Shadowy and Satiny Picks: What to Watch on TCM for June 2022

Better late than really, really late, I always say. Well, sometimes I say that. Actually, I never say that – but it’s true in this case. Real life intervened to prevent me from getting June’s Shadowy and Satiny recommendations up at the start of this month; I realized just today, though, that my Satiny pick is airing on June 8th, so I had to kick real life to the curb and get to writing!

SATINY PICK: Beauty for Sale (1933)

TCM is bursting at the seams with pre-Code gems in June – so many that it was hard to settle on one pick – but I selected Beauty for Sale, starring two of my favorite pre-Code ladies: Madge Evans and Una Merkel. I chose this film because it’s one that I’ve seen and loved numerous times, but that never seems to be mentioned in pre-Code discussions. It’s a good one, though, with a perfect pre-Code plot, great lines, moments of both humor and pathos, and first-rate performances throughout.

Three girls three: Jane, Letty, and Carol.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

The rather simple, straightforward story looks at the love lives of three beauty shop employees – Letty (Evans), Carol (Merkel), and Jane (Florine McKinney), each fraught with their own unique (and scandalous) sets of struggles.

WHO ELSE?

Hedda Hopper, years before she became a gossip column queen, is featured as the imperious owner of the beauty salon where the stars are employed. I’ve seen her in a number of films, but in this one, she gives my favorite performance. Also on hand is Phillips Holmes, as Hopper’s ne’er-do-well playboy son; Isabel Jewell (another of my favorite femmes), who is hilarious as the salon’s snooty receptionist; and Edward J. Nugent, who plays Carol’s annoying brother and who you might recognize as the annoying intern in Night Nurse (1931).

Phillips Holmes with Florine McKinney.

TRIVIA TIDBITS:

When Letty’s hat is ruined by a dog belonging to one of her clients, the woman’s attorney husband (Otto Kruger) offers to replace it. The $22.50 that he paid for the new chapeau would cost him a little over $460.00 in 2022 dollars. (That must’ve been some hat!)

The film is based on the book Beauty, by Faith Baldwin. Baldwin was amazingly successful at penning novels that were later turned into films, including The Office Wife, Wife Vs. Secretary, Week-End Marriage, Skyscraper Souls, Love Before Breakfast, and The Moon’s Our Home. And this isn’t even the complete list!

Russian-born former actor Richard Boleslawski directed the film. He would go on to helm such features as the Greta Garbo starrer The Painted Veil (1934), Les Miserables (1935) with Fredric March and Charles Laughton, and Theodora Goes Wild (1936), starring Irene Dunne. He was in the process of directing The Last of Mrs. Cheyney with Joan Crawford when he died, shortly before his 48th birthday.

Run like a rabbit!

MEMORABLE QUOTE:

“If you ever fall in love with a man that you can’t marry . . . run like a rabbit! For the best you’ll get out of it is the worst of it. You don’t want to have to hang around the back door of his life, begging for a handout. You don’t want to have to sneak and hide and keep out of sight the way I do. And in the end, when he turns back to his wife and his home, you don’t want to be kicked out in the sacred name of respectability – the way I was.” – Letty (Madge Evans)

SHADOWY PICK: Desperate (1947)

Desperate is always one of the first films that comes to mind when I’m asked about my favorite lesser-known noirs. It features a unique couple-on-the-run story, outstanding cinematography, and a relentless villain that you won’t soon forget.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

You don’t want to miss this one.

Steve Brodie stars as truck driver Steve Randall, a newlywed with a baby on the way who tries to make some extra money by hauling freight for a childhood friend, Walt Radak (Raymond Burr). When he learns that he’s picking up stolen goods, Steve tries to notify the police, but a cop ends up dead, Walt’s kid brother ends up in prison for the crime, and Steve and his wife end up on the lam, with both the authorities and a vengeful Walt on their trail.

WHO ELSE?

Steve’s wife is played by Audrey Long, who’s probably best known for her roles in Tall in the Saddle (1944), opposite John Wayne, and as the unsuspecting wife of the murderous Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill (1947). Also in the cast is Douglas Fowley, who I know from his appearances in noirs like Armored Car Robbery (1950), but you may remember him best as the frustrated director in Singin’ in the Rain (1952).

You may have seen Audrey Long in Tall in the Saddle or Born to Kill.

TRIVIA TIDBITS:

The film was helmed by acclaimed noir and western director Anthony Mann. He also directed The Great Flamarion (1945), Border Incident (1949), Winchester ’73 (1950), and Man of the West (1958).

Steve Brodie was born John Stevenson; he took his reel name from the daredevil who claimed to have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge in 1886.

Audrey Long was married for more than 40 years to author Leslie Charteris, best remembered for writing the series on the adventures of Simon Templar, also known as “The Saint.”

The cinematography was on point.

MEMORABLE QUOTE:

“I’m sorry I can’t give you a choice of food, Steve, but it won’t make much difference. You’re not going to live long enough to get any nourishment out of it.” – Walt Radak (Raymond Burr)

Beauty for Sale airs on TCM on June 8th and Desperate airs on June 30th. Check ‘em out!

You only owe it to yourself.

~ by shadowsandsatin on June 7, 2022.

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