National Classic Movie Day Blogathon: Five Favorite Films of the 1950s

•May 16, 2019 • 22 Comments

Every year, in celebration of National Classic Movie Day, Rick over at the Classic Film and TV Café hosts a blogathon, and when I found out that this year’s theme was “Five Favorite Films of the 1950s,” I was all over it like white on rice! I can never turn down an opportunity to indulge in a list, and what better list than one for which I can identify some of my favorite films!

Of course, all of my selections are from the film noir era, although I’d like to give a quick, well-deserved nod to some of my beloved non-noir favorites from the decade, including Singin’ in the Rain (1952), From Here to Eternity (1953), 12 Angry Men (1957), and Some Like It Hot (1959). Also, in order to be included on my final list for the blogathon, the films had to be noirs that I haven’t previously covered here at Shadows and Satin, so that put the instant smack-down on a number of features that would have otherwise been in heavy contention, like Gun Crazy (1950), Sunset Boulevard (1950), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Big Heat (1953), The Big Combo (1955), and The Sweet Smell of Success (1957).

All in all, I must confess that it wasn’t really that difficult to come up with these five favorites – they’re noirs that I’ve seen numerous times, each offering unique and distinct characteristics to recommend them. If you’re not familiar with them, take it from me, you’ll want to check ‘em out!

 Night and the City (1950)

What it’s about:

Richard Widmark stars as Harry Fabian, an opportunistic hustler and con man living in London, who is constantly in search of the next get-rich-quick scheme, certain that Easy Street is just around the corner. When he serendipitously gains the favor of famed Greco-Roman wrestler Gregorius (Stanislaus Zbyszko), he attempts to parlay the relationship into a career as a wrestling promoter. A couple of major monkey wrenches get tossed into Fabian’s plan, though, including the fact that Gregorius’s son, Kristo (the always-great Herbert Lom), runs the wrestling game in town and is no Fabian fan, to say the least.

Who else is in it?

Gene Tierney plays Harry’s long-suffering girlfriend, Mary, and Googie Withers is a standout as the wife of corpulent nightclub proprietor Phil Nosseross, who pins her hopes on Harry as her ticket out of her loveless marriage and the means of her opening her own establishment. Nosseross is played to the hilt by Francis Sullivan, who treats Harry with utter contempt, despite his habit of referring to him as “dear boy.”

Why I like it:

Withers and Sullivan are memorable additions to the cast.

From the first scene, Widmark’s Harry Fabian embodies a pervading sense of disaster that’s a hallmark of film noir. “I wanna be somebody,” he tells his girlfriend, who only wants to live “peacefully and quietly.” But that’s not for Harry. And it doesn’t matter what he has to do or who he has to bulldoze in order to achieve his goals. You want to root for Harry’s success, but you know that he’s got a one-way ticket to Doomsville – and he’s on the express train.

Trivia tidbit:

There are two versions of the film – a British version and an American version. The British version has a slightly more upbeat ending. I don’t think I need to tell you that I like the American release better.

Favorite quote:

“You could have been anything. Anything. You had brains, ambition. You worked harder than any 10 men. But the wrong things. Always the wrong things.” – Mary Bristol (Gene Tierney)

Robert Walker gives the performance of a lifetime.

Strangers on a Train (1951)

What it’s about:

A couple of strangers meet on a train – tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger), who is unhappily married and having an affair with a senator’s daughter, and Bruno Antony (Robert Walker), a wealthy psychopath who shares with Guy his idea for a perfect crime. Proposing that the two men “swap” murders – Bruno could kill Guy’s wife while Guy would kill Bruno’s father – Bruno secures what he considers to be Guy’s blessing, and proceeds to carry out his part of the bargain. And then, of course, he expects Guy to fulfill his.

Who else is in it?

Laura Elliott (who years later, under the name Kasey Rogers, would appear as Larry Tate’s wife on TV’s Bewitched) was only in a couple of scenes, but she made the most of them as Guy’s shrewish, ill-fated spouse. Guy’s true love, played by Ruth Roman, was not only beautiful but clever as well, as was her little sister, played by director Alfred Hitchcock’s daughter, Patricia (who is still with us at age 90). Also, playing Bruno’s mother, was Marion Lorne, another Bewitched alum; she played the ditzy Aunt Clara.

Hitchcock’s cameo.

Why I like it:

My favorite part about this film, other than the story itself, is the performance of Robert Walker. He was in fewer than 25 movies before he died at the age of 32, and I was surprised to realize that I’ve only seen him in two other films – Since You Went Away (1944) and The Clock (1945). Still, for my money, Walker gives the performance of his career in Strangers on a Train, bringing to life a fascinating, frightening character who would literally charm you one moment and choke the life out of you the next. He was, in a word, riveting.

Trivia tidbit:

Alfred Hitchcock’s patented cameo in this feature came near the beginning of the movie, where he’s seen boarding a train carrying a double bass fiddle.

Favorite quote:

“I may be old-fashioned, but I thought murder was against the law.” – Guy Haines (Farley Granger)

The Narrow Margin (1952)

What it’s about:

A no-nonsense detective, Sgt. Brown (Charles McGraw) is charged with covertly escorting a gangster’s widow (Marie Windsor) by train from Chicago to Los Angeles, where she’s slated to testify about the mob before a grand jury. Before the journey even gets started, Brown’s partner is murdered, which is a sign of things to come, as he’s faced with a cohort of mobsters looking to prevent the widow from blowing the lid off the mob’s nefarious activities.

Who else is in it?

Jacqueline White – who was featured in the 1947 noir Crossfire – has a sizable role in this film, but I can’t tell you what character she plays! Instead, I’ll just tell you that The Narrow Margin was her last film – and she is also still with us, at age 96.

No love lost between these two.

Why I like it:

Except for a handful of scenes, the entire film takes place aboard the train, making for an appropriately tense and claustrophobic atmosphere. And together, Marie Windsor and Charles McGraw comprise one of my favorite noir duos. Every single scene they’re in together fairly crackles with rancor – they spit their lines at each other as if they taste like curdled milk.

Trivia tidbit:

The Narrow Margin was remade in 1990 with Gene Hackman and Anne Archer. I’m not a fan.

Favorite quote:

“Sister, I’ve known some pretty hard cases in my time; you make ’em all look like putty.” – Det. Sgt. Walter Brown (Charles McGraw)

Sudden Fear (1952)

The salad days. (And yet another film with scenes aboard a train!)

What it’s about:

San Francisco heiress and playwright Myra Hudson (Joan Crawford) falls in love with Lester Blaine (Jack Palance), an actor who auditioned (unsuccessfully) for one of her productions. After their rocky introduction and a whirlwind romance, the two get married and are blissfully happy (at least, Myra is), but when Lester runs into an old flame (Gloria Grahame), all bets are off. And the honeymoon is REALLY over when Myra learns that Lester and his chick-on-the-side are plotting to kill her.

Who else is in it?

The cast is rounded out by Bruce Bennett – who played Crawford’s husband, Bert, in Mildred Pierce (1945); Mike Connors, perhaps best known for his role as TV’s Mannix; and Virginia Huston, who was memorable as Robert Mitchum’s good-girl gal pal in Out of the Past (1947). Huston can also be seen in another Crawford vehicle, Flamingo Road (1949), as the wife of Zachary Scott, who played Monte Beragon in Mildred Pierce!

Everything’s better with Gloria.

What I like best:

Gloria Grahame is sheer femme fatale perfection as Lester’s the sexy, cold-blooded mistress, who is completely devoid of a conscience, whether she’s fooling around with a married man or trying to come up with ideas for the perfect murder. I also love what Joan Crawford’s character does after she finds out that her husband just isn’t into her anymore. (I mean, after she finishes freaking out.)

Trivia tidbit:

Both Crawford and Palance earned Oscar nominations for their performances; Crawford lost for Best Actress to Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba, and Palance lost for Best Supporting Actor to Anthony Quinn in Viva Zapata!

Favorite quote:

“I was just wondering what I’d done to deserve you.” – Myra Hudson (Joan Crawford)

The Killing (1956)

The best laid plans . . .

What it’s about:

Career criminal Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) assembles a motley crew of everymen to plan and carry out a racetrack heist. Like the best laid plans of mice and men, though, this intricately designed plot goes tragically awry.

Who else is in it?

The film’s rich cast includes Ted deCorsia as a crooked cop with a gambling problem; Timothy Carey as a slightly unhinged sharpshooter; Coleen Gray as Johnny’s loyal girlfriend; Elijah Cook, Jr., as a racetrack cashier and Marie Windsor as Cook’s not-so-loyal wife.

What I like best:

Marie Windsor and Elijah Cook, Jr., as Sherry and George Peatty, make for a definite odd couple with some of the film’s best lines. George is dutifully devoted to his spouse, willing and ready to do whatever’s required to make her happy, and Sherry is all disdain and wisecracks. You gotta love ‘em.  Speaking of love, I also love the way that the plot is presented in a non-linear fashion by Stanley Kubrick, in one of his first outings as a director. It makes for fascinating viewing.

The endlessly watchable George and Sherry Peatty.

Trivia tidbit:

Marie Windsor was reportedly cast in the film after Stanley Kubrick saw her performance in The Narrow Margin.

Favorite quote:

“Alright sister, that’s a mighty pretty head you got on your shoulders. You want to keep it there or start carrying it around in your hands?” – Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden)

And that’s it! What are your five favorite films from the 1950s? Leave a comment and let me know! And be sure to celebrate National Classic Movie Day by reading the other fabulous entries for the Classic Film and TV Café blogathon!

You only owe it to yourself.

Pre-Code Crazy: It Happened One Night (1934)

•May 5, 2019 • 9 Comments

My Pre-Code Crazy pick for this month is a film that I’d bet money you’ve all seen already – It Happened One Night (1934). And if you haven’t, I’m absolutely certain you’ve seen a clip of its most famous scene, where Claudette Colbert succeeds in flagging down a passing car by flashing one of her shapely gams. Whatever the case, it’s a film worth seeing – whether it’s for the first time or the 14th!

It Happened One Night tells the story of a spoiled, headstrong heiress, Ellie Andrews (Colbert), who is kidnapped by her father (Walter Connolly) after she elopes with a gold-digging playboy named King Westley. After escaping from her father, Ellie embarks on a bus trip to New York, where she meets reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable), who has just been fired from his job. Despite their instant mutual dislike, the two find themselves inextricably bound together as they travel across the country, encountering a series of adventures and misadventures – and love – on the way.

Because I’m so sure that most of you already know all about this beloved film, I thought I’d skip the deep dive into the plot and instead share with you a few trivia tidbits about the production.

The film was the first of only three movies to win all five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. (The other two films were One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest [1975] and The Silence of the Lambs [1991]).

Colbert didn’t want to do this scene.

Claudette Colbert reportedly objected to the scene where she had to pull up her skirt in an effort to stop a passing driver. A chorus girl was brought in to serve as Colbert’s body double, causing Colbert to tell director Frank Capra: ”Get her out of here. I’ll do it. That’s not my leg!”

If you check out the 1937 Laurel and Hardy comedy Way Out West, you’ll see a parody of the well-known hitch-hiking scene, in which Stan Laurel stops a stagecoach by offering a bit of leg a la Colbert.

This was the last film of Blanche Friderici, who died two months before it was released in 1934. Friderici can also be seen in such pre-Codes as Night Nurse (1931), Mara Hari (1932), and So Big (1932). She suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 55.

Many sources claim that this is director Frank Capra. I don’t think so. Do you?

About halfway through the film, there’s an impromptu bus singalong “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.” Several internet sources claim Frank Capra, the director, makes a cameo as one of the passengers, singing the third verse of the song. I beg to differ.

Clark Gable, who won the Best Actor Oscar, wound up giving his golden statuette to a child, telling him that what mattered was winning the award, not owning it. Years later, after Gable’s death, the Oscar was returned to the actor’s widow. In 1996, the Oscar was put up for auction by Gable’s estate, although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sued to keep the statuette off the auction, claiming that, two years before his 1960 death, Gable had signed a contract that gave the Academy first rights to buy the statuette for $10 if it was ever sold. The Academy’s lawsuit was unsuccessful – director Steven Spielberg purchased the Oscar for $607,500 – but ultimately, the Academy emerged the victor. After acquiring the award, Spielberg donated it to the Academy.

Watch out for this goof about 57 minutes in: Colbert and Gable are in a car, with Gable driving. Colbert dons a scarf, but every time the camera cuts to her, the scarf is in a different position.

Even though the film is considered to be a romantic comedy, Gable and Colbert never kiss.

It Happened One Night airs on TCM on May 7th. Do yourself a favor and check it out! You’ll be glad you did.


Be sure to visit the Speakeasy blog later this week to see what pre-Code gem Kristina is recommending!

A Many Splendored Thing: The 2019 TCM Film Festival – Part 2

•April 27, 2019 • 4 Comments

Hollywood Boulevard: The calm before the storm

Two weeks ago today, I was with my older daughter, Veronica, in sunny Los Angeles, joyfully immersed in the world of cinema (and the circus-like atmosphere that is Hollywood Boulevard) at the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. As I look I my window in Chicago now, at the snow that’s been falling all day (yes, SNOW – in APRIL!), I’m glad to take a look back and offer the next installment of my year-round posts on the 2019 event.

In my initial post about the festival, I outlined my plans for film screenings and presentation viewings. Today’s entry provides an overview of what actually happened, because for the first time in the seven years that I’ve been going to the TCM film festival, I actually changed my plans, not once, but several times! (And if you know anything at all about me, you’ll know that changing my well-laid plans is major!)

Cinema Central: The Roosevelt Hotel

The first change came near the start of the event, on Thursday evening. After participating in the annual trivia contest (I knew two answers this year – SCORE!), I hightailed it over to Grauman’s Chinese Theater to nab a seat on the bleachers and watch the red carpet processional. I found to my dismay, however, that the capacity of the bleachers was significantly reduced this year; in order to watch the proceedings (which typically go on for at least a couple of hours), I would have had to stand, and that was not happening. Disappointed but not defeated, Veronica and I hung out with my friend Dail at the pool at the Roosevelt Hotel and waited to see Angie Dickinson, who was interviewed by Ben Mankiewicz before the screening of Oceans 11. Good company, cold champagne, and tasty treats made for a great evening!

My plan for the next day included seeing Steel Magnolias, which was to feature a discussion with Shirley MacLaine. Unfortunately, before I even got to L.A., I’d learned that MacLaine had cancelled her appearance. Instead of replacing this film with another, I took the opportunity to nab a good spot in line for Do the Right Thing – my daughter and I were number 5 and 6 and got a front row seat!

Skipping one film got us in the front row at another!

My biggest changes came on Saturday, when I’d initially planned to see Raisin in the Sun and The Bad Seed, with discussions with Lou Gossett and Patty McCormack, respectively. Once in L.A., though, I decided to switch things up and take my daughter to see Nashville, for which Lily Tomlin was scheduled to appear; Veronica is a big fan of the Netflix series Grace and Frankie and I knew she’d get a kick out of seeing Tomlin in person (as would I!). Unfortunately, on the day of the screening, I learned that Lily Tomlin wouldn’t be able to come! This completely threw my schedule into an upheaval but, ultimately, in a good way. We wound up seeing Love Affair, Blood Money (a 1933 pre-Code that I’d REALLY wanted to see in the first place!), and Samson and Delilah. For the latter, we had VIP tickets (I felt like such a big shot!), courtesy of my pal, film historian and author Alan Rode, who interviewed Victor Mature’s daughter Victoria before the film.

Finally, on the last day, after seeing two Club TCM presentations, I overruled Veronica’s pick of My Favorite Wife in favor of A Woman of Affairs, a silent film starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, which was accompanied by a full orchestra. It was one of my better decisions as a parent!

And that’s about the size of it – quite a few modifications from my original plans, but all things considered, everything worked out! I’ll be covering these and other screenings and events from this year’s fest, starting in May and continuing in the months to come, so be sure to tune in!

Guess I’ll go shovel some snow now . . .

The CMBA “Femme/Homme Fatales of Noir” Blogathon — Sam Wild in Born to Kill (1947)

•April 19, 2019 • 17 Comments

Sam Wild.

If that isn’t a fitting name for a homme fatale, I just don’t know what is.

Wild, a psychopathic drifter played with panache by Lawrence Tierney, is the title-referenced subject of the 1947 noir Born to Kill. In this first-rate, wholly riveting feature, Wild is a cool-minded serial killer, but this fact doesn’t at all serve to deter the ardor of Helen Brent (portrayed by the always awesome Claire Trevor), who discovers the bodies of his two first victims. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let me give you the plot in a nutshell. (Watch your step – there are spoilers ahead!)

The film opens with the successful Reno, Nevada, divorce of the aforementioned Helen, who is celebrating her newfound freedom with Mrs. Kraft (Esther Howard), owner of the boarding house where Helen has taken up temporary residence, and Laury Palmer (Isabel Jewell), Mrs. Kraft’s friend and neighbor. Unfortunately for Laury, she’s not long for this world – she and her date are killed by Wild (who Laury had also been dating, and who she’d dreamily described in an earlier scene as “the quiet sort – and yet you get the feeling if you stepped out of line, he’d kick you in the teeth”).

Run, Laury, run!

After finding the bodies of Laury and her date, Helen hightails it back to her home (and her goody-goody fiancé) in San Francisco – but on the way, she meets and falls for Wild, who is also, wisely, putting distance between himself and Reno. Once in Frisco, there’s lots more action – Wild woos and marries Helen’s dripping-with-money foster sister, Georgia (Audrey Long); Helen and Sam embark on a passionate, obsessive affair; Mrs. Kraft hires a private detective (Walter Slezak) to find Laury’s killer; and Sam’s best friend (Elisha Cook, Jr.) arrives on the scene to lend a helping hand with the general goings-on. By the film’s end, practically everybody is dead, or comes close to it, and you’ll be left breathless with your head spinning.

One of the main reasons for Born to Kill’s visceral impact is Tierney’s Sam Wild – for my money, he’s one of noir’s most memorable and menacing characters. On the favorable side, he’s undeniably sexy and unquestionably ambitious. Conversely, he’s also as nutty as a Snickers bar. Regardless of his clear shortcomings, however, Sam is near the top of my list of the homme fatales I love to hate to love – here are some of the reasons why:

Sam definitely knew his way around a good line.

Memorable lines:

Early on in the film, after Laury’s murder, Sam’s clear-headed and loyal pal, Marty, warns him to say away from women when he travels to San Francisco. Sam rejoins, “I’ve got a dame on my mind and she’s dead. And that’s plenty for me.” Later, after encountering (and decidedly not steering clear of) Helen, Sam tells her that he’s not a big fan of gambling: “I don’t like being at the mercy of those little white squares that roll around and decide whether you win or lose,” he says. “I like to have the say-so myself.” He also confidently shares his philosophy: “Know what you want, be sure you’ll get it, and you can’t miss. I found that out early.” And then, after he marries the very-wealthy Georgia, Sam tells his new sister-in-law: “I’m nobody much. But I’ll make myself a lot more than I am. I can do it, too.”

Numerous notches on the kill belt:

Sam’s first murders were the hapless Danny Jaden (Tony Barrett) and Laury Palmer. To his credit, Sam didn’t start out planning to kill these two; after letting himself into Laury’s home and encountering Danny in the kitchen, he simply tells Danny to leave. Unfortunately, Danny doesn’t follow directions (“I came for a drink and I’m gonna have it,” he says. These are pretty much his last words.) And when Laury stumbles upon Danny’s body, Sam lets her have it as well. Next up (I told you there were spoilers!) is none other than Sam’s bosom buddy and lifelong pal, Marty, who Sam mistakenly suspects of having the hots for Helen. And speaking of Helen . . . well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Everybody loves Sam. (Or wants to.)

Loved by all the ladies:

Sam not only attracts the attention of both Helen and her sister Georgia, but his unique appeal also entices the kitchen staff. One of them sighs, “His eyes get me. They run up and down you like a searchlight.” And according to another one, “That Mr. Wild, he just makes me water at the kneecaps.”

He’s no dummy:

When Helen grouses that Sam isn’t paying her enough attention (incidentally, this complaint comes just minutes after he marries her sister), Sam appropriately offers up a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible’s Old Testament: “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

Mysterious character, mysterious past:

Given Sam’s penchant for violence, it’s entirely possible that he’d committed murder before we meet him at the start of the film. But his kill quotient isn’t the only thing that’s not quite clear about Sam. After he marries Georgia, he expresses his desire to take over the newspaper empire that’s operated by her family. Georgia’s not in favor of the idea, citing Sam’s previous experience as a prizefighter and manager of a “cattle ranch or two.” But are these vocations truly a part of Sam’s resumé? Or are they just career-related figments of Sam’s active imagination? We’ll never know.

If you’ve never seen Lawrence Tierney’s Sam Wild in action, track down Born to Kill. And if you’re already acquainted with this scary dude, why not pay him another visit?

You only owe it to yourself.


This post is part of the “Femme/Homme Fatales of Film Noir” blogathon, presented by the Classic Movie Blog Association. Click the pic to read the great posts offered during this event! You’ll be glad you did.

A Many Splendored Thing: The 2019 TCM Film Festival

•April 1, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The countdown is truly on!

The 2019 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival will kick off in Los Angeles, California, in less than two weeks, and for the seventh consecutive year, I’ll be there! This year’s fest will be extra special, as it’s the 10-year anniversary of the festival and the 25th anniversary of the launch of TCM. Sometimes I feel like my entire year is focused on this event – I’m either reliving the past fest, or waiting for the new one to start. This year, I am taking my older daughter with me, so I’m extra excited. Once again, I’ll be sharing my experiences from the festival via Twitter and Facebook, and providing year-round coverage here at Shadows and Satin.

The complete schedule for this year’s fest was recently released, and I’ve had dates and times and screenings swirling around in my head ever since. For the last few years, many of my choices have been guided by the celebrities who will appear at the screenings, and this year was no different. Interestingly, I didn’t encounter any major conflicts or have to make any Sophie’s Choice-level sacrifices – with one major exception, that is. But more on that later. So now, after weeks of poring over my printouts, I’ve conclusively settled (for the most part!) on my final schedule, and I’m delighted to share it with you!

Bruce Goldstein’s trivia contest is always a must!

My kick-off event of the festival is a no-brainer. It’s been my tradition since my first year to participate in the “So You Think You Know Movies” trivia contest held in the Roosevelt Hotel’s Club TCM (site of the first Academy Awards ceremony!) and hosted by Bruce Goldstein, founder and co-president of Rialto Pictures and Director of Repertory Programming at New York’s Film Forum cinema. Except for the first year, when I actually knew several of the answers, I usually don’t get too many questions correct. But it’s still such fun. Goldstein is always witty and keeps the proceedings moving along at a lively clip. Also, if you don’t already have a team formed when you arrive (which I never have yet), the contest is a great way to meet new people, as the nice folks at TCM will help you form a team with your nearby seatmates.

Next, I hope to get a seat in the bleachers to watch the red carpet arrivals for the Opening Night Gala. This year’s film is When Harry Met Sally, which will feature a discussion with the picture’s director, Rob Reiner, and stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. I’m looking forward to catching a glimpse of all three on the red carpet – since I won’t be seeing the movie.

I missed Angie before. I won’t make that mistake again.

My first film, which will be screened poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel, is Ocean’s 11. It’s a must-see not so much for the movie itself, but because it will start off with an interview with Angie Dickinson. I didn’t get a chance to see her when she was at the festival a few years back, and I definitely don’t want to miss this chance. (The screening will be preceded by a cocktail party, for which festgoers are encouraged to dress like a member of the Rat Pack. As much as I’d like to do this – last year’s 20’s-era party seemed like such fun – I’ll just be in my regular old festival duds. Plus, it gets so cold in the evenings by the pool – I nearly froze my tush off at the screening of Earthquake a few years back, and I’m dressing appropriately this time!)

The first full day of films will be Friday, April 12th, and I’ll be starting out my day with Merrily We Go to Hell (1932), starring Fredric March and Sylvia Sidney, followed by a Club TCM presentation, called “The Descendants: Growing Up In Hollywood.” This will feature the children of Hollywood stars, sharing insights into their home lives and what their parents were like away from the set. Participants will be Jennifer Grant, daughter of Dyan Cannon and Cary Grant; Fraser Heston, son of Lydia Clarke and Charlton Heston; and Dr. Hasna Muhammad, daughter of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. This was one of several Club TCM presentations that I wanted to see as soon as I read about it.

I’ll be spending a lot of hours in this majestic theater on Friday.

My next two films will both be in Grauman’s Chinese Theater (it’ll always be Grauman’s to me), which is great, because I didn’t see a single film there last year. The first is Steel Magnolias, which I am mainly going to see because Shirley MacLaine will be there, and I missed seeing her at the fest a few years ago. She’s one of the personages that I’m most looking forward to seeing. My second Chinese Theater movie is Do The Right Thing, directed by Spike Lee, which will feature discussions by Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter and Spike Lee’s sister, Joie Lee. I’m very much looking forward to this screening – besides wanting my daughter to see the movie, I think she’ll be thrilled to see Ruth Carter. (In fact, I’m hoping to keep it a secret until Carter walks out! So don’t tell her . . .)

Day Three, April 13th, is the only day on which I encountered any kind of dilemma. But not with the first screening, From Here to Eternity. This is one of the movies that I used to always show to friends and family who were novices to classic film, and – once again – I want my daughter to see it. It was a bonus when I learned that Donna Reed’s daughter, Mary Owen, will be on hand.

The dilemma comes with a block that includes Raisin in the Sun, featuring Lou Gossett; Blood Money (1933), the only pre-Code at the fest that I haven’t already seen; and Nashville (1975), which was already on my wish list because the pre-film discussion will feature Jeff Goldblum and Ronee Blakley – but TCM made things even harder just a few days ago when it was revealed that Lily Tomlin would be there as well. (FRICKIN’ LILY TOMLIN, y’all!!!! Edith Ann! Ernestine! GEE WHIZ.) What to do, WHAT TO DO?!?!

This is how I feel about missing Nashville. (sniff!)

Ultimately, the deciding factor had nothing to do with any of these three films – instead, it was another film I want to see, which is screening later on: The Bad Seed (1956), which will feature none other than the bad seed herself, Patty McCormack. I realized that if I go to see Nashville, I won’t be able to see anything BUT Nashville – it conflicts with Raisin in the Sun, Blood Money, AND The Bad Seed. So what I finally decided was to see Raisin in the Sun and The Bad Seed, hope that Blood Money is one of the films that is replayed in one of the “TBA” slots on Sunday, and keep my fingers crossed that Jeff Goldblum, Ronee Blakley and Lily Tomlin all walk the red carpet on Friday, so at least I’ll get to see them. (Whew!!)

For Sunday, April 14, besides hoping that I’ll be able to see Blood Money, I have two presentations that I intend to see in Club TCM.  The first is called Hollywood Love Stories – it will show rare stills and film clips, and include a discussion about how stars from the Golden Age were depicted in fan magazines and promotional films, including staged visits to their homes and the careful management of potential scandals. Sounds good and juicy! Plus, Diane Baker will be there – bonus!

The closing night party in Club TCM is bittersweet, but always a blast!

The next Club TCM presentation that I want see on Sunday is The Complicated Legacy of Gone With the Wind. This is a panel discussion that will include authors Donald Bogle and Molly Haskell, talking about their insights about GWTW in the context of its history, which has included criticism of the film’s depiction of slavery. I’ve always considered GWTW to be my favorite film, so I’m especially looking forward to hearing what the panelists have to say about it.

Other than the Club TCM presentations, I’ll just wait and see what the TBA films will be for Sunday and play it by year. And of course, as always, I’ll be at the bittersweet closing night party, where I won’t be able to believe it all passed by so quickly!

TCM Has Gone Film Noir Nutty!

•March 13, 2019 • 10 Comments

Kirk Douglas will do anything for a headline in Ace in the Hole.

If you’ve got a hankering for a hefty dose of film noir, you can get your fix on Thursday, March 14th by tuning in to TCM. From the evening – when the noirish shadows first start rolling in – to the morning’s wee hours on Friday, you can settle in for five (count ‘em – FIVE) back-to-back, first-rate examples of the film noir era.

Here’s an overview of the dark goodies that await you:

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Also known as The Big Carnival, this film stars Kirk Douglas in one of his nastiest roles, a former big-city newspaper reporter who will do anything to catapult his career from its current obscurity back to the big time. He gets his chance when he stumbles across a local merchant trapped in a nearby cave, and works with the corrupt sheriff (who has his own nefarious agenda) to keep the man entombed while he pens articles that attract a nationwide audience. Also in this dark tale is the merchant’s indifferent wife, played to perfection by Jan Sterling.

There’s nothin’ sweet about these gents.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

In my favorite role, Tony Curtis plays a slimy, completely conscienceless press agent whose main purpose in life is to get the notice of powerful Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker (portrayed with scary intensity by Burt Lancaster). This feature is one of noir’s darkest, brimming with characters who are either repellent or pathetic. I love it.

Scandal Sheet (1952)

This underrated, seldom-discussed gem stars Broderick Crawford as a newspaper editor who accidentally kills his shrewish ex-wife during an argument, then assigns one of his reporters (John Derek) to investigate the crime. The wife is played by Rosemary DeCamp, who turns in a startling performance in this rare departure from her usual goody-goody roles. Watch for a great noir ending.

Those Polynesian Pearl Divers are no joke.

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

Anne Baxter stars in this picture as a telephone operator who’s dumped by her beloved beau, goes out to tie one on, and winds up killing the creep who makes the moves on her – but she can’t remember a thing. (Blame it on those SIX deliciously deadly Polynesian Pearl Diver cocktails!) The top-notch cast includes Raymond Burr, who turns in a memorable performance as the aforementioned creep; Ann Sothern, as Baxter’s buddy; and Richard Conte as a reporter (by the name of Casey Mayo – love it!) trying to find the mysterious killer.

While the City Sleeps (1956)

Part of the star-studded cast of While the City Sleeps.

This film serves up a veritable who’s who of noir vets – Dana Andrews, Ida Lupino, Vincent Price, Rhonda Fleming, Sally Forrest, James Craig, Howard Duff. It’s like the noir version of Dinner at Eight! The story has a dual plotline – on one hand, after the death of the head of a media conglomerate, the man’s capricious son creates a contest among the various employees to land the new position of executive director. On the other, to win, the employees vie to be first to track down a serial criminal labeled “The Lipstick Killer.” The killer, incidentally, is played by John Drew Barrymore (son of John Barrymore and Dolores Costello, grandfather of Drew).

Set your DVRs or just stay up all night – but don’t miss this great line-up of noir films on TCM March 14th!

You only owe it to yourself.

Announcing The Great Villain Blogathon 2019!

•March 6, 2019 • 4 Comments

Come join us!! You’ll be glad you did! (Mwah ha ha!!)


It’s time once again for the Big Bad Blogathon event where you’re invited to feature your favourite movie villain(s).

Your hosts are Ruth of Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin and Kristina of Speakeasy.

The rules are simple:

Just pick any evildoer, outlaw or monster, from any era, country or genre. From creeps to cads to criminals, sinners and psychos, all movie villains are welcome.

Next, check the list further down this page to make sure your topic hasn’t already been chosen (villains covered in previous years are fair game)…

then sign up with the handy form below,

post anytime during MAY 24- 26, 2019,

in your post please use one of the awesome banners featured on this page (thanks Ruth for those!)…

and help promote this event with #Villains2019.

Easy and fun, and we thank you in advance for joining in!

For any changes or questions…

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