Audrey Totter Day: TCM Summer Under the Stars

Day 6: Miss Audrey Totter

All things considered, I have to say that August is one of my favorite months of the year. The weather is still undeniably warm – nary a hint of the Chicago winter lurking just around the corner. There’s the slightest bit of calm before the storm at my job, before the new school year kicks into gear. And the Noir City film festival sails into town, gifting my fair city with seven straight days of shadowy noir goodness (or badness, as the case may be).

But perhaps the number one reason that I harbor such a fondness for the eighth month is that it’s the month for Turner Classic Movies’ Summer Under the Stars – when my favorite channel focuses each day on a different classic film star and plays their films back-to-back, from sun-up to way past sundown. Every year, I look forward to pouring over the list of actors and actresses that TCM has selected, always pleased to find old favorites (Joan Crawford! Clark Gable! Lauren Bacall!) and equally excited to see those who aren’t often recognized – Dana Andrews? Miriam Hopkins? That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

And this year, adding to my overall August glee is Day Number 6, which shines the spotlight on one of my favorite noir femmes: Audrey Totter. And with Miss Totter, we get no less than six – count ‘em SIX – first-rate film noir features!

Yup.

So fire up your DVR (or your VCR, if you’re like me), or start sniffling in your meetings at work so you can call in sick – and then catch the following noir gems on August 6th:

The Postman Always Rings Twice.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

What: Roadside diner owner Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway) makes the wrong decision when he gives a job to a Frank Chambers (John Garfield), a drifter with itchy feet.

Why: Because the drifter falls like a ton of bricks for Cora Smith (Lana Turner), the owner’s young and sexy wife and, together, the two of them plot Nick’s murder.

Who: Totter is only in one scene, but she makes the most of it as Madge Gorland, a hamburger slinger who has a brief fling with Frank while Cora’s out of town.

What’d she say? “I’m going to wait standing up. It’s a hot day and that’s a leather seat. And I’ve got on a thin skirt.”

The Set-Up.

The Set-Up (1949)

What: An aging boxer, Stoker Thompson (Robert Ryan), is determined to emerge the victor in a fight no one expects him to win.

Why: Because he’s a FIGHTER, that’s why!

Who: Totter is Stoker’s long-suffering wife, Julie, who has supported her spouse through broken noses and bloodied lips, but she’s just about had it.

What’d she say? “Don’t you see, Bill? You’ll always be just one punch away.”

Tension.

Tension (1949)

What: In one of my favorite twisty-turny noir plots, a mild-mannered drugstore clerk, Warren Quimby (Richard Basehart), plans to kill the man who’s on the make for his wife.

Why: Beats the heck out of me, ‘cause his wife is a real bitch. Seriously.

Who: Totter is that bitch – and I LOVE her. She’s Claire Quimby, and she just doesn’t give a damn.

What’d she say? “I’ve got what I’m looking for and I’m gonna grab it while I’ve got the chance: a real man.”

High Wall.

High Wall (1947)

What: War veteran Steven Kenet (Robert Taylor) is suspected of murdering his wife.

Why: Because when he found out that his wife was doing the horizontal Hokey Pokey with her boss, Kenet started strangling her – and was later found next to her dead body. Hmm.

Who: Totter plays one of her few “good girl” roles – a doctor in a psychiatric hospital who is determined to unearth the truth about the murder.

What’d she say? “You still don’t understand, do you? Do you remember what you told me in the cell tonight? Well, that’s true for me, too. If Whitcombe doesn’t confess, if he is innocent, then there’s nothing – there’s nothing for either one of us.” (Hey, they can’t all be winners.)

The Unsuspected.

The Unsuspected (1947)

What: A young woman’s body is found hanging from the chandelier in the home of her employer, radio personality Victor Grandison (the always fab Claude Rains).

Why: Because somebody killed her and made it look like a suicide!

Who: Totter plays Grandison’s trampy niece, Althea. With gusto, I might add.

What’d she say? “Victor’s the only man who can turn my blood to ice water.”

Lady in the Lake.

Lady in the Lake (1946)

What: Filmed in the “Camera I” method, where the camera serves as the eye of the film’s star (and director), Robert Montgomery, this often confusing feature centers – ultimately – on the murder of the title character. (I think.)

Why: Because it gives Montgomery, who plays detective Philip Marlowe, the chance to solve this crazy crime.

Who: Totter plays one of my favorite-named characters, Adrienne Fromsett, who hires Marlowe to find her boss’s missing wife and winds up falling for the big lug.

What’d she say? “Perhaps you’d better go home and play with your fingerprint collection.”

Don’t miss Audrey Totter Day on TCM’s Summer Under the Stars. August 6th.

You. Will. Not. Be. Sorry.

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~ by shadowsandsatin on August 1, 2018.

8 Responses to “Audrey Totter Day: TCM Summer Under the Stars”

  1. Loved her in Lady In The Lake.

  2. This year’s SUTS programming is particularly good, isn’t it? My DVR is gonna be working overtime!!

  3. Umm, That’s Basehart not Widmark in “Tension”. Another great Richard.

  4. “She drank too much milk and her seams were always straight” – The Unsuspected. Could anybody read a line like that better than Audrey Totter?

  5. She has probably the most expressive eyes on film. Always a treat to see her in a film.

  6. Only within the past few years have I paid attention to Audrey Totter and quite frankly I cannot get enough of her. She is just a fabulous actress and those eyes!!!!!!! Mary Astor and Audrey always make any movie great for me.

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