Sunday, March 31, 2024

TCM in April: Highlights

Welcome to a look at the April schedule on Turner Classic Movies!

April is a particularly exciting month for TCM. The network marks its 30th anniversary this month with the series "The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship: 30 Years of TCM" each Thursday evening.

On those nights former TCM employees will join current hosts to introduce the films.

April 14th, the exact 30th anniversary of the network's debut, is particularly special. On that day TCM will air Robert Osborne introductions throughout the day.

But wait, there's more!

The new 13-week "Two for One" series debuts Saturday, April 6th. In a program somewhat reminiscent of the long-running "Essentials" series, Ben Mankiewicz will be joined by a different filmmaker each Saturday night for a double bill of films curated by the guests.

The series begins with Martin Scorsese showing BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948) and the TCM premiere of ONE TOUCH OF VENUS (1948).

Other filmmakers participating in the coming weeks include Rian Johnson, Spike Lee, and Steven Spielberg.

I haven't even yet mentioned that TCM will be celebrating the centennial of MGM all day every Monday, or that Marlon Brando's centennial will be celebrated with Star of the Month programming on Wednesdays!

The April Noir Alley weekend schedule will include VIOLENCE (1947) on April 6th and 7th, THE BREAKING POINT (1950) on April 13th and 14th, BORN TO KILL (1947) on the 20th and 21st, and THE BIG KNIFE (1955) on April 27th-28th.

Below are just some of the month's highlights. Click on any hyperlinked title to read my full-length review.

...The MGM centennial series begins on Monday, April 1st, focused on the 1920s and 1930s. Among the classic titles are THE DIVORCEE (1930) and THE THIN MAN (1934).

...A whopping 10 films featuring actress Ann Dvorak will be shown on April 2nd, including pre-Code classics like THREE ON A MATCH (1932). That evening, a tribute to actress-writer Emma Thompson includes one of the most perfect movies ever made, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995).

...Marlon Brando's Star of the Month films will begin on his centennial; he was born April 3, 1924. The day's films include the Oscar-winning classics ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951).

...The TCM 30th anniversary celebration on April 4th will include one of Robert Osborne's favorite films, William Wyler's DODSWORTH (1936).

...The excellent April 5th schedule includes great Billy Wilder films such as THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR (1942), seen here with Ray Milland and Ginger Rogers, and FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO (1943) with Franchot Tone.

...One of my favorite Westerns -- indeed, one of my favorite films -- is RIDE LONESOME (1959), and it will be shown on TCM April 6th.  Randolph Scott leads an excellent cast in this Budd Boetticher movie which was partly filmed in Lone Pine's Alabama Hills.

...The MGM 100th Anniversary films on April 8th focus on the 1930s and 1940s, including MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935), THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940).

...The Marlon Brando films on April 10th include THE GODFATHER (1972). I first saw the film less than two years ago and quite enjoyed it. My detailed thoughts are at this link!

...TCM's anniversary celebration films on April 11th will include Ernst Lubitsch's classic TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942), starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.

...It's the month for centennial celebrations! Director Stanley Donen's April 13th centennial will be celebrated with a few titles, including an all-time favorite of mine, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954).

...The MGM films on April 15th will be from the 1940s and 1950s. It's a great lineup which includes MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952).

...The centennial of composer Henry Mancini will be marked on April 16th, with films inlcude TOUCH OF EVIL (1958), DEAR HEART (1964), THE PINK PANTHER (1964), and CHARADE (1963).

...The Marlon Brando films on April 17th include the musical GUYS AND DOLLS (1955), costarring Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons.

...A day of "baby" themed films on April 19th includes the marvelous BACHELOR MOTHER (1939), starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven.

...TCM has a lovely primetime schedule on April 21st, featuring a pair of films constarring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten, PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (1948) and LOVE LETTERS (1945). Cotten once named Jones as his favorite costar, saying they had "happy days" working together.

...The MGM series on April 22nd features froms from the 1950s through '70s, including FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) and HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962).

...A memorial tribute for the late Glynis Johns will take place on April 23rd. The films will include VACATION FROM MARRIAGE (1945), also starring Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr.

...The final evening celebrating TCM's anniversary, on April 25th, will include the holiday classic CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945).

...Director Rian Johnson (KNIVES OUT) will appear on the new "Two for One" series on April 27th. I love the films he's selected: TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) and JEWEL ROBBERY (1932). Both movies star Kay Francis.

...The MGM films on April 29th include the marvelous clip film on MGM musicals, THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! (1974).

...The month wraps up on April 30th with a lineup which includes the noir classic OUT OF THE PAST (1947).

There is much, much more on TCM this month! For additional information on TCM in April 2024, please visit my Quick Preview of TCM in April, along with TCM's online schedule.

Tonight's Movie: Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The colorful Universal Pictures comedy-drama HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL (1952) was recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

The movie, written by Joseph Hoffman from a story by Eleanor H. Porter, tells the story of a family which unexpectedly comes into money and how it impacts them.

The surprise inheritance, courtesy of secretive millionaire Samuel Fulton (Charles Coburn) -- it's a loooong story -- wreaks havoc with the romance of Millicent (Piper Laurie) and Dan (Rock Hudson), and in particular it brings out an unpleasant side to Millicent's wealth-obsessed mother Harriet (Lynn Bari).

I first saw HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL at the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival and wrote about it afterwards at considerable length, including sharing the reflections of the late Piper Laurie, who was interviewed before the screening.

Laurie wasn't a fan of working with director Douglas Sirk, while on the other hand this movie was the first of Sirk's nine collaborations with Rock Hudson.

Although I wasn't 100% sold on the film, I enjoyed a number of aspects and wanted to take another look at it via this new Blu-ray. I came away feeling much the same; the young leads are appealing, most of the cast is enjoyable, and the film is lovely to look at.

And, as I wrote after my first viewing, the movie is "a curious mix of lighthearted family comedy with darker overtones." Bari's character being so over the top is the film's main drawback. Despite the movie's reassurances at the end, the viewer is left wondering if relationships have been irreparably harmed by her behavior.

I'd like to suggest readers click over to my 2022 review for more thoughts on the film and its background, then return here for additional information on the Blu-ray release.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray has excellent extras, including a commentary track by Piper Laurie, who passed away in October 2023. The track is moderated by Lee Gambin.

The disc also includes the 31-minute featurette "Fun on the Lot," with Laurie and Gigi Perreau, who plays Laurie's kid sister. It was originally produced in 2008 and is a fun watch, as the actresses share detailed memories of the film and its place in their careers. The documentary is very nicely edited and well illustrated with both clips and stills. It's interesting to note that Perreau liked Sirk better than Laurie did!

Watching the documentary, I was struck anew by my good fortune seeing both Laurie and Perreau interviewed in person in the last few years, all the more so as Laurie is sadly no longer with us.

HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL runs 88 minutes. The supporting cast includes Larry Gates, William Reynolds, Skip Homeier, and Frank Ferguson. Eagle-eyed viewers will also spot James Dean in a bit role as a drugstore customer.

The movie was filmed in lovely "candybox" Technicolor by Clifford Stine. The color is shown off to great effect on the Blu-ray, which is from a new HD master of a 2K scan of the 35mm interpositive.

The trailer included on this disk was newly mastered in 2K. The disc also includes 11 additional trailers for other films available from Kino Lorber.

Despite the referenced mild story flaws, this colorful family film was pleasant Easter Sunday viewing, and fans of the cast and director will want to check it out. This release, including print quality and extras, is another winner from Kino Lorber.

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

Easter Blessings

Very best wishes for a happy Easter Sunday! 

Here's a cute photo of little Margaret O'Brien enjoying some Easter fun.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Around the Blogosphere This Week

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

...Kino Lorber Studio Classics has announced several exciting Blu-ray titles will be released on May 28th. They include THE HOUR BEFORE THE DAWN (1944) with Franchot Tone and Veronica Lake, THE CHASE (1946) with Steve Cochran and Michele Morgan, SAIGON (1947) starring Lake and Alan Ladd, and PURSUED (1947) with Robert Mitchum and Teresa Wright. All of the discs will have audio commentaries; PURSUED is especially notable, as the track will be by Imogen Sara Smith, author of IN LONELY PLACES: FILM NOIR BEYOND THE CITY. THE CHASE is a reissue of a 2016 release, with an improved print.

...Coming to Blu-ray April 30th from the Warner Archive Collection: DEVIL'S DOORWAY (1950) starring Robert Taylor, directed by Anthony Mann.

...Spellbound with Beth Ann and Critica Retro will be cohosting the 2024 Luso World Cinema Blogathon May 4-6. This is the blogathon's fourth year. Details are here.

...New film books of interest: JOAN CRAWFORD IN FILM NOIR: THE ACTRESS AS AUTEUR by David Meuel has been published by McFarland. Meuel's other books include THE NOIR WESTERN: DARKNESS ON THE RANGE, 1943-1962...There's a new book in the Reel West series from University of New Mexico Press: RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY by Robert Nott...Also published in March: THE CAVALRY TRILOGY: JOHN FORD, JOHN WAYNE, AND THE MAKING OF THREE CLASSIC WESTERNS by Michael Blake. It's published by Rowman & Littlefield's TwoDot imprint.

...Attention Southern Californians: Kim has a preview of the UCLA Festival of Preservation at her blog I See a Dark Theater. The festival takes place at the Billy Wilder Theater from April 5th through 7th...There's a terrific ongoing series at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, "Screwball Sundays." Comedy classics showing in April and May include THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942) and TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932).

...Notable Passings: Louis Gossett Jr., who won the Oscar for AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN (1982), has died at 87. When I think of Gossett, the first thing that comes to mind is his two guest roles on THE ROCKFORD FILES in 1976 and '77...Jennifer Leak, who played daughter Colleen in YOURS, MINE AND OURS (1968), has passed away at 76. Her death was announced by her first husband, actor Tim Matheson, who was also in YOURS, MINE AND OURS. After leaving Hollywood in the '80s she became a real estate agent...Actor Ron Harper, of TV's PLANET OF THE APES (1974) and LAND OF THE LOST (1976), has died at 91...Eli Noyes, who worked in stop motion and clay animation, has died at 81.

...For additional recent links of interest to classic film fans, please visit my March 23rd column.

Quick Preview of TCM in May

Here's a quick peek at the upcoming May schedule on Turner Classic Movies!

The May Star of the Month is Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa, whose film career ran from 1914 to 1967. His films will be shown on Monday evenings.

Hayakawa's films will be followed by movies featuring other Asian actors, including Anna May Wong, James Shigeta, and Toshiro Mifune. (Note: The above is an update to my original post thanks to additional information shared directly by TCM.)

The TCM Spotlight, "A Single Name," will focus on movies with one-word "name" titles. The films will include ROBERTA (1953), NINOTCHKA (1939), HARVEY (1950), LILI (1953), and GIGI (1958).

Director Frank Borzage's work will be one of the month's "Special Themes," with three evenings of his movies. The films shown will include STRANDED (1935), HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (1937), THE MORTAL STORM (1940), and SEVEN SWEETHEARTS (1942).

The May Noir Alley films are DARK PASSAGE (1947), FOLLOW ME QUIETLY (1949), and the TCM premiere of TAKE AIM AT THE POLICE VAN (1960).

It has not yet been announced if a Noir Alley film will be shown during the annual Memorial Day Weekend marathon. That marathon will take place from Friday evening, May 24th, through Memorial Day on May 27th.  (Update: The Noir Alley film that weekend will be 1953's BAD FOR EACH OTHER.)

Filmmakers receiving multifilm tributes in May include Theodore Bikel, Steve Martin, David O. Selznick, Clark Gable, Dalton Trumbo, Clarence Brown, and Betty Garrett.

May programming themes will include flowers, the Gulf states, spies, "international incidents," carnivals, and movies with "Mr." in the title.

I'll have much more information on TCM's May schedule posted here around May 1st. In the meantime, April is right around the corner, with Marlon Brando as the Star of the Month.

Update: For more on TCM in May 2024, please visit TCM in May: Highlights.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

New Titles Announced for the TCM Classic Film Festival

Late last week Turner Classic Movies announced a number of additional films and guests for the upcoming TCM Classic Film Festival.

The festival will take place in Hollywood from April 18th through the 21st.

The latest additions to the festival lineup include:

*Half a dozen Vitaphone shorts screened on 35mm, accompanied by sound from the shorts' original 16-inch discs. Several Vitaphone and sound experts will present the shorts, including Bruce Goldstein.

*JEOPARDY! host Ken Jennings will introduce the U.S. premiere of a restored print of Powell and Pressburger's THE SMALL BACK ROOM (1949).

*Alexander Payne will introduce the previously announced restoration of THE SEARCHERS (1954).

*Nancy Meyers introduces a restoration of NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959).

*Steven Spielberg will introduce a "director's cut" of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977).

*A LITTLE ROMANCE (1979) will feature an interview with star Diane Lane.

*Mel Brooks will introduce SPACEBALLS (1987).

*LITTLE WOMEN (1994) will include a reunion of cast members Trini Alvarado (Meg), Samantha Mathis (adult Amy), and Eric Stoltz (John).

*Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins will appear at THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994).

*David Fincher will introduce a restoration of SE7EN (1995).

*I also learned this week that the Chinese Theatre will be equipped to show the opening night screening of PULP FICTION (1994) in 35mm.

*Although it has not yet been officially announced by TCM, Craig Barron shared on Facebook that he and Ben Burtt will be presenting THEM! (1954) at this year's festival.

The festival usually shows around 80 films, so we now know roughly half of the titles which will be on the festival schedule.

The full schedule, including all titles, dates, times, and locations, is typically released around three weeks ahead of the festival, so we will probably have the final schedule sometime in the next few days.

Previously: TCM Announces 2024 Festival Dates and Theme; 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements; Latest TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements; TCM Classic Film Festival Update; Latest TCM Classic Film Festival News; TCM Classic Film Festival Returning to the Egyptian Theatre; The 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule; The 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.

New at Classic Movie Hub: Tributes to Western Filmmakers

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

This month we return to the topic of Western filmmakers' final resting places, paying tribute to each one as we visit.

Please click over to Classic Movie Hub for the column, and thanks very much for reading.

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; May 2022; June 2022; July 2022; August 2022; September 2022; November 2022; November 2022 (No. 2); January 2023 (No. 1); January 2023 (No. 2); March 2023; April 2023; May 2023 (No. 1); May 2023 (No. 2); June 2023; July 2023; September 2023; September 2023 (No. 2); October 2023; November 2023; December 2023; January 2024; February 2024.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Around the Blogosphere This Week

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

...This week Movie Zyng is having a Warner Archive Collection "4 for $49" Blu-ray sale. The sale runs through March 28th. Use the code ARCHIVE15 at checkout.

...April Warner Archive Collection releases will include THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (1932), FRIENDLY PERSUASION (1956), and THE NUN'S STORY (1959).

...Thanks to reader Ashley for the tip that YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH (1941) with Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth is being reissued on Blu-ray next month by Sony. It previously had a Blu-ray release from the now-defunct Twilight Time.

...Hallmark has announced a new SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED film. The last one came out in 2021. This was my late father's favorite Hallmark movie series, and I can give no higher recommendation.

...Coming May 1st from Bonaventure Press: UNSHOT COLUMBO: CRACKING THE CASES THAT NEVER GOT FILMED by David Koenig. Koenig is also the author of the 2021 book SHOOTING COLUMBO.

...And coming in July from Old Mill Press: DISNEY IN-BETWEEN: THE LOST YEARS 1966-1986 by Stephen Anderson. I've bought a number of Old Mill Press Disney books, and they are always top quality.

...I enjoyed my friend Jandy's tribute to BRIGADOON (1954), as it's a film she and I both appreciate despite the naysayers.

...Coming June 4th from Flicker Alley: NEVER OPEN THAT DOOR (1952), also known in its native Argentina as NO ABRAS NUNCA ESA PUERTA. I just saw this film at opening night of the Noir City Hollywood Festival and thought it was terrific; I should be reviewing the Blu-ray here in due course. It will have some excellent extras including a documentary on Cornell Woolrich and an introduction by Eddie Muller.

...Coming to Blu-ray May 14th from Kino Lorber: DAISY MILLER (1974) starring Cybill Shepherd. Also "coming soon": The miniseries NOBLE HOUSE (1988) starring Pierce Brosnan.

...At The Hannibal 8 Toby shares the news that BOMBS OVER BURMA (1942), a Poverty Row film starring Anna May Wong, is coming soon from Film Masters. I'll be reviewing it here.

...The April lineup on Criterion Channel includes a great series titled "Peak Noir: 1950," with 17 films, plus an introduction by Imogen Sara Smith and Eddie Muller.

...This weekend the 50th (!) anniversary of the TV series LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE (1974-83) is being celebrated in Simi Valley, California, where the show's location work was filmed.

...Notable Passings: David Seidler, who won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for THE KING'S SPEECH (2010), has passed away at the age of 86...Classical pianist Byron Janis, who was long married to Gary Cooper's daughter Maria, has died at 95...Last weekend I mentioned the passing of Cass Warner, granddaughter of Warner Bros. cofounder Harry Warner. Warner Bros. historian Chris Yogerst has written more about Cass for The Hollywood Reporter.

...For additional recent links of interest to classic film fans, please visit my March 16th column.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

The 2024 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival Schedule

The Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival celebrates its silver anniversary in the desert this May!

The 2024 edition of the festival opens in Palm Springs on Thursday evening, May 9th.

The festival runs through Sunday, May12th, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. The Center, at the site of the former Camelot Theatres, is located at 2300 E. Baristo Road.

Passes are now on sale, with a dozen films scheduled to be shown over the course of the 72 hours between Thursday and Sunday nights.

Festival producer and host Alan K. Rode has a quartet of excellent guests lined up: Actor/writer Jim Beaver, film historian Luis Reyes, writer-producer Kirk Ellis, and actor-writer Michael McGreevey.

I've had the honor of meeting all of the guests but Beaver at past festivals, and I look forward to hearing their thoughts on the movies screened.

I'm very enthused about this year's schedule, a wonderful mix of new-to-me titles and familiar films.

Four of the films I've never seen in any format, and I'm also delighted at the prospect of seeing movies like CRIME WAVE (1954) and DAY OF THE OUTLAW (1959) theatrically for the first time. CRIME WAVE is a particular favorite of mine which I think will be wonderful to watch with an audience.

The opening night film on May 9th will be BODY AND SOUL (1947) starring John Garfield, directed by Robert Rossen. The night's special guest will be Jim Beaver. A reception follows the screening.

Saturday's line up icks off with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in THE SCARLET CLAW (1944), directed by Roy William Neill.

It's followed by Anthony Mann's BORDER INCIDENT (1949), filmed by John Alton, and a personal favorite, Mitchell Leisen's NO MAN OF HER OWN (1950).

Luis Reyes will be the special guest at BORDER INCIDENT, which stars George Murphy and Ricardo Montalban. Barbara Stanwyck and John Lund star in NO MAN OF HER OWN.

Friday evening concludes with Rod Steiger starring in the British film ACROSS THE BRIDGE (1957), directed by Ken Annakin.

Saturday starts off with Andre De Toth's CRIME WAVE (1954), which has fantastic location shooting in the Greater Los Angeles area. Sterling Hayden and Gene Nelson star. Hayden is great fun as a grumpy cop, and I thought Nelson, best known as a dancer, was a revelation as an ex-con.

Next up are DEAD RECKONING (1946), starring Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott, directed by John Cromwell, and WOMAN IN HIDING (1950) with a wonderful cast of Ida Lupino, Howard Duff, Stephen McNally and Peggy Dow. WOMAN IN HIDING was directed by Michael Gordon.

Saturday evening closes with the wonderful "snowy Western" DAY OF THE OUTLAW (1959), starring Robert Ryan and Burl Ives, directed by Andre De Toth. Michael McGreevey, who appeared in the film as a child, is that night's special guest.

Sunday morning kicks off with a Humphrey Bogart film I don't know at all, THE ENFORCER (1951), directed by Bretaigne Windust and the uncredited Raoul Walsh.

It's followed by the fun "B" mystery ESCAPE IN THE FOG (1945), directed by Budd Boetticher, with Nina Foch in the lead. Kirk Ellis will be the guest at this screening.

The festival concludes in fine style with one of Alfred HItchcock's most beloved films, SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943), starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten.

For additional details on the films, schedule, and more, please visit the festival's newly updated website.

I hope to see some of my readers in the desert this May!

For a look at past Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival coverage, please visit these links: 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Springtime in Hollywood

Happy Spring!

Here are some lovely seasonal photos of classic film actresses, starting with Esther Williams:

Norma Shearer:

Kristine Miller:

Joan Fontaine:

Janet Gaynor:

Deanna Durbin:

Previously: Springtime in Hollywood (2013); Springtime in Hollywood (2014).

Monday, March 18, 2024

Tonight's TV: Columbo: "Dagger of the Mind" (1972), "Requiem for a Falling Star" (1973) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

My latest COLUMBO viewing, thanks to Kino Lorber's Blu-ray collection, consists of a 1972 episode, "Dagger of the Mind," and the 1973 show "Requiem for a Falling Star."

As has been the case with other episodes, the location filming is one of the show's most interesting aspects. "Dagger of the Mind" was, unusually, partly filmed in London, although the murder victim's mansion was the Graystone Mansion in Los Angeles.

Richard Basehart and Honor Blackman play a pair of British actors starring in a new theatrical production of MACBETH when they unintentionally kill their producer, Sir Roger Haversham (John Williams, DIAL M FOR MURDER), in a struggle.

They sneak his body out of the theater and stage things to look as though he died in an accident at his country mansion. But Columbo, visiting Detective Durk (Bernard Fox) at Scotland Yard, has suspicions that all is not as it seems.

This was probably the weakest episode I've seen to date. I loved seeing the sights of London in the background, but the Basehart and Blackman characters were simply unbelievable to me. One would think they'd be wracked with guilt, yet they cackle with glee and seem to thoroughly enjoy "getting away with it."

Perhaps, though, it shouldn't be a surprise given that Blackman was "romancing" the producer for his money, with Basehart's encouragement. They're clearly not "normal" people, as also evidenced by Basehart's character seemingly slipping off into another dimension once found out...

All in all, this episode was surprisingly tedious, but I suppose even COLUMBO has its clunkers.

The cast also includes Wilfrid Hyde-White (MY FAIR LADY) as a blackmailing butler. Former actor Richard Quine directed, from a script by Jackson Gillis. The episode was filmed by Geoffrey Unsworth and Harry Wolf.

The same writer, director, and cinematographer Wolf also worked on "Requiem for a Falling Star," which I liked much more. It's not perfect -- for instance, I felt at times that the always disarming Columbo was too obsequious around movie star Nora Chandler (Anne Baxter) -- but it has a great cast and interesting story.

Nora is upset with her secretary Jean (Pippa Scott) and Jerry (Mel Ferrer), a reporter, who are having an affair, and causes a car explosion which kills Jean. Nora is shocked when she learns of Jean's death, as she meant to kill Jerry. Or did she?

This is an unusual episode as the plot and motivations are not all in plain view for the viewer at the outset. Some of the story is not revealed till the end, so I'll be silent on that aspect, but I found it a very interesting reveal.

The cast, which also includes Kevin McCarthy, John Archer, and Frank Converse, is terrific; there's even a surprise appearance by famed costume designer Edith Head! And the location filming is wonderful.

One of the show's creative ideas is that Nora lives in a bungalow on the studio lot, given to her in appreciation decades before when she was the studio's biggest star. There are many fun views of the lot as the characters walk from the bungalow to the soundstages.

I've mentioned past episodes showing many locations I'm familiar with, including the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the Tail o' the Pup hot dog stand, Balboa Island, and Hollywood Forever Cemetery, to name a few.

In this case I got a big kick out of the appearance of the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City (seen here), where Nora and Jerry meet for an important discussion.

I've been to the Sportsmen's Lodge exactly twice -- both times to have lunch with James Garner. No kidding! They were small events held by his official fan club in the '80s; I sat next to him at one of the parties. So I have very happy memories of that location, and it was fun to see it turn up on COLUMBO.

Previous COLUMBO posts: "Murder By the Book" (1971), "Death Lends a Hand" (1971), "Dead Weight" (1971), "Suitable for Framing" (1971), "Lady in Waiting" (1971), "Short Fuse" (1972), "Blueprint for Murder" (1972), "Etude in Black" (1972), "The Greenhouse Jungle" (1972), "The Most Crucial Game" (1972).

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

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