM A LIFE OF WATCHING WOMEN IN MOVIES. Here are more reviews, from Karen at Shadows and Satin, Donna of Strictly Vintage Hollywood, Mary Mallory at The Daily Mirror, and Christy at Christy's Inkwells (with bonus photos from the TCM Classic Film Festival!).

...Just released by the Criterion Collection: A Blu-ray edition of DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944). Among new extras created for this release is a conversation with noir experts Eddie Muller and Imogen Sara Smith.

...Here's a wonderful post on Esther Williams by Annette Bochenek of Hometowns to Hollywood. It includes great photos of homes and places significant in Williams' life.

...Recent classic movie reviews and favorite movie lists: Phyllis Loves Classic Movies takes a look at Four Favorite Noirs...Jessica has reviewed Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy in MAYTIME (1937) at Comet Over Hollywood...Rachel discusses 10 Favorite John Wayne Movies at Hamlette's Soliloquy...Andy Wolverton reviews Richard Conte and Julie Adams in HOLLYWOOD STORY (1951)...Tynan of 4 Star Films reviews Marion Davies in SHOW PEOPLE (1928)...Historian J.B. Kaufman reviews Davies in BEVERLY OF GRAUSTARK (1926) which was just released on Blu-ray by Ben Model's Undercrank Productions...Vienna caught Richard Carlson and Nancy Kelly in Robert Siodmak's FLY-BY-NIGHT (1942) and shares photos...Glenn Erickson has reviewed the new Kino Lorber Blu-ray release of John Ford's THE HORSE SOLDIERS (1959)...At A Shroud of Thoughts, Terry has reviewed DAUGHTER OF SHANGHAI (1937) starring Anna May Wong and Philip Ahn.

...So. CA theatre news: Landmark Theatres is taking over the Laemmle Theatres' Playhouse 7 in Pasadena.

...Notable Passings: Bo Hopkins has passed on at the age of 84. I enjoyed him in AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973), in multiple episodes of THE ROCKFORD FILES (1978-79), seen here with James Garner, and as Matthew Blaisdel on DYNASTY (1981 and 1987)...Former child actress June Preston, who later became an opera singer, died at 93. Preston had small parts in numerous feature films and shorts for a decade, from 1934 to 1944. Her films included CHRISTMAS IN JULY (1940), THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE (1941), HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943), and HAPPY LAND (1944)...Ray Liotta, appreciated by me as Shoeless Joe in the classic baseball fantasy FIELD OF DREAMS (1989), has died at 67...Colin Cantwell, designer of STAR WARS vehicles including the X-Wing and the TIE fighter, as well as the Death Star, has passed on at 90.

...Please note that Around the Blogosphere This Week will not appear on either June 3rd or 11th, when I'll be traveling on vacation. The column will resume on June 18th. Stay tuned as well for many more Blu-ray, DVD, and book reviews!

...For additional recent links of interest to classic film fans, please check out my May 21st roundup.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

New at Classic Movie Hub: Forty Guns (1957)

My newest Western RoundUp column has just been posted at Classic Movie Hub.

This month's column is a review of FORTY GUNS (1957), an outstanding Samuel Fuller Western starring Barbara Stanwyck and Barry Sullivan.  I thoroughly enjoyed my first-ever watch of this film.

Please click over to Classic Movie Hub to read it, and thanks, as always, for everyone's support of my Western RoundUp 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; September 2020; October 2020; November 2020; December 2020; January 2021; February 2021; March 2021; May 2021; June 2021; June 2021 (No. 2); July 2021; August 2021; September 2021; November 2021; December 2021; December 2021 (No. 2); January 2022; February 2022; March 2022; April 2022.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Earlier this month I reviewed SINGAPORE (1947) from the Kino Lorber Dark Side of Cinema VI collection.

I returned to that set tonight for JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON (1949), directed by William Castle. This film about a government sting operation to break up a drug ring features a top cast including Dan Duryea, Howard Duff, Shelley Winters, and Tony Curtis; Curtis is fourth billed as Anthony Curtis.

JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON is almost a docu-noir, with the feel of movies about Treasury or FBI agents like T-MEN (1949) or WALK EAST ON BEACON! (1952).

Duff plays George Morton, a U.S. Treasury agent in postwar San Francisco. Morton has been unable to crack the case of a lethal drug ring when he has a fresh idea and pulls his childhood friend Johnny Evans (Duryea) out of prison on Alcatraz.

Johnny resents George as the man who sent him to Alcatraz in the first place, but George presents Johnny with a powerful reason to offer his help, and the two men go undercover together, posing as gangsters wanting to make a drug deal.

After a visit to Canada the men end up at a Western-style resort in Tucson, with Terry Stewart (Winters) tagging along. The resort is managed by the overly genial Nick Avery (John McIntire), who's got a silent bodyguard (Curtis) working for him...

It may not be a great movie, but it's quite solid, just the sort of procedural crime film I like, with a good Universal Pictures cast which also includes Leif Erickson, Gar Moore, Barry Kelley, and Charles Drake, who has a single scene as a hotel clerk. Duff may be a little dry, but it works in contrast with the emotional, compelling Duryea and Winters.

Curtis is effective as a gunman who doesn't speak but is quite observant. This was his third film, following his debut the same year dancing with Yvonne DeCarlo in CRISS CROSS (1949), and with his darkly handsome good looks and piercing eyes, Curtis is a real standout. It's easy to see why his career continued on an upward trajectory.

It's a fast-paced 76-minute film which was written by Robert L. Richards from a story by Henry Jordan. The black and white cinematography was by Maury Gertsman. Another of the film's strengths is atmospheric location work.

To my knowledge, JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON is another "never on DVD" release from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. The Blu-ray print, from a new 2K master, looks and sounds great. The disc has a commentary track by Jason A. Ney and a three-film trailer gallery for other movies available from Kino Lorber.

I'll be reviewing the final film in the set, THE RAGING TIDE (1951), at a future date. It's another one with a top Universal cast!

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

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Black Beauty (1946) - A ClassicFlix DVD Review

BLACK BEAUTY (1946), starring Mona Freeman as a young girl who loves her horse, is available on DVD from ClassicFlix.

It's part of the two-film The Black Beauty Collection along with with COURAGE OF BLACK BEAUTY (1957), starring Johnny Crawford. It was released last year as No. 14 in the ClassicFlix Silver Series.

BLACK BEAUTY was originally released by 20th Century-Fox. It claims to be inspired by the famous novel by Anna Sewell (misspelled Sewall in the opening credits) but in reality, the screenplay by Lillie Hayward and Agnes Christine Johnson has very little to do with the book.

Indeed, an opening title card says that the film was "freely adapted" from the book, while "preserving the beautiful spirit of this most beloved of all horse stories." The truth is that, other than a few minutes near the end where Black Beauty falls into the wrong hands, the film is an entirely original story.

Having read the book many times growing up, I was honestly fine with this film doing its own thing, as the actual story is quite tragic in spots. This film is an enjoyable, lighthearted story which doesn't get too heavy.

Mona Freeman plays a tomboyish young British girl, Anne Wendon, whose father (Charles Evans) gives her a newborn colt. It's the father's hope that in training the horse, Anne will herself become more disciplined.

Her father's plan does the trick, and as Anne patiently trains her horse, Black Beauty, they begin to grow up together. Both horse and girl attract the attention of a visiting American, Bill Dixon (Richard Denning). Bill is clearly interested in Ann, who is currently too young for thoughts of romance, and he hopes to find her grown when he returns a couple years later. When Bill is back in the United States, he mails her a horseshoe necklace for her birthday.

When Bill does eventually return, Anne crushes on him, but she's frustrated when he now seems preoccupied with glamorous Evelyn (Evelyn Ankers, who was the real-life Mrs. Denning from 1942 until her death in 1985). Anne decides to go away to school, and when she returns as a young lady, Bill definitely takes notice...but Anne is distracted by a problem with Black Beauty.  Their timing with one another is always just a little off!

BLACK BEAUTY is a pleasant 74 minutes about an energetic, emotional young girl gradually coming of age as she falls for both a horse and a man. There are some dramatic bumps along the way, with both Anne and Black Beauty's lives endangered at various points, but all in all this is a relaxing little watch which I enjoyed.

I've been a Mona Freeman fan dating back to watching MOTHER WORE TIGHTS (1947) when I was growing up, and I later enjoyed her appearances as Modesty Blaine in reruns of MAVERICK (1959-60). Due to her youthful appearance, in the '40s and early '50s Freeman easily switched back and forth from playing leading ladies to teenage girls, and that facility playing different ages really works for her in this film. She was around 20 when this was filmed.

I'd also note that Freeman occasionally affects a British accent, but it's not very much in evidence here. Her riding double, who is occasionally (unintentionally) visible to the camera, was Audrey Scott.

The nice supporting cast includes Moyna MacGill (mother of Angela Lansbury), Terry Kilburn (Tiny Tim in the 1938 A CHRISTMAS CAROL), J.M. Kerrigan, and Arthur Space.

This was one of the first couple screen appearances of famed movie horse Highland Dale, who appeared with Fred MacMurray in the 20th Century-Fox film SMOKY (1946) the same year. He appeared in films and TV series until 1968; after his "retirement" he lived until 1973.

BLACK BEAUTY was directed by Max Nosseck and filmed in black and white by J. Roy Hunt. The film is fairly low budget, including the use of some back projections; a couple of riding scenes were filmed at an unknown location which could have been somewhere like Corriganville.

The score, which includes piano music, was by Dimitri Tiomkin.

The ClassicFlix DVD print is a little soft but overall is a good print, save for a couple damaged spots here and there. The soundtrack is strong.

The sole disc extras, other than the previously mentioned second film, are a gallery of trailers for five additional ClassicFlix releases.

Look for a review of COURAGE OF BLACK BEAUTY here at a future date.

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

Tonight's Movie: A Star is Born (1937) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The original version of A STAR IS BORN (1937), directed by William A. Wellman, is now available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.

I first saw this version as a teenager at the Vagabond Theater in Los Angeles. Although I love the "behind the scenes" Hollywood aspect, truth to tell I've never much cared for the tragic story, though I do far prefer the 1937 version to the 1954 remake.

However, this new Blu-ray restoration, a 4K scan from the original nitrate negative, is an absolutely eye-popping visual treasure, which added enormously to my pleasure in watching it. I've certainly never enjoyed this film more than watching the new Blu-ray, and I will definitely be watching it again.

From the moment the opening credits begin, with the names in neon against a picture postcard perfect view of Hollywood, the visuals prompt one delighted gasp after another. It's simply stunning.

The well-known story created by Wellman and Robert Carson, which has been remade not just once but three times, tells the story of farm girl Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor).

Esther dreams of a career in Hollywood, and with funding from her granny (May Robson) she hops a train for California.

Esther has no luck for weeks, but a kindly assistant director (Andy Devine) in her apartment building gets her a waitress gig at a big Hollywood party, where she meets actor Norman Maine (Fredric March).

Maine is quickly sweet on fresh, honest young Esther and gets her a screen test, then a starring role opposite him in a major movie, thanks to the agreement of producer Oliver Niles (Adolphe Menjou, in a particularly sympathetic performance).

Esther, renamed Vicki Lester, immediately becomes a star, but shortly after she and Norman are married, Norman's own career starts on a downward spiral. This also leads Norman to resume the heavy drinking he'd given up when he and Esther/Vicki married, and from there on things don't go well...

Gaynor and March are both as excellent as one might expect. I did note on this viewing that it's interesting that other than a brief "movie clip" at a premiere, we don't actually see their characters "act." Over the course of the film's 111 minutes we simply see them in costumes, on sets, or talking about work, but not actually doing their jobs. This leaves a bit of a dramatic hole, as the film is focused on their careers.

I'd be interested to know why the many screenwriters -- Carson, Dorothy Parker, and Alan Campbell are those credited, with more working behind the scenes -- made that choice. Perhaps they were worried that nothing that could be put on screen would make the actors appear to be as wonderfully talented as we're told they are?

Victor Fleming and Jack Conway are said to have done uncredited directing work on the film along with Wellman. The Technicolor photography was by W. Howard Greene, and the score is by Max Steiner. David O. Selznick produced, with the film originally released through United Artists.

The locations in this film are particularly outstanding. In addition to great shots of the Chinese Theatre, there is wonderful second unit work of the honeymooning actors' trailer driving through Lone Pine's Alabama Hills.

The supporting cast includes Lionel Stander, Clara Blandick, Owen Moore, Peggy Wood, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, and Edgar Kennedy. Look for Dennis O'Keefe in the party sequence; he's mostly shot from the back of the head, but there's no doubt it's him.

The Warner Archive disc is loaded with outstanding extras, the most important being a pair of Lux Radio Theater broadcasts. The first, from 1937, pairs Gaynor with Robert Montgomery; the second, performed in 1942, stars Judy Garland and Walter Pidgeon. It's remarkable to have an audio performance of Garland performing this character a dozen years before she made the 1954 film. I very much appreciate the Warner Archive making these interesting slices of cinematic and radio history available.

The Blu-ray also has a trailer; a cartoon, A STAR IS HATCHED (1938); and three shorts from the year A STAR IS BORN was released: MAL HALLETT AND HIS ORCHESTRA (1937), TAKING THE COUNT (1937), and ALIBI MARK (1937).

Although the story has never been a favorite, this Warner Archive Blu-ray presentation has overcome that to help me appreciate the movie on an entirely new level, and it receives my very enthusiastic recommendation.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection Amazon Store or from any online retailers where Blu-rays are sold.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Tonight's Movie: The Accused (1949) - Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

THE ACCUSED (1949), an excellent crime drama with a top cast, is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

This film was previously available in an MOD (manufactured on demand) DVD, but it's the film's first time on Blu-ray. It actually came out at the end of 2021, but thanks to Kino Lorber's plethora of excellent releases I'm just now reviewing it.

I first saw THE ACCUSED via a 35mm print from the Library of Congress at the 2017 Noir City Hollywood Festival. I hadn't seen it in the last five years and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it.

Loretta Young plays a university psychology professor, Dr. Wilma Tuttle. As we see in the very first scenes, Wilma accidentally kills a student, Bill (Douglas Dick), who has taken her to an isolated beach area near Malibu and is attempting to force himself on her.

Wilma considers going to the police but is terrified of not being believed, and even if she is, she worries the notoriety could be the end of her career; as a single, self-supporting woman that's no small consideration.

However, she's consumed by guilt, which also seems to weaken her immune system, leaving her hospitalized unconscious for several days while fighting viral pneumonia. If Dr. Tuttle were analyzing herself, she might come up with the diagnosis that she's subconsciously trying to avoid thinking about and dealing with what happened, including her bad decisions following the incident.

The student's guardian, Warren Ford (Robert Cummings), comes to town. Warren, a lawyer, makes clear he's aware that Bill had some serious issues. He's also very attracted to Wilma.

Police Detective Lt. Ted Dorgan (Wendell Corey) also likes Wilma, but at the same time he keeps finding bits of evidence that don't match the original coroner verdict that Bill accidentally drowned...and everything that pops up seems to point toward Wilma.

The film, written by Ketti Frings along with several other uncredited writers, runs a well-paced 101 minutes, although my feeling in 2017 that the ending is too abrupt holds true again on this viewing. The plot also occasionally stretches credulity, but it's so well acted by the three leads that it really doesn't matter too much.

Young plays the high-strung, repressed spinster professor who's gradually transformed both by love and by the need to look physically different from her appearance the night of the murder. Although the character is a bit cliched, Young is fascinating in the role, veering back and forth from smooth-talking professional woman to a bundle of nerves who just wants out of the situation, some way, somehow.

Something which occurred to me for the first time watching this is that Young had experience having to hide a major life incident, her 1935 pregnancy with Clark Gable; she later "adopted" her daughter Judy, which became known decades later. I couldn't help wondering if that stressful experience informed any of her performance, as Wilma must build lie upon lie in order to sustain her story. It's only in the film's final minutes, once the proverbial cat is out of the bag, that we finally see a relaxed, confident woman no longer burdened by lies.

Loretta has been my favorite actress for years; she is always compelling, and frankly I think she is underrated by many. This film would make an interesting double bill with another film in which Young plays a highly anxious character, CAUSE FOR ALARM! (1951).

Both Cummings and Corey are excellent and get to do a little more with very interesting characters. Late in the film Cummings' defense attorney simultaneously realizes Wilma might be responsible for the death and that Lt. Dorgan is in hot pursuit; I love the way Cummings' character immediately springs to action to protect Wilma, a true knight in shining armor. 

Ford never questions what happened or reproaches her, clearly believing it wasn't her fault as he pieces together what must have happened; he instead tries to use his professional skill to try to get her out of the situation. There's a great little moment in the detective's office where he subtly tries to warn Wilma not to say anything, with the faintest shake of his head. It's an excellent, deeply layered performance.

Corey might be the most interesting character of the trio, a dogged professional who is also attracted to Wilma but pursues his case despite that. A scene late in the film with his evidence analyst (Sam Jaffe), who has excellent insights into everyone involved, is really well done.

The cast also includes Suzanne Dalbert, Mickey Knox, Sara Allgood, Ann Doran, Billy Mauch, Henry Travers, Francis Pierlot, and Bess Flowers.

THE ACCUSED was directed by William Dieterle. It was filmed in black and white by Milton Krasner

Some of the filming appears to have been done on an actual college campus, but I didn't recognize it and haven't been able to dig up the information. I assume it was a Southern California campus such as Occidental College, which appeared in other movies of that era such as GOODBYE, MY FANCY (1951), or USC.

The print, while very good, is not as sharp as many of Kino Lorber's releases. At times it seems overly grainy or the picture flickers somewhat, including during the opening credits, and there is occasionally noticeable damage such as lines. That said, none of these issues are in any way deal breakers such as skips or jumps. It's simply a "very good" print rather than an "excellent" one. I have no hesitation in recommending it.

The soundtrack is strong and easy to understand.

The Blu-ray extras consist of the trailer; a five-film gallery of trailers for additional films available from Kino Lorber; and a commentary track by Eddy Von Mueller.

For another good take on this film I recommend Colin's review last fall at Riding the High Country. He sees the film much as I do.

THE ACCUSED is a very interesting, well-acted film. Recommended.

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

Around the Blogosphere This Week

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

...Lots of news to share after a couple weekends out of town! We'll lead off with the good news that the Cinecon Classic Film Festival has confirmed it will resume being held "in person" this Labor Day weekend. The location is yet to be determined; the Egyptian Theatre, where the festival has been held for the last several years, is currently undergoing extended remodeling. I'm excited to hear this news, though I'll add that my own attendance will depend on whether the festival is held under truly normal conditions, along the same lines as the recent Noir City Hollywood and Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festivals. More thoughts on that issue further below.

...Mary Mallory reports on the recent San Francisco Silent Film Festival at The Daily Mirror.

...Coming from Turner Classic Movies and Running Press this fall: VIVA HOLLYWOOD: THE LEGACY OF LATIN AND HISPANIC ARTISTS IN AMERICAN FILM by Luis I. Reyes.

...Some recent film reviews I've enjoyed: Jessica reviewed the delightful MGM musical LOVELY TO LOOK AT (1952) at Comet Over Hollywood...Danilo Castro reviewed the very enjoyable I, THE JURY (1953) at Classic Movie Hub...KC reviewed the new Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray release of THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM (1962) at her blog Watching Classic Movies...Colin's latest review at Riding the High Country is SLATTERY'S HURRICANE (1949), with the great cast of Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, and Veronica Lake, supported by Gary Merrill and John Russell...Glenn Erickson's recent reviews at Trailers From Hell include DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1941), now out on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive...Glenn's colleague Charlie Largent reports on Kino Lorber's new seven-film Francis the Talking Mule Collection.

...My thanks to Glenn Erickson for mentioning my review of THE ARGYLE SECRETS (1948) in a recent CineSavant column. In another column Glenn shares the news that Kino Lorber has a new deal with Paramount Pictures for 71 titles, many of which they will be releasing on Blu-ray for the first time. A handful of Republic Pictures titles are on the list, but not much more is known yet. This sounds like good news!

...Film fashion historian Kimberly Truhler has a new online film fashion talk coming in June, History of Fashion in Film: The Jazz Age. Details are at Kimberly's site, GlamAmor. I have found Kimberly's past presentations both informative and enjoyable. She will also be seen on TCM in June in a new series, "Follow the Thread."

...Lora Lee Michel was a talented child actress in a baker's dozen of films between 1948 and 1950, including GOOD SAM (1948) with Gary Cooper; THE SNAKE PIT (1948), playing Olivia de Havilland as a child (seen here with Natalie Schafer); the MGM musical WORDS AND MUSIC (1948), playing Richard Rodgers' (Tom Drake) daughter Mary; and BETWEEN MIDNIGHT AND DAWN (1950) with Mark Stevens and Edmond O'Brien. Years later she spent time in prison and then dropped out of sight, with her own family not knowing where she was. Stacy Perman of the Los Angeles Times recently did some detective work and unraveled a fascinating -- if tragic -- story, which at least has provided her family closure, now knowing that she passed on in 1979. (Some readers may find that this story is behind a Times paywall.)

...Coming from Martin Scorsese: A new documentary on directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Additional news: Scorsese's Film Foundation recently launched a free "virtual screening room." Info on upcoming screenings is here.

...There's lots of new Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-ray news! Here are some of the upcoming releases which particularly caught my eye:

*LUCKY JORDAN (1942), starring fave Alan Ladd, is "coming soon." I reviewed it over a decade ago and really look forward to rewatching it in a great print.

*TIME OUT OF MIND (1947), with Phyllis Calvert, Robert Hutton, and Ella Raines directed by Robert Siodmak, is coming July 26th. Kino Lorber first mentioned this was in the works via their Twitter account last November.

*THE MISSISSIPPI GAMBLER (1953), a favorite Tyrone Power film costarring Piper Laurie and Julie Adams, is "coming soon."

*A Dark Side of Cinema X collection "coming soon" will feature FLESH AND FURY (1952), an excellent film with Tony Curtis, Jan Sterling, and Mona Freeman; THE SQUARE JUNGLE (1955) with Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, and Pat Crowley; and WORLD IN MY CORNER (1956) starring Audie Murphy and Barbara Rush.

*MY MAN GODFREY (1957), a remake of the classic 1936 comedy starring June Allyson, David Niven, and Martha Hyer.

*A 3D restoration of BWANA DEVIL (1952) from the 3D Film Archive.  Robert Stack and Barbara Britton star.

*THE KILLING (1956) will be released in Ultra HD this July with a new commentary by Alan K. Rode.

...Landmark Theatres will be closing the company's Pico arthouse location at the end of the month. Variety has analysis on the future of the L.A. arthouse scene.

...Rachel of Hamlette's Soliloquy has written about four favorite Alan Ladd-Veronica Lake films for a "Four Favorite Noirs" blogathon. SAIGON (1947) is one I still need to see! (How I wish Kino Lorber could release it...) There are lots more links to posts on favorite noirs at Classic Film & TV Cafe, which hosted the blogathon.

...There's a big new permanent John Wayne exhibit at the Fort Worth Stockyards in Texas.

...Personal viewing notes: In early April I mentioned my plans to attend the UCLA Festival of Preservation this weekend, but I cancelled last week after confirming directly with the theater that masks would be required. (A side note: Masks are not currently required by the city, county, state, or even UCLA, but the requirement has been established by the Hammer Museum where UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater is located.) I complied with the mask requirement for last month's TCM Classic Film Festival, but I found it a miserable way to watch movies, including impeded, uncomfortable breathing and fogged glasses. I've made the personal decision that I'm simply "done" with that, especially as zero evidence has emerged over the last two-plus years that masking reduces the spread of the coronavirus; if anything, the data repeatedly shows the opposite, for reasons which are yet unknown. COVID is now an endemic virus which is likely to rise and fall in seasonal waves, and if some theaters won't give up masking now, it seems possible they never will.  I decided to say something here as one of the only ways this might end is if more people speak up.

...Additionally, in my last roundup column I mentioned looking forward to seeing DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (2022). I'm a huge Marvel fan, having seen two dozen of the films -- only missing THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008) and ETERNALS (2021) to date -- and I am also a great admirer of last year's TV series WANDAVISION (2021), as I've previously shared here. However, I've decided not to see DOCTOR STRANGE based on the advice of three different family members, and my friend Deb concurred with their feedback in the comments to my Star Wars Nite post. It sounds as though the film is disturbingly violent, and the writers also trashed my longtime favorite Marvel character, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen); she could have learned and grown as she moved on from her experiences in WANDAVISION, but the filmmakers took her in the opposite direction and turned her into a killer. It's a shame, but I think I'd rather remember Wanda as she was in WANDAVISION and hope the writers might do right by her in a future multiverse story. I do still hope to enjoy the new film DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA (2022) before long!

...Notable Passings: Joanna Barnes, a busy working actress especially memorable as Vicky in THE PARENT TRAP (1961), passed on at 87. In a nice touch, Barnes was cast in a role in the 1998 PARENT TRAP remake. Barnes was also important to me as a five-time guest star on my favorite TV series, MAVERICK. She's seen here with James Garner in a publicity photo for the MAVERICK episode "The Lonesome Reunion" (1958)...Composer Vangelis, who won the Oscar for CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981), has passed away at 79....Character actor James Olson has died at 91...ST. ELSEWHERE actor David Birney, the former husband of actress Meredith Baxter-Birney, has passed away at 83. Circa 1980 the Birneys sat behind me at a small (99-seat) theater production of Ibsen's A DOLL HOUSE, starring Linda Purl...Disney voice actor Norma Swank has died at 97. Her roles included voicing Chip of Chip and Dale and mice in CINDERELLA (1950)...Soap opera actor Jerry verDorn, best known for THE GUIDING LIGHT, has died at 72...Fred Ward, who played astronaut Gus Grissom in THE RIGHT STUFF (1983), has passed on at 79...I was sad to learn of the death of country singer Naomi Judd at the age of 79.

...For additional recent links of interest to classic film fans, please check out my April 30th roundup.

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